It’s Not A “Brand” — It’s A Fundamental Principle

Here’s yet another piece I wrote some time ago and is, if anything, more appropriate today than it was then.

Not A Brand

May 20, 2008
5:00 AM CDT

Here’s an article which managed to set my teeth on edge. Former-European and now-Californian RINO Arnold Schwarzenegger tells us how he thinks the Republican Party should look:

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger created shock and awe in the Republican Party when he warned years ago that the GOP was in danger of “dying at the box office” by failing to make the sale to a wide swath of voters.
And with the presidential election looming, the Republican governor of the nation’s most populous state – a decidedly blue state – has now found a chorus of agreement. The Republican “brand” – thanks to an unpopular president, a war, gas prices, foreclosures and deficit – has become such damaged goods that GOP Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia groused last week that “if we were dog food, they would take us off the shelf.”

“The Republican idea is a great idea, but we can’t go and get stuck with just the right wing,” Schwarzenegger said. “Let’s let the party come all the way to the center. Let those people be heard as much as the right. Let it be the big tent we’ve talked about.
“Let’s invade and let’s cross over that (political) center,” he said. “The issues that they’re talking about? Let them be our issues, and let the party be known for that.”

Leaving aside the obvious cognitive dissonance caused by an Austrian talking of “invasion”, I take exception to a political philosophy being referred to as a “brand” — because at the root of it all, brands are the invention of Marketing: they are a way to differentiate similar products, like Folgers and Maxwell House, and are kept alive by marketing and advertising, not by conviction.

But since everyone is so all-fired intent on turning a political philosophy into a soft drink, let’s examine the “brand” concept a little more closely, because I understand this stuff about as well as anyone on the planet.

When I studied this stuff, back when I was managing the customer-shopping database at a Great Big Retailer, I learned something really interesting. Most of a brand’s sales came from loyal customers, and a very few loyal customers at that. In any single supermarket, the destiny of a brand (even giant brands like Folgers or Charmin) lay in the purses of about two hundred customers. Across two hundred stores, therefore, the fate of, say, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes lay in the hands of about five thousand housewives — out of a customer base of about four million shoppers. If something were to happen to that loyal base — if some mysterious disease were to kill all five thousand — the brand would die, within a matter of weeks.

This was as true about supermarkets as it was about packaged goods. In any single store, once again, about two thousand customers (out of a total of about twenty-five thousand customers) accounted for over 75% of sales — and about 90% of the store’s profits.

The entire enterprise, a chain of two hundred stores covering four Northeastern states, rested therefore in the hands of a few hundred thousand shoppers (out of a total customer base of 2.5 million regular customers in a regional population of well over twenty million).

Using the same logic for our company as for Frosted Flakes: had we lost that half-million or so loyal customers (our “base”), the chain would have had to shut its doors in about a month. We, or rather I knew where our bread was buttered: and I made sure that we pampered and cosseted those customers to within an inch of their lives — preferential discounts, premium rewards, and non-store services (our Platinum customers, for instance, got free long-distance phone time and free roadside assistance).

What we could not afford to do was anything which would disenchant those valuable customers. Study after study, backed by purchase data (those pesky “shopper” cards) showed us that our strongest features were the quality of our Meat department, the quality of our Produce department, and the quality of our Deli department. That “quality” feature allowed us to stock more upscale products, charge a little more, and make a decent profit. Our customer base was not as large as that of our competitors, but they spent more with us. They were slightly older: more established families with older kids, executives in their peak earning years, and wealthy retirees.

The along came a new CEO and a new management team, who decided that they wanted to “broaden” the customer base, and start going after “young families”. As a marketing idea, it made sense — sense, that is, to anyone who didn’t understand marketing, but his background was in finance, so ‘nuff said.

In vain did I argue that “young families” required not only lower prices on all our merchandise, but a change in merchandise — larger pack sizes, cheaper meat products, cheaper deli products and cheaper produce items. Even more frightening was the fact that “young families” were not loyal customers: they bought from whichever store was selling coffee most cheaply that week, bought only “sale” (i.e. not profitable) items and products, which meant that we’d have to buy their business each and every single week. And worst of all, by tampering with our brand’s quality image, our existing “base” — those finicky, quality-driven folks — would become disenchanted with us, and leave. We would become, in other words, just another supermarket.

