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Conservatives used to approach pop culture with a laager mentality.

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The Conservative Advance Into Pop Culture

Conservatives used to approach pop culture with a laager mentality.

Conservatives are having a St. Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus type conversion as of late. After spending decades eschewing the popular culture, they now realize the value striving to influence it.

For the past few years, organizations like the American Film Renaissance have been promoting conservative movies from established actors such as Patricia Heaton and Gary Sinise. These events also furnish an opportunity for unknown, conservative artists to present their works — something Hollywood would never do.

Conservatives used to approach the pop culture with a laager mentality — they prohibit their kids from watching television or listening to popular music.  As if eliminating exposure to the popular culture would prevent them from being affected by it.

Unless they are prepared to live in a compound in Surinam, or join Rambo in a remote village in Tibet, they and their kids are going to be exposed to the popular culture.

Other reactions by conservatives to the pop culture have been to form their own subsets. They established genres like “Christian Rock” and “Christian Film.”

Christian rock is a good art form. So is chamber music. However, just like chamber music, Christian rock doesn’t appeal to a general audience.

Christian movies are first rate — especially those made by former “Growing Pains” star Kirk Cameron and Stephen Baldwin. Just don’t expect them in a theater near you anytime soon.

Such art forms are analogous to the “voting with your feet” strategies used by the middle class a few decades ago. They moved to the suburbs from the cities that were being destroyed by liberal culture.

They did not realize those ideas and culture would follow them.

The liberals’ cultural conquest of America’s major cities is tantamount to the barbarians’ sacking of Rome. Once they ruined Rome, the barbarians needed to find other cities to sack.

Once the liberals made cities like New York uninhabitable — they moved into the suburban counties – where the middle class conservatives fled long ago to protect themselves from the senseless policies of the left.   
    
Meanwhile, conservatives thought that as long as they controlled the political machinery, they had nothing to worry about. They thought they could avoid the pop culture in their suburban enclaves.

It never occurred to them that politics follows the culture.

Now, instead of retreating and establishing their own entertainment enclaves, they are now campaigning to acquire the helm of the established media. Instead of — metaphorically speaking of course — busting the DVD’s, breaking the CD’s, banning the movies and burning the books, conservatives are now beginning to enter the established venues of  music, literature, television and newspaper media.

Why have conservatives taken so long to see the light? Who knows.  Just be glad they finally have.

As long as the left controls the society’s opinion-forming, cultural centers of influence, then liberal ideas will be enacted into laws. As someone once said, “I’ll let you write the laws, if I can write the songs.”

The liberals have always been a few beats ahead of conservatives about this — actually a few generations ahead.

The Italian communist Antonio Gramsci realized this 80 years ago when he developed the concept of “cultural hegemony.” He believed that a state controls its subjects by force initially, yet eventually, it would need the consent of the people. Gramsci theorized this consent was accomplished by inculcating the political leadership’s values to the people — i.e. cultural hegemony.  Gramsci believed that as long as capitalistic values monopolized the popular culture, communism could never advance in a society.

He felt that the communists would have to control the opinion forming elements of society — the “chattering classes,” as Judge Robert Bork liked to call them — for communism to predominate in Europe.

The American leftwing recognized this and established The Intercollegiate Socialist Society (ISS) in 1905 to promote the study and advocacy of socialism in academia. Among the founders were Jack London, Upton Sinclair, and Clarence Darrow.

Is there any wonder why American colleges, universities and public schools are leftwing?

Until now, conservatives never understood the concept that — paraphrasing Victor Hugo — an idea whose time has come is the most powerful thing there is.

Now that conservatives have entered the mainstream channels of movies, music, television, journalism and literature, perhaps one can conceive of a future Academy awards show where the hosts or recipients will not condemn American foreign policy as imperialistic simply because the Democratic Socialists of America was somehow able to convey this message to them.

Or the next time a journalist gives a college commencement speech implying those who serve in the military are losers, the audience will know in advance that he is an avowed socialist who does not like the American military.

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Mr. Carr is a resident of Chicago. He works in the entertainment industry.

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