Thursday, May 26, 2016

Why did 'racist' achieve what 'bourgeois' never could?

Out of the things that distinguish neoreactionaries from conservatives, perhaps the most striking is the following: both are interested in what's wrong with the modern world, but the neoreactionaries are more interested in how exactly we got here. Conservatives, by contrast, seems to just assume that the answer is to fight harder against the things you don't like. Moreover, fighting is assumed instinctively to just involve the standard methods of protesting, voting, writing letters to the editor, buying the right bumper stickers etc. Conservatives do not seem to notice that they've been trying those things for quite a long time now, and that's how we got to the present world.

It is this, perhaps more than anything else, that turned me away from mainstream conservatism. They keep losing, they don't know why they keep losing, and they're not devoting much thought to trying to figure out the answer.

So in the spirit of understanding losses, here's something I've been pondering:

Cultural Marxism has proven far more effective at taking over the west than Economic Marxism ever was.

Put simply, it is very hard to think of a slur that the left had at its disposal with anything like the power of 'racist'.

It is a widely mocked term by the right, of course, and justly so.

But that's not really the point, is it? The point rather is that any borderline credible accusation of racism (or most of the other -isms and -phobias) is likely to be career-ending, and everyone knows it. The people doing the mocking tend not to use their real names, or not to have careers in corporate America. By contrast, in 1950 it was being a communist that was liable to get you fired. Being a Nazi probably would have been dicey too, but it seems unlikely that just casually throwing around accusations of nazism in 1950 would have had anything like the same effect as accusations of racism today. Being accused of being 'bourgeois' or 'a capitalist' would have just been laughed at.

It's not just jobs either. The desire to show that one isn't racist seems to have captured the zeitgeist almost completely. Europe is in the process of allowing a flash mob invasion by millions of hostile third world young men just to prove how non-racist they are. There is resistance, of course, which gets beaten down with water cannon and prison cell. But popular resistance is not the puzzling bit. The non-resisters are almost sui generis in human history - wanting to give away their own country to prove how generous they are.

As an organising principle, racism seems to be considered these days to be the worst, if not the only sin. Rather striking for a term that was only coined in the mid 1930's.

And so the neoreactionary question poses itself - why did Cultural Marxism win where Economic Marxism failed?

I don't know for sure, but I can think of a few possible contributing causes.

Firstly, Economic Marxism was always liable to generate reasonably firm opposition from big business, because it directly threatened their existence. Old school Marxists were openly hostile to capitalism, and that meant that corporate America knew which side of the fight they would prosper more under. So they were willing to go along with things like the Hollywood blacklists of communists. Economic Marxism was an existential threat to a publicly listed company, so they were more willing to fight it.

By contrast, the costs that seem to be imposed by cultural Marxism are just a few diversity seminars, some wasted money on sinecures for bogus jobs like 'director of outreach' or 'diversity officer' and the like, and the occasional donation to shakedown artists like Al Sharpton. This is a pain, but is just viewed as the costs of doing business. Corporate America probably doesn't like those costs, but it's less important than staying on the right side of those in power, so they do it.

Secondly, cultural Marxism picked a set of traits that better aligned with tribal identity. All Marxism was about inciting group conflict in order to produce a big enough coalition to overthrow the existing order. But economic Marxism wanted people to unite based on their level of wealth. A poor factory worker in Detroit was meant to truly feel a bond of struggle with a peasant in Bolivia. And this simply isn't how people think of identity. Cultural Marxism appealed most strongly to things that people always  identified with, namely race, nationality and religion. It was much easier to get blacks to unite their opposition, or Muslims, or Hispanics, than the world's peasants.

But this leaves a puzzle - wouldn't this evoke a strong response by the antagonised classes, such as middle class whites?

I think this leads to the third reason - the carving up of multiple overlapping identity groups, most notably gender and sexuality. This is a way of letting white women or white gay men get in on the winning grievance team, all the better to increase the alliance against the hated white straight Christian males. Intersectionality was always a ridiculous premise, designed purely to paper over the fact that lots of the groups in the diversity coalition don't actually  like each other very much. But this only becomes a problem after the existing order is overthrown.

Even with all this, it's still an unsatisfying explanation. It's an obviously incomplete list, and I think it's important to understand it better.

"Cthulu always swims left" may be a good starting observation, but eventually you want to figure out how, if not why.