Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Monocultures: An Observation

     I’m sure my Gentle Readers have heard quite enough about the lockstep liberalism of the major media, the dumbed-down puree that emerges from our schools and universities, and the brown-goo culture that dominates every one of the federal bureaucracies. These are well known monocultures: places where a single strain of convictions has succeeded in marginalizing (in some cases totally driving out) every other variety of belief or thought. In each case the dominant strain has also erected high, thick barriers against re-penetration by competing beliefs and agendas. The conquered turf seems impermeable by anything that might threaten its monopoly.

     But there is nothing without a weakness – and a monoculture, when its weakness is targeted by an adequately efficient competitor, tends to decay and collapse with startling swiftness.

     The American Right has fussed over the media, educational, and bureaucratic monocultures for decades without being able to do anything much about them. Some chinks appeared in their protections – homeschooling, online education, talk radio, the Internet – but the competitors have proved insufficiently efficient to bring down their opponents. Indeed, the defenders of the educational and media monocultures have succeeded somewhat in counter-infiltrating the competitors and weakening them before they could pose a significant threat. As for the bureaucratic monoculture, nothing has seriously threatened it.

     Until now.

     A monoculture’s defense mechanism is almost always a “grass roots” phenomenon. The “bottom-level” organisms deny invaders access to light, space, and nutrients through their sheer mass and solidity, preventing any incursion from making progress. Thus, the attacker has a logistical problem that can prove impossible to solve.

     In the case of the federal bureaucracies, the Right’s hopes have always been pinned on the election of conservative presidents who would direct their political appointees to reduce the ranks of the bureaucrats who nominally report to them. That approach ran full tilt into Civil Service job protections, the power of the public-employee unions, and the bureaucrats’ ability to infect the political appointees with a contrary agenda. In the usual case, the political appointees became as immovable in defense of “their” departments as the lowest-level bureaucrats therein. Presidents have discovered, to their sorrow, that such a “top-down” approach to thinning the bureaucracies were doomed from the start.

     Recently, President Trump took a different approach: he attacked the defense mechanisms themselves. He’s just simplified and eased the procedure for terminating a Civil Service employee, while federal court decisions have ruled against compulsory unionization and dues collection by withholding. The former move makes it possible both for political appointees to fire those under them who fail to cooperate; the latter creates inroads and protections for entrants not in sympathy with the monoculture, giving the appointees beachheads of support beneath them.

     However successful it might ultimately prove, it will take time for President Trump’s approach to reap results. Even so, the change in direction is a promising one. The increasingly shrill attacks on the Trump Administration from the media, the Democrats, and the rest of the Left suggest that at last they know real fear. Their most important bastion in federal power might finally have met an enemy it cannot easily deflect.

     We can hope.

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