The Possibilities and Restraints of Our Collective Nostalgia

 

The Stahl House

There is much waxing nostalgic about the heights of American ideals in the recent past that clouds our judgment and decisions applied to the present and the future. Humans have a natural tendency to look to back on preceding eras as the hallmark of an idyllic time with an aim of its return. Drifting through the ether of the here-and-now with its ever-present doomsayers, political weaponizing, and unrealized dreams and ambitions of succeeding generations, idolizing the past has come to be a coping mechanism for present failures. It is time to stop the cycle. The America of the present is not an irredeemable sinner that must be destroyed because of its transgressions. Nor is it a martyr for a higher cause whose valor can only be proven by falling on its own honorable sword – a suicide for a cause that never was.

The July/August issue of Vanity Fair contains a profile of the quintessential Mid-Century Modern home – The Stahl House – the family that continues to occupy it, and its inextricable link to that post-war time. It is an essay supplemented with rich photographs of seemingly model figures in a model home. The picturesqueness implores the reader to place himself in that time and place – one free from the urgent madness and chaos of the present time. It is the same as our wonted habit of using nostalgia as the miracle salve for the complex world we occupy today. But it’s a mistake to conflate sentimental longings with concrete solutions for present problems. For conservatives, we often revert to the William F. Buckley, Jr. battle cry against the tyranny of progressivism to “Stand athwart history, yelling STOP”. Or waxing nostalgic for stern, Reaganesque rhetoric of the type that bound a nation together in a successful effort to defeat Communism. Just as we can’t place ourselves in the idealized pictures of the Stahl House, we cannot place ourselves in a foregone time to overcome our current crises.

It traps the mind in a perpetual state of adolescent immaturity to ape the slogans of the past. It is a dangerous path that leads to a political and cultural atrophy leaving conservatives unprepared to fight the evolving war of progressive policies that already has a head-start in schools, government, and private institutions. The undercurrent of discontent that catapulted President Trump to office in 2016 was widely seen as a complete surprise to the political machine that had been riding on the coattails of a Cold-War mentality for decades. Zombie Reaganism became the moniker of a Republican Party disjointed from the realities of the middle and working class Americans who felt betrayed by decision makers whose decision involved exclusive disregard for their base’s interests and problems. At the same time, conservatives gave away their naming-rights to an increasingly radical left. Allowing past stigmas as such as anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-science, bigot, prude, “put them back in chains” to perpetuate without forceful pushback alienated potential supporters who felt a party wallowing in its own milquetoast mentality would never stand up for the traditional values that were being unfairly threatened.

Even now, after what could be termed a Trump-Revolution there is a stubbornness of a certain order within the conservative movement that won’t acknowledge the failings of disengaging from the culture wars that led to such an outcome. It doesn’t mean there needs to be total recalibration of principles, nor that the path forward means closing our eyes to a changing media, socioeconomic, and demographic environment and plow blindly through the political desert hoping we find the oasis of the 1980s is our salvation. It doesn’t exist. But we can use those lessons that we often look at fondly as a golden era of conservatism and apply them to the challenges we face today. The opportunity is ripe for a conservative movement to make strides with the American people just as the progressive left is caught in the tar-pit of its own revisionist nostalgia.

Conservatives dip into a nostalgic view of the past in an attempt to frame America as a Rockwellian ideal. It’s not what the left likes to label as a “whitewashing” of history, or willful ignorance of our past sins and national struggles, or stifling legitimate grievances by identity groups to maintain “The Patriarchy”. Rather, it harkens back to an America that seemed closer to a national cohesiveness than the present tumultuous and divisive time. Americans had a self-awareness that allowed for the inherent meritocratic opportunity simply by their choice to be American.

Conservatives can legitimately look to the past as a model from which to build on principles that created the greatest nation in the world – conserving an enduring and objective moral order, adhering to custom and continuity of knowledge, prudence in enacting change, upholding property rights, individual liberty, and the freedom of thought that comes with a limited government and centuries of trial and sacrifice that came out of the past to better serve and sustain a prosperous, liberty-centric future. But we should be wary of becoming so mired in sentimentality for what we imagined that ideal to have been that we become paralyzed, stunting any progress to carry those principles forward in a dynamic, hyper-political ecosystem.

