This past week has not been kind to the exoteric progressive Left’s agenda. In quick succession, lefties have seen the highest court in the land hand them losses on religious school funding, gun control, voter ID, the repeal of Roe v. Wade, and then school prayer (and they could potentially take another L later this week in the case of West Virginia v. EPA). The thing about this is that these losses are not merely symbolic - as important as that would be in and of itself for undermining the Left’s carefully cultivated image of inevitability. Instead, many of these cases revolved around issues of substantive law and legal doctrine that the Left thought it had gotten settled decades ago, but which is now very much unsettled. As a result, the carefully constructed legal superstructure that progressivism had used the courts to build is being undermined.
As the demonstrations around the country this past week and various wild-eyed pronouncements from prominent lefties on social media and in the news have indicated, they’ve not been taking these reverses very well. Indeed, the level of insanity being displayed in some circles is absolutely mindboggling, especially as a result of the Roe v. Wade repeal. You’ve got lefties bombing crisis pregnancy clinics, talking about sterilising themselves and their kids, threatening sex strikes, and publicly humiliating their own children.
While this all may seem like fun and games to us, keep in mind that for the Left, this is the most serious business they’ve had to face since the 1960s. Being reversed in the courts - repeatedly, openly - represents a massive monkey wrench in their “march of progress.” And as I discussed last week, the Left has been accelerating the imposition of its agenda over the past two decades to the point that it cannot slow down or back off without the risk of losing everything. It’s truly all or nothing for these folks now. And they realise this.
The Left is absolutely right to fear all of this because these things represent the furtherance of a growing trend towards decentralisation that I’ve been talking about recently. This is bad for them because the Left’s whole program - and I’m talking about going back for at least two centuries - has been based on the centralisation of power into its own hands. Everything the Left does is predicated upon the “principle” of coalescing power into its hands in government, NGOs, woke corporations, and a constellation of other institutions that all coordinate together to advance the progressive agenda. Due to our place in our current demographic-structural secular cycle, this decentralisation is nigh inevitable, but that doesn’t mean the Left won’t (literally) burn through a lot of social capital fruitlessly trying to stop it.
These recent Supreme Court rulings represent real loses for their program at the most sovereign level in our government. This, in turn, signals openly their loss of control over that institution. This is why we’re seeing increasingly desperate ideas being floated for ploys to take back the SCOTUS, from packing the Court to (somehow) convincing 2/3 of the states to gut it completely. They know they’ve lost control over it as an institution, so they’re perfectly willing to dynamite it (hopefully not meaning that literally), like an ex-girlfriend who takes a baseball bat to a guy’s X-Box rather than just giving it back to him like a sane person would do. In the space of a few short years, the SCOTUS has gone from hero to zero in the Left’s eyes, since for them everything is situational in nature. Once something, anything, outlives its usefulness to them, it goes up against the wall.
The thing to understand from this is that these losses the Court has handed to the Left are real things. They’re not just some kind of plot to “mobilise their voters” to win the midterms in November. While lefties may often be cunning, they are also arrogant and in many ways kind of dumb. These people are really not out here playing some grandmaster game of four-dimensional chess. They’re desperate, which is why they’re willing to engage in such blatant attempts at gaming the system through naked procedural manipulation. They’re the ones who are suddenly finding themselves in the place of having to operate outside of “our sacred norms” by refuting the legitimacy of institutions that go against them.
Bear in mind that the Left’s entire view of legitimacy is predicated on this “ever-forward march of progress.” To “move backwards” is to show weakness, to reveal a chink in the armour of the dialectic of inexorable progress. This sense of legitimacy, in turn, was based upon their capture of the various power-generating and power-wielding institutions, including the Supreme Court, since the “right” people now had possession of the means to remake society. What a lot of people forget is that the whole “march of progress” since the mid-1960s occurred because of this institutional takeover. Their judicially imposed agenda has never really “won the argument” on any issue. They just used social and political force to achieve their goals, followed up by media-driven social pressure and anarchotyranny to “encourage” conformity among the general population. So yeah, especially with something like the repeal of Roe v. Wade, their whole program is in jeopardy. The post-Roe stance on abortion adopted in 1973 was the truly radical stance on this issue, but they don’t want you to realise this.
Everything about the Left’s long-term plan and the centralisation of power that it involves is aimed at destroying all natural, social mediating institutions that exist between the individual and the state. Prominent among these institutions are things like the family, churches, social clubs, militias and gun clubs, etc. All of these, on one level or another, provide people with ways to “fit in,” they give them a “place of belonging” in organic associations that transcend the state and do not need it for their existence. Of course, since capturing the state and using its power for their own ends is the whole raison d’etre for the Left’s political program, none of these things have any place in the grand utopian future the Left envisions.
As such, every natural source of identity - family, religion, patria - has been undermined and overthrown so that there are no anchors of traditional identity anymore. Everything in the Left’s program is designed to atomise individuals and remove anything that would protect them from or mitigate the power over them by the all-powerful state. Abortion, for instance, plays a huge role in this. By “sexually liberating” women from the consequences of their own actions, it serves to destroy familial relations, the authority of the father, and the socially adhesive role of marriage. Gun control serves to destroy community self-policing and self-protection, forcing every individual to rely on the whims of an increasingly anarchotyrannical government that (as the courts continue to rule) has no actual duty to protect any of us. The welfare state gradually acted to undermine the role of local churches and charitable institutions that used to serve to reintegrate down-on-their-luck individuals back into the greater community, replacing this with an atomising, perpetuated dependence on distant bureaucrats.
