Home/Rod Dreher/Information And The Cultural Revolution

Information And The Cultural Revolution

The blind leading the blind (Photo by Shay Horse/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Samuel Culper, an analyst at a website called Forward Observer, which is staffed by former military intel officers who try to make sense of what they believe is coming conflict here, posted something really interesting. I will only quote a bit of it, because they charge a subscription fee for this information, and I think they are entitled to earn a living providing the analysis. (A subscriber of theirs forwarded it to me.) You might want to start subscribing now that things have gotten so hot. It’s basically Stratfor, but for domestic instability.

Anyway, Culper says that this past year in American has been a Cultural Revolution carried out as “Fourth Generation Warfare … where the moral and mental planes are the primary battlefields and information is the primary weapon. This is the key to understanding current events and the immediate future of low intensity conflict.”

Culper says:

Nowhere has 4GW been more apparent than what happened after Wednesday’s protest. Over the past two days, politicians on both sides of the aisle, as well as political pundits, have unequivocally and universally denounced the protest. In the corporate world, Disney, UPS, Chase, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, the National Association of Manufacturers, and a host of other organizations released statements condemning Wednesday’s protest as an assault on democracy. (I’ve repeatedly pointed to corporations and their officers blurring the lines between commerce and politics to support ideological causes, which is part of the main effort in the ongoing conflict. The Cultural Revolution has weaponized commercial entities.) There’s been widespread and consistent repudiation of the protest and violence that ensued on Wednesday.

Compare this week’s reaction to that of Floyd’s Rebellion last summer, where the same corporations, Democratic politicians, and political pundits ignored, excused, justified, or encouraged behavior that included far greater destruction and violence. Yet much of society defended that behavior because social justice activists have spent considerable time and resources to develop political, social, and commercial influence. Victimhood is the primary tool used to build a moral position in 4GW. And through the exploitation of victimhood, the social justice movement has been able to reshape the information environment, especially through social media. Ironically, social media is the primary vehicle for shaping the information environment, yet the Trump administration has done very little over the past four years to diminish that strategic advantage. For all the claims of being fascist, the Trump administration has done virtually nothing to stifle the speech and influence of the Cultural Revolution.

Culper goes on to say that everyone associated with Trump will be demonized across society because the Left controls the information battlefield. More:

This is not to say that these reactions are true, objective, or shared by every member of society. Yet the ability to popularize the idea that these individuals are fascists, domestic terrorists, and “threats to democracy” will further isolate Trump supporters’s ability to compete in the information environment. And that’s going to be a characteristic of at least the next two years of low intensity conflict.

Yesterday we saw a coordinated movement of Big Tech against Trump and his closest supporters. Trump himself has been cut off from nearly all forms of social media, and even his e-mail provider cut him off. Big Tech is moving against Parler, the right-wing alternative to Twitter. This is just the beginning. As Culper observes, the culture-war weaponization of corporate America has given the Left a massive advantage. As I have written in The Benedict Option and Live Not By Lies, in a country like ours, when Big Business takes sides in the culture war, the advantage is overwhelming.

(A reader e-mailed last night to say that my commentary in this space this week has featured too much “I told you so,” which I guess is a fair comment, but I would just respond by saying that you, reader, may not realize the extent to which I deal with fellow Christians saying that I’m being “alarmist,” that it’s not really as bad as all that. I’m not trying to take any kind of victory lap here — it’s not a fun position to be in to be vindicated at the cost of your country going to hell — but I am trying to say, “See! I’ve been trying to tell you this was coming. Let’s act!”)

I have been very clear in this space that what the MAGA mob did in Washington was absolutely unacceptable, and that everyone who participated in it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I want to see this president impeached, even though he is leaving office later this month, because what he has done must be formally repudiated by Congress. I have been hard on religious conservatives who, after the election, went all-in on “Stop The Steal,” saying that this was madness. It’s all there on the record. These people have brought disgrace to themselves and to our country.

That said, it is instructive to compare, as Culper does, the reaction of the Establishment (my catch-all term for figures in the state, corporate America, universities, media, and other institutions that make up what the neoreactionaries call “the Cathedral”) to last year’s race rioting and Wednesday’s MAGA riot. It was entirely predictable. Last year’s rioters were widely characterized in the media and among the Establishment as victims, ultimately. Nobody sees the MAGA people as victims, only as Deplorables. In my view, rioters, whether white or black, left-wing or right-wing, are deplorable. Violence must be rejected, full stop.

But that’s not how things work in this country.

Universities, media, and corporations responded to last year’s violence as if they had an urgent moral responsibility to embrace a form of de-Nazification regarding race — as if institutions where previously racism was minimal to non-existent had awakened to find themselves all to be harboring aggressive bigotries that must be stamped out. Recently, the National Association of Realtors, a professional organization with 1.4 million members, announced a plan to suppress “hate speech” by monitoring all aspects of its members’ lives. As Real Clear investigations reports:

In what some consider one of the most far-reaching social policy moves in the corporate world, the National Association of Realtors, called the nation’s largest trade organization, has revised its professional ethics code to ban “hate speech and harassing speech” by its 1.4 million members.

