A Common Denominator is not a Movement
Our civilization is suffering from a failure of coordination. We are no longer able to organize mass movement with an achievable purpose, and nowhere is that more evident than in the still birth of Right wing movements. This is because every attempt at a movement compromises it’s purpose for a lower common denominator that will attract more adherents.
Note that this isn’t the lowest common denominator – that would be McDonalds. “Do you like hamburgers? Of course you do, now eat your Happy Meal and shut up.” The denominators we choose have to be complex enough to contain some sort of syntactical value beyond bestial urges, but they’re far short of the sort of ontological statements which are necessary for civilizational drive.
Gamergate: “We don’t like the SJW infiltration, and their Walking Simulators are terrible games.” The Alt Right: “We hate Democrat freaks, Hail Trump.” The Pro-Life Movement: “Murdering young children in the womb is wrong.” Reaganomics: “All these taxes are crushing the economy.”
Like a misguided attempt at Seasteading, these slogans can unite the various ideological rafts which are being buffeted by the cultural seas, but as soon as the slogan has served its purpose, the nascent movement drifts apart. With no central authority defining the tenets and purposes of the seasteaders – only charismatic leaders who appeal to this or that subgroup within them – internal divisions come back to the fore, and each group goes off on their own.
Gamergate’s been covered before: the most obnoxious SJWs were abandoned by the big publishers, while simultaneously concessions were made to the movement at large. Charismatic mouthpieces of either side walked away with full bank accounts, while the soldiers who made up the movements were left without a goal, a purpose, or a victory. Thesis, meet Antithesis: the new Synthesis serves no-one but those who were already in charge. The Alt Right created a coalition of traditionalist Christians, Neo Satanists, and Transsexuals: with Trump’s victory, their dissolution was inevitable. Reagonomics brought about the promised tax cuts, while behind the scenes regulation increased (isn’t it interesting how all of Karl Marx’s specific goals – universal pensions, social safety nets, government-administered unions – have all come to pass?). And as for the Pro Life Movement, their exclusive focus on one aspect of the problem (baby murder) without addressing its route causes (the social conditions which result in so many unwanted pregnancies) relegates it to irrelevancy.
The problem with trying to choose a denominator that’s only two or three steps above the lowest common denominator, is that the latter becomes corrosive to the former. Gamergate might war against the SJWs over video games, but both sides can agree on eating at McDonalds. Even the Vegans can climb aboard that train, now that they’ve replaced the deep frier’s beef tallow with rancid vegetable oil. Every group can be accommodated by the ‘free’ market, especially when market research has concluded that one size does, in fact, fit all.
The lowest common denominator which our civilization is founded upon is Freedom: freedom to do what you want, to believe what you want, to behave as you want. Brett Stevens sums it up nicely when he writes:
Take a walk down a modern Western street. The obese blue-haired feminists have nothing in common with the Muslim Arabs they walk alongside, but in the grand tradition of human stupidity, they try to find “common ground” and alight on a few lowest common denominator ideas, like that everyone wants a paycheck and not to be punished for their own mistakes, and so they agree to be Leftists together. This is not progress, but decline.
An average middle class white family finds themselves surrounded by Chinese, Mexicans, Italians, Russians, Jews, Falun Gong, Juggalos, Black Panthers, Flat Earthers, Pentacostals and Scientologists. They have nothing in common with these groups, but are sure to tell people how they knew their own marriage was right because “we have so much in common.”
We keep slapping band-aids on the problem. Anti-drug laws, workplace regulations, locks on cockpit doors, chemical signatures in gunpowder. But we will be defeated by the fact that when you have a country of people who have nothing in common and no purpose, the only remaining task is to destroy each other in outrage at how meaningless, tedious and humiliating modern life has become.
So long as you respect the ‘rights’ of others, you’re free to do your own thing. Drink this soft drink instead of that soft drink. Support this sportsball team over that one. You have an endless array of meaningless choices you can embrace, subcultures you can join, identities you can adopt, so long as you don’t claim that your lifestyle is fundamentally superior to any others. Hot Topic and The Gap coexist in the same space; why can’t you?
This is why Trump denounced both the Alt Right and the Alt Left in the same speech. The problem with both movements is that they make claims of exclusivity. The former wants to shut down Black churches, the latter wants to shut down White churches. And as problematic as churches are to our idea of atomized freedom, shutting them down would be a statement of purpose.
Islam circumvents this with their practice of Taqiya; lying to unbelievers. When ISIS attacks the West – on the rare occasion when they’re not operating with explicit approval by the CIA – this only bolsters their position; it affords them an opportunity to practice a tenet of their faith. “How dare you blame Islam?” says the Moderate Muslim, fully aware that ISIS is following their scripture to a T. “By trying to blame terrorism on our Religion of Peace you are showing your true nature as a colonial aggressor!” We allow this mendacity – we outright embrace it – not just because our civilization is fat and lazy, willing to do anything to avoid a struggle, but also because mendacity is at the core of our being. Colonialism is bad, not merely because it’s something White people did, but because it implies that one thing – civilization – is better than another – savagery.
“I don’t care what people do behind closed doors.” Not even when Stephen Paddock is building up an arsenal? “Live and let live, it doesn’t affect you.” Even when homosexual bathhouses are creating a breeding ground for the next epidemic?
The problem with purchasing an identity at the shopping mall, or defining yourself by what beer you drink, is that it’s all a lie. It’s a narcissistic shell you present to the world – your own personal taqiya – “I’m such and such a person, I drive an F-350 with a Harley Davidson logo on it!” – but none of your behaviour backs that up. You want to be recognized and respected as some sort of badass (or a charitable person, or a connoisseur of the arts, or… or… or…) but you work as an accountant and you haven’t been in a fist fight since… ever.
Pretend to respect other people’s identities, and they’ll respect yours in return. This is the freedom and tolerance which we hold as sacrosanct. But the moment you start to walk the talk – the moment you actually contribute something concrete and useful to the world – you become a threat to other people’s narcissistic shells. Our civilization doesn’t promote virtue and greatness; it demands conformity, and people who stay within the lines. So long as you don’t make any waves, you can pretend to be whatever you want.
Right wing movements are no different. It’s all about claiming membership within the movement – waving the flag of Kekistan, and wearing a Black Sun patch on your vest, without ever asking where it came from. Stay within the lines, and proclaim the shibboleths which are demanded of you (“Do you believe in the Fourteen Words???”), but make absolutely certain that you only achieve symbolic victories – anything concrete will force us to ask the existential questions that we’re all trying desperately to avoid.
Nihilists! ..Fuck me. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.
~Walter Sobchak, The Big Lebowski
Say what you will about the tenets of Islam, at least it’s a gravitational core. We love their lies because we’re liars ourselves, but underneath their lies is a purpose and a cause. Beneath our own patina yawns the abyss, and so we cling to our false beliefs with desperation, trying to forestall the void of eternity with solipsistic hedonism.
The lowest common denominator consumes all others, and reduces us to nothing. Individual cancer cells waiting to explode. Only through acknowledging and pursuing the absolute, and the virtues which lead us there, can we overcome the inevitability of the endless Prisoner’s Dilemma we find ourselves in. Either we find this, and remember who we are, or we continue rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
There’s an iceberg coming. Will we acknowledge it, and choose life, however difficult and painful it might be? Or will we slip silently into that eternal night?