In Against the Great Reset, Harry Stein asks how the Left has managed to subvert the culture and trample so effectively upon the fundamental concepts of decency, equality, justice, morality, and even human biology itself, not to mention humor and modesty. The answer may be found not only in policy and power wielded from the top but also in the gradual saturation of the public mind with a vast set of implicit assumptions regarding what constitutes enlightened societal advancement. In other words, a large part of the answer is the Left’s near-absolute domination of mass popular culture — music, film, sports, news media, entertainment, and so on — all infused with the values and conventions that reflect the progressivist worldview. “We have been slow to recognize,” Stein writes, “the extent to which the culture has been weaponized against us.”
To take only one such instance of social manipulation, consider the ads that punctuate every TV program from game shows, sitcoms, crime series, dramas, documentaries, and sports events. What we are observing is another form of Vance Packard’s “hidden persuaders,” promos not only selling a product by attaching it to associated images of glamor or accomplishment or by flashing subliminal messages, as Packard documented, but by introducing new social norms associated with the dogmas of “social justice,” identity politics, racial preferences, and gender equity.
Thus, many of these ads while touting a product will feature gay and lesbian couples, sometimes even with kids. They will show gracile women working heavy machinery and driving macho trucks or instructing clueless young men how to grow their incomes. Moreover, a plurality of ads having to do with kitchen appliances, investment strategies, leisure holidays, and the purchase of vehicles involve an almost exclusive proportion of mixed marriages.
If we are to judge by frequency and repetition, we would have to conclude that such marriages outnumber by orders of magnitude any other nuptial arrangement. Indeed, it is rare to find a couple who are both white, as if these commercials implicitly endorse the canard of “white supremacy” or, as the title of a recent bestseller puts it, “white fragility,” a paradigm that must be resisted. As Shelby Steele remarks in White Guilt, the current social zeitgeist focuses on a casuistical “manipulation of white guilt,” a meme that is now widespread. White is aversive. It is as if, in this case, the ads we are daily enduring were indirect adjuncts of Critical Race Theory.
That is how popular culture works today, surreptitiously infiltrating the popular mind with the usages, ideals, rituals, and canons dear to the progressivist class. The violation of the norm, whether traditional or even statistical, the presenting a fiction as a fact, is the modus operandi of the budding totalitarian. Such is the scheme that the “hidden persuaders” of the current age have adopted.
As it should go without saying, there can be no objection to people’s choice of goods and commodities, personal lifestyles, or partners and companions. Do as you will, provided it does no material harm or injury to others. Love or marry whomever you want, since marital success is determined by the compatibility of individuals and not by ideological complicities. But there is a strong objection to be made to the exercise of propaganda, whether overt or subtle, with the purpose of imposing a social and political agenda intended to subvert a long-standing and reasonably successful history and tradition—a tradition that underwrites and reinforces a prosperous nation and a viable way of life.
Many of today’s ads, then, perform two tasks: they promote a product and at the same time insinuate an ideological message. They reflect not merely consumer culture or the domestic world we have built at great cost over the centuries, but the world that the progressivist Left wishes to create and enforce — a world in which the founding peoples and their sustaining traditions, institutions, and accomplishments will have been repressed and effectively eclipsed. A marriage between a man and a woman is no longer a universal standard. Children raised in same-sex unions are in no danger of psychological disorientation. Women’s sports are as qualitatively compelling as men’s. The white race is a colonialist abomination and needs to be replaced or at least diluted. Such attitudes are taken for granted in the promotional milieu. None of this is stated. It is merely and incidentally suggested.
The personal response to this disinformative and tactical campaign is to consider the product but reject the message. A culture is built on criteria of unity and precedent. A democratic culture is built on the principle of freedom of thought, expression, assembly, religion, and choice. But a culture that flies in the face of reality, that wilfully substitutes the heterodox for the normative, that practices affirmative action at the expense of truth, merit, and a natural state of affairs will eventually collapse in rancor, misery, and civil discord.
Advertising is carrying the water for a Leftist political and academic establishment. Its influence, because tacit, allusive, unspoken, and only intimated, is perhaps the most effective means of persuasion of all — a telling illustration of “the extent to which the culture has been weaponized against us.”