September 30, 2019

How ethnicity and class stopped Bernie in '16 and '20; Who he needs to win in '24

In a highly complex economy and multiethnic empire like America, material resources will flow not only through a class hierarchy (from owners to managers to workers), but through ethnic patronage networks. Who is at the head of such patronage networks is less relevant than the fact that the recipients are chosen based on ethnic group membership, and are expected to provide political support to the party that heads the network.

That could be old-fashioned machine politics, which relies on low-status drones to show up to the polls on the appointed day, in return for local leaders making sure their drones do not starve or go homeless. But it could also be the selection of a "talented tenth" among the protected ethnic group, who aim to join the elite class through having seats reserved for them at the upper-status table.

Universal populist or socialist outcomes are threatened by both aspects of this system, which means-tests its rewards. In the class dimension, are you an owner or a manager / professional? If so, here are your goodies; if you're a lowly worker, go fend for yourself. In the ethnic dimension, are you a member of a protected ethnic group? If so, here are your goodies; if you're from some other group, go fend for yourself.

Bernie Sanders and his most ardent supporters have been trying to overturn the prevailing system in favor of a universal populist system. But they lost their Democrat primary last time, and are shaping up to face even bigger losses this time. What were the relative contributions of class and ethnic forces to his movement's undoing, and how could they recover for 2024?

We'll start with the 2016 primary, when things were simple because there were only two candidates, Hillary and Bernie. If class were the stronger force, then the elite voters would tend to favor one candidate, and ordinary voters the other. If ethnicity were stronger, members of certain ethnic groups (those protected by the machine) would favor one candidate (the boss), and members of other groups (those not protected by the machine) would favor the other (the reformer).

It may have been forgotten by now, but the 2016 primary was mainly split along ethnic rather than class lines. This showed up in the various exit polls, but to get a more reliable and large-sample-size overview, we turn to the American National Election Survey. As part of their 2016 survey, they asked respondents whether they voted in the primary, and if so for whom, as well as a battery of demographic and opinion questions.

Since the main ethnic split is non-Hispanic white vs. everyone else, that's the one used below. For class, the most reliable signal of aspiring to join the elite class is getting a college degree.

This was Bernie's 2016 support in % by ethnicity and class:

If class were stronger, the degree column would be similar, and the no degree column would be similar. If ethnicity were stronger, the white row would be similar, and the non-white row would be similar. Lo and behold, ethnicity trumped class -- by a lot. Non-whites only gave Bernie around 30% -- and that was true for both working-class and elite minorities. Whites gave Bernie just under 50% -- again, regardless of whether they were working-class or elite.

To show how much greater the effect of ethnicity was, relative to class, the following chart shows how unified or divided the ethnic and class groups were. The two bars on the left show class differences within each ethnic group, while the two bars on the right show the ethnic differences within each class. The differences are expressed so that positive numbers reflect Bernie's typical support base -- whites and the working class. Click to enlarge.

The two class difference bars are small in size, compared to the two ethnic difference bars. Each class difference was small -- only 4 points. Each ethnic difference was large -- 22 and 14 points.

The left-most bar being negative means that it went against the prediction from Bernie's overall performance -- you'd think that, even if he lost minorities, he still would've been more popular among those without a degree than those with a degree. And yet he was slightly more popular with elite minorities than with working-class minorities.

I interpret that to reflect the elite minorities relying somewhat less on the machine politics to avoid starvation and homelessness -- if they have a college degree, that's not a real concern. That gives them a little more freedom to shop around, although they are still primarily concerned with patronage for protected ethnicities (reserved elite seats for the talented tenth).

Notice that the ethnic difference was larger among the working class than the elite class. Again I take that to reflect reliance on patronage. Working-class whites are left out on the stoop, as far as machine politics or elite promotion goes, while working-class minorities at least get the protection of the machine in exchange for their votes. Elite members of either ethnicity aren't so reliant on the machine for basic survival, so they won't be quite so polarized by the campaign between the machine vs. the reformer.

In sum, Bernie lost a battle over ethnicity -- he did not motivate enough white people of either class to turn out, and he did not demoralize the minorities on his enemy's side into staying home. Of course, a successful strategy would not have referred directly to ethnicity, but the reformist anti-machine pitch would have struck an ethnic chord nonetheless, since it's mainly minorities who are plugged into the machine, or have elite seats reserved for their group.

"We can't allow the future of all of America to be manipulated by the corrupt urban machines any longer. The American people -- all of the American people -- need real change, right now."

That would have resonated with both the white working class and the white professional class, neither of whom owe their survival to the machine or the talented tenth patronage networks. Throw in Trump's reminder that minority drones voting for the machine only get to avoid starvation and homelessness, rather than truly thrive, and that would have demoralized a lot of the drones into staying home in apathy.

Fast-forward to the 2020 primary, and Bernie is not only losing the ethnic battle but the class battle too. Most of his former professional white supporters have defected to Elizabeth "Barabbas" Warren, although his working-class white supporters remain fairly faithful. He (and Warren) still have minimal minority support, which remains consolidated around the machine candidate (Biden).

This development also shows that ethnicity is stronger than class in these primaries. If Bernie's professional white voters from 2016 had chosen to defect solely on the basis of class interests, they would've simply gone over to Biden. The elite class would be united behind Biden, rather than split along ethnic lines as they were in 2016. Instead, they demanded a candidate of their own -- it could've been Harris or Buttigieg, but they found their ideal match with Warren.

