THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 646, November 27, 2011
"The seemingly eternal conflict in human societies
is between slavers and individuals who simply
want to be left alone to enjoy their lives."
Righteous Indignation by Andrew Breitbart
Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
Andrew Breitbart has quickly established himself as the quintessential happy warrior in the struggle for individual liberty. His breitbart.com and breitbart.tv sites have become “go to” resources for news and video content, and his ever-expanding constellation of “Big” sites (Big Hollywood, Big Government, Big Journalism, etc.) have set the standard for group blogs which break news rather than just link to or comment upon content filtered through the legacy media.
In this book, he describes his personal journey from growing up in “the belly of the beast”—the Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood, his party days at college, and rocky start in the real world, then discovering while watching the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings on television, that much of the conventional “wisdom” he had uncritically imbibed from the milieu in which he grew up, his education, and the media just didn't make any sense or fit with his innate conception of right and wrong. This caused him to embark upon an intellectual journey which is described here, and a new career in the centre of the New Media cyclone, helping to create the Huffington Post, editing the Drudge Report, and then founding his own media empire and breaking stories which would never have seen the light of day in the age of the legacy media monopoly, including the sting which brought down ACORN.
Although he often comes across as grumpy and somewhat hyper in media appearances, I believe Breitbart well deserves the title “happy warrior” because he clearly loves every moment of what he's doing—striding into the lion's den, exploding the lies and hypocrisy of his opponents with their own words and incontrovertible audio and video evidence, and prosecuting the culture war, however daunting the odds, with the ferocity of Churchill's Britain in 1940. He seems to relish being a lightning rod—on his Twitter feed, he “re-tweets” all of the hate messages he receives.
This book is substantially more thoughtful than I expected; I went in thinking I'd be reading the adventures of a gadfly-provocateur, and while there's certainly some of that, there is genuine depth here which may be enlightening to many readers. While I can't assume agreement with someone whom I've never met, I came away thinking that Breitbart's view of his opponents is similar to the one I have arrived at independently, as described in Enemies. Breitbart describes a “complex” consisting of the legacy media, the Democrat party, labour unions (particularly those of public employees), academia and the education establishment, and organs of the regulatory state which reinforce one another, ruthlessly suppress opposition, and advance an agenda which is inimical to liberty and the rule of law. I highly recommend this book; it far exceeded my expectations and caused me to think more deeply about several things which were previously ill-formed in my mind. I'll discuss them below, but note that these are my own thoughts and should not be attributed to this book.
While reading Breitbart's book, I became aware that the seemingly eternal conflict in human societies is between slavers: people who see others as a collective to be used to “greater ends” (which are usually startlingly congruent with the slavers' own self-interest), and individuals who simply want to be left alone to enjoy their lives, keep the fruits of their labour, not suffer from aggression, and be free to pursue their lives as they wish as long as they do not aggress against others. I've re-purposed Larry Niven's term “slavers” from the known space universe to encompass all of the movements over the tawdry millennia of human history and pre-history which have seen people as the means to an end instead of sovereign beings, whether they called themselves dictators, emperors, kings, Jacobins, socialists, progressives, communists, fascists, Nazis, “liberals”, Islamists, or whatever deceptive term they invent tomorrow after the most recent one has been discredited by its predictably sorry results. Looking at all of these manifestations of the enemy as slavers solves a number of puzzles which might otherwise seem contradictory. For example, why did the American left so seamlessly shift its allegiance from communist dictators to Islamist theocrats who, looked at dispassionately, agree on almost nothing? Because they do agree on one key point: they are slavers, and that resonates with wannabe slavers in a society living the twilight of liberty.
Breitbart discusses the asymmetry of the tactics of the slavers and partisans of individual liberty at some length. He argues that the slavers consistently use the amoral Alinsky playbook while their opponents restrict themselves to a more constrained set of tactics grounded in their own morality. In chapter 7, he presents his own “Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Revolutionaries” which attempts to navigate this difficult strait. My own view, expressed more crudely, is that “If you're in a fair fight, your tactics suck”.
