On ‘The Narrative’

Conservatives are well aware of certain tendencies in the way that mainstream media outlets twist and distort the facts. And so, when we learn about important details missing from stories or relevant stories that largely go without coverage (e.g. hate crimes against whites or scandals involving Democrats or well-connected liberals) we often say that the media is trying to preserve the narrative by excluding any facts that don’t fit. But what exactly is “the Narrative?”

The Narrative is a form of prejudice employed by the left—particularly SJW’s—that arises out of a progressive mythology of oppression. It tells a story of good guys and bad guys where the heroes and villains are identity groups rather than individuals. For example, one of the most well-known narratives is Whites vs. Blacks. According to this narrative, evil whites enslaved innocent blacks and treated them as subhuman chattel. Even after blacks gained their freedom from whites, the oppression then continued through segregation and now through both the economy and the criminal justice system as whites portray blacks as gang bangers, drug addicts, and welfare queens.

I described this as “mythology” because these charges against whites aren’t exactly false, but they’re only true in a kind of Hollywood based-on-a-true-story sense. After all, the narrative ignores some really important facts that don’t fit in with the Evil Whites vs. Good Blacks theme: Hundreds of thousands of whites gave their lives in order to free black slaves. Black slaves were sold to whites by the blacks (and sometimes Middle-Easterners) who enslaved them in the first place. Slavery has been a fixture of most races and civilizations throughout history (even, our word “slave” comes from “Slav”) and the more unique aspect to the enslavement of blacks by whites is that whites eventually fought to end it. To be sure, none of these facts make American slavery any less of an abomination or slavery in general any less immoral, but they do spoil the simplistic good guys against bad guys narrative used by BlackLivesMatter activists, social justice warriors, and the left in general.

Critical thinkers recognize this kind of narrative as propaganda, and so it is. However, while it may have started as the left using propaganda as a tool to achieve its agenda, it now goes far deeper. The left has been drinking its own Kool-Aid for more than a generation now, and today Narrative represents an entirely different way of analyzing the world from what conservatives are typically familiar with. Conservatives analyze facts in light of principles, and we expect the left to do so as well—even if their principles are different, we expect them to have the same style of thought. And indeed, the left used to think this way (and some of their older thinkers still do.) However, this is clearly no longer the case for the social justice left.

Consider the way rape accusations are often handled on college campuses. The big push from feminists has been to demand that everyone should automatically believe all accusations made by women; and colleges have largely obliged them in this. The logically necessary corollary to this, of course, is that accused men must be automatically considered guilty, and colleges have largely embraced this as well. The kind of unaccountable kangaroo courts that our higher education use to adjudicate these matters lack any sense of due process or even fairness and have created plenty of new victims.
The principled thinker will look at a situation like this and recognize that it’s unjust, for he knows the value of due process. Even the pragmatic thinker will recognize that it’s unwise to create a system that’s so easy to abuse. The narrative thinker, however, is untroubled by it. By their analysis, men have been oppressing women for nearly all of human history, and now that women are finally making some headway, it’s absurd to start worrying about the possibility that life is unfair to the occasional oppressor. Some rich white frat boy gets bumped out of school? Boo-hoo! He can dry his tears on his huge pile of daddy’s money—which was basically stolen from women and minorities anyway. And yes, people really do think this way. Whether an individual man is technically innocent or not doesn’t really change the fact that men are the bad guys and are just getting their comeuppance. Who cares if the bad guys suffer so that the good guys can win?

Or consider Rotherham (or Cologne or other instances of sexual abuse brought about by importing rape culture into Europe.) In case you need a refresher, a sex-slavery ring in Rotherham, England that entailed the rape of around 1200 girls was actively covered up by city officials. Why? Because the perpetrators were mainly Pakistani immigrants, and the city officials didn’t want to create an anti-immigrant backlash. Again, a principled thinker would recognize that rape is abhorrent no matter who is committing it and work to rescue the victims. Narrative thinkers, however, show partiality based on the Narrative—which in this case, tells a story of Western imperialism and racism. According to the Narrative, Muslim migrants are the poor oppressed good guys whereas white Westerners are the oppressive bad guys—even when they’re being raped by said good guys. It’s a sub-narrative that supersedes even the men vs women sub-narrative, for the current migrant crisis and ongoing issues with Islamic terrorism make it more timely.

And that is how the narrative evolves. Being an element of leftist thought, the story always changes according to the notion of progress—that humanity is on a path towards improving ourselves and gaining freedom from oppression. Progressives believe that in general, the next generation of humans is always smarter, better, more moral, and more enlightened than the one that preceded it. This creates what I’ve occasionally called the “liberal hierarchy of grievance.” Once they gain critical mass, movements seeking to fight against oppression are prioritized according to their current relevance in the public consciousness—newer is generally better. When the Narrative picks heroes and villains in current circumstance, it is usually done according to the relative priority of their grievances.

