This was originally going to be about gnostic conservatives, but I came to realize while talking about the post instead of writing it down that it’s really about Americans overall.
To begin, there is a core to American-ness that is Gnostic. It’s about retreating into a fantasy world of abstractions and perfections to take yourself away from the realities of your drudgery. There is a divide in American society between those for whom suffering feeds that retreat away from reality and those who are more…practical. For the former, political solutions revolve around embracing someone who promises a return to an abstract perfect time where Constitutionalism reigned supreme and people dutifully and legitimately followed process correctly and honestly. Thus, Ted Cruz. He did a lot of symbolic stuff that in the abstract was highly conservative by this measure, but in practice was useless because it was never going to be made law and could never be made law as it was written.
Conservatives tend to hail from frontier stock, and it’s long been a frontier staple to retreat into a fantasy world after the long, brutal, difficult days of frontiering. And there’s been an Amish-ing, a longstanding tendency for the most conservative conservatives willing to vote Republican or otherwise be mainstream to marry each other and it’s been going on for quite a few generations now.
The kind of personality that can thrive with a frontier mindset will be detail-oriented and tend to hyperfocus, mildly to extremely anti-social and pathologically independent minded. Yes, this sounds kind of spectrum-ish. I think there has been a lot of intermarriage between men and women with those traits and that now a mindset even a little removed from that is considered inauthentic. Anyway it leads to embracing abstractions over solutions because there is no sense of you personally being able to conquer it all.
Relating all this back to the Gnostic thing, there’s this idea in Americanness more broadly that beautiful symbols are worth more than practical results. One first female x is worth more than better living conditions and social status for women in general. In many ways the ridiculous left half of the political aisle is just taking that symbolism-love to its natural extremes.
But so does the right half, with their retreats into more and more disordered private spheres, constantly clinging to individual symbolic examples of how those spheres are perfectly functional and an effective substitute for numerous public goods.
What alt-right criticism of “cuckservatives” fumbles at is this long-range outcome of being worn down by that endless retreat into being unable to consider anything other than beautiful loserdom as your lot in this life. Of course they commit their own gnostic errors with the over-emphasis on protests and populist politicking.
But as I watch God-fearing, pro-life Christians debate supporting the ($(@#*@$* Libertarian Party because oh golly gee that Trump feller is sCArY, I find this core gnostic tendency irritating and stupid. I do have pity and sympathy because understanding where it comes from means it makes sense, but other people around them without that information will just think that Christians and especially Republican-voting ones are ignorant and hypocritical once again.
Oh, this is also why the SAHM situation is so hopeless. Gnostic American SAHMs fall in love with obviously fake personas crafted by narcissists who tell them that they should feel great about getting a second load of laundry in that day precisely so they never feel they can ask for real society-wide or even family-wide support and assistance. That woman obviously isn’t out thar a farm wifin’ in such expensive hair styles and clothes, but yet women who are truly struggling believe her to be a role model and “honest, authentic” wife and mother. And they believe because they get caught up in the charismatic pantheism that says you should spend your time cheering the presence of God in a floorboard you’re scrubbing and that this will grant you a state of bliss and spiritual uplift no matter how much drudging your days seem to pile up.
The idea that a lot of SAHMs just have a technical problem and a maid twice a month or whatever would suddenly improve their personal quality of life and improve their families’ lives as well, this idea is too…practical. Too concrete, not airy enough, not promising spiritual ecstasy in the middle of screaming kids and chopped hot dog dinners.
Because as Frontier-Americans disproportionately, conservatives bring to their version of Gnostic Americanism the unformed immaturity of a child, as the frontier mythos is entirely shaped by children’s views of the frontier. The Little House books are the Ur-example. The numerous adult memoirs never became mythical in American society, only the stuff written from the perspective of children and teenagers.
The Frontier was a massive subsidized LARP project and just because it was a game that could kill you doesn’t make it any less hugely subsidized and welfarist.
Anyway this is very much a beginning, as ever.