5 Leaders of the New Conservative Counter-Culture

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Andrew Klavan is right: Conservatives are starting to see the importance of culture to furthering conservative and libertarian ideas. While the news might not yet have reached inside Fortress Beltway, out in the grassroots people understand that focusing exclusively on the next election cycle is a one-dimensional strategy that is ultimately doomed to fail.

Logic and argument are limited in their power to persuade; since the time of Homer and the Bible, human beings have learned primarily through storytelling. Whether it is our own experience, or the experiences of others to which we can relate, the power of narrative is the ability to change hearts and minds.

To date, the conservative movement has been primarily a “left brain” phenomenon. This July, my colleague Adam Bellow wrote an article in National Review announcing that the long-neglected conservative right brain is waking up and deserves equal support and attention.

Many of these new wave creators understand that it’s not enough to work in isolation. As Kathy Shaidle notes, conservative creators need to master distribution as well as production – in the digital age the two are inextricably linked.

At Liberty Island, where I’m chief operating officer and editorial gadfly, we’ve made it our business (literally) to identify, distribute, and promote the best conservative creators—smart people who know how to tell a great story, produce awesome music, or otherwise inspire the mind and the imagination.

Here’s a short list of some under-the-radar creators working across a wide variety of mediums who you’ll be hearing from a lot more in future. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments, I’d love to know who I’ve missed.

1. Big Dawg Music Radio 

Big Dawg is a virtual record label for conservative musicians, complete with a 24/7 streaming radio channel, bookings (including providing all the live music for CPAC last year), a social media platform, and a showcase for folks to post their music.

Big Dawg puts out a retro, underground vibe that fits perfectly with its counter-cultural mission. At a time when the music business is undergoing rapid and radical change, these guys are taking a fresh look at distribution and promotion of independent musicians to the conservative market.

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2. Sarah Hoyt 

In an article at BuzzFeed, Adam Bellow referred to Sarah as our “literary den mother.” Although he was weirdly rebuked by angry feminists for saying so, I can’t improve on that description. In addition to writing more than 20 science fiction and fantasy books of her own, Sarah mentors numerous other authors, runs an extremely active and passionate online community for her fans and fans of other “Human Wave” fiction, writes a regular column for PJ Media [editor's note: self-publishers can submit to her and Charlie Martin's Book Plug Friday] and is, well, pretty much everywhere.  Get to know Sarah -- read her books, follow her blog. You won’t be sorry.

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3. Frank Fleming 

Frank is familiar to many PJ readers for his humor writing, his hysterical blog, and his wicked Twitter feed. Now he’s taking the next step to become a true multimedia star. His new book Punch Your Inner Hippie is just out; and his first scifi novel, Superego, will be available in time for Christmas and Chanukah -- that is, if your idea of “celebrating the season” is to read about a sociopathic, genetically enhanced hit man and his explosive adventures across the galaxy. I know it’s mine.

(Full disclosure: Liberty Island is Frank’s publisher, so I stand to make millions if everyone reading this buys dozens copies of Superego for all your friends. But please don’t let that influence your decision).

4. Emergent Order 

All you need to know about this Austin, Texas-based creative agency is that they are the geniuses behind The Kronies, for my money one of the best viral videos of all time.

These guys specialize in telling stories that resonate on social media and which, in their words, “bring complex and provocative ideas to life with world-class storytelling and production.” I’d say those are useful skills to have.

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5. Right-Wing Riot 

The best way to think about The Riot is as a collective of conservative insanity. The minds behind the acclaimed Truesbury comic that is scientifically proven to give Garry Trudeau heartburn, these folks also turn their ample talents to other forms of politically-incorrect agitation.

(We’re lucky to have The Riot camping inside the Liberty Island tent pissing out, rather than the reverse)

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At LI we debated long and hard over what to call the rising right-of-center counterculture. Is it conservative? Libertarian? Independent? Contrarian? In the end we settled on the term conservative, but only as a matter of convenience and for practical rather than ideological reasons. We certainly don't want to suggest that conservative cultural products can only be enjoyed by other conservatives. In reality there is a broad spectrum on which work by conservatives falls, ranging from explicitly partisan to thematically conservative to completely apolitical. We obviously think conservatives deserve a wider audience for their creative work, just as they do for their ideas. But we felt we had to yield to the logic that, initially at least, the core audience for conservative fiction is going to be other conservatives (broadly defined). Ultimately, though, the purpose is not to create a separate cultural sphere for conservatives similar to what exists for (say) Christians, but a feeder system that serves to identify and promote the best work by the most talented artists on the right.

Are you one of them? We’d love to hear from you. Send us your best writing, art, video, or music to [email protected] We are always open to new material, and are usually running a cool contest or two: "Enter Liberty Island’s Non-Traditional Holiday Fiction Writing Contest"

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image illustrations via shutterstock / Ron and Joe /  Alain Lauga