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The Nihilist Trumpist Versus January 6th
A New Type of Argument
I estimate that one eighth of my readership would describe themselves as “pro-Trump conservatives”. This means not just choosing him as the lesser evil compared to Clinton or Biden, but actively endorsing and emotionally resonating with him. It means supporting him over DeSantis and other Republicans in a primary. This is a letter to you guys, although I think everyone will enjoy the exercise.
Something that I’ve been thinking about recently is a new way of argument. Most arguments for a position are constructive: they add evidence to a starting point to reach their destination. From experience, this isn’t great at changing minds or even letting people know what you think. People simply don’t start at the same point, and this makes it very difficult for them to accept anything that doesn’t start with some strong assumptions. This doesn’t mean that they can’t be convinced away from those assumptions, but that you have to treat them as a starting point. That’s what I’ve tried to avoid in my podcast conversations after the Jacob Siegel episode.
The alternative is something closer to proof by contradiction; a mathematical technique that starts with some assumptions, and shows that they cannot coexist. In other words, I believe in adopting someone’s worldview, interpreting information in a way that would be reasonable to someone with that worldview, and making suggestions on how that worldview would change accordingly. The main difference when applying this to politics is that you’re not going to do a complete 180 in beliefs, no matter how strong the contradiction is. Change is incremental. Maybe I should make up a term for this strategy. Perhaps Startmanning.
So, what exactly is the “pro-Trump conservative” worldview? I’ll lay a few general statements out that I think are most important to it, that I believe best resonates with you guys, especially the ones who regularly read my newsletter.
Politics is a propaganda war between good (us) and evil (The Left)
The Left (especially The Cultural Left) has made enormous gains in recent years
Most non-right-aligned media is weaponized propaganda that portrays conservatives as negatively as they can get away with, including making up stories whole cloth
The pre-Trump Republican establishment has either been useful idiots which have failed to oppose the left, or have actively aided the left, and should also be viewed as enemies
Fighting over culture is as important as economics, if not more important.
Part of this is because culture is how we fight the propaganda war, but also we just really care about how the people around us live their lives, and it’s actually quite weird, ahistoric, and a bit autistic that people like the author of this newsletter doesn’t
If you let those sink in for a few minutes, Trump is actually very appealing.
We’ve tried just about everything, and we’ve been on the losing end every time. Celebrities seem to have a way with the crowd, maybe they’ve got something to answer. Even if Trump isn’t perfectly in line with our values, he scrambles the enemy propaganda and state regime. In the wake of Trump we’ve seen a wave of people speaking up, taking bolder positions, denouncing institutions that have betrayed us, and generally acting in a way that is closer to our worldview.
It’s important to note that this last sentence is just objectively true. Trump has gotten conservative politicians and media figures to be more populist and anti-establishment. And it isn’t unreasonable to think that this made a difference when someone like DeSantis is willing to pass laws that hurt The Left. Let’s turn the tables for a second and write a monologue of this hypothetical reader convincing me to vote for Trump.
Look, you say you hate bureaucracy. Who makes bureaucracy worse, Trump or Biden? You’re also personally socially conservative, but don’t want to use the state. That doesn’t make any sense, since the state is a tool of The Left, who hate you for being socially conservative even if you haven’t used the state against them. They’ve made the country way worse to raise your children in, and it’ll get even worse. Why else did you talk to your girlfriend about raising your future children in Singapore? The fact is that Libertarians like you have completely failed to protect anything except corporations, which the way the administrative state is going won’t last very long either. You’re actually the hypocritical one, since you obviously care about power, you think that propaganda makes a difference in who has power, but you just can’t admit that Trump was a huge propaganda win because you have TDS. If you took your beliefs seriously, you would have moved back to America just to vote for Trump, and you would do it again because he’s a tried and true winner of the propaganda war.
This is the type of hard-hitting critique we’re dealing with. As I said in the introduction, if you don’t fight the assumptions, it’s a compelling and internally consistent worldview. But those assumptions are deeply baked in and can realistically only be deviated from incrementally. The best approach in my view is coming up with a hypothetical person who starts at this point, and then comes to a given conclusion through independent thinking or reading.
I respect Trump so much, but in the end he wasn’t able to take power. I mean, the election was stolen, at least by big tech censoring the Hunter Biden laptop, but there’s nothing stopping them from doing that again. I mean, I love Trump, but what’s he going to do next time that makes a difference?
Anyways, I was reading Curtis Yarvin and he said that we should take the clear pill, which means not emotionally reacting to politics. This is hard, since our cultural values are deep truths that are worth fighting for, but I’ll try to suspend my emotional reaction at least while thinking about strategy.
Watching January 6th I’m very impressed by their propaganda regime. It really is a show of power how they portrayed patriots who care about our democracy as villains and traitors. It’s so impressive that they’ve managed to turn many Americans, including swing voters and moderates against us.
But you know what, when they point out how Trump wanted to send different electors, we didn’t need to give them that propaganda win. It was bad optics, and even though we tried, we failed. We should’ve known that Mike Pence wouldn’t have gone along with it, but he would’ve stayed silent and not created this huge propaganda weapon against us if we had just been more careful. You know, 1/6 is the equivalent of a military ambush. We ended up in a bad territory and now the trap is being sprung. While we shouldn’t amplify their show trial, we should think long and hard about how we ended up in that territory. It was avoidable. It happened because even Trump underestimated how evil The Left is, and didn’t have a plan.
Even though Trump has good instincts on who to fight, he didn’t fully understand the bureaucracy. Someone like Ron DeSantis actually passed laws that weaken the bureaucracy, while doing a great job on the propaganda front too. Voters even like him more than Trump. In the end, he was responsible for walking in the ambush, and the ambush has weakened him. It’ll be harder for him to win than DeSantis next time. DeSantis shares my culture and my values, and they won’t win out unless we’re willing to take a few risks.
Next week or two I’ll do economic progressivism / socialism. Some people I talked to want me to do wokeness instead, but there’s actually so little redeeming in that ideology that I genuinely think it’s a waste of time even interacting with the woke (by implication, I don’t think this is true about either Trumpism or socialism). They’re also less than 6% of the population, so you can actually just exclude them from power.