While conservatives would be sensible to harness the tools of the past to fight current battles, the progressive left is regressing to a historical bait-and-switch, romanticizing a time when they envisioned disruption, disorder, and civil upheaval as a noble cause and themselves the virtuous warriors of self-sacrifice. The underground counterculture of the 1960s gave way to the radicals of the late 1960s and 1970s and ushered in a new era of Great Society government monopoly on social justice, racial divisions, and economic disparities. The Make Love, Not War peaceniks whose visions of communal utopias reached their Timothy Leary-zenith by way of Wavy Gravy and his Hog Farm turned violent through groups like the Weather Underground, New Liberation Front, and the Symbionese Liberation Army, groups that were the models for today’s Antifa militants. Today we see these same geriatric activists who live in an idealized, glamorized past as heroes of their own revisionist story. People like Delores Huerta who co-founded with Cesar Chavez the National Farmworkers Association (later to become the United Farm Workers) in the 1960s, who now laud the Texas State Democrats as cut of the same cloth of activist to enact “real change” and be the hero voices of the oppressed minorities in a racially damaged America.

Timothy Leary

The left beats the protest drum, insisting American icons like Martin Luther King, Jr., would never externalize as plausible his own famous words that children “will one day live in a nation where they will be judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character.” Or denying the inherent value of the unborn when they insist on the abortion euphemism as “healthcare” or “women’s rights”. They think they’re carrying on a legacy of “Fighting the Man” when, sometime in the midst of President Carter’s sweater changes, they became the man. Anti-FBI and anti-war marches gave way to yuppie endeavors to perpetuate war for profit and use the government to silence nonconformists and dissenters seeking individual liberty, forcing the hand of social media companies to do their censorship bidding. The shouts of “Hell No, We Won’t Go” and oil-barrel bra-burners now think sacrifice is washing their bras in the porcelain sinks of Washington, D.C. hotels and chartering private planes to escape responsibility prosecution. They treat Cuba’s decades of oppression as the utopia of their dreams, but there is no line forming for milk-jug boat-trips to the collapsing island. It’s a crazy, mixed-up world, and no amount of “turn on, tune in, drop out” will erase the left’s legacy of upending traditional norms and glorifying violence in exchange for canonization in the halls of radicalism.

Nostalgia is a wistful practice in sentimentality, a bittersweet remembrance of how we wish to remember our past. It is taking a tour through the Stahl House, seeing in our minds’ eye a past as unspoiled as the view from the cantilevered balcony. But conservatives can’t fight the wars of the past with antiquated weapons, hoping the future is based on previous experiences. That is simply speculating for the sake of unpreparedness in a world that changes exponentially with each political cycle. We can use the lessons of the past – how we succeeded and how we utilized the tools at hand – to defeat a foe that insists on its own ignobility through a romanticized activism that is as much a solid foundation for reality as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Nostalgia, W. Somerset Maugham said

Is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideal which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real, they are bruised and wounded. It looks as if they were victims of a conspiracy; for the books they read, ideal by the necessity of selection, and the conversation of their elders, who look back upon the haze of forgetfulness, prepare them for an unreal life. They must discover for themselves that all they have read and all they have been told are lies, lies, lies; and each discovery is another nail driven into the body on the cross of life.

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  1. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    My compliments, @jennastocker – very thoughtful read. I recommend it strongly for promotion to the Main Feed.

    • #1
  2. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    Postmodern Hoplite (View Comment):

    My compliments, @ jennastocker – very thoughtful read. I recommend it strongly for promotion to the Main Feed.

    Thank you very much for hanging on there on a long post. I appreciate it and your comment!

    • #2
  3. Brian Wyneken Member
    Brian Wyneken
    @BrianWyneken

    Very nicely done, and a bit reminiscent of the “fighting the last war” themed literature in professional military education.

    • #3
  4. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    Brian Wyneken (View Comment):

    Very nicely done, and a bit reminiscent of the “fighting the last war” themed literature in professional military education.

    Thank you so much. Yes, I can see the echoes of that – I think we are in the midst of a war, just not the traditional type. And to keep the military analogy, we have to “adapt and overcome” to be the victor.

    • #4
  5. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    I going to put you on my list of ‘must reads’ with Angelo Codevilla. Great essay.

    • #5
  6. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    I going to put you on my list of ‘must reads’ with Angelo Codevilla. Great essay.

    That’s incredibly humbling. Thank you for such a generous compliment (and for your comments and insights, always).