So, just as in 2016, the elite class is split, with minority elites favoring the machine candidate, and white elites favoring an anti-corruption reformer -- only this time, a reformer who is solidly professional-class in her goals (Warren), rather than one who focused on the working class (Bernie).

Unity vs. fragmentation is therefore along the ethnic dimension -- whites are fragmented, minorities are united. That is not a picture of class struggle, where at least the elites would be united, and the working class either united or divided.

Incidentally, why did professional whites abandon Bernie this time around? They still wanted to reject the machine candidate who draws his support from minorities -- they still want to be the white crowd, just as they do in their choice of neighborhood, school, culture, and hobbies. But they always have to make sure everyone knows they are the good white people, the noble white people -- not those bad, disreputable white people.

Back in 2015 and most of 2016, professional white liberals just assumed that working-class white Democrats would follow their lead on everything. So they had no reason to reject a coalition with working-class whites during the primary, and were perfectly fine being part of the Bernie group.

However, during and after the general election, professional white liberals learned that a good chunk of Bernie primary voters had actually defected to Trump, since he was more populist than Clinton (who was a woke elitist). Although it was only 10-15% of Bernie voters who switched, that had to have been concentrated among the working-class Sandernistas in the Rust Belt, and not the prog crusaders of the coastal elite bubbles. So among working-class white Bernie voters, the defection rate was probably closer to 50%.

That, combined with the broader elite backlash against the white working class for putting Trump over the top in a way that no other Republican could have dreamed of, made the professional white Bernie supporters want to find a candidate of their own for 2020. They could not tolerate mixing their purity with the pollution of the deplorables -- who, by voting Bernie-then-Trump, proved themselves to be crypto-fascists.

The Warren people are not even trying to reel back in the working-class white Bernie voters. They must remain ritually clean, and a demographic that has revealed itself to be dirty crypto-fascists cannot be allowed back into the holy circle. At the same time, they can't tolerate contamination by the corrupt machine demographics, so they're just splintering off into a purity cult that does not intend to win anything. Better to die pure than to live polluted.

This one-two punch is why Bernie will garner less support this time than the last. And that also means the Democrat nominee, likely Biden, will do even worse in the general than Hillary did. Last time, there was only a two-way fracture among the Democrats -- machine drones and disillusioned reformers. Now there will be a three-way fracture -- machine drones, bitter fans of the professional-class reformer, and disillusioned fans of the working-class reformer. For Democrats, party unity and enthusiasm will be lower in 2020 than in 2016.

So how could Bernie and his diehard supporters recover by 2024 to pull off a realignment then, if not right now? His most pressing problem is the lack of college-educated white support, which he had back in 2016 but lost to Warren fans. Those professionals left over their disgust toward the deplorables in Bernie's coalition, so the only professionals that Bernie could scoop up would be those who are Independent or Republican -- the kind who prefer Tucker Carlson as their mainstream news source, and Michael Tracey as their go-to Twitter journalist.

Obviously they would have to be economic populists, but a good chunk of them are, despite having college degrees. And they would love to join up with former Trump-sympathizing populists, regardless of what party or class background they had come from, and regardless of who they have to support now, after Trump's failure to realign the system in office.

Bernie or his successor would still have to ignore -- indeed, demoralize -- the machine drones, but bringing in the Tucker fans would make that all the easier. Those newcomers would have even less loyalty to urban Democrat machines, or to the talented tenth elite promotion system. They're mainly white, after all.

Why wouldn't they go with their pure class interests and choose Warren? Because she's an impotent polarizer and a puritan, not to mention an annoying libtard. The newcomers would want to feel socially and culturally welcome, not hectored by wokescolds for their original racist sins, male privilege, bla bla bla.

Bernie actually offered that, relative to Hillary, in 2016 -- she was the polarizing, annoying woketard, not him. He, or his successor, needs to bring that back. And what's stopping him now? -- he's already lost the professional white liberals to Warren or her successor. He needs all the help he can get from professional whites who are moderate or conservative on social issues, but still populist and anti-interventionist.

Tulsi and Yang have made a pitch in that direction, but they have minimal or no political capital to amass an army and make changes happen. Bernie should start laying the ground by going on Tucker -- like he did on Joe Rogan -- all throughout the primary and general election, preaching the realignment rather than just "vote blue no matter who". And there is no realignment except through massive defections from the dominant to the opposition coalition.

It should be simple -- "I just want all Americans to be taken care of on a material level, and to be left alone in social and cultural matters." Whoever brands as the non-crazy Democrat will win the defectors. So far, only Biden is attempting that, to attract yuppie Republicans. Bernie must go even further, to attract populist Republicans. That means ignoring the concern-trolling libtards when he says "live and let live" to cultural conservatives. For every yuppie libtard Bernie lost to Warren, he would pick up two moderate populists who watch Tucker.

ANES variables: v161021a, v161270, v161310x

September 29, 2019

1984 songs were so awesome they dominated next year's chart

Everyone already knows the best years for music were 1983 and '84.

But here's an additional piece of evidence: the Billboard year-end chart for 1985 was mainly made up of songs that had been released before 1985.

There are always some songs released (as singles or on albums) in the end of the previous year whose success will take off during the current year. But for a majority of this year's hit songs to have been mined from earlier releases? Was this year so empty? Well, if it's 1985, then yes, let's try to keep the fun spirit going from '84.

