Jim Geraghty of the National Review recently opined about “what impedes conservative efforts to shape the culture?” Rod Dreher over at the American Conservative puts the blame squarely on conservatives’ lack of narrative and the offloading of storytelling to the far left:
“Argument has its place, but story is what truly moves the hearts and minds of men. The power of myth—which is to say, of storytelling—is the power to form and enlighten the moral imagination, which is how we learn right from wrong, the proper ordering of our souls, and what it means to be human.”
It doesn’t matter how logical or sane an idea is. If people don’t understand the narrative it embodies, the whole human experience as it were, then people won’t connect. To put it another way:
“The best art imitates life in a compelling way. If it imitates a dream, it must be a dream of life. Otherwise, there is no place where we can connect. Our plugs don’t fit.”
—Darwi Odrade (from Chapterhouse: Dune)
Have conservatives forgotten that “[s]ocieties governed strongly by tradition keep their collective wisdom alive through storytelling… So why are contemporary conservatives so lousy at telling stories?“
Conservatives no longer do this, nor do libertarians typically catch on to it as well. They assume that politics is just a reflection of society, and that they are representing society as they know it… or knew it. The problem with this approach is that for conservatives, politics and policy ought to reflect society and our common heritage. Thus they are happy and willing to leave the story telling to others.
In contrast, the Progressive left is all about reconstructing society and “shaping the mentality of the population as a whole in accordance with a predetermined model and instilling the ideas and sentiments they though desirable in the minds of all.” The narratives of the left are not meant to reflect how things are, but how things ought to be. By presenting, repeatedly, their favored narratives, people connect with the narratives, and internalize them. Thus, society is reconstructed along Progressive lines.
The Progressive left does not even have to be explicit about it, but only has to push things gently in their direction until people have accepted the arguments without the arguments even having to be made yet.
As Andrew Breitbart said, “Politics is downstream from culture.” Fight for the culture. Do not assume that a society mutated over decades towards the Progressive line can suddenly be jolted “back to its senses” by a well crafted agrument, reality, or by shouting “liberty” ever more loudly. Instead, they must put into practice the Bene Gesserit Panoplia Propheticus to heart: “We do not teach history; we recreate the experience. We follow the chain of consequences–the tracks of the beast in the forest.”
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