What Is To Be Done?

Over the course of several decades, the managerial ruling class has taken over. Republicans and Democrats each had their share of formal power, but the Left proceeded apace, regardless of who was technically in command, slowly capturing universities, large corporations, the media, and government bureaucracies. It now has power that is largely immune from elections.

My last essay explained why there has been so little resistance to a ruling class that has cruelly tightened the screws during the coronavirus pandemic and likely stolen a national election. As explained in that piece, economic insecurity and social isolation are the key structural foundations of the managerial class’ power. Insecurity and isolation are obstacles to an effective resistance by what is left of Middle America. 

In the comments section, some said, roughly, “OK, you explain why. But what should we do?” This is a reasonable question. Much of what follows is personal and economic, as the power of the system is personal and economic. 

To the extent political activity can succeed, it must be intertwined with these economic and personal reforms. Any purely political efforts should be local and issue-specific, rather than channeling our energies into a doomed bid for national power. 

Economic Independence

As so much of the system depends upon individuals’ embeddedness within it, separating oneself from that system is a large part of the answer. This requires a radical program of individual self-improvement. 

Various habits render one fragile and insecure, not least debt. Thus, avoiding debt and getting out of debt has to be one of the bedrock habits of any dissident. This is particularly true for young people, who are sold a siren song of credentials funded by student loans, when state colleges, learning a trade, or investing money in a business would earn a larger return.

So long as one is leveraged, in debt, spending to the hilt, and in dire need of a paycheck, one can be cajoled or manipulated into doing the system’s bidding. The more one has in the bank, and the lower one’s monthly obligations, the easier it is to stand up for oneself. 

This may take some time; reducing expenses is a painful process for most. But the McMansions, vacations, credit cards, fancy meals, and all the rest are luxuries one can live without, particularly when one recognizes them as tools of social control. 

The coronavirus has been a massive disaster. But one silver lining is how many of us learned to enjoy simple pleasures like exercise and home-cooked meals. Look at money the way the wealthy and powerful do: as a means of securing personal independence. 

When one’s tastes and expenses are lower, the brass ring is not quite as attractive. After all, even high achievement in the managerial system is fraught with risk. Consider the case of Google engineer James Damore. Making a handsome living as a software engineer at a behemoth corporation, he still lost his job for the “thought crime” of acknowledging sex differences. 

Even higher up the food chain, the former head of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, lost his position for making a small donation to a campaign opposing gay marriage in California. In short, one’s livelihood in corporations, the government, or any large organization is fraught with risk if one is the least bit right of center, and doubly so if one is a white male. 

This is less of a risk for an electrician or plumber or someone else engaged in useful, local work. Nothing is perfect, of course. There are tradeoffs. But the costs of debt and insecurity from trying to thrive in the managerial system are substantial. 

Intellectual Independence

We live in an age of lies. Academic institutions are devoted less and less to inquiry and more and more to indoctrination. They also function to provide credentials for future leaders of the managerial system. The student loan program is a massive transfer payment system from the aspirational middle class to the wealthy.

There is little way for anyone of integrity to thrive in this system. Often, one must choose between success and one’s self-respect and honor. Consider the example of someone like General George Casey. After the Fort Hood massacre, he humiliated himself and said, “Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.” This is not a legacy to be proud of. 

It is not easy to unplug from the constant propaganda and groupthink. It is seductive and intertwined with moral judgments. But a real education is readily available to each of us: simply read old books. 

The real history of our country, our civilization, our faith, and our people is there, along with much practical wisdom on every subject under the sun. It’s all more interesting and less corrosive than reality television, gaming, newspapers, or the rare gems found on the internet. 

By fortifying one’s mind with the best of Western Civilization, one is immunized from the poorly reasoned, dishonest, and transparently self-serving narratives of the Left. None of this takes a degree or a student loan; it only takes a library card. 

