A Less United State: The Case for Parallel Systems
America’s two political halves seem intolerable to each other. Can we now maintain peace? How and for how long?
Right up front, let’s assume that the left isn’t going to decide en masse any time soon to take on the policy positions or values of the right. They’re ascendant currently, particularly at their more radical fringe. There’s less and less sign that the left is ready or willing to talk things over.
So is it up to those of us on the right to extend the olive branch, giving in on matters we’ve been rather stubborn about and finally getting with the program of modernity? Can’t we simply accept that they run the schools and set the agenda for curricula and what’s acceptable in a teacher? Can’t we accept that they run the media and must be the only ones who can do it well? Can’t we accept that our workplaces must now be “woke” and ideologically pure? Can’t we embrace science, finally concede that climate change is the greatest existential threat to humanity, and stop obstructing socialists’ and liberals’ vigorous efforts to fix the planet’s atmosphere?
No, none of this is likely, nor a good idea. With both sides appearing to move toward more radical extremes and no hope of reconciliation, what’s the way forward for this nation that has classically valued tolerance and ideological diversity?
The COVID power grab of 2020-21 showed the left’s hand in a way few things could have. It showed where we’re going should the left continue accruing power as fast as they’re capable of under an emergency pretext (see Rise of the Arbiters). Do we imagine we’ve seen the last of emergencies? No, we’ll certainly see more of them now, this last one having worked so amazingly well for the power hungry.
The idea of parallel systems offers at least some hope where it’s easy to see an impasse. The fundamental idea is that it may be possible, within this one nation, to live as two societies under one Constitutional “roof,” each with their own schools, media, literary canon, etc. And whether or not we’re actively trying to forge such and American duality, it’s already happening.
Should we prolong and intensify this domestic conflict when de-coupling may be possible?
Most of us notice, to some extent, how the leftist schools and media have corrupted the present generation of young adults and are at work on the next generation. If nothing else, they’re intellectually underserved by a pablum of uninspiring curricula and an omnipresent socialistic world view. All but gone are the incentives of personal achievement, largely replace by exercises in cooperation and groupthink. With our progeny untethered from any meaningful basis of morality, we reap the consequences of decades of erosion of Western values by our television producers, movie makers, and more recently, most of the big online content creators. Is it even possible now to reverse such long-standing trends? How would we do so if we still had a will to try?
Parallel systems may now be not only an interesting thought experiment or an accelerating trend; they may be a necessity, and the overriding reason for this is the control of the internet. If we simply go on with left-wing doctrine and left-leaning censorship permeating our online discourse, how long before the right is utterly marginalized? Particularly, the censorship pursued by the tech giants is already pervasive and getting worse. It happens constantly in ways almost impossible to detect as well as in blatant bannings, account suspensions, and deletions.
I’m a very small-time content creator, someone whose thoughts and small audience don’t seem like they could pose a threat to the ideology of the tech oligarchs or anyone else. Yet, my reach online has been throttled—on both my nature/outdoors site and this site. The first time I saw it, it seemed unmistakable to me, though still deniable by whoever was pulling the strings or editing the algorithm. I wrote a post called “Welcome to the State Hatchery” for my nature site around the time of Pennsylvania’s trout season opener in spring of 2020, a long piece that ultimately cautioned about the nascent COVID overreach we were witnessing at the time. Readership for that one article surged. It was certainly noticed. Then, suddenly, views fell flat. Almost no one was seeing the post or visiting my site. I continued writing on COVID-related themes and readership remained a small fraction of that first post’s; much below normal. It’s not impossible that there are other plausible explanations, but when can you ever really prove you’ve been throttled?
Recently, I sat for an interview with a popular YouTuber, and again it seems that the video was hidden, or “shadow-banned,” shortly after it launched.