For example, all other things being equal, fighting for the rights of an otherwise generic poor underclass—peasants, slaves, etc—has become a very low priority, for the various leftward political revolutions in Europe were a long time ago at this point. You can see this in the now-dawning realization that the African slave trade has resumed in Libya and weird lack of coverage by the more left-leaning news outlets. One whose principles inform him that slavery is such a great evil that even the ancestors of those who owned slaves still need to receive retribution in the form of reparations, affirmative action, and so forth would make an even bigger deal about slavery that is still going on right now. But what is inexplicable according to principle is explained by narrative. After all, the slave traders who are once more selling Africans are Middle Eastern Muslims rather than White Christians.

The same kind of reasoning explains why being ‘trans’ now trumps all other considerations. When Bruce Jenner decided to openly pretend to be a woman, actress Alice Eve complained about him adopting her gender without having experienced all the oppression that goes along with it. It was a very feminist thing to say, but she was roundly denounced by the left for being transphobic—after all, mere misogyny is old news in comparison. Indeed, the way the trans movement commodifies womanhood on behalf of men has been making quite a few feminists uncomfortable, but the Narrative rolls on regardless. Women are falling further and further down the hierarchy—you can’t call out men who adopt their sex, nor can you call out Muslim nations for their treatment of women. Even our institutional bastions of the far left like Hollywood and the mainstream media are turning out to have been systematically abusing women all along. Straight White and East Asian males are the really the only remaining groups that are always the bad guys when placed in opposition to non-minority women.

I’ve often heard conservatives claim that if the left didn’t have double standards, it would have no standards at all. This is, unfortunately, a bit of an understatement when it often seems that most leftists are now ideologically bound up in the crusades of SJW’s, even if they’re not personally out there protesting, rioting, getting political opponents fired, etc. It’s hard to even call them hypocrites, for a hypocrite at least has principles to betray. Narrative thinking has far more in common with children who are caught up with their favorite TV show—the hero gets the bad guy, and any comeuppance that the bad guy receives is cause for celebration. You can’t argue rationally with children about their favorite stories, and neither can you argue rationally with the social justice left, for narrative thinking is no less childish.

The reason that the alt-right is ascendant in comparison to conservatives is that conservatives are still trying to argue with the left. We think that if only we can show liberals how they’re being hypocritical and betraying their own principles, then they’ll finally see reason. But this is a futile endeavor when targeting narrative thinkers for they have abandoned principle altogether. The alt-right, in contrast, is fighting the left by creating a counter-narrative through bold rhetoric—and its working because their narrative is far closer to observable reality than the left’s is (admittedly, that’s not a terribly high bar when you consider the left’s current fanaticism surrounding men pretending to be women, but still.) It’s not always a good narrative, and I can see why conservatives are uncomfortable with it, but in terms of overall approach, it’s far more effective than what we’ve been doing. Despite decades of culture wars, we have practically nothing to show for it. Arguments are great for equipping the right, convincing the principled, and making sure that one’s own narrative conforms to reality. But even Aristotle recognized that most people are persuaded only through rhetoric.

About Matt

Software engineer by trade; lay theologian by nature; Lutheran by grace.
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4 Responses to On ‘The Narrative’

  1. Gunner Q says:

    The Left talks only to attack so a narrative is the literary version of a siege train… lies working together to discredit, disqualify and defame.

    “The reason that the alt-right is ascendant in comparison to conservatives is that conservatives are still trying to argue with the left. ”

    Conservatives are the allies of the Left. They’ve tipped their loyalties in everything from “repeal and replace”ing Obamacare to violating their own rules in order to sabotage Ron Paul. And they’re as vulnerable as any SJW to Trump Derangement Syndrome.

    The alt-right is ascendant for the same reason Fox News got established overnight, by being the first to serve a huge, intentionally neglected demographic. I have issues with alt-right principles but at the moment, they’re the only political movement to the right of the Lizard Queen.

    • Matt says:

      I think it’s more precise to say that conservatives are the unwitting allies of the left. They genuinely don’t like the left and want to stop their agenda. Unfortunately, they can’t quite realize how much of what they’re currently conserving is actually foundational to the leftist agenda (e.g. feminism, mass immigration, etc.) It’s an incompetence born from fear rather than a deliberate alliance.

      Republican politicians and party officials on the other hand… yeah, I’m convinced that large portion of them are deliberate allies of the left. To them, progressives are foils to exploit for votes rather than opponents. They need them too much to genuinely fight them.

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