Of all 100 songs on the '85 chart, only 40 were released in that year. A clear majority, 60, were released either as singles or on albums that were released before '85. Almost all of those were from '84, but there were also 3 songs that had been mined from albums released fully two years earlier in '83 ("Neutron Dance," "All Through the Night," and "Penny Lover").

It's not just that '84 was one of the single greatest years for music, it was also the final year of the early '80s manic phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle. The crash / refractory / vulnerable phase began in '85, and that would begin shifting the zeitgeist away from fun-loving new wave and toward emo soft rock and power ballads.

That set up one hell of a contrast between albums released in '84 vs. '85 -- and evidently the audience was still resonating with the earlier phase and rejecting, at least for the year, the new phase. Just have a look through the albums released in '85 -- the most notable ones are from indie bands (Psychocandy), not mainstream ones. That was the start of the college rock / modern rock bubble of the second half of the '80s.

I don't know whether this is part of a more general pattern, but I'll look into it. That is, looking at each of the three phase transitions during an entire cycle, is there a tendency for one of them to be resisted more than the others?

I know I still preferred the early 2010s music to that of 2015 and after -- that's what first drew my attention to the existence of the excitement cycle in the first place, how emo everything became all of a sudden. You'd think people would be most averse to giving up a good thing, like the manic phase, to plunge into a refractory period -- not leaving behind the emo victimization phase for a return to normalcy, or leaving normalcy behind for an excitement spike.

Then again, maybe this is unique to the '84-'85 transition. In any case, something highly unusual and worth noting for the pop culture historical record.

September 28, 2019

"Helena" by MCR as a late '80s soft rock power ballad

Just saw this recommended by YouTube, already at over 100K views.

Lighters in the air!

This hits three separate vulnerable phases of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle -- the current arrangement, the original from 2004, and the vocal style and instrumentation both imitating the second half of the '80s. It's a soft rock power ballad, like Bon Jovi singing with Survivor's band (especially that timbre of the keyboard).

The natural fit of this song to a late '80s style is a good reminder of how emo the second half of the '80s were compared to the manic first half, or to the first half of the '90s when the mood was no longer so emo but not fully manic again (not till the late '90s).

In other 15-year cover song echo news, "Higher Love" from 1986 has been remixed by Kygo this summer and soared up the charts all over the world. The vocal is not Steve Winwood, but Whitney Houston, recorded in 1989. It's not a proper cover -- those went extinct after the 2000s, at least on the year-end charts -- but a remix of a cover / alternate version that was fairly contemporaneous with the original.

September 26, 2019

Lovable crazy broads new wave mixtape (deep cuts)

Inspired by this tweet from the instigator princess of the anti-woke left:

The central divide between the anti-woke left and the woke left is their indictment of neoliberalism -- is it bad because it's warping and perverting what is normal, or because it's not going far enough to transform normality into something weird? The woke left think neoliberalism sucks because it turns women into wives and baby factories (enforcing normality), whereas the anti-woke left think it sucks because it doesn't allow women to become wives and baby factories if that's what they truly want (preventing normality).

Hence the impasse between anti-woke women who want to assume complementary sex roles, and woke soy boys who expect a sameness of sex roles. Or for that matter, woke women who expect role equality and view the anti-woke women as betraying the project of modern evolved sisterhood.

One of those key complementary roles is for the woman to be the emotionally volatile one, and the man to be the emotionally stable one. (This does not contradict another set of roles -- women are pragmatic, men are idealistic.) Anti-woke women do not want to become the hyper-rational girlboss, coldly calculating and optimizing, that their unwilling entry into the labor market pressures them toward. Woke women exalt this process.

Yet while one personality type is endearing, alluring, and entertaining -- the other is off-putting, boner-killing, and boring. So only the anti-woke women have any potential to kick off a mass phenomenon.

To celebrate our lovable crazy broads, below is a new wave mixtape, mostly of deep cuts. Some might expect gothic or post-punk music when associating with "crazy," but that's more of a depressive low-energy crazy, not the volatile and endearingly clingy type of "crazy" that Aimee is describing. Visually, the big wild hair of new wave goes perfectly with the lovable crazy broad.

Plus, post-punk and goth didn't have much participation from women. It was the new wave bands who all had a female singer, embodying the complementary sex roles that the anti-woke people seek to bring back -- men playing instruments, and a woman using her voice to emote. Not as part of some enforced, regimented social norm imposed from above -- but because it's only natural, and everybody has more fun making music that way.

New wave fans are not misogynist either. Bitter incels and sex pests are more likely to prefer post-punk and goth over new wave (not that normies can't like those genres either). Because fun-loving and emotionally adjusted people mainly prefer new wave over the other two, leftoids would likely brand it as a right-wing / crypto-fascist kind of music -- you can't piss off your racist uncle by blaring new wave over your phone at the Thanksgiving table. No genre of music is political, of course, that's just the woketards politicizing what belongs to the cultural realm.

I tried to represent the gamut of lovable crazy broad emotions here -- anxiously attached, mischievous, brattishly impatient, desirous, submissive / masochistic, dramatic, and more manic than depressive. I'm only embedding a few, the rest are links.

