Although I’ve stopped writing about politics for a while, now seemed to be the perfect time to jump back into the fray. This isn’t because I’ve had no thoughts on the matter. Rather it’s because if you look at the backlog of my politics posts, I’ve had nothing original to say. Since reading Kill All Normies, a book about the political culture wars that have taken place online, I’ve realized that I was saying the wrong things and thinking of things in the wrong way. In essence, I was thinking in a left-right paradigm instead of thinking about the political culture wars that were taking place right in front of me.
Like most liberals, I was pretty hysterical and upset about the election of Trump. Facebook status after Twitter post admonished Trump’s election, including a garish ‘Not My President’ profile picture. Like many others, I started hashtagging my way to relevance, joining the ‘Resistance’ along the way. Living in a foreign country has helped ease my mind in that regard. Removing myself from the day-to-day has helped gloss over the details.
But let’s remember that liberals reconcile drone warfare with pro gay marriage and abortion stances. Meanwhile, conservatives cheer the construction of a brutal healthcare bill, so as long as it devastates unions and sticks it to ‘liberal cucks.’ Neither of these is a truly coherent political philosophy. What these are are cultural points of view. They show that despite conventional belief, the political culture wars are going strong. And they have no sign of stopping soon.
Transgression, whether philosophical or culture, has always been a core part of the political culture wars and the democratic process. From political philosophers like Nietzsche, to the hippies in the 60’s and early 70’s, the dominant culture has always been questioned. For a while, it seemed like the dominant culture would be nativism. Once the French election was decided, that seemed to be less of the case.
‘Hitler was right’ became the kind of thing you saw in Minecraft because its contrary to the dominant culture. It’s culturally unacceptable to say this sort of thing, so it becomes a kind of symbol. This is why anti-semitism and anti-feminism became the rallying cries of online counterculture. But being subversive has always been a performative art. And that doesn’t change the fact that a few hundred thousand people in swing states are ultimately who decide contentious American elections.
Still, a lot of what is going on now, on both sides of the political spectrum, is performative. The political culture wars demand that everyone fly their colors loud and proud. And if the media (both social and traditional) is to be believed, this is certainty happening. But the media is just a cultural amplifier. Nobody goes about their day-to-day wallowing in the despair of others. And if they do — they should find a new type of life to lead.
But the political culture wars are far from over. Really, they’ve just begun. The culture of early 2016, of enforced political correctness, is just as bad as the political culture wars going on right now. As long as we refuse to see how we got here, we’re doomed to repeat this cycle.
In other words, values should not and cannot be enforced. As long as there’s a dominant culture there will be political culture wars to stir up the pot. The more hysteria we indulge ourselves in, the more we lash out, the less we end up learning. When everything from the casting of Aladdin to the announcement of the 13th Doctor on Doctor Who causes us to hyperventilate, then the political culture wars are lost, no matter who is winning.
It’s not as simple as saying we need to love our fellow man. Jesus said that and it lead to the Crusades. Also, we have the right to dislike people on an individual level. But what we can do to fight against the political culture wars is allow people to say exactly what they need to.
We can allow Bill Maher to have Milo Yiannopoulos on Real Time without collectively exploding into tiny fragments. But then we can also turn around and point out how stupid he looked. To me, that’s the only way to end the vicious cycle of political culture wars. And although it will likely never happen — coming to some sort of understanding is how we get out of this.