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Culture War Roundup for the week of November 27, 2023

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The Republican Party is doomed.

I don't mean they'll lose every election moving forward. My case, rather, is this: they know exactly what they want someone to do, but in an increasing number of institutions, there is no one left to do it. Increasing age and education polarization means that Republicans are rapidly losing the capacity to run public institutions at all levels other than electoral, and this trend cannot realistically reverse within a generation. The near-term future is already written.

The demands of a two-party system mean each party will typically adjust over time to capture, if not 50% of the electorate, at least enough to remain meaningfully competitive. There is no reason to expect that to change. Republicans are electorally competitive and will likely remain so, particularly given their advantage in rural areas with greater Senate representation. People zero in on that, but electoral politics is a small part of governance writ large.

I am one of the most conservative students at my law school. More specifically: I, a gay, centrist Biden voter, am one of the most conservative students at my law school. The Federalist Society here is anemic and widely derided, while there's a dizzying array of progressive organizations. The professors and administrators are, if anything, even more progressive. My school is in no sense an outlier in this regard, nor is this specific to law. The same patterns are overwhelmingly visible in every group of educated, young professionals. Bloomberg documents how donations skew progressive in virtually every field.

People want to say young and educated people have always leaned left, but that simply is not true. Not like this. The leftward skew is a recent, and accelerating, phenomenon. Democrats have gained more and more ground among young and educated people alike, and the rightward shift people are used to seeing just isn't happening as it did before. Among young, educated professionals, the salient political divide is no longer between Republicans and Democrats, but between liberals and various stripes of socialists. The New York Times and Financial Times document the way long-standing patterns have shifted.

What's the conservative coalition? Truckers, farmers, business owners, construction workers. Don't get me wrong: these are useful, socially valuable, necessary professions. But they have nothing to do with the day-to-day of governance on the ground. About the only governance-related profession they remain influential in is the police force, which tells you all you need to know about the current reputation of the police force among educated, young professionals.

This means that, for the medium-term future, Republicans are dealing with a coalition of the high and low against the middle when it comes to politics. They authentically represent, to one degree or another, somewhere near half of the country. They have representation at the highest levels of government, controlling the Supreme Court, maintaining razor-thin margins in the House and Senate, and remaining competitive within Presidential races. But because their voters are increasingly old, rural, and less educated, they lack all but the slightest foothold in the great majority of institutions run by and filled with young, educated professionals: that is to say, the great bulk of institutions involved in the day to day of governance.

The field of education provides a good case study as to how this plays out. Educators are overwhelmingly progressive in their inclinations. Left to their own devices, they will take a policy and curricular stance broadly in line with progressive sensibilities. Teacher's unions are unambiguously and emphatically against the Republican Party. Conservatives like to emphasize school choice, pointing to charter and private schools as potential alternatives, but even there, the great bulk of educators are politically liberal. Eva Moskowitz, founder of high-achieving charter school system Success Academy, champion of school choice advocacy, and a model of what conservatives point to as an ideal in education, is a registered Democrat.

The most successful recent conservative education advocacy movement, Moms for Liberty, tells you all you need to know in its name: it is a movement not of educators or of students, but of parents looking from the outside at a system that broadly opposes their values. Florida politicians have spent enormous political capital to pull a single, tiny liberal arts college towards a conservative ethos.

Here's the problem: by the time you're trying to legislate every one of your preferences, resisted at every level by the people put in place to enact those preferences, you've already lost. Republicans want people who want to enact their values. What they've got is equal representation in the part of the government that can swing a big stick around trying desperately to corral a group where even the educators supported by their policies are likely to want nothing to do with them.

What of the rising stars in each political party? For the Democrats, you have Pete Buttigieg: working within the institutions at every step, from Ivy League to consulting to military to local governance and smoothly into high-level tasks within his own party, focused on technocratic proposals dependent on high state capacity. For the Republicans, there's Vivek Ramaswamy: downplaying his past within those same institutions, rising to incredible wealth via private enterprise, smashing into the scene of his own party as an outsider obviously loathed by those who have spent their lifetimes within it, focused on a libertarian "burn it down" ethos. To be a popular Republican in the Trump era, you almost need to be an outsider promising to tear the government to pieces. Image

Conservatives right now are desperate for public intellectuals who reflect their values. As soon as a conservative-coded intellectual shows a modicum of talent or originality, they skyrocket into prominence. Jordan Peterson spent a career in obscurity in academia before a fight over pronouns launched him into an enormous platform with millions of followers. Chris Rufo became one of the leaders of the conservative movement in moments after speaking cogently about critical race theory. Richard Hanania, despite constantly telling conservatives how stupid and ineffectual he thinks they are, has gained a massive conservative fanbase by virtue of being able to argue coherently for some of their values.

Perhaps most telling is the example of Aaron Sibarium, recently profiled for Politico: perhaps the most prominent conservative investigative reporter today, a secular Jew who voted for Clinton and Biden but, because he opposes social justice progressivism, has sauntered into the wide-open niche of investigative journalism from a conservative point of view. Why is he filling that role so effectively? Simple: there was nobody else to do so.

On a smaller scale, even a few tweets that capture the conservative zeitgeist can shoot someone into the public eye overnight, as Darryl Cooper (MartyrMade) discovered when an articulate defense of the 'stolen election' feeling took him from 7000 Twitter followers one day to 55000 three days later, or our own @KulakRevolt found as he went from no public presence to being the rising voice of the burn-it-down ethos in a matter of a few months of well-written diatribes. Costin Alamariu launched an obscure work of academic philosophy to the top of the Amazon charts off the strength of an absurdist right-wing pseudonymous persona. Ask any of them what they think of the institutional Republican Party sometime.

Conservatives are so desperate for a shred of cultural influence that they turn people like Oliver Anthony (“Rich Men North of Richmond”) into overnight sensations, only to learn that they, too, have nothing but scorn for the Republican Party.

Put simply: right now, at the nuts and bolts of governance, the Republican Party has a much shorter bench of talent than the Democratic Party. Even conservative intellectuals are trained in overwhelmingly progressive institutions. This affects every level of politics, but since it doesn't necessarily harm them electorally, there's no incentive to course-correct at the level of electoral politics. Quite the opposite, in fact: every single Republican politician, and every single conservative influencer, benefits individually from their coalition’s weakness among young, educated professionals. In many ways, they’re living the dream: massive audiences hungry for competence with little competition fighting to provide that competence in any given field.

Some want to frame it as institutional capture, a battle against the ruling elite, that could be corrected if the right people are in charge. Is there some of that? Sure. But at most institutions, it's a simple function of the politics of the people seeking those institutions out. My law school is not overwhelmingly progressive because the Powers That Be want it to be progressive. It's overwhelmingly progressive because progressives showed up. You can only stretch the word "elite" so far, and by the time you get down to schoolteachers, you've stretched it past the breaking point.

Conservatives, to be clear, aren't going anywhere, nor is the growing dissident right movement. But even when Republicans win electoral power, they lack the human capital at all levels of governance to accomplish what they really want with it. Under Republican rule, half of top government officials work to enact the approximate will of slightly less than half of Americans while virtually every educated, young professional anywhere near politics resists any way they can. Only a few have even the vision of changing this by re-entering those institutions, with most seeing no recourse beyond slowly fading or burning every institution to the ground.

The Republican Party will remain visible. It may even continue to win elections. But at the basic tasks of governance and defining culture at all levels, its death warrant has already been signed. The Republican Party is doomed.

(Also posted to Substack)


While I prepared this post for a general audience, I have a few more Motte-specific thoughts. At this point, I think the evidence is overwhelmingly clear that, whatever else this space is and has been, it is one of vanishingly few incubators for intellectually rigorous thinkers with sympathy towards one shade or another of conservatism. Kulak is one of the most prominent examples, but far from the only one who has an impact far beyond these quiet circles.

After I Tweeted out an initial version of this post, a high-level Republican official contacted me about it, broadly agreeing with the thesis while pointing out that parties are composed, broadly speaking, of those who show up. In his words, a political party is an entity that exists solely to conduct elections, and things can change in a hurry depending on who shows up. Speaking in general terms, he's part of the Thiel-adjacent set. He made the case that there is a lot of room, given the short bench, for people outside the traditional, highly polished, consultant-safe pathways to have a real impact on things, which in some ways can be turned to the good.

I don't have any sort of call to action here, for myself or others, but I think it's worth having a clear-eyed view of the political dynamics in play.

I've been watching this in real time with my own family, and both of your points are true. America has become polarized by gender and education, and progressives show up more. Richard Hanania has beat you to it:

The gender and class wars: https://www.richardhanania.com/p/womens-tears-win-in-the-marketplace

My extended family is now clearly divided between the educated and the working class. This wasn't the case, but 2014, the year that broke the internet, was when it started. On the college-educated side, all the women are loud progressives, and the men mostly smile and nod (some are true believers, some are agreeable normies that are instinctively fitting in with their society, but a good fraction are actually quite based, and keeping it secret for professional and romantic survival). On the working class side, the men have become Q-anon adjacent, and it's the women who smile and nod (with about the same proportions of quiet dissent as the men)

Thanksgiving and Christmas have begun to fissure. People now go to the gathering of the grandparents/in-laws that are more close to them. We stop in briefly with my parents, but mostly go to my in-laws. I make a point of spending extra time with my dad during the holidays, but my mom has become difficult to be around.

Liberals show up more: https://www.richardhanania.com/p/why-is-everything-liberal

The two bubble charts are all you need. The liberal end of my family donates. They volunteer. They organize. Left-wing organizations are drowning in money, and they don't even need it because they are also drowning in young people who are willing to take sub-par salaries.

The conservative end of my family grills.

I'm a member of a few organizations, one with a notably right-wing membership. The leadership of that organization is full of lefties, because they keep showing up, volunteering, and promoting each other.

Grilling is not an option:

I was a griller. I wanted to stay a griller. If you're a griller in a sane, free society, you get a good job, you spend time with your family, you debate the Texas Crutch. There's no reason to get involved when you've got your own life to see to.

All social systems are fundamentally biased towards sociopaths, and thus progressivism.

Progressive politics appeals to busybodies. If you enjoy petty (and not-so-petty) tyranny, if you enjoy controlling others, if seeking status and validation from others is meaningful to you, you'll take the low paying job that gives you more status and control. You'll volunteer in organizations that suck your time. You'll respond to other sociopaths and donate money to them. You will conform, and force others to conform.

The humorless Karenocracy wins because the grillers are fun people with better things to do.

The solution: the fifth box of democracy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_boxes_of_liberty

There's a fifth box, and it's the box that best suits the individualist: The U-Haul box. In the last decade, tens of millions of Americans have moved, and of those, perhaps ten million are people moving from blue states to red ones as political refugees. Thirty years ago Texas and Florida had Democratic governors, and you couldn't carry a gun in either one.

I'm not going to out-organize, out-volunteer, or out-donate the progressives. I'm not going to out-social-pressure them or give up a life of comfort for the joy of interfering in other's lives, like they do.

Even if I did, it would be a lose-lose - either let them take the grill from my life, or give up my grilling time to fight them.

I am better at earning a good living, managing and keeping my money, and moving on though. I used to live in a blue state, now I live in a red one. I used to pay for things, now I pirate them. I used to be a member of organizations, now I encourage people to undermine them. I used to live in a democracy. Now I practice Irish Democracy.

The problem with the U-Haul box is twofold. One is the progressives have Federal control; as goes California, so goes the US. Can't grill if the Department of Energy sets energy efficiency standards limiting grills to one candlepower. The other is the normies on the left don't like the results of progressivism either, but they don't connect their votes to those results. Instead they move away from the areas they Californicated, and then vote for those same policies in the new place.

I think you vastly overestimate the value of federal control, and even state control, see Kern County vs the State of California at the height of the pandemic.

Californians are actually making many places more conservative. Native Texas are actually slightly +D, it's the California transplants that keep it red. Idaho became red because of California transplants.

As of now, I'm winning bigly huge. I can carry a firearm without a permit, I pay some of the lowest taxes in the developed world, and my governor is attacking Woko Haram on all fronts in the universities. In many ways I am actually more free than in years before.

I have a simple solution to get things started quickly. Make donations to college sports non-tax deductible.

Rich left wingers fund left wing organizations. Rich right wingers fund college football.

