to control society first control the culture

A commenter at Oz Conservative recently stated, “Liberals can only mount their progressive tyranny on non-liberals through the power of the state.” I’m not sure I agree with this, not completely anyway.
The current dominant ideology, a combination of globalism and liberalism, has gained its ascendancy mostly through gaining control of the culture. This process began early in the 20th century. By the 1960s liberal leftists were firmly in control of the worlds of art and literature. They controlled Hollywood, and most of the world of entertainment. They controlled most of the news media. They controlled the universities. They had thoroughly infiltrated most of the churches. They were well on the way to controlling the culture. Their cultural control is now total.
In most cases they did not advance their agenda through direct political means. They did not control the power of the state. They have certainly been able to force the state to enforce their agenda but this has been a fairly recent thing. In every case the coercive power of the state has only been used to compel obedience to cultural changes that have already taken place.
Homosexuality had already been culturally normalised before legislation was passed to make homosexual acts legal. Marriage had already been undermined before divorce laws were relaxed to the point of making marriage nothing more than a temporary sexual arrangement. Feminists had already gained acceptance of most of their program before feminism started to be legally enforced by the state.
The use of the judiciary to accelerate the rate of social change is a recent phenomenon and it has only been made possible by liberal domination of the culture (both high culture and popular culture). 
Liberals haven’t actually needed the power of the state to push their agenda. Nor have they needed to win election victories. As long as their control of the culture remains total they can rest assured that the power of the state can and will be used to reinforce their victories. Those victories are however always won by cultural battles, not political battles. Politics is downstream of culture.
It logically follows that liberalism cannot be defeated by conventional political means. Liberalism can only be defeated by wresting control of the culture away from them. That can only be achieved by a more powerful, more attractive, more dynamic, cultural force. At this point in time such a cultural force does not exist. Until it does liberalism will remain in the driver’s seat.

the crisis of Late Democracy

You will often hear people talk about the age of Late Capitalism. These people are almost always those who identify as being on the left but they do have a point. Capitalism has mutated. The capitalism of today bears little resemblance to the capitalism of the age of Henry Ford.
What has been less noticed is that we now live in the age of Late Democracy. Democracy of course was always a sham. The purpose of democratic institutions is to thwart the will of the people. What has changed, and it has changed dramatically over the past twenty years,  is that the mask has been dropped. In the past great effort was put into maintaining the pretense that democracy expressed the will of the people. This is no longer felt to be necessary.
Political leaders like Tony Blair, David Cameron, Barack Obama, François Hollande, Angela Merkel, Justin Trudeau and Malcolm Turnbull do not even pretend to care about what the voters want or think. 
The media no longer makes any attempt to hide the fact that it manipulates elections. Members of the real elite, the international finance elite, openly buy and sell politicians. Bureaucrats and judges openly despise ordinary people and openly defy the will of the people.
The contempt for ordinary people is palpable. And it is venomous. And it is openly expressed.
The question is whether this is sustainable in the long term. Governments have always felt the need for some sort of legitimacy. This was true even in the days when kings ruled rather than serving as figureheads. A king would think twice before taking any action that he knew would be repugnant to his people. A king reigned by the Grace of God but it was clearly understood that he was in a real sense the servant of his people. If he lost the confidence of the people he could be, and often was, deposed. Such a king no longer had any legitimacy and thus could no longer claim to rule by the Grace of God.
Even dictators usually only survive for as long as they serve the interests of the nation and the people. Like kings they can be, and often are, deposed.
We now have a new situation in which we are ruled by an elite whose claim to legitimacy is increasingly sketchy. Rule by a class which openly expresses its contempt for the people is also new.
Of course our current elites have much greater power in their hands than any king or dictator. Their control over the media is total and the power of the media is unprecedented in history. They control education. They control the police and the military. They control the “intelligence communities” which are now quite blatantly employed for the purpose of social control. They also control the economy. If you oppose them they can destroy your livelihood. They can destroy your family. They can also simply have you locked up and they are increasingly willing to do so.
In spite of all this power held by the elites the situation is inherently unstable. It can only continue as long as the elites remain united, and history shows that there is no guarantee that this will continue indefinitely. There are always groups that are on the margins of the elite and they would be happy to be on the inside, and in order to achieve this they will quite cheerfully displace existing members of the elites. New groups arise that want their share of the action and again they’re happy to take the place of existing elite groups.
The continuance of this situation also depends on the ability of the elites to navigate crises, and crises are by their nature impossible to predict.
Ruling classes also become, in time, decadent.
A ruling class without legitimacy is in a poor position to weather such storms, both internal and external. Whether or not our current ruling class can do so remains to be seen.

are we on the right seen as unpleasant people?