"Pleasure and Pain" by Divinyls

"Reply Boy" "Shy Boy" by Bananarama

"Dracula's Tango (Sucker for Your Love)" by Toto Coelo

"Rette Mich" by Nena


"Beat of a Heart" by Scandal

"Johnny Are You Queer?" by Josie Cotton

"Regrets" by Eurythmics

"Do You Wanna Hold Me?" by Bow Wow Wow

"James" by the Bangles

"Screaming in My Pillow" by SSQ (video NSFW)

September 24, 2019

Day-after-the-party songs that are drowsy yet uplifting, causing anticipation rather than slumber

After writing a post about "A Whiter Shade of Pale," I had to explain in the comments how it's not a song about being low-energy or hungover. After all, it's from a manic phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle (late '60s). It's fanning the flames of the initial high that he felt, in order to feel it explode again soon. That's the opposite of being in a refractory state, where he'd want to leave the high behind him, since he'd be incapable of reaching another high anytime soon.

I tried to think of other examples from other manic phases to illustrate the point. During the manic phase, people feel upbeat, bouncy, invincible, and carefree most of the time. Even when they feel down, it's more of a temporary lull within a longer-term high -- not a crash, which comes during the following vulnerable phase.

In an otherwise manic phase, this lull allows them to take a mellow pace, reflect on the party from the night before, appreciate the previous high while still in a drowsy day-after state, all in order to prepare themselves for the next party. The point is not letting the high stay in the past, or feeling wistful for something that's gone, as they might do outside of the manic phase.

These songs all have a somewhat slow tempo, overall mellow instrumental lines, and a soft vocal delivery during the verses. The lyrical tone is grateful and appreciative, with anticipation for the recurrence of the event in question -- not grateful for something that is already behind them for good.

In contrast to those soft, mellow features, there's enough of a beat to make them danceable (if slowly), or to at least keep your feet tapping along rather than put you to sleep like other mellow songs might. And during the chorus, the vocal becomes more elevated in order to pick the listener up and keep them in motion, rather than let them fall into a slumber. The only exception is "Avalon," where the elevation comes during the slow-burn build-up during the final section, instead of each chorus.

It's an unusual blend of emotions -- drowsiness, joy, fulfillment, and anticipation. Only during a manic phase will people feel this way, while they're on their way home from a party or just waking up the next morning, knowing they're going right back out again for a second night in a row. In the meantime they've got to keep the embers warm.

"A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum (1967):

"Avalon" by Roxy Music (1982):

"1979" by Smashing Pumpkins (1995):

"Alive" by Empire of the Sun (2013):

September 21, 2019

Leftist bubbles during vulnerable phase of 15-year excitement cycle

You can already feel the air coming out of the current leftist bubble that goes back to around 2015. It coalesced around Bernie's campaign, but most of those people have already ditched him and gone back to their same ol' bullshit, cheerleading for a polarizing neoliberal culture warrior like Liz Warren.

It has reminded me so much of the early 2000s, when I was in the anti-globalization and anti-war movements in college. It's strange listening to political podcasts again, which I haven't done since then (back then it was streaming Democracy Now via Pacifica Radio on the RealAudio Player, downloading Noam Chomsky talks, Unwelcome Guests, and interviews / talks hosted by ZNet). It wasn't as developed as it is today, and the parasocial quality was lesser in degree, but it's hard for me not to notice the parallels to today.

That climate coalesced around Nader's 2000 campaign, generated a major protest during Bush's inauguration, and was undeterred by 9/11. There were massive protests against the war before it even began in 2003, and Fahrenheit 9/11 was a major hit at the box office in 2004 (#17 for the year). That mood was popular, not marginal.

Then by 2005, it had more or less evaporated. The late 2000s support for Obama had nothing to do with leftism -- just libs and even moderates getting pissed with 8 years of Bush, the recession, etc., wanting a change of pace but not a major change. Compared to the first half of the 2000s, they had now tuned politics out.

The early 2010s did not see a leftist bubble either. Occupy Wall Street was just a public space hang-out, a party in a carnivalesque atmosphere. It did not have widespread resonance, and did not even try to do anything specific (like blocking the FTAA, preventing the Iraq War, and so on, from the early 2000s). Most people were having too much fun, living too carefree of a lifestyle, to feel the need to pay attention to leftists.

As of 2015, though, it's come back big-time. The Bernie campaign, #MeToo, Trump Derangement Syndrome, Russiagate, imagining Nazis under every bed, joining the DSA, living a parasocial relationship with left-wing podcast hosts.

This rhythm suggests a reflection of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle (see an overview here). That is, it is the vulnerable phase, when people's energy levels have crashed into a refractory period, when they feel like they need to huddle in the leftist bubble for protection. It's not as if neoliberal austerity or imperial adventures just happened with Trump's election.

Rather, it's people's social-emotional states that have suddenly changed, causing them to react to external events in a different way, one suiting them to joining a leftist crowd. In a refractory state, all external stimuli feel painful, so you feel victimized by your environment -- not only your direct social environment, but the broader political current affairs.

Typically that leads to joining the left, although there is right-wing victim Olympics as well, so perhaps the phenomenon is more general -- politicizing the personal, and treating politics as therapy for your broken emotional state. Liberals temporarily become radical leftists, and conservatives temporarily become radical rightists.

During the following restless warm-up phase, people's energy levels have recovered to baseline, and they don't feel such a strong need for being shielded against painful stimuli (i.e., all external events). Having left their refractory period, they don't feel constantly victimized, and no longer in need of group therapy. So, bye-bye to the left bubble. This attitude prevailed during the second half of the 2000s, including the Obama campaign, by which time liberals had de-radicalized.

