Managing the Overton Window

Trump said something suboptimal about “Yay, legal immigration!” in his 2019 State of the Union speech. When I read it I said to myself, “That’s bad management of the Overton Window, Donald.” That may be a good way to look at it: Managing the Overton Window. No one person controls it, of course, but each person can influence it. Especially the President.

Indeed, it’s important to stretch the Overton Window in political debates, and not to try to just stay within the current Overton Window. The left won over the last half century by stretching the Overton Window, not by operating inside it. They won by saying things that seem insane today, and making them then debatable, then undeniable (e.g. if you want to keep your job) a decade later.

If we try to stay within the current Overton Window, while letting the left define the Overton Window, we will lose.

The left’s propaganda/rhetorical strategy is entirely different from ours. Ours is based on persuasion, on showing reality to people. Theirs is largely composed of various forms of compulsion. In a sense, the left doesn’t really have a propaganda strategy (other than outright lying), if by that you mean trying to convince people. Rather, they infiltrate the information-disseminating professions then start yelling in unison to indicate what the current party line is. Then they enforce it by e.g. trying to make unemployable anyone who deviates from it.

You can’t totally ignore the current Overton Window, of course: not even the left does that. But you must be mindful of the degree to which you can and must contribute to stretching it in your desired direction, as well as staying to a certain extent within it.

A major difference between us and the left, of course, is that they’re shouting insane things while we are shouting sane things.

The strategy of shouting insane things and then enforcing rhetorical compliance works well for the left because individial leftists are the kind of people who love to monitor what the herd’s leaders are saying and repeat it. They do this quite naturally. Thus NPCs, attack swarms, etc.

This is extremely effective for the left on the time scale of decades. But: it makes them vulnerable to holiness spiralling. Every individual leftist wants to make sure that he’s a little to the left of the leftist average to stay safe, but of course that’s not possible; thus the leftward spiral. This is the failure mode of leftism; it’s a major reason that leftism didn’t take over the world millennia ago.

I’m tempted to define leftism as power-hungry people engaging in holiness spiralling.

That is consistent with the memetic drift in the left over the last century. In the early 1900s and until the collapse of the USSR, the core idea of the “left” was socialism. Accusations of e.g. “racism” were just frosting. Now the core idea of the “left” is hating white people, and socialism is merely the frosting. Notice that in the 2016 and 2020 Democrat primary contests, the mainstream left energetically attacked Bernie Sanders and “Bernie Bros,” even though they were more (overtly) socialistic than the other Democrat contenders. That would have been unthinkable 40 years earlier. I imagine Sanders was surprised to find himself no longer protected by pas d’ennemis à gauche. “But I’m to the left of you!” one imagines him crying to the mainstream Dems. “I’m allowed to attack you, but you’re not allowed to attack me!” Poor Mr. Sanders. He failed to understand that socialism is no longer the defining feature of “the left.”

4 thoughts on “Managing the Overton Window”

  1. Stretching the Overton Window is good, but not nearly enough. The vital part is enforcing the Overton window. If you are merely stretching the Overton Windon, eventually some Cathedral priest will notice. Then you will be silenced. Maybe you’ll just lose your job and be made unemployable, maybe Antifa will torch your car, smash windows beat you up, in some cities things have progressed so far that you might be killed.

    Winning means enforcing the Overton window. That means punishing whoever you can who tries streching it to the left. If you can’t do that, streching the Overton window to the right is just an attempt to slow things down

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  2. “Stretching the Overton Window is good, but not nearly enough. The vital part is enforcing the Overton window.”

    Of course. But there are all kinds of ways to stretch the Overton window between now and when the civil war becomes completely hot.

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  3. He said that because he believes that. He thinks legal immigration is good as long as the people are quality and/or can grow GDP. If they could make him richer in his business he’d support them coming to America whether they’re Swedes, Nigerians, Chinese or Sub-cons.
    He doesn’t believe what we believe. He is not our secular “John-the-Baptist” let alone our lord. So we should expect him to push the Overton Window wrt things we care about.

    I’m voting for him of course. I’d like to keep my AR (legally).

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  4. “If they could make him richer in his business he’d support them coming to America whether they’re Swedes, Nigerians, Chinese or Sub-cons.”

    This is far too black pill to be realistic. It may have described the Donald Trump of 5 or 6 years ago, but not now. He knows a hell of a lot more about our enemies’ strategy now.

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