The same article that introduces the immediately-indispensable phase “dirty culture war” presents its deeply blue-tribal take on the state of the media struggle. Among much of interest:
Andrew Breitbart, Stephen Bannon’s collaborator in right-wing tabloid journalism and the founder of Breitbart News, often reiterated a maxim: “Politics is downstream from culture.” When normal voters assess, say, a complex piece of legislation, they are unlikely to read the bill itself; more likely, they will base their opinions on how the bill is portrayed by their friends and Facebook friends, by celebrities, and in the media. In his 2011 memoir, Breitbart summed up his position, writing, “The left wins because it controls the narrative. The narrative is controlled by the media. . . . I am at war to gain back control of the American narrative.”
To assume that Andrew Breitbart rates lower for culture-war strategic genius than Antonio Gramsci is mere Cathedral class-prejudice (favoring academic-format thought). He understood the basic thing, and there’s not much sign yet that Steve Bannon is deviating from his mentor’s path in the direction of pacifism:
He now refers to the media, with monotonous insistence, as “the opposition party.”
Mencken (cited here):
At the bottom of Puritanism one finds envy of the fellow who is having a better time in the world. At the bottom of democracy one finds the same thing. This is why all Puritans are democrats and all democrats are Puritans.
Barry Crump is seen as capturing the edge of the place. There’s a recent movie based on one of his books (recommended for the Outer-Anglosphere cultural flavour).
There’s also a route to Samuel Butler, through the back country.
The outlaw myth is far more integral to the Anglo culture than much of NRx can easily be happy about. Everyone is going to sympathise with the runaways, not with the search party.
Some (real) advice from the bush: “Keep moving or you’ll be eaten.” (Deeper than it was meant to be at the time.)
A little hyperbolic, but definitely on to something.
SoBL has passed on this fascinating piece on Trump-fervor in Chinese elite opinion. It’s all good. Quasi-random snippet:
The past 30 years of China’s economic growth and social development began after a period of chaos [i.e., the Cultural Revolution], and there was no Enlightenment-like intellectual movement. Government officials, in order to mobilize reform, exaggerated the evils of the old benefit system as “everyone eating from one big pot,” which, with the assistance of some scholars, led to an almost complete social consensus that a market economy means completely free competition. With no restraint from ethics or rules, the “law of the jungle” that the weak are prey to the strong became nearly universal in society. Amid all the worship of the strong and disdain for the weak, an atmosphere of care and equal treatment of disadvantaged groups has not formed. Therefore “political correctness,” which is for the protection of vulnerable groups, basically does not exist in Chinese society, and the language of discrimination, objectification of women, and mockery of disabled people is everywhere. […] This way of thinking is further reinforced among some Chinese elites: they succeed because they are better able to adapt to and dominate this kind of environment. In this process, they are hurt by others, they hurt others, and gradually they develop a heart of stone and a feeling of superiority — that their success is due to their own efforts and natural abilities, and the losers in competition must be those who don’t work hard because they are lazy or have some other problems. Therefore, they believe in free competition and personal striving even more than ordinary people, and also feel more strongly that poor people deserve their low position, are more wary of the abuse of welfare by lazy people, and are more supportive of Trump’s attacks on political correctness.
The result is a shockingly civilized civil society (in which women, conspicuously, excel), but you wouldn’t get that from reading the article. Highly recommended, nevertheless.
Khan (who has a way with words):
For various ideological reasons there is an idea in some parts of the academy that Asian Americans are not a “model minority.”
(They vote funny, but that should be stopped for other reasons.)
Western democracies are, by design, sensitive to popular opinion. Elected politicians will be less likely to fund controversial projects, and more likely to restrict them. By contrast, countries like China that lack direct democratic systems are thereby less sensitive to opinion, and officials can play an outsize role in shaping public opinion to align with government priorities. This would include residual opposition to human enhancement, even if it were present. International norms are arguably emerging against genetic enhancement, but in other arenas China has proven willing to reject international norms in order to promote its own interests. […] Indeed, if we set ethical and safety objections aside, genetic enhancement has the potential to bring about significant national advantages. Even marginal increases in intelligence via gene editing could have significant effects on a nation’s economic growth. Certain genes could give some athletes an edge in intense international competitions. Other genes may have an effect on violent tendencies, suggesting genetic engineering could reduce crime rates. […] Many of these potential benefits of enhancement are speculative, but as research advances they may move into the realm of reality. If further studies bear out the reliability of gene editing in improving such traits, China is well-poised to become a leader in the area of human enhancement.
David Henderson quoting Peter Brimelow:
One winter afternoon in late 1975, Joe Clark came to see me in the Toronto offices of the Financial Post. This was even before he became Joe Who. He was running for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party, but almost no one had noticed. Earlier that fall Clark had broken a previous appointment with me, pleading insufficient time to consult his economic advisors. Economics is a stigma you have to accept when you write for the Financial Post. Somewhat reluctantly, I began our rescheduled interview by asking him what he thought about the Economic Council of Canada’s just-published report Looking Outward, which had recommended continental free trade and had therefore been widely denounced as advocating Canada’s absorption into the U.S.A. […] Clark immediately fell apart. Frankly, he said, he didn’t know anything about economics — still — and his exhausting schedule wasn’t helping. You see, he added, “when I went into politics I had to choose between learning economics and learning French. And I chose French.”
There are socio-historical depths to that option lying beyond all facile comprehension.
Tyler Cowen on the Brexit message:
… if you are thinking that voting “Leave” does not at all limit Pakistani immigration, you are truly missing the point; this vote was the one lever the English were given for sending a message to their politicians.
(The entire post is impressively Ideological-Turing-Test-competent.)
Scott Alexander (who’s been reading Fischer) shares a glimpse at the lives of 18th century Massachusetts Puritans:
A typical Massachusetts week would begin in the church, which doubled as the town meeting hall. There were no decorations except a giant staring eye on the pulpit to remind churchgoers that God was watching them. Townspeople would stand up before their [fellows] and declare their shame and misdeeds, sometimes being forced to literally crawl before the other worshippers begging for forgiveness. T[h]en the minister would give two two-hour sermons back to back. The entire affair would take up to six hours, and the church was unheated (for some reason they stored all their gunpowder there, so no one was allowed to light a fire), and this was Massachusetts, and it was colder in those days than it is now, so that during winter some people would literally lose fingers to frostbite (Fischer: “It was a point of honor for the minister never to shorten a sermon merely because his audience was frozen”). Everyone would stand there with their guns (they were legally required to bring guns, in case Indians attacked during the sermon) and hear about how they were going to Hell, all while the giant staring eye looked at them.
(Unsoftened Calvinism was by far the best kind.)