James at Nourishing Obscurity raises a very important but very uncomfortable point today.  

“This is a key issue in getting any of the snowflakes to see reason – that we ourselves come over as unpleasant people.”

There’s no question that the Right has a huge image problem. Unfortunately it’s to some extent well deserved. There are people who identify themselves, and are generally identified as, rightists or conservatives who are the kinds of people who will give any movement a bad name. These unpleasant people are not representative of conservative-leaning voters as a whole and it’s unfair that we get blamed for their sins but that’s the way it is. We need to face the problem.
The first group of the unpleasants is the rabid free markets/free trade/tax cuts for the rich crowd that comprises a large segment of the establishment of parties like the Republicans and the Tories. They obviously don’t give a damn for ordinary people and ordinary people are aware of this and as a result a very large number of ordinary people have an absolutely visceral loathing for these right-wing parties. They would die rather than vote Tory. And unfortunately as far as most people are concerned the vicious grasping Republicans and Tories are the face of conservatism.
The second group of unpleasants is those damned Nazis. Yes I know they’re all dead and there haven’t been any actual Nazis for seventy years but it doesn’t matter. Any political leader who is on the right and who deviates to the slightest degree from the approved path of respectable conservative politics is going to be labelled as Literally Hitler.
Now comes the really uncomfortable bit. While the rise of the alt-right has been understandable and is probably on the whole a very positive thing it does have its lunatic fringe. Of course every political movement and every political party has a lunatic fringe. The trouble is that the alt-right’s lunatic fringe is an absolute gift to our political opponents. It’s just so incredibly easy to portray them as being Literally Hitler. Some of them really are disturbing. It’s quite possible that many or even most of them are actually paid trolls employed by leftist organisations or even agents provocateurs from the FBI, but it has to be admitted that some of them are real and even though they’re harmless nutters if they make me uncomfortable they undoubtedly make ordinary people very uncomfortable.
What this all adds up to is that if you’re on the Right most people are going to regard you as either a cynical champion of the rich against the poor or an angry violent humourless life-hating person. 
So how do we deal with this problem? I don’t claim to have the answer. Perhaps we need to avoid terms like right and conservative altogether. These terms just have too much negative baggage. I’m not sure we can ever rehabilitate these terms.
Perhaps we need to be better at selling an overall positive vision for society. We need to emphasis what we’re in favour of rather than emphasising the things we hate. 
That’s the immense advantage that anyone who claims the leftist label has – they’re fighting to create a Better World, a safer place for children and puppies and we all want that don’t we? If not for the children then at least for the puppies. In actual fact most modern leftists are part of the Fake Left. They’re actually fighting for a better world for bankers and billionaires but they don’t get called out for their deceptions and they still get the benefits of being portrayed a crusaders for justice, equality, hugs and general niceness. We on the other hand just get labelled as hateful bigots.
We need to find a way to market our vision of a better world. We love puppies too.

Trump hysteria – is there a point to it?

When you see the extent of the anti-Trump hysteria in the United States you have to ask yourself – what is the point? Trump won the election fair and square and there isn’t going to be another presidential election for another four years so surely the only rational thing for the Trump-haters to do is to wait four years and then try to come up with a better candidate than Hillary Clinton.
But they’re not doing that. The Trump-haters, and especially the ones in the media and academia, are behaving as if they really can get the election result overturned.
Of course this could just be evidence of the basic irrationality of the Trump-haters, or their inability to comprehend the fact that so many ordinary Americans hate them.
Or could it be something more? Is the US media preparing the ground for a coup?
A year ago I would have dismissed talk of a coup as the rantings of the Tin-Foil Hat Brigade. Coups were something the United States organised in other countries, but the idea of a coup against the US government itself seemed unthinkable, paranoid and delusional. Now I’m not quite so sure.
The fact is that the behaviour of the American media does look like the kind of destabilisation that usually precedes US-organised coups in other countries. More worrying is that it isn’t just the media. The judiciary also seems intent on destabilising the Administration.
Could such a coup succeed? Trump has widespread public support but that would count for nothing. What matters is power. And in the centres of power Trump has virtually no support at all. The media is united against him. The judiciary is against him. He cannot rely on the support of Republicans in Congress – they’d be delighted to see him replaced by Mike Pence. The bureaucracy is against him. The intelligence agencies are against him. The police hierarchies are against him. The only thing in doubt is the attitude of the military. Given the politicisation and corruption of the US military Trump would be unwise to rely on help from that quarter. He may have quite a bit of support among enlisted personnel but the senior officers are unlikely to back him.
The first step in staging a successful coup is to create the impression that the government you’re trying to overthrow has no legitimacy. Overthrowing an illegitimate government is not only permissible – it’s virtuous. It’s striking a blow for freedom. The process of painting the Trump Administration as an illegal and illegitimate government is already well advanced.
The second step is to start floating the suggestion that perhaps the government really should be overthrown. Some of the more hysterical anti-Trump voices in the media have already floated this suggestion, albeit in an indirect sort of way.
I’ve always been hyper-suspicious of conspiracy theories so it’s important to note that there is an alternative explanation for all this. It may be simply an attempt to intimidate Trump. The objective may not be to remove Trump but to persuade him to become a good little establishment Republican who can be relied on to follow orders. Or the objective may be to isolate him by frightening any potential supporters he may have in Congress or in the bureaucracy, or frightening members of his Administration into abandoning him. Either of these possibilities would effectively reduce the Trump Administration to powerlessness, and for the globalists that might be more desirable than facing the risks of an actual coup. 
The one thing we can be certain of is that Trump’s enemies have no intention of allowing him to put into practice any of the policies which won him the election.