Republicans need to start football shaming the wealthy.

Sorry, but I don’t resonate with this at all. I think I used to, but it seems like you’re just giving up. It’s sad to hear that your family is so polarized, but there are plenty of things that can bring family together for the holidays without getting mired in politics. I don’t agree at all politically, spiritually, culturally with certain close members of my family, but we have Thanksgiving and/or Christmas together every year and do things to enjoy each other’s company. We never discuss politics. We don’t have to!

The reason conservatives like to grill is because conservatives won on almost everything of consequence in the 20th century. Income tax rates have never been lower. Obamacare was effectively a subsidy for large health insurance corporations—far from single payer that progressives really want. Has Biden even uttered the phrase ‘Medicare for All’ this decade? Maybe he’s too busy crushing union strikes in Michigan to notice? Unrestricted immigration continues to depress low-skilled wages. It is basically impossible to criticize military spending in Congress, aside from gadflies on the populist right. The hourly federal minimum wage remains at $7.25. We have had basically no financial regulatory overhauls since 2010. The federal student loan payment moratorium is over. The ghost of Ronald Reagan reigns supreme in both the Republican and Democratic parties. There is no economic ‘Left’ in America anymore. What progressives seem to care most about is whether enough transgender minorities serve on the Boards at Citigroup or ExxonMobil. Progressives are totally defanged in the United States. What would Huey Long or Teddy Roosevelt think if they were transported in time and looked on at the progressive movement as it exists today?

So boomers will continue to grill, because tax rates are low, real estate prices are high, and their retirement portfolio continues to rise in value. Only once their personal comfort is threatened might they get activated. But as a merchant, commercial nation, the US has so much more left to fall before the pendulum shifts back to conservatism. It’s incredible how much wealthier and more economically prosperous the US is compared to the rest of the world, for a country of its size. People will put up with any godless cultural abomination if they are fat and entertained!

You want an institution that isn’t dominated by progressives? Try your local evangelical, non-denominational church. By all means, move out of the godforsaken downtown area of your city. But moving to another state won’t stop the rot, because the rot will follow you eventually. Join a church, tithe, volunteer, and put your faith not in a political party or economic system but in God, who restores all things.

there are plenty of things that can bring family together for the holidays without getting mired in politics.

With progressives around? No, there are not. They WILL get onto politics, even in a neutral space, even when you've agreed "no politics", because not only do they believe their politics aren't politics, they're just politeness, they also believe you should never ever be free of their politics.

Income tax rates have never been lower.

This is not true. It's true that they have been higher.

https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_optimized/public/book_images/3.1.5.2.png?itok=P1wdtomc

Obamacare was effectively a subsidy for large health insurance corporations—far from single payer that progressives really want.

Obamacare is one of your examples of conservatives winning, because it was a subsidy?

Unrestricted immigration continues to depress low-skilled wages.

Mass immigration is an example of conservatives winning?

You also deftly avoided social issues, where - apart from recently on abortion - conservatives have had a long, long rout. They can't even vote to get rid of gay marriage any more, while DEI is the official ideology of one institution after another. For all the culture war's early focus on higher education, you have to provide a DEI statement to even apply to teach at most US colleges.

There is no economic ‘Left’ in America anymore. What progressives seem to care most about is whether enough transgender minorities serve on the Boards at Citigroup or ExxonMobil. Progressives are totally defanged in the United States.

The purpose of the "left", as it has ever been, is increasing the power of the PMC. When the ownership class was the greatest threat, the Left pretended to help the working class. Now that the ownership class has been subsumed, the working class is the greatest threat to the PMC, and they have adjusted their politics as necessary.

You want an institution that isn’t dominated by progressives? Try your local evangelical, non-denominational church. By all means, move out of the godforsaken downtown area of your city. But moving to another state won’t stop the rot, because the rot will follow you eventually. Join a church, tithe, volunteer, and put your faith not in a political party or economic system but in God, who restores all things.

I've been to church, and they have the exact same problems as the progressives. The label on the package may change, but church ladies and SJWs behave in the exact same smarmy, status-seeking, busybody fashion.

I've been skeptical for a while, but to expand the reasoning:

More specifically: I, a gay, centrist Biden voter, am one of the most conservative students at my law school. The Federalist Society here is anemic and widely derided, while there's a dizzying array of progressive organizations. The professors and administrators are, if anything, even more progressive. My school is in no sense an outlier in this regard, nor is this specific to law. The same patterns are overwhelmingly visible in every group of educated, young professionals.

At the trivial level, it's worth spelling out why that is. Conservatives are a minority among the sort of identification you're talking about. But even when 'yuppie' leaned conservative, this dizzing advantage for progressive organizations still existed (it dates back to at least the Eisenhower era!), and the lean of organizations and visible political speakers today is far greater than that of their underlying demographics.

Conservatives and conservative organizations are not just uncommon but destroyed in a wide variety of professional fields, and that's a result of enemy action. Maybe that's well-intended, sometimes, but more often the good intentions or serious objections are a pretext. More often, it's not even that. Simple discrimination is common enough that it doesn't even have to pretend to hide. Demands to fire anyone to the right of the last Democratic President are common, regularly backed up by violent protest. And that persists outside of academia: state bar selections of continuing education credits have gotten hilarious recently, and one of the single most effective members of the SCOTUS bar got booted from his practice, with the threat leveled during and about an appeal. I can go into further detail if @Amadan wants to do the "you are not oppressed" deal, but it's a long list spanning decades, and I don't think you need me drop thirty examples. You have your recent tweet on Sanderson; you don't need me to spell out how suicidal trying to be a mainstream conservative culturati gets.

That doesn't necessarily make you wrong, but it does change any potential solution. A conservative -- or even anything people want to call conservative, with all that implies -- working within the system is inviting a cheesegrater to their tender bits, hopefully figuratively. Any conservative organization trying to work within the system at minimum is subject to being shut down at a moment's notice, if not subject to being hollowed out and worn like a skin suit; any effective capability itself becoming justification for such an attack.

What does change the conclusion is that Doom bit. There is not some deep physical law that educated young professionals are the source of administrative or executive power in this world. They have been favored for the last seventy years because (outside of academic-enforced Curleyism) they were competent, not just in systems that they created, but in their ability to manage and adapt to the world.

The average college graduate today struggles to use a screwdriver, and increasing numbers struggle to write or comprehend an essay; a far broader group have actively rejected even the ideals of meaningful understanding of reality. Teacher's unions have begged and striked to require increasing levels of education that you and I know does absolutely shit for their actual capability, and they're unusual for anyone studying it, rather than it being a problem. If you throw the mandate of heaven in the trash, it ends up in the trash.

That's not necessarily a good thing! Obviously there's the big grifter problem, where once you realize that the TV-show grifter and the PhD are equally unknowledgable about 1800s history, you have the problem of distinguishing what randos do have anything. There's a lot of infrastructure and cash that's hard to replicate outside of academic or industrial settings, and the resulting processes not getting done because those settings are so hostile to you they'd rather burn cash and credibility, and just no one trying, doesn't change much.

More broadly, there are still places that have keep some undercurrent of adherence to actual skill or knowledge that's hard to develop elsewhere, with some interest in actual capability, whether or not they've been skinsuited by politics. There's a far broader scope where the things they teach aren't deep knowledge or skills, but they're the teacher's passwords necessary to get anywhere today. FCFromSSC-style "iterated harm-seeking" is going to be very interesting in the !!bad!! sort of ways, when applied here.

But the resulting answer is going to look very different than Kulak, or than Theilites, for better and for worse.

I think you’re arguing a little past Tracing’s point. I think he’d agree that there were extensive, deliberate bad faith efforts to destroy conservative organizations, to make their advocacy harder, to use every trick in the book against them, like lobbying law firms to try to pull the smartest lawyers off 2nd Amendment cases.

But consider that case in more detail. Why is it that the partners who run one of America’s most elite law firms offered star lawyers who had just won in front of the Supreme Court the choice between dropping their clients and being fired? Well, you say, because countless Fortune 500 corporate law clients who spend a lot of money with them threatened not to hire the firm if they didn’t do so. This is likely. But why did they fold?

Why did even Elon Musk fold, as seen by his ridiculous apology tour this week after he annoyed advertisers too much (the tour has gone wrong, we might say, but it was an attempt)? Why did he bend the knee? Because ultimately he cares more about money than about politics.

Yeah, yeah, you say, the center-left isn’t willing to die for their beliefs either. But they are willing to accept a lifetime of earning a mediocre living for them. That’s Tracing’s point. Kirkland’s most senior partners (who presumably were okay with the firm representing the NRA until the backlash, so weren’t strongly ideological on those lines) folded when their huge compensation was put on the line (even though most, given senior partner pay, would likely already be more than rich enough to retire comfortably). That’s why they bent the knee.

Ultimately, the option is a Morton's Fork between the dead and the forsworn. "Why" they bent the knee at that level isn't particularly interesting: Clement as the office and officer of one of the most prestigious BigLaw firms would be gone either way.

((Indeed, Clement did take the option of earning a mediocre not gold-plated living.))

But that's not very interesting; the number of political groups who can't be bought at any price is pretty low, and they're not exactly the most effective or most palatable ones. Step back one point to see why these groups could bring this credible and this serious of a threat, and you notice that it's something far broader and longer-lasting driving things.

I expect that pillarization eventually fixes this. Emphasis on eventually, but I do expect, basically, parallel societies. Yes, there will be right wing cranks in prominent positions just like left wing cranks are in prominent positions right now, but a major source of creation scientists is petroleum geologists who retired early because they were sufficiently good at their jobs- most prominent cranks have motivated beliefs that enable them to do the thing they wanted to do anyways, they aren't just stupid and incompetent.

Yes, it'll be harder to go to Harvard as a conservative, but among a big chunk of society Christendom College will have the same effect. Harvard may deliver a good education, but it's not unique in doing so; its value comes from the name.

I expect that pillarization eventually fixes this.

How? Pillarization requires a relatively neutral central power that allows multiple parallel institutions to keep existing.

but among a big chunk of society Christendom College will have the same effect

How so — assuming said school even remains open and accredited? One gives you a whole bunch of employment options and elite connections, the other is a useless piece of paper no employer will respect (for fear of getting sued, if nothing else).

How? Pillarization requires a relatively neutral central power that allows multiple parallel institutions to keep existing.

If I may be so bold, because they will be forced to by hard power. There need only be a small minority of the nation to do so, so long as they are geographically concentrated.

How so — assuming said school even remains open and accredited? One gives you a whole bunch of employment options and elite connections, the other is a useless piece of paper no employer will respect (for fear of getting sued, if nothing else).

By balancing those scales? That is the idea proposed.

If I may be so bold, because they will be forced to by hard power.

What "hard power"? And how would it be used, exactly, to force a hostile central power to tolerate "parallel institutions" by people they hate, rather than crushing them?

By balancing those scales?

And how, exactly, do you propose to do that? Because I don't see any means of doing so.

What "hard power"? And how would it be used, exactly, to force a hostile central power to tolerate "parallel institutions" by people they hate, rather than crushing them?

Because just like with sanctuary cities in the West Coast, the federal government relies on state and local police to enforce their edicts and those partners can just say no. It is how we got around the fugitive slave act.

And how, exactly, do you propose to do that? Because I don't see any means of doing so.

States run state colleges and hire college graduates. Conservatives own businesses. A lot of people here hire for tech companies let alone run them. Some random subreddit this ain't man.

Because just like with sanctuary cities in the West Coast

I think "sanctuary cities" are overrated, and only exist because the Feds are mostly on their side. If DC really wanted to shut them down, they could, just by actually enforcing and using laws on the books. Specifically, the laws targeting employers. Start rigorously enforcing those on some large businesses, throw on asset forfeiture, maybe even accessory to human trafficking via RICO charges. Go after some rich couples for their illegal housekeepers and nannies. "Kill the chicken to scare the monkey," as the Chinese say. Set an example by sending a few hundred-millionaires to Federal prison (and not the cushy minimum-security kind) after seizing every penny they own, and quickly, nobody in those cities will want to employ illegal immigrants; and then, what good is that "sanctuary"?

States run state colleges

But those colleges are still beholden to the accrediting organizations, and without accreditation by those bodies, the degrees they issue effectively become toilet paper, state-run college or not.

Conservatives own businesses.