    • #6
  7. Addiction Is A Choice Member
    Addiction Is A Choice
    @AddictionIsAChoice

    Fantastic!  Instead of “Member,” I think it’s time your avatar had “Contributor” underneath.

    • #7
  8. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Fine work, JS! 

    • #8
  9. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    Fantastic! Instead of “Member,” I think it’s time your avatar had “Contributor” underneath.

    Whoa, whoa, whoa, let’s not rush to judgment – or maybe ease up on the day drinking ;-) Seriously though, thank you. And your Saturday Night Radio is still my weekend highlight. Never stop.

    • #9
  10. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Fine work, JS!

    Thank you for the gracious comment and for reading the post @garymcvey !

    • #10
  11. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Jenna, this post reminds me of a quote from CS Lewis in Mere Christianity:

    I ended my last chapter with the idea that in the Moral Law somebody or something from beyond the material universe was actually getting at us. And I expect when I reached that point some of you felt a certain annoyance. You may even have thought that I had played a trick on you—that I had been carefully wrapping up to look like philosophy what turns out to be one more “religious jaw.” You may have felt you were ready to listen to me as long as you thought I had anything new to say; but if it turns out to be only religion, well, the world has tried that and you cannot put the clock back. If
    anyone is feeling that way I should like to say three things to him.

    First, as to putting the clock back. Would you think I was joking if I said that you can put a clock back, and that if the clock is wrong it is often a very sensible thing to do? But I would rather get away from that whole idea of clocks. We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. We have all seen this when doing arithmetic.

    When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start over again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on.

    I’m not entirely sure whether this is consistent, or inconsistent, with the theme of your post.  What do you think?

    • #11
  12. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Jenna, this post reminds me of a quote from CS Lewis in Mere Christianity:

    I ended my last chapter with the idea that in the Moral Law somebody or something from beyond the material universe was actually getting at us. And I expect when I reached that point some of you felt a certain annoyance. You may even have thought that I had played a trick on you—that I had been carefully wrapping up to look like philosophy what turns out to be one more “religious jaw.” You may have felt you were ready to listen to me as long as you thought I had anything new to say; but if it turns out to be only religion, well, the world has tried that and you cannot put the clock back. If
    anyone is feeling that way I should like to say three things to him.

    First, as to putting the clock back. Would you think I was joking if I said that you can put a clock back, and that if the clock is wrong it is often a very sensible thing to do? But I would rather get away from that whole idea of clocks. We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. We have all seen this when doing arithmetic.

    When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start over again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on.

    I’m not entirely sure whether this is consistent, or inconsistent, with the theme of your post. What do you think?

    Jerry, this is why I love your comments: you always bring an angle that seems like it should have been plainly seen, but was hiding in front of us the whole time. I think it does more aptly (naturally Lewis masterfully does this) conveys how the past is not exclusive from a journey towards a progressive (not the lefty type) humanity, one nearer to a godly ideal. It seems to me the Progressive Left establishes their destination and will do anything or destroy at will anyone who gets in the way – essentially making the path conform to them, rather than a conservative view of learning from whence we came to follow the path laid out before us. I’m not too smart and received some disappointing news that will probably lead me to quit all this writing stuff, but I guess that’s my half-cent. Again I thank you for adding this and sharing your thoughts.

    • #12
  13. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    I’m not too smart

    Baloney!

    and received some disappointing news that will probably lead me to quit all this writing stuff

    Noooo!!

    • #13
  14. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B
    @LillyB

    Maybe the sense of nostalgia depends on where you live. Around DC and in the coastal communities where people from DC and its suburbs vacation, it’s easy to see how much nicer it is than it was 30 years ago. Why so much wealth should be concentrated around DC is another topic.

    • #14
  15. Graham Witt Coolidge
    Graham Witt
    @hoowitts

    Thanks for such thoughtful writing Jenna. Both you and Jerry encourage us to think beyond our comfortable idioms: “Live life through the windshield, not the rearview mirror” OR “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. We are a soundbite culture – if only it were so simple. Life is a myriad of choices, calculations and recalibrations where history/nostalgia should be a rudder directing us forward not an anchor holding us in place. Progress is inevitable but must never be allowed to erase the successes and lessons of the past.

    • #15
  16. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    JennaStocker (View Comment):
    will probably lead me to quit all this writing stuff,

    Whoa, whoa, whoa… maybe ease up on the day drinking. 