During the following manic invincible phase, their energy levels are spiking, and they really feel no pressing personal need for politics as group therapy. If they get involved politically at all, it will be to create a party for radicals (the kind where you have fun in public, not the kind that involves long meetings). This was the attitude during the early 2010s, epitomized by Occupy Wall Street, Slutwalk / Free the Nipple / No Pants Subway Ride, and so on and so forth. No strongly, broadly felt need to primary Obama "from the left" because everyone was in high spirits in 2012.

Before the early 2000s, the last time there was a leftist bubble was the late '80s with Jesse Jackson's primary campaign, anti-Apartheid, the date rape panic, etc., also during a vulnerable phase. It had popped by the early '90s, with the shift into the warm-up phase, and liberals de-radicalized into choosing a centrist like Bill Clinton. By the late '90s manic phase, there was no broad leftist zeitgeist at all -- no attempt to primary Clinton "from the left" since everyone was in such an upbeat manic mood.

Before the late '80s, the last leftist bubble was the early '70s -- the original leftist bubble, characterized by anti-Vietnam War protests, anti-capitalist organizations, second wave feminism (all heterosexual sex is rape), bombings, the Counter-culture, Watergate, the McGovern campaign, and the rest of it. That was a vulnerable phase.

Some of those topics were part of the late '60s manic-phase movements, but those were more upbeat and carefree -- the Summer of Love, Woodstock, student protests as an excuse to hang out in public spaces, and so on. And during '68-'69, they had not really radicalized into anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-sexist, anti-whatever. By the second half of the '70s, a warm-up phase, the Counter-culture was dead, and liberals de-radicalized into choosing Jimmy Carter. During the manic phase of the early '80s, there wasn't even a residue of the early '70s personal-is-political counter-culture.

I don't think you can go back before circa 1970, because that's when the New Left replaced the Old Left. Before 1970, there was no "personal is political" stuff, no politics as group therapy. It was materialist, seeking a higher standard of living and autonomy for working class people, mainly through labor unions. Certainly there was an awareness of problems that went beyond the individual to encompass entire groups -- The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, the Feminine Mystique, etc. -- but they were not politicized into a pseudo-political movement, did not have a political candidate to rally around, and did not lead to temporary radicalization followed quickly by de-radicalization.

The speed with which people go through these phases -- radicalized, de-radicalized, politics as partying in public -- suggests something other than external economic or political forces are at work. It looks more like mood swings over the course of an entire rollercoaster cycle. And what do you know, they overlap perfectly with the phases of the excitement cycle, in just the way you'd expect (with the vulnerable, refractory phase making people feel victimized and in need of politics as group therapy).

This dynamic needs to be taken into account for those who are planning on leftist politics after 2020. During that year itself, de-radicalization will already have begun, since 2019 is the last year of the current vulnerable phase, and then it's on to the warm-up phase. They will still be shrieking culture warriors, but they'll be supporting outright libs like Liz Warren and AOC, not Bernie Sanders. That emotional state will last into 2024 as well. Prepare for a party atmosphere during the late 2020s.

This is yet another reason why populists cannot rely on leftoids for change -- they're only in it for emotional reasons, and even those are fleetingly cyclical. Yesterday's Free the Nipple babe has become today's MeToo crusader, and tomorrow will be rid of her post-horny victim mindset, ready to revive Slutwalk the day after tomorrow.

Focusing on real material issues, with audiences who keep experiencing them no matter what emotional mood-swing they're in, is the only way to replace the failed status quo with something different.

September 18, 2019

The left: Give us Elizabeth "Barabbas" Warren!

Let Bernie's blood be upon the left and upon the left's children.

They chose Warren, AOC, and milkshake-throwing dorks over socialist Jesus.

Bernie was never the "most left," just as Jesus was not the "most Jewish," whether according to the Temple priest Sadducees, the info-gatekeeping Pharisees, or the purity cult Essenes.

Barabbas was just some random insurrectionary against the occupying Roman Empire, while Jesus said to not worry about the Romans because there were far larger problems headed our way -- the literal end of the world as we know it. Of the two, Barabbas was more of a polarizing, culture war, troll-the-enemy figure. Jesus' message was more universal, regarding both the problem and the audience.

Bernie was content to render unto the Cultural Right what is theirs -- the 2nd Amendment, strong borders, the Electoral College, etc. His proposed revolution fell under an entirely different domain of matters, and he meant it to involve and to benefit people from across the spectrum.

The growth of populism, socialism, whatever you want to call it, will never proceed through the left, any more than the growth of the Christian movement went through the Jews. It will go through the masses of people who are culturally alien to the left, just as Christianity only resonated among Gentiles.

Socialist apostles must ignore the left from now on, and send missions instead to the normies, respecting their unwoke beliefs and behaviors.

September 16, 2019

Socialist apostles to the normies will respect their unwokeness

Channeling her early Christian background and upbringing (Lebanese Catholic), Aimee Terese sounds like a social worker nun compared to the standard vindictive tribalistic leftoid of the current moment:

From a long thread, addressing others on the left who she sees as sharing the goal of economic populism, and the necessity of a cohesive mass movement acting collectively to overwhelm their obstacles, she says don't worry if they aren't like you socially and culturally (i.e., are not liberals), since that's irrelevant to the economic struggle:

She and her fellow travelers may not know it, but here too they are recapitulating a crucial episode at the founding of Christianity -- who is this new religion meant for, and under what terms are converts accepted? One group followed culturally restrictive practices, and went nowhere, while the culturally open group powered a small movement into an international phenomenon.