Which can be subjected to lawsuits and EEOC investigations, wherein their practices of hiring "unqualified" candidates with "fake degrees" from unaccredited "diploma mills" will become quite relevant to the outcome. Once you establish a few precedents that while hiring people with degrees from regime-approved institutions provides some measure of protection, hiring people with degrees from "parallel institutions" will get you sued into oblivion, just how long will those "parallel institutions" last?

Then throw Federal student aid on top of that. There's a reason Hillsdale depends on wealthy donors, and is pretty much one-of-a-kind.

I can go into further detail if @Amadan wants to do the "you are not oppressed" deal

Years later, you are still beefing about this, seriously?

I am nothing if not petty, but you invited me.

If you want me to stop, tell me to stop, and I'll stop.

What I would like is for you to stop jousting with old posts. I've already expressed to @FCfromSSC that I regret having taken the tone I did in that post you're still beefing about. If you're genuinely wondering (as opposed to just seeing if you can bait me) whether I still stand by something I said years ago, ask me directly (and be clear what it is you think I believe since your interpretation of what I believe is often inaccurate).

But I am not going to tell you to stop being petty and trying to dredge up old fights. That's your prerogative.

My objection has never been your tone. And while I'll object to individual factual claims, they're things that can be discussed. My objection has long been that your oppressed means nothing and everything. So let's be very explicit:

And from my perspective, all of you saying "Yes, we are oppressed because (hypothetical, hypothetical, vaguely related anecdote)" are redefining "oppression" to mean "Elections don't always go the way I want and laws I don't like sometimes get passed."

Do you think this is the claim? Do you think that is what motivates people like FCfromSSC, or what motivates my concerns?

Like, last time I tried this you accused me of gish-galloping, so this is more for everybody else, but just to be clear exactly what the scope we're talking about:

You will still be able to proclaim your right wing views in public.

No, I can't. Trivially, we're here because the last forum started shutting down random posters, and the place before that our presence was so severe that it got someone's name in the New York Times (to everyone's surprise as a smear piece) and they had a mental breakdown. Just as trivially, Damore predated your post. FCFromSSC has mentioned getting canceled by a friend over good faith disagreements, I've talked about how I've made significant sacrifices in my career and social and romantic life to reduce the threat and still am subject to it.

My go to example right now is the guy who built Modded Minecraft's very foundations in Forge getting canceled so hard that, when he resisted, his fellow project leads had their employers invoked as part of the ultimatum. Actually true statements of law get pulled from major social media, when offered by randos with tiny followings. Rittenhouse couldn't use GoFundMe, and when people did use a different vendor to donate, that company got hacked, and some of them got fired for <30 USD donations -- the organization that doxxed them is affiliated with Harvard and no one cares. VCDL has e-mail providers and YouTube dropping them without explanation or even reference to a broken rule, ARFCOM got blammed off GoDaddy without notice, so on.

But there's not snipers waiting to make my head Just Do That should I say the wrong words, nor am I required by law to strap on a voice-activated bomb collar before going outdoors; sometimes people even resist these attacks successfully (or at least the sort of 'success' that throws away their futures in exchange for symbolic victories and the grifter circuits). Hell, it's not even as bad as that other country declaring martial law emergency powers, confiscating property, which you were "not sure I agree it's "oppression" but it's fucked."

You will not be living in a leftist authoritarian state with "struggle sessions" forcing you to say you love Big Brother.

Those DEI sessions I mentioned last time in that post you didn't find impressive? They're back! Or more accurately never really went away. And state attempts to block them have been blocked in turn. "Diversity statements" are de jour in academia. Gallup considers it a failure than 'only' 41% of managers and 42% of employees have received DEI/racial justice training. While I'm too old for it to be a concern personally, schools have not only formalized official support for protesting ("no official repercussions" if the students don't play along, just an official assignment asking them to explain why they complied).

Do you need more examples? Because it's kinda awkward to dance around the ones I've experienced directly outside of these domains without doxing myself, but I can continue.

Right wing media and right wing politicians will still have power and influence. Trump will not be the last Republican president.

yyyyaaaaayyy.

There will still be religion and people who say homosexuality is a sin and trans people bad (and teach it to their children, who are not taken away from them).

The closest thing we've had to a slowdown here is Newsom vetoing a rule requiring judges to consider it for custody hearings; it's still policy. Demkovich was overturned, but the dissent pointed out that the 9th Circuit had case law going the other direction, and it's not like it's a one-off.

It's not room temperature, fair.

The left will not be murdering political enemies with impunity...

Modulo Matthew Dolloff, sure. And there's some rough spots for people who tried and failed: we still don't even know what happened to Grosskruetz's concealed carry permit, and obviously he's never been and never going to be tried for either the unlawful carry nor threatening a teenager, in contrast to Dominick Black. And then there's the places where the shooters or the shot are a little more complicated to discuss.

But it's not that many people getting shot! Sometimes they have to post bail! Hell, Finicum wouldn't even be that sympathetic, were it not for the hilariously bad behavior of federal law enforcement and the long toleration of many occupations efforts. So it's not Oppression.

There will probably still be problems with race and crime.

... this one didn't even make sense contemporaneously. Yes, and? That the progressive tribe neither can fix these problems, and benefits from motioning around them, is one of FCFromSSC's positions.

And for bonus points:

What is a leftist norm being violated in a small Alabama or Mormon Utah town today that the leftists around you are advocating rolling feds in to stop?

A combination of the teacher's union and local collaborators called in the FBI over school board meetings. Individual people have called in the EEOC over a hat. The DoJ's OCR is investigating a college for using gendered bathrooms and abolishing a diversity program, feds and fed courts for mask mandates, so on. One group of teachers alleged did not report bullies to local administrators, nor punish them themselves, so that they could use the 'ignored' bad actions as part of a DoE complaint to bring the feds down harder on violations of leftist norms.

The ATF is in the middle of an aggressive crackdown on FFLs and home gunsmithing, the EPA fights over drainage ditches, the ADA has brought a small army of 'testers' that will happily demand the rebuild of services they never intend to buy, people are regularly asking the feds to treat GOP governors offering bus or plane rides to undocumented immigrants like kidnapping. And these are just the serious ones, where there's investigations and publicity and lawsuits and media coverage. It's worse in Blue Tribe areas, but you couldn't run from this stuff a decade ago (literally, in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop).

Which, hey, these are just policy disagreements! Sometimes ones that the Blue Tribe doesn't even immediately win! No one's getting shot in the face, it's not jazzhands oppression, at least by the pre-Civil War slavery one, if less so by the modern Harvard one.

But are these things happening? Can you imagine why people might think of them as something more than just "laws I don't like sometimes get passed"? Can you imagine why, when you say:

I assert, essentially, that your Doomer "We have lost and Red Tribe will no longer have rights" is absolutely, 100% wrong and will continue to be proven wrong.

it's an absolute non sequitor from the post you were responding to, and absolutely nonsensical as a position that everyone must wait for before they are allowed to respond or complain or recognize a pattern?

... how did that post start again?

Here's a wager. Obviously if I'm wrong, you'll never be able to collect, but anyway.

Emphasis added.

You could meaningfully argue if some of these things aren't true. I'd love to hear it! As I frequently point out at the end of these rants, I'm not an accelerationist, I'd love to hear how they're wrong, and part of my frustration here is that FCFromSSC (or Hradzka on twitter) have given far better version of that than you have. You can point out that it's not as bad as prebellum era slavery or the 1940s South (correctly!), or the treatment of gay men in the 1900s, or (much more arguably) of communists in the McCarthy era.

You can not correctly argue, short of disproving them, that these are "(hypothetical, hypothetical, vaguely related anecdote)".

What do you want from me, to go through your list item by item and say whether I agree or disagree with it? There seem to be two claims here:

  1. Right wingers are on the back foot in the culture war right now, and left wingers are pushing their advantage as hard as they can.
  2. Right wingers are being oppressed in the sense of being deprived of civil rights, in danger of losing the franchise, or even reaching Soviet/dystopian levels. (Or even, say, the level of a fringe political or religious minority in previous eras in US history.)

I was always very clear that I was arguing against #2, while you seem to be accusing me of arguing against #1.

To most of your bullet points, I'd nod and say "I agree, that's bad." I feel like I'm saying "Yes, I agree, leftist/DEI/woke censorship is bad" and you're screaming at me "But you said they're not literally herding us into concentration camps, therefore you don't really think it's bad!" (And no, I do not think it would have to reach herding-into-concentration-camps levels for me to come around to right wingers being institutionally oppressed.)

The thread I was responding to, three years ago, was an argument about whether or not accelerationism and a second US Civil War is desirable and/or inevitable. If you just wanted me to say "It really sucks that leftists control so much of the culture war front," well, I'm here, aren't I? If you think I am too mushy and moderate and failing to see the existential threat to human liberty represented by DEI departments, okay, fine. Yes, I do indeed still cynically see your hysteria as essentially the same as the people who confidently assert that Trump is Literally Hitler, now threatening to become Zombie Hitler Returning From Hell. You all have legitimate cause for concern wrapped in hyperbole, and this leads to this kind of attack on the unconvinced (like me) as Refusing To See The Problem.

You are very good at collecting links and building legal cases. I can't write a brief like you can. But nothing happening today looks to me wildly different from previous eras in US history; the factions change, the dominant groups in the culture war and those being "oppressed" have different labels, and there have been people deprived of their livelihoods, jailed, even killed, before. I don't say this is good or there is "nothing to see here." I only observe that I don't think it's unique or particularly bad relative to the rest of our history (or the world). You will also notice I have not repeated the "You are not oppressed" rebuttal in years, so give it a fucking rest. If you have such a burning need to come at me at any opportunity, at least address things I have said in a current thread.

I was always very clear that I was arguing against #2, while you seem to be accusing me of arguing against #1.

No, my point is that you've consistently and commonly argued #2, against people who clearly aren't bringing that position. I can provide past examples, either ones I've already linked to here and more generally, but if you want me to focus on current threads :

To most of your bullet points, I'd nod and say "I agree, that's bad." I feel like I'm saying "Yes, I agree, leftist/DEI/woke censorship is bad" and you're screaming at me "But you said they're not literally herding us into concentration camps, therefore you don't really think it's bad!"

I have not, at any point, compared what conservatives today are encountering with concentration camps, even in the figurative sense. At no point in this thread have I gotten anywhere near that. Neither has the_nybbler nor fcfromssc since the move. Nor did anyone in that three-year-old subthread. Maybe TopHattington on a COVID rant? But that's somewhat complicated by Lyman Stone et all advocating the Korematsu solution to COVID (and not discriminating politically in doing so). Like, I won't swear no one ever did, because there are some amazingly dim-witted weakmen out there. There was probably some on the motte subreddit, and maybe even one that wasn't a SneerClub troll.

And I'm absolutely sure I haven't 'screamed' at someone for refusing to agree with that hyperbole.

(Nor have I been comparing anyone to "Zombie Hitler Returning From Hell".)

You do realize that anyone watching can notice that you're endlessly retreating from specific ground points presented by the people you're talking with, to this? Which is probably why you consistently mix "defection and civil war" in response to defection, or to come back to 'current threads', you follow up the earlier quote in this post with :

(And no, I do not think it would have to reach herding-into-concentration-camps levels for me to come around to right wingers being institutionally oppressed.)

Nevermind the awkward question of what those levels are, or why your word games should matter to anyone else, and whether those new levels will stay set or be permissible to reference for another three years. Whatever that point is, it's something vastly different from the excluded third claim that:

But nothing happening today looks to me wildly different from previous eras in US history; the factions change, the dominant groups in the culture war and those being "oppressed" have different labels, and there have been people deprived of their livelihoods, jailed, even killed, before.

Nevermind that each of those times, we built entire new rules under the express pretense of making sure it 'never happened again', with the best you can say is that some cases didn't involve that much gunpowder or blood. The objection today is not that Bad Things Happen To Conservative Good People. The objection is that specific things are happening, and the response is this

I mean, I can show people opposed to FCFromSSC's position swinging back to how "the ability to push for this kind of visible social conformity" is novel and only been available for anyone to exploit for such a short time we can't tell how the Red Tribe might have done so. I can point to the OP of this very subthread claiming that conservatives no longer exist as a group in federal administrative infrastructure, in a way that will prevent them from achieving their goals (or, implicitly, seriously slowing the goals of their opponents), in a way that lacks parallels since the end of the South as a racial institution (coincidentally, a time where this meant far less). I can provide a dozen significant tactical or strategic differences, some wildly different, in powers that the progressive movement is actively using today, if they matter.

