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The Gatekeeper Is Broken

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This page was updated July 27, 2021 by jtk and is current

A popular concept in right wing politics is the gatekeeper or sometimes called the controlled opposition. This is the person or group that appears to be in opposition to the Left, but is an insulation layer between the Left and genuine critics. The function of the gatekeeper is to prevent people from abandoning the political morality of the Left, while at the same time making sure to lose every fight with the Left. They channel opposition into positions that can never succeed.

Ben Shapiro is the most obvious example. His primary role is to funnel all opposition into a dead end. His answer to the tech monopolies, for example, is to tell people to build their own new internet. After all, only a communist would demand the government prevent private actors from trampling your rights. Of course, he always tone policing the language of the people he claims to represent. The point is also to cleanse the language of rhetoric that could be effective against the Left.

What gets little discussion is just how this happens. There is an assumption that the people playing the role of gatekeeper know what they are doing. This is that bourgeois objectivism that is the bane of right-wing politics. It is the assumption that all political actors are motivated by self-interest. They are keenly aware of those interests and their actions reflect it. Therefore, people on the Right assume the gatekeepers are acting with purpose and are probably in league with the Left.

A good example of this is the CRT business. Parents around the country suddenly learned that the schools are teaching their kids that white people are born evil and their only way to salvation is to hate their ancestors. The gatekeepers immediately leapt into action to lecture them that saying CRT is antiwhite is wrong. Suddenly, the purpose of conservatism is to prevent anyone from noticing that the cultural revolution is explicitly and overtly antiwhite. It almost seems coordinated.

There is a familiar pattern to how the system has responded to opposition to the antiwhite pogroms launched by the party. The defunct social media platform Parler was not about creating an alternative to Twitter, so much as creating a regime-acceptable alternative to the genuinely open platform Gab. When that failed, the usual suspects were ready with another version called Retalk. Many of the people promoting this effort were anti-Trump cranks now trying to lure his audience.

An underappreciated aspect of the gatekeeper production system is just how quickly it spits out hollow clones of legitimate opposition. Once Nick Fuentes started getting national attention, the clone machine started making copies. Here is a fake America First clone produced soon after the election. Fuentes has been promoting the term “America First” for a while. He sells branded products and his supporters wave big flags at rallies with that slogan, so the system just cloned it.

The system also appears to be trying to clone Fuentes himself and his imitators among the young generation. Here is a group called American Moment, formed by four young gay men to be an acceptable version of the groypers. The system men were out flogging it as if it were coordinated. Here is National Review promoting it. Here is American Mind, promoting itself by promoting the fake groypers. As if by magic a group of nobodies was suddenly a topic of conversation.

In the effort to co-opt Fuentes and his youth movement, we see a pattern emerge in how gatekeepers are created. First, we get the fake version of the genuine alternative mentioned in conservative media. Then what quickly follows is a halfhearted negation of the fake version of the alternative. This pseudo-dialectic is supposed to draw in those unhappy with the system. They have to pick a side in this fake debate. The point is to exclude the genuine opposition from the process.

The sandwich technique is a staple of liberal democratic politics. Since few arguments in favor of the status quo can withstand scrutiny, they create a set of false choices to contain all discussion. In economics the choice is “free enterprise” versus “communism” with regards to corporate corruption of society. In other issues, like the race debate, one choice is an absurdly immoral position and defeatism. You either buckle under or you are a Nazi, and you deserve the assault from the Left.

Of course, the main project of so-called conservatives is to figure out a way to create a fake Trump in order to sideline the populist and nationalist opposition to the corporatist uniparty monopoly. Trump did not get anything done in office, but the system still fears him, because of the bad thoughts he arouses in the people. Trump running in 2024 would both reveal the ridiculousness of conservatism (again) and generate the sorts of conversations that the regime considers dangerous.

The first version of fake Trump is J.D. Vance. He is a more successful version of the character Keven Williams has played at National Review. That is, a guy from flyover country who abandoned the people and culture that produced him in order to confirm the biases of the managerial elite. He provides them with authenticity, by displaying a sympathy for and a knowledge of the Dirt People, the great dispossessed, but he confirms the Cloud People patronizing view of them.

You will notice that the system defends itself with rhetoric. Democracy is all about winning arguments, not establishing, or accepting truth. It is why democracy produces so many sophists. It is also why Twitter is so popular with regime lackeys. People with the natural instinct to defend their masters and a gift for doing so in a few sentences can become heroes on the platform. A system built on clever rhetoric and logical fallacies is naturally good at defending itself with the same tools.

This natural defense does have its limits. A decade ago, the Tea Party movement was easily coopted by corporate flunkies. This time it is struggling to do the same thing with the populism Trump rode to office and the growing dissident movement. The fake groypers, for example, cannot draw flies. Their YouTube shows should have crickets as the background noise. This is despite the hype and protection. Fuentes and his merry band draw tens of thousands to obscure platforms.

It could very well be that this natural defense mechanism only works if the system itself is viewed as fundamentally legitimate. Once people begin to think the system is rigged or inherently corrupt, the defense mechanisms not only fail, but they also become proof of the corruption. National Review outsourced their management to Bangalore recently because the site no longer has an audience. In other words, the failure of gatekeeping is a sign of systemic failure.

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