The sweeping prohibition applies to association members 24/7, covering all communication, private and professional, written and spoken, online and off. Punishment could top out at a maximum fine of $15,000 and expulsion from the organization.

More:

NAR’s decision, allowing any member of the public to file a complaint, has alarmed other real estate agents, and also some legal and ethics experts, who say the hate speech ban’s vagueness is an invitation to censor controversial political opinions, especially on race and gender. While that’s not the association’s stated intention, the skeptics say their fears are justified by the hyperactive “cancel culture” online that has jettisoned hapless workers for posting “all lives matter” and objecting to gay marriage.

“The dam has broken and other organizations will look at this,” predicted Robert Föehl, a professor of business ethics and business law at Ohio University.

“If this is good for real estate agents, why not attorneys, why not doctors?” Föehl said. “They’re going to be pressured to do what NAR has done. And that pressure is going to be very real, because what organization wants to argue they should allow hate speech by their members?”

And:

Among those caught up in the uncertainty are real estate agents who are Christian preachers or Sunday school teachers, or anyone who expresses traditional religious views on gender and sexuality that are out of vogue in some circles today.

“We’re getting a lot of people asking about whether or not they can say that they are against gay marriage,” NAR staffer Diane Mosley said during an online training session on Nov. 30. “Specifically, if they can back it up with Scriptures, or say it in a sermon.”

Read it all.This amounts to a blacklist. The Woke NAR’s campaign against Evil is so intense that it even wants to hold its members responsible for private speech. We have to hope that it doesn’t hold up in court, but we should expect this kind of thing to sweep across the professions. The Reichstag fire that happened at the Capitol on Wednesday is going to give far more impetus to these measures. Any Realtor who has ever said anything favorable about Donald Trump online ought to be worried about his or her job now. What organization wants to argue that its members should be allowed to express support for the people who invaded the Capitol?

All of this was foreseeable, by the way. I was writing about it in this space as far back as 2015, when Big Business smashed the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act. I’m not a seer of any sort, but I knew back then — and wrote in this space — that the liberty of people, religious or not, to dissent from progressive beliefs on homosexuality was suddenly in danger from corporations.

And Republicans did nothing. Neither did Donald Trump.

When he came into office, he had a Republican Congress behind him for two years. Where was the legislation to protect speech and religious liberty in the face of corporate policies? When did he even talk about it in any meaningful way? Well, he’s going now, and on the way out, he arranged for the Democrats to take over Congress, and he and his followers have given the Left carte blanche to treat all of us as hostes humani generis — enemies of the human race. I get the phrase from Justice Scalia’s Windsor dissent:

To defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to condemn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions. To hurl such accusations so casually demeans this institution. In the majority’s judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to “disparage,” “injure,” “degrade,” “demean,” and “humiliate” our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homosexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence— indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.

At this point, it’s meaningless to focus on the woulda-coulda-shoulda. We are past that now. I received this e-mail overnight from a professor who is a Christian. I slightly edited it to protect the reader’s identity:

