Monday, January 2, 2012

Advice for Conservatives: You Need to be More Offensive

Football is much maligned in intellectual circles, which I think is a mistake, because it is the only contact with  multidimensional strategic thinking that most people have in their daily lives.  Football is, after all, a metaphor for war, and if one reverses Clausewitz, politics is a continuation of war by other means.

Particularly for the non-neurotypical, sports and religious metaphors and language assist greatly in both making you seem less alien to the neurotypical and in actually getting your points across.  Here's the point I'd like to get across to conservatives in the US, and to a lesser extent, in Europe, and the rest of the Anglosphere.

As a group, you need to be much more offensive.  This has a double meaning, both in terms of being on the offense and in terms of giving offense.  I'll discuss the more Clausewitzian offensive part first.

Playing defense exclusively will not win you any games.  It can keep the score down, and slow the progress of the opposite side, but a lack of offense gets you into exactly the fix you now find yourselves in, where the collective center of the political battlespace marches leftward generation after generation.  Consider yesterday's game with the Broncos vs the Chiefs.  The Broncos defense managed to keep the score extremely low, allowing only 7 points, but the Broncos offense couldn't execute offensively at all, and thus they lost the game.

When you do actually play a little bit of offense, such as over the abortion issue, your offense is entirely too one-dimensional.  In football, teams that threaten only a run or only a pass suffer because the opposing defense can easily adjust to counter their expected attacks.  This is also true in politics.  If you actually want to win, you need to assault your enemies on multiple axes simultaneously and constantly.  You need to wage economic, moral, psychological, legal, and electoral warfare at all times.  The operative question for any attack needs to be:  is defending against this attack more expensive for the other side than mounting it is for us?  When you only have a few attacks going at once, this allows the reserve armies of the left, for instance the MSM, to concentrate a great deal of fire against them.  One might compare this to the Soviet assaults against the German army from 1942-1945.  When the Germans had reserves still available, they could blunt Soviet assaults and sometimes execute a devastatingly successful counterattack.  Since you're not killing or imprisoning your political opponents, the equivalent here is exhausting and demoralizing them.  In football terms, you're using ball control and time of possession to wear out the opposing defense.

In addition, you need to strike BEHIND the lines of the cultural war and actually threaten progressive victories of years past.  It is criminal, for instance, that you make not even an oblique attack against no fault divorce.  Think of this as establishing a passing threat so you can actually run the football.  You're going to be accused of being retrograde reactionaries regardless of what you do, so why NOT attack?

I know a lot of you find this antithetical to your nature.  You don't like conflict in general and a protracted cultural and political war isn't anything you relish.  But your alternative is to continue to lose.  This brings me to the second aspect of my advice to 'be more offensive'.  Most of you are terribly concerned with being perceived as nice and not giving offense.  Let me break this to you:

If you achieve any meaningful portion of your objectives, your opposite numbers WILL profess loudly and often that they are offended and that you are a mean-spirited and evil band of villains.  Whether you've actually given offense is irrelevant, they will steal it if they have to.  Get over your normal projection that someone acting that offended MUST have been wronged somehow.  Of course that wide receiver is going to exaggerate to try to draw a pass interference call.  It's just a de facto part of the game.  In addition, a fair amount of 'trash talk' is a part of any real struggle.  You can only get away with voluntarily and unilaterally obeying a more restrictive set of rules of engagement than your opposite number if you have a gross superiority in terms of power.  You don't.  Get over it.  You can and should win, but you must have the will to do so.


Anonymous said...

I'd also note that they should not just 'attack' but attack the philosophical foundations of leftism. When attacking obamacare say, the GOP has a problem that they rarely explain how the negative consequences spring directly out of Obama's socialist philosophies, that businesses are bad and the government should take over. As such, their attacks are simply weak feints, as you say.

Your marriage is breaking down because the democrat party is dominated by feminists who believe marriage is outdated and misogynistic and want to destroy it is a lot more emotive than saying no fault divorce is wrong. It's the sort of thing that can win points among the voters.

Jehu said...

The philosophical is just one of the arenas of conflict. Attacks need to be aimed there as well as in the electoral, financial, economic, moral, and legal spheres. Assaulting the edifice of no-fault divorce is best done combining an oblique approach (creating a parallel institution akin to covenant marriage) with an out and out emotional assault on the consequences of divorce. The emotional component I believe would play VERY well indeed with Gen X, as a very high fraction of them are the children of divorce and there is a tremendous amount of generational animus on that score. I can see the commercials now---unhappy little boy and girl asking Mommy why Daddy isn't around for them anymore, and the mother actor being honest about her perfidy.

CLAR said...

my impression is that most reactionary/conservative types are stuck in a mode like wildebeests getting ready to cross a river- milling around, getting frustrated, yet still scared to be the first into the river and have their career ended by the crocodiles enforcing the informal thought crime laws of our government. i definitely count myself in this crowd.

my prediction is that when this shifts, it will be a stampede that might run away with itself. while such radical change will be to our net benefit, it will probably have many negative side effects from being so rapid.

Jehu said...

'Negative Side Effects' is an interesting euphemism. What you're describing is a preference cascade a la Timur Kuran, and yes, I do think such an event is not unlikely.