Well, I was only a mid-level executive, and everyone thought the new CEO walked on water, so the policy was changed over my objections and I resigned in disgust.

The supermarket chain went out of business three years later.

So let’s see exactly what it is that Schwarzenegger is proposing. He wants the Republican Party to be all things to all people, even if the “right wing” becomes disenchanted, because the Republican Party is a big tent (how I loathe that expression). He wants us to become more “centrist”, more “Democrat” so we can appeal to those people who switch between parties at will, depending on which party has the most “gimmies” on offer. And in the meantime, the much-maligned Republican base — those rightwingers, those gun owners, those religious people, those… Constitutionalists, well, they’ll just have to live with the new, improved Republican brand.

In the short term, that might work somewhat. And given that politicians live from election to election — just as finance people live from quarter to quarter — you can’t blame them for thinking like that.

But we are not a nation of panderers, a nation of accountants, a nation of short-term thinkers.

We are a nation formed in the fire of a revolution, and united under a Constitution which says that our government, in all its forms, must exist with the smallest amount of power possible, limited from excess by each of its three branches, and subject to frequent recall by We The People.

We are not a nation of cafeteria customers, shopping from one party or another.

We are, mostly, a nation of conservatives: we wish to preserve our Constitution, and this nation with all its freedoms.

There are, however, some people in our nation who want to change all that. They want us to become more creatures of the state, more beholden to government, more… European.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that chief among these people is a man born in Europe, a man for whom the founding principles of this country are malleable and can be changed in order to buy the votes of other people.

Like I said, it’s a strategy which might bring short-term success. But it’s a strategy which will ensure long-term failure, of both the Republican Party and the nation.

It really is that simple.

Bullies

Via Insty, I read this little snippet [NRO link warning] and I confess to being a little bit puzzled.

If some ugly harpy came up to me in, say, a restaurant (forget that gym nonsense), and screamed: “I find your presence in this [place] to be unacceptable, your presence in this town to be unacceptable”, I’d tell her, politely, to fuck off because her opinions are of no importance to me or anyone else. Then if she persisted in her bullshit, I’d punch her in the face because, quite frankly, she’s nothing more than a bully, and I’ve found that bullies become somewhat less bully-ish when they encounter violence coming from their intended victim.

In the case of this particular harpy, a punch in the face would not affect her appearance much, and may even be an improvement:

Why do all these liberal fanatics get that pinched, unattractive look? I call it the Perpetual Scold, which somehow manages to incorporate a wagging finger into a facial expression.

“Oh but Kim,” you might say, “she’s going to sue you for assault!” Maybe so, maybe not — there’s a good chance I could plead self-defense in the face of such a verbal attack — but whatever; I might be sued, but she’d still have massive facial injuries.

And in future, maybe her little liberal buddies might be a little more civil, even polite, lest something similar happen to them when they start berating someone with whom they disagree. (In classical terms, this approach is called “Pour encourager les autres.”) Or, as some dickhead ex-President once put it: “Punch back twice as hard.”

We need to see more of it from conservatives, but unfortunately, conservatives seem to have this ingrained politeness and deference when treating political adversaries, and especially so if they’re women. (I know I do; believe me, I’d punch Professor Fair in a mood of utmost sadness and reluctance.) But we need to get over this reticence because gawd knows, the Left has none.


Update: The folly of my reaction has been pointed out to me in Comments, and I am advised that mockery would be a better course of action. So:

“I find your presence in this [place] to be unacceptable, your presence in this town to be unacceptable!”

…would be met with:

“Hey… it’s not my fault that you can’t get laid, you bitter, ugly bitch.”

Then, if she were to attempt to strike me, I’d go with Plan B (see above).

Putting In The Asterisks

Via Sarah at Insty comes this thoughtful piece:

Yes, an intolerant minority can control and destroy democracy. Actually, as we saw, it will eventually destroy our world.
So, we need to be more than intolerant with some intolerant minorities. It is not permissible to use “American values” or “Western principles” in treating intolerant Salafism (which denies other peoples’ right to have their own religion). The West is currently in the process of committing suicide.

