Often, I write my work with a presumption in mind: Progress is bad. This view is based in various points of view, some on the question of Industrialism, others on the corrosion inherit to progress-centric politics. This, in the eyes of most people, would put me firmly into the camp of “conservative”, which is a rather vague term, if I’m going to be honest.
I do not embrace the title of “conservative”, not only because labels are bad, but also because the label is inaccurate. When people talk of conservative action, in the mainstream at least, they talk about a specific flavor of weak, unprincipled, and naive type of politics: It’s the politics of “Stuckism”.
Stuckism is the mainstream conservative movement in America. It’s the political equivalent of putting a stick in the mud and yelling “society will stay at this exact point, not a single step forward”. This activity in itself is all that’s necessary to define Stuckism: It is an ultimately unprincipled declaration that the current society will be frozen at a certain time period of social norms, without any regard for the changing nature of power, politics, general social needs, or the reasons why the society during that time was constructed.
So, I am going to invert my usual arguments, that progress is usually bad. Instead, we’re going to find out why Stuckism is bad, and what that means for right-wingers generally.
Stuckism is very easy to identify once you know it. It’s the unprincipled stalling, or in some cases halting, of societal change. In the same way that “The Rot” is the unprincipled movement towards social change, Stuckism is the unprincipled movement away from it. If rot is the product of bacteria breaking down your food, then Stuckism is the act of freezing the food to prevent damage. While freezing an item is effective at preventing it from rotting, it has its own decline associated with it.
Less poetically, Stuckism concerns itself with sticking to a societal structure, or system, without regards for why the societal structure or system exists. Often, this is done by declarations that returning to a temporal point, turning back the wheels of time, if you will, is the goal as it will lead to a better society. This line of reasoning is deceptive, and unfortunately it’s something that gets many principled reactionaries on board with it. Reactionaries are defined by their affiliation with the past and how society was superior in some form in the past, so returning to the past, the way the world used to work, would be an upgrade to most reactionaries. To a reactionary, the Stuckist is just a naive reactionary, and possibly a good ally.
The Stuckist, is unfortunately not an ally. The Stuckist is, largely, a broad-strokes, dangerous, pidgin holed visionary, who can waste our time dying on a hill that no one wants to defend, nor would stay in the hands of the Stuckist if we reached their ideals. The Stuckist often doesn’t understand the complexities of the time they want to stick us at either.
A Stuckist who wishes to return to the 1950s doesn’t understand that the welfare-capitalism set up during that era by FDR is simply unsustainable. Nor does the Stuckist realize that the technological progress made since that time has completely changed the way we operate with our world, and that too would need to be discarded. The Stuckist may even go so far to want a fusion of modern patches to the FDR system and our technological progress to “retrvn” to the past with them, even though these actions, at best, undermine the concept of returning to the past, and at worst, introduce systems totally incompatible with the past to the past.
Cultural Stuckists and Free-Market capitalists have a very odd alliance currently, as free-market capitalism is defined primarily by its Darwinistic pressure to change the way things work, in the name of survival and efficiency, while the Stuckist wishes to effectively freeze time and prevent change. The brutal efficiency of the modern state-protected, semi-free market (which punishes local, private governance and rules in favor of a macro-level rule set that enable conglomerate companies to bureaucratize life) is at odds with the often cited “retrvn” points Stuckists advocate for. The “American Dream” is dead-in-the-water once men can’t make $2 an hour in a factory and live well, such a system is completely unsustainable long-term, as it presumes higher-population centers would never crop up to out-compete in the labor market.
The Stuckist is selling a future that is either exactly like the 1950s, state-enforced segregation, Cold War jungle and sand-wars, and Leaded Gasoline all included, or a false vision of some strange synthetic 1950s, where we somehow get all the benefits without any principled way of getting there, or staying there once we’ve made it. It’s a false hope being sold for political power to people who remember better times, to people who are dying for a way out of modernity’s hell, and to principled people ignorant to the power games being played.
A Stuckist issue example
Three classes of people have opinions on the question of wide-spread gun ownership: An Anarchist, A Stuckist, and A Bureaucracy-orientated Welfare-Capitalist.
The Anarchist, as someone who subscribes to the philosophical, legal, and moral tradition of anarchy, would advocate for wide-spread gun ownership as a method of resisting coercive state actions. If an individual is well-armed, and is able to willingly confederate with other individuals, they may be able to resist the more centralized armies of the state, and thus, wide-spread gun ownership is good for that end.
The Bureaucracy-orientated welfare-capitalist may, on the other hand, argue wide-spread gun ownership is a bad thing, as it leads to an undermining of bureaucratic power. If people are capable of violating rule of law, then people may resist surrendering currency to enable and perpetuate social welfare. If someone can use a gun to resist being taxed, then the funds necessary to sustain welfare-capitalism will not exist, and thus their system will collapse.
The Stuckist, however, will make the argument that wide-spread gun-ownership is prescribed and presumed in our constitution, which our Founding Father’s wrote, and thus should be respected. To not do so is disloyal or unpatriotic to the union, and shouldn’t be tolerated.
Both the Bureaucracy-orientated welfare-capitalist and the Anarchist are principled in their opinions on gun distribution. The Anarchist pulls on the Anarchist tradition, and the Bureaucracy-orientated welfare-capitalist pulls on the pragmatics of such a system undermining what he believes to be good. The Stuckist, however, makes an appeal to a temporal point without regard for why gun ownership was seen as a good thing back then, and if it’s even attainable at all.
Stuckism as political fraud
Fraud is deception around an item being sold. Stuckism claims to be the principled return to a past-time that we need, but, in reality, it’s nothing more than a farce. A true Stuckist wants to bring back actually solved problems (which may be impossible, unless we’d like to somehow reconstruct the Cold War), or they would like to make some strange unprincipled patch-work system that fuses modern and past benefits without any regard for compatibility.
