Andrew Breitbart famously counselled conservatives in the US that politics are downstream of culture. He was wrong: politics and culture cannot be meaningfully distinguished. Especially when the stakes are existential, as they now are.
This error in thinking isn’t the fault of the late Mr Breitbart — it’s simply an error of accepting the technocratic frame. The belief that “social”, “economic”, or “foreign” policies can be chosen from a menu and applied to the real world. As though they were RPG stat modifiers without any second order effects or consequences.
In reality, you get exactly the culture which “policy” sees fit to subsidise. Epidemic levels of single motherhood, black girl magic in the cockpits of airliners, DEI statements as a requirement of admission to university PhD programs, Drag Queen Story Time, PrEP for dogs — and anything that materially or spiritually resembles these things — are all cultural features made possible through political agitation. You can’t “just get the economy right” or “just get law and order right” when both the economy and the law have been hijacked to support the cultural programs of your enemy.
A turn towards the apolitical has been a defining factor of the “mainstream” right’s retreat into the margins for as long as most of us have been alive. We are all aware of this, but we should take great pains to remember it — this is a losing strategy. It always will be. Indeed, the only circumstances under which anyone would cede such large amounts of territory in the first place are those of complete hopelessness.
Every victory is, by definition, the counterpart to a defeat. And the only possible path to “victory” for us implies that our Weltanschauung prevails entirely over that of the massed and greasy bugman armies of the other side.
Even if you have already acknowledged this fact intellectually, it probably still feels like a daunting prospect. Total victory doesn’t seem very likely where we are now. But before you surrender to despair, I’d like you to consider something very important. To win, you only have to convince 5%.
The past few years — and in particular, COVID — have one central lesson for the man willing to learn it: most people are culturally, politically, morally, and socially inert. The NPC meme is a genuine and true statement about reality.
The overwhelming majority of the population has no substantive views of its own. It simply regards the current “consensus” as correct. If it’s what everyone else thinks, it must be right. If it’s currently law, it must be moral. They enquire no further than this.
Fortunately for you, they don’t need to. If the “consensus” changes, they’ll happily believe whatever it changes into. “Free minds” are the only element you need to persuade, and these are remarkably thin on the ground. I said 5% above. In reality, the number is likely much smaller. But even a fraction of this small number will be more than enough to get the job done.
With all that said, winning might be simple, but it certainly won’t be easy. “Our” sphere, whatever you might like to call it, is still in its political infancy. The final victory might take decades of work to achieve, and we would be foolish not to expect tactical victories and defeats to occur along the way.
I want to say all of this in the hope that it will provide some encouragement and morale. At the moment, visible victories are few and far between. But I also want to warn you against a very specific type of demoralisation. And to do that, we unfortunately need to talk about hobbits.
Curtis Yarvin’s recent pronouncements on the issue of the culture war (framed as a conflict between hobbits and elves) put on full display one of the most consistent errors in his epistemology: he is an elitist who has a very confused idea as to the nature of power in human societies.
His hobbit/elf schema (which is really only a loose re-skin of the vaishiya/brahmin or morlock/eloi dichotomy he used years ago while writing Unqualified Reservations) does get one self-evident thing right: there is a segment of the population which is both unfit to rule, and for the most part has no interest in ruling.
Where his analysis fails is in his characterisation of the bounds of this group, and his definition of the other side of the coin, those who can rule.
Yarvin’s “elves”, by his own definitions, constitute an enormous group which at its greatest extent includes anyone who has ever graduated from some form of tertiary education. His most recent definition, “[those who have] fully entered modernity, [those] who live for self actualisation” is actually even more extreme, and almost precludes the existence of “hobbits” at all.
There is not a single person in any western country who has not “fully entered modernity”. Not even the Amish can really make this claim. “Self actualisation”, for its part, is a concept that’s been in circulation for over 100 years, and in its academic conception is taken to be a goal towards which all humans strive innately. In spiritual terms, it is the drive to telos. In material terms, it is the drive to most fully express one’s genetic programming. It cannot, therefore, be the province of any one social group.
Or, to put it another way, the hobbit at his grill is fully self actualised according to his own potential and temperament.
What Yarvin is in fact driving at is a basic distinction of character and spirit that might very well be a difference in basic biology. Most people simply do not have the intelligence, motivation, resources, or organisational capacity to rule themselves or anyone else. However, almost none of these people are in Yarvin’s audience.
In fact many of these people fall under the umbrella of Yarvin’s “elves”. Most “elves” are not political, social, or cultural taste-makers, they are exactly as inert in these spheres as Yarvin believes hobbits to be.
The average state department or pentagon officer, the average college professor — to say nothing of the average college graduate — has no power whatsoever. They might be able to exercise power as the temporary deputies of those who do —provided they act according to their interests — but this is not the same as being in power, or holding power oneself.
A pawn is not a player. When the culture war is eventually won, most of Yarvin’s “elves” will be nowhere to be found, because their convictions are not their own. They are the echo of the consensus, and they will just as eagerly echo the new consensus.
For all the trails they have blazed, the main flaw of Yarvin and his ilk is a tendency towards overcomplication. None of our present problems are unsolvable. None of our present enemies are beyond defeat. Perhaps most importantly, the “structure” of our system doesn’t actually matter that much. The system is simply whatever the current ruling elite — the shapers of the culture —d esire it to be.
None of this is beyond change, but that change is not going to come from shadowy cadres of Yarvinite “dark elves”.
(As a brief parenthetical: by Yarvin’s own definition of what a “dark elf” is, an elf sympathetic to hobbit ends, isn’t the very event he’s describing as a hollow victory a textbook example of a dark elf op? His argument defeats itself.)
I believe the change will come from you. If you are reading this, the chances are you are fortunate enough to be one of the small portion of the population capable of genuine independent thought. Congratulations. It will be your privilege to suffer and triumph in the creation of a new culture.
By this I don’t simply mean through the means of the arts; although the arts are an excellent vehicle for this as we’ve seen. The culture that will ultimately “win” the war is still in its infancy, forming slowly and haltingly, as a product of all of the actions we are choosing to take right now. I don’t know exactly what form it will take, but neither does Yarvin, and nor does anyone else. But what I do know is that it will be wholly unlike anything what has come before it. You may yet live to see man made wonders beyond your aspirations.