My wife called him the wizard, for he could conjure up anything at any time with limitless energy.
As an enthusiast for pop culture’s fruits, perhaps Big Hollywood’s founder would allow a Harry Potter reference to describe the impact he left on American political culture and the lives of those who knew him.
During the final years of his life Breitbart transformed into the Bad Guy, a political assassin in the vast right-wing conspiracy who could fire lightning bolts to sizzle political careers and collapse Marxist organizations. He became the dark lord Voldemort, the great Boogeyman masterminding the Tea Party New Media Revolution.
And as with the horcrux relics of J.K. Rowling’s fantasy, Breitbart planted pieces of his soul everywhere. Now that he’s gone his spirit will exert greater influence. His seeds will continue to grow and everyone will see his touch from beyond the grave.
What will come? Here are five directives Breitbart imprinted on the next generation of conservatives.
5. Focus on the Right Culture War.
As children growing up during the Clintonian Age, “culture war” meant baby boomers obsessing over sex and fantasy violence: V-Chips for TV, abstinence sex education, Monica’s stained dress, Ellen DeGeneres and Mortal Kombat. With an economy booming and twin towers standing, the maintenance of Millennial innocence dominated parental political priorities. And so the conservative media critique remained for a generation.
With Breitbart’s rise, a new generation began to shift culture war to something else. Not Christian morality vs secularist hedonism, but universal American values vs cultural Marxism.
To see the Breitbart principle in action, consider Big Journalism’s recent fight to hold accountable Keith Olbermann for covering up the sexual violence of Occupy Wall Street. (Minimizing the severity of criminal behavior remains a preferred cultural Marxist tactic in the effort to initiate greater societal destabilization for revolution.)
A practical danger hides within Olbermann’s meme. Bad ideas have real-world consequences. How many future victims will think, “Well if Keith Olbermann says this rape-at-occupy stuff is more crap from this racist Breitbart then we might as well go…”?
That’s why the culture war matters. These ideas destroy lives. They must be stopped. But to do that we need to know their origin. And here too Breitbart led the way.
4. Focus on the Marxists…. And call them Marxists.
In Breitbart’s manifesto Righteous Indignation, the sixth chapter “Breakthrough” summarizes the modern progressive movement’s evolution from Rousseau through Marx to the Frankfurt School, Alinsky and our president. In understanding the roots of the political cult dominating the Democratic Party and occupying the White House, we can articulate the real threat. Not Democrats vs. Republicans, Left vs. Right, or Liberals vs. Conservatives.
Those who understand human nature vs the dreamers who do not.
See also Ann Coulter’s Demonic for her variation on this theme in the chapters juxtaposing the American and French Revolutions. Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions develops the analysis to book length. The same arguments that Tea Partiers have with the Occupiers today appeared centuries ago in the essays of rival Enlightenment thinkers.
3. Be a Counterculture Conservative.
At the Atlantic Wire, from a story titled “Andrew Breitbart’s Unfinished Quest for a Punk Rock Republican,”
His project was to take that cultural space back for free market conservatives. To make his brand of economic freedom cool. His cultural war may have aligned him with Republicans like Rick Santorum — who joined mainstream Republicans like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Donald Rumsfeld in mouring his death — but it was decidedly not the same battle. ”Nothing drives me crazier than seeing an abortion van driving along at a conservative convention showing aborted fetuses,” he told GQ’s Lisa DePaulo. “I think that’s the wrong aesthetic.” Breitbart wore his shirts open-collared and his hair floppy, and he made jokes with swears. “I like to call someone a raving cunt every now and then, when it’s appropriate, for effect,” he told The New Yorker. “’You cocksucker.’ I love that kind of language.”
Breitbart lived as the most vocal proponent for a long-neglected conservative mission: taking Cool back from the Marxists. It’s cool to create your own multimedia new empire from nothing, expose corrupt politicians, and taunt empty-headed protesters. Coolest of all, though: father of four.
