Can the GOP Survive Without Intellectuals?

I have been wondering about this since the election.  GOP public intellectuals fled Trump like scalded cats after the election and it doesn’t look like any of them are coming back.   What does this mean from a social physics perspective?  Can a political movement survive totally bereft of intellectual and scientific support?  Historically communist and fascist movements have rejected scientists and intellectuals, indeed even imprisoned or killed them.  If you wonder where Patterico, Ed Morrissey, Allahpundit, Iowahawk, etc have gone you can find them sleazing around PopeHat’s TL sometimes (without expressing a nanoparticle of remorse for causing the Trump Event with decades of abject pandering to the GOP base.)  George Will has entirely left the building.

Here is a convo between Ross Douthat and David Frum, and even Ross cant manage to squeeze out anything better than Trump has only caused a fall of two steps, rather than the header off the landing we were expecting.

DOUTHAT: That’s fair, but if the danger was taking a header off the landing, and instead we’ve just rolled down a step or two, I’m not going to apologize for feeling a provisional relief.

Pretty weak support for Trump– hes not as bad as we feared he would be…yet.

This however is spot on.

FRUM: Your use of the word “unilaterally” casts a useful clarifying light on what may be the foundation of our disagreement. Let me be very clear what I do not mean by “Trumpocracy,” at least not yet: Caesarism. The authoritarian-nationalist system Trump is building is not being built against Congress, but with Congress — and even more, with Republican Parties at the state level. The big reveal to Republicans in the second Obama term, continuing now into the first Trump term, is that you and Reihan Salam and Ramesh Ponnuru and Henry Olsen and other “reformicons” were right on the politics of Paul Ryan-style conservatism: Such politics simply could not prevail in a free and fair democratic contest.

And there is the rub– culture evolves.  Republican ideology is less appealing every year– the Cambrian explosion in Machine Learning and Robotics is going to fiercely favor a younger, more educated workforce.  Educational attainment is a definitive marker for anti-GOP voters.  The GOP simply has no recourse but to cheat.

I get really bored when the “rationalists” at SSC cite the Iterated Prisoners Dilemma as “proof” that defectors will fail.  From a text book, The Calculus of Selfishness, by Karl Sigmund:

My hypothesis is that the GOP AllD strategy has invaded the previous bipartisan, cooperative, reciprocal AllC strategy– the normative state of the US democratic republic.  But given evolution of culture and society in the US…what alternative does the GOP have?

This is true.

FRUM: Instead, they [the GOP] concluded: “What if we shaped the electorate to be a little more friendly to us? Might our formerly unpopular ideas prevail then?” The G.O.P. is complicit with Trump because he delivered a success that finer leaders and better methods could not deliver. Trumpocracy is the fusion of Trump’s authoritarian instincts with the G.O.P.’s plutocratic instincts in the context of a country trending in very different directions.

As American society trends more diverse, more feministic, and most importantly– more educated, there is no future for a GOP that constantly looks backwards and basically has no intellectual class to promote its ideology.  Much like the Know-Nothing Party, the GOP is doomed to extinction.

12 thoughts on “Can the GOP Survive Without Intellectuals?

  1. Welcome back to the blog! But sorry, I’m now going to oppose your thesis.

    Where to begin? I think I get my sense of American politics from a mix of alt-right propaganda and repeated viewings of “The Young Turks” election coverage. Cenk Uygur said at some point, “the rage in the country is real, when will they” – Washington – “get it through their heads”.

    And he, or someone else from TYT, also said: the Democrats have become the establishment party, whereas the Republicans chose a populist, and the country wants a populist.

    Or just watch Jimmy Dore. Half of working Americans get under $20k per year, while Rachel Maddow gets $30k per day to talk about Russia. Half of Obama’s cabinet was “suggested” by a Citibank executive – this was revealed by Wikileaks, and hence presumably by Russian hackers.

    Trump stands for conservative nationalism. Sanders stands for progressive nationalism. What did Hillary stand for – the dissolution of the American nation, to make it the heartland of a universal empire?

    If she had got in, *maybe* she could have reformed liberalism and made it politically viable again. But she lost, and until the Democrats go through an internal reckoning equal to what the Republicans have done, what chance do they have?

    Your selection of Republican “intellectuals” says to me that, in your own way, you’re out of touch. What Republican voter wants or respects David Frum? He is seen as a mouthpiece of the erstwhile neoconservative establishment. And as for the various bloggers you mention, maybe they mattered as war-bloggers in the 2000s, but who listens to them now?

    The pundits on the Republican side who I see as having vitality now would include Ann Coulter and Ben Shapiro. And then you have the alt-right, people like Richard Spencer, whose outsize importance can be judged by the intensity of the de-platforming campaign against them, taking place in social media.

    I’m sure it’s true that scientists and “intellectuals” lean left in some sense, and not just in America. But that didn’t stop Khomeini in Iran or Erdogan in Turkey. The political opinions of scientists don’t ever matter much, and intellectuals easily succumb to ideology. What intellectuals in the Soviet Union weren’t Marxists or at least socialists? And yet that didn’t save the communist system.