When someone searches for “March of Liberty” on Google (used for about 90% of searches), this site often doesn’t show up until the third or fourth page of results. But use another search engine like Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Qwant, or DuckDuckGo, and it’s the very first result. Perhaps the reasons this site is effectively hidden on “Goolag” are benign: not enough sites link to it, or it’s not popular enough, or it needs better search engine optimization. Or perhaps sites that use words like “libertarian,” “tyranny,” and “authoritarianism,” and that have a link to Gab on every page, aren’t favored by the algorithm. Or perhaps the entrenched market leader has become so complacent and distracted from what is supposed to be their core business—internet search—that this failure to find and rank pages appropriately is the inevitable result.
The point here isn’t to cry about how unfair they’ve been to me, but rather to start you thinking about extrapolating to the broader world of conservative and libertarian thought online. How many conservative creators meet the same fate on a regular basis? Do the algorithms simply cast a wide net for all of what was once known as classically liberal thought?
And, of course, the intention is to demonstrate the necessity of breaking with the censorious model that now reigns. We need our own online giants and we need to leave the current regime behind en masse. It’s not easy, but it needs to be done; people have been forced to do harder things and have taken far greater risks in the name of liberty.
One might suggest that living in parallel systems is only a small step now—we already live in alternate realities. The left’s mainstream media now accuse the majority of Americans of marginalizing men who want to become women and vice versa. They accuse anyone who pushes for election integrity reforms of wanting to deny access to voting. They want outlets that dispute the emergency nature of global warming to be censored if not prosecuted, and slander skeptics as “deniers.” They opine that all those displaying the American flag are racist. American traditionalists, attempting to mind their own business, businesses, and property, are cast as the oppressors.
Such positions leave true Americans dumbfounded. How do you begin formulating responses to inanities untethered to anything recognizable as reality?
Whether or not we’re planning for the construction of parallel systems, they’re materializing. Analysis of America’s voting districts reveal that, while they had been very mixed between red and blue in most of the last century, people have now largely self-segregated, exercising the “U-Haul vote.” If people are segregating themselves in such real and, indeed, geographic ways, is it not likely that they’re separating in many other ways?
The ongoing bifurcation takes many forms currently. The overly prolonged closure of schools, especially of public schools with teachers’ unions, forced many American families to rethink the wisdom of sending their children to an office of the state for education. Now legislatures in at least 37 states are considering or have passed laws that introduce or expand private school choice programs. Overall, U.S. private school enrollment is up, as is homeschooling. It would be good to think that perhaps in a decade, private schools and homeschooling could be the norm for non-leftist families—and perhaps for that matter, all families.
Thousands of conservatives and libertarians are fleeing Twitter and Facebook for Gab, MeWe, Parler, Telegram, and other platforms. This is one of the most basic moves we can make if we value free speech and other classical American values. Still, it’s not happening fast enough. Congress remains impotent to make inroads against the tech giants; we need to do it ourselves. In fact, we can thank the government for creating and perpetuating the problem by affording ongoing protection to BigTech under FCC Section 230.
Our online news sources have moved well beyond harboring biases, which is inescapable, to being openly and bitterly partisan. We simply expect it now and gravitate toward those sources that suit our own biases. During the Trump era, the mainstream media made itself intolerable to the right, leaving Fox as the only TV news alternative—at least until Fox self-immolated on election night 2020. In an ideal world, one might hope to find a little of one perspective and a little of another, perhaps from the same source, but it seems that today’s Americans, driven to the extremes and attracted to hyperbolic vices, are in no humor to sit back and weigh alternative viewpoints.
Are parallel systems the great, ultimate answer to our worsening societal debate? No, probably not. It’s a potential stopgap forestalling something far worse: the violence that becomes a form of expression—the last resort—when speech is no longer allowed.
While it may seem that the idea of parallel systems can find favor only within one half of America, the divide has already been driven by the other half: the ascendant and increasingly radical left, which shows no inclination toward that classically liberal virtue of “tolerance” we heard so much about in bygone eras such as the 1990’s. In the scorched-earth censorship policies of the youth-led tech giants, we see the militant left unmasked; we see the direction this is all going. They will allow no alternatives—thought, spoken, or otherwise—they have police for that.