June 27, 2016

Brexit has shattered conformity: Americans now feel validated in voting for nationalism and populism

At the beginning of the Trump campaign, I argued that the phenomenon was best thought of as a breaking of the conformity effect, drawing on a long tradition of social psychology research, in particular the Solomon Asch conformity experiments.

In those experiments, a group of people are seated at a table and are shown a pair of lines, one being clearly longer than the other. An authority figure asks each of them in turn, which line is longer? One after the other, they say that the shorter line is longer -- these people are actually in on the game, and their wrong answers are meant to test the conformity of the final respondent, who is the only true test subject. Most but not all people conform and say the shorter line is longer.

However, if there's even one other person who gives the correct answer, it completely wipes out the conformity effect -- now every test subject says that the longer line is longer. They feel relieved, like "Thank God, I thought I was crazy, but I've found independent confirmation."

Before Trump announced his campaign, large swathes of the American population already held the beliefs and felt the feelings that Trump would soon bring into the public forum. What changed was that, by publicly declaring that the Emperor wasn't wearing any clothes, all of those disconnected thinking-they're-crazy voters bolted upright and said, "Thank God, I thought I was the only one who thought and felt that way!"

Trump did not lead them through a logical, rational, or fact-based argument. He and his audience were already largely in agreement on the facts of our current situation. Nor did he manipulate their emotions, as they already felt more or less the way he did about these facts -- how angry they were at the disgrace of our politicians selling out ordinary people to the wealthy and powerful, how violated and corrupted they felt to see their communities overrun with foreigners.

Sure, he gave them a few new facts -- did you know that President Eisenhower deported over a million illegal Mexican immigrants back in the 1950s? -- and intensified the emotions that folks were already feeling -- growling, "Geeeet 'em outta heeeere" to disrupters as his rallies.

By providing a public example of "someone who thought and felt a certain way," he validated the beliefs and feelings of all those who thought and felt that way, which turned out to be a yuge chunk of the American population. He gave them cover to come out of the woodwork and not only express what policies they wanted, based on their thoughts and feelings, e.g. by attending one of his rallies. He also gave them a way to take overt action in furtherance of those goals -- heading out to the polling station and casting a vote for him in the primaries.

So what Trump really changed was people's social behavior -- from sitting apathetic and isolated on the sidelines, to pumped up and unified while attending rallies, trolling idiots on the internet, and voting in elections. He did this not by rational or even emotional argument, but simply by showing them that they were not alone, and if there's so many of us who already think and feel this way, why don't we do something about it?

That made his campaign impervious to attacks on a rational or emotional level -- his followers' beliefs and feelings were already fairly deep-seated, and Trump's campaign was just giving them an outlet to express and act on them. Indeed polls showed that almost none of them would consider voting for anyone else.

To effectively counteract his campaign, therefore, his opponents would have had to either convince his followers that he didn't really share their positions -- impossible after how ubiquitous he made his views through the media -- or to remove the option of voting for him, which was not possible during the primaries, although the cuckservatives did at one point discuss blocking his nomination at the Convention (even then, most of his supporters probably would have voted for Trump as an independent candidate in the general election).

On the other side of the Atlantic, much the same dynamics were playing out leading up to the British referendum on withdrawing from the EU. Being British, the Leave campaign did wage a more rational and emotional battle than the American Trump campaign, but it seems like that was mostly for keeping up the appearance of being a civilized society founded on healthy, vigorous debate.

In reality, the Leave voters had already held those beliefs and felt those emotions long before the prospect of a referendum on the matter had even been suggested, let alone publicly debated. What the Leave campaign offered them was a way to express that, and to make an overt act to achieve their goals -- heading out to the polling stations to vote Leave.

