I’ve been watching the culture wars with great interest for many years now. I’ve watched as social conservatives have lost every single battle. It’s been clearly obvious that the social conservative arguments are more sensible and more coherent but it hasn’t done them any good at all.
The mistake social conservatives have made is to think that if their arguments are true, and prudent, and properly thought-out, and logical that they will automatically prevail. It doesn’t work that way. The argument that will prevail is not the one based on truth and experience and common sense. The argument that will prevail is the one that is most emotionally satisfying.
This gets back to my post of a couple of days ago about emotional intelligence versus rational intelligence. If you want to get your message across to women you have to rely on emotion. But then that’s also true in the case of a very large proportion of men.
This is especially true in the case of political disputes, which tend to be complex. Arguments about social engineering and “social justice” are particularly complex because it’s necessary to weigh up not only the costs and benefits for the individual but also those for society as a whole, and to consider long-term as well as short-term effects, and to consider indirect as well as direct effects. This is all very complicated and confusing so most people will go for the argument that has been most skillfully presented and that feels true emotionally.
Social conservatives (and economic conservatives also) have had difficulty making their arguments emotionally attractive. The arguments of social radicals and SJWs sound wonderful on an emotional levels – they’re all about love, and caring and sharing, and equality and fairness. Their arguments are also progressive (we know their arguments are progressive because they keep telling that they are) and who doesn’t want to be seen as progressive?
There are two further factors that explain the dismal outcome of the culture wars to date. These are factors that can effectively cripple any political or social campaign. The first is to be made to look mean and nasty. The media has had extraordinary success in making conservatives appear to be a bunch of bad old meanies. In fact of course many economic conservatives really are mean and nasty and social conservatives have never realised that it would be wise to distance themselves a little from the economic conservatives. Portraying social conservatives as nasty hate-filled bigots has been an effective weapon used against us in the culture wars.
The second weakness of social conservatives has been just as deadly. Our enemies have consistently managed to make us look ridiculous. Mockery is one of the most potent of all political weapons.
So what can we do about all this? In truth, not much. It would have been nice if social conservatives had learnt to fight effectively 40 years ago but they didn’t. Now the SJWs have complete control of the megaphone. Even so, if we’re hoping to continue the fight we have to learn to fight to win. We need to find ways to make our arguments effective on an emotional level, and to avoid reliance on rational arguments which tend to make us look cold and heartless.
It’s a losing strategy to oppose immigration on rational grounds. You’ll simply be portrayed as an evil racist, Literally Hitler in fact. You have to find ways to make immigration sound unfriendly and threatening and to make opposing immigration sound humane and enlightened. You can’t fight social issues on rational grounds because that makes you an evil misogynist. You have to find ways to make traditional values, like marriage and motherhood, sound emotionally appealing and to make the feminist obsession with careerism sound depressing and empty. You have to find ways to make heterosexuality (otherwise known as normal sexuality) seem exciting and appealing.
One thing the alt-right has realised is the importance of mockery. It’s been their biggest single contribution and it’s by no means negligible. The alt-right has also had some success in making the idea of being right-wing seem cool and glamorous. Social conservatives need to take note.
I have no idea whether the ideas I’ve suggested would work. But one thing I’m sure of. They couldn’t possibly fail more completely than the strategies used to date.