1.10.17

SO EPISTEMIC THE CLOSURE THEY'RE CHOKING?

The pundit class have discovered, in the past week or so, that there is more to the insurgency of disaffected normals than Donald Trump's presidency.

One possibility might be that the normals are using Gramscian tactics on the transgressives.  John Fonte was thinking about these things at the turn of the century: that is, before the Florida recount, before the towers fell, before the financial bubble popped, before hope and change, before the Trumpening.  Minding the Campus recently reissued the essay.  This passage, which captures the thinking of identity-politics types, might equally apply to the ongoing insurgency.
Power, in Gramsci’s observation, is exercised by privileged groups or classes in two ways: through domination, force, or coercion; and through something called “hegemony,” which means the ideological supremacy of a system of values that supports the class or group interests of the predominant classes or groups. Subordinate groups, he argued, are influenced to internalize the value systems and world views of the privileged groups and, thus, to consent to their own marginalization.
Thus, it is the role of the vanguardists to convince the oppressed to withdraw their sanction.
But there is an idea from Atlas Shrugged in which it is the entrepreneurs and producers who withdraw their sanction.  What happens, then, when the supposedly privileged refuse to be guilt-tripped any more?
Gramsci believed that it was necessary first to delegitimize the dominant belief systems of the predominant groups and to create a “counter-hegemony” (i.e., a new system of values for the subordinate groups) before the marginalized could be empowered. Moreover, because hegemonic values permeate all spheres of civil society — schools, churches, the media, voluntary associations — civil society itself, he argued, is the great battleground in the struggle for hegemony, the “war of position.” From this point, too, followed a corollary for which Gramsci should be known (and which is echoed in the feminist slogan) — that all life is “political.” Thus, private life, the workplace, religion, philosophy, art, and literature, and civil society, in general, are contested battlegrounds in the struggle to achieve societal transformation.
Indeed, and when the Hollywood awards shows and higher education and, horrible dictu, the National Football League take the wrong side, can we speak of a counter-counter-hegemony?

There's something happening here, something that Mr Fonte could not have anticipated.
At the end of the day, it is unlikely that the libertarians, paleoconservatives, secular patriots, Catholic social democrats, or disaffected religious right intellectuals will mount an effective resistance to the continuing Gramscian assault. Only the Tocquevillians appear to have the strength — in terms of intellectual firepower, infrastructure, funding, media attention, and a comprehensive philosophy that taps into core American principles — to challenge the Gramscians with any chance of success.
No. "Make America Great Again" plus undermining the political establishment with mockery seems to have accomplished what all that think-tankery and intellectual coherence has not.

Consider what Salena Zito is seeing in New England.
Republicans, at some level, are competing in every state up and down the ballot, while Democrats are not competing anywhere but on the coasts and in the big cities. In short, they are a regionalized party, confined to the most densely populated parts of the nation — more cut off and compartmentalized than the GOP.

But if you read reports by national political reporters, you would assume that progressivism dominates the country’s landscape. “The decision makers, who are close to culture and news, live in places where the Democratic Party’s last bastions are, encased in a bubble that believes everyone thinks like they do and votes like they do,” said [Republican establishment strategist Brad] Todd.

“Those noncompetitive deep-blue places are the only places they have left where they dominate, but it also happens to be the only places where cultural and media institutions are headquartered,” he added.

Seven years after the Republicans won the House and three years after they gained the US Senate majority, the media/entertainment complex still fails to accept or understand that the majority of this country is center-right. Until these institutions grasp this fact, they will continue to see their viewership drop and their trust erode.
There are parts of New England that are near the bubble, but not of the bubble.  But that reference to a media/entertainment complex is more of a Gramscian calling out than it is a Tocquevillian call for reason.

Likewise, Iowa is neither near the bubble, nor particularly enthusiastic about the bubbleheads.
[E]conomic blowback from a national financial collapse, a poorly handled state budget crisis and the widespread revolt by grassroots conservatives against the Affordable Care Act [c.q.] created an angry backlash against Democrats in 2010, especially in Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio.
That's how accountability works, bubbleheads.
Iowa ranks in the top 10 of states with the highest population of whites and in the top 15 of states with the highest elderly population. According to U.S. Census data, both groups — two pillars of Trump’s win statewide and nationally — increased simultaneously after 2010 and became a bigger percentage of Iowa’s electorate.

Over the same period, Republicans added about 37,000 registered voters, a 9 percent increase, and now represent 33 percent of Iowa’s roughly 3 million voters. Registered Democrats are at a 10-year low. Their numbers fell by more than 55,000, or 6 percent, and they represent barely 30 percent of Iowa voters.

We’ve lost touch with certain voters,” state party Chairman Troy Price said. “We talk about issues but not the values behind the issues. We haven’t done the best job communicating with the people we fight so hard for. It’s why we are where we are.”
Wait, what, writing off white voters and waiting for the demographic transition, and writing off older voters and waiting on the actuarial tables, and denouncing values as arbitrary bourgeois constructions reeking of privilege is ... alienating people and losing voters?  Or, have the normals figured out how to play Gramscian games to their advantage?

But the Republicans ought not get cocky, either.
In 2008, when John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate, Christopher Caldwell wrote that the pick "was the electoral equivalent of an atomic bomb." That may have been an understatement. "What the Palin pick did," he went on, "was to unleash a latent class tension in American life and turn the two parties, previously somewhat socially mixed, into vehicles of social classes."

