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The Counter-Counter-Cultural Revolution

(AP Photo)

Those depressed by the apparently unstoppable disintegration of America will probably take no comfort that the Bud Light trans campaign failed miserably. Though this might seem a setback for the woke onslaught, it is likely only a temporary hindrance. The ad people behind the failed beer campaign will retreat into their vast carelessness, award-winning creativity — or whatever keeps them together — and be ready to strike again in a few months.

Despite the costs to them — Bud Light recorded declining sales for six consecutive weeks after a product endorsement from transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney — the woke seem unlikely to back down. Heedless of the Bud disaster, Target launched a line of transgender clothing like a Great War army with an ample supply of conscripts to feed to the machine guns. “One more attack,” they must be saying to themselves, “and the ordinary people will break to buy a moment’s peace.” The cost to Target has already been immense. “In a sign that boycotts might be becoming more effective, Target’s stock dropped nearly five times more than Bud Light’s at the same point in the boycott.”

Unfazed, the woke seem relentless, achieving great success by splashing paint on art, pouring coal into fountains, blocking roads, screaming. They profoundly understand the power of disruption on ordinary life, knowing if a tantrum goes on long enough, the nine-to-fivers must yield because the disruption won’t stop, not ever. Perhaps the best example of the Left Wing juggernaut is the $4 trillion “debt ceiling deal” between a GOP congress and the Biden administration, which is being described as a complete surrender to Washington’s insatiable appetite for spending because if GOP leader McCarthy does not surrender, government spending must stop, proving yet again the incorrigibility of the system.

It’s a mistake to think wokeism is ordinary political blackmail, only that “if you don’t give us what we want, we’ll ruin your world!” It’s much more sinister and nihilistic than that, echoing the famous line of Johnny Cash. “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.” The current cultural war is not about mere money goals; it is about playing for all the marbles, including the soul of a civilization.

Yet something is definitely changing. Despite its lack of substance, the debt ceiling negotiations between the president and Congress yielded at least a nominal acknowledgment that there’d come a day when the federal government would have to live within its means. It’s an unheard-of admission in principle, though sadly not yet in practice.

It’s also becoming apparent that there isn’t enough ideologically pure energy to power a modern economy, so changes are quietly happening. Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist at Harvard, noted that “Bono endorses Nuclear Now (the Oliver Stone film and the climate change strategy).” In Nuclear Now, “Oliver Stone passionately presents the possibility of meeting the challenge through the power of nuclear energy.” This is so heretical that it may be worth checking to see if the magnetic poles have reversed places. Adjustments are being made on the length of the political line. Half-Empty a Year Ago, Cruises Are Now Packed Like Sardines. “Anyone expecting a repeat of the ample elbow room on many cruises last summer should prepare. The crowds are back at sea.” The liberal narrative on COVID-19 has slowly been withdrawn and changed stealthily. 

The slow pivot on COVID, the shocked realization there might be practical limits on debt, and the sullen admission that nuclear power could be useful after all, are encouraging signs that reality — remember reality? — might actually affect politics after all. Reality, after all, exists independently of the Narrative. Who can forget the famous line in Tolkien about the inviolability of stars?

There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.

Is a slow change underway? Is the Tower teetering? Maybe that was just wishful thinking. Perhaps nothing ever changes and the clouds close over the light and leave us again on the darkling plain. As some have lamented on the Internet: do people really believe a man or a vote can rescue America from its fate? “It’s time to grow up, kids … America is like an immoral ICBM that has left the silo with no way to recall it. It will go where it’s going until the explosion.”

Some sort of explosion certainly seems likely. First Trump, then DeSantis proved that open political hostility to aggressive left-wing cultural warfare is a viable strategy. The old bipartisan GOP and Dem politicians may have little real credibility, as the McCarthy deal illustrates, with these new gladiators in the arena. What the Left once thought was impossible, the emergence of a militant antithesis to their ideology, proved possible after all.

The inconceivable has occurred. Conflict is now an option, though perhaps still a distant one. This may be why the Left is reacting with such outrage to the transformation and radicalization of their foes. The possibility of an explosion was not anticipated in the transgressive script and is therefore seen as “illegitimate.” In fairness, the traditional conservatives never planned for the collapse of the system either and are just as worried. When one party engages in risky behavior, a predictable surrender is at least possible, but when two competitors engage in risky behavior, all the bets are off. Ooga. Ooga. Brace for impact.

Yet a catastrophic clash, something exceedingly destructive, though possible, is not inevitable. While the basic issues will not go away — Social Security System is heading for bankruptcy, narrative notwithstanding — things are changing at a granular level and this will have an effect. People are taking their various stands at a grassroots level, though naturally we only hear about celebrities like JK Rowling, Elon Musk, and baseball player Trevor Williams going into open opposition against the ‘immoral ICBM’.

This changes the texture of the impending collision, perhaps even its severity. The idea that an apparently doomed society may escape the worst on account of the innocent is as old as Genesis when Abraham pleads for Sodom. “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?” The argument that change may grow unseen in “hidden lives” was repeated by George Eliot, “..for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

If America gets off lightly, it may owe its escape to the growing number of hidden lives, the cumulation of unseen choices that together sometimes make a revolution. Moral and political diversity was certainly in the mind of the architects of federal America, who gave the States several, not just two ways to go. Maybe it is hopeless, but hope has been scattered too widely to make despair complete. The clouds may still part and the star may still shine. We got this far. We can go further still.

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