Is Conservatism the New Counterculture?

Is Conservatism the New Counterculture?

With the election of President Trump, young conservatives are now proclaiming they are part of a new counterculture to the current, dominant left-wing zeitgeist in America.

Reporter Paul Joseph Watson, who has a huge following on YouTube, explained why in a video topping 690,000 views. He says, “Conservatism is the new punk rock.”

What exactly is a counterculture? According to Wikipedia, “A counterculture…is a subculture whose values and norms of behavior differ substantially from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural mores.”

Since the 1960s and the hippie revolution, America has trended leftward in politics and culture. What was shocking in the 60s – long hair on men, drug use, and promiscuity – is accepted and even encouraged today. In a world in which transgender celebrities are promoted as heroes, outrage over Beatles haircuts seems quaint.

Such drastic changes, however, may not truly reflect the sentiments of average Americans.

Even as recently as the 2000s, the majority of Americans did not approve of same-sex marriage. California voters actually voted against same-sex marriage when given the opportunity at the ballot box in 2008. Within less than 10 years, any opposition to same-sex marriage had been deemed homophobic and “anti-gay.” In 2014, Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich was forced to step down due to his support of traditional marriage based on his Catholic beliefs.

With such tremendous pressure by activists to conform to certain PC narratives, many believe that opinions about same-sex marriage haven’t changed so much as people are afraid to be honest about how they feel. If this is the case, an undercurrent of resentment in the population may be bubbling beneath the surface.

Furthermore, such rapid cultural shifts are generally not assimilated well by societies without an increasing amount of social stress and conflict. Often, a backlash occurs to push society back in the opposite direction.

The 1991 book Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi describes the social forces revolting against the successful feminist movement of the 1960s and 70s.

From the book overview on Faludi’s website: “When it was first published, Backlash made headlines for puncturing such favorite media myths as the “infertility epidemic” and the “man shortage,” myths that defied statistical realities. These willfully fictitious media campaigns added up to an antifeminist Backlash.”

If Faludi was correct about a feminist backlash, the current conservative counterculture movement is a remnant or renewal of that backlash. As the media lauds women taking over men’s roles in Ghostbusters and Dr. Who, men’s rights proponents are becoming louder and brasher. Conservative pundit Gavin McInnes is one advocate for men’s rights who proclaims, “Feminism is a war on masculinity.”

On the fringes, some men have sworn off women altogether as part of a movement called “MGTOW” or “Men Go Their Own Way.”

Still, the conservative counterculture forces aren’t primarily concerned with social issues or even feminism so much as challenging PC culture. Most conservatives don’t care what people do in their bedrooms as long as they don’t have to approve of it. People just want to be able to speak their mind without being harassed.

If one issue unites Trump voters, disenfranchised men, and the traditional evangelical voting bloc, it’s political correctness. When comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld won’t even perform at colleges anymore due to PC, traditional liberals may be joining the anti-PC counterculture movement. When this happens, the culture could shift in unforeseen ways.

From Wikipedia: “When oppositional forces reach critical mass, countercultures can trigger dramatic cultural changes.”

Image Source: Rick Manning/Wikimedia