    • #16
  17. Dave Carter Podcaster
    Dave Carter
    @DaveCarter

    Fantastic analysis, exquisitely framed. This needs to be on the cover of any number of conservative publications, and would be breath of fresh air on a few ostensibly conservative outlets as well. There are important lessons in this piece that need to be internalized across the political spectrum. Thanks for writing this!! 

    • #17
  18. Jim Kearney Contributor
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    JennaStocker: conservatives can’t fight the wars of the past with antiquated weapons … in a world that changes exponentially with each political cycle.

    What’s been changing exponentially is technology. And us. “We shape our tools, and our tools shape us

    [Glad someone on Ricochet found anything worth discussing in Vanity Fair, once my favorite magazine when Tom Wolfe wrote there. Back when print was delivered daily to our doorsteps, I discovered Wolfe in Trib’s Sunday magazine, later spun off as New York. (Isn’t it funny that one of the Right’s favorite and most prescient articles was written for that now left wing rag?)]

    Conservatives must embrace that texts longer than “texting” are losing influence. Likewise linear, sequential written reasoning peaked near the end of the Gutenberg era, like it or not. Now our microchips message icons about, much as Professor McLuhan predicted back in the 1960’s. To embrace new communications technology remains essential.

    It’s fun watching our printy elders crowd book titles into their Zoom backgrounds. Unintentionally, they direct attention to the Next Big Thing in TV/film production, digital backgrounds. That would be the LED Volume, coming soon to an ad agency near you. So, yes, out with the antiquated weapons and on to the technology of the future.

    There’s a lot packed in to Jenna’s piece. Probe or ramble, this bit warrants a reply:

    JennaStocker: The Make Love, Not War peaceniks whose visions of communal utopias reached their Timothy Leary-zenith by way of Wavy Gravy and his Hog Farm turned violent through groups like the Weather Underground, New Liberation Front, and the Symbionese Liberation Army, groups that were the models for today’s Antifa militants. Today we see these same geriatric activists who live in an idealized, glamorized past as heroes of their own revisionist story.

    As a former “make love, not war” high school button wearer myself, I must question the stereotype.

    “visions of communal utopias” – These did exist, and most were comedically rich failures. The only perfect expression of how difficult and hilarious many of these things turned out was a Mad Magazine piece on alternative schooling. (Anyone have a copy?)

    “Hog Farm turned violent” – The Hog Farm grabbed the media attention thanks to Wolfe’s ridealong, but they themselves and most of their ilk were too stoned to get violently political. 

    “peaceniks … Timothy Leary” – Some of us were opposed to the Viet Nam War, and crucially, the military draft. Some of us never did acid. The animating spirit of the “sex, drugs, and rock n roll” counterculture was only peripherally political. There were religiously motivated anti-war groups, like the Quakers and Christian pacifists. In the pre-boomer origin story there was the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley (a non-violent political movement 57 years ahead of its time.) Along came organic farmers, Whole Earth Cataloguers, dome builders, Esalen founders, living/learning experimental colleges, brownstones and farmland liberated by various rock bands, itinerant followers thereof, etc. Typically these enterprises either went out of business, moved to Vermont, or like New York’s Westbeth art colony, got money from the government. Other longhairs had better business plans, and thrived.

    “these same geriatric activists who live in an idealized, glamorized past …” – Some do, but most moderated with age and some even became conservative. David Horowitz had second thoughts. Ann Coulter was a deadhead. Before he died jaywalking, Jerry Rubin wrote a book about his conversion from Yippie! to “yuppie.” So not all of us aging “make love, not war” boomers are following the Saul Alinsky playbook. Most of us never bought it in the first place.

    • #18
  19. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Jim Kearney (View Comment):
    Conservatives must embrace that texts longer than “texting” are losing influence. Likewise linear, sequential written reasoning peaked near the end of the Gutenberg era, like it or not. Now our microchips message icons about, much as Professor McLuhan predicted back in the 1960’s. To embrace new communications technology remains essential.

    I think that I disagree with this, very strongly, but I want to be sure.

    The problem is in the word “embrace.”  I’d probably be willing to agree that we must “understand” that texts longer than “texting” are losing influence.  But “embrace” seems to suggest that this is a good thing, and an opportunity in some way.

    I don’t think that this is correct.  The problem seems to be that people are getting even more stupid than they used to be, which is remarkable, but not something that I want to “embrace.”  More and more people seem to be thinking in bumper stickers, slogans, and cliches.  It is both pitiful and dangerous.