I’ve often pondered this issue. If we assume that the Constitution isn’t a suicide pact — by no means a certain assumption, by the way — then yes, of course we can attach asterisks to certain socio-political movements (e.g. Nazism, Communism etc.) which rely on the tolerance of the typical Western-style democracy (and in the case of the U.S., the tolerance entrenched in its Constitution), and use that tolerance to further their own brand of intolerance. As an example, note that a considerable percentage of U.S. Muslims support the idea of Shari’ah law as first an adjunct to, and then a replacement for the existing U.S. legislative system. And in the name of “tolerance”, or “cultural appreciation” (or whatever term liberals use to disguise “eventual submission”), we should allow such ideas to become not only acceptable, but accepted?

No.

Here’s a little thought for the Intolerants to ponder. Even our Constitution is not written in stone; it can be amended — admittedly with considerable difficulty —  but there is nothing to stop a majority of members of Congress, and a majority of states, from creating an amendment to the First Amendment which says, simply, “except for [Islam / Nazism / fill in your brand of intolerance].” Here’s an example of such an action, a funny one but still one that is absolutely possible:

Our “group” here in the United States is one which supports tolerance. But if you think for one moment that we are incapable of expelling an intolerant sub-group, think again.

One of us is going to have to change their outlook and philosophy, and we’ve probably changed ours enough — or too much (which is what I think). Beware of mistaking gentleness for weakness, of tolerance for submission. Start acting like citizens of the United States, accept the principles of our Constitution, or risk losing your place at the barbecue. It can happen. Pray that it doesn’t.

…And Here We Go Again, Again

From the Comments on my post about the alt-Right comes this:

Splendid Isolation indeed. Young white men today certainly won’t be enjoying any splendid isolation as they grow older. They’ll be lucky if they can find any isolation at all, splendid or not. And they won’t be staring vacantly off into space, their backs turned on a world they would rather ignore, choosing not to look at what they don’t want to see. No, reality will get in their face and force itself into their space, like it or not. Nor will they be getting any ice cream, shit-topped or not. They’ll be getting a full shit sandwich, courtesy of a system their fathers and grandfathers have either supported, acquiesced in, or “opposed” with little more than impotent whining. And if you want to know who they really hate, it’s not blacks or even Jews, but smug, clueless boomers who claim to be fighting for truth and justice, for Western Civilization and against liberalism, but who reserve their utmost condemnation for the only movement that speaks for them and their interests. And I say that as a boomer myself. If you want to argue against the Alt-Right, you should deal with the actual positions they hold and arguments they make, rather than with the strawman caricature you’ve constructed only to demolish. Countercurrents and the writings of Greg Johnson are a good place to start.

I get it: I don’t know what I’m talking about, because I just haven’t studied the issue enough, or haven’t read this or that which explains it perfectly.

Here’s the beauty of age: you recognize silliness when you see it, because you’ve seen it so many times before at first hand. Add a small dose of historical perspective (such as I possess), and it’s clear that you don’t need to eat a whole egg to know that it’s rotten. People who try to justify silliness like the alt-Right are like the vicar in Punch magazine, talking about eating a rotten boiled egg: “I assure you, parts of it are excellent!”

The good part of splendid isolation is that I get to pick who my allies are, and like I said: I know who you are, I know your philosophy, I know where you’re heading, and I want no part of you.

And one last thing: if you think I’m reserving my utmost condemnation for the alt-Right, then you’re not too familiar with my writings. You probably missed the one, for example, where I suggested that I’d like to tie Senator Ted Kennedy to a chair and beat  him to death with a lead pipe. Or maybe it was Chuck Schumer… there are so many options when it comes to liberals. Compared to pricks like them, the alt-Right gets barely a mention.

You see, Mr. Expatriot, I’ve been hating liberals since before most of the alt-Right were born, and I don’t need to get lectured by some suddenly-aware Baby Boomer about the evils of liberalism and socialism and where they’re taking us. There is an answer to this problem, and the alt-Right ain’t it.

The First 100 Days

I’ve said before that the first 100 days of a new presidency (any presidency, not just Trump’s) is a nonsensical quasi-deadline, an artifice created and imposed upon new presidents by the Jackals Of The Press (JOTP), as though there’s something magical about the number 100 — as opposed to 120, or 86, or 227, for example.