Jesus and his disciples were Jewish, and they spread their message in and around Judea -- at most reaching the Samaritans, who were so close to the Jews that they can be considered cousins rather than strangers or foreigners (akin to the Scottish and the Irish). The audience that they took their message to already shared all of the distinctive ethno-cultural traits as the messengers themselves -- they were circumcised, they followed the list of kosher dietary laws, and so on and so forth.

After Jesus' death, the chief leaders of his movement in Jerusalem were his brother, James, and Jesus' right-hand man, Peter. They saw Jesus' movement as something intended for Jews only, and did not proselytize widely outside of their tribe. If a non-Jewish person did want to join the Jesus movement, this camp thought the outsider had to first convert culturally to being Jewish -- perhaps not 100%, but enough to make it a radical break from their existing cultural practices. They were OK with watering down the kosher dietary laws, but still wanted Gentile converts to not eat blood, meat mixed with blood, or meat from animals that were not properly slain (e.g. by strangulation).

That may sound more lenient than a stringent 100% upholding of kosher dietary laws, but to the average person unaccustomed to these practices, even this diluted amount was too much to be comfortable. That put up high barriers to entry for non-Jews. Worse for their growth prospects, most Jews at the time were not receptive to claims of Jesus being the Messiah, so this camp had no room for expansion. Jewish followers of Jesus quickly evaporated in the land where he was from.

Instead, all the growth came from conversions of non-Jews living outside of Judea and Samaria, from the northern Levant, to Asia Minor, to Rome itself. They were preached to by the culturally open camp of Jewish Christians, led by Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles (non-Jews). He believed the membership badges of the Jewish tribe were beside the point of Jesus' message. If you were already Jewish, no problem, continue on being Jewish. But if you weren't already circumcised, you didn't have to undergo it in order to become Christian. If you like your foreskin, you can keep it. This new religion was meant to transcend the particular cultural practices of various ethnic groups.

Paul and his followers did believe in upholding the Ten Commandments for non-Jewish converts to Christianity, but these are not very particularistic and were adaptable to any ethnic group. Honor your mother and father, don't lie, don't steal, don't murder -- which normal human group would not already have these among its behavioral code, whether explicit or informal? The only major change would be following the commandments about abandoning the worship of other gods -- the early Christian movement was monotheistic, so following those two unfamiliar commandments is the bare minimum needed for converts. Other than that, your existing culture already had the other ones covered.

From that initial decision -- to err on the side of laxity rather than stringency in adherence to certain cultural norms -- the trend over the centuries has been to ignore the culture of the originators. Circumcised or not, avoiding meat from strangled animals or not, observing the Jewish Holy Days or not -- that is all irrelevant to following Jesus' teachings, holding him to be your savior, and the rest of the distinctive beliefs and practices of Christianity. If anything, the tendency has been to not merely ignore the original culture, but to consider adherence to it heretical, as though the adherent wanted to return to a pre-Christian way of life.

So too, in our own age, will the successful camp within socialism break it out from a narrow little sub-culture, sending missions to all sorts of culturally different groups, and not thinking of altering most of their existing thoughts, feelings, and practices. Whether or not the converts like to cat-call women, tell ethnic jokes, eat meat, use "gay" as an insult, prefer dancing over reading, or whatever other normie practice -- what does that have to do with holding together a mass movement and using collective leverage against their obstacles?

The historical record shows that if anything, compulsory adherence to these liberal cultural norms is associated with heretical forms of socialism -- e.g., today's SJW-ism that is linked to widening inequality, stagnant wages, destruction of the welfare state, and greater authority for the elites over the commoners in general. When a proto- form of socialism existed, during the New Deal era, these matters were irrelevant. Follow them if you were already culturally liberal, don't follow them if you were already culturally conservative. It's completely orthogonal to the matter of applying a group's leverage to achieve collective material goals, through labor unions and political coalitions.

The two core regions of the dominant coalition of the New Deal, the Democrats, were the culturally conservative Deep South and the culturally liberal Northeast. Any attempt at economic populism, or socialism, that not only writes off one of these halves but derides it as backward or evil, is destined to fail. Today the relevant contrast is the coasts and flyover country, but the logic remains the same.

Where will the apostles to the normies come from? Paul was not only on the periphery of the Roman Empire, he lived outside of the Jewish homeland, in southern Anatolia (Tarsus), which had already been heavily Hellenized before the Romans showed up. He must have been inclined by such an upbringing to view Gentile cultural beliefs and practices as no great threat to leading a righteous life. He hardly found them superior to those of his own diaspora people, but he was familiar with Gentile culture in a way that Jews in Judea would have found more strange and disturbing.

I expect today's apostles to cultural outsiders -- i.e., to the normies, given the sub-cultural background of lefties -- to hail not only from peripheral places vis-a-vis the American imperial center, but also from a relatively more culturally conservative upbringing. Aimee T. has a Lebanese migrant father, lives on the margin of the Anglo empire, in Australia, and was brought up as a Catholic school girl. People like that know from their own social circles that those who tell ethnic jokes, want sex to lead to pregnancy, etc., are not vile monsters, and that they're just as receptive to material populist action as are their cultural inverses.

As for politicians, Tulsi Gabbard comes from American Samoa, far from the imperial center, and even when she moved to Hawaii, that's still far from the center. She was brought up in a culturally conservative environment, and she joined the military  -- she knows personally that cultural conservatives aren't monsters, and are just as open to material populist changes as a liberal computer coder.

