The Mechanics of Power
Andrew Breitbart famously said “politics is downstream from culture”, echoing the insights of Antonio Gramsci. Without taking a definitive stance on whether or not culture generation is bottom-up or top-down, it will not cause a scandal if we say that culture is significantly influenced by institutions. Academia, news media, family structure, Church influence, entertainment, the (non)presence of guilds or unions, etc. exert an influence on their immediate communities, and this influence echoes throughout the rest of society as these communities interact and meld. News anchors, to show one example of communal interaction and melding, tend to share the same social narrative as the contemporary academic establishment. What academia teaches, studies, and publishes, to give another example, will be influenced to the extent that the Church is central in public life.1
If culture is significantly influenced by, if not outright downstream from, institutions, then it can be asked, “what determines which institutions have power at a given time?” Subsidization, and taxation are the twin determiners for what institutions hold power at a given time. That which is subsidized is encouraged, that which is taxed is discouraged. A clear example in 2021, is Amazon. Why is it that Amazon is as successful as it is? It receives an exorbitant amount of subsidies, and is exempt from almost all taxation; translated: it is highly encouraged, and almost never discouraged. Why, to use another example, are public schools more abundant than Christian schools? The former receives large subsidies, and is not taxed, while the later receives no subsidies, and has to fight to get tax exemptions. Public education is, to translate, highly encouraged, while Christian education is, at minimum, not encouraged. What results is a large population of students internalize the progressive ethos, while few internalize the Christian ethos, and these students will carry with them their ethos into the work place, further shifting the culture to the left.
The connection between an institution’s power, and how it is subsidized and taxed, is like a water spigot: turn on the water spigot (increase subsidizes, reduce taxes), and the institution grows, turn off the water spigot (decrease subsidizes, increase taxes), and the institution withers.
Sexy politics is the politics of ideas, personalities, and movements. (Un)surprisingly, sexy politics is almost always ineffectual politics. Boring budget allocations, in contrast, is the allocation of power. It is undeniably true that dissidents need to build counter-infrastructure and rival institutions, but these efforts will only avail if there is someone in the legislature to point the spigot towards these institutions and infrastructure, and blast the water.
As a matter of strategy, both institution/infrastructure building and spigot pointing should be done at the state level where there is far less political gatekeeping, and where the Eye of Sauron is not immediately focused. Successful spigot pointing does not look like spigot pointing, mind. Institutions are not subsidized, or taxed, by name (which would sound the alarm), but by category. The best spigot pointers appear like any other politician, but after a budget is set his favored institutions just so happen to meet the requirements for subsidization, but not for taxation, and the institutions receiving his ire meets the requirements for taxation, but not for subsidization. It is true that spigot pointing takes cunning and wit, not to mention a Machiavellian subtlety, but all great victories require hard work.
Compare what academia studied, and produced, in the middle ages to what academia studies, and produces, in 2021.