I’m [a science and technology] professor at a research intensive university.  The soft totalitarianism of which you speak is spot on. It is not a far-away possibility but a movement that already has most of our institutions in its grip. It is here.  Although I should be getting my tenure in a few months, I doubt even it will protect me should I question the EDI religion, the rapid decline in standards, the harm we are actually inflicting on students by validating their every grievance. I’ve peered behind the curtain in my own field.  Are they true believers in today’s societal delusions? Some definitely are.  Many are careerists, who will say and do whatever is necessary.  Most operate out of fear.  They are terrified of students, of bad publicity.  And as we acquiesce, the woke mob gains more and more ground.  None of this will be easily reversed, if ever.
The sad thing is, we are stuck between a rock and a hard place.  We want to fight back, but the conservative movement has become as toxic, identitarian and, frankly, idiotic as the woke left.  I am not willing to give up reason and truth so that I can defeat my enemies.  And what if this cohort of the New Right wins and becomes our cultural icons? Is this really what we want? Emotion-driven, culturally illiterate, ahistorical blowhards? The cure is nearly as bad as the disease.
I fear for our future.  I have three children.  I am pretty convinced that my two boys will not have the same opportunities as those growing up one or two generations ago.  I worry any one of them will fall into the nihilistic, deconstructionist world view that is brainwashing most young people today.  It is not out of the question that our governments may institute a social credit system, making me choose between my conscience and more freedom/opportunity for my children.  I see this authoritarianism coming from a newfound love for control amidst the Covid-19 pandemic (I am NOT a denier) and an overreaction to the tumultuous Trump years.  My wife and I want to take our family and run for the hills.
The man is right — but there is no place to hide, not really. There are places where we can be safer, and live more normal lives, but given how networked everything in modernity is, they will be able to find us and control us wherever we are. I’ve been saying for a while in this space that the American version of the social credit system is going to come about to allow the Establishment to control political dissent, and that it would be implemented with the excuse that it is required to keep the civil peace. What happened Wednesday is exactly the excuse they need.
Some people have said that the MAGA riot at the Capitol shows a blind spot in Live Not By Lies — my ignoring the power of the Right living by lies. That’s fair, but only to a point. When the paperback edition of the book comes out, I’m going to talk about this in a new chapter. There was, and remains, a big difference between the MAGA crowd living by lies, and the Woke crowd. The MAGA people have had far less power to remake broad social institutions according to their lies. Yes, they elected a president, but it is remarkable how little actual power that president exercised to remake the world according to his vision. The Trump presidency was primarily performative. “He fights!” his followers said, but they never focus on how foolishly he fought, and how few of those battles he actually won. The chief long-term impact of Trumpism, I think, is going to be the demonization of the Right in popular culture and within institutions. There was never any chance at all that the MAGA mob was going to change the election result. What they did was utterly shocking, but ultimately an act of impotence. Compare the long-term outcome of the George Floyd riots to the long-term outcome of the MAGA riot. The MAGA lies were not without consequence, and would have been consequential (at least within the GOP, conservative churches, and right-of-center institutions; the Republican National Committee national retreat this week was psychotically divorced from the real world in this way) even if the Wednesday riot had not happened. The radicalization of Obama voter Ashli Babbitt into the kind of QAnon lunatic who lost her life trying to climb through a smashed door to get to the House chamber (a Capitol Police officer shot her) reveals how consequential those lies were. But no Big Tech entity an no corporation is going to change its policies to be more sympathetic to the views of the Ashli Babbitts of the world. There never was the slightest danger that a buffoon like Trump would attempt to institute a social credit system to marginalize and punish anti-MAGA Americans.
Anyway, I anticipate that rightist radicals will now begin to undertake campaigns of low-level violent actions — bombings and other forms of domestic terrorism. It won’t amount to anything, but it will give the Establishment (= not just the state, but corporations too) even more excuses to crack down. Do you go to a church where they preach “bigotry,” and where cars with Trump bumper stickers have been spotted in the parking lot, and publicized by activists on social media? Then you’ve got a problem.
Yesterday a leftist young woman outed members of her family on social media, posting their names and calling them Trump supporters — something that seems to be true, but which opens them up to mob reprisals in this environment. Naturally the people on social media cheered her on for her courageous act of virtue. Ratting your own family out to the mob — this is where we are now. You cannot be sure that your own children are trustworthy. After all, if they have been educated by schools where the things their parents believe are demonized, why shouldn’t they be loyal, virtuous citizens, and inform on their families?
Do you see now why the people who grew up under Soviet communism have been so alarmed by what we have been building here? This week has been the unveiling.
Not for one second do I defend the MAGA mob and what it has done. President Trump and his followers have played right into the hands of the leftist controllers. They are now beside the point, though. What is to be done?
First and foremost, read the signs of the times. Don’t be afraid to be seen as “alarmist.” America in this past year — first with the race riots and aftermath, and now with the MAGA riot in the Capitol, and its aftermath — crossed a big line.
Second, traditional Christians and other dissidents from the emerging regime must begin to form groups and networks of mutual support, like Father Kolakovic’s followers in pre-communist Slovakia.
Third, it is absolutely vital that people within these groups and networks think as clearly as they possibly can about where we are, and where we are going. The QAnon lies, and the other lies associated with MAGA world, can only confuse us, and lead us into traps. Right-wing lies are no more acceptable than left-wing lies. In Live Not By Lies, I wrote about Father Kolakovic, and how he prepared Slovak Christians for what he saw coming:

[H]e understood that the spiritual trials awaiting believers under communism would put them to an extreme test. The charismatic pastor preached that only a total life commitment to Christ would enable them to withstand the coming trial.

“Give yourself totally to Christ, throw all your worries and desires on him, for he has a wide back, and you will witness miracles,” the priest said, in the recollection of one disciple.

QAnon will not carry any of us through what’s coming. Neither will anything to do with Donald Trump, or racial identity politics, or political radicalism. Many church circles have been contaminated by hatred and paranoia. Refuse and reject that right now. If you make room in your heart and mind for it, it will take you down, and take down all those that follow you. What is upon us now, and what is coming very fast at us, is going to require the dissident church to be steadfast, clear-thinking, and willing to suffer. Paranoids and haters make us weak and vulnerable, and will turn us into the same monsters we are trying to resist.
For you who have read, or will read, Live Not By Lies, here is a link to the Study Guide I wrote, with lots of questions for you and the groups with which you read it. I am eager to hear from you readers who have more concrete ideas for how we can organize right now.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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