Ben Domenech talks to author Tim Stanley about his new book, "Whatever Happened to Tradition? History, Belonging & the Future of the West" and the challenges conservatives face in overcoming liberal left-wing cultural bias in the arts and Hollywood in the latest episode of "The Ben Domenech Podcast." 

BEN DOMENECH: The natural answer for some time among certain corners of the right has been to build up alternative sources of information or institutions of their own. 


DOMENECH: But there's certain necessary restrictions that come into place there, you know? One is simply a lack of donor interest. For instance, while there are numerous universities and colleges in America that have and espouse pro-Western values, many of them are religious. Others, like Hillsdale, are not. And they have, you know, a handful of these that advocate for an alternative. 

But those will always be dwarfed by the gigantic funding that flows through both private, but especially public institutions of higher learning. You're never going to have something as big as the University of Texas. But at the same time, the restrictions that are put in place on many of these alternative, you know, institutions that would compete with the big houses of culture, education and the like are very frustrating for a lot of people. You know, you might have the cultural content, for instance, is time and again the exception that proves the rule where you might have a very successful right of center director or creator who's able to have a very popular show that is, you know, an American Western. You know, for instance, the most popular show on cable today is a dramatic Western ["Yellowstone"] that's written and created by someone who is right of center and openly so. 

John Dutton (R- Kevin Costner) hands over the reigns to the Ranch to his youngest son Kayce (L-Luke Grimes)  Season 2 of "Yellowstone." The hit show just finished its fourth season.

You have openly right of center comedians, for instance, who might become quite popular. But they are the exceptions. They are not, you know, the rule. And even if they are able to gain some kind of foothold, it's nothing in comparison to the vast swath of cultural influence that has been established by and is directly run by many people who are interested in advancing the narrative about gender, about history, about capitalism, about, you know, liberal values, Christianity, you know, you name it. 

Given that, you know, what is the point of building your alternate institutions if in doing so, you know, you will be fighting a Sisyphean uphill battle that is never going to actually result in you commanding the heights?

STANLEY: And one other problem that I would throw in is that culturally, most conservatives don't want to mix politics and culture. 


STANLEY: But the moment that you go out of your way to say, "Right, because I've been excluded, I'm going to create something that is culturally conservative," you kind of defeated the very object. And the conservative ideal is to culturally go back 50 or 60 years to when culture was just happily patriotic or religious, but not necessarily self-consciously politically conservative. But you can never recreate that. And every attempt to do it ends up just coming across as gratingly political, such that whenever you do have right-wing comedians or a right-wing show or right-wing drama, it's quite often bad because it breaks the conservative rules of don't mix politics and culture. And so, it just doesn't work. 


There are exceptions to that, by the way. But although, even there I say – I still see some people like Dave Chappelle dangerously starting to turn into polemicists rather than comedians, and that's the mistake the left made. You don't need right-wing Stephen Colbert. You need just good comedians. That's just what we really want to end up with.

So as I said, the answer to all of that is it's very difficult. But I think the key thing is that one has to try. And I finished the book by saying that a frustrating thing about conservatives is they spend a lot of time complaining and not a lot of time doing. And that actually the doing might be a question of not going away and doing something that self-consciously conservative, but just doing something cultural well, in the hope that that sort of resets – reboots – the entire cultural system, such that people can see something being done well and think, "Well, I like that. I'd like more of that, please." Rather than the left-wing liberal stuff. 

So I would just encourage conservatives to go and write good books, paint good art, make good comedy, rather than trying to do something self-consciously political. 


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