I sure did catch it when I dissed Family Ties as leftist propaganda. Which it was, of course. Perhaps more so than most of us realize.
And yet, not only did a lot of you in the comments note that it gave you the first glimpse of being conservative, but I got emails. Ooooh, boy. I got all the emails.
Apparently Alex P. Keaton was a great part of the reason why my generation didn’t fall in line with the self-critique sessions and the lefty “protests”, cut our hair (or got a nice perm, depending on sex.) dressed in suits and went to work.
I spent some time trying to figure this one out. Because Alex P. Keaton was a cardboard cut out of a conservative, enamored of that Statist, Nixon.
And then I realized what it was. The problem is that the left hadn’t perfected the fine art of cardboard conservatives, where they made their opposition into sort of rampaging Nazis with no contact with reality.
Back then, they were still spitting out things that they’d heard conservatives say, even though mixed up with things conservatives had never said. So while Alex P. Keaton talked about what a great guy Nixon was, etc, he also ….
Well, there were a lot of things that came through in the character. Like, you know, he wanted to succeed, do well, be rich. It is probably lost on younger kids, but this was anathema. Wearing a suit, let alone a suit and tie was anathema. It was totally uncool, old, “straight” (back when that referred to the opposite of being a hippie.)
In fact, Alex P. Keaton, cardboard and all might have been responsible for making it hip to be square.
Not counting the things that slipped through that the left thought were horrifying like “women might be happier staying at home and raising kids.” These were of course supposed to be for laughs because the narrative was women would take over the work world and push men to the side by being SO MUCH better. (When that failed, we started hearing about institutional patriarchy. Such nonsense.) But the fact is that while after the kids are grown in the practically second-life-time modern medicine grants us, women might very well start caring about careers as much as men, but we do have different biological drives, and– well, they throw a spanner into the works of the “ersatz corporate man.”
Anyway, those comments apparently were true, and found fertile ground in a lot of minds.
This got me to thinking. The narrative was so thick, so absolute. You people who grew up with the internet might not understand how absolute it was. Everything echoed each other: from a casual spread in a fashion magazine, to the latest work of ‘art’ at a gallery. From a causal line in a news report, to the latest book that “will be on everyone who’s anyone’s bedside this fall.”
And the lines that came through them were the left’s. They might have been a little more veiled than they are now, but the crazy was all there, even back then. From “people cannot control their sexual urges at any time and kids are sexual creatures” to “women should be just like men, only the worst of men” to “the poor need more government.” And anyone and everyone opposing the coming of big government everything was, bizarrely, a fascist, and hated women and minorities.
There was no logic, but there was a barrage of sound and fury, and everything worked in concert with the big lie.
Which considering their system didn’t work at all, and the only thing big government is good at is collecting taxes and oppressing its own citizens was not amazing. They needed that barrage to make it seem like their “truths” were unassailable.
But their truths were patently not truths. They weren’t authentic. They found no resonance with people. People went along with them, because they were afraid to stand out, but meanwhile, each of them individually thought they were freaks of nature.
I had a little more resistance because events I’d seen close up and personal were otherwise in history books. But for most people the weight of the lies was almost impossible to throw off.
And yet the least bit of “support” from the official channels, even when it was meant to discourage dissent could tear a big swathe off consent and show the picture beneath.
And the picture was true, so of course it had a big impact. Because of course young men want to dress well and be successful. In what world does it make any kind of sense that they WOULDN’T?
You see what I mean? The narrative, because it’s counter-reality needs to be absolute and relentless.
Truth only needs to break in now and then to completely destroy it.
Like, you know, America was over and done with in the late seventies. It was all downhill now. We were over, and deserved to be over, and the USSR was going to win, because it was not only more efficient but more “just”.
And then Reagan came. And the narrative crumbled. Because it was all lies, and each person individually knew they were lies, and only the relentless weight of the narrative, endlessly repeated could make people think everyone else thought the lie.
Same with Trump. HUGE hole in the narrative. And heaven knows neither of the men were prefect. But they had reality at their side.
Now the lies are crumbling, because while relentless they can’t be ubiquitous anymore. And they can only survive when truth never appears.
When truth appears, no matter in how little an amount, the lies melt like spun sugar in water.
Do not collaborate with the lies. Use exactly whatever degree of subtlety you need to pierce them. As we see above, anything, from pretending to be mocking the truth to pretending to not quite “get’ it while telling the truth will destroy the lies. Fast or slow.
(For homework, I assign you reading Comrade Don Camillo. If you need ideas.)
Go and melt away the lies that never worked. We have a future to build. And the future must rest on truth.