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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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March 7, 2014 - 2:37 pm

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As great as it can be to be a conservative at CPAC, it tends to be a weekend of preaching to the choir. Well, that, and getting smeared by the dishonest media.

Media could just as easily stroll around Austin this weekend and mock the self-important, the hipster, the thousands upon thousands of conventioneers who occupy every couch, beanbag, stool and crevice to do exactly what they would be doing if they were at home — namely, burying their heads in their laptops and shutting out the rest of the world. If you’re looking for stereotypes, the city and SXSW are full of them — the non-conformist who wears the same little porkpie hat that every other non-conformist wears, the anti-corporate type checking into Facebook on his iPhone or Galaxy, the libertarian start-up dreamer who espouses every single anti-business leftwing trope known to humanity. They’re all here.

But so are the corporations.

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And the networks.

 

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Seth Meyers’ booth/tent lets you rent bikes to get around town, which is pretty helpful. SXSW has brought a couple hundred thousand extra people here, and the roads aren’t even built to handle Austin’s normal traffic. Parking is insane. A free bike is handy.

Anyway, the media won’t mock any of this and it won’t note the corporate-indie conflict or just make fun of some of the more obvious oddities of the whole thing. The corporations are here and the indie start-ups are here, somewhere, and the politics of the place has a distinctively leftish point of view, which doesn’t make a lot of sense if you think about it. The left these days is all about conformity and one-size-fits-all. The left looks at bankrupt California and successful Texas and wants to force the latter to become more like the former, instead of allowing for differences or admitting that its way isn’t working. Tech is about doing whatever works, and then making that work better or in some new way. Tech development is about freedom. The left, and the politics the left has brought to SXSW, are not about freedom at all.

Here’s one example — a panel talk on how to organize masses online to “disrupt” the “gun lobby.” The “gun lobby” is effective because it consistently defends a basic civil right. It consistently keeps freedom where it belongs — in the hands of citizens, not government. It doesn’t need disrupting. What needs disrupting is the unchecked growth of Washington’s power over our daily lives. But you’d probably have a hard time getting that message across in Austin on a normal day, much less during the biggest so-called tech-libertarian meeting of the year.

If conservatives and libertarians really want to make some inroads with the young and earnest culture leaders and visionaries out there, we could do a lot worse than making ourselves more visible at SXSW. The contradictions between the freedom-loving libertarian vibe of the start-up and the heavy hand of centralized, ever-growing government are there to be exposed. Popping out another speech to another crowd of conservatives in Washington — and having that speech masticated out of all recognition by the mainstream media — is just not going to do the job.

I did bump into Reason’s here group earlier today, and have to credit them for some of the observations about the kudzu-like growth of SXSW’s corporate side. Now we need to start seeing more of the center-right-libertarian set here, visibly, making inroads.

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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Top Rated Comments   
SXSW started as a party thrown by the publisher/ editor/ big dog at the local free newspaper. He was shocked, really shocked, a few years ago to find out that having full-time volunteers working year round on his profitable enterprise meant that they weren't volunteers- they were, as yet unpaid employees. He thought he was an oppressed leftist sticking it to the man. He didn't realize he WAS the man.

When it started, some of the people who kept Austin weird were simply throwing house parties- cyberpunk authors, tech guys and so on. It was very informal. It's just- informal visionaries end up formal big wheels in creative endeavors. And then everyone else shows up, and it goes corporate.

And, it is the worst traffic ever- not just because there are more cars- it's more people from places without guns- they are rude drivers. In Texas, you assume the other car has a gun, and drive politely. Even people out in the suburbs joke about how clueless SXSW drivers are.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
So. A little googling informs me that SXSW ("South by SouthWest") is a combo music/film/techie event in which the techie ("SXSW Interactive") seems to be the biggest draw. SXSW Inc.--a professional, moneymaking outfit, by the way--has been running this since 1987. The film, music and tech events are separate but more or less concurrent at the Austin venue. They also run an SXSW Edu and an SXSW Eco (use your imagination there), also in Austin at other times and an SXSW V2V (straight tech) in Las Vegas. Strange that I've never heard of SXSW, even as a youth. But I had already stopped reading Rolling Stone even then... Either way, a little background would have helped here.

No wonder that the corporate world is represented, as the event has to turn a profit. Looking back at history, I learned that even while the hippie movement was in full swing back in the day, every humorist from Art Buchwald to Bob Hope to Rowan & Martin to MAD Magazine was making fun of their "non-conformity." Nothing new under the sun, and all that.

The Old Money conservatives are really missing the boat here, I recall strolling through the Occupy encampments at McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza in D.C. one December night. I actually conversed with a few people there and played a few rounds in the chess tent (I lost). Every ooky thing about the "movement" was there to see if one actually hung around for more than a few minutes, but so what? The nearby Freedom Plaza setup was more organized (no grass in Freedom Plaza, no overnighters, fewer rats) but among the deeper thinkers there and the basic underlying pseudo-philosophy I discerned a massive lost opportunity that some out-of-the-box Andrew Breitbarts could have picked up and run with.