As with the Trump campaign, there was no effective counter-attack possible because the beliefs were so deeply held, and the emotions so deeply felt. And unlike in America, they were voting for a single proposition rather than the full suite of positions held by a candidate, so the opponents could not convince the Leave voters that their choice at the polling station would not be what it was made out to be (leave means leave). The only thing they could have done would have been to cancel the vote and not allow people to act in furtherance of their goals.

But now we have an even higher level of conformity shattering -- Americans have just witnessed Britain acting on behalf of their populist and nationalist goals, in a nationwide election of citizens, in defiance of unrelenting pressures to conform with the policies of their betters. So now we have not only other individuals in America who have validated our goals, we have an entire other nation (perceived as a whole nation rather than individual Britons) that has validated the goals that we want America, as a whole nation, to pursue.

Britain as a nation will also provide an "Emperor is wearing no clothes" example to other entire nations within the EU, such as France and Italy. Much of the population of those countries are already becoming aware that they are not alone in wanting a populist and nationalist set of policies, but until now they only felt that arising among the other individuals within their own nation. Now they see an entire nation acting the way they would like to see their entire nation act.

As in the within-nation case of the Trump campaign or the Leave campaign, the between-nation shattering of conformity is not relying on rational or emotional appeals from one nation to another. The winners of the Brexit vote surely feel similar to the Trump supporters over here, but they aren't appealing to us directly. All they are doing is providing a highly visible example of breaking with the wrong-headed status quo, which -- without intending to do so -- sends the signal to other nations that they can do it, too, if they want.

In the Asch experiments, the only way to prevent the conformity shattering effect would have been to simply not ask the test subject for his response. He hears all of the incorrect answers being given, then he is relieved to hear that sole exception who gives the right answer, but then he is not asked by the authority figure and therefore does not get a chance to make an overt act in defiance of the conformist pressures. He just sits there thinking, "At least I'm not the only one," but still unable express or act on that conviction.

In the political referendum, the analogy would be to simply deny the newly awakened citizens a chance to vote on the matter at hand by canceling the elections -- and plunge their nations into bloody revolution.

Our rulers are not that anti-democratic, so as it stands the populist and nationalist genie has been let out of the bottle, and no amount of rational or emotional argument will put him back in ("fact-checking," calling us xenophobes, etc.). What has changed over the past year is not our understanding of the facts, or our emotional reaction to them, but rather the sense that we were alone, and are now aware of how many others want the same thing as we do.

Our opponents cannot reverse this basic perceptual awareness, without hopelessly trying to convince us that we didn't really see what we have seen. The displays of populist and nationalist sentiment are too public, too widespread, and therefore too unforgettable for the globalist Establishment to shame us back into disaffected isolation.


  1. Random Dude on the Internet6/27/16, 7:44 AM

    Similar to the Austrian presidential election, I believe there was extensive vote (and poll) rigging that took place with this referendum. Yet leave still won in spite of all the vote and poll rigging.

    The current system is running out of tricks to keep the system moving. Which means there will be a domino effect of failing globalist institutions. Forget not having an EU, we might not even have a UN by 2030.

    1. Probably correct: I was certain the poll rigging would end up with "Stay" winning regardless of the actual voting. So considering the way it actually went, The "Leave" vote was probably much higher than was officially counted.

  2. America’s problem is fear. Fear of economic stagnation, yes, and fear of terrorism. But those are proxies for the bigger and more fundamental fear: fear of demographic diminution, of losing the privileges and prerogatives that have always come with being straight, white, male and/or Christian in America. It was the holy quadfecta of entitlement, but that entitlement is under siege in a nation that grows more sexually, racially and religiously diverse with every sunrise.

    Trumpism is only the loudest and most obvious response to that, and it will not disappear when he does. There is no instant cure for what has America unsettled. There is only time and the hard work of change.

    In a sense, we are bringing forth a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men and women really are created equal. If, for some of us, that fires the imagination, it is hardly mysterious that for others, it kindles a sense of displacement and loss. The good news is that their Trumpism cannot survive in the new nation.