All that said, The Diplomad has an excellent summary of Trump’s first 100 days. While the summary of his achievements is fine, Diplomad also highlights the “achievements” of the Democratic Left and their fascistic cohorts:

Opponents tried to disrupt the inauguration, and have engaged in a consistent pattern of street violence and thuggery aimed at intimidating Trump supporters and trying to give the impression that the country is ungovernable unless the progressives are in charge. Nothing is off limits, including Trump’s family, in this assault on the new president. Unprecedented coarseness, violence, and fake news are all arrows in the progressive quiver and being unleashed on Trump and supporters daily.

Read the whole thing, because it’s better than anything I could have written.

 

Here We Go Again

Buckle your seatbelts, folks: this one is going to make the Pussification rant seem like a ladies’ tea party.

Over at some website I’ve never heard of, a guy named Spencer Quinn has some nice (and some not-so-nice) things to say about Your Humble Narrator (and you really need to read the whole article before you read any further). I feel I need to respond, and in so doing, I’ll set the record straight and make my position on some of his discussion points perfectly clear.

My problem with the alt-Right is the same problem I have with libertarians: as commenter “Pat Buchanator” once put it at Instapundit: “This is how it always is with libertarians. No matter how appealing that quart of vanilla ice cream looks, there’s always that tablespoon of dog shit mixed in that turns you off.” Thus it is too with the alt-Right and me:  we start off with some common ground — quite a lot, actually — and then the conversation reaches that “Oh, bloody hell! Why did you have to go and spoil it?” moment, when Teh Crazy comes out of its hole.

My common ground with the alt-Right is this: like them, I think that Western civilization and culture is the greatest thing that ever occurred to mankind. It has elevated our society from brutishness and beastliness into civilization, quite possibly to the zenith of thought, achievement and prosperity. Just taking the period from Ancient Greece to the Internet, it is difficult to imagine how life would exist today were it not for Western culture — the sciences, economy, music, arts, literature, morals, manners and mores, the whole damn thing. Western civilization, in other words, is absolutely worth maintaining, prolonging, venerating and all that.

And here’s the first little roadblock that the alt-Right throws in my way: their distaste, and even hatred for Jews.

I have no idea why that is. Pound for pound, the Jews have contributed as much or more to Western civilization than any other group — it’s even called the “Judeo-Christian tradition”, FFS — and to discount this contribution deliberately, to me, shows a shallow intellect at best. (At worst, Hitler, but I’m not going to go there.) Of course, I know that many Jews are socialists, communists, progressives, one-worlders, and all those things that are not only themselves distasteful, but are contradictory to Western thought. Ending slavery in the Western hemisphere (an action performed solely by Western nations, lest we forget) is not the same as allowing Western culture to be perverted or submerged by inferior cultures — and let’s be perfectly honest, when compared to Western culture, all other cultures are in general absolutely inferior to ours. To say otherwise is to be ignorant of history, or to be able to consciously deny the fact of the matter despite all evidence to the contrary. Judaic culture, by the way, is not inferior to, say, Western culture and civilization because in no small part, theirs is almost indistinguishable from that of Western Europe because of their commonality. That Israeli liberals seem perfectly prepared to help bring about the destruction of Eretz Israel was always a mystery to me until it was explained to me (by one of my good friends, an Orthodox Jew) that these liberals hate the state of Israel because it is culturally closer to Western European democracy than it is to Eastern European socialism. And the liberal Israelis have camp-followers all over the world: in Europe, Britain, the United States and anywhere that Jews can be found in any numbers. Does that mean “conspiracy”? Sure, if you’re a moron, because there are many, many Jews who are conservative, too — but somehow, the Conspiracy seems to have passed them by? Not credible.

So: am I pro-Israel? You betcha. I’m even more supportive of Israel when I look at the nations of assholes who want Israel destroyed.

Do I think that a lot of Jews are liberal assholes? You betcha, again. (Don’t even ask me about Jews and their support for gun control, unless we also mention JPFO, who also seem to have missed the memo.)

Am I prepared to become an anti-Semite because of The Great Jewish Conspiracy? Think again, Adolf.

