Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Conservatives for unilateral disarmament

Too proud to fight?

Or too fussy to win?

I admire both Charles Cooke and Kevin Williamson of National Review. I usually find myself in complete agreement with them. But on their most recent Mad Dogs and Englishmen podcast they went off the rails.

On the matter of outrage mobs they both came out in favor of not fighting fire with fire.

This is a recipe for defeat.

It is nice to believe that taking the high road will cause the Left to renounce such tactics and create a more open area for vigorous debate.

And puppies and unicorns and rainbows......

Why should the Left renounce a tactic that is working? Moreover, look at how much the Left has come to revel in the pseudo-violence of their debating methods. They praised their hero Jon Stewart, not because he refuted his ideological opponents, but because he (in their eyes) CRUSHED them, DEMOLISHED them, EVISCERATED them, DESTROYED them.

Hardly an audience to be won over with self-abnegation and moral suasion.

The Left denounces Citizens United and Wall Street. Despite their high-mindedness they are happy to have the help of Super Pacs funded by Hedge fund millionaires.

Taking the advice of Cooke and Williamson guarantees the continued cultural hegemony of the Left. Power matters. People will come to understand that to run afoul of the Left could be career-ending. (Brendan Eich anyone?) And so fewer people will challenge the Left. Attacking the Right will remain a safe and popular sport.

Stephen Koch on the Bloomsbury and its methods:

Even by the ungentle standards of most literary cliques, Bloomsbury was exceptionally malicious within its own ranks, and with outssiders cruel to the point of systematic sadism. All the talk of 'friendship' concealed quite different interests, ….

Paul Johnson on Strachey:"From the Apostles he grasped the principles of group power: The ability not merely to exclude but to be seen to exclude. He perfected the art of unapproachability and rejection."...

First, last, and always, the real politics of Bloomsbury was a search for elite cultural power in England.
Asymmetrical standards of discourse mean that the Left gets credit for being raw, edgy, visceral, and iconoclastic. Their opponents can only oscillate between bigotry and boring.

Hence, the Left becomes cool.

Style and fashion matter.

Robert Conquest:

The Austrailian poet James McAuley wrote pentetratingly of the pro-Communist phenomenon: 'During the thirties and forties Austrailian intellectual life became subjected to an alarming extent to the magnetic field of Communism. All sorts of people who would regard themselves as being non-Communist, and even opposed to Communism, in practice were dominated by the themes and modes of discussion proposed by the Communists, danced to the Communist tune, and had serious emotional resistances to being identified with any postition or institution which was denounced by the Communists as "reactionary".' He adds that 'one reason for all this was that schools of thought genuinely independent of and opposed to Communist suggestion were in this country not well organized and publicly present. They lacked prestige, that magical aura which captures the minds of the young in advance of argument and establishes compelling fashions

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