I once heard it said that if you’re a right winger you’ll understand the fundamental political axis as order vs chaos and if you’re a left winger you’ll understand it as liberation vs oppression. I question the generalizability of this claim, and nevertheless find it to be a valuable heuristics. I do wish for an orderly community. I value order-based virtues—temperance, moderation, self-control, chastity—in myself and those with whom I spend my time. I desire a social organization where people feel a sense of unity, commonality, and social obligation; a place where man is not an atomized individual trying to maximize his utility but a bona fide human being with relationships, faults, aspirations, and identity.
I, like most interested in politics, did not begin my journey by reading a precise piece of theory which accounted for all of my concerns; no doubt I love political theory, but that most definitely wasn’t what got me started. My political identity began to take shape due to a series of intuitions—vibes, if you will. I remember hearing the phrase, “Diversity is our strength,” and noticing its stark opposition to the phrase, “United we stand; divided we fall.” I remember my dad telling stories about spending all day playing with the neighborhood kids and lamenting the non-existent community in my middle class neighborhood. I remember, nearly a decade ago, idolizing a rural and communal lifestyle I had scarcely ever encountered. Years later, having made it through a rather cringey normie-con phase, I still feel these intuitions as forcefully as ever. A healthy life is one with rich communities, in touch with nature, with intergenerational bonds and a strong sense of duty. I fully recognize that, groomed from my youth to enter into the Professional-Managerial Class before I had any conception of what that meant, I am thoroughly deracinated. I have no sense of home or roots. I could live in London or L.A. or Chapel Hill and little would change.
A friend’s boyfriend, whom I once met, came from a small town in Ohio. For as many generations as they can remember, his family has lived in Ohio. His friends, family, and community are united. They share deep bonds with each other and with their home which I could only dream of.
I recognize that these two points about order and community seem quite tangential, but they’re utterly crucial to my thesis. The internet is a deracinating, isolating, and degenerating force. It’s not designed to build community but to maximize clicks by generating the feeling of community. It appeals to one’s most base appetites and reduces him to a mere consumer of content and products. The internet may be a comfortable retreat for right wingers, especially when you feel like you don’t know anyone in person with whom you can discuss your beliefs, but your favorite podcast isn’t going to save you. There are only so many times you can listen to the same talking points before you can’t help but get this sickening feeling that you’re wasting your life away.
The internet is designed for shallowness. Shallowness hurts the right. A citizenry that is deracinated, without virtue, and mere pleasure-seekers and pain-fearers are far easier to control than real humans. There’s no doubt that the right is not in good shape right now, and we want to look towards large centers of power to turn things around, but we must start small. Even if you converted every student at UNC into active organizers, there’s little we could do to affect behemoths like the federal government. We need to be building, slowly and over time. We need to form bonds and create institutions in person that will last after we graduate. We won’t influence the nation, but you could just influence your hometown.
So reach out. Find the things you care about. Grab coffee or start a book club. Write some essays and share them around. Take action at your school or city government. Find a community and always keep building, so that things will be easier for those who follow you.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was the community of a small town in Ohio.