Do they?

No, my point is that you've consistently and commonly argued #2, against people who clearly aren't bringing that position.

No, it is not clear to me that people are not bringing that position. You just (re)quoted FCfromSSC and yourself providing a long list of how conservatives are being persecuted and deprived of their rights. If all you're claiming is #1, then what are we disagreeing about?

I have not, at any point, compared what conservatives today are encountering with concentration camps, even in the figurative sense. At no point in this thread have I gotten anywhere near that. Neither has the_nybbler nor fcfromssc since the move.

You may not literally have invoked concentration camps, but the whole point of @FCfromSSC's accelerationism has been, as I understand it, that he sees peaceful coexistence becoming impossible in the near future. Actual concentration camps? Maybe not, but if we can't even share a country and accord each other civil rights, that seems pretty damn concentration camp-adjacent to me. And the @The_Nybbler's entire schtick is whining that the Left has won, laws and democracy are fake and gay, and the boot is already stomping on his face forever and ever.

You do realize that anyone watching can notice that you're endlessly retreating from specific ground points presented by the people you're talking with, to this?

No, I do not realize this. I think this is a claim you keep repeating because you're playing to the crowd. What specific ground points do you think I am retreating from?

I honestly can't tell if you genuinely believe you're scoring gotchas, or if you've just (correctly) deduced that accusing me of lying annoys me, so you keep doing it for the lulz. I can entertain the possibility that I am misunderstanding you, that I missed the point, hell, maybe even that I'm just too dim to understand your argument. But I don't lie or argue in bad faith or play "word games."

I can point to the OP of this very subthread claiming that conservatives no longer exist as a group in federal administrative infrastructure, in a way that will prevent them from achieving their goals (or, implicitly, seriously slowing the goals of their opponents), in a way that lacks parallels since the end of the South as a racial institution (coincidentally, a time where this meant far less). I can provide a dozen significant tactical or strategic differences, some wildly different, in powers that the progressive movement is actively using today, if they matter.

Do they?

I don't know, it depends on what you want me to do with these examples. Agree that they happened? Agree that they are bad? Or agree that they constitute the Right being oppressed? To what level do you want me to agree that the Right is being oppressed? Apparently invoking Orwell and disenfranchisement is too far, but just agreeing that the Right is losing the Culture War at the moment is not enough. What do you want? (Besides to goad me, so, mission accomplished I guess.)

More comments

if I was wrong, he should be able to point this out in a few years.

If Gattsuru won't ask you directly, I will. Were you wrong? Were your confident predictions not an honest appraisal that you planned to stick by, but just a tool to win an argument and shut people up?

So far, I do not think I was wrong. However, I have slightly adjusted my predictions towards more censorship and authoritarianism (not just against "conservatives), and while I still think the accelerationist "National Divorce" is unlikely, I don't think it's quite as unlikely as I once did.

For what it's worth, I had that conversation open in a tab for much of the last year. Not from a feeling of "Ha Ha, look how wrong this person was!" but more because it was an example of what I guess I'd call a pivotal conversation: an exchange that distills the fundamental nature of people's respective positions and disagreements. I find such moments very useful in building an understanding of how other people think, and a lot of the conversations I have here are aiming to generate more of them. The tone, to me, was entirely irrelevant, but the actual content seems evergreen.

I don't know about 20 years from the time that Amadan wrote https://old.reddit.com/r/TheMotte/comments/io1iih/culture_war_roundup_for_the_week_of_september_07/g4epli2/.

However, it has now been 3 years since Amadan wrote it, and so far at least, he is right. Trump is polling well. Religion and social conservatism are still around. There's still plenty of free speech. Leftists are not murdering their political opponents whenever they feel like it.

There's still plenty of free speech.

No there isn't. Being fired, banned from social media, or even debanked is now completely normalized to the point no one here even bothers talking about it when it happens to someone. I am not able to proclaim my views in public, and, in fact have to be careful not to say too much or too little when I'm not around people I trust.

Leftists are not murdering their political opponents whenever they feel like it.

The original post was about "comfortable existence" and being murdered with impunity was just one, extreme, example in a long list of things he said will not happen (several of which had already happened at the time he wrote his post, and several more have happened since).

It is his nature.

I want to share a "view from the inside" as I think that I'm unusual here -- theist, practicing Catholic, married, a gaggle of young children, wife is SAHM, went to an unremarkable college, went to an unremarkable flyover state college, household income in the U.S. middle 50% band, work a middle management job at a mid sized corporation. Though I work in tech, I don't have any connections to Ivy League people, I've never worked at a startup or lived in NYC or SFO, and there is little to no wokeness in my workplace . In other words, a profile of what people would probably reflexively imagine as a "normal" traditional American family (although I suppose being an Evangelical would be still more stereotypical).

At least in my circles, the biggest problems are fear and demoralization. Fear of "having your grill taken away," of no longer being allowed to live a normal life because you've become a target of elite outrage, is very real. I feel like a broken record saying this again on the Motte, but it's so, so different when you have children. I think I would make a decent small-time politician (I'm probably to agreeable to make it big time), but I have small children and a sensitive wife, and I wouldn't want them to be subjected to the kind of insane harassment that would result from some Twitter rando or news outlet signal boosting something I say or believe in. My ideal senatorial or presidential candidate would hold beliefs that would be considered so anathema by the elite that he would have to be independently wealthy and have an iron stomach and brass balls to even stand a chance.

As for demoralization, there's a sense that I share with some of my peers that American institutions are just thoroughly rotten, that we've become dhimmis without realizing it, and that trying to organize politically to build institutional power as unabashed practicing Catholics would go over now about as well as it would under a Caliphate.

To get to the point, I don't think that the Right is starved for intellectuals because it can't produce any. Rather, the foolish ones who stick their neck out get sidelined or destroyed, while the wise ones hide and bide their time. If Michael Anton's Red Caesar suddenly landed on the Atlantic coast, captured Washington D.C., and declared a new republic, I have no doubt at all that these people would come out of the woodwork and that Caesar would be able to quickly assemble a mighty cabinet. But until then, what sense is there in outing yourself as a counterrevolutionary?

Market capitalism leads inexorably to ever more socially (although not necessarily economically) progressive politics in Anglo countries because it successfully filters ambitious, right-wing young men, largely by their own choice, into professions where they make money but are not involved in the running of core political, cultural and educational systems, because careers in them almost all pay much less than comparable careers available to men of the same social class and intelligence in other sectors (eg. whether you’re a Yale grad or a community college grad, a job in ‘media’ or ‘education’ is still going to pay less than a career in much of the private sector).

The only time ‘business conservatives’ in an Anglo capitalist society have cared about politics in the last 150 years enough to make a difference is when they perceived there to be imminent threat of ‘actual socialism’ involving, to a greater or lesser extent, some kind of revolution that would actually expropriate them and make their lives, and those of their families, much worse. Not the distant threat that America or England becomes Brazil in 100 years, or that tax rates may rise a little, but the threat that it becomes Lenin’s Russia or the Paris Commune in 5 years.

If you think about it, it really is the perfect scheme. It’s like running Vogue and wanting to ensure your magazine is staffed only with wealthy young women of the right social background, so you decide to preference degrees in History of Art and require a 2 year unpaid internship before any job offer. You will get what you ask for.

If all the smartest young people in a society become quants at Jane Street UNLESS they care a huge deal about leftist politics and have a strong dislike for Wall Street…you get a society that looks a lot like this one. The human capital in conservative politics is dogshit because unless you either host a prime time Fox News show or are senior enough in the congressional GOP to get good kickbacks after you leave office on the corporate circuit, why bother? The remote chance you might possibly maybe have some influence on power some day, if you’re lucky (but will probably just be poor)?

We can look at this very sub, full of very intelligent conservatives. Almost to the man or woman every single one (including, if you’ll stoop to somewhat less intelligent ones, myself) works in tech, in finance, in the corporate world or in the private sector in general to some extent. And high school teachers making $50k a year have a much bigger effect on the politics of the next generation than an investment banking MD making $1m a year, or than almost any FAANG engineer.

But would you rather be the teacher?

Very well put, and neatly in line (down to mentioning Jane Street) with a recent thought of mine:

smart, rational, capable, serious people shuffle into Jane Street and Silicon Valley and rationally, sensibly make millions of dollars. But they abdicate the role of culture-shaping to teenagers on Tumblr and TikTok. Many sane individuals exist in an insane culture, but deep-lying incentives point them away from building culture—and then they find themselves tossed about by the cultural and political forces they neglect.

Right, the only thing that could stop this is if young conservatives prioritized political victory over making money. It is possible to imagine a world - perhaps one in which making money is a little ‘grubby’ or ‘middle class’ while ‘gentlemen’ play politics, as it was with the aristocracy in pre-corn-laws Britain - where this might be the case. But it’s very far from this one. And the hereditarily rich, whether they’re Musk’s kids or Tucker’s, are almost all still taught by the same progressive teachers and academics, so their politics mostly fall in line too.

Consider that Musk might indeed change politics somewhat with his purchase of Twitter. But this is the richest man, by far, in the United States! To have a chance of shifting the window even a little requires a not insignificant portion of the wealth of the richest person in all the land. Meanwhile, a few dozen progressive apparatchiks in DC who nobody has ever heard of likely have more power between them.

If you want smart rational capable people to do a job building the culture then you should increase their compensation. Pay me $1 million a year guaranteed for the next 30 years (inflation adjusted) and I will gladly leave my quant job and focus on shaping societal culture into my preferred image, it certainly beats predicting fair values of AAPL 30 minutes in the future better than the competion. Problem is that the "conservative right" refuses to pay the opportunity cost going rate for the kinds of people it says it wants. I'm sure that rich like minded billionaires like Thiel could band together and fund such an organisation of 250 such people without too much cost to themselves; it would cost a fraction of what Musk on his own paid for Twitter over the whole 30 years.

Yes. What's more, I suspect that most of the ambitious right-wing young men who go into business are mainly right-wing in the sense that they support a market economy, they do not hate rich people and businesses, they have relatively favorable views of law enforcement, and they do not blame white men for all the world's problems. They are not social conservatives. They probably enjoy a line of the good ol' blow every once in a while, they don't believe in god, they would be happy if a random hookup got an abortion rather than having the baby, and they have no desire to leave the big city and live in a small community.

I think it depends. Social conservatives are much more likely to get involved in politics simply because they care more that their government supports their socially conservative views than they do about getting rich. This is one reason I’m a bit more optimistic about the chances of social conservatives becoming much more of a political force in the next generation of politicians. The reason is much like what you’ve said. The landscape is shifting precisely because the left has been so forceful in pushing its views and ideas through institutions and forcing them into businesses that there’s no longer the option of not being involved unless you’re okay with those ideas. Politics is coming for them in a way that’s kinda unprecedented. When you have to vet every piece of entertainment, your kids school, toys, stores, food and drinks, churches, clubs and organizations to make sure they’re not promoting things that you consider vile, being apathetic isn’t much of an option anymore. There’s no such thing as being left alone, no neutral territory. And because of that it’s going to come down to one of two options— opt out of society completely and live more or less like the Amish or Hasidic Jews, or fight for the right to not have that stuff shoved down your throat all the time.

This has a lot in it. As someone in (higher) education, my way to make the profession more conservative would be (a) more job security at the earlier stages, (b) more competition/rules based criteria for hiring, and (c) higher salaries that are more linked to performance.

(That I've done extremely well on quantitative criteria like students' ratings of my teaching and my number of publications, but suffered from not being part of certain cliques, is obviously incidental to my opinions...)

Right now, academia is a matter of being an itinerant global citizen (so less disincentive for people with more openness to experience and lower orderliness) with the ultimate goal of a secure job where the key skill is people liking you (so motivates people with higher agreeableness and neuroticism). Why would anyone who knows about political psychology be surprised that this tends to select for liberals over conservatives?

