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New strategy for culture war already in place: A reply to Philip Gold

By William S. Lind
web posted April 1, 2002

In his column in the March 8 Washington Times, "New Tactics Needed for Cultural Wars," Philip Gold [available here in text format] draws an analogy between cultural conservatives' situation today and what the German army did in 1916-17 in response to the deadlock on the Western Front. Like the Germans, he argues, cultural conservatives need new tactics if they are to have a chance of winning the culture war.

In fact, such an analogy can be drawn, although it is slightly different from the one Mr. Gold suggests. To see it clearly, we first have to recognize the new tactics - or more accurately, the new strategy - Mr. Gold believes necessary for cultural conservatives already exists. He touches on it briefly, when he mentions the work of Paul Weyrich. But he does not seem to grasp either its substance or its importance.

In what Mr. Gold calls "Culture War I," cultural conservatives' strategy was to lay out a political agenda for restoring America's historic, Western, Judeo-Christian culture, then attempt to elect people who would implement that agenda. I was very much involved in that effort, as co-author of two books that exemplified it, "Cultural Conservatism: Toward a New National Agenda" and "Cultural Conservatism: Theory and Practice."

I remember how excited we were when some major political figures, including then-White House chief of staff John Sununu, read the books with great interest. But in the end, nothing came of it. The strategy failed for two reasons.

First, the politicians quickly realized that an open defense of Western culture would get them excluded from the Establishment, which requires adherence to "multiculturalism." Second, the forces of cultural decay were simply too strong to be overcome through politics. As Paul Weyrich wrote in his famous open letter of February 16, 1999, "The culture we are living in becomes an ever-wider sewer. In truth, I think we are caught up in a cultural collapse of historic proportions, a collapse so great that it simply overwhelms politics."

That letter also laid out the new strategy which Mr. Gold correctly believes necessary. Instead of attempting to retake society's existing institutions through politics, cultural conservatives should separate themselves from those institutions and build their own.

Therefore, what seems to me a legitimate strategy for us to follow is to look at ways to separate ourselves from the institutions that have been captured by the ideology of Political Correctness, or by other enemies of our traditional culture... What I mean by separation is, for example, what the homeschoolers have done. Faced with public school systems that no longer educate but instead "condition" students with the attitudes demanded by Political Correctness, they have seceded. They have separated themselves from public schools and have created new institutions, new schools, in their homes.

Here is where the analogy to the German army in World War I comes in. As Bruce Gudmundsson demonstrates in his definitive book, Stormtroop Tactics, the German army's new doctrine did not result from a single conference in Berlin. Rather, it was the result of a broad-scale, bottom-up effort that began early in 1915 as junior officers began experimenting with new tactics.

That is exactly how the new Cultural Independence movement - the successor to the moribund conservative movement - is now developing. It is the product not of any Washington think-tank or gaggle of politicos, but of ordinary people who are freeing themselves and their families from the deadly conditioning mechanisms of Brave New World - television, video games, public schools, pop music, etc.

And, they are beginning to build their own institutions, as we see in the growing network of homeschoolers who are pooling their efforts. Cultural Independence is the new strategy for which Mr. Gold calls. He does not see its importance or potential power, because he is in Washington. Washington does not believe anything of importance can happen elsewhere, least of all in "fly-over land" where most of Middle America lives.

Fortunately, Washington is wrong. It is among the Frontschwein in the culture war, ordinary Americans, that the new movement to save, then restore our traditional, Western, Judeo-Christian culture is taking form. In that movement for cultural independence there is hope.

William S. Lind is director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation.

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