I was reading North’s Video: Red State vs. Blue State, Red Pill vs. Blue Pill, and Jordan Peterson’s Role Sure, it’s a good if short read, but what I want to focus on is the video he posted… and the central image on it’s title image, the blue church.
The video does mention the Blue Church, but I took a quick look-see on the internet. A useful article on the Blue Church, and it’s contrast with the Red Religion – can be found on the article Understanding the Blue Church.
In my Situational Assessment: 2017, I quoted a post from Reddit:
“The Blue Church is panicking because they’ve just witnessed the birth of a new Red Religion. Not the tired old Christian cliches they defeated back in the ’60s, but a new faith based on cultural identity and outright rejection of the Blue Faith.” — /u/notjfao
A number of folks noted that they were not familiar with the concept of the Blue Church and wondered what was meant by it. The Democratic Party? Liberalism? Progressivism? As I mentioned in SA:2017, I had originally lifted the idea wholesale from that Reddit post with only an intuitive sense that it (and its juxtaposition with a Red Religion) was useful and pointed at something real.
In this essay, I dive into the concept. Below I endeavor to provide an answer that is adequate to Deep Code. I believe that the results are well worth the effort, but this is not a simple journey. Few things of importance these days are. If we want to get to the bottom of the contemporary situation, we are going to have to get comfortable going deep.
The abstract is this: the Blue Church is a kind of narrative / ideology control structure that is a natural result of mass media. It is an evolved (rather than designed) function that has come over the past half-century to be deeply connected with the Democratic political “Establishment” and lightly connected with the “Deep State” to form an effective political and dominant cultural force in the United States.
We can trace its roots at least as far back as the beginning of the 20th Century where it emerged in response to the new capabilities of mass media for social control. By mid-century it began to play an increasingly meaningful role in forming and shaping American culture-producing institutions; became pervasive through the last half of the 20th and seems to have peaked in its influence somewhere in the first decade of the 21st Century.
It is now beginning to unravel.
In part it is unravelling because of developing schisms within its master narrative, the Blue Faith. These are important, but they are not the subject of this essay. In this essay, I am focusing on what I think is both much more fundamental and much less obvious: deep shifts in technology and society that are undermining the very foundations of the Church. Shifts that render the Church itself obsolete.
If you are ready for a deep dive, come on in. The water is warm.
[…big, big snip: read the article to see what you’re missing…]
The End is Nigh
There are many reasons why the Blue Church is crumbling. Some of it has to do with an increasing friction among the diverse sub-narratives that have gathered under Blue, particularly where the fundamental incoherence of “identity politics” is reaching a tipping point (and is being pushed into what feels to me like a nihilist endgame by the alt-right). However, while this tension is important, I don’t think it is fundamental. Instead, to identify the real existential threat to the Blue Church, I return to our our two core concepts: technology and complexity.
One primary driver behind the collapse of the Blue Church is the swift replacement of the very mass media it is premised upon with a new symmetric kind of media — the Internet. This new media presents a niche for coherence that is very different from the one that gave rise to the Blue Church. It is a fundamentally different landscape. Like polar bears condemned to extinction by a thawing ice cap, the Blue Church’s days are numbered by the relentless erosion of broadcast mindshare to the new much more symmetrical media of the Internet.
As I discussed in Situational Assessment: 2017, I assign a significant portion of the surprising victory of the Trump Insurgency to the fact that the transfer of power from broadcast to digital has crossed the tipping point.
It is this technological transition that leads me to the conclusion that while the Blue Church (and its allies in the Deep State and the Establishment) can certainly struggle and hold for a while, their day is done. The climate is changing and they must adapt or die.
And then there is the question of complexity. The Blue Church emerged in response to the explosion of complexity of the 20th Century and the capacity of mass media to form a control structure that was adequate to that complexity.
It worked. But the 20th Century didn’t stand still. In fact, it accelerated. In the face of this ongoing acceleration, the Blue Church control structure is no longer adequate. The level of complexity of the 21st Century is simply outside of the control capacity that is possible within the form of the Blue Church. Unless we abandon the Church and move to a new approach, our race into the future will be increasingly out of control.
However, and this is a profoundly important point, we currently know of no form of control structure that is adequate — even in principle.
- Our entire approach to managing complex systems like our environment is flawed. Until the late 20th Century we could get away with this flaw because we weren’t powerful enough to matter. This has changed and as Joe Brewer has been writing about beautifully, we need to level up quickly. We need to switch from trying to manage complex systems with complicated control structures and invent entirely new techniques for intrinsically up regulating the complex systems that make up our natural world. We don’t yet know how to do this.
- Complex systems that include human beings are different. Unlike atmospheres and nitrogen cycles, people can forecast, strategize and adapt hyper-rapidly to our environment. Dave Snowden calls this anthro-complexity. We have to innovate an entirely new approach to governance that is adequate to the challenging set of problems posed by anthro-complexity. We really don’t know how to do this.
- Finally, we have to come to terms with the real nature of technology, the difficult to predict feedback loops of how we affect technology and how it affects us. And then we have to figure out how to navigate the actual consequences of exponential technology — on ourselves and on our lived world. Most people aren’t even prepared to think about how to do this.
In the context of these challenges, the Blue Church is simply in way over its head. The world is just too big and moving too fast for this kind of control hierarchy to keep up — even when it is trying to do its best, it is going to get in the way. Addressing these challenges is going to require the innovation of an entirely new approach to how we collectively make sense of and act in the world.
So dieth the Blue Church.
But the Christian church remains as clueless and as impotent as in the 60’s (…the 1860s…), even as her enemy begins to literally dry up and blow away.
I recommend that Christian laymen don’t waste time, looking for their church authorities to do a thing beside feather their nests and cringe before Establishment figures.
(Yes, I mean the disgusting PC establishment that’s falling apart before our eyes: THAT is who our pastors and priests crawl before. Even the hierarchically-minded, pyramid-of-power Catholics are increasingly disgusted with such raw, craven cowardice!)