    I may be romanticizing the past, which would be ironic given the nature of Jenna’s post.  I wouldn’t claim that a large proportion of the population was ever capable of developing, or articulating, a coherent explanation of any issue of moderate complexity.  It does seem, to me, that the proportion of people capable of doing so has been declining, but this is only an impression, not backed by empirical evidence.

    So if I’m right about this, then we don’t need to “embrace” the new communications technology.  We need to realize that it is counterproductive, and perhaps needs significant regulation.

    Big Tech delenda est, maybe.

    • #19
  20. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    Jim Kearney (View Comment):

    JennaStocker: conservatives can’t fight the wars of the past with antiquated weapons … in a world that changes exponentially with each political cycle.

    What’s been changing exponentially is technology. And us. “We shape our tools, and our tools shape us

    [Glad someone on Ricochet found anything worth discussing in Vanity Fair, once my favorite magazine when Tom Wolfe wrote there. Back when print was delivered daily to our doorsteps, I discovered Wolfe in Trib’s Sunday magazine, later spun off as New York. (Isn’t it funny that one of the Right’s favorite and most prescient articles was written for that now left wing rag?)]

    Conservatives must embrace that texts longer than “texting” are losing influence. Likewise linear, sequential written reasoning peaked near the end of the Gutenberg era, like it or not. Now our microchips message icons about, much as Professor McLuhan predicted back in the 1960’s. To embrace new communications technology remains essential.

    It’s fun watching our printy elders crowd book titles into their Zoom backgrounds. Unintentionally, they direct attention to the Next Big Thing in TV/film production, digital backgrounds. That would be the LED Volume, coming soon to an ad agency near you. So, yes, out with the antiquated weapons and on to the technology of the future.

    There’s a lot packed in to Jenna’s piece. Probe or ramble, this bit warrants a reply:

    JennaStocker: The Make Love, Not War peaceniks whose visions of communal utopias reached their Timothy Leary-zenith by way of Wavy Gravy and his Hog Farm turned violent through groups like the Weather Underground, New Liberation Front, and the Symbionese Liberation Army, groups that were the models for today’s Antifa militants. Today we see these same geriatric activists who live in an idealized, glamorized past as heroes of their own revisionist story.

    As a former “make love, not war” high school button wearer myself, I must question the stereotype.

    “visions of communal utopias” – These did exist, and most were comedically rich failures. The only perfect expression of how difficult and hilarious many of these things turned out was a Mad Magazine piece on alternative schooling. (Anyone have a copy?)

    “Hog Farm turned violent” – The Hog Farm grabbed the media attention thanks to Wolfe’s ridealong, but they themselves and most of their ilk were too stoned to get violently political.

    “peaceniks … Timothy Leary” – Some of us were opposed to the Viet Nam War, and crucially, the military draft. Some of us never did acid. The animating spirit of the “sex, drugs, and rock n roll” counterculture was only peripherally political. There were religiously motivated anti-war groups, like the Quakers and Christian pacifists. In the pre-boomer origin story there was the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley (a non-violent political movement 57 years ahead of its time.) Along came organic farmers, Whole Earth Cataloguers, dome builders, Esalen founders, living/learning experimental colleges, brownstones and farmland liberated by various rock bands, itinerant followers thereof, etc. Typically these enterprises either went out of business, moved to Vermont, or like New York’s Westbeth art colony, got money from the government. Other longhairs had better business plans, and thrived.

    “these same geriatric activists who live in an idealized, glamorized past …” – Some do, but most moderated with age and some even became conservative. David Horowitz had second thoughts. Ann Coulter was a deadhead. Before he died jaywalking, Jerry Rubin wrote a book about his conversion from Yippie! to “yuppie.” So not all of us aging “make love, not war” boomers are following the Saul Alinsky playbook. Most of us never bought it in the first place.

    Thank you for a thoughtful comment. And as Vanity Fair goes, I like reading interesting things, even if it means wading through a lot of…other stuff. I wish more people would venture outside echo chambers. I agree with you that many people from the 1960 counterculture, ani-war, commune-O-Rama, peacenik era were as varied as any grouped inevitably and ungraciously lumped together by history – same as is often the case in the 1980s of Reaganism (oh there I go again). But people grow up and out of fads and world circumstances change to bring about new coalitions. I just think there’s enough of both sides baking in the spotlight of their own nostalgias and highlight reels that it impedes our ability to face, wage, and win the important battles today. And for the record, Wolfe has always been a favorite, I even wrote a previous post about a new Radical Chic. 

