Monday, 3 July 2017

Opposition to the SJWs

The SJW types have peaked in recent years.  They are institutionally dominant - in colleges, mainstream media and so on.  But that actually isn't a good sign for them.  Holding institutional power but lacking in actual cultural vigor is a sign of waning influence.  And don't mistake shrill fanaticism for cultural vigor, they're poles apart.   There's a lot of resentment and discontent with them now.  For most of the 2000s, people like me who were critical of the excesses of political correctness were kind of an odd breed.   The winds of popular opinion and cultural progress were in the sails first of the so called new atheists and their criticisms of conservative Christianity, and then of the massive proliferation of social justice and feminist blogs.  

That's not the case anymore, and the social justice crowd would be in a world of trouble if they didn't enjoy such high levels of ideological protectionism in academia and mainstream media.  Their purity spiralling and fanaticism is reflective of deep seated fear - the tide has turned against them and they know it.

I think that if you compare things to, say, four years ago, there's quite a bit of anger and frustration with the SJWs that simply wasn't there before. In fact, you didn't have terms like SJW or regressive left before, say, 2014 or so.  This was because before then, the kinds of views we associate with the SJWs were hegemonic, at least in their respective theaters of operation, particularly racial and sexual politics.  The hysterics we're seeing out of them now are because they're facing something they haven't faced in a long time, and that's real opposition.  

Thing of it is, the inertia of ideas has a long term effect.  Apparently rising popularity of SJW types of ideas and activism today is in part due to the inertia of their ideas over the decades.  It's not going to collapse overnight.  Kind of like the religious right, it's going to be a long process.  I think you can compare the SJWs of the Obama era to where the religious right was in George W. Bush's time.  Perhaps maximal in terms of actual institutional power, and their supporters were at a level of peak belief and fanaticism.  But the vigor and vitality had shifted to their opponents, and had been for a while.  The religious right was faltering by the late 1990s.  Anyone under 30 in the Bush years was quoting Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens etc. as if they were gospel.  How ironic.  And you're seeing levels of religiosity declining to this day because of it.  The SJWs are, I think, headed in the same direction

So the SJWs peaked in terms of institutional power during the Obama years, and you can see the results of this in the vitriol shown by mainstream media towards Trump.  But the mere fact that this vitriol is now visible and ostentatious is itself a sign that we've turned a corner.  If the SJWs were truly hegemonic, Hillary Clinton would now be president and these issues wouldn't be a matter of controversy.  Shrillness and hysteria is a common reaction of movements when it begins to dawn on them that they ain't gonna pull it off.  

As to the democratic party capitulating to the SJWs, well, would this be the same democratic party that lost, if only by a narrow margin, last November.  The same Democratic party that lost the House in 2010, gone from a 60 seat supermajority in '08 to a 46 seat minority today, many hundreds of state legislature seats and how many governorships?  Twelve is the figure I've seen.  

Now, does this mean the Democrats are going to suddenly make a dramatic change of course?  Of course not.  Again, these kinds of changes take a long time to really play themselves out.  Movements as given over to fanaticism as the SJWs don't give in nearly that easily, and institutional change could well have to wait until the current crop retires or moves on from their positions of influence.  The DLC has been almost laughably reluctant to look long and hard at their policy platform, their ideology and their broader political culture since Clinton's defeat.  It's all still the Russian's fault, the last time I checked.  Thing is though, Clinton's loss was narrow, and it's quite possible that Trump could really blow it and push support back in the Dem's direction.  Indeed, Trump's win has given them a cause to rally around.  A lot will depend on how things go in 2018 and 2020.
There's something to be said for the fact that there's more opposition [to the SJWS] than I'm giving credit for, and it's not always immediately apparent when you're at the peak until you've actually crossed it and started going down again.
There is a lot of opposition, but like I said, it's unorganized, and it doesn't really know how to organize.  That's the countervailing force.  That's the one thing the SJWs really have going for them.  The core of the anti-SJWs, typically net savvy younger white males, are not the types of people that are well disposed to working effectively together over a long term to achieve political goals, the occasional 4chan meme or prank notwithstanding.  

So while I think the SJWs have peaked, they will be around a while yet.  Quite a while.  There's a reason the colleges and most major news outlets are pro-SJW.  The SJWs are directly traceable to the west coast new left of the 1960s.  These guys did not peter out in the 1970s, contrary to popular belief.  They retreated into academia and they did not waste their time when they got there, again contrary to popular belief.  They stopped with the Marxist stance on economics, so the FBI finally left them alone.  They were no longer a threat to the real power after that.  So they didn't matter.  Except when they did.

Look at these French postmodernist philosophers they studied.  Derrida, Foucault and that whole crew.  They have a reputation for being a bunch of unintelligible gobbledygook.  And it was true to a fair extent.  But literary deconstruction is not a wasted skill.  It's why academic feminists are so damn good in flame wars.  They don't even bother wasting their time answering their opponent's arguments directly.  They dive right into the assumption that their opponents are merely defending a position of power and privilege, because that's all human behavior ever boils down to as far as they're concerned, and it drives their opponents - usually 4chan or manosphere types, batty.  Studying that stuff also leads to an understanding of narrative and cognitive framing.  They understand media, and they understand it on a social, economic and psychological level, not just its basic workings.  A lot of this goes back to the ideas of Herbert Marcuse, Antonio Gramsci, Rudi Dutschke and others had about a long march through the institutions, which ties into their hegemony in academia.  From there, they learned how to look at the way institutions work and how to coordinate their efforts to strategically apply pressure to get what they want.  The ideas of Saul Alinsky and stuff like that.  

