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Liberalism, Liberalism Everywhere

In today’s world, it’s a commonly acknowledged assumption that with great pop culture, comes great assertive liberalism, not to mention all those ‘dank’ memes, of course. Keeping aside all the accusations of this aspect being hurtful to endorsers that are thrown by the rivaling conservationists, fact remains that this libertarian domination in the world of pop culture is unparalleled. From critics to fans, pop culture has been a beacon of progress, be it through a futuristic tale of a man seeking the truth of his past in a deceitful city, or a powerful witch, battling the demons that plague Middle Earth. But how did this firm grasp of popular culture come to be? How has it not been toppled over by influential conservationist politics yet? Here to answer these questions and much more, is Perspectoverse’s Anvita Tripathi.


During the early years of the last decade, popular New York Times Magazine author, Jonathan Chait, a pundit of modern day liberalism, released an extensive article illustrating how pop culture in the United States of America (reportedly the third biggest influencer in international popular culture), is avowedly liberal territory. An excerpt from the article reads:

When Joe Biden endorsed gay marriage in May, he cited Will & Grace as the single-most important driving force in transforming public opinion on the subject. In so doing he actually confirmed the long-standing fear of conservatives—that a coterie of Hollywood elites had undertaken an invidious and utterly successful propaganda campaign, and had transmuted the cultural majority into a minority.

He makes a strong argument for Hollywood (the news and entertainment media) having a monopoly on popular culture message, or what a post-modern personality would refer to as "a hegemonic discourse", or an opinion belonging to the vast majority. Of course, this is unnervingly grieving territory for conservatives, but even at this late stage, it will be a contentious assertion for any conservatives to actively refute this argument.

The reality is, they do have this power, and, as Chait claims, they have thoroughly ensured that they shall continue to reign victorious for as long as they need. To suggest that politics is a diversion for conservatives to comfort themselves in the face of overwhelming cultural defeat is an understatement. However, it is rather riveting that achieving this polarisation is not that big of a task, and that is no understatement at all. Chait describes some intriguing studies from Brazil and India that demonstrates how television may drastically alter social practises merely by undermining conventional culture with a countercultural message:

For the most part, your television is not consciously attempting to alter your political beliefs. It is mainly transmitting an ethos in which greed is not only bad but the main wellspring of evil, authority figures of all kinds are often untrustworthy, sexual freedom is absolute, and social equality of all kinds is paramount. … But to the large bloc of America that does not share this ethos, it looks like a smug, self-perpetuating collusion against them.

… This capacity to mold the moral premises of large segments of the public, and especially the youngest and most impressionable elements, may or may not be unfair. What it undoubtedly is, is a source of cultural (and hence political) power. Liberals like to believe that our strength derives solely from the natural concordance of the people, that we represent what most Americans believe. Conservatives surely do benefit from these outposts of power, and most would rather indulge their own populist fantasies than admit it. But they do have a point about one thing: We liberals owe not a small measure of our success to the propaganda campaign of a tiny, disproportionately influential cultural elite.

But before we begin to hover over the minute details, there still remain a few questions that are yet to be answered: What possible testimony can be made avail of to prop up these claims of pop culture being considerably, if not completely liberal in nature? It’s no secret that conservatives have the resources to simply reverse this rule, yet liberal ideologies have never been toppled over for decades now. Why is that so? Well, what is so shocking about this is that the answer is simple enough to be understood by all.

Fact remains that pop culture is quite literally meant to be targeted at younger audiences around the world. The very term itself is defined as ‘modern popular culture transmitted via the mass media and aimed particularly at younger people’. And if there’s one thing to be considered as a given about the younger population of not only the United States, but the entire world, it’s that Generation Z has a distinct political opinion, proving that they are much more educated than its previous equivalents anyway. And apparently, as per multiple surveys done around the world, it conveniently leans towards the liberal side of the spectrum.

And just as demand creates supply, the pop culture industry attends to its liberal audiences with the content it’d be eager to watch, something customised to resonate with their own opinions; therefore, creating marketable liberal content.

Not only the stipulation of the younger cohort, but even such a common commodity such as the internet is facing a sudden turnover in the content that it will have to keep at hand as internet searches for libertarian, liberal and kindred topics report sharp increases. Throughout the year of 2018, as per GT (Google Trends), the comparative advantage of Left-Wing searches had risen dramatically, and hasn’t shown any considerably big falls in popularity ever since. Left-wing politics subject searches had increased from around 105 percent to over 160 percent of right-wing politics topic searches in 2018 alone. And since pop culture as a phenomenon is almost half-based on the internet’s vast resources distributed even at the corners of this good earth, it is just as covered in the hues of liberalism as a canvas is in paint.

However, one final and perhaps most important aspect still remains. Another extract from Chait’s report reads:

Who is today the paradigmatic conservative intellectual, the kind of individual to whom educated and reading conservatives look for authoritative judgments and to whom they ultimately defer? He seems to be a cross between an intellectual and a political activist, less a thinker concerned with the fundamental and enduring questions of life than a “policy wonk,” less a learned scholar than a media pundit.

But these persons are not so much independent agents as unwitting instruments of larger forces-a fate they cannot bemoan because it does not reach their consciousness. Because of a weak grasp of the dynamic of human existence, they have difficulty understanding the scope of social problems. Their limited awareness of what really shapes the long-term direction of a society or civilization-specifically, of the roles played by thought and imagination leads to inadequate analyses of the existing political and social situation and of what might bring real and lasting improvement.

Chait presents arguably the most interesting point under this argument. He argues that the power of people who affect us via teaching, writing, preaching, art, and entertainment dwarfs the power of all the politicians in the nation's capital, especially over time. Even if the latter group includes a diverse range of perspectives, a cultural and intellectual ethos that can be traced back to groundbreaking works of art and philosophy tends to predominate. Egalitarian forces and mass communication have resulted in a potentially more thoroughgoing like-mindedness than has previously been witnessed.

Whatever the prevailing basic mind-set developed by artists and intellectuals, it has instilled certain expectations and wants in us. It has paved the way for or erected barriers to particular types of political action. Politicians who offend the dominant sensitivities and beliefs of their period face the danger of losing their jobs. In other words, they are at the mercy of forces beyond their control. They can only modify the “rules of the game” that are set deep inside a people's consciousness.

Overall, intellectual conservatism in the United States has struggled to embrace or comprehend that true and permanent social change must begin deep inside the mind and work its way out over decades. Many of the movement's leaders sought rapid results, i.e. electoral triumphs, although giving lip service to the need for ideas and vision. Intellectual conservatism failed to completely integrate or move far in developing and augmenting the work of its great thinkers, whether dead or living. It did not create a broad and theoretically developed intellectual culture that could have helped it gain traction in academics and, as a result, infiltrate society more profoundly.

And just like in the United States, this simple lack of perception shown by the conservationists is visible in every other country where two distinct liberal and traditionalist stances exist. Even in countries with comparatively larger international cultural influence like Italy and France, the scenario is nothing short of identical.

However, this does not mean that politicians have not made their fair share of attempts at declaring war on this strong hold. Only recently, after the election of the Trump Administration, former President Trump and his overly fond votary, Fox News, had launched at the liberal world, guns blazing, only to see their conquest fail spectacularly. Click here for more on this.

Nevertheless, the theory behind this stealthy and progressive domination remains simple. The Conservationists only know how to make arguments; the Liberals, almost exclusively in our time and place, know how to make art.

Which one would you rather prefer?

Written by Anvita Tripathi

Illustrated by Anushka Doshi


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