Bernie Sanders chose to ditch his cosmopolitan imperial-core upbringing in New York City, to live among the cultural conservatives in rural Vermont -- who he knows from extensive experience are just as open to socialist economic programs as liberal New Yorkers.

Related: monotheistic socialism vs. polytheistic identity politics

September 12, 2019

9/11 made music fun and danceable, against existing soft, numb, emo trend

Here is an interesting podcast with Matt Christman from Chapo Trap House about 9/11's impact on pop culture, especially music. They focus more on the political angle -- what things must or must not be said in pop music in the wake of 9/11, did the culture of fear kill off aggressive rock music from the late '90s, and so on.

Characterizing music of the early 2000s, they identify the zeitgeist of numbness, sadness, schmaltizness, etc. as 9/11's cultural impact. My take has always been the opposite, and now that I've figured out the 15-year cultural excitement cycle, it's possible to separate what 9/11's effect was, and what would have already happened with or without a major terrorist attack.

The early 2000s were a vulnerable phase, a refractory period after the manic climax of the late '90s, and before energy levels had recovered to baseline during the late 2000s. So anything that typifies a vulnerable phase will be unremarkable to find during the early 2000s. Namely the soft, ethereal, numb, emo, schmaltzy trends that also characterized pop music of the late '80s and early '70s -- which were hangovers after the previous manic phases of the early '80s and the late '60s.

What made the post-9/11 zeitgeist feel so different was the social and cultural unity that it brought out of people from all walks of life, both normie and indie, teenagers and geezers. It was not as socially unifying as a steadily rising crime rate, as experienced during the '60s through the '80s, but it was of a similar kind, if lesser in degree (a one-time spectacle, not decades of constant crime stories).

And when people perceive an imminent risk of massive violent attack, they tend to discount the future, live more in the present, and want to party with others and enjoy their company while it's still possible.

So, 9/11's cultural impact would be something that looked unusual for an otherwise soft, numb, emo period -- one which, as the podcast hints at, was already under way before 9/11. (See the year-end charts for 2001 for reference.) It would be unusual in being more socially bonding and party-centered, relative to the backdrop of a vulnerable phase culture where people want to be left alone and sleep under a pile of blankets / sink to the bottom of the sea.

In two recent posts, I identified dance-punk and crunk as two such signatures of 9/11. I'd thought of them in that way since the 2000s, but these recent posts detail how they are clearly not what was to be expected given their backdrop (a vulnerable phase). Those posts are brief, so I won't rehearse them any more here. They're relevant to today since we've been in another vulnerable phase since 2015, and yet there's been no such trends this time around (since there's been no 9/11), while there is plenty of soft, numbing, emo music all over again.

Instead, I'll end with a real deep cut from the dance-punk craze of the first half of the 2000s, in honor of 9/11's enduring cultural influence. I was living in Barcelona when this was out, and got turned on to them by the long-term housemate who I was renting a room from. It was his friend's band. Nothing replaces face-to-face recommendations -- you couldn't hear this after reading some centralized website, no matter how obscure their branding. You had to get out, interact, and listen to what other people had to say.

"NYCgaps" by Delorean (2004):

September 7, 2019

Unsolved Mysteries in context of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle, including moral panics

I got curious about how widespread the musical trend was during the late '80s for songs that are heavily layered, atmospheric / ethereal, with at most simple repetitive beats and motifs to create passive trance vibes. Earlier posts here and here looked at pop music, but I thought about movie soundtracks and TV theme songs. Then I remembered!

Listen to the entire soundtrack here and here (two parts). Perfect for scaring the trick-or-treaters next month (assuming any still come by in these helicopter parent times).

Watch the entire original series hosted by Robert Stack on YouTube here, or on Amazon Prime.

* * * * *

Unsolved Mysteries debuted in the late 1980s, a vulnerable phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle. Its peak year for ratings was the '89-'90 season, and although it still did respectably into the '92-'93 season, it fell off a cliff afterward. This tracks the trend in the crime rate -- as crime rates plunged after their 1992 peak, audiences lost interest in a show based mainly on crime. Someone somewhere was apparently solving the crime problem, so why bother tuning in to a show that expected the audience to help solve outstanding crimes?

Then the show was miraculously revived on a different channel in 2001-'02 -- during the next vulnerable phase of the cycle. And wouldn't you know it? -- they're reviving it yet again! Perhaps to appear during the current vulnerable phase. The announcement of new episodes was made by Netflix in January 2019, so they'd better hurry and get it out by Halloween, because audiences will not be quite so interested in such a show during the 2020s, as the warm-up phase kicks in, and the backlash against victimhood culture will begin. At least they've re-released the original Robert Stack episodes, and the soundtrack / score, during the late 2010s vulnerable phase.

(The Dennis Farina episodes from the late 2000s were not new episodes, but repackaged ones from the original run, without the haunting persona of Stack's performance.)

The show was a product of the vulnerable or refractory phase, when people are so anti-excitable, so averse to social stimuli (which would be a sensory overload), that they develop a victimization complex for those 5 years of the cycle. Their energy levels are so low that they feel passive, and can only be acted upon -- and given how painful they will perceive stimulation during a refractory period, all actors would be perceived as wrongdoers, and everyone feels like a helpless victim.

In that mental and bodily state, they will naturally empathize with characters on a TV show who are victims of some kind or another.

Not coincidentally, America's Most Wanted also debuted during the late '80s vulnerable phase.