social cohesion and political beliefs

Most people, if asked why they hold the beliefs they do, will tell you that it’s because their beliefs are self-evidently objectively correct. If you then point out to them that a particular belief of theirs is clearly and demonstratively objectively wrong it will not make the slightest difference. They will insist that their belief is still correct and they will almost certainly get angry about it. But they will not change their mind.
As Razib Khan points out in Winning Isn’t Everything, Winning Your Team Is that’s because what matters is group cohesion. “It isn’t about the score up on the board, but standing with your team.” What matters is group cohesion.
It doesn’t matter if a belief is true or false. What matters is belonging to a group and holding the beliefs that are acceptable within that group. If someone’s group is made up of Flat Earthers then that person is almost certainly going to be a Flat Earther and no amount of logical argument is going to sway him on that. From that person’s point of view objective reality is unimportant. What is important is that believing in a Flat Earth cements his place within the group and brings major social benefits (and often material benefits as well). Being a Flat Earth denier in such a group would involve serious social costs, possibly even being ostracised. Compared to that truth is a very minor consideration.
This explains why it is exceedingly difficult to change other people’s minds even when one has marshalled overwhelmingly convincing evidence. It is always going to be next to impossible to change the mind of an individual because human beings are not by nature individuals. We are social animals. Membership in the group is everything. 
This has obvious implications in the political sphere. It’s the reason politicians do not rely on logical aruments, they rely on emotion, and they rely on appealing to our desire to maintain our position within our group. They also rely on promises that are very close to outright bribery. A promise by a candidate to put extra money in our pockets by cutting our taxes or increasing our welfare payments does not challenge our beliefs and thus does not 
endager our standing within our group. Greed is something we can easily rationalise away. Emotional appeals by politicians also not do usually challenge our standing within our group because they’re invariably so vague as to be meaningless. 
So how can we actually change someone’s political beliefs? The answer is that mostly you can’t.
So how do the political beliefs of society as a whole change? There’s a wildly held theory that scientific paradigms don’t change when scientists adopt the new paradigm. They change when the adherents of the old paradigm die and are replaced by younger scientists who absorbed the new paradigm as students. It’s likely that this also applies to politics.
When I was younger I lived in inner-city Sydney in a vaguely bohemian vaguely arty social group. We were very left-wing and very socially liberal on many issues, but by today’s standards we were extraordinarily politically incorrect. If you went to that part of Sydney today you’d find that it’s still vaguely bohemian, vaguely arty and very left-wing. But you’d also find that it’s frighteningly politically correct. Many of the things we used to say would now get you run out of town on a rail, and probably reported to the police and arrested. What has changed is not that the people there have changed their opinions but that a new generation of much more intolerant vaguely bohemian, vaguely arty left-wingers has to a large extent displaced the previous group. Virtually all of the people I used to know there have died or moved away (I’m one of those who moved away). It’s not that trendy inner-city lefties have become more intolerant and more rigidly PC, it’s more that each new generation of trendy inner-city lefties is more intolerant and more rigidly PC. And the steadily declining cohorts of those previous generations who remain in those areas have learnt that if they don’t want to face severe social penalties they had better conform or else.
If you want to achieve real political change you can only do so by indoctrinating the young through the education system and the media. Once a person’s political beliefs have been formed you’ll find it exceptionally difficult to change them.
It’s a fairly depressing conclusion to come to but there it is.
And what about the election of Donald Trump? Doesn’t that prove that political views can be changed, that political paradigms can be shifted? In my view, no. It seems to me that Trump won by running an old-fashioned campaign based on bread-and-butter issues. For the Rust Belt voters who won him the election the issues were mostly economic – it was mostly about jobs. What has changed is that while these voters have not altered their political opinions they have changed their minds about which party represents their views and their interests. That in itself is extremely important.

