What feeds the Cathedral?
The elites must be won. But how?
Nick B. Steves prepends a step to my strategy:
Step 0: Build the Antiversity—a single, high SNR, and articulate voice that takes all observable reality into its capable hands and weaves The More Plausible Narrative out of it, i.e., more plausible than every other mainstream source. It should be squeaky clean, a-vitriolic, non-hyperbolic, non-snarky, non-profit, and completely a-political. This will give any would-be dissenting elites (as well as everybody else) a place to go.
While I agree that the Antiversity is necessary, I am not optimistic enough to believe that it is all that is necessary. Does Universalism remain in power by plausibility alone? How many of the attendees of the average mandatory diversity seminar actually believe it?
I spent my first semester of college in a school of about 500 people in New England. Back then, I got my politics from The American Conservative and sometimes National Review. The general political outlook of the freshman class, both before college started (there was, of all things, an IRC channel) and a few weeks into the first semester, was vaguely liberal, but at the level one would expect from freshmen in college. Politics didn’t concern them. Their one shared position was that drugs should be legalized; that, welfare, and the optimal tax rate were their political universe, with a few exceptions: besides the religious students, who never fell in line and consequently ended up with the lowest social status of anyone there, there were the American blacks (there was one guy from Ghana, and he didn’t pattern with them), who kept to themselves except for Facebook but who seemed to already have become some sort of progressive (they were all Brahmins, as far as I could tell), one crocodile from a rich Jewish family somewhere outside NYC who desperately wanted to be black, and one very obviously elite Brahmin who got into ‘disability activism’, railing against the absence of ramps at the school, because she walked with a bit of a limp.
By the end of the first semester, things had changed. There were a lot of true believers—but there were equally many people who went through the motions. Some girl blamed me for burning her radical feminist magazine; in reality, the magazine had been left in the dorm’s study room one night, and I, her boyfriend (using a very loose definition of the term), and a few other people had showed up there to pull all-nighters. Someone picked it up, it got passed around, and I found an article in it written by a gay man (again, using a very loose definition of the term) complaining about how he was at a gay bar and some guys came in and started having a drinking contest and they must have been straight because gays never do that, and therefore total, mandatory separation of straights and gays is desirable. We all had a good laugh, I passed the thing to the girl’s boyfriend (who, it must be noted, wasn’t straight—for that matter, I don’t think anyone in the room was), and he decided to burn it.
Later, I got involved in some political debates against some Universalists on Facebook. Their preferred method of debate was naked crocodilism, shouted at the same time by as many people as possible. I got death threats. The only time anyone publicly backed me up was when an upperclassman said he’d gone to a Diversity Day seminar where a professor said all men were rapists. But I gained status. I was The Controversial One. People laughed about the absurdity of the whole mess, when they thought the Universalists wouldn’t hear them. And people, in person or in private messages, thanked me for standing up against them.
Right before finals week began, I was placed on involuntary medical leave on manufactured charges (they accused me of plotting a school shooting), forced back home, and ordered to get a psych eval saying I was mentally fit to attend college. The Dean of Students called me at home and told me that, if I didn’t leave the school, he’d do everything in his power to make my life hell and render me unemployable. So I left.
My guess would be that about a third of the students actively supported Universalism, about half passively supported it, believing it in the sense that one believes in Christianity on Sundays, and the rest disagreed, but kept their heads down. The former two numbers increase with time served there.
Part of it is plausibility. People exposed to one coherent narrative from sources they take as authoritative will begin to believe that narrative, especially if they don’t have the resources to notice its flaws. But part of it is that many parts of America are theocracies. It is made very clear by the structures of power what is to be believed. Universalist theocracy has no problem with its subjects taking Universalism as Sunday religion. Ruling Universalism is not Ingsoc; it requires its subjects to go through the motions of conforming, but doesn’t care whether or not they truly believe, or even whether they act according to the ruling belief system.
When Sunday-believing a memeplex confers status, that memeplex will appear much more powerful than it is.
A good tactical goal would be to break the association of Universalism and high status. The Cathedral relies on its soft totalitarianism. The less negative incentivization dissent carries, the more dissent will be observable. Crocodilism plays a key role in the maintenance of the appearance of consensus: dissent is associated with both inherent low status and with low-status groups. If you aren’t a Universalist, you must be a fedora-wearing MRA, or a bitcoin libertarian, or an inbred neo-Nazi!