"Values conservatism" began rearing its ugly head in the mid-1970s, when Jimmy Carter campaigned in part on having had a born-again experience, a strategy that would've been unimaginable during the "I Like Ike" 1950s, when religious experiences and other cultural markers were kept to oneself and the emphasis was on stewardship of the nation. "Family values" were cultivated in the domestic kinship sphere of life, not legislated and enforced through the government.
During the same time, "values liberalism" has replaced concern for the material welfare of the American people with airy-fairy philosophizing about the "rights" of Sodomites to sham-marry each other, the non-rights of citizens to keep and bear arms, and so on.
After picking up steam during the Reagan years, this culture war exploded during the 1990s under Clinton-Gingrich. The rallying cry was "political correctness" -- were you against it, or for social-cultural sensitivity? Either way, it had nothing to do with the state of the nation, but with these distraction topics like gun laws, abortion, racial epithets, sexual jokes, Biblical beliefs, and on and on. The war has continued on during the Bush-Obama years, although not at the huge spike level of the mid-'90s.
These spikes appear to have a 20-year period of cycling, though, so we're due for another one, and indeed are right in the middle of it, with Trump leading the anti-PC charge.
This time, however, the topics and targets are radically different from the past 40 years of culture-warring. They are no longer social-cultural values, but political-economic policies -- deporting illegal immigrants en masse, building a wall to stop further illegals, barring Muslims from immigrating, threatening domestic companies with steep tariffs if they choose to off-shore their labor force, rebuilding our infrastructure rather than playing video games in the Middle East, and so on and so forth.
Trump has appropriated the "political correctness" term, with all its negative connotations for the other side, from a recent and familiar culture war, but has adapted it to his political-economic focus. This makes it easier for Republicans and conservatives to transition out of the older worldview and into the newer one. It doesn't feel so abrupt -- we're just continuing the war against political correctness, not launching a revolution against values conservatism (and by extension values liberalism).
Trump's current main rival, Ted Cruz, recently attempted to attack him for embodying "New York values" such as being more pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, less evangelical, etc., than the typical American community. Cruz proved unable to adapt to the current situation where the past 40 years are going into reverse -- he believed we were still carrying on the culture wars, rather than political-economic wars. At least, he expected the voters to still be in that mindset.
So far that barb has failed to resonate with very much of the Republican base, outside of the most extreme cuckservative corners, located west of the Mississippi -- hence the explicit targeting of a back-East city rather than an even more disgusting den of degeneracy out West, like Vegas or L.A. or San Francisco or Salt Lake City, what with their long history of gambling, marijuana, prostitution, pornography, and polygamy, and where new-age cults prevail over traditional churches.
Moreover, Trump's response was not to accept Cruz's culture-war framing and quibble with him about how little or how much New York passes an evangelical's test of values. He flipped the script to talk about political and economic strength -- cohering as a group of citizens after an attack by foreigners, rebuilding downtown Manhattan, and rebounding as an even greater urban colossus.
Trump's message was clear: the Republicans are now going to be the party of political and economic strength, resiliency, and stewardship, rather than holier-than-thou tongue-cluckers in a war over social-cultural values (in public, while shilling for globalist elites behind the curtain).
Trump's populist counterpart has, for his part, also quietly discarded his party's values-oriented fear-mongering about gun nuts, wire hanger abortions, and Bible-thumping home-schoolers. Sanders has instead, like Trump, focused on how to purify the corruption of the political system and how to restore economic greatness to ordinary American communities.
They do differ on how to achieve that, with Trump viewing the government as a bouncer for a bar that's become too rowdy for good business and for its patrons to enjoy themselves, and with Sanders viewing the government more as a great big helicopter parent to dole out free stuff out of unconditional love for those who are still growing up. But this difference is minor compared to their major splits with their respective parties over the social-cultural vs. political-economic nature of their worldview.
The Trump-Sanders realignment heralds a winding down of the conflicts among the elites, for that is what the culture war has been -- an elite affair. Andrew Gelman and co-authors revealed this in their book Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State.
At the lower end of the class pyramid, voters in both red and blue states were fairly close to each other, and voted primarily based on economic matters that would boost their material standard of living. At the apex of the class pyramid, there was a huge chasm between voters in red and blue states, with elite red-staters going to war for prayer in public schools, restrictions on abortion, and preventing gay marriage; and with elite blue-staters going to war for deviant sexual education in public schools, restrictions on gun ownership, and preventing bakers from refusing to make gay wedding cakes.