Again, to their opponents, typically paleoconservatives, neoreactionaries and the right wing of the so called skeptic community - think YouTubers like Sargon of Akkad and the like, everything I've described above is what they call cultural Marxism.  It's all bad, horrible stuff because it's supposedly Marxism and we all know that didn't work from the history of the USSR.  Well that's just patent nonsense.  Cultural Marxism is a contradiction in terms.  Marx was adamant about the primacy of economic relations and how culture ultimately flowed from that.  

Marx was proven right when this huge shift to the left in academia and the mainstreaming of feminism, multiculturalism, mass immigration and so on coincided with the mainstreaming of neoliberal capitalism.  And it makes sense because rapacious capitalism always needs new markets to expand into, and if women and minorities are going to provide that, then that's what's going to happen.  But the neoreactionaries and the paleocons can't see that.  They're totally fixated on Marx the way the dumb lefties can't get over Hitler.  And what's really funny is that they usually don't have a clue what Marx actually believed.  I suggest Marxist ideas to alt-rightists and they tend to actually like it, as long as it's not recognizably Marx to them.

The SJWs won't be defeated by anything on the right, because a lot of the population doesn't trust the right wing, and with good reason I think, and also because mainstream conservatism doesn't really mind the cultural left, truth be told.  It's a steam valve for dissent, for one thing.  Better a bunch of angry feminists than a revitalized trade union movement, for example.  That would be a real threat to corporate power.  Occupy Wall Street unnerved them, and I think it's kind of remarkable that the SJWs emerged so suddenly into the social media mainstream not too long after that.  

So the left can have the cultural stuff, since it's actually good for capital anyway, and the right keeps what it really wants: a low tax, deregulated economic structure.  Weak unions and so on, as well as a hawkish foreign policy.  A strong capacity to project power in the middle east to protect petrodollar interests.  The deep state is happy with that, they could give a rat's ass about college feminists being oppressed by privileged white males, and are frankly glad, I suspect, that such things are a huge big hairy deal to the left.  The culture wars distract people from what's really happening at the deep state level, and that's where the real action is.  So this is a perfect arrangement for them.
I'm thinking back to the height of the Religious Right... maybe, late 90s, early 00s?  This was the last time the GOP could run on something like the marriage amendment and it was a winning issue for them nationally.  Was it obvious at the time that the religious right was about to begin the decline?  Not necessarily.  The boomers had turned sharply to the right in the 80s and Generation X was also a right-leaning generation.  Only the oldest of millennials had come of age by that time and it was unknown what their voting patterns would be like.
I frankly think the religious right peaked in the late 1980s and kind of plateaued through much of the 1990s.  The 90s were harder on the religious right than you might think.  The big GOP win in 1994 was kind of a last hurrah, so to speak. The Clinton/Lewinsky affair, I think, was an early major signal that moral conservatism was in decline.  There was all kinds of wailing and gnashing of teeth in right wing circles back then over the fact that Clinton was not removed from office because of that.  The death of outrage, I remember conservative pundits calling it.  People just didn't care that much.  It was between Bill, Monica and Hillary as far as a lot of people were concerned.  

And even during the Bush years, this kind of thinking didn't really change all that much.  The GOP was sitting pretty when it came to electoral success, but the culture was slipping away from them and they damn well knew it.  The religious right were soon to lose over gay marriage, which was the death blow for the religious right, I think, though that wasn't finalized until the Obama years.  Sure, the religious right is still around and managed to get one of their guys as VP, but frankly, I think they're about as undead as their purported savior at this point.
Time will tell.  One piece of evidence could be whether the Dems run a Kamala Harris type in 2020 and go all-in on the identity politics campaign again.  An even bigger piece of evidence will be whether it works or not.  And yet even more important may be analyzing demographic trends in 2020 and (more importantly) 2024 and beyond, when the generation after millenials starts voting and we start getting some data on how conservative/liberal this generation will be and what trends will continue/end (is there a name of this generation yet?)
Well yes, that will be big.  A lot depends on what happens in 2018.  A lot more depends on 2020.  The post-millennials are quite conservative from what I've heard, but it's too early to tell, like you say.  As for the democrats, it doesn't look like they're going to change all that much.  The mainstream voices on the US left - the HuffPost, Salon and so on, are doubling down on the intersectional feminism, and so on.  It's hard to tell if that's what the base really believes, or if the privilege checking tail is wagging a much more populist dog at this point.  

As for the intersectional SJWs, that movement is very self destructive.  Women of color are calling out their white sisters for being "white feminists", black cishet males are being called "the white people of black people" and cisgender gay males are being accused of being more misogynistic than even straight white dudes, if you can believe it.  Plus they're lionizing Islam now, with leaders like Linda Sarsour and the like.  Squaring feminism with the circle of Shari'a law is doubtlessly an irrational fool's errand to a rational person, but irrationality has long since passed critical mass, and there's a lot of woke pink hat wearers that are more than prepared to take the whole thing at face value. 

But then, the opposition doesn't win elections.  The incumbent party loses them, so what happens in 2018 and 2020 will have a lot more to do with the performance of the Tweeter in Chief's administration than any kind of shift of the ideological poles that might occur between now and then.  I don't find that a comforting thought.

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