The sorting of the parties by education, income level, professional credentials, and confidence in technocratic expertise has continued ever since. Though Beltway conservatives and Republicans, myself included, moved away from Palin as she resigned from office and became an outspoken celebrity figure, she maintained her extraordinary political intuition. This preternatural sense of where grassroots conservative opinion was headed guided her interventions in the debate over Obamacare, in the revolt of the Tea Party, and in the rise of Donald Trump. All of these bets paid off, as did the one she placed on [Alabama's Republican Senate candidate Roy] Moore.

Palin and her comrades in the Party of Trump are determined to defeat the near enemy, the Republican Party, before they confront the far enemies in the Democratic Party and the Party of Sanders.
The far enemies, however, seem bent on continuing to treat the yeomanry as deplorables to be condescended to, rather than as voters to be won over.
Every day, we hear our news media insult the people and push the leftist narrative. Every night, we hear one comedian after another insult the people and push the leftist narrative. In movie theaters, in pop songs, at award shows, in college classes, the same thing, every day. Donald Trump has the only voice loud and bold enough to override that ceaseless sneering propaganda. Donald Trump, that is, and the people.
So far, at least, some fraction of the populace is still with Our President, political failures and foreign policy stumbles notwithstanding.

And Sarah Hoyt notes that the gentry have lost their minds.
Perhaps it was that Donald Trump is such a dark horse; perhaps it is that Hillary Clinton is such an unappetizing, corrupt candidate; perhaps it was the new media dominance revealing the crazy face of the left; perhaps it was the fact that the left had decided to fight the strangest battles, such as who got to pee where; perhaps it was a combination of all of these.

All I know is that the minute Donald Trump was elected, the left lost whatever shred of sanity that had let them hold on to “normal appearing” speech and attitudes.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, we got bizarre reports of Trump peeing on beds where the Obamas had slept, something so obviously crazy that no sane person could believe it.  (And by the way, Trump’s “are you crazy, I’m a germophobe” was amazing.)  Then came Russia, Russia, Russia, and the crazy calls to … reverse the elections?  Un-elect Trump? Impeach his son (from what? Citizenship?) for talking to a Russian scammer…. Just crazy after crazy.

And at the same time, the public behavior of the left grew worse and worse.  Celebrities of sorts took pictures with a mockup of Trump’s severed head.  Hillary not only wrote a book blaming everyone but herself for her loss but has now descended to the pit of crazy, intimating on NPR that Trump, like Putin, might already have had people and journalists killed.
To top it off, the old code talking might as well be Viking runes.  What happens when the common schools no longer teach Sinclair Lewis or the rest of the old elite snob canon?

Turf them out is what happens.
The Republican Party has failed its voters, and a national cleansing was needed in the coming year, regardless of whether President Donald Trump was on board.

Longtime Republicans see a charged civil war on the horizon.

"There is an emotional component," former House speaker Newt Gingrich, R, said of the frustrations of Trump's core backers, who have grown increasingly vocal. "They want someone to kick over the table. And my advice to every Republican is: You better have an edge, or you become the problem."
These developments do not strike me as favorable to Democrats, who are still the high priests of Governance by Wise Experts. (They have their own schisms, but that's a different sort of post.)
In contrast to past anti-establishment efforts in the Republican Party, going back to Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential bid and, more recently, the tea party movement, this crusade is not an ideological project motivated by a desire for smaller government - it's about destroying the party's political class in Washington, even if it jeopardizes the GOP's congressional majorities.

The hawkish stances on foreign policy and federal spending and moral values that have defined the Republican Party since Ronald Reagan's presidency have been shoved to the background, replaced by a blazing strain of nationalism that is driven by anti-trade and anti-immigration views - views that were heralded by Trump in 2016 but that agitators fret have been ignored in Congress.

Patrick Caddell, a veteran pollster who has worked with [occasional Trump advisor Steve] Bannon, said the "Republican electorate is in revolt."

"The Republican Party is very close to coming apart," Caddell said. "The voters feel economic deprivation, and their children don't have the same opportunities. They're becoming more anti-trade than most union Democrats, in some respects, because of anger with the global economy."
And there's a very Gramscian, identity-politics idea in play there.
Trump is not the movement's standard-bearer, and his positions guide the candidates and groups only to a point, as Strange's defeat attests. More important to them is the president's anti-establishment style - the aura of authenticity along with his aggressive take on illegal immigration. His supporters and populist leaders celebrate that approach as a model of defiance.

"I love the Trump agenda," said persistent Nevada candidate Sharron Angle, who won a Senate GOP primary in 2010 amid the tea party's rise and plans to run for Congress next year. But Angle said Trump's seeming lack of concern for federal deficits has vexed her: "Sometimes, I can't figure out the president. And I don't think I am alone in that."

Added consultant Tom Ingram, a Corker adviser: "Trump's an aberration, a sign of what's happening out there more than anything. He's not really Republican, and he's not really tea party. He's just Trump."
Paradigms are emergent. Subverting a dominant paradigm (particularly a sclerotic, dysfunctional one) is straightforward. Replacing it will be another matter, the work of the next twenty years.

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