    In the end, you see, only one thing can kill a bad idea.

    And that’s a better one.

  3. "dedicated to the proposition that all men and women really are created equal."

    They aren't, and that proposition has already been tried in the USSR, China, Cambodia, etc. Jefferson was attacking the divine right of kings, not proclaiming egalitarianism.

  4. The Brexit vote will embolden American elites to hasten the demographic displacement of Americans to prevent similar votes from taking place here.

    In recent months I've been increasingly finding myself this close to confronting local Muslims, Asians, and assorted mystery meat and telling them to get the duck out of this country.

    Something is certainly in the air.

  5. Random Dude on the Internet6/27/16, 1:09 PM

    Globalism is nice on paper but ugly in execution. Like most theories conjured from academia it relies on a lot of assumptions: that immigrants will assimilate, that the increased wealth from elites will trickle down in the form of social welfare (gibs), and that we'll all become one beige mass of people in a couple generations. Turns out none of that is happening.

    Multiculturalism will end up in the dustbin of history along with communism. No amount of calling people a racist is going to slow down its failure. At least it isn't as deadly...yet.

  6. Excellent observations all around. Haven't we all felt emboldened? You can see it in the reports of increased "racism" in the wake of Brexit. We wondered how cucked and cowed the British were, and suddenly we're wondering what radical thing they'll do next. It's amazing and awesome to see this at work.

    LBF: you might want to wait until there's a clear victory, like people are doing in UK.

  7. Viktor Orbán’s hardline position on refugees was also an example of this "thank God, I thought I was crazy, but I've found independent confirmation."

    He showed that it is possible to defy the EU's quota dictates, secure the borders, and speak clearly about the rationale for those actions.


  8. I'm not so sure. Political rallies always attract adherents. Even Mitt Romney, who basically inspires noone, had political rallies of enthusiastic Republicans, and had a nice zinger spokesman (remember Clint Eastwood?-maybe I'm mixing up Romney and McCain, but it doesn't matter).

    The point being: is there real change, or is this just the latest every 4th year opportunity for rural whites to complain about the system but not be able to do anything about it?

    Specifically: if Trump loses (or even if he wins): what comes next? Is there a whole slate of congressional/senatorial candidates who agree with Trump and carry on? Are there other presidential candidates like Trump waiting to carry on in 2020?

    It doesn't appear to me to be so. Trump might win, Trump might lose. But it appears to me, that when Trump is gone (2017 or 2021), Trumpism is gone. I'm not seeing a sea change in the country. I'm seeing one 'great man' who's really not going to change much other than, possibly, the occupier of the White House for four years.


  9. What a depressive cuck -- drink yourself to death tonight so we don't have to keep hearing all this womanish complaining.

  10. Wow-
    I thought you were a bit of a dick on your blog. But you are really a dick on other people's blogs.


  11. "Viktor Orbán’s hardline position on refugees was also an example of this "thank God, I thought I was crazy, but I've found independent confirmation.""

    But he's not someone who Americans picked up on, and would not have, even if the media reported on it constantly. Slavic countries are a little too far outside of our peer group of nations.

    They could play the "remove kebab" video on a loop during every commercial break, and most Americans wouldn't awaken as a result.

    Rome just elected a Mayor from the Five Star Movement party, a populist / anti-Establishment / anti-corruption party that is neither Left nor Right. Cute, too, for a politician (man-jaw aside -- lawyer). Virginia Raggi.

    It didn't make headlines here, but imagine if a Bernie-Trump party took over as Mayor of London. Whether that or whether a Muslim takes over, London is big news to Americans.

  12. What a depressive cuck -- drink yourself to death tonight so we don't have to keep hearing all this womanish complaining.

    When the Soviet Army advanced on German villages in 1945, German civilians believed that they are doomed, so many did the rational thing: shot their own children and then themselves rather than anticipate the coming brutalization. Goebbels and his wife poisoned their eight children because they didn't want them indoctrinated into Communism.