You could try "defund academia," but this isn't going to result in more conservative academics, just fewer academics. You could try "defund the humanities," but the sciences also have plenty of liberals and potential liberals, and they'll feel threatened by conservatives, to the point of turning potential conservative scientists into liberals.

absolute banger. struck a real chord with the anxiety I feel about staying in the private sector and trying to start a family and my bafflement that anyone has time to run for politics. It seems important to me that from my middle class upbringing I don't know anyone who actually has a politically oriented life path and if you tasked me with becoming to the mayor of my city I'd have to google what that process could even look like.

Great post, of course.

One thing I've very hazy about, though, is whether this is an argument that stops with the Republican party being doomed, or whether it's rather an argument for all those institutions actually being doomed.

I remember years ago reading some prepper types making the point that America as we know it is not physically built to survive meaningful civil unrest; there's all sorts of infrastructure and pipelines and so on that are huge and spread out and essentially undefendable. But the reason for that is, of course, that America is largely peaceful, and has been relatively high trust in most places for quite a while, and so it has been built with those assumptions in mind (and indeed this is one of the huge economic benefits of having a fairly high trust society).

I think there's something very similar going on with all of America's ostensible shared institutions; at least in my view, the entire point of stressing the rhetoric of "consent of the governed" is recognizing that all of our various systems work because the lion's share of citizens are willing to accept the authority of those systems, even if they don't understand them or are wary about the people who operate them.

And in that sense, consent of the governed is a very different concept from some theoretical notion of democratic legitimacy, in the "majority of votes = legitimate" sense. I mean, on paper inner city police departments are propped up by local democratic governance. But one of the giant problems inner city black neighborhoods have long faced is a lack of trust about police as an institution from certain communities, and there are huge amounts of horrible downstream consequences to that lack of trust and consent. It is trivial as an outsider to look at a lot of that dysfunction and say, depending on your political point of view, "See, that's why people should trust police with a monopoly on violence" or "see, that's why police need to be reformed so that they can be trusted". But it turns out regaining trust in institutions is incredibly difficult in practice, regardless of the wisdom of the bromides. Maintaining buy in from random citizens is crucially important.

This stuff is obviously far from academic. I had an uncle in 2021 who was all in on the ivermectin stuff. He's in his late 60s. Not a dumb guy, in general. He's a senior engineer in some firm. He's also apparently very online these days. He and his wife had a pretty nasty time with COVID. They were very aggressively anti-vax. I wish I could have rolled my eyes and said, at the time, "See, that's why you should just listen to the various authoritative bodies and trust what they have to say!" And I'm not, by nature, inclined to think that populist medical treatment rumor mongering online is a better idea than rigorous, empirical medical science from well-functioning institutions. But of course, I also lived through the summer of 2020, and I was paying pretty close attention to those same experts and their public pronouncements too. And I remember being told that racism was the real public health crisis. I remember being told that everyone needed to stay in their apartments RIGHT NOW - SHUT DOWN EVERYTHING to save lives, until suddenly it was time for anti-racism marches and everyone needed to go back outside immediately. And I remember being told that it was more important that young black health care workers get vaccines rather than my older white relatives, despite the much more severe relative risk of death they actually faced. I'm not in the business of forgetting any of that.

And so what happens if more and more of the population stops accepting the authority of those various institutions? What if more and more of the country starts treating universities and various federal agencies and ostensibly mainstream, shared press and maybe even public schools in exactly the same way that certain inner city black communities treat their cops?

Because I feel certain that having a dearth of public conservatives in those bodies is likely to greatly speed up this process. There is no endpoint where the bifurcations sharpens much further, and meaningful consent of the governed somehow remains. The line of a nullification crisis runs through every human heart. And someone responding "but those bureaucracies fulfill essential roles - they are indespendible!" is understandable, but is in some sense fundamentally disconnected from the facts on the ground. It's much like saying "Those inner city neighborhoods need functioning police forces and rule of law (and locals schools, for that matter)!" All true, but there's no obvious mechanism from here to there.

One particularly interesting wrinkle in all this, to me, is the current Supreme Court. It is not an inevitable fact of nature that all the various institutions that progressives dominate should have actual power or authority within the context of America's political system. In many cases, a tangle of legislation, court rulings, and executive branch decisions are the basis for their explicit authority. We've already seen the current Supreme Court take a wrecking ball to topics of abortion and affirmative action. I've seen the claim made, recently, that prior to the current court, the last time the Supreme Court had a 6-3 conservative majority was back in the 1920's. Which is to say, before the New Deal. Before World War 2. Before several waves of massive expansion in the Federal government. I don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility that the naked partisanship of a bunch of the institutions dominated by progressives right now, and the very overtness and antagonism of that partisanship, leads to partisan conservatives in the Supreme Court taking a sledge hammer to the foundation of some of those institutions. Which... is not a very conservative thing to do, of course. But live by who/whom, die by who/whom. I've seen a number of really furious, anxious progressive think pieces about the Chevron doctrine in particular recently, and the potential damage the court could do to the entire unelected federal bureaucracy and its power if that doctrine is significantly revised. But who knows.

Rhetoric around the SCOTUS is turning into a particular flashpoint in recent times as well, particularly because of Rightist failings in the Executive and Legislative branch even when they win those branches. The Legislative has failure to repeal Obamacare, and to be frank the failure to do much more than obstruct; The Executive has the whole deep state thing, brought into sharp contrast with the Trump administration. Now we are seeing consent being manufactured to reach into the Judicial branch as it falls into hard Originalist control for the first time, as mentioned, since the '20s. If the SCOTUS returns to penumbras and emanations through less than clean means the right very much will feel locked out of the Federal government entirely, when they very much shouldn't be.

means the right very much will feel locked out of the Federal government entirely

Why shouldn't we feel that way, given that we pretty much are locked out? And even if we do start realizing that, so what?

when they very much shouldn't be

Shouldn't be locked out, or shouldn't be feeling locked out? This reads unclearly to me. And in either case, why not? Why shouldn't the Left do everything they can to lock their hated enemy out of every institution, every power center, every decision-making process?

What reason does a stronger party have not to crush utterly their weaker foe?

Because then it turns into a prisoner's dilemma case, and everyone defects.

And so what happens if more and more of the population stops accepting the authority of those various institutions?

The institutions reassert their authority by cracking down, making showy examples of people, and changing people's incentives toward compliance as needed.

There is no endpoint where the bifurcations sharpens much further, and meaningful consent of the governed somehow remains.

Which is why, to the (debatable) extent "consent of the governed" ever existed, it will be removed. Most of the history of large, settled societies has been a tiny elite ruling over a vast body of disenfranchised, ground-down peasants. I see no reason why our current society could not be run the same (to the extent it isn't already there).

All true, but there's no obvious mechanism from here to there.

What was the mechanism by which William and his fellow Normans ruled the Anglo-Saxons? How did any Chinese emperor rule a realm as large and populous as China? How did the East India Company end up with power over the subcontinent? How did the Romans successfully suppress revolt after revolt against their rule for century after century?

We've already seen the current Supreme Court take a wrecking ball to topics of abortion and affirmative action.

I would dispute this characterization of these decisions. Dobbs was a purely symbolic victory; one where there were plenty of legal minds on the other side who, even though they agreed with Roe's outcome, thought it was on shaky ground as a legal ruling; and which has had negligible effect on actual abortion rates. And I remember when the affirmative action decision came out, people were already pointing out how schools in California have been straightforwardly bypassing the similar state-level restriction with 'totally-not-a-quota "holistic admissions,"' and that the majority decision itself lays out the start of a path for academia to essentially ignore it. These are more a feather duster than a wrecking ball.

leads to partisan conservatives in the Supreme Court taking a sledge hammer to the foundation of some of those institutions.

How, exactly? What means does the Court have to enforce any decision it might make against them?

think pieces about the Chevron doctrine in particular recently, and the potential damage the court could do to the entire unelected federal bureaucracy and its power if that doctrine is significantly revised.

Again, I don't see how that could work.

I've seen a number of really furious, anxious progressive think pieces about the Chevron doctrine in particular recently, and the potential damage the court could do to the entire unelected federal bureaucracy and its power if that doctrine is significantly revised.

Could you link one or two?

I did not ask for a definition of Chevron deference; I didn't have it memorised, but I looked it up myself. I asked for a "furious, anxious progressive think piece" about Chevron deference and the "damage" that could occur if it's "significantly revised", because @CrispyFriedBarnacles said he'd seen "a number" of such pieces.

Not sure what meets @Questionmark's definition of "really furious, anxious progressive think piece," but there are a few I've seen around the net in the last week or so:

"The Case That Could Destroy the Government" https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/11/securities-and-exchange-commission-v-jarkesy-supreme-court/676059/

Then there's this one, which originally had the title "A new Supreme Court case threatens to sow chaos throughout the federal government" https://www.vox.com/politics/2023/5/2/23706535/supreme-court-chevron-deference-loper-bright-raimondo

Then there's another Vox masterpiece: "The Supreme Court seeks a middle path between following the law and blowing up the government" https://www.vox.com/scotus/2023/11/29/23980966/supreme-court-sec-jarkesy-administrative-law-judges

And more or less every respectable news outlet had some opinion piece along the lines of Washington Post's "A conservative court intent on arrogating power unto itself" https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/12/01/supreme-court-administrative-state/

For comparison, Reuter's most recent headline on the topic is "US Supreme Court signals it could limit SEC in-house enforcement," though I do think that undersells it somewhat.

It was @CrispyFriedBarnacles who brought up the topic, not Questionmark. But thanks a bunch.

There are also two off ramps for conservative activism:

  1. For the economic conservative there is Libertarianism. And its not a lucrative career option, but its also not something where you have to go live on peanuts to pursue. Any slightly competent libertarian could probably get a job somewhere within the Koch network.
  2. For the regligous conservative there is ... religion. Religion needs preists, and missionaries, and people to run the soup kitchens and shelters.

The progressive cause has done well at funneling all outpourings of charity towards politics. Care about the homeless? Well that means you need to campaign for a progressive mayor! Care about education and the kids? Campaign for a progressive school board. Care about the environment? Lets get the federal government to protect it, and we need the right politicians in office for that!


In general I think you nailed it. Any conservative that doesn't have a mentallity of "burn down all the governing institutions" is deluding themselves about their level of power and influence. There was a thing one youtube anarcho-capitalist use to say: "Trying to shrink government from the inside is like joining the KKK to make them less racist".

For the regligous conservative there is ... religion. Religion needs preists, and missionaries, and people to run the soup kitchens and shelters.

Which is to say, feeding and housing the footsoldiers of their political opponents.

Are you the aforementioned libertarian side, chiming in?

No, I'm the blackpill side.

Once we feed them, are they really the enemy's?

Is suspect that the right has far more knowledge and experience with the nature of mercenaries than the left does.

I'm not gonna say that never works, but just this October there was a country which found out the hard way exactly how bad it could go.

Wait, what mercenaries? The West Bank settlers? Or do you mean the Wagners?

At the risk of explaining a very morbid joke, a significant amount of cash, food aid, and other important parts of life came to the West Bank through Israeli infrastructure, hiring, or work permits.

Providing the destitute what they desperately need gives a certain power over them, if you'll excuse the realpolitick, but there's more than one way to respond to that.

Oh.

Once we feed them, are they really the enemy's?

Yes, they will happily take your charity and continue to support the other side for forcing others to provide them for even more.

My case, rather, is this: they know exactly what they want someone to do, but in an increasing number of institutions, there is no one left to do it.

I think it's worse than that. Republicans no longer even know what they want in any level of detail.

Witness the Ramaswamy proposal to fire 50% of federal employees by social security number. Why 50%? Well it seems like a nice big number. Which ones? Literally just choose them randomly. It's what you get when you combine a desire for "small government" with complete ignorance about what the government actually does. He's just saying "Less bureaucracy!" without being able to specify which functions he wants to cease.

And ok, Ramaswamy is a sideshow. But it's not like the frontrunner is providing any level of clarity. "I'll repeal Obamacare and give everyone MUCH BETTER healthcare!" Ok, better how? Just "better!"

There's no proactive policy agenda. There's no vision of an ideal end state to be achieved. They aren't even radical anarcho-capitalists like Milei, they don't have the intellect or vision for even that.

"I'll repeal Obamacare and give everyone MUCH BETTER healthcare!"

This is always framed as a swipe at Trump, but it really shows how incompetent the establishment GOP is. They have hundreds, if not thousands, of people working for think tanks, policy assistants, lobbyists, etc who were supposed to be crafting a Republican alternative to Obamacare. They had multiple votes to repeal Obamacare before Trump was a political player.