All the major conservative orgs have their headquarters in D.C. and it would have been a perfect moment to set up "our" own tents, rallies and teach-ins. We both hate the (crony capitalist) "banksters", don't we? We both hate the (politically-connected) "one-percenters", don't we? Instead of turning up our noses at the spectacle and denouncing it from afar, we could have dived right in, stolen the show, and become the choice of a new generation for a fraction of the bank it took to set up "ORCA."

Again, real "Hope" and real "Change" are not going to come from the Old, White Men and their school tie, florsheim-wearing, ladder-climbing acolytes who are currently running the (our) "establishment."
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (12)
All Comments   (12)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
I really, really miss Andrew Brietbart at times like this. He would have been out there on his inline skates zipping around and mocking them to their faces.

Unfortunately the right wing segment that would do this seems to have died with Andrew.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good Lord I hate SXSW. Essentially a 100 square mile traffic jam.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
The trendy hipster locals don't ever refer to this as "SXSW". It is only known as "South by". Traffic is insane, but Austin traffic is rarely sane.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment

"What needs disrupting is the unchecked growth of Washington’s power over our daily lives. But you’d probably have a hard time getting that message across in Austin on a normal day, much less during the biggest so-called tech-libertarian meeting of the year."

Metastatic government is congruent with their political ideas, so the creeping erosion of individual liberties is invisible to them. To take an example from your essay, if the Second Amendment were repealed tomorrow, they wouldn't feel a loss if they noticed at all.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
I couldn't get out of downtown fast enough on Friday. I made the mistake of not bringing my lunch, and had to settle for a $9 hipster hotdog, after being accosted by people touting something PBS was doing.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
SXSW started as a party thrown by the publisher/ editor/ big dog at the local free newspaper. He was shocked, really shocked, a few years ago to find out that having full-time volunteers working year round on his profitable enterprise meant that they weren't volunteers- they were, as yet unpaid employees. He thought he was an oppressed leftist sticking it to the man. He didn't realize he WAS the man.

When it started, some of the people who kept Austin weird were simply throwing house parties- cyberpunk authors, tech guys and so on. It was very informal. It's just- informal visionaries end up formal big wheels in creative endeavors. And then everyone else shows up, and it goes corporate.

And, it is the worst traffic ever- not just because there are more cars- it's more people from places without guns- they are rude drivers. In Texas, you assume the other car has a gun, and drive politely. Even people out in the suburbs joke about how clueless SXSW drivers are.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Okedoke. Bryan, I really think you should have led off by kindly explaining to us not-so-hipsters just what in the double-reciprocating, MfckgGoatfckgSht this SXSW is. I confess I've never heard of it and I assure you I have NOT yet reached the "you kids get off my lawn" stage in my personal development.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
a panel talk on how to organize masses online to “disrupt” the “gun lobby.”

Will you go and accost them on their b*llsh*t? How do we get in and counter-protest them?
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
So. A little googling informs me that SXSW ("South by SouthWest") is a combo music/film/techie event in which the techie ("SXSW Interactive") seems to be the biggest draw. SXSW Inc.--a professional, moneymaking outfit, by the way--has been running this since 1987. The film, music and tech events are separate but more or less concurrent at the Austin venue. They also run an SXSW Edu and an SXSW Eco (use your imagination there), also in Austin at other times and an SXSW V2V (straight tech) in Las Vegas. Strange that I've never heard of SXSW, even as a youth. But I had already stopped reading Rolling Stone even then... Either way, a little background would have helped here.

No wonder that the corporate world is represented, as the event has to turn a profit. Looking back at history, I learned that even while the hippie movement was in full swing back in the day, every humorist from Art Buchwald to Bob Hope to Rowan & Martin to MAD Magazine was making fun of their "non-conformity." Nothing new under the sun, and all that.

The Old Money conservatives are really missing the boat here, I recall strolling through the Occupy encampments at McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza in D.C. one December night. I actually conversed with a few people there and played a few rounds in the chess tent (I lost). Every ooky thing about the "movement" was there to see if one actually hung around for more than a few minutes, but so what? The nearby Freedom Plaza setup was more organized (no grass in Freedom Plaza, no overnighters, fewer rats) but among the deeper thinkers there and the basic underlying pseudo-philosophy I discerned a massive lost opportunity that some out-of-the-box Andrew Breitbarts could have picked up and run with.

All the major conservative orgs have their headquarters in D.C. and it would have been a perfect moment to set up "our" own tents, rallies and teach-ins. We both hate the (crony capitalist) "banksters", don't we? We both hate the (politically-connected) "one-percenters", don't we? Instead of turning up our noses at the spectacle and denouncing it from afar, we could have dived right in, stolen the show, and become the choice of a new generation for a fraction of the bank it took to set up "ORCA."

Again, real "Hope" and real "Change" are not going to come from the Old, White Men and their school tie, florsheim-wearing, ladder-climbing acolytes who are currently running the (our) "establishment."
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks.
I suppose I'm not the only person who is maddened by the use of an anagram in a story with no explanation of wtf that anagram means.

Oddly, in the case is takes more syllables to sound-out SXSW that it does to say the name.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Better you than me brother.

Oh, and don't be jogging with your earphones on least you run afoul of the local constabulary.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Or maybe, run afoul of common sense.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
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