By now the “progressive hegemony”, or whatever you want to call it, over the arts, the entertainment industry, and sophisticates and cultural elites more generally is well-known, but almost everyone is missing a crucial piece of the puzzle: the creatives actually don’t like today’s mainstream liberals much and are yearning, practically crying out, for a new creed, a new politics to coalesce with.
That might sound like a strange thing to say, but consider that the status quo, its ideologues, and especially its middle-class enforcers are becoming more puritanical, more authoritarian, more moralizing, and much more demanding of conformity from those in its grip.
The Arts: the weak Link in the Power Structure?
That seems to be working in settings with the highest concentrations of graduates from prestigious colleges; a ranked list of such occupations tightly correlates with Democratic support these days. The most glaring exception, the one that has a lower concentration of such people than the famously Republican oil and gas industry yet votes heavily Democrat is none other than…the arts. Among all the pillars of the power structure the arts are the odd man out in its current increasingly puritanical, moralizing, and conformist incarnation.
And if there’s one thing those who make art don’t like it’s puritanical moralizing conformism; that is the very thing that drives their hatred of conservatives and their support of liberalism and the Democratic Party, and has kept them in line as much as they have been.
But a vague antipathy to conservatives just isn’t enough to generate real allegiance; as soon as a better alternative presents itself, as it would if the friends of freedom adopted my recommendations in my post “Toward a Libertarian Artistic Movement”, the ruling class would suddenly find creative artists and a broad array of sophisticates are no longer on their side. They would find that, just as they did during the heyday of revolutionary liberalism in the 18th and 19th centuries, they had become the heart of an opposition explicitly and implacably dedicated to individual liberty.
And yes, this movement will be libertarian, not conservative. Wokeness getting worse doesn’t make the authoritarianism of conservative Christianity any more appealing to free-spirited artists; at best what conservatives and Republicans can hope for is enjoying support from the likes of Hollywood as the lesser of two evils. This imposes a harsh ceiling on conservative support; libertarian support, on the other hand, could easily expand to be even more widespread than liberal support is today in these sectors, since it represents a revolutionary struggle for a new world of liberty, equality, and fraternity.
The Politics of the Future
Which will be far more attractive to creatives once the political battlefield of the future, carved in the stark relief of the moral desirability of human freedom itself, takes shape. Once the ruling class and their minions demand total conformity with their puritanical moralism and even the eradication of art itself, which we are seeing the early stages of now with the anti-art views of lockdown cultists reaching the surface, will the bulk of the arts remain with the Establishment if a radically liberatory alternative is available? Certainly not.
As an aside, once revolutionary leftish libertarianism takes its place as the foremost opposition to woke rightish authoritarianism, Wokeness’s position as the arbiter of sophistication among creative cultural elites, already weak to begin with, will rapidly collapse.
Such a process, where the core of taste-making sophisticates decide to change direction and blaze a bold new trail, will prove far more effective than any realistic level of backlash from powerless peripheries with negligible cultural capital, a loser’s trick that has been (in addition to libertarians pursuing the “right-wing populist strategy”) conservative Republicans’ strategy since time immemorial. Considering hatred of conservatives is all that binds the commanding heights of culture to the regime’s agenda the best thing conservatives could do for their cause is to step out of the way and disappear. Maybe Mencius Moldbug was onto something…
Smart Strategy, Fine Living: What’s not to like?
Anyway, back to libertarians, we should bear in mind that libertarianism, of all opposition movements to the status quo, has the most vigorous and numerous intellectual elite, the most philosophical coherency, the largest and best-organized activist arm, the largest amount of mass support, the most harmony with the inevitable rise of encryption technology (the moral arc of the universe is long, but it ever-more-rapidly bends toward crypto-anarchy), and the most ideological traction in this historical moment. The door is open.
As such, the simple application of smart strategy can lead to large gains as the open door is pushed against. As an example, under the radar, in the 2021 elections the Libertarian Party apparently nearly doubled its number of elected officeholders across the country. In one election cycle. This was due to the application of smart election strategy.
If it weren’t a way of life more than a strategy I’d call my plan the Hollywood Strategy. It’s certainly very different from anything that’s been tried before in the history of the libertarian movement (at least at a mass scale), it has good fundamental reasons behind the case for its effectiveness, and even if it doesn’t work at all pursuing it will still be a fun adventure in life for creative libertarians (such as yours truly!). So why not give it a shot?
It all fits together like a Watch?
The basic idea is to direct Libertarian activists, intellectuals, and voters into hip areas and social circles full of creative artistic types with high levels of cultural capital. The objective being, as in my previous post, to not only turn Libertarians into the commanding heights of culture but also convert the commanding heights of culture to the cause, in effect the creation of a libertarian populist cultural complex as the dominant force in society.
The necessarily leftish nature of this movement, since to be truly effective the libertarian populism must be a revolutionary ideology of individual freedom and equality, holding out liberation as the dream, human moral autonomy as sacrosanct, isn’t much of an obstacle, since the libertarian movement is moving in that direction anyway!
Consider that just 20 years ago exalting policing as a legitimate function of the state and conflating actually-existing big business with the machinations of a free market was the center of gravity in the movement; now all we hear about is the struggle against policing and corporate cronyism. The slow-motion crumbling of fusionism has been a boon for libertarianism, and will continue to pay dividends far into the future.
Something like this might seem like a pie-in-the-sky daydream, but I suspect it’s the next shoe to drop in the age of populism. Consider that center-right populism is the center of gravity in modern politics; populism is rising for obvious reasons, but center-right is just winning by default due to the weakness of the left. That’s not going to continue forever.
The day will come when populism will feel no need to be center-right or any kind of right anymore, a Cambrian explosion of political possibility, the day when the world will be ours, the day when the world will be ready for the libertarian populist coalition of the far left, the second coming of revolutionary liberalism. As friends of freedom we should ready ourselves for it and put in the work to make that day dawn.