Loving the Sinner, part 3: Political Ecology

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Political cooperation?

In Part 1 we covered guilt and punishment, but not sin.  In Part 2 we finally got to sin, but without discovering the latent meaning of sin for political cooperation.  In today’s installment we will tackle political cooperation, but the sinister influence of sin will temporarily recede into the background.  As we place the final pieces into the political-cooperation puzzle in Part 4, suddenly we will see sin lurking all around us.  Then I’ll conclude by quickly addressing miscellaneous issues in Part 5.

 

Uniformity

My mantra on political cooperation within the AltRight has always been: “Combined arms!” But the message never seems to get across.  Everywhere I turn, I see more demands for purity, demands for the Right to function as a monolithic, homogenous mass.

tumblr_ldx4twzokf1qz7lxdo1_500_largeTo some extent, I understand.  Coalitions are dynamic, for one thing, which is a delicate way of saying “unstable”.  From the perspective of an outsider, any coalition looks like a disaster in motion.  If an alliance’s different factions manage to coordinate at all the result usually looks a little strange, and if these factions’ common enemy doesn’t manage to shatter their coalition, they’ll do it themselves after the victory parade. 

So from the perspective of an insider, factions are anxiety-inducing.  The collapse of one’s coalition or its diversion in a new direction by internal politics would be equally upsetting outcomes.  Very unlucky coalitions see both in quick succession!  First internal politics steers the coalition on a course for disaster, and soon after comes the final ka-boom.  If you could only purge one or two factions the rump would have fewer disagreements, less conflict, and fewer untenable compromises.  (Or so the thinking goes.)

Sometimes there are tactical benefits to presenting yourself to the world as a monolithic front, too.  There is a time and a place for uniformity: that is what Fashy v. Twiggy was about.

But those situations are few and far between.  Please join me in the following thought experiment.  Imagine, for a moment, that you had your way.  Imagine you have your very own political movement, with whatever assets and audiences you think approximates the actual reach of the AltRight today, but run by a hard core of 100 or so operatives who are exactly like you.  These 100 clone-operatives are your eyes and ears; and hands, feet, and mouth… or if this metaphor is getting a little too Hobbesian for you, let’s say these operatives are your tools, their loyalty is your most valuable asset, and deciding how to allocate their manpower is the most important decision you face.

leviathanYour movement – let’s call it the Gr8Right – will exist in the same kind of political/cultural ecosystem that the AltRight exists in today.  For your movement to live up to its gr8 potential, you need to assign your loyal operatives to the same kinds of tasks the AltRight zealots(entryists) are working on today.  Some of them will need to go on TV. Others will lead little street protests and go face-to-face with antifa.  You might want some of you operatives to tour college campuses; some will play at e-book merchant/publicist/huckster; some will infiltrate mainstream political parties.  Would you set a few of your soldiers to work writing essays?  Recording music, podcasts, and other propaganda?  Heck, maybe the Gr8Right needs one dude who just devotes all his time to stand-up comedy.  In addition, you’ll need to assign at least a few to attend to logistics and mundane organizational details.

We’re only scratching the surface of the vibrant ecosystem that would surround the Gr8Right, and all the roles in that ecosystem you need your operatives to fill.  But we can already see a problem: you can’t do all these things.  Not because there are only 24 hours in a day (you have 100 clone-operatives, remember) but because each role calls for someone with certain skills, certain personality traits, and certain ways of thinking about the world.  No two roles are exactly the same, and some are quite different. You may be extraordinarily talented, my dear reader, but even you have limits!  If you’re good for writing essays and auditing tax returns, you’ve never been in a fight in your life.  If you’re an imposing presence in a street demonstration and an explosive, fiery speaker, maybe you don’t have the patience to be an infiltrator. 

Where does that leave the Gr8Right?  You can go back to the drawing board, start the thought experiment a second time, and stipulate that your 100 operatives are no longer just like you, but are instead exactly identical to a hero of your choice.  They still have the same problem.  Anyone you’d care to name would be lousy in many roles; for most people, there would be some role that they (quite literally) couldn’t do at all.

So much for uniformity.

Articulation

Excelsior, excelsior!  Now we’re on Gr8Right Mk. III: this time let’s imagine your operatives as just like you in their political principles, but each of them has a unique psyche, education, and personal background.  Let’s bracket, for now, the question of whether ideological uniformity in such a varied group is possible; for the sake of argument I’ll grant you that a man’s ideology is like the color of a car, and the dealer can get you any model in any color you want.  And we’ll also bracket an even more important question, namely how the Gr8Right’s operatives keep their political principles synchronized over time.  (Who will meme the memeticists?) 

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#Teamwork

Gr8Right mk III is doing much better.  We’ve given it operatives who can throw a fun party, others who can throw off a tail, and at least a few who can throw out refutations of whatever intellectual attacks the Gr8Right attracts.  These operatives aren’t nearly as dysfunctional as they were in Mk. I and Mk. II.  Allocating manpower to different tasks would be much more satisfying. 

But you still have a problem: what if different roles in the ecosystem call for different political principles, too?

Take your infiltrators as an example.  In Mk. I, I pointed out that spontaneity (or to give it a different name, impatience) might be a hindrance if you’re trying to infiltrate a rival political party.  Patience is important for an infiltrator because it’s hard to pretend to be a normie Republican or a normie Democrat if you aren’t one.  You have to remember to do all the things the normie would do, and not do anything the normie wouldn’t do, and keep doing that for years on end.

