Monday, January 19, 2015

Chained Reaction

Last week, because the conservative movement most emphatically does not exist, we were forced to ask questions that should never have had to be asked. We asked things like, "In some insane possible world, could murder be a response to being offended by things? Could this somehow be a thing that people do? Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?" 

The thought of having to spend one millisecond considering being killed amongst the possible responses to saying things caused grievous and irreparable damage to what remained of my sanity, and so I took the plunge headlong into the writings of the neo-reactionary movement- something I've been avoiding for weeks. 

You may have even heard of this so-called Dark Enlightenment and how it's the next big thing in conservative politics even though it's a massive stretch to call them conservatives and they'd probably punch you in the mouth for calling them that. The movement defies easy categorization (of course) but it's a mix-and-match of various going concerns in out and around the conservative movement. Men's Rights Activism. Pissed off #Gamergaters. People who use scientific graphs to explain racial differences in IQ. Transhumanists (people who think the human body is a cage and want to be Johnny Depp in Transcendence). People who want closed borders. People who want open access to the Internet for everyone. Christian apologetics. The Thoreau-ians who just want to withdraw from society that always seem to gravitate to movements like this. Women who don't think feminism speaks for them. I, and most likely you, like one or two of these things sometimes, don't like others, and don't understand the rest. 

They like to write long-ass blogposts trying to explain themselves and how all of the above is supposed to fit together and how modern democracy has failed and we need to set up a system of pseudoautonomous benevolent dictatorships that stop trying to advance a society that apparently doesn't want to be advanced. There's something called "The Cathedral" which is basically Kathleen Wynne's ultimate political fantasy and all the stuff we don't like and which they oppose. 

Looking at it all, I felt exactly the same way I've felt at hundreds of pub sittings and breakout policy sessions (oh, how I hate that phrase) where everyone tries to figure out some common ground but mostly it devolves into arguments about what people consider themselves to be. "I consider myself a libertarian with anarchist leanings!" "Well I consider myself a social conservative who wants weed legalized!" "Well, I consider myself a Red Tory who wants free porn, supports the monarchy and concealed carry laws, and wants the LCBO abolished!"

Then of course there's the multiple marketing fails and bizarre codespeak, hallmarks of any good right-wing movement. Nobody seems to have pointed out, for example, that the central metaphor- The Cathedral- doesn't make any sense. What is so Cathedralish about a group of social terrorists who want to kill you because you don't validate their feelings? An out of control bureaucracy with no idea what it's doing to the people it's trying to help calls to mind an image of a Blind Idiot God, but these guys went with something pretty like "The Cathedral" to describe their hated enemies.  

But the biggest problem with the neoreactionary movement is the same problem with the libertarian movement, with the objectivist movement, with the conservative movement, with any of these silly non-movements, is that the things it considers to be important and the things normal people consider to be important are almost entirely separate. 

You know what isn't completely separate from the things normal people consider to be important? Beyonce's performance at the VMA's where she had FEMINIST in big letters behind her. 

One word. One image. No 3,742 word blogpost, no lecture on the principles of liberty, no Atlas Shrugged

This is the reason why the culture moves inexorably to the left. This is why we have to censor ourselves when talking about Charlie Hebdo. It's not because of a conspiracy. It's not because of the liberal media. It's not because of "The Cathedral." 

It's because of big frogs in a small pond, crabs in a bucket, cocoonery. 

Everyone here is interested in proving how much smarter they are than everyone else. 

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