As such, it’s absolutely good and right to fight a “culture war” despite what the “muh economics” type of neoconservatives and libertarians might say. In fact, it’s very interesting to see establishment “conservatives” attempting to steer us back into the “taxes and regulation” lane after having seen the real Right win too much too fast in the social realm. Yet, the fact that there are some Democrats out there trying to ask for a “truce in the culture war” because they’re afraid of losing too much shows us that we’re on the right track.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - in our current secular cycle, decentralisation is not now a matter of choice or preference but is a demographic-structural reality. There are signs throughout the American sociopolitical structure that demonstrate this, as states continue to defy FedGov to greater and great degrees. Rolling back the Left’s federal canonisation of abortion as a national sacrament is just another part of this. But the problem as I’ve noted before is that trying to fight this decentralisation and devolution of power will only destabilise the system even further. It’s like trying to repair a failing computer system by picking it up and shaking it roughly. The more the Left fights this, the more real harm to actual people and local communities will result.
The great truth about this, however, is that the Left doesn’t care. If they can’t have control of a society, then nobody can. This has been the modus operandi of the Left for centuries. Every nation they manage to subvert, they subsequently purge, pillage, and destroy in their revolutionary excesses. A couple of years ago, Jim discussed this when he described the Left Singularity which revolutionary progressivism always tries to bring about (and make no mistake, their current control of the institutions doesn’t make the American Left “not revolutionary”). It is in the Left’s nature to eat its own and everyone else.
At the demotic level, woke progressivism is not popular. There are few people out there in our society who really, truly agree with it or prefer it over what we used to have. Nevertheless, it is able to wield institutional power so to give itself the appearance that it is popular. Or at least signal to you that you’d better agree that it is. But once that illusion is broken, there’s nothing left but the raw exercise of power - within or without legitimate forms - from here on out. But that’s not something the Left has the ability to project for very long.
So the Left really finds itself in a precarious position. It can’t move backwards or even slow down because, as I noted last week, that could mean the collapse of its entire position. It can only move forward at the rate it has been but doing so is what brought it to this position in the first place. It can’t scale back and try to moderate because its own radical wing is pushing it ever deeper into the realm of the impossible.
They’ve tried to backtrack and say this was meant sarcastically, but at this point, it’s entirely believable to simply take the tweet at face value. Indeed, the whole tenor of left-wing rhetoric following Roe’s repeal has centred around either threatening the lives of conservative SCOTUS justices or trying to find ways to “punish” (in their minds) pro-lifers who succeeded in casting down their idol. (Pro-tip: making men stick around and financially support the babies they make and the mothers they impregnated is not the own lefties think it is. It’s called “marriage” and we’ve kinda always been in favour of it.)
Rhetoric aside, the Left’s response to the overthrow of Roe v. Wade has seemed surprisingly tepid. I think most of us were expecting a week of violent rioting, aided and abetted by strategically placed pallets of bricks that always seem to mysteriously show up right before those things kick off. Either they’re genuinely demoralised or else they’re holding back for bigger things they think are coming down the pike later. I suspect the latter, simply because the American Left has no structural or self-regulating capacity to dial it back.
I tend to think we’re going to see worsening assaults on churches and other visibly religious, pro-life institutions. Expect to see more arsons at crisis pregnancy clinics (because it’s extremely convincing to accuse pro-lifers of not supporting babies after they’re born, but then burn down the places they set up to do exactly that). That this will only make them more unpopular will not phase them, it may only make them “reason” that the people need another dose of violence so they’ll “figure it out.” Who knows? But either way, stay frosty. This ride ain’t over yet.
I hadn't seen the voting ID and school funding wins. Truly a disastrous week for the left, but Roe overshadows it all, infanticide being a sacrament second only to man on man anal fisting. Perhaps part of the reason they've seemed so muted is that all of these defeats have piled on at once. There's a psychological effect where misery (and happiness, for that matter) saturate, and further setbacks don't make any difference to mood. Then, on top of that, there's the colossal letdown the Biden White House has been ... and lurking in the background, the growing difficulty of ignoring the damage done by a certain experimental medical treatment that failed to live up to expectations.
As you say, they have to press on; but the cognitive dissonance of reality denial is a steady emotional drain on their energies, coming just at the point where they most need it. On the margins, voters are abandoning the left (or vice versa), quietly walking away from the mob. Meanwhile, they've turned parents into a voting bloc, pushback against woke in the schools and workplace is increasing the level of friction their program encounters, and the breakdown of the economy is restricting their ability to project institutional power.
We're not out of the woods yet, but we've moved from the seeming inevitability of the left's victory to a giant question mark that looms very large in their minds.
Why did we lose the culture war? We didn't fight it to begin with. Nothing but retreat after retreat.
"Is this really the hill you want to die on?" The beta cuck asks again and again until eventually we will all be drowned in a shallow puddle of wokeness at the bottom of a muddy ditch surrounded by hills everybody was afraid to fight on.
I say no. I'm not going to die on this hill or the next one. I'm going to make the other poor sonsabitches die instead. The pendulum is swinging back in the right direction. We all need to give it a push and turn it into a wrecking ball.