Mind the dying beast. It’s when it bites the fiercest.
Sometime in 2004, as the left made a great noise all around, and I was afraid Jean Kerry would win, not because I liked George W. Bush much, but because I was afraid what our retreating from Iraq just then would mean, in terms of my sons’ having to go and fight that war again in worse conditions (yes, I know it’s still a possibility not to say probability) a friend told me the left is noisiest and most visible when they feel they’re losing.
If that’s true we’re in for some interesting times, particularly if their blue wave fails to materialize.
There are some things we must establish up front, which might seem counter intuitive to the crowd that hangs out here, but which, nonetheless, are the way the world works. Ignoring this leads us — often — to having the wrong expectations.
The first thing to establish is that most people don’t give a good goddamn about politics. No, seriously. Politics and the agenda of politicians are a level of abstraction most people might not be capable of, at least not without effort. People mope about the participation levels in the US, forgetting that even in revolutionary times, when really big things were at stake, the level of engagement was maybe tops 10% and active engagement more like 3%. Most people go along to get along and side with whatever the agenda that is loudest or seems to be winning, without a second thought.
This is why control of the mass media was such a huge asset to the left in this country, because they could give the impression that everyone was left, and that the default position (let alone the virtuous one) was left. Yes, in some groups and to some extent, the default is still left, but that’s more and more among the very old and the very young.
Contributing to the “very young” part is the indoctrination factories we call schools. But the left has a problem there too. First of all, there is the problem that they’re not sure how much of the “default left” is real and how much is a put on show for their benefit. (Seriously, guys, if it were heartfelt, we’d have had way more than a few thousand students, with all the encouragement not to say push they got from their teachers, echoing the Parkland astroturf. Instead Camera Hogg and co. became famous because they are a vocal minority and the left has to clutch them for dear life.) Second, there is the problem that most people move right as they hit the real world. Or at least they start disliking have taxes taken out, stop muttering about socialist revolution and even sometimes acquire a modicum of knowledge of history and sense.
Note not always. I had a friend in her forties who, when she saw how much they took from her paycheck in taxes said she should turn communist. Then I had to explain to her that was the wrong direction. Yes, she was intelligent and fairly educated, but keep in mind most people REALLY glaze over when they hear of politics. It’s a level of abstraction too far for them.
However, in general, the direction of change is away from school-indoctrination. The left knows that too. The cases that don’t shed indoctrination are the ones who got it at home, too, ie. red diaper babies for whom politics is religion. There are fewer of those every year as most of the left has failed to reproduce.
Further, the left has been in crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union. Yes, I know, many of you are too young to understand the state of the left before that. And anyway, in the US they at least felt forced to disguise that the Soviet Union was their beau ideal. They hadn’t fully forgotten that people knew about Stalin, and tried to keep the mask on.
But academic works — beardo the weirdo went to ground in universities — and literary works, and other things aimed at intellectuals, even those written by ostensible right wingers, all assumed the Soviet Union, while sacrificing personal freedom and creativity, was more productive, more equitable and just gosh-darn more efficient.
The fall of the soviet union for a while left communists roaming around like defrocked priests. The analogy is apt, since communism — and leftism in general — is what stands in place of religion for many people.
Then the left regrouped. They had to. They had to for two reasons: first, their entire identity was tied into being leftist and into denouncing the iniquitous evil of capitalism. Two, for over a century this has been a damn lucrative racket, providing otherwise mediocre newsmen, social scientists, artists and writers with acclaim and money. The left regrouped into tribalism and internationalism. (BTW the two are synonymous. You can’t get humans not to have a tribe. If you insist there be no nations in their mental map, they’re going to identify with smaller identity groups.)
The problem they now face is that the dogs just don’t like the food.
You can maintain the fiction that all cultures are alike, until you import a lot of third worlders into the first world and rub the differences all over people’s faces. And you can keep dividing the population into smaller and smaller tribes, but sooner or later all but the professional hysterics get tired of tallying up pico aggressions. Even the indoctrinated start making fun of the never ending show of triggering and screaming.
And then you get backlash. And all over the world they’re getting backlash.
Which won’t make them change their minds. They can’t. It would be the same as admitting their lives have been in vain or perhaps in the service of evil.
They retain also a — admittedly, diminishing — power to destroy. They can’t really push their darlings anymore, but there is a certain amount of mud slinging, after which the mud sticks. Say things like ‘so and so wants people like me dead’ with no specifics and some people seeing the name of the author or politician will associate it with genocide.
It’s just that even that will stop working after a while. For an illustration, see Trump, Donald J.
So…. particularly if their massive blue wave fails to materialize in November, we’re in for a lot of screaming, shouting, acting out, and perhaps even acts of violence.
Will it be civil war?
I won’t discount it, but I doubt it. Look, most people really don’t give a damn about politics, certainly not enough to fight over it. Also, this is a very large country. In some places, and at times, things will get very ugly. Being prepared doesn’t hurt, but I wouldn’t go all out unless you live in one of the three or four largest cities.
Will the US break up?
Oh, brother. People nattering on about this always seem to me to think the US is about the size of Portugal, and not mixed as to politics at all. Trust me, even in red America, there’s enough blues, and vice versa. Most families, friends’ groups and companies are a mix. Without geographical separation, break up is unlikely. Voting is not a good record of red and blue, because the overwhelming majority of people don’t vote.
And then refer to “most people don’t give a damn about politics and will go along to get along.” As the left loses the loudest megaphones, things will just slowly quiet down and people will adjust their “go along” the other way.
Is there a possibility for things to go very very wrong? Sure. there always is. In every human situation. But it’s not the PROBABILITY.
The operative image of our civil war is not the American Civil War but the cold war. We’ve been in a cold civil war for a long time. We see sudden hot flares, but geographically (and usually time) contained. Most of it is a seeming peace with a cultural and propaganda war going on ALL THE TIME.
As in the cold war, the left has the propaganda advantage. This lends them the impression of strength. But remember propaganda magnifies everything.
We’re in the scariest days of the cold civil war. The left is losing its hold, and this makes it most dangerous. They do still have some power, mostly the power to destroy: reputations, economies, companies, fields of endeavor.
They might be Japanese soldiers, still fighting WWII in some little atoll in the Pacific, but that doesn’t mean they won’t bayonet you if you get in their way.
And yet, in the end, we win, they lose.
Be not afraid, and keep at it. Oh, and mind the wounded beast. It rarely goes down without biting.