In Real Life Organizing

Much of Middle America’s anger has been dissipated and wasted. The Republican Party, and President Trump himself, have served as a heat sink for conservative anger. The Republican Party promises much and delivers little, at the same time giving the illusion of influence, power, and reform for its voters. President Trump, while a symbol of middle class revolt and dissatisfaction with the system, proved, like the Republican Party itself, an imperfect and often disorganized vessel of resistance. 

Since much of the burden on Middle America comes from hostile political power, it is natural to think that our energy should be devoted to national politics—that is, in finding better candidates and getting them elected. Since the federal system is so thoroughly captured (and elections themselves now unreliable), however, such victories cannot accomplish very much. In practice, they serve to divert and defang the right-leaning opposition. The real answers must be either local or outside of traditional politics altogether. 

In short, we must act like a real dissident movement. Trying to capture the upper echelons of the system won’t be permitted, as #TheResistance demonstrated in response to Donald Trump’s 2016 victory. We need to play a different game that leverages our strengths.

Local politics are probably a worthwhile locus of activity. With relatively less money and effort, one can achieve substantial influence, whether in primaries or otherwise. There’s a reason George Soros threw money into so many local prosecutors’ races. 

Further, local governments have also shown themselves capable of surprising energy in enforcing (and resisting) the coronavirus mandates coming from the experts. One possible model of influence is New York’s Conservative Party, which will withhold its endorsement of the Republican candidate and, thereby, acts as a check on the more suicidal impulses of the Stupid Party

Local politics also extends beyond elections. Spontaneous activism can be effective, like the well-armed homeowners who protected their neighborhood in Indiana from Black Lives Matter hooligans. Families and existing organizations have the capacity for mutual support and mutual defense. New organizations should emerge with these ends in mind, as well. They are going to be increasingly important in the face of a hostile government and an indifferent economic system. 

Political activity goes beyond merely winning elections. Tens of thousands of Virginia gun owners peacefully marched in January. Even though pro-gun control Democrats won control of the state legislature and governorship, the proposed assault weapon ban was voted down in committee. 

A Return to Solidarity

As with real insurgencies, the best tactics for the political insurgent are often the opposite of those appropriate for the regime. Thus, while monopolistic online “communities” are now highly regulated by woke weirdos, that’s not true of your backyard barbeque, your church, and your local gun club. 

The source of strength for the dissident Right comes from those areas of life that exist outside of the economic-political-technocratic surveillance regime. The greatest potential exists among “in real life” friendships and family relationships. Your Twitter followers aren’t going to come to the rescue when Antifa is threatening your home or your business needs a loan. And it’s a lot harder for “cancel culture” to break the bonds of blood and shared experience.

The most workable model is less Ronald Reagan’s GOP and something more like Poland’s Solidarity movement in the 1980s. Even under Communism and the imposition of martial law, this grassroots trade union managed to resist the regime and convert the government’s suppression into a high cost in international censure. Some of Solidarity’s more important tactics included underground schools and workers’ strikes. 

What if we went on strike? 

It is difficult to adjust to the reality that ordinary politics essentially are over. The signs of a slow-motion breakdown of the old system first appeared only as fragments: Supreme Court cases on controversial social questions, sustained government growth under both Republican and Democratic administrations, intelligence agencies meddling in an election, and the full-bore resistance by the bureaucracy to the Trump Administration. The real “mask off” moment has been the suspect election of 2020. 

We have to face reality and fight the good fight effectively on the terrain on which we now find ourselves. That means changing our lifestyles and efforts in ways that achieve maximum personal independence, mutual support, and tangible results. 

In short, we must rebuild a civil society that has been torn apart by the combined economic and political pressures of the leftist managerial state. 

About Christopher Roach

Christopher Roach is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and an attorney in private practice based in Florida. He is a double graduate of the University of Chicago and has previously been published by The Federalist, Takimag, The Journal of Property Rights in Transition, the Washington Legal Foundation, the Marine Corps Gazette, and the Orlando Sentinel. The views presented are solely his own.

Photo: Sorbetto/Getty Images

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