Based on experience at the local level and reflection on events at the state and federal level, I’ve frequently cautioned conservatives in person and in commentary not to fight progressive fire with fire. In those cheesy 1970s martial arts movies that petered their way onto the cable TV of my childhood ’80s, the villain’s special moves weren’t neutralized by the same moves, but by the hero’s own special moves. Alinsky doesn’t need to be put up against himself, but countered.
Richard Fernandez appears to be getting to something along those lines here:
… the new challenge to the Left may not be based on envy but the realization that imitating progressives is a recipe for failure. The strategy of keeping the outsiders from out the castle fails when the outsiders don’t want a castle. …
… The Left expected a rival like itself, but in an age when elites are losing their grip on an disintermediated society, there may be no King Kong come forth to challenge their Godzilla.
What they do not expect is an ideology of non-ideology to emerge; something which far from regarding history as the fulfillment of some human plan wants to set people free to explore the next valley that leaves us ever alone with wonder and reminds us we are small things trying to make sense of a big universe. In other words, what if the sentience the Left fears in its new rivals is emergent rather than prescribed? Suppose it is asking itself questions rather than supplying answers?
Fernandez is saying this emergent rival is more or less a natural phenomenon, but in the places where progressives’ castle walls are highest and the doors are most closely guarded, like Rhode Island, we should find ways to help it along. And the thing about drawing people in the direction toward which they’d naturally incline is that one must make it seem more attractive, not like the place they’re fleeing.
Alinsky famously dedicated his book to Lucifer; the counter won’t be another demon, but an attitude closer to Jesus’. An ideology that is most essentially defined by its imperative to rule over other people can’t be countered in the long-term by another program for ruling, but by freedom.
Fear is countered with confidence, with hope. Our task is to make hope plausible by overcoming the neurotic hangups that the Left has carefully cultivated.