    THAT's what you do when you believe that you are doomed. Any commenter who makes a habit of pessimistic posting obviously does not believe that doom is certain -- he'd be offing his and himself. And yet he writes like he's so sure of the future. He's either a male of weak character who isn't ashamed of demoralizing his side, or he's a globalist shill.

    I did not write this with "Anonymousse" above in mind, but with various commenters on other blogs who fit the bill in general.


  13. "straight, white, male and/or Christian" I'm glad you just came out and said that its a bad idea waiting to be replaced by your new one. I look at myself and my family and know exactly where you stand. Most people only speak freely with their own cohorts. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Random Dude on the Internet6/27/16, 10:58 PM

    There's been a surge in concern trolls who are obsessed about race on boards like these. The left gives away their hand every time by resorting to identity politics.

    As a former lefty, the conversation has been entirely about demographics since "The Emerging Democratic Majority" was released in 2002. Ever since then, there has been a push to make sure as many non-whites flood into the country in hopes of flipping the sun belt because that is where the population growth is happening. It's been the DNC bible ever since.

    Unfortunately for them, pointing fingers at people and calling them a racist is having less and less of an effect. If everyone is racist, then nobody is racist.

  15. advancedatheist6/28/16, 11:01 AM

    The consciousness-raising going on in whites reminds me of what happens when women decide to leave abusive relationships: Women have to acknowledge first and foremost that their abusers don't really love them and don't have their best interests in mind.

    Now we've seen whites apply this kind of self-assessment regarding their relationship to an abusive globalist elite that despises them.

  16. "What a depressive cuck -- drink yourself to death tonight so we don't have to keep hearing all this womanish complaining."


    Ironically victories can make some people even more depressive, since now it feels like their side has made gains and has something to lose. Still, I understand that long, grinding campaigns are emotionally exhausting, but there's no excuse for people panicking and preaching certain doom and hopelessness (assuming they're sincere and not just concern trolls). Nationalism and populism are fighting a scrappy underdog guerrilla war right now, and there will be victories and defeats, but the one absolute certainty is that the current rotten globalist edifice will not endure. In the mean time depressives should take some vitamin D or something and cheer the fuck up.

  17. Anyone catch George Will''s hissy fit? Waaa, the mean Trumpites took over the party and nobody wants me anymore! I'm outta here! Good riddance. Go blow Charles Murray or something. I remember when Jesse Ventura feuded with Will, called him a puke.

    Muh principles. Muh small government. Muh Edmund Burke and the other hallowed "intellectual" idols of modern conservatism. Enough intellect, what about some ass kicking for a change? We're seeing the lines drawn, between the pseudo-brainiacs, the wimps, and the less pretentious/fire in their gut types. We knew it all along, really, who was on our side (Ann Coulter who once sarcastically tweeted about the disproportionate influence of Jews, Buchanan, etc.). Trumpism/rising populism is just making it more obvious.

    Blood and soil are more inspiring and powerful than pedantic and trite appeals to an "elevated" (e.g. haughty and effete) discourse intended (intentionally or otherwise) to block out those of "incorrect" breeding. After all, G. Will went to Princeton. How dare anyone belittle him or ignore him?

    It's hard to keep track of all the relatively exciting stuff that's now being printed. Here's a realistic look at globalism, published in Bloomberg of all places: http://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-06-24/-citizens-of-the-world-nice-thought-but

  18. The wimps and sell-outs keep repeating the names of idols who've come to be revered since 1980 (like Reagan, or Goldwater, or Burke) like a reflexive incantation that will change the subject. "Please, let's go back to debating the capital gains tax, and bitching about unions, anything, besides Alt. Right/populist concerns like inequality or the demographic crisis glaring in the West's face".

    The elite right's increasingly desperate attempts to dodge accusations of promoting white interests have finally blown up in their faces. You'd think they would've learned after not "allowing" Romney to play up Obama's hatred of regular America in the past elections.

