The question of how ideas spread should be pretty central to political theory, you would think, but obviously it is not, because acceptable political theory holds to the holy concept of rational individuals capable of making clear and reasoned decisions, so obviously the spread of ideas is due to the obvious correctness of the ideas spreading like sunshine and enlightening us all (progress.) This is a democratic society after all, and every aspect of politics is based on this premise. Any deviation is fascism quite frankly, and advocacy of slavery. Of course in business and economics this concept is not really in vogue. If this insight was taken into political theory, then you are treating people as slaves, but in business? Well, crickets.
So how do ideas spread? Well there are a number of obvious ways which are covered by Rene Girard’s mimetic process, and which advertisers use regularly, but maybe the better question is not so much how they spread, but how they are generated. Not only political theory, but economics which is subservient to politics, does not really account for the genesis or spread of ideas, because their central actor is faulty. So we may ask “why has progressivism been so successful?” or “why are plastic toys based on ‘Frozen’ so popular?” and the only official answer that can be produced is some mush based on the idea that individuals have made rational reasoned choices and have come to the conclusion that X is superior to other options. The individual’s preference is holy. Again, we are not slaves!
Yet, we know this preference is controlled and corralled, in markets and in politics. Entire industries are based on it. The current fiasco involving the Republican Party is demonstration of this process being rebelled against in the name of liberalism (the things refreshes itself from the “right.” But this raises the question, where do the corrallers and controllers get their ideas?
Taking this into account, here is a contentious conclusion which I have pointed to previously which is inherent in Bertrand de Jouvenel’s ‘On Power’ , and that is that Power creates the environment in which ideas are selected. The system of governance – secure or insecure- dictates which ideas ultimately succeed, and, as such, these ideas are not cultivated in a rational manner, but are made inevitable by the logic of the roles of the actors within the system.
A monarch in a position of weak power, or other power actors in a similar situation, will favour ideas and concepts which increase their power and undermine their competitors. This will be a process which those taking part of will become puppets of eventually, though at first this will not be obvious. The monarch and even at times the nobility raised the low in a process of levelling which was noted by Tocqueville long ago, but at this point it was clearly cynical. This process was an indirect war of attrition which was engaged in by conscious design. From John of Gaunt, to the Kings and electors of Northern Europe who harboured and encouraged the protestant agitators, to the “enlightened monarchs” that fostered and encouraged the Enlightenment, the game has been the same, and in line with the logic of their unsecure positions. The failure of the monarchs to control this process any longer led to the revolutions and the current democratic system which can only be seen as a complete systemic failure in this light. The whole thing is on autopilot, with the process of levelling going from being a cynical gambit for power, to being the raison d’etre for the system, and with any deviation from this being punished by replacement of the actors in question.It is a self reinforcing feedback loop of ideology being selected by power, which selects for ideology.
Protestantism and then progressivism is ,therefore, and has been, selected by power in accordance with this process of levelling. Power can impede, or power can fund, and the overall impetus is not the correctness of the idea. Any concept or theory that is on the surface of it clearly insane will thrive if it is of value in this process, and what is of value in this process changes, and always in the same direction eventually – more levelling. This is how you organise a distributed unorganised conspiracy.
A good way to see this process enacted in the “resistance” to the prevailing progressive system, is to look at the development of popular and successful ideas in conservatism and subsequently the alt- right. There is no way you can argue that the adoption of ideas and theories in this area has been a process of unveiling of the correctness of the same ideas and theories. Instead we have a combination and hodgepodge of bizarre ideas which suit the roles of being both functional within the dominate state’s pushed acceptable barriers, and being sufficiently deviant as to offer a means of dissent, no matter how pitiful. Anything sufficiently deviant as to be a threat is closed down easily, and anything not really a sufficient threat is allowed, and that is what is maintained. Simple selection.
With the dominant ideologies, it is a little more complicated, but not that much more complicated. To get anywhere near power you have to be advocating leveling. Once in power of any sort, you have to continue advocating leveling. You stop advocating leveling, then you get overtaken. This does not mean the actors cynically engage in this process in an act of fraud, they actually believe this is a good thing to do. Governance is about helping after all, and people take their cues on what to believe from superiors, and from their education. You may find the odd actors who are somewhat self-aware, but less than would be indicated by liberal/ libertarianism’s conception of humans. Humans mimic, humans take cues from their social superiors, and humans are not anything like the liberal myth which is spread perversely because of its very value to the political power system of unsecure power.
In this sense then, the State is absolute, in that what is allowed, and is not allowed is ultimately at the discretion of the State. The idea that the State could be entirely neutral is a fallacy. This makes culture and ideas a negative imprint of Power, it is what is allowed and not allowed by the necessity of the State’s level of security. A secure State (a secure central Power) will have different, and less onerous demands on its order, and an unsecure one engages in all sorts of bizarre behavior by necessity, whilst a State pretending it is self-effacing is a dangerous psychotic beast. Unfortunately the self-effacing State is what is advocated for by all, in the most stupid way possible – conflict and/or utopian anarchism.