Reversals between the ‘left’ and the ‘right’

Donald Trump won in 2016 by focusing on economics and immigration–and in spite of ignoring or relegating ‘culture war’ issues such as abortion, drug legalization, gay marriage, or the ‘separation of church and state’ to the back burner–consistently maintained a very approval rating among conservatives, at around 90-95% approval, even after leaving office. This suggests declining relevance of the culture wars among conservatives, whereas as recently as the early 2000s the culture wars were considered much more important.

At around the same time, Jordan Peterson helped popularize a form a conservationism that puts a strong emphasis on duty and personal responsibility, as opposed to the more puritanical brand of conservatism that dominated decades ago. Instead of trying to ‘convert’ gays, convert the Middle East to democracy, or convert nonbelievers into churchgoers, self-improvement and openness to dialogue take precedence. Having what Dr. Peterson calls ‘a clean room’ is more important than telling other people how to live their lives. The left takes its politics too seriously, so the trend as shown by the popularity of Ben Shapiro, who like Dr. Peterson exploded in popularity around 2016-2017 and is known for his moniker ‘facts don’t care about feelings,’ is to project and convey a sort of coolness and detachment, instead of being too emotionally invested in issues.

I think it is more low status to moralize about pornography or drugs than to consume it. Being high status is about not being triggered or easily offended by certain content or behavior, not excessively moralizing. I think this is explains to some extent why the right defected on gay marriage and drug legalization, as well as the fall and decline of relevance of the ‘moral majority’; opposing those things, or at least opposing them too strongly, became low-status.

Regarding the popularity of Only Fans, conservatives are sorta stuck in a bind between opposing such content on grounds of it being socially decadent, yet don’t want to come across as moralizing in their opposition to it. The left has a tendency to excessively moralize about issues, so ‘we’ don’t want to fall into that same trap as the left does.

So how does one express disapproval against something but without sounding like just a right-wing version of an SJW? Instead of shaming or blaming the individual for his or her choices, the emphasis by the smart-right is trying to understand how and why people act the way they do. The popularity Only Fans, for example, can be interpreted as indictment of modern society and symptomatic of an ‘ill of modernity,’ than a failing at the individual level. It’s not about opposing Only Fans or ‘delayed family formation’, but trying to understand why Only Fans is so popular or why young people in developed countries are choosing careerism over starting families, and what the rise of careerism and the popularity of parasocial relationships (such as on Only Fans and Twitch) says about society (a descriptive approach as opposed to a prescriptive one).

A recent example of a reversal between the left and the right, is rise of ‘fitness culture’ among the right, and liberals embracing being unhealthy as a form of identity and revolt against what they perceive as ‘normative white beauty standards’. Decades ago, it was implicitly understood that is was liberals who were ‘health nuts’ (such as Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons fitness tapes), but over the past few years (since 2013 or so), it would seem as though things have reversed, with the rise of ‘gym culture’ and the popularity Joe Rogan who embodies and helped popularize a health-conscious form of masculinity, and now liberals are pushing for ‘fat acceptance’ and ‘health at every size’, etc. Conservatives are going to the gym and posting pictures of it on social media, proudly showing their ‘gains’ and trying to be as healthy as possible, roundly eschewing the ‘live free or die’ ethos typified by the ‘Marlboro Man’ archetype of masculinity that dominated in the ’80s and ’90s in which health didn’t just take a backseat to autonomy and indulgence, but was defiantly flouted.

Conservatives today realize that the consequences obesity and unhealthy lifestyles, such as smoking and poor diets, are not just limited to the individual, but impose costs on everyone in the form of increased healthcare spending and budget deficits, shortages, and rising costs.

Another reversal is how the left used to support free speech (such as the ACLU), to now equating free speech as giving cover to ‘white supremacy’. Over the past decade or so, free speech has gone from being a solidly left-wing value, to now a ‘conservative’ one. Additionally, in the 90s the left opposed the WTO, such as the 1999 Seattle WTO protests, and spoke out against human rights abuses in China, whereas mainstream conservatives and neocons sought to expand trade with China. For example, George H.W. Bush in 1989 visited President Yang Shangkun in Beijing. Fast-forward 3 decades and suddenly merely suggesting a Chinese origin for Covid or criticizing the Chinese government is somehow now racism, and celebrities such as John Cena and Lebron James are apologists for China, and mainstream conservatives seek to restrict trade with China, such as tarrifs, and are much more critical about China overall.

P.S. Comemnts are usually approved within 24-48 hours. I try to dig though archives to find ones I may have missed.

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