It turns out they had no plan. Apparently they were just cashing paycheques and playing Candy Crush.

John McCain repeatedly voted to repeal Obamacare, campaigned in 2016 on repealing Obamacare, then cast the deciding vote to save Obamacare. He was hailed as a hero by the press for opposing Trump, but he knew that there was no plan to replace Obamacare for all of those votes and during his campaign.

Trump just assumed someone in GOP healthcare policy had done their job in the past six years.

Legislation is the job of the legislative branch. The President should have input, but he shouldn't be expected to go into more depth than broad strokes about ideas he supports and opposes.

Alternative view is that you’re mistaking ad copy for content. The “debates” and public appearances and speeches given to the pubic are vague on purpose. They are not meant to inform. The point is to give out nice sounding platitudes that the base hopefully claps for and that can be quote mined for advertising purposes. Saying something too specific about what your plan is will make some of the base oppose it and that doesn’t help. If you propose cutting the Department of Transportation, people who think we need it won’t vote for you. If you just vaguely wave at cutting something, everyone assumes that their programs are safe and you don’t lose votes.

I think in practice this vagueness functions the opposite way. If you said you wanted to cut program XYZ then the people in that program know you're coming for them, but people in other programs feels safe. That which is not explicitly included is implicitly excluded and all that. On the other hand if you leave the details vague you leave people uncertain about whether their program is safe. I think in the presence of that uncertainty people are more likely to infer the negative outcome (you want to cut their program) than the positive outcome (their program is safe). By leaving the details vague you can piss off everyone instead of just the people in a particular program.

Yup, absolutely. This is part of the dynamic TW is pointing at in his OP - the actual policy experts are overwhelmingly Democrats. On top of that, Republicans don't reward actual expertise - no one thanks you for being the guy saying "wait, it doesn't work like that". Trump himself is ultimate form of this pathology, but it didn't start with him and it won't end when he's gone.

In part it's because obamacare is more or less a globally center-right healthcare policy- it's cribbed from a bunch of euro systems that are very establishment-conservative coded.

It happens to be a giant trainwreck compared to those systems, and that's mostly the democrat's fault, but it's not like there's a right-coded twenty dollar bill on the sidewalk as to how to make it better. There just isn't a conservative-coded way to meaningfully bring health insurance costs down, although you can do some pruning around the edges. There are progressive-coded ways that would get implemented by right wing technocrats not facing a lot of scrutiny, but that is not a good description of the Trump admin.

Witness the Ramaswamy proposal to fire 50% of federal employees by social security number. Why 50%? Well it seems like a nice big number. Which ones? Literally just choose them randomly. It's what you get when you combine a desire for "small government" with complete ignorance about what the government actually does. He's just saying "Less bureaucracy!" without being able to specify which functions he wants to cease.

Honestly, what better way is there? The bureaucracy is self-healing, and it's too big and too complicated to operate on surgically. Obviously it will also resist you every step of the way, but I don't think even the bureaucrats themselves could make significant cuts at this stage.

So there are only two options:

  1. Something like the Ramaswamy proposal - burn everything, and then fix whatever breaks.
  2. Identify big areas of spending and commit to not doing them. For example, only palliative care for those over 85, or no welfare for anyone with less than 10 years as a taxpayer.

Of those options, the second is politically impossible and would be rolled back even if you managed it. The first is one-time and would be difficult to roll back after a few months because those fired will have to get new jobs.

There isn't. Cutting bureaucracy has always been an applause line for the right, even more so now in the age of Trump and all his "deep state" talk. But if the ultimate goal is to save money, then dealing with the unpleasant political realities of targeted spending cuts is the only way to do it. But unless the goal is to inflict maximum chaos, consequences be damned, then Vivek's is an unserious proposal from an unserious candidate. I'm sure certain offices would handle it okay, but a lot of them wouldn't. And when these offices are critical, the fallout can be severe. What happens when your grandmother doesn't get her Social Security check? What happens when you stop getting reliable mail delivery? What happens when all the stuff your state and local governments rely on Federal grants to get done doesn't happen because the distribution of those grants goes to a standstill? How long do you think the remaining employees will stick around and work for free if this fucks up the payroll department? "Fixing whatever breaks" isn't a viable option since you'd probably spending more money to untangle the Gordian Knot that would develop within weeks.

The hope is that the decimated services immediately switch over all their efforts to the critical stuff because they’re decent people who don’t want grandmothers to starve to death and leave the makework to one side.

Would this happen, and would it be enough? I don’t know. You would have to look into crises of state capacity and the response to them. You would also have to judge how likely it is that state employees would aim to maximise rather than minimise pain to enforce rollback (quite likely, I think).

Is there any historical example of significant state simplification? Possibly the dissolution of the monasteries in the UK but that’s a rather different kettle of fish. OTOH it worked at Twitter.

(I’m not arguing for Vivek, he sounds feckless as hell, just musing about the viability of rip-off-the-plaster policy generally.)

The hope is that the decimated services immediately switch over all their efforts to the critical stuff because they’re decent people who don’t want grandmothers to starve to death and leave the makework to one side.

That’s a very optimistic view of government agencies. These are the same institutions that close federal parks every time their budgets are threatened. It’s more likely that they will withhold the vital care grandmother needs so that the whole world will see how necessary they are and how evil the people who are trying to take away their money are.

There’s a pretty big difference between closing a park and letting grannies die. It might be a sufficiently large distance, idk.

Steelmanning aside, I agree with you. I’m just troubled by the fact that institutions tend to get as large and ineffectual and corrupt as they can until they collapse. I’m therefore interested in potential methods of creating a controllable disaster rather than allowing one to happen naturally.

Everything is downstream from control of educational institutions. Unless they have the luck and resources (and willingness to forego prestige) to go exclusively to conservative private schools, the average educated professional will be required to spend between 16 and 20 years being indoctrinated by government-funded institutions that openly despise right wing ideas. Even if they make it out with their political ideology intact, few conservatives are hungry for more abuse.

If a conservative person wants to go into education themselves to "be change they want to see in the world," they then have to spend several more years hiding their opinions before they potentially get the protection of tenure, contend with unions that will use their dues to fund left-wing politicians, and spend their entire career surrounded by people who hate them and are constantly trying to get them fired.

It's demoralizing for even the thickest-skinned among us. It really sucks to spend your entire life around people who openly hate you and want to see you fail. I really don't see how to solve this problem other than to engage in a hostile takeover of state educational institutions like DeSantis is doing in Florida, but even then, you run into the problem you highlighted that there probably simply aren't enough educated conservatives left after decades of left-wing domination of the schools to staff the institutions even if conservatives could fire everyone. Even total victory would require relying on hostile actors for implementation for years

But shouldn't this give the average conservative slightly more sympathy or understanding for the whole idea?

It should, and in my case it does. Where this breaks down, though, is when "structural oppression" is maintained to exist where no evidence other than outcomes can be found to demonstrate it, but maintained not to exist when such oppression is promulgated in official policies, is routinely encountered in daily life, and is enacted into local, state and federal law.

No, it makes me less sympathetic, because it's clear that the concept is only a weapon that doesn't get used to identify actual "power structures," but rather to provide cover for existing power structures that the critical theorist is embedded in. The concept doesn't have either explanatory or emancipatory power, because it can never be deployed except by the already powerful against the powerless.
The only way for conservatives to become "officially structurally oppressed" would be for them to take over all the universities and government so that they had the absolute power to crush anyone who didn't agree they were structurally oppressed. It would be as sick a joke as the current DEI tyranny.

If your theory about structural oppression results in you having a $400,000/yr job blacklisting job candidates who don't support the theory loudly enough, the theory itself was the oppression.
If your theory about structural oppression results in a handful of weirdos in a coffee shop talking about how powerless they are, the theory was useless as the tool against oppression it was intended to be.
Either way, the theory was bunk.

Isn't this more or less what progressives mean by "structural oppression?"

It's the sort of thing that term evokes, but it's not what they mean by it, except in a motte-and-bailey where that's the motte and some sort of amorphous unmeasurable mechanism is the bailey. If all the elite entities were rejecting blacks for being black (as indeed they have done), that would be honestly called "structural oppression"; the term now hints at that while not actually meaning it.

The obvious rejoinder is that the old forms of oppression were based on involuntary, innate characteristics like race, sex, and sexual orientation, while the new forms are based on nominally voluntary characteristics.

You’re missing the other, even more obvious rejoinder: some cultures actually are better than others. It’s not “oppressive” for people with the better behavioral norms and beliefs to gatekeep out those who have shown themselves incapable of adhering to those norms and beliefs. Cultural norms are not arbitrary. The elites are actually better than the non-elites, and therefore differences in access to elite institutions are a natural result of differences in important qualities between different individuals and groups.

Of course. This isn't some sort of gotcha. The fact that conservatives are openly despised and discriminated against in education today doesn't change the fact that it was the conservatives doing the discriminating not too long ago. To the extent this sort of bigotry was targeted at leftists and racial and sexual minorities in the past, that was also bad.

I'm sure there are probably some older conservatives who used to complain about "uppity blacks" and who now complain about structural oppression in a way smacks of the sort of hypocrisy you're getting at, but I'm a child of the 90s who was raised to earnestly believe all this shit was wrong no matter who/whom.

If the lack of smart, educated conservatives was driven entirely by institutional gatekeeping, then there would be a lot of smart uneducated conservatives, and the adverts on conservative websites would be for educational trips to Rome and the St John's College extramural programme. In fact, the adverts on conservative websites (except explicitly Christian ones) are for crypto scams and acai berry colon cleanses, suggesting that there is a real difference in IQ.

Richard Hanania isn't trolling when he complains about how dumb American conservatism is in the Current Year - he is expressing frustration. This is new, but not that new. George W Bush had to pretend to be dumber than he was in order to be a serious right-wing candidate for President, George HW Bush did not. The only powerful right-wing tendency that would appeal to an intellectually curious 130+ IQ is tradcath.

[Yes - I know Elon Musk is on the right, and a genius. But his right-wing fanbase don't like him because he builds electric cars, they lie him because of his low-effort shitposting]

There isn't a lack of smart, educated, conservatives. There's a lack of conservatives in the field of education, which is an entirely different thing.

The majority of highbrow independent publishing appears to be conservative. Measuring things by ad targeting is frankly nuts because the entire ecosystem of intelligent people on the internet are adblocked ghosts to advertisers.

That's as may be, but when I go on talkingpointsmemo.com in incognito mode I get ads for premium brand menswear and SUV's, when I go on dailykos.com I get ads for e-scooters and high-end video editing software, and when I go on redstate.com or other sites in that network most of the ads are for cheap clothes imported from China. Admittedly I did see one ad for small-business accounting software on a right-wing site, which points to the one useful demographic that is still mostly conservative.

Have you considered that some of this is just cultural differences?

incognito mode

This does nothing to change the tracking performed by major ad services.

You'll have to create a totally fresh device/connection/account, and you'll have to do it in a location that's geographically separated from your current browsing history. The advertising systems know what it means when a brand new "person" hops onto the internet using the same internet connection, device, browsing patterns, display-size etc as someone who already exists.

then there would be a lot of smart uneducated conservatives, and the adverts on conservative websites would be for educational trips to Rome and the St John's College extramural programme.

Hold up, is this not what we see?

If the lack of smart, educated conservatives was driven entirely by institutional gatekeeping, then there would be a lot of smart uneducated conservatives, and the adverts on conservative websites would be for educational trips to Rome and the St John's College extramural programme. In fact, the adverts on conservative websites (except explicitly Christian ones) are for crypto scams and acai berry colon cleanses, suggesting that there is a real difference in IQ.

Quite a few logical leaps here, e.g. even if there were a lot of smart uneducated conservatives, it doesn't follow that they'd be a large proportion of conservative consumers, nor that they'd be especially interested in education, and moreover (this is more questionable) they might be more gullible because of a lack of education.

However, isn't the original claim that there is a lack of conservatives in education (especially higher education) not that there are a lot of smart uneducated conservatives?

The only powerful right-wing tendency that would appeal to an intellectually curious 130+ IQ is tradcath.

