One of the pitfalls of dissident politics is the temptation to succumb to despair, focusing only on the negative. Excessive cynicism is an escape, an indulgence, like libertarianism, where you get to pretend the sideline is the high ground. Cynicism is a cost free way of both participating in politics, but standing outside of it, as if you are above it all. It has been a feature of modern conservatism as a way of keeping the people from noticing that they are being scammed.
The truth is, politics at this level is not about elections or public policy. It is about effective social change, by changing the frame of reference. That’s a lot like steering a super tanker into port. A little nudge here. A little there. In the moment, you see little progress, but eventually, the tanker does move. That’s the point of dissident politics in the current age. It is moving things a little here and a little there in the effort to make our target audience aware of what’s happening to them.
An example of one of those tiny little bits of evidence that the ship is moving a little bit our way is this post from NRO, of all places. It is an interview with Oren Cass, who is the director of a new think tank in the Imperial Capital. The mission statement of American Compass says it is “to restore an economic consensus that emphasizes the importance of family, community, and industry to the nation’s liberty and prosperity.” Put another way, they claim to oppose what we call marketism.
Another Washington think tank is hardly an inspiration to our side, but Oren Cass has gotten a lot of attention from influential people. This twitter thread spelled out the problem of worshiping economic data as an end in itself. More important, he did so in the language technocrats can understand. That is an important step, as it introduces dissident topics to people lacking the language and mental constructs to understand much of what is discussed on this side of the great divide.
A good example of this is the response from another NRO pod person to that Oren Cass twitter thread. Like so many in that hive, he clearly does not understand the concept of trade-offs. He certainly is clueless when it comes to concepts like social capital or community capital. He’s stuck at the place where knowing that the big number is more than the small number gets a gold star. Still, Cass is able to speak to him in language he can grasp, which is important.
Now, this does not signal a revolution of thought inside the Imperial Capital, but it does suggest some people inside are looking over the divide to this side. More important, instead of just assuming the people on this side of the great divide are evil or stupid, they are wondering why so many people are heading this way. The first step to legitimacy is often when the people in charge simply start taking their critics seriously, rather than treating them as a pestilence to be eliminated.
To be clear, Oren Cass is not “one of us” and never will be. In fact, if the inner party decides to round us up and ship us off to camps, he will be right there with them, as he is them and not us. The ruling class, along with their attendants, define themselves in opposition to us. Who they are is explicitly not us. They are the occupiers, the colonial pod people, ruling over the rest of us. Oren Cass and his project are simply a flicker of doubt, a sign that all is not well inside the walls.
A sober minded person would wonder why it has taken so long for anyone inside the walls to notice the problems outside the walls. After all, paleo-conservatives were predicting these sorts of problems forty years ago. Pat Buchanan ran on these issues, as well as Ross Perot. Trump is in the White House, in large part, because of the economic realities just dawning on people inside the walls. Heck, Bernie Sanders exists because of the things Cass identified in that thread.
It is the big tanker ship. A thing normal people cannot grasp is just how different the world inside the walls is compared to regular America. In the Imperial Capital, it is always a booming economy. Every day is Fat Tuesday, because tomorrow is always fat Tuesday as well. It’s always good times in the Washington for people who make their living in politics. Imagine a college campus the size of a city, but instead of students roaming about it is adult who work in politics.
This is why all past political reform efforts have failed. When the road goes on forever and the party never ends, reform sounds like ingratitude. From the Tea Party to the Bernie Bros, to the people inside, these movement strike the revelers as irrational ingratitude by people who don’t know how good they have it. But, the dissident right is knocking at the door and some people are starting to listen. It is a tiny example of how things are moving our way, ever so slowly, like that tanker ship.
For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!