2. Hack the Media.
A few weeks ago I received a copy of media theorist Douglas Rushkoff’s new graphic novel from DC/Vertigo. A.D.D.: Adolescent Demo Division. In the sci-fi thriller a team of professional video gamers lives immersed in a media world filled with intrigue. Using this narrative, Rushkoff constructs a parable exploring the future of a hyper-connected existence. In an interview with Shaun Manning, Rushkoff explains the origins of his book,
“Most simply, ‘A.D.D.’ asks, ‘what if Attention Deficit Disorder were not a bug but a feature?’ What if the things that we’re seeing emerge from our very media-connected kids, what if these weren’t illnesses or pathologies but rather adaptations? What if the abilities gained by the Newtype children of manga and anime, what if some of the things we’re considering disorders are actually adaptations or reactions to the media environment in which kids are living?” Rushkoff told CBR. “We sort of asked the question, and then the story grew out of that. Ok, if ADD is a feature and not a bug, it means that someone made it happen, someone put it there. Who would do that, and why? I built a world around that ‘what if’ and wanted to get to the place of asking, ‘what would constitute resistance in a world where corporations are trying to program us into submission?’”
I first hoped to review Rushkoff’s book in the context of the real-world equivalent: Breitbart was the prototype of the ADD-as-New-Media-adaptation phenomenon. The man who lived bombarded by endless tweets, phone calls, videos, and news stories wrote about his attention deficit disorder and the way his temperament fit with the virtual environment of an interlinked world wide web.
Breitbart’s abilities as New Media entrepreneur and effective activist stemmed from harnessing his ADD to develop unusual insights into the future of media and technology. Breitbart could make connections before others. Ancient societies called such people prophets. See this anecdote from one of my favorite writers, The Weekly Standard’s Jonathan V. Last:
Breitbart had a peripatetic mind—lots of ideas, most of them big, some of them very, very good. (I remember one conversation with him, about ten years ago, where he spun out, at length, a concept for a micro-blogging service that I told him was crazy. In nearly every particular, he conceived of Twitter four years before Twitter was invented.)
Knowing how our media system functions, understanding it as a programmed virtual reality made by people, Breitbart could hack it to further his patriotic purposes. He knew which buttons to push, whom to charm, whom to provoke, and how to play the role of showman.
In Rushkoff’s graphic novel the Breitbart/ADD way of looking at the world has a fictional equivalent. The protagonists’ eyes go a hazy blue and they “dekh” new understandings of the biases programmed into the media system.
Breitbart taught us how to see the world this way. The mainstream media is not an unbeatable foe, but a pathetic, predictable creature one can manipulate at will. A recent example, almost performed as tribute in Breitbart’s memory: Rush Limbaugh seizing the media narrative in the contraceptive debate.
1. Be the Media.
It’s one thing to call yourself a Tea Partier who loves the free market. It’s another to put the principles into practice by becoming an entrepreneur. That’s how to really make the cultural Marxists hate you.
The greatest threat to those who advocate for wealth re-distribution are the entrepreneurs whose lives prove the amount of wealth in this world is infinite.
Alchemy works. You can transform lead into gold. Andrew’s own life stands as more significant evidence than anything he wrote or published. This man went from drunken deadbeat to Hollywood script-runner to self-described “bitch” of Matt Drudge to the architect of Huffington Post (the world’s first and last $315 million vanity blog) to CEO of his own internet publishing empire capable of crushing ACORN and dethroning rising progressive star Anthony Weiner.
Thus Breitbart’s death inspires the progressive daily beasts and their no label lackeys living “within the niggling license of Master’s Leash” to display their own self-hatred through tasteless denunciations and lies.
If this slacker beach bum from Brentwood can change political history through midwifing a new species of capitalist activism, then what venture can you create if you tried hard enough? And can you pursue that dream with even half the energy and passion and humor and human empathy as Andrew Breitbart?
Thanks for everything, Andrew, we’ll try and keep moving forward with your plan.