Stuckists are even worse, as the past is what built the future. Modern additions to our past society, such as technological advancement or shifts in power, are what brought us to our current circumstance. Stuckists who wish to back-port modern innovation to the past are effectively back-porting the conditions that made our society the way it is to the past, which would just make our society, as it currently exists, occur again.
At face value, being a Stuckist is a net neutral in its worst case scenario, which isn’t that bad all things considered. However, every movement and ideology supported comes with a price. Individuals have limited time to care, political supporters have limited money to spend, and politicians have limited political sway to use before pissing off their allies. By backing a Stuckist, you’re burning time, money, and potential political power on pointless, often unprincipled, aesthetic action rather than proper movement to creating a satisfactory society.
Untruth is still untruth rather the person providing the untruth is an idiot or is malicious. This holds true in fraud as much as it does political fraud. Even if every Stuckist is acting in good faith, they’re selling items of zero utility to the public, solutions that simply do not work, all in exchange for limited resources that could be going towards effort that may bring some return on investment. Between the act of supporting a Stuckist or starting a business, you’re going to end up having more political and social impact by employing people to work for you than you ever could by listening to the empty promises of a Stuckist, or God forbid, supporting one financially.
Stuckisms appeal to patriotism
This is not a trait inherit to Stuckism, but rather an anachronism of the past that Stuckists yearn for. They wish for a patriotic America, one worthy of respect in the same way a good friend is worthy of respect. Any substantial critique of the past or the false past that Stuckists yearn for will have you ousted as some kind of “Commie anti-American”, no matter if you’re a libertarian, monarchist, fascist, theocrat, or just a good old Jacksonian democrat.
This snake-like behavior is most evident not in the politicians of Stuckism, but their most loyal of supporters. Given that Democratic politics reigns supreme in the United States, it’s not just the elite, the well-read, and educated who is going to have an opinion on how to run the mega-conglomerate American Empire, but also the “based and trvd” impoverished red-neck who can barely read, lives his life drunk, has no sense of accounting, has no critical doubt of any information put in front of him (or any meaningful sense to restrict his information intake to a mentally manageable amount), and effectively feels his political position through pure nostalgia for the times he grew up in.
These types of proles would make up the underclass of past societies, and live rich, fulfilling lives dedicating themselves to their craft, their family, their friends, and themselves, these days, this class of people makes up the main filtration class of our political elite, and thus must stay informed by dogmatically parroting information that may not be relevant to them, may not be accurate, may not be remembered accurately, or may not matter at all. This behavior is not unique to the Stuckist adherent underclass, as the progressive proles do the same thing, but replace “patriotism” with “progress” and “commie” with “racist”.
This behavior is annoying for any radical trying to converse with an unprincipled moderate. Instead of debating the validity or pragmatics of certain ideals, instead the conversation shifts to not being “pure” enough in the Stuckist ideals. If you’re a principled radical, wishing for effective change, trying to convince your mom, who watches Fox News all day, that banning the term “Latinx” in government documents and the transsexual sports debate is not actually going to do anything will get you labeled a “woke libtard”, even if you’re in agreement with her on the positions. There’s nothing a Stuckist hates more than the principled reactionary, as it implies that their simple solution won’t work.
Stuckism’s greatest enemy
Stuckism’s greatest enemy isn’t the progressive. The progressives can easily crush the Stuckists, they do it to other ideologies all the time. The progressives hold bureaucracy and power by the balls, if there was enough media outcry to unperson a set of the population, they’d be able to get away with it.
The progressive, however, has no reason to. Why as the progressive get rid of an ineffective group? Why would the progressive toss away an easy source of outrage porn? Why would the progressive give up the free straw man to slander all reactionaries as uneducated, hypocritical, and ineffective, when they’re right almost every time because the overwhelming majority of right-wing politics is Stuckist in nature? Only when someone is seen as a threat, pisses someone off, or fits a pre-defined definition for “bad guy” will the progressives ever act to unperson someone.
Instead, the Stuckist will likely be defeated by principled radicals, who are sick of the inaction. These are radicals, who unlike the Stuckist, don’t care about temporal fetishization, and instead want to bring about a society that is in line with a certain code or tradition.
Broadly, this includes any principled radical. Everyone from the Christian Anarchist to the Orthodox-Marxist is principled in some philosophy for guiding and managing society. The likelihood of which form of principled radical will take over will depend entirely on the direction of radical politics, and who can either coup the system successfully, and reform it from the inside out, or let the system fall and end up still standing. This test will be Darwinistic in nature, and the strongest ideology will survive in the end. Only time will tell which faction that’ll be.
Sympathy for a Stuckist
Stuckism is an ugly, unprincipled thing. It’s a political cope for how bad things are, and because of that, pity should be given to any victims of circumstance who happen to be Stuckists.
Stuckists, primarily, are ignorant. Dreamer politicians repeating what they heard from their fathers and social studies teachers, the woefully hopeless underclass, clinging on for anything that’ll bring them towards a way out, the plain, quiet, simple folk who are tired of the turbulence and want things to go back to normal, and the principled man, too naive and uncritical of results for his own good.
The Stuckist primarily wants things to be good, they don’t know how to get there, and are sold on a vision that’s digestible. “If we just implement enough of whatever a ‘Reaganomics’ is and ‘retrvn’ to the 1950s, we’ll be able to start families, trust people, eat good, and manage ourselves again”. This is not true, and is the same mantra that’s defined conservative movements since the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, no one has learned their lesson, and we’re suffering for it.