Posted on | March 9, 2012 | 9 Comments
– by Wombat-socho
This post is about two very different people who took the same journey at very different times. One of them grew up in poverty, and one in the middle class. One went to a well-known private school with all expenses paid; other other had to scramble to get an appointment to one of the service academies. One goofed around on the fringes of Hollywood for a few years before finally finding his niche in the Wild West scene of the early internet; the other contracted a serious disease and was medically discharged into one of the worst economic downturns in American history. One of them was an unthinking member of the liberal herd until his father-in-law suggested he listen to a notorious talk-show host; the other dabbled in all manner of esoteric political and social cults before maturing as a “hard” libertarian. One died on the verge of launching a posthumous counterstrike against the Soviets’ memetic weapon; the other would go to his grave despairing that America would ever recover from its egalitarian socialist madness, even as his writings continued to inspire libertarians and conservatives alike.
I am, of course, speaking of Andrew Breitbart and Robert Heinlein. Both of them made the journey from socialism to conservatism, or at least to libertarianism, and while the details in both cases make for interesting reading, the point of this post is to show that both of them left important gifts to the conservative movement. I got the first volume of Heinlein’s biography Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century two years ago as a Christmas gift for my Kindle, and while you should definitely read its account of Heinlein’s part in the internecine struggles of the California Democratic Party during the Depression, what I really want to point you at is his 1946 political tactics manual, Take Back Your Government. There are two versions of this book on the market right now; Baen has an e-book based on the 1992 edition which includes incomplete notes and a forward by Jerry Pournelle* and the 2012 edition of Take Back Your Government, which as Heinlein’s biographer William H. Patterson explains is the original 1946 edition. I personally prefer the 1992 edition because there have been quite a few technological changes since 1946, and Pournelle makes a noble attempt to take note of them. In any event, Heinlein’s book, originally titled How To Be A Politician, has everything you need to know about building a political organization from the ground up, starting at the precinct level and ending with the election of your candidate to Richmond or Washington or wherever it is you’re trying to send Bulldog T. Goodfellow. It is retail, street-level politics; it is all about the going out and knocking on doors and getting to know your neighbors so you know who needs a reminder or a lift to the polls on election day, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. At a time when we are trying to tear the controls of the GOP away from the Establishment, it could not possibly be more useful.
On the other hand, Andrew Breitbart’s Righteous Indignation is an attitude adjuster; it distills much of the territory previously covered in Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism down to a couple of easily-digestible chapters, and carries on from there to sound a call to arms. There is not so much of the nuts and bolts of New Media culture warfare in here, although there are plenty of examples to follow; instead, I think Breitbart is shooting for an adjustment to your headspace that will better enable you to deal with the kind of rhetorical, solipsistic lies and horseshit flung by the Left every day of the week against people who dare to think and act differently from the New Leftist Dispensation. Read both. Use both. Go forth and kick ass. You have a nation to save, one precinct at a time.
*No blame attaches to Dr. Pournelle; they wanted the book out in time for Ross Perot’s 1992 campaign and didn’t give him enough lead time.
UPDATE: Bill Quick links, but misses the point. Part of it is because I stupidly forgot to attach my tagline to the post, so he thinks this is Stacy’s opinion, but the other part is because I’m talking about tools. The comparison of Breitbart and Heinlein is just an introduction.