It’s lazy days of summer, so here’s some low-hanging fruit: a long essay by Adam Bellow at NR, advocating for a conservative literary counter-culture to the totalitarian thing we’ve got now.
What is it that Bellow actually wants? Is it: let a thousand flowers bloom, so long as they are all paranoid dystopias about the liberal fascist not-so-distant-future? Surely not. A new T.S. Eliot? But what’s stopping him? Ignatius P. Reilly, but not treated like some sort of dunce? What? Consider this bit:
By harnessing the passions of offended minorities to the power of social media, the Left has created a hurricane of politicized indignation that can be directed wherever it likes and levels everything it touches. Meanwhile the general response is the same as it was for me at Clarion: embarrassed silence and the fear of being targeted yourself. This is a key point, for just as bad as outright censorship (which cannot be imposed to the extent the Left would like) is the censorship people impose on themselves in order to avoid being punished with the loss of their reputation and livelihood.
The Left has adopted this strategy for obvious reasons: They cannot win the argument on its merits, and unlike their counterparts elsewhere they can’t consistently win (or steal) elections.
It seems like the aspiration is this: a safe place where I can think these thoughts without fear of being mocked or accused of being in the wrong. But which thoughts are they? Bellow doesn’t say.
The new conservative counterculture is a rebellion from below and from without. Fueled by the rise of digital self-publishing technologies, it is a simultaneous revolt against the hierarchical control of mass media and the ideological narrowing of acceptable discourse.
But what is it that he wants to say that is beyond the bounds of current discourse?
Recently Mel Brooks observed that one of his funniest movies, Blazing Saddles, couldn’t be made today.
So the goal is Blazing Saddles II: Blaze Harder?
This cresting wave of right-wing creativity is raw and untamed. But what it lacks in polish it makes up for in invention and energy.
But if the problem is supposed to be that conservatives are currently too daunted by the discourse police, then the problem is the opposite: too much polish, as oppressed conservatives try (unsuccessfully) to ‘pass’, not enough raw, untamed energy.
Now, many liberals believe (and many on the right privately agree) that conservatives can’t “do” culture. They can’t produce great music, they can’t be funny, and they can’t keep their political ideas out of the way of their stories and novels.
But we aren’t going to form a gulag archipelago of conservative writing programs just to teach conservatives how to keep their conservative ideas from shining through. Isn’t the idea supposed to be to wave your conservative freak flag proudly? That’s the point of the counter-culture analogy, right?
These are the voices not of ideologues but of free individuals exercising their birthright as Americans to think and write with fearless independence. But they are up against tremendous odds. Scattered all over the country, they are isolated geographically and culturally. They feel embattled and excluded. Many are aware that they are taking a risk and prefer to publish pseudonymously.
What non-ideological thing are they saying, which they are allegedly being persecuted for saying?
Back to the beach for me!