In Gelman et al's view, the wealthy already have their material needs taken care of -- not just economic well-being but physical security (low-crime areas, nudge nudge wink wink, in cha-ching zip codes). So they have more mental energy left to spend thinking about more airy-fairy topics that are not inherently political, and to draft these topics into a broader status war against elites on the other side of a cultural divide. The poor have more pressing matters to attend to, like making sure they have good jobs so they can pay their bills, and that their kids aren't going to go through school with a bunch of violent thugs or members of some hostile alien culture.
With widening inequality, the prospect of permanent indebtedness and physical danger within one's community is starting to hit closer to home for the middle class, which is being hollowed out by the elites, who are still very safe both physically and economically.
This would seem to be the proximate reason behind the shift away from philosophizing about values and getting down to brass tacks. Let the decadent elites flap their jowels about when exactly life begins and how intense of a born-again experience our leaders must have to pass muster.
Meanwhile, the bedrock of society is going to figure out how to re-glue its civic and political solidarity, and how to rebuild the dismantled economy. Not that there won't be disagreements about how to do that -- how much should we shut off immigration, how high should tariffs be to deter off-shoring, and so on -- but from this point onward, the airy-fairy culture war will begin evaporating off into outer space.
A very perceptive observation about the end of culture war. To me they've seemed a proxy-debate for more fundamental subjects.ReplyDelete
Did kinda seem like the mid-90s were more about values battles than the late 90s. that was the era of identity feminism, "alternative" music, Alanis Moorisette, the gay character from "My So-Called Life" etc. All this seemed to peter out in the late 90s, which has a sort of quasi-50s zeitgeist, which signals less caring about the culture wars.ReplyDelete
If you are correct, then I assume the culture wars are starting up again now in the year 2015 or thereabouts?
Hey, amazing blog!I landed here because of your analysis of crime rates vs. artistic/design/architectural trends.ReplyDelete
I have 2 questions for you:
1) Are you familiar with synthwave? Do you like it?
2) Do you post in /pol/?
Can't say I know "synthwave" off the top of my head, but may have heard it in night clubs before.ReplyDelete
I sometimes leave comments at Uncouth Reflections, but otherwise I don't post or comment elsewhere anymore.
"then I assume the culture wars are starting up again now in the year 2015 or thereabouts?"ReplyDelete
There wasn't very much in the late '90s and 2000s. I was into the anti-globalization movement in the early 2000s while at college, worked on the Nader campaign, and then... zippo. And there wasn't a whole lot of "das rayciss / sexiss / etc." Anti-gay marriage referendums passed around the country, American flags flying non-ironically after 9/11.
But in this decade, there's Occupy (an offshoot of cultural / lifestyle anarchism), Black Lives Matter, Slutwalk, "marriage equality," trannies on TV, and so on and so forth.
Just to be clear, I don't think the end of the culture wars means the rise of Kat Timpf / Gavin McInnes libertarianism, where socially and culturally they side with the hipsters and hedonists.ReplyDelete
It's more like the original Progressive era, when the social-cultural changes were taken up by churches, civic orgs, and other grassroots efforts, rather than forced through the government as the culture warriors would prefer it.
The one major over-step of the Progressive era was trying to force an end to drunkenness through the Constitution, rather than through churches, community shaming, and the like.
But, it's not like they condoned drunkenness either -- just that legal prohibition wasn't the right way to change things.
I wonder if the 1975-1995 culture wars period was somehow related to economic cycles. The economy tanked in the early '70s and then started improving in the mid-90s, forming a "surplus" by Clinton's second term. During a period of limited economic growth, career-strivers might be more likely to compete by debating values. Of course, the economy has been troubled since 2008 and we've seen an increase values debates since, especially in the past few years.ReplyDelete
"Trump's message was clear: the Republicans are now going to be the party of political and economic strength, resiliency, and stewardship, rather than holier-than-thou tongue-cluckers in a war over social-cultural values (in public, while shilling for globalist elites behind the curtain)."ReplyDelete
It's the parenthetical that's doing all the work here (and the rest of it is wrong---Trump is running on immigration restriction and an end to free trade). The tension being resolved is that the GOP has always been socially liberal. It only LARPs as socially conservative in order to get the rubes to vote for it.
The rubes have always sort of known this, of course. Witness, say, Rush Limbaugh's blabber about "blue bloods" and Tea Party types' blabber about "RINOs." But their anger has been redirected towards purifying the GOP by voting for Real Conservatives(TM). Eventually, they were going to figure out that this, too, is a scam and that the GOP was going to go on being the socially liberal party it always was. Cruz personifies the scam beautifully. Slimy, creepy crawly weirdo.
