Before I begin I would like to give a shout out to Benjamin Dixon and Anoa Changa who are both excellent voices in these tumultuous times. Both have inspired me and you should totally subscribe to their Youtube channels and podcasts.
Culture wars will have a different impact on you depending on your ideology. If you are right leaning it is a desperate fight to bring back American culture and religious life to what you imagine the 1950’s were like. For those who are more left it is a defense for all the hard fought civil rights earned for marginilized groups. However, the problem many seem to have is an assumption that both social justice issues and economic issues cannot be pursued at the same time. On the left spectrum there are the following concerns:
- Economic policy agendas are not supported by the American public at large and minority communities cannot wait for them to become popular. The perception of left leaning economic policy as evil is still bad enough to prevent it.
- Social justice issues are safe issues for the more corporate friendly establishment democrats, because they don’t infuriate their donors.
- By trying to force change and ignore the actual world at large, you will not be able to achieve your goals.
- Economic issues being partially alleviated won’t stop racism and hatred.
One of the things you might notice is how most things are very pessimistic. I think it is all too easy, if you are knowledgable about our history, to feel dissenpowered and hopeless. But it is worth noting that every major policy concession on social issues didn’t come from waiting for the time to come. In fact, most were forced through prolonged activism and even hostility. Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered as the standard bearer of peaceful protest, but that is only part of his story. The sad part is, there normally requires both violence and peaceful protests to get a message across. But even without violence(which I would prefer), we must recognize that often it is the efforts of a movement over a long period of time, to get change. Incremental change doesn’t happen through the intention of doing incremental change. Incremental change happens when there is sustained effort forcing power to take notice.
The culture war is something the right understands better than the left. The right has managed to move the discourse by sustaining it over decades through think tanks, and other sleazy moves. Most think they are crazy and many of the things they want may not even be possible. But they keep going. The Tea Party proved that political viability is only a problem if you let it be a problem. It is important to note that the Tea Party had corporate money on their side and a corporate democratic party who didn’t want to fix economic issues as a significant handicap. However, left policy is actually popular and doesn’t require money to sustain it. What is required is a sustaining a movement and infrastructure for the long haul. The powerful are able to be patient because they do not actually struggle nearly as much in their daily lives. But unfortunately, you cannot manufacture actual popularity that easily.
The culture war requires the left to be able to articulate the integral connections between social justice and economic policy. One way to do this is to identify and talk at great length about great socialists of color. There are so many of them and the minority communities have always been very loyal to the most left leaning causes due to the pillaging of the global South. Here are my tips:
- Cultural capitalism is a thing and must be addressed. The fact that meritocracy and money being your judge of worth is very damaging. Your worth as a human being is not just what your job is and whether you have nice things.
- Human beings are more likely to favor communal living and cooperation over competition. Not only is this biological and will appeal to the uber rationals, but it will also remind us we can be better.
- Embrace the conflict that is inherent to politics. Because of the world being so different and scary I feel that too many people are unwilling to embrace conflict. I don’t just mean people who like to argue and pontificate about policy. What I mean is understand that while we should endeavor to work together as much as possible, politics is inherently divisive as it involves morality, values, and our very lives. It can and will get personal. Don’t let offense just be pushed aside. If someone is offended you should expect it and try to work around it.
- Our culture is sick and requires some healing. The corrosive right wing talk radio and tv has made the process of radicalizing the right easier. This means being willing to think outside the box. We must be willing to fail and try new things. The irony is that the fear of change is endemic in the left as well as the right. The idea of burning it all down and starting from scratch is just as antathema to the left as to the right.
- Andrew Breitbart, a true scumbag, was right about the power of culture and he even understood the value of solidarity. It was solidarity between white people and crazy right wingers but he understood it. The right wing has been willing to engage in ridiculous maneuvers despite their claim to be conservative. We must be willing to change the American concept of culture and make it better.
- We should embrace the idea that we will be seen as unreasonable and even dangerous by both the center and the right. I believe that the leftist message is not only the correct one but the only one that planet Earth will allow. Climate change and catastrophe is already all but assured but I would prefer to prevent human extinction.
Please give me any comments and feedback if you want. I will try to talk more about this in another post. TGIF fam and have a good weekend.