You could argue the perfect infiltrator would not be part of the Gr8Right at all, but a staunch GOP globalist or a staunch shitlib Democrat.  He can do a brilliant job infiltrating the party!  He can give all of his colleagues the impression he’s a globalist or a shitlib for years on end, totally effortlessly (because he really is one).

The only wrinkle is that once a staunch Republicrat has “infiltrated” his party and risen to a high rank, his political principles tell him to… advance the agenda of the Republicrat Party as best he can.  So maybe the Eternal Normie isn’t exactly infiltrator-material.

But that doesn’t mean that genuine sympathy with a group’s principles doesn’t make it easier to infiltrate them.  If all your operatives have identical political principles, then your patient/discreet operatives are going to have the easiest time infiltrating whichever established organization is closest to your group’s principles.  All the other orgs require more make-believe, dissimulation, and secrecy.  As they get ideologically remote from your actual principles they get increasingly hard for your team to infiltrate.  It would be a lot easier if you had a little bit of dissent in your ranks, and all your operatives had a few oddball opinions!  In that case you would just tell each infiltrator to join the org he was closest to, and which he could most easily subvert.

The pattern is clearest for infiltration (which is why I used it as an example, it’s not like we’re trying to infiltrate anyone else, haha) but the insight is general.  Each role in the Gr8Right ecosystem requires not only skills, but an operative who can easily feign certain ideological stances.  The operatives who will do the most convincing job are the ones who actually believe what they have to appear to believe. 

press-hating-trump-supporter-yells-at-journalists-at-florida-rally-via-screencap-800x430

That guy threatening the Lügenpresse with show trials will do a better job intimidating them if he actually believes in summary executions for subversives.  Whoever you send off on a campus tour to demand free speech for conservative students, well: it would be awfully convenient if he really did cherish the marketplace of ideas.

Even for tasks like video-production with fairly generic, apolitical skillsets, each producer will create videos that appeal most to viewers who share his ideas.  The more ideologically uniform your army of videographers is, the smaller their potential audience.  If you cast a wider net, you catch more fish.

What are we up to now? Mk. IV?

colorful-coral-reef-824x0_q71_crop-scalePolitical Ecosystems

Even our little “Gr8Right” thought experiment hasn’t quite captured what I mean by combined arms.  The way I described the political ecosystem in the thought experiment makes each role sound like a different slot on HR’s org-chart: different job description, different qualifications, maybe a different set of co-workers you need to get along with.  That’s not wrong, but it doesn’t sound very much like an ecosystem

What characterizes an ecosystem is feedback cycles between ecological niches.  Abstractly, think of each niche as a node in a network.  Whether a creature can survive and thrive in its niche is determined by the environmental selection pressures it experiences there. Many of these pressures are exerted by populations occupying other niches in the same ecosystem, and the occupants of the original niche exert reciprocal pressure back on these, if not directly then through their effects on nearby populations.

Take the cycles in Canadian mammal populations (allegedly) observed by the Hudson Bay Company’s fur traders as far back as the 18th century. Lynxes hunt hares.  When lynx populations are low, dumb bunnies survive and breed.  Soon there are lots of hares, which means even feeble lynxes catch a few hares.  These lynxes survive and breed, selection pressure on hares intensifies, hare population collapses, vice versa for lynxes: and we’re back to square one.

littlebluestemIn this case, reciprocal pressure between the size of predator population and the prey population keep both in check.  But if we look at the ecosystem from the grass’s point of view, it’s the hares who are the predators!  The lynx, a valuable ally, exerts an indirect selection pressure by culling the hares that nibble the grass.  Some of these alliances are so powerful one species actually evolves traits that boost the population of the other.  This coevolution can continue to the point that symbiotic pairs of organisms require one another to function.

chinese-mountains-with-poem-in-ink-brush-calligraphy-of-love-poem-peter-v-quenterIn some ecosystems the environment of each niche is so completely determined by feedback from other niches that the entire ecosystem collapses if a distortions in a few feedback relationships send the key nodes into a negative feedback loop.  Mencius observed that mountain summits which support thick forests before they have been logged become barren rock afterwards, barely able to support any plant life. Some rainforest ecosystems are fragile in the same way.  The forest canopy shelters the soil from erosion; tree roots (and those of other plants) hold soil in place; the soil in turn absorbs water, sustaining root-systems and preventing erosive runoff.  With the soil stable, the plant life it sustains create dead organic matter that microbes and fungi will decompose into new soil.  Ecosystems as vibrant as coral reefs and as unvarying as semi-arid grasslands provide examples of equally powerful feedback loops.

“Fine,” you say, “ecosystem implies, not just a variety of niches which reward different strengths, but a system of inter-reliant niches.  But what’s your point?  We’re not rabbits. We’re not rhizomes.  This has nothing to do with the political ecosystem of the Right, much less sin, unless you’re trying to suggest that we eat Cernovich’s brains or something.”

Analogies only go so far.  The nodes and networks in a coral reef might help you picture how feedback loops generated by different political niches allow their occupants to function as a team, but we don’t need to feast on each other to recycle nutrients.  Any cannibalism should remain strictly metaphorical.

Series: Loving the Sinner

  1. Part I (Introduction) 
  2. Part II (Sin)
  3. Part III (Ecology) < You are here
  4. Part IV (Parties)
  5. Part V (Postscript)
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