So, if you can't have social conservatism, you might as well demand that your party work for your economic interests. And you might as well demand that your leader is not a mutant. Of course, the GOP can't do this. It can't work for its voters' economic interests and it can't have leaders who aren't errand boys. The whole point of the party, from the moment of its birth to now, has been to serve the interests of the plutocrats. Serving the interests of plutocrats is all it is.
So, really, Trump is running to kill the GOP. If he succeeds, the plutocrats will, effortlessly and with relief, slide over to the Democrats. Since working and middle class whites is not a big enough coalition, Trump will eventually need to appeal in a significant way to Hispanics.
This is too funny, Cruz wife works for Goldman Sachs and he went to NYC to get the shekels of rich Jewish homosexuals who only interest is Rothschildstan.ReplyDelete
It's highly unlikely that you have heard it in clubs because it's still a bit niche. If you watched Drive (2011) you have listened to synthwave. You might like it, as it's basically 80s synthpop redux. Some synthwave musicians sound like they came straight from the 80s, for example Freeweights, specially the song "Everybody wants my name". Some synthwave artists go beyond music, like Trevor Something. He ventures into Nagel territory, his website looks like a Windows 3.1 computer, and he has slasher style music videos.ReplyDelete
Carpenter Brut is another great example, and as his name hints, he draws a lot of inspiration from John Carpenter. I don't know if he does all the art like Trevor Something or just the music though. His music videos based on 80s films footage are likely done by him though.
I strongly suggest you check them out, since I found synthwave I became obsessed with it. It lets me get a taste of that cool 80s vibe in the boring 2010s. I'd say this decade is better than the 90s though, and I'm hoping for the 2020s to be our next "decade of excess" where people buy a bright yellow car because it's cool instead of a dull and boring metallic gray car because "scratches are harder to notice". I'm hoping to see more buildings like the Atlantis Condo and less like the Maison du Brésil.
We're entering a new cold war and that could be the trigger for a less insipid era.
One way to think of it is that society cycles, every 20 years, between being culturally unified vs. culturally fractious. The "culture war" periods manifest differently depending on if society is experiencing rising equality or inequality. With rising equality, culture wars focus on production issues, such as economic reforms, immigration, etc. With rising inequality, culture wars focus on "lifestyle" issues such as gay marriage, abortion, etc.ReplyDelete
Based on this, for instance, the 1930s, 40s, and early 50s should have been a more culturally fractious period, and an easy google search shows there was plenty of philosophizing going on - though more about the economy than "gays, guns, and god".
"Many prominent intellectuals saw modern society as excessively individualistic and fragmented. In response, they looked to the past. Eleven leading white southern intellectuals, known as the Southern Agrarians, issued a manifesto, I'll Take My Stand, urging a return to an agrarian way of life. Another group of distinguished intellectuals known as the New Humanists, led by Irving Babbitt and Paul Elmer More, extolled classical civilization as a bulwark against modern values. One of the decade's leading social critics was Lewis Mumford. In volumes like Technics and Civilization (1934), Mumford examined how the values of a pre-machine culture could be blended into modern capitalist civilization."
It also seems like there was all kinds of debate about Freud etc. in the early 1950s.
It's more like the original Progressive era, when the social-cultural changes were taken up by churches, civic orgs, and other grassroots efforts, rather than forced through the government as the culture warriors would prefer it.
The one major over-step of the Progressive era was trying to force an end to drunkenness through the Constitution, rather than through churches, community shaming, and the like."
Plus, Prohibition and women's rights took place when America was more culturally unified, more similar to the late 50s and 60s than 1975-1995. Progress was possible because most people agreed what was right and needed to be done - though, as you said, legalizing Prohibition didn't work, there was more a consensus that alcoholism was bad.
"and the rest of it is wrong---Trump is running on immigration restriction and an end to free trade"ReplyDelete
What do you think economic stewardship is based on? I guess the autistic mind can't understand a reference to policies by way of the principles that are guiding them.
"The whole point of the party, from the moment of its birth to now, has been to serve the interests of the plutocrats."
Tell that to Trump's incarnation in a previous life -- William McKinley:
You didn't even know that the Progressive era was predominantly Republican presidents (from McKinley through Hoover, with Wilson the sole exception). It was the Republicans who led the nation out of the laissez-faire norms that let the plutocrats do whatever they wanted, whether or not it blew up the economy or polity.
Your educated-by-memes mind primarily thinks of Democrats being against the "rule by the wealthy," but the New Deal could only have come after the Republicans toppled the unregulated government and economy of the Gilded Age.
