Strategy, Tactics & Discipline, by the Z-Man.
One of the longest running debates on this side of the great divide is about how best to work through the thicket of taboos created and maintained by the ruling class. Because so much of observable reality is now off limits, it is nearly impossible to contradict the prevailing orthodoxy and maintain a position in the public square. For example, there can be nothing interesting said about crime, because no one is allowed to discuss the demographic reality of crime. The facts themselves are taboo.
The taboo breakers:
One side of the debate argues that the only way to break a taboo is to break a taboo, so the only way forward to is to talk frankly about these things. In the case of crime, for example, the dissident must always interject the demographic facts about crime into the debate, even if it makes the beautiful people shriek. Since most people know the facts, the shrieking by the beautiful people actually advances the cause. This line of reasoning is extended to all taboo subjects universally.
The optics guys:
The other side of the debate points out that the taboo breakers always end up in exile or condemned to some ghetto. In fact, their deliberate breaking of taboos ends up reinforcing the taboo, as no one wants to end up like the heretics. Instead, this camp argues the dissident must come up with clever language that subtly mocks the taboos, but narrowly adheres to the rules. The recent use of the word “jogger’ is an example of complying with the taboo, while undermining it.
The taboo breakers counter that this just results in an endless search for approved language to hint at unapproved things. It is just a form of self-deception, where the clever think they are in revolt when in reality they are just asking permission. The optics guys counter this by pointing out the obvious. The taboo breakers are removed from the process, so in reality their tactic is just quitting the game. Rather than take on the system in a meaningful way, they mutter epithets in their ghetto. …
A recent example:
A good example of how the marketplace of ideas operates in a liberal democracy is in this story from Germany. The AfD has been forced to purge one of the leaders of the radical wing, because of his associations with a taboo group. Technically, he is being forced out over not being honest in his statements about those past associations, but in reality, it is about acceptability. The moderate wing wants to engage in respectable politics and that means following the rules. …
The taboo breakers look at the optics guys and say, “See, when you agree to the rules you eventually come to defend them against the rest of us.” That AfD story is a pretty good example. In time, the system will eliminate one member after another from AfD until the party is indistinguishable from the main parties. At some point, the party will become respectable. The paradox of democracy will result in the “alternative” for Germany being indistinguishable from the status quo. …
In the end, alternative politics in a liberal democracy comes down to attracting high quality people, disaffected by the short comings of the system. If there is a genuine alternative, then there is a genuine choice. This has always been the defect of outsider politics in western liberal democracies. The alternatives are unreasonable and therefore attract the marginal and the unstable. A real alternative will maintain discipline and sublimate tactics to the strategy of being an authentic alternative.
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