After a decade of intensifying demands from the Left’s social revolution, over the last few weeks something unusual happened: a retreat. Large companies have pulled down their rainbow flag logos. Black Lives Matter and Juneteenth are not as prominent this year. There has even been a belated acknowledgment that maybe Ukraine is not winning the war, and, by the way, that a lot of Ukrainians actually are Nazis.
This is all strange. I guess the sustained Bud Light boycott freaked some people out.
Consumer-facing corporations are probably more aware of the fragility of these efforts than the government sector, whose Gay Pride celebrations are still in full swing.
These changes to our collective morality are more recent and more artificial than they may seem. Remember that prior to Obergefell and as recently as 2008, liberal California and Oregon voted to make gay marriage illegal. It also pays to recall that essentially every society took a dim view of homosexuality in varying degrees since time immemorial. The current state of affairs is the product of relentless propaganda, anti-democratic judicial activism, and, lately, threats of job loss and penury for dissenters.
But, even with all this pressure, as the message went from “leave us be” to “we want to talk to your children,” otherwise liberal-minded people became less comfortable and then hostile.
The Ongoing Color Revolution
Still, the Left’s sudden burst of practical wisdom and restraint is odd. After all, the last few years have had a whiff of color revolution. There were COVID lockdowns and the George Floyd riots, and then the installation of Joe Biden in the White House, who, rather than being a moderate unifier, soon made ominous threats and insults towards half the country, the so-called MAGA Americans.
Everything he’s offered has shown a relentless, unrestrained march towards perpetual social revolution—one indifferent to majority opinion, but fully endorsed by a chorus of managerial class leaders in business, media, healthcare, education, and government. The revolution would be enforced by a pincer movement of domestic intelligence agencies and drug-addled Antifa foot soldiers. In other words, the revolution’s conception and sustainment was a top-down affair.
Like other similar revolutions, it aimed to undermine traditional hierarchies and loyalties, like the family or what’s left of Christianity, as well as hoary ideals like fair play, meritocracy, and the rule of law. And, like every revolution, it promised liberation from the old restraints.
I suspect that the system’s internal intelligence shows something amiss. Perhaps some bad news about COVID vaccines or the economy is about to come out. Or maybe declining military recruiting means the system is worried about who will fight crusades for gay rights and American “dominance” in the years ahead.
The ruling class clearly believes that sustaining the American empire is necessary for their power and for our collective prosperity. Indeed, it is their number one priority.
As a corrupt empire ruled by an overbearing and ideological managerial class, the Soviet Union offers ample lessons for America today. While today’s leftists are rightly described as cultural Marxists, the first Marxists were the Bolsheviks, who toppled the Russian Tsar in 1917.
In addition to killing millions, the Bolsheviks undertook a great deal of experimentation in family structure, art, literature, film, and much else. The early days were radical in every conceivable way, but the centerpiece of communism was economics. The planned economy promised to usher in widespread prosperity and progress and to liberate the proletariat.
Instead of bringing prosperity and order, however, the “war communism” of the early Soviet Union created shortages, dislocations, and a massive famine. In 1922, the Bolshevik leadership reversed course and allowed limited free markets, the so-called New Economic Policy (NEP). After this, things somewhat stabilized, particularly as the Russian Civil War drew to a close.
Reality has a way of making realists of us all.
While it would be a stretch to call any of the early Soviet Union’s policies conservative or “counter-revolutionary,” there is much precedent for this phenomenon of consolidation and pragmatism in revolutionary regimes. Revolutionary France eventually abandoned the Terror and even democracy itself in its embrace of the Emperor Napoleon. And the American Revolution, initially rather radical, eventually returned to a call for a stronger central government after the failures and challenges of the Articles of Confederation.
This seems the most likely explanation for recent developments, i.e., that the social revolutionaries are beating a tactical retreat to consolidate their gains. This should be contrasted with the completely fanciful idea that the “pendulum is swinging back.”
The early Bolsheviks did not allow the NEP because they thought it would be permanent, because they had lost faith in communism, or because they agreed to share power. Only the absolute necessity of the Russian Civil War and the sustained economic dislocations of the early experiments in economic planning led to this partial accommodation of free markets.
Similarly, the recent retreat by corporate America on Gay Pride Month and the backtracking by the national security state and the media on Ukraine do not demonstrate a change of heart. These apparent changes serve the same ends and, more important, are designed to shore up the power and prestige of the existing ruling class.
Social leftism itself may exist to serve this function more broadly. Rather than being a purely organic phenomenon, there is a good argument to be made that corporate America’s earlier turn towards social leftism was designed to turn public attention away from the 2008 economic crisis and economic inequality more generally. Similarly, the limited accommodation of fed-up parents and normies today also reinforces the existing economic and political structure, including its managerial ruling class.
Don’t Declare Victory Prematurely
Instead of gratefully accepting these changes, the Right should be retrenching and demanding more. Accepting a few trinkets and calling it victory is the reason Conservatism, Inc. has given up ground on nearly every single culture war issue since the 1960s. The only areas where there have been any big victories—guns and abortion—are because the single-issue voters behind these issues have an affirmative agenda, never compromise on their goals, and believe they’re completely right.
The most important thing to remember is that the people pushing all the Left’s insanity, whether “trans kids” or compulsory support for gay rights, also have complete certainty, as well as the courage of their convictions. Like the Bolsheviks, they mean to remake society from top to bottom and won’t lose a moment’s sleep if they kill millions of people in the process.
Thus, they cannot be bought off with a compromise or a half-measure. They can only be defeated. And they can only be defeated if we, their opponents, have a clear idea of the stakes and have a commitment to equal ruthlessness in the defense and restoration of civilization.