The Democrats are liberals, and therefore cannot unify people who are fragmented. That's the job of conservatives, who are more attuned to building teams, solidarity, and hierarchy. Liberals specialize in providing care and making things fair -- among members of the in-group.
Scandinavia used to dole out all kinds of things, when it was mostly unified Nords. And back when America had unified nationally, the New Deal Democrats handed out all kinds of things.
But if immigration levels had remained as sky-high as they were during the Gilded Age, there would have been no fellow-feeling for "my fellow Americans," and the New Deal would have been inconceivable.
Republicans unite the people to topple the plutocracy, and then Democrats figure out how to disburse the spoils of new-found egalitarianism.
"Since working and middle class whites is not a big enough coalition, Trump will eventually need to appeal in a significant way to Hispanics."ReplyDelete
Brilliant strategy -- appeal to the group *least* likely to vote, even the ones who can legally do so.
Non-plutocratic whites are still a majority of the electorate, and will be even more so when they feel there's a choice that truly represents them. So guess again, dipshit -- provided he isn't obstructed for the nomination, Trump is going to dominate.
Incidentally, he'll pick up a decent chunk of Hispanics and more so blacks, but he's going to prove the cuckservative conventional wisdom wrong once again. Aztecs schmaztecs.
"I wonder if the 1975-1995 culture wars period was somehow related to economic cycles."ReplyDelete
I meant that there was 20 years between peaks -- the counter-culture war of 1968-73, then falling off after that through most of the '80s, and another spike around 1991-95. After another falling off / lull during the 2000s, it's back again during the 2010s.
"Plus, Prohibition and women's rights took place when America was more culturally unified, more similar to the late 50s and 60s than 1975-1995."ReplyDelete
Well, there was a whole 'nother Bill of Rights that was ratified during the Great Compression -- the 16th-26th amendments.
The only ones that the long Gilded Age added to the Constitution were the slavery-related amendments 13-15.
The previous era of falling competitiveness -- Jeffersonianism through the Era of Good Feelings -- didn't add much either (11 and 12), but then it was so early after the Revolution and must not have seemed like there were any major wrinkles that still needed to be ironed out.
If the Great Compression is any guide to what lays ahead of us (granted, a good 20 years after Trump's election), we're in for another round of amendments to make things fairer to members of the in-group, once we get all of the outsiders back to where they came from.
Term limits for Congressmen would be a natural follow-up to the 22nd amendment.
Direct election of campaign donors... abolition of PACs... something more than just "campaign finance reform," akin to voting directly for Senators.
"It's highly unlikely that you have heard it in clubs because it's still a bit niche. If you watched Drive (2011) you have listened to synthwave. You might like it, as it's basically 80s synthpop redux. Some synthwave musicians sound like they came straight from the 80s"ReplyDelete
To really start making interesting art again, people need to start getting off their duff and experimenting (not just creatively, but in general). To do that, people can't be excessively cautious or self conscious. The last real burst of creativity was the late 80's, which arguably crossed over into the first several years of the 90's. People were far more outgoing and unpretentious in the 80's/very early 90's.
Making stuff that's superficially similar to the 80's (via analog synths or whatever) isn't going to cut it. Nobody thinks or behaves like an 80's person anymore. So retro stuff (whether it's a movie or song) is never going to quite capture that vibe. Certainly not during a cocooning period anyway.
And yes, I've heard some of this throwback stuff. Some of it's alright, but it usually isn't as exciting or memorable as 80's stuff. Really, the period of about 1978-1984 is itself so cool that a person could spend the rest of their life ignoring all pop culture outside of that period and be fine.
Cruz's dissed America's largest city. He is similar to Hillary when she talks about bringing people together and then two minutes later criticizes Republicans. Now I know Cruz or pretty much any other Republican(except Trump) isn't even trying to win New York but the attitude still bothers me. Agnostic must be influencing my thinking.ReplyDelete
In terms of Cruz, his whole song and dance against the dreaded East is not only a slap in the face to a substantial part of the population, it also sounds totally played out. We've had cowboy posturing for 45 years; what has it done for us? The Western U.S. (Texas included) continues to stubbornly prioritize individual rights no matter the cost to the future or integrity of the community.ReplyDelete
Cruz himself is only marginally less alien than Obama. The born-in-Canada Cruz, to the best of my knowledge, would be the first president with a Spanish surname. I guess that isn't quite as distressing as electing a mulatto with an East African name.