Trump’s victory and white nationalism

In the past few days we’ve had tearful SJWs telling us that Trump’s victory was a victory for evil white supremacism. We’ve also had alt-righters telling us that it marked the beginnings of a white nationalist surge and the adoption by whites of identity politics.
I’m very sceptical about this. What seems to have happened is that Trump won much the same white vote that Romney did, but the black Democrat vote collapsed.
It’s likely that Trump lost some white voters and gained others. He obviously did well among white voters in the Rust Belt states but I doubt if these white voters were motivated by white identity politics. It seems much more likely that they finally figured out that the Democratic Party is the Billionaire Party and will never do anything to fix the serious economic problems facing these states. Trump at least offered some slight hope that he might address these problems. 
These white voters have started to assert their class identity. The one class that is doing very well is the elite class. The working class and the lower middle class are being screwed. They’re tired of it and they’re starting to think that changing their political allegiance might be a good idea.
In some ways this was a very old-fashioned election. The issues that counted were good old-fashioned economic issues – jobs, jobs and jobs. Things like free trade and immigration were only issues insomuch as they impact on jobs. What is interesting is that Trump fought the election the way an old school moderate leftist would have done.
The Democrat Party has done what so many formerly leftist parties have done – they’ve abandoned their base and that base has turned on them.
I’m sure that voter fatigue with political correctness played a role, but probably a fairly minor one. I’m very dubious as to whether the alt-right had any effect at all. The alt-righters who think this was a victory for Pepe the Frog are living in a dream world. It was a victory for a candidate with sound old-fashioned political instincts and a moderate centre-left program with a healthy dash of nationalism without jingoism. Most importantly it was a victory for a candidate with the ability to convince ordinary Americans that he actually likes them and cares about their lives. That’s a formula that will usually lead to electoral success.

polls, the media and controlling the narrative

The big story from the US election has been the catastrophic failures of opinion polls and political pundits. This has implications that go beyond the future of opinion polls.
The mainstream media has a lot less credibility than it had fifty years ago. What little credibility it still has is to some extent dependent on its ability to tell us stuff like who’s going to win the next election. They can tell us this stuff because they have Science on their side. Opinion polls are based on mathematics so that makes them Science doesn’t it?  And they have Experts. They know more than we do.
Except that it’s now obvious that their Experts know less than we do, and that their scientific opinion polls are little more than voodoo. People are likely to start thinking that if the media can be so wrong about election results then maybe they’re wrong about other things. Maybe they’re wrong about everything.
Even more shocking than the failure of the pre-election polls was the failure of the exit polls.
There is another very significant implication. If the pollsters were totally wrong about the election then perhaps their polls on various social issues are just as worthless. Maybe opinion polls have been dramatically underestimating the strength of opposition to quite a few aspects of the social justice agenda. We might be dealing not just with a Shy Tory or a Shy Trump Voter effect but possibly a Shy Social Conservative effect as well. Politicians who are anxious to advance causes like transgender bathroom rights and mass immigration might care to bear this in mind.
For politicians this is the beginning of a frightening new era. They have been accustomed to relying on opinion pollsters. Now they are going to be realising that they might as well consult an astrologer. 
For the media it could be the dawn of an even more frightening era – how can they keep control of the narrative if they have no way of knowing how the people are actually thinking?
It’s not as if it’s just Brexit and the US election that pollsters and pundits got wrong. Remember those opinion polls that told the Australian Labor Party that Kevin Rudd was unbelievably popular and could easily beat Tony Abbott at the next election? And the media got all excited about it and assured us that Abbott was absolutely unelectable. And so Labor replaced Julia Gillard with Rudd and Rudd went on to lead them to overwhelming defeat. The opinion pollsters are getting it wrong more and more often, in more and more countries.
It appears that Trump won because he put his faith in old-fashioned political instincts. He had a message that he knew he could sell and he knew how to sell it and he knew which demographics were likely to buy it. He knew that if he stuck to the plan he could win.
There are stories floating about that Bill Clinton had been telling the Clinton campaign for months that their strategy was going to fail and they were going to lose. Say what you like about Bill Clinton, he’s a clever politician and he understands politics on an instinctive level. Luckily no-one in the Clinton campaign listened to him – after all he’s just a stale pale male so what would he know?