    • Coulter, Shapiro, Spencer are not public intellectuals.
      Neither are Hewitt, Limbaugh, etc.
      Bannon is not a public intellectual.
      Frum and Douthat, George Will, David Brooks, those are the defectors. Trump has no intellectual support– not even from Murray.
      even Razib Khan & Dawkins and the evo bio contingent dont support Trump.
      Trump is deathpoison for the youth vote going forward.
      The alt-right are loud but vanishing small as percent of youth demographic.


  2. I don’t know by what criterion Coulter and Shapiro are not intellectuals, but Douthat and Frum are.

    In any case, American politics has now been racialized. The Republican Party is the party of whites, the Democratic Party is the party of Jews and other minorities. If the Republican Party somehow ceased to function, its place would be taken by the alt-right, and there would probably be separatism and civil war.

    I think not many people want it this way. But there is too much anti-white agitation in the culture. The meme is that millennials have been brainwashed into SJW-dom, but the white-minority members of Generation Z reject white guilt and have no illusions about their situation. See /pol/ for their culture.

    I don’t know exactly how true all that is. America is huge and it might be true in some places and false in others. But common sense says it’s bizarre to pronounce that a political party has no future, a year after it won elections at every level of government.


    • The criteria would be education…but i confess i havent researched much of shapiro’s schtick. I said public intellectuals, right? im predisposed to discount shapiro because you associated him with Coulter. Education is going to be the single greatest discriminant going forward.
      yes, the GOP, minus its public intellectuals, will now have to become something else entirely. if the Alt-right and talk radio personna and Brietbart faction are all thats left, they cannot exert political controll. Trump’s election was a perfect storm– including russian manipulation, gerrymandering, bad candidate in Hillary, FBI factionalism, and fake news…probably other factors as well. But the most important factor is retaliation (cite: Calculus of Selfishness). That allows evengelicals to excuse Trump’s grotesqueries and ally with neo-nazis and Milo and Shapiro as long as they are percieved to be punching back.
      Culture and demography have evolved away from the right. And it wont come back (socio-entropic decay of white America). If open warfare breaks out it would be a Jesusland scenario (with rural areas secceeding from urban coastal elite control), not a successful putsch by the alt-right– much like the amusingly named Civil War…not enough resources on the secessionist side.
      The Cambrian Explosion in Robotics and Machine Learning is underway…right now 70% of US are non-degreed– that will have to flip.
      I’m an unapologetic educationist. Educational attainment, IQ and g– that determines political orientation more than anything. A different kind of class warfare.


    • heres a quote from an SSC comment–

      “So in a recent Sam Harris podcast, he had on Eric Weinstein & Ben Shapiro, and Weinstein coined a term he called “the intellectual dark web,” referring to the group of “classic” liberal thinkers like the people in that podcast and others like Eric’s brother Bret, Jordan Peterson, Christina Hoff Sommers, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, etc. who have become persona non grata by the SJW-left for daring to have honest intellectual discussions about thorny social issues”

      I would maintain NONE of those named are what i would consider to be public intellectals– Hirsi Ali? a crude performance artist pandering to islamophobes… and also none of those cited embrace Trumpism. Dawkins is fervently anti-Trump.
      Again, only one side has Nazis.


  3. I think there is another theme that I see clearly in conservative parties, throughout the New World, in Canada, US and Australia. And that is a deep association with fossil-fuel interests.

    In the US one sees it in climate denialism, and in Scott Pruitt’s attempts to roll back a wide swathe of environmental rules at the EPA. One sees fossil fuel interests in a lot of the impact from Koch family support for the GOP among many other conservative causes they support.

    But one also sees it in the deep entanglement of the GOP with the two largest petrostates, namely Putin’s Russia and also the Magic Kingdom. Both these states derive almost all of their government funding and legitimacy from their ability to dispense fossil fuel revenues to protect their political systems.

    You can’t understand the logic of these entanglements if you don’t understand how deeply fossil fuel interests of all kinds are threatened by the climate change narrative generally, but also by the rapid rise in Post-Oil technology. It was one thing to hand out peanuts to solar power when it was a distant prospect and renewable energy was a feelgood project, that even oil companies could support as PR.

    Today, solar and wind are at breakeven in Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) with the cheapest fossil fuels. By the twenties the learning curve is going to take New Energy below the cheapest fossil sources.

    Already Renewable Energy is cheaper where NEW investments are concerned. Hence the recent surge in RE investment in developing countries. But by the twenties even old, established investments will no longer be able to compete with renewables. And fossil fuels will enter their final death-spiral.

    What if all your private capital is tied up in fossil fuels? What if your entire country’s exports and funding are dependent on fossil fuel exports? And you have little else that would allow you to compete in the modern world?

    That is the theme that energizes the conservatives in your country and mine. But much more so in actual petrostates, which have few other choices.


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