  19. Agnostic: you thing Romney took a dive, or choked in his second debate with Obama?


  20. I paid no attention whatsoever to the elections after 2000. Kept my ears open, heard the same old shit, went back to whatever I was doing.

  21. Anonymous is entirely correct. I would say neither "We Are Doomed" John Derbyshire nor "Paul Kersey" (America is finished) of SBDL are bed-wetting pansies. And Trump has a weakness -- no institution behind him.

    It was Nigel Farage's life work to get Brexit, but he did not do it alone. He built an institution, the UKIP, out of nothing, and has it as a hammer to threaten the Tories (and Labor) over immigration and EU rule. Trump has built ... a twitter feed. That's it.

    Change, real effective change, does not come with one big man. It comes when enough middle class people have had enough and are ORGANIZED and pick off enough upper class people to lead serious, real, lasting reforms.

    This would include off the top of my head, universal male suffrage, women's suffrage, Prohibition, the New Deal, the Civil Rights Movement, in the US. The Easter Rising in Ireland, and War for Independence. Some of it good, some of it bad, some of it both; but real social change does not come with a big man.

    TR was merely the cresting wave of existing social protest, the labor movement, and Progressive Trust Busting to limit the power the Robber Barons and their gigantic corporations had over ordinary life. And TR owed as much to the muckrakers like Upton Sinclair as say Samuel Gompers.

    Trump is a thin reed indeed, and without wide and deep support by the middle class and "enough" of the Upper classes, no real change will come. Real change requires institution building and coalition assembling -- which IMHO is not present in the US though with the UKIP it is starting to come together in the UK.

  22. I'll followup with my own example; the change in universities over the last 40 years or so.

    1960; universities were broadly 'conservative', or at least 'traditionalist.'
    1960's: radical students rebelled (probably not a majority, but a sizable and vocal group).
    1970's: those same students demanded 'freedom, equality, justice' or whatever they wanted to call it, and got hired at universities
    1980's and beyond: those now hired professors achieved majority status, achieved tenure, and effectively now control universities.

    In other words, the transformation of universities (which is pretty undeniable. It may not be from 'conservative' to 'liberal,' but universities have changed) was achieved, not because one guy insulted the old (1950's era) professoriate, but because thousands of people insulted the old professoriate, and stuck around long enough to get hired, and stuck around long enough to get tenure, and so on. If the student protestors from the 1960's all left after school and got jobs as business consultants, and old-school traditionalists stayed and went to graduate school, there would have been no long-term change.

    So where are the thousands of Trumpistes, hanging around to transform the Senate, the Congress, local and State governments, think tanks, newspapers, law schools, and so on? They don't exist. All those lower-level candidates for office are, at best, traditional Republicans (and at worst, of course, Democrats). Masses of Trumpistes attending law school today, to rewrite and rethink Constitutional Law? Not happening.

    So what happens when Trump leaves (in November 2016, or January 2021, or even January 2025)? We all go back to our Alt-Right whining on the internet (any of you guys plan on spending the next twenty years in Law school, then teaching and writing articles from a pro-Trump perspective? Plan on running for office as a Trumpiste?), most Trump voters go back to work and wonder why the country keeps falling apart, and Democrats/Republicans continue to dominate the political discourse.

    Its not pessimism nor optimism. Its reality.


  23. Trump is William McKinley:


    McKinley was the first to re-orient the Republicans toward the Progressive era. But back in 1896, there was very little to speak of that already existed at the grassroots level. Labor movement was just starting, weak, and getting killed. Forget about suspending immigration.

    Every major change starts somewhere. It was McKinley then, it'll be Trump now.

    If you think no one is going to organize around these issues, and treat it just as a phone-in vote to determine who wins The Apprentice: POTUS, you're not in touch with the people.