    • #20
  21. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Jim Kearney (View Comment):
    Conservatives must embrace that texts longer than “texting” are losing influence. Likewise linear, sequential written reasoning peaked near the end of the Gutenberg era, like it or not. Now our microchips message icons about, much as Professor McLuhan predicted back in the 1960’s. To embrace new communications technology remains essential.

    I think that I disagree with this, very strongly, but I want to be sure.

    The problem is in the word “embrace.” I’d probably be willing to agree that we must “understand” that texts longer than “texting” are losing influence. But “embrace” seems to suggest that this is a good thing, and an opportunity in some way.

    I don’t think that this is correct. The problem seems to be that people are getting even more stupid than they used to be, which is remarkable, but not something that I want to “embrace.” More and more people seem to be thinking in bumper stickers, slogans, and cliches. It is both pitiful and dangerous.

    I may be romanticizing the past, which would be ironic given the nature of Jenna’s post. I wouldn’t claim that a large proportion of the population was ever capable of developing, or articulating, a coherent explanation of any issue of moderate complexity. It does seem, to me, that the proportion of people capable of doing so has been declining, but this is only an impression, not backed by empirical evidence.

    So if I’m right about this, then we don’t need to “embrace” the new communications technology. We need to realize that it is counterproductive, and perhaps needs significant regulation.

    Big Tech delenda est, maybe.

    I understand where you’re coming from. But if I may add, I think the exponential change or evolution of technology and it’s impact on speech and thought is the crux of it. The printing press was enormously transformative and it took a long time for society and culture and politics to catch up to this new technology. I think it’s the same here, especially social media and the conglomeration of Silicon Valley companies who collude with government to perpetuate near monopolies on the dissemination of information. Our laws and culture have yet to catch up to the profound change. I think we’re still figuring it out. I don’t have a solution, but I’m very skeptical that government does.

    • #21
  22. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    JennaStocker: forcing the hand of social media companies to do their censorship bidding.

    This is a very clear explanation of the fact that the four tech companies control the public square and the Constitution cannot function as intended because of this. Way, way too many Republicans and libertarians don’t get this. 

     

     

    It’s 43 minutes and it’s available on all podcast platforms.

     

     

    • #22
  23. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    JennaStocker (View Comment):
    It seems to me the Progressive Left establishes their destination and will do anything or destroy at will anyone who gets in the way – essentially making the path conform to them,

    This is exactly right. It became clear to me after years of discussing things with my Democrat relatives. The left comes up with an idea. It doesn’t matter what it is (central planning, non-public goods, kooky social theories) as long as it has momentum. Then they only discuss it “tactically” with you. They aren’t interested in a shared understanding of the policy issues, and an understanding of the details, they are just going to try to steer the conversation so they get some kind of a win. Take any ground somehow. They wish for stuff, and then they want to shove it down everybody’s throat. If you think they are going to operate in any other way, you are making a big mistake.

    Three stories from my brother-in-law that relate to this. Years ago, when I had less of a organized political philosophy and less knowledge, he was making fun of Republicans that were calling Democrats socialists. Last election he had a sign for Red Bernie in his yard. Also for Elizabeth who basically would copy Red Bernie if she could win with it. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t want to think about it.

    After we got done with a contentious political discussion, I made it clear to him that I really prefer discussing individual policy issues because when you move off of that things get a lot more confusing. I get that some of that stuff matters, but that is just a fact.  Then he explained to me that he doesn’t do that “because they are all liars”. Well, that’s true and that’s why everybody should be a libertarian. This obviously means he hasn’t thought any of this through and he just wants to win arguments tactically.

    The best one was when I asked him to define “assault weapon”. He went crazy. He carried on like a lunatic and had to leave the house. This type of thing has happened before, and he looks it up later and realizes he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. This is a smart guy with a PhD. Textbook Dennis Prager Democrat that lives like a conservative.

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  24. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    Elizabeth

    Warren is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. How could she be a worse corporatist parasite when you look at who she worked for? Then throw in how she abuses advantages reserved for minorities. Not to mention how over paid she was from the Harvard hedge fund. Nobody on the left cares, they just want to win.

    Howie Carr had a hilarious guest on. He was an actual Native American at Harvard that was trying to get her to join their Harvard Native American group. She knew she shouldn’t do it. 

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