While 130+ IQ is probably overrepresented among IRL tradcaths, a randomly-chosen IRL tradcath is more likely to be a geocentrist who believes cigarrettes are good for you than to be rat-adjacent. Median-level tradcath politics are Alex Jones-tier conspiracy theories with added reactionary social conservatism- although not twitter race warriors either.

The difference between the internet tradcath posters(most of whom do not actually go to church) and the IRL tradcaths(who do not describe themselves that way) is vast. It seems that many of these posters could care less about practicing or believing any form of Catholicism; they just want to attach themselves to a living, reactionary western tradition.

The Republican Party is doomed.

...Because Democrats control the academia, and Democrats control the media, etc... is an evergreen argument that DNC Partisans have been making for literal decades now. To be blunt, I don't think it's true anymore today than it was back in 1992.

As much flak as I catch for it, these sorts of arguments are why I maintain my Hobbes vs Rousseau model of Right and Left, it seems to cleave reality at the joints. Example being just how "top-down" your entire model of society seems to be here. You talk about the Republican having a much shorter bench of talent like it doesn't have a whole raft of Republican Governors and state-level legislators who could conceivably be promoted to the national level. If anything, it seems to me like it's the democrats who are suffering from a short bench. Otherwise they wouldn't have to depend so heavily on the visibly senescent Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, Et Al to represent them.

At the risk of accidentally agreeing with @KulakRevolt on something I don't think the most likely outcome of the progressive march through the institutions is a final victory for gay pride and a free Palestine. It's an erosion of the influence of said institutions. There was a time where an article in the New York Times was something to be taken seriously. This is not that time. At some point the "experts" in the federal government are going to say "do X" and Florida or some other red-coded state is going to reply "Nah" and in that moment we will find out who's really doomed.

At the risk of accidentally agreeing with @KulakRevolt on something I don't think the most likely outcome of the progressive march through the institutions is a final victory for gay pride and a free Palestine. It's an erosion of the influence of said institutions.

I actually agree with this point here, though with the proviso that I don't think that's a likely outcome so much as a guaranteed consequence that has already arrived (just look at COVID). The progressive march through the institutions doesn't mean that the left wins forever - it means that the institutions they took over get looted of their social and reputational capital as people realise that Academia has transformed into a left-wing advocacy group rather than serving its original function. The same process is being compounded in another way by the commercialisation and abuse of science for profit via financially motivated studies discovering that their corporate backers are right. People were willing to listen to experts when they believed they were getting expertise, but that imprimatur of authority and trust was too tempting a target for political activists.

Of course this doesn't mean that the institutions will suddenly discover their mistakes and adjust course. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-00789-5 They're going to see that they're hurting both their own institution and the cause of the left more broadly, and then they're just going to keep doing exactly what they're doing without changing. It sounds insulting when phrased like that, but you can just go and read them talking about how they're going to keep doing it even though it has a negative political outcome for their own team!

people realise that Academia has transformed into a left-wing advocacy group rather than serving its original function

So what if people realize this, so long as they still need the credential Academia issues to get hired?

People were willing to listen to experts when they believed they were getting expertise, but that imprimatur of authority and trust was too tempting a target for political activists.

So what if the ordinary people no longer trust or listen to “experts” — so long as the elites continue to listen, they can in turn use their power to force ordinary people to obey “expert opinion” whether they “trust” it or not.

They're going to see that they're hurting both their own institution and the cause of the left more broadly

Except, how are they actually hurting it?

It sounds insulting when phrased like that, but you can just go and read them talking about how they're going to keep doing it even though it has a negative political outcome for their own team!

I don’t see how people can look at how these folks keep doing things that hurt their electoral position, and not see that as evidence that elections don’t matter. These people aren’t (all) blind or stupid. Why assume that they’re missing what’s obvious to you, rather than taking it as evidence that they know something you don’t?

I have a pet analogy I like to use. Suppose I see a nice black car with tinted windows run a red light… right past a cop car. I then think “how blind must that driver have been, to have missed that obvious cop car.” Only, as the cop car first turns to pursue, then drops that pursuit, it becomes clear that the driver probably knew about the cop, and that I’m the one who missed something, the very thing the cop came to see: the diplomatic license plates, indicating the vehicle is covered by the Vienna Protocols and diplomatic immunity, and the cop can’t ticket its driver no matter how he violated the traffic laws.

Again, if these people don’t care about hurting their electoral chances, maybe they have a reason not to care.

So what if people realize this, so long as they still need the credential Academia issues to get hired?

This is actually a problem the right needs to work on and I wish them all the best in their efforts to do so. Credentialism is bad for society no matter the political valence in my view.

So what if the ordinary people no longer trust or listen to “experts” — so long as the elites continue to listen, they can in turn use their power to force ordinary people to obey “expert opinion” whether they “trust” it or not.

There's a very real way in which losing legitimacy and perceived respect damages the authority of a governing elite, and that authority is required for the elites to maintain power. Have you read up on any of the historical analogues to the current system? Elites that lose the respect of the governed don't usually get good endings.

Except, how are they actually hurting it?

Decreasing their own credibility and increasing support for opposition figures, as well as supporting and encouraging ineffective and counterproductive forms of political activism.

I don’t see how people can look at how these folks keep doing things that hurt their electoral position, and not see that as evidence that elections don’t matter. These people aren’t (all) blind or stupid. Why assume that they’re missing what’s obvious to you, rather than taking it as evidence that they know something you don’t?

I don't believe they're blind or stupid at all - they're stuck in a massive coordination problem, and some of the more lucid ones actually put up blog posts or articles talking about it. A lot of them are aware of the issue, they just can't do anything about it without destroying all their social relationships, employment prospects and ability to live a quiet life. You can be an expert poll forecaster that had a perfect track record working for the Obama campaign, but even posting your extremely well justified advice on winning elections and protesting effectively will get you harassed out of polite society! Current left wing political activism exists largely to fulfil social and personal needs rather than to actually effect change in the world, and those goals are more highly prioritised than actually achieving anything.

I'm totally open to the possibility that I'm missing something, and I also don't think this is an exclusive reason. But it is convincing enough for me and I've spoken to people in academia (off the record) who agree with me here.

There's a very real way in which losing legitimacy and perceived respect damages the authority of a governing elite, and that authority is required for the elites to maintain power.

How so? All you need to maintain power is sufficient ability to punish disobedience, so as to sufficiently incentivize compliance. How did feudal nobles maintain power over vastly more numerous serfs? (See the German Peasants' War.) How much "perceived respect" did beaten-down eastern European serfs really have for their overlords?

Have you read up on any of the historical analogues to the current system?

Which historical incidents do you think are analogous to our current situation? Because I think the historical analogies are things like the Stellinga, late 10th century Norman peasants

Peasant leaders who brought complaints to the regent Rodulf of Ivry had their hands and feet cut off, after they were captured.[2][3] Others were blinded, impaled, or burnt alive, land owners forfeited their land.[5]: 51

— the Jacquerie, the Merfold brothers, Carinthian peasants, the Bundschuh movement(s), the "Poor Conrad" leagues, Turkish Celali, or any number of other situations on Wikipedia's "List of peasant revolts" where the result box is red and reads "Suppression of the rebellion."

When some 300,000 or so angry German peasants rose up in "Europe's largest and most widespread popular uprising before the French Revolution of 1789," did the aristocracy attempt to win back the peasants' "trust" and "respect"? No, they sent out 6,000–8,500 knights and mercenaries to suppress the peasants, killing a third of them (while themselves taking "minimal" losses), and after the rebellion was crushed, they "restored the old order in a frequently harsher form" and cracked down on the peasants even harder, leading to "a reduction of rights and freedoms of the peasant class, pushing them out of political life."

Decreasing their own credibility

Again, the only "credibility" they need is the ability to credibly threaten punishment for those who disobey them.

increasing support for opposition figures

What opposition figures are there that they need possibly worry about?

ineffective and counterproductive forms of political activism.

They don't need political activism, and as various people (including Curtis Yarvin) have pointed out, modern "political activism" is a sham that only "works" when it serves to provide the elites a pretext to do something they already wanted to do anyway.

but even posting your extremely well justified advice on winning elections

Again, I see them not caring about winning elections, and take this as evidence that they don't need to win elections, that losing elections does little-to-nothing to their power, and that elections don't matter. Why don't you?

They don't need elections or "activism." They have all the power they need via their control of the institutions, first and foremost the massive Permanent Bureaucracy in DC, which is now fully insulated from any mechanism of "democratic" control.

They act like they don't have to worry about losing their power because they can't lose their power. They are so powerful, nobody on Earth can stop them.

No, they sent out 6,000–8,500 knights and mercenaries to suppress the peasants

Yet check out the comments under the latest army recruitment videos that stopped targeting liberals, but went back to targeting the traditional red regions. Many parents from military families state that don't want their children to join the army anymore.

The current elite is not Prussian. They don't see honor in soldiering and their culture rejects guns and law & order. They can't hire mercenaries anymore like in the olden days. So who is going to suppress the peasants, when police and the soldiers are peasants? Why would be elite be able to count on them when the peasants truly lose faith in the system?

How so? All you need to maintain power is sufficient ability to punish disobedience, so as to sufficiently incentivize compliance. How did feudal nobles maintain power over vastly more numerous serfs? (See the German Peasants' War.) How much "perceived respect" did beaten-down eastern European serfs really have for their overlords?

So your position is that the ancien régime is still in power in France? All hail the Sun King! I'm not sure if you've noticed, but there aren't any more peasants in the world and the regimes you're describing have in fact fallen over and collapsed. That form of social organisation just isn't viable in a world with guns and explosives, and it was put in great danger from the existence of the crossbow.

Which historical incidents do you think are analogous to our current situation?

Pre-revolution France.

Again, the only "credibility" they need is the ability to credibly threaten punishment for those who disobey them.

Elites hold less power than you think, and the ability to threaten that punishment very rapidly goes away when they lose legitimacy in the eyes of the military. If the Deep State revealed itself publicly tomorrow and then announced they were taking over the country to save it from Trump, they wouldn't get their way - they'd engender too much resistance. They are forced to act conspiratorially because of the resistance their goals would generate if made public.

What opposition figures are there that they need possibly worry about?

Donald Trump.

They don't need political activism...

A lot of modern forms of political activism are indeed worthless and don't do anything. But that doesn't mean political activism is useless - the Stern Gang and Lehi managed to achieve their goals despite not being part of the elite.

They act like they don't have to worry about losing their power because they can't lose their power.

Not only do they not act like this at all (ever read the Strzok texts or any of the classified material/emails wikileaks put out?) they are currently trying to prosecute Trump to take him out of the race because they know that they'll lose if the election was held right now, and their strategies to neuter his political effectiveness won't work a second time. How long did the Roman republic last after they were forced to assassinate Caesar?

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but there aren't any more peasants in the world and the regimes you're describing have in fact fallen over and collapsed.

That was because of those collapses were all in the Age of the Gun. Many writers have noted the correlation between whether a society, at a given time, is more "aristocratic" or "democratic," and whether its methods of war-fighting are more capital-intensive or labor-intensive, respectively.

I remember once reading a legal paper on the 2nd Amendment, specifically the debate as to whether it's about a right of the people to own civilian weapons for hunting/personal defense, or a right of the people to have the means to overthrow a tyrannical government, with both views finding support in the writings of the Founders. The author's position was that the Founders clearly meant for it to do both, because they lived in a time when the means of meeting both goals pretty much overlapped — "civilian" guns were also useful as weapons of war, the weapons of war were broadly affordable, and it did not take much time or money to turn a "militia" of ordinary civilian riflemen into an effective war-fighting force. Hence, why they thought we could do without a standing military, relying entirely upon the general citizenry for national defense. But, the author then noted, changes in military technology over the centuries mean that no longer holds. The modern "tip of the spear" soldier is an expensive, well-equipped, highly-trained elite. Our jurisprudence has, in practice, favored the "personal defense" goal/interpretation of 2Am over the other… because it's the only one that's remotely practical in our present world. The Age of the Gun was already on its way out during the First World War. (Hence, why you get people arguing that we're now entering the Age of the Drone, with drone operators as the "new knights.") It's been slow, and papered over by various illusions, but over the last century, we've all been becoming peasants again.

lose legitimacy in the eyes of the military.

What makes you think they would?

they'd engender too much resistance.