One of the key tactics of the slavers is deploying the mob into the streets. As documented by Ann Coulter in Demonic, the mob has been an integral part of the slaver arsenal since antiquity, and since the French revolution its use has been consistent by the opponents of liberty. In the United States and, to a lesser extent, in other countries, we are presently seeing the emergence of the “Occupy” movement, which is an archetypal mob composed of mostly clueless cannon fodder manipulated by slavers to their own ends. Many dismiss this latest manifestation of the mob based upon the self-evident vapidity of its members; I believe this to be a mistake. Most mobs in history were populated by people much the same—what you need to look at is the élite vanguard who is directing them and the greater agenda they are advancing. I look at the present manifestation of the mob in the U.S. like the release of a software product. The present “Occupy” protests are the “alpha test”: verifying the concept, communication channels, messaging in the legacy media, and transmission of the agenda from those at the top to the foot soldiers. The “beta test” phase will be August 2012 at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. There we shall see a mob raised nationwide and transported into that community to disrupt the nomination process (although, if it goes the way I envision infra, this may be attenuated and be smaller and more spontaneous). The “production release” will be in the two weeks running up the general election on November 6th, 2012—that is when the mob will be unleashed nationwide to intimidate voters, attack campaign headquarters, deface advertising messages, and try to tilt the results. Mob actions will not be reported in the legacy media, which will be concentrating on other things.
One key take-away from this book for me is just how predictable the actions of the Left are—they are a large coalition of groups of people most of whom (at the bottom) are ill-informed and incapable of critical thinking, and so it takes a while to devise, distribute, and deploy the kinds of simple-minded slogans they're inclined to chant. This, Breitbart argues, makes them vulnerable to agile opponents able to act within their OODA loop, exploiting quick reaction time against a larger but more lethargic opponent.
The next U.S. presidential election is scheduled for November 6th, 2012, a little less than one spin around the Sun from today. Let me go out on a limb and predict precisely what the legacy media will be talking about as the final days before the election click off. The Republican contender for the presidency will be Mitt Romney, who will have received, in the entire nomination process, a free pass from legacy media precisely as McCain did in 2008, while taking down each “non-Romney” in turn on whatever vulnerability they can find or, failing that, invent. People seem to be increasingly resigned to the inevitability of Romney as the nominee, and on the Intrade prediction market as I write this, the probability of his nomination is trading at 67.1% with Perry in second place at 8.8%.
Within a week of Romney's nomination, the legacy media will, in unison as if led by an invisible hand, pivot to the whole “Mormon thing”, and between August and November 2012, the electorate will be educated through every medium and incessantly until, to those vulnerable to such saturation and without other sources of information, issues such as structural unemployment, confiscatory taxation, runaway regulation, unsustainable debt service and entitlement obligations, monetary collapse, and external threats will be entirely displaced by discussions of golden plates, seer stones, temple garments, the Book of Abraham, Kolob, human exaltation, the plurality of gods, and other aspects of Romney's religion of record, which will be presented so as to cause him to be perceived as a member of a cult far outside the mainstream and unacceptable to the Christian majority of the nation and particularly the evangelical component of the Republican base (who will never vote for Obama, but might be encouraged to stay home rather than vote for Romney).
In writing this, I do not intend in any way to impugn Romney's credentials as a candidate and prospective president (he would certainly be a tremendous improvement over the present occupant of that office, and were I a member of the U.S. electorate, I'd be happy affixing a “Romney: He'll Do” bumper sticker to my Bradley Fighting Vehicle), nor do I wish to offend any of my LDS friends. It's just that if, as appears likely at the moment, Romney becomes the Republican nominee, I believe we're in for one of the ugliest religious character assassination campaigns ever seen in the history of the Republic. Unlike the 1960 campaign (which I am old enough to recall), where the anti-Catholic animus against Kennedy was mostly beneath the surface and confined to the fringes, this time I expect the anti-Mormon slander to be everywhere in the legacy media, couched, of course, as “dispassionate historical reporting”.
This will, of course, be shameful, but the slavers are shameless. Should Romney be the nominee, I'm simply saying that those who see him as the best alternative to avert the cataclysm of a second Obama term be fully prepared for what is coming in the general election campaign.
Should these ugly predictions play out as I envision, those who cherish freedom should be thankful Andrew Breitbart is on our side.
Was that worth reading?