"Among Cruz's few close allies in the Senate is Mike Lee of Utah. Cruz has expressed pride in his reputation for having few allies, saying in June 2015 that he has been vilified for fighting "the Washington cartel."[121"
Do we really need proud "mavericks" steering the ship right now? We've dealt with the toxic survivalist mentality (in which a self-righteous outsider never ceases to fear and have contempt for society and humanity) for decades now. How bout trying to be united for a common and just cause for once?
Are you on crack? In case you haven't noticed ther hasn't been a cowboy in the Oval Office for the last 8 years. Nor is Cruz a cowboy. I will concede he slapped the faces of a substantial portion of the population - but pretty much everyone else will agree that they had it coming.ReplyDelete
The culture wars haven't even started yet - they are just warming up! America's vibrants are openly gunning for race wars, the nation is throwing law enforcement under the bus, and the judiciary is infested with traitors. This stuff isn't meaningless distraction - it's a slow burning fuse on a powder keg. We are watching history repeat, boys. I'm stocking up on ammo and popcorn.
Obama himself at least has the decency to skip past maverick posturing and openly be a globalist and cultural Marxist. But many of our politicians since the early 70's have affected an anti-Eastern/individualistic/libertarian stance. Obviously, this sort of thing is more common with the ones residing in the West though many of them weren't necessarily born and raised out West (like Reagan).ReplyDelete
BTW, Cruz isn't literally cowboy. Neither was G.W. Bush. I meant cowboy in the figurative sense. As in, affecting a "rugged"/"self-reliant" persona with an element of paranoia/pessimism and reverse snobbery. Wild Western culture is profoundly uncouth as well as fatalistic and cynical.
Trump is anything but gloomy about his fellow man or our future prospects. He's earnestly summoning the right kind of people aboard for a desperately needed stab at restoring America. And he's telling the skeptics to F off. We're done with libertarian contrarians and narcissists claiming that mass society/the government is incapable of getting anything done. We need to prove them wrong and if there are no vipers lurking about sabotaging Trump's campaign/election, we ought to succeed.
"America's vibrants are openly gunning for race wars, the nation is throwing law enforcement under the bus, and the judiciary is infested with traitors."ReplyDelete
Those are all matters about the economy and government itself -- violence, control of violence, and the courts role in providing order.
Those are not social and cultural matters like abortion, gay marriage, dressing like sluts, family values, religion, drug use, etc.
There is definitely a war coming up, but it is political-economic, not about social-cultural values.
What you suggest is that Marx was right when he said that as soon as the material needs are met people will start taking an interest into higher planes of existence like the arts, philosophy and in our case the socio-cultural struggle, once the economic-political has been solved.ReplyDelete
The problem arises when material needs that are finite within a society that has defined what is an acceptable standard of living are turned into material(ist) needs that are infinite, so the economic-political struggle never ends and is a nice way for the true elites to keep the plebs from focusing on those higher plains that the elites see as being exclusive to themselves. So this economic-political struggle needs to be perpetuated ad infinitum through artificial means.
I agree that abortion is a distraction and virtual non-issue, since despite all the blather nothing substantial has changed in 40+ years, and it doesn't feel like anyone who matters really wants it to change. So you might as well lump it in with other "values" (for lack of a better term). But there are people, me included, serious about calling it murder, and therefore it fits perfectly within your "violence, control of violence, and the court's role in providing order" category. That's the way it used to be handled.ReplyDelete
Also, there are all sorts of legitimate functions of government beyond monopolizing violence. As I'm sure you'd agree, unless you're suddenly a libertarian. Much as I dislike the term "values" (what, opposition to murder isn't a value? What is it, the result of mathematical proof?), there is a class of subjects that are none of politicians' business. Some of this class are genuinely dangerous intrusions, but most are merely red herrings. It's stuff they talk about to avoid talking about other stuff, like political white noise. Abortion is one of those red herrings, since like I said I don't think they're serious. But on that specific subject I wish rather than dropping it they'd get serious.
@Dan-The economic-political struggle will never end, and it isn't merely a tool of the elite, though it can be used that way. It operates within the elite, as well. Notice how little of the "higher planes of existence" have ever been occupied by the titled nobility. Most all greatness in art, science, philosophy, etc. has come from the middle class (broadly construed). Working for a living and higher culture go together; it's just that you can't be a coal miner. You have to have some leisure.ReplyDelete
But Marx had no reason to think more leisure causes higher culture. The people with the most leisure of all in olden days gave us countless cultural treasures, but all along the lines of sports, dancing, courtly rituals, etc. I don't see why suddenly rich proles wouldn't go on eating fast food and clubbing, perchance in a more elaborate and refined manner.