I have yet to write a comprehensive post on how the rise and fall of society-wide moral panics maps onto the excitement cycle. This review of the phases of feminism across the excitement cycle provides a guide, though. Exhibitionistic, invincible, sex-positive feminism peaks during the manic phase, followed by victimhood feminism during the vulnerable phase, followed by a return to normalcy or losing one's overly inhibited ways during the warm-up phase. For now, all that matters is that major moral panics erupt during the vulnerable phase.

In fairness, U.M. does not give free rein to the crazies of a moral panic, but does present "both sides" and ask the viewer to judge for themselves. Still, not something you would see in a phase where the panicking side is under a backlash by an increasingly skeptical populace.

I'm only halfway through the 1st season, and it's saturated with the moral panics of the late '80s. Foremost is the Satanic Panic -- it's so prevalent that it even makes its way into the Son of Sam episodes. Those murders took place during a warm-up phase (late '70s), when people are coming out of their shells, and nobody thought of a Satanic ritual angle at the time, nor during the succeeding manic phase (early '80s). It wasn't until 10 years later, when people were now in a panic mode owing to the vulnerable phase of the excitement cycle, that all sorts were willing to spread and believe theories that the Son of Sam murders were part of a broader Satanic cult committing ritual sacrifices.

But there's also a lesser known moral panic that most people have forgotten about by now -- alien abduction. Not just sightings of UFOs, or visits from aliens, but being victimized and violated by them -- abducted off to their ship, held captive in a clinical setting, typically naked, and probed and otherwise touched bodily and even sexually without consent by the callous perpetrators from beyond. It's no different from being kidnapped and sexually molested or raped, which people in a refractory state are hypersensitive toward, often to the point of paranoia (e.g., "being creepy in the DMs" is tantamount to rape, in the current #MeToo vulnerable phase).

In the U.M. episode, an expert says that women who claim to have been abducted often complain about problems to their reproductive system, and the man interviewed says he recovered a childhood memory of an "alien" man sitting on his bed, lifting up his shirt, and touching him. Those are clearly references to sexual molestation, whether the people want to project it onto aliens or not. So, alien abduction was part of the broader rape panic of the late '80s (including the "date rape" panic, childhood ritual sexual abuse, etc.). It was sci-fi rape.

"Anal probe" became a common phrase when talking or joking about UFOs, because it was so common to hear about such things from the purported witnesses -- they were made into victims, not just neutrally visited by the aliens. Come to think of it, that dismissive and pejorative phrase likely came from the warm-up phase of 1990-'94, when people no longer felt vulnerable and victimized by everything, and there was a backlash against overly credulous victimhood culture.

Not coincidentally, the Urtext on being victimized by alien abduction -- Communion by Whitley Strieber -- came out in 1987, hit #1 on the NYT Best Seller list, and was made into an indie movie starring Christopher Walken in '89.

Two posts to follow will look at Unsolved Mysteries' place in the crime-and-cocooning cycle, as well as the status-striving-and-inequality cycle. I didn't realize how many themes it touches on until watching again for the first time in 30 years.

September 4, 2019

15-year cover song echoes: "Rock On" in glam rock and dream pop

The original by David Essex and cover by Michael Damian both come from the refractory phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle (1973 and 1989), and both made the year-end charts.

As discussed before here and here, this phase focuses less on catchy bouncy melodies because that would be too stimulating. The performers' and audiences' energy levels are still in a crash after the previous manic phase, and they have not yet been restored to baseline levels by the following warm-up phase.

This state leads them to focus more on layers, echoes, and drones in ethereal textures that wash over them as they lie still, unable to get up and move around. Soothing repetitious motifs keep them in a passive trance.

Such a dream pop style shows up in both the indie and mainstream worlds during the vulnerable phase. The genres from the first half of the '70s are glam rock, early krautrock, and cosmic music -- not the most dreamy, spacey, heavily layered and overly produced music, but certainly in that direction.

In the glam rock example above, by the end there is very heavy vocal self-echo and layering, like a chant. The bass line is simple, repetitive, and trance-like. Otherwise it's very sparse, more of an unsettling kind of minimalism like being alone in the woods at night, hearing only the repetitive chant of crickets, frogs, and droning breezes.

The cover has a standard rock instrumentation, but it's really more of a dream pop song than a proper rock song. No guitar riffs, no rhythm guitar, no killer solo, no vocal range. Although it does have stronger percussion, it's still not very danceable -- you're drifting along passively under the multiple layers of cool soothing textures. A little less vocal layering in this one, since it's richer instrumentally, and they're filling that role instead. Like I said before, the late '80s are a mine for mainstream dream pop songs.

I always think of those late '80s overly layered dreamy hits as roller rink music. Most people aren't moving their legs, torso, and arms enough to count as dancing -- they're just coasting on by in the same direction, with minimal rhythmic movements, melting into a crowd like a school of fish in the ocean.

Or maybe I'm only remembering it that way because that's when I was going to the roller rink -- late '80s / early '90s, toward the end of elementary school when you're just beginning to get social and want to be around the opposite sex. I either wasn't born or was just a toddler during the roller disco days, when there may have been more actual dancing going on.

And even if I hadn't been too old to go roller skating into the mid-late '90s, the roller rink was already going extinct due to the helicopter parents of Millennials not allowing them to congregate in shared public spaces with minimal supervision. Really stunted their social development. Hearing roller rink music makes me nostalgic not just for that particular space, but the whole socially outgoing period that began in the '60s, before closing itself off into the cocooning period circa 1990 and lasting through today.