What form do you picture this "resistance" taking, and why wouldn't those who engage in it not end up arrested for said crimes (or, at the extreme, meeting a Waco/Ruby Ridge fate)?

Donald Trump.

Even if he somehow gets elected, Donald Trump will be even less effective in his second term than his first, because they're not being taken by surprise this time, and they've been preparing to more effectively #Resist him — or any other GOP president.

The "powers" of the president are all dependent on having large numbers of people in DC enforce his decisions and orders. If they all simply don't

Stern Gang and Lehi managed to achieve their goals despite not being part of the elite.

They might not have been elite, but they had people who were part of the elite in agreement with those goals — if they didn't, they'd never have won. This is a point Boot makes about guerrilla warfare in Invisible Armies; one of the necessary (but not sufficient) conditions for a guerrilla force to win is for some portion of the "elites" on the other side to sympathize with them. I'd argue that the only reason the American Revolution succeeded is because too many on the British side, like Burke (and, I would argue, the Howe brothers) were sympathetic to the American side.

Again, it only works when it provides some portion of the elite an excuse to do what they want anyway.

and their strategies to neuter his political effectiveness won't work a second time.

Why not?

How long did the Roman republic last after they were forced to assassinate Caesar?

Trump is not our Julius Caesar. At best, he's the Gracchi brothers. And just who is our Augustus, then?

Caesar was Lincoln. Augustus was FDR. The first destroyed the Republic by choosing civil war, winning the war he started, and then getting assassinated for his trouble. The second consolidated power into an imperial executive, ruled for decades, and left the empire shaped in his image.

Trump is not our Julius Caesar. At best, he's the Gracchi brothers.

Agreed.

But if history is any indication our Augustus is still a good generation or two away.

So what if people realize this, so long as they still need the credential Academia issues to get hired?

Back in the commie days you had to join the Party, if you wanted to be anything above a grunt, and plenty of people did for precisely that reason. Plenty more regarded Party membership the same way one would regard a confession of enjoying some good kiddie-diddling.

Now, I believe that this can actually continue in perpetuity, if the people on top stay on top of their game, but it doesn't strike me that the Western elites are capable / have the means to do that. They've made several bets that didn't pan out, with AI being the latest one they're putting their hopes on, which might explain all the doomerism / utopianism around the subject.

So what if the ordinary people no longer trust or listen to “experts” — so long as the elites continue to listen, they can in turn use their power to force ordinary people to obey “expert opinion” whether they “trust” it or not.

Yes and no. Insisting on a top-down view of society will leave you as half-blind as insisting on a bottom-up one. Even an absolute monarch's power is limited, no matter what his law says.

Again, if these people don’t care about hurting their electoral chances, maybe they have a reason not to care.

On the other hand, this is a point I wholeheartedly agree with. There's limits to this as well, but currently it's people insisting that Western democracies are meaningful that are closer to being wrong.

At some point the "experts" in the federal government are going to say "do X" and Florida or some other red-coded state is going to reply "Nah" and in that moment we will find out who's really doomed.

I mean, there are multiple examples across US history to pick from when ideologically-slanted policies depend on not just the passive acceptance, but active support, of the political opposition. Whether you want to pick returning runaway slaves, banning alcohol, faith in the foreign policy/federal aparatus, the war on drugs, migration, and many other things, the answer is typically a failure of top-down management. You can have a certain degree of success top-down if you can create a fait accompli, but if you need active cooperation, well you need active cooperation, and the easiest form of resistance is apathy, let alone active subversion (such as the Sanctuary cities).

It doesn't really 'doom' any of the parties involved, as much as their party-policies until political actors within start changing to adapt to such realities on the ground.

I'm coming late to this fantastic post, and most things worth saying have been said, but one issue no-one's tackled: how will AI affect all this? That might sound tenuous but I think it's potentially significance. We're on the cusp of -

  • Vastly more accessible/effective homeschooling and self-education via AI tutors
  • Massive skill equalisation for low- and mid-level white collar work
  • Likely evisceration of large parts of the Blue Tribe base
  • Easy creation of reasonably smart AI media/propaganda bots
  • Emergence of new more salient axes of disagreement splitting society down the middle (e.g. pro-tech/anti-tech)

Vastly more accessible/effective homeschooling and self-education via AI tutors

I have been experiencing this with ChatGPT recently. Given a textbook and ChatGPT to explain parts that I can't understand using the book alone or to grade my answers to the exercises, it's remarkable how much can be learned. The main thing I was lacking for learning various areas of mathematics and science was someone to check my homework and help me when I was having problems. At times, I'd been considering hiring a tutor. Now, between ChatGPT and Wolfram, I don't have to do that.

Also, while ChatGPT may atrophy some students' essay writing abilities if they use it for plagiarism, it can also be an excellent sounding-board for ideas. I wish I had had such a sounding board when I was an undergraduate, so that I could plan out my ideas. Also, there's something about knowing that you'll get an instant response that makes writing a lot easier - perhaps it's the immediate dopamine hit from someone saying, "Interesting. If I understand you correctly, you're saying that..."


I also welcome a world where conservatives can produce entertainment as easy as liberals. The problems for conservative entertainment has long been supply side rather than demand side: it's easy to find an audience for conservative action movies, historical movies, Christian dramas etc. Christopher Nolan showed how neocon-leaning superhero films can have massive audiences. The problem is finding the talent, since actors and writers tend to be left wing. (How many conservatives have the personality to live a chaotic, family-unfriendly, and rootless lifestyle, even if they have the talent? Some, but relatively few.) But if conservative money can make Hollywood-level films just using AI, then it won't matter that Hollywood talent doesn't want to make Death Wish LXXXI - we can have a film where Charles Bronson teams up with Charlton Heston to cleanse the street of vermin, despite what the Stupid Police Chief and those pencil-necked bureaucrats in Washington think.

It’s been awhile but I want to an elite law school and while Fed soc wasn’t busting with larger numbers the members were smart and (dare I say) better than the law school average.

Progs may make fun of Fed soc at school but that doesn’t mean there aren’t competent people within Fed soc.

They probably are better. Because every thought they have gets challenged.

If I’m thinking correctly joining the Federalist Society is one of the smartest things a person can do. Want to be in a Dem administration? Not happening. Want to be a Supreme Court Justice from the federalist society? Can happen, and despite that I do find the conservative justices as more intellectual. If your brilliant and on the left they are just going to nominate the right skin color/background over you.

If your brilliant and on the left they are just going to nominate the right skin color/background over you.

I mean, if you hadn't been demoralized by a lifetime of propaganda, you might think this way. But to be a Democrat/Progressive/Liberal these days is to believe you deserve this. You can't appeal to their own self interest. These are masochist. They'll even sacrifice their own children at the altar of diversity per the story below than stand up for themselves.

I'm also reminded of The Most Gullible Man in Cambridge

There are absolutely competent people within it, inasmuch as there are people within it at all. The issue I'm pointing to is one of raw numbers, not one of competence.

Fed Soc events (and members) were more energetic and competent compared to ACS events.

I think this post relies too much on a definition of Republican and Democrat that do not mirror one another and change depending on which paragraph they appear in.

The Democrat party has a long bench only if you count people who aren't traditional Democrat party people, as it concerns people who are the same sort of people as Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, everyone is of a similar age. The Republican party bench is just as long with Trump weirdos and freedom caucus guys if not longer, but the establishment pick for the 2024 election is Nikki Haley who lost the election before the first debate.

The disease that is killing the republican party is just as present in the democrat party if not more so, they've just had their TEA party moment in team red already so that machine has already been dead since Obama.

So what will the Republican Party look like come 2030, barring the actions of the other side? Every institution and think tank is entirely in flux at the moment and it is going to come down to who can exhibit real power next year and specially in 2026 and 2028. What is likely going to happen is that Rand Paul continues to rise to where he is one of the most prominent politicians in the party establishment just from seniority, which is going to be a bit wild to think about.

As it concerns the future of the Red Tribe intellectual, the Ivy Leagues got their start as seminaries and future red tribe elites are probably going to have a lot more MDivs and DDivs, less PhDs and JDs. There are a lot of new players like American Reformer and First Things on team red that are explicitly religious and I expect that trend to continue as who they represent rise in power on the right, while a lot of existing journals veer smart-religious or die. This is generally because those sectors that support these publications and produce those intellectuals have children and cause drastic worldview conversions in other people as a regular part of life. They can also get these intellectuals a job fairly easily as there are deep and growing shortages for well paying positions based around conservative outreach. The Hasidic Jews also have high TFRs and inevitably are going to show up to the future as well, and are naturally going to be in the red tribe.

This will also be a regression to the mean as it concerns American politics, and if the seculars are going to want to keep their happy tribe they are going to have to fight for it.

Hasidic Jews also have high TFRs and inevitably are going to show up to the future as well, and are naturally going to be in the red tribe.

Welfare dependent urbanites with very low male employment rates are going to naturally be red tribe?

Your traditional Catholics get respect from red tribers for their similar family sizes and social conservatism, sure, but that’s because they pay their own bills through work and produce children who do the same thing. Hasidic Jews do not do that.

And they are crossing 10 kids per household in many cases, it is likely that just by sheer volume there is going to be enough castoffs to fill volume. It is going to be similar volumes for the mennonite population.

I don't doubt that apostate hasidim will be a notable population in the future, but what does that population actually look like? Low-proficiency English speakers from the projects do not do very well on their own and I doubt that apostates have much community support.

Coming from the opposite place (a socialist with a history in the shovel swinging strata):

You've really nicely explained to things I've always just taken for granted in here.

A: there is an such a thing as elite capture, but there is also such a thing as "Dude, nobody fucking likes you". The level of authentic dislike or lack of interest in conservatives and conservative politics people have is wildly underestimated in places like this; right down to me polling my crew of redneck proll tradies over lunch about the transes and the SJWs and the majority answer being a combination of "I don't care" or "What the fuck is that?"

B: So, in an attempt to solve A we switch to a more salient message: these groups are attacking you, destroying your "way of life", the fact that your life is worse than your dads or your granpappys is because of THIS! And that might work in the short run. It will work in the short run, even. But dudes I used to work with and still talk to who fully bought in to Trump style messaging are getting woke to the fact that nothing in their lives improved even with a three branch R sweep; that their boss still buys a new corvette every other year but their kid had to move back in 8 months after moving out or they would end up homeless.

The current problems politicos need to solve are the (1)disintegration of community sentiment and the (2)disintegration of the economic middle; and the strategies of the parties have been to say "Just hold hands and thing happy thoughts and we'll slap a few bandages on it and if you complain about (1) in the wrong tone you have 5 cousin fucking teeth you pathetic FUCK" from the dems, and "(2) is good actually you comunit bitch but actually both are because of immigrants(brown) and the gays but we won't actually do anything about either".

Both major parties aren't attacking the root of the problem, but people notice that the D's attack the symptoms and the R's at least will sympathies with your grievances. Both parties are fucked in the long run if nothing changes, but the R's are fucked sooner because they keep not even pretending to do anything with the policy goals of the bottom of of the top bottom alliance. (except abortion, and look how that's turning out.)

The current problems politicos need to solve are the (1)disintegration of community sentiment and the (2)disintegration of the economic middle;

I would argue that there are not problems that need to be solved so much as goals current politicos are actively pursuing. When progressives talk about "overthrowing the old order" and "fundamentally transforming America" the destruction of the American civic identity and the elimination of the middle class are exactly what they are talking about.

The Biden-voting Brahmins want the US to be divided by race and class because they imagine that this will eliminate threats to their power. The reason prorgessives hate capital H-A-T-E groups like Moms for Liberty, and people like Elon Musk, Chaya Raichik, and (dare I say it) Donald Trump is that they are a unifying influence, even that influence is just saying out loud what everyone else was already thinking. Things like; Epstein didn't kill himself. Fauci Lied people Died. We shouldn't be entrusting our children to mentally ill sexual deviants.

Anyone paying attention could see that policies of Obama coupled with the failure theater of the "moderate" patrician-wing of the GOP had led to decline in American quality of life and prestige and that's exactly why MAGA resonated as a campaign.

Ons suspect that reason Progressives are so opposed to having skills best testing in education is that aside from being a direct threat to them financially, they want their students to be largely illiterate and easily manipulated by TikTok and other such platforms. Literate students might start to ask questions and become aware of what they've lost/missed out on.