May 4, 2018

Democrat elites will concede on free speech etc. when GOP elites concede on climate change etc.

Although conservatives correctly complain about liberal Democrats abusing their control over the media sector to marginalize information that they don't want to be widely adopted, liberals can just as well complain about conservative Republicans abusing their control over the energy sector to marginalize energy sources that they don't want to be widely adopted. This generalizes to any abuse of power in any sector that one party controls.

See this post for the full analysis of which sectors of society use which party as their political agent to shape society in their own interests. But suffice it to say that the Democrats are the party vehicle of the finance, internet, and media / entertainment sectors (informational), while the Republicans are the party vehicle of the armed forces / law enforcement, energy, and agriculture sectors (material).

The elites of each sector have a quasi-monopoly on some critical resource in the operation of society -- funding, information, consensus shaping, force, energy, and food. As operators of a cartel, they can abuse their power, and the victims can do nothing within that sector but complain or numb out their awareness of the abuse.

One sector could mobilize against another sector, though, pitting its own distinct monopolistic strength against the other's. And given the society-wide scale of the battle, the sectors tend to form coalitions in order to maximize their collective strength and minimize the number of fronts that they do battle on. These coalitions of elites from various sectors are formalized as political parties, who carry out their ultimate battles in the political realm.

So it's not only that conservatives complain about liberal elites restricting conservative opinions from the consensus-shaping process that plays out in the mass media. They also complain about the entertainment sector's consensus portrayal of the abnormal as normal and vice versa, the (shadow) banning of conservatives from social media, the relegation of conservative sites to the distant results pages of search engine queries, and now the potential attempts by the big banks to no longer lend the money that would keep gun-makers' businesses operating.

On the other hand, liberals complain not just about the energy sector elites thwarting efforts to limit fossil fuel use, compared to more carbon-neutral energy sources, with an eye toward mitigating climate change. They also complain about the use of genetic engineering in agriculture, and cruel living conditions of livestock in factory-farms, about militarized police forces, over-zealous prosecutors, and a hawkish interventionist foreign policy.

One solution to this stand-off is de-escalation, whereby each side agrees to give relief to the aggrieved party in the sector where they themselves are in control, in order to get relief from the other party in the sector where they themselves are aggrieved.

The mass media could make conservatives 50% of the anchors, panelists, writers, and producers who shape consensus over crucial events -- provided that the military makes non-interventionists 50% of their general staff who shape our nation's posture of collective violence toward other nations. The big banks could provide no-interest loans or forgive existing debt for agribusiness, provided that they eliminated genetic engineering / chemical pesticides / factory-farming of livestock. Twitter agrees to stop banning conservatives, provided that the pharma industry yields to a Medicare-for-all healthcare system.

The other solution to the stand-off is a partisan battle of wills, whereby the overall victor (if not the 100% victor) will be the party that is the dominant, agenda-setting, framework-establishing one for its historical period. E.g., the Democrats during the Jacksonian period or the New Deal / Great Society period, and the Republicans during the Civil War / Reconstruction period or the Reaganite period.

Since we currently live in a highly polarized climate, the elites choose the battle of wills option. So far, during the Reaganite period that we are still in, that has benefited conservatives and Republicans over liberals and Democrats. Even if conservatives haven't gotten 100% of their demands during the Reagan period, their complaints about Hollywood, CNN, Twitter, and Wall Street amount to only 10% defeat. It is the liberals or leftists who have gotten only 10% victory, and 90% defeat, during our current period -- getting mostly nothing on the environment, labor unions, food production and consumption, and use of armed force (domestic or international).

But because Trump is an end-of-his-era president who tries but fails to radically alter his party's longstanding paradigm, we are about to shift into a new period led by today's opposition party, who will deliver the goods where the ossified dominant party had failed. Drawing on Stephen Skowronek's theory of political regime cycles, that means a populist, anti-globalist paradigm led by Bernie-affiliated Democrats.

Assuming the elites are still in the battle of wills mode, that means the overall victor will soon be the liberals and Democrats (maybe they will call themselves progressives), as conservatives and Republicans find themselves largely left out of society's operation.

It's in the interests of conservatives and Republicans to change from the battle of wills solution to the de-escalation solution. In that situation, they make concessions but also enjoy concessions from the other side. And since the shift from Reaganism to Bernie-ism has not yet been completed, the other side might be willing to hear out the idea of truce talks, while they're still temporarily the weak side.

If the conservatives and GOP keep pushing the battle of wills solution, thinking that they will not soon be on the weak side of a multi-decade political order, they will get shut out and shut down as completely as the liberals and Democrats have been during the Reaganite period.

And given that partisan polarization keeps rising, the next shift may be even more acrimonious and humiliating than the Reaganite period has been for its losers. Peter Turchin in Ages of Discord shows that polarization was only this high leading up to the Civil War. That suggests that, whether or not there is outright war, during the upcoming Bernie period the Republicans will fare like the Democrats did during the Civil War and Reconstruction period, and not merely like the Whigs did during the Jacksonian period.

With T-minus two years to the most seismic election since 1980, there are few conservatives entertaining the idea of truce talks, other than perhaps Marco Rubio's recent overtures on desanctifying the Reaganite vision of corporate profits uber alles. Trump of course pitched himself in 2016 as half-Republican and half-Democrat, but he's more of a moderate than a conservative to begin with -- and more importantly, nobody on his side is willing to follow that lead, instead dragging him over toward their conservative, partisan GOP side.

We'd like to believe that "there's still plenty of time left to change," and that "history does not always repeat itself," but the way things look now, the odds are that the GOP won't figure it out, and that the hardline conservative base will refuse to pressure their side's elites to make concessions to liberals in the sectors that they control (armed forces / law enforcement, energy, agriculture), even if it were matched by the liberal base pressuring Democrat elites to make concessions to conservatives in the sectors that they control (finance, internet, media / entertainment).

Civil War 2.0, here we come -- the goal now is to keep it as cold and bloodless as possible.

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