    There will gradually be more Trump-like Republicans below the Presidency -- including primary challengers this very election, like Paul Nehlen challenging Paul Ryan on a Trump-like program.

    There is going to be the same thing on the Democrats' side, with the Bernie people doing more below the Presidency, to move it in a populist direction. This very election, there's a primary challenger to DNC Chair-snake Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Bernie-like Tim Canova.

    Over eight years, these twin trends will dislodge more and more of the cuckservatives and limperals, each encouraging lower-level participation, labor unions, and so on.

    Like Trump says, we're never going to get tired of winning -- once Trump's in office, it'll be safe to organize in all sorts of ways, and *really* kick the shit out of the wealthy and powerful globalists.

  24. McKinley had full support of the Rockefeller, Carnegie, etc. his resources vs Bryan's was one of the biggest mismatches ever.

  25. You do realize that using Farage and UKIP as an example proves my point, not yours, right? Yes, Farage had to spend years working and organizing, and in the end he won. People supported him because they wanted what he wanted. But he had to start somewhere.

    Trump is the first true nationalist/populist candidate to get a major party nomination in a very long time. By main force of will he's shoving the whole party in that direction, and if you think it's just going to snap back if he loses the election you're just as much a fool as the cuck elites who are praying for this outcome (think long and hard on just how badly Bush and Rubio got BTFO in the primaries and what this implies for the future, Trump or no Trump). Tons of people think he's the greatest candidate of their lifetimes. Party enthusiasm is way way way up. Others will see the response he's getting and try the same strategy themselves. As agnostic points out this is already happening, just 1 year after Trump arrived on the scene.

    You seem like one of these people who sees that winning everything we want might take a few decades, and concludes that it's therefore impossible (and loudly tells everyone so) even though we're off to a good start. That's not "realism" that's just laziness and cowardice. The condescending attitude of "just you wait and see, once Trump loses I'll be there sneering at you" is especially grating and obnoxious. You don't really know what's going to happen, you're just leaping to conclusions because you can't cope with uncertainty and the need to persevere in the face of setbacks.

    Nobody expects Trump to singlehandedly fix America. We expect him to help us take steps in the right direction and create momentum for more steps once he's gone. He may or may not win but it's worth the fight. I'm glad to see millions of people agree with this attitude, but those who don't are welcome to join George Will and suck their thumbs on the sidelines.

  26. @anonymousse

    You're right that there needs to be institutional development in order for any change to really stick. What you've misidentified is its existence.

    First, within the Republican Party there are many individuals ready to step in when Trump takes power. Local and state officials are not totally empty GOP apparatchiks. Many, especially the tea-party minded types (which are typically the most active local Republicans), are already getting on board with Trump.

    Trump didn't develop these networks--they already existed when he started running. But he will take advantage of them, just as they will take advantage of him.

    Lawyers and law students tend to be slavish devotees of power. If Trump wins and his enemies' power continues to erode, it won't take long for enterprising lawyers to develop the legal case for Trumpism. (In fact a lot of the groundwork has already been laid by the Bush and Obama presidencies.)

    The point is, there are lots of already existing organizations and institutions that have not had the opportunity to grow, but do have groundwork laid. Trump has changed that.

  27. Also, Trump's ideas have broad support. It's not like he's promoting a brand-new political ideology.

  28. Still amazed at how furiously fearful these cucks are.

    Just making eye contact and talking to a girl won't get you laid, let alone married and raising children with her.

    Ergo, highly illogical to even initiate the sexual social algorithm. Optimally rational response is to plug the mind-dick into the porno-matrix.

  29. In the political referendum, the analogy would be to simply deny the newly awakened citizens a chance to vote on the matter at hand by canceling the elections

    Well, there is another alternative to cancelling, and that is ignoring the results, which many "stay" supporters are advocating. I question whether the UK Parliament will actually start the "leave" process in anything resembling a timely manner (or ever). I'll believe it when I see it.


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