Would I stand aside if some anti-Semitic pricks started playing their little neo-Nazi reindeer games with Jews in the streets? Not only would I not stand aside, but I’d be standing between the two groups, telling the anti-Semites that they’d have to get past me first.

Ich habe Dachau gesehen.

And as long as I have breath in my body, “Never again!” will not be just an empty phrase, even if that seems to be the case with some Jews(!), who think that their tribe’s survival of the Holocaust was somehow irrelevant in today’s world.

So the minute some alt-Rightist starts with that anti-Semitic shit, I turn right off, because I will never be part of that insanity. (It doesn’t even have to be the alt-Right; over at Taki’s Magazine — which I generally love — I’ll be reading something amusing or educational, and then the Great Zionist Conspiracy gets mentioned, and figuratively speaking, I toss the magazine across the room.)

The next thing about the alt-Right that gets up my nose is their little unicorn-rainbow dream of a “White ethnostate”.  Once again, oh FFS. Let me tell you this: I grew up in a wannabe-White ethnostate, I knew White supremacists, and oh my gawd, I was even related to a bunch of them. They were all, to a man, mean-spirited, ugly people, and their system of government — apartheid — was even uglier than they were. Even though their philosophical underpinning made apparent sense — the catastrophe that was (and is) Black Africa showed that Blacks were incapable of self-government — but their prescription to protect themselves against that was horrible and ultimately doomed to failure, as events would prove. Forget that shit; I not only hated it, and them, but I rebelled against it, stopping well short of planting bombs and shooting random White people in the streets, however, because those are what we call today terrorists. Even with the best intentions in the world, I was not going to become a White Nelson Mandela (who was, lest we forget, as much of a terrorist as Yasser Arafat despite, like Arafat, becoming somehow acceptable in his later years as a head of state). As much as I loathed apartheid, I was not going to take that next step, because too many innocent people would be harmed. Remember that, because it will be important later.

Now some people, e.g. the aforementioned Mr. Quinn, have trouble reconciling my position with my somewhat trenchant thoughts set out in Let Africa Sink (I told you I’d need to republish it). They all miss the point. Let Africa Sink was written in a mood of profound sadness, pessimism and despair, and was never meant to be some kind of rallying-cry and blueprint for a bunch of sick racists. FFS: I am an African myself; I was born there, I lived there for a third of a century, and my family first arrived in the Cape in 1692. I have every right to call myself an African, as much or even more than Jesse Jackson can call himself an American. I left Africa because I saw absolutely no hope for the whole continent, not just South Africa (which, by the way, is well on the way to joining Zimbabwe, the Congo and all the other little beauty spots over there). I left because all I could see was a future of bloodshed, hatred, venality and human ruin. I have seen nothing since that has made me want to change my opinion by one iota. Africa, as a place and as a human entity, is fucked beyond words, and there is nothing, nothing that will end or even ameliorate that scenario.

Now stay with me here, because what sets me apart from the alt-Right is that I won’t — can’t — make the leap from Africa being so screwed to “Blacks are therefore inferior to Whites”. You know why I can’t? Because of Ben Carson, Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, Richard Pryor and Denzel Washington (to name but some). Even an idiot like Maxine Waters, despite being a socialist to her core, has not advocated racial violence and anti-White terrorism (so far). In other words, when Black people aren’t Africans but Americans — Americans who moreover believe profoundly that Western European culture is far better than the alternative and who therefore espouse the principles of Western civilization despite their own ethnic heritage — it is impossible for me to say that in general principle, Black people are inferior to White people. Can’t go there, even if Carson et al. are woefully in the minority in the Black community. I can’t go there even in the face of evidence that Black-run cities (or, to be more correct, Democrat-run cities) are pathetic failures and African-style hellholes of poverty, corruption and homicide. I see little difference, by the way, between the looming disaster that is San Francisco (which is not run by Blacks) and the appalling tragedy of Detroit (which is, and has been for a long time). If a majority of Blacks espouse socialism, the fault is not their ethnicity but their education. (Hell, a sizable number of White people espouse socialism, too; don’t get me started on those idiots.)

If so many Blacks vote Democrat instead of Republican, and end up with failure in consequence, is that a reason to think that Blacks are that inferior to Whites? Let me point out a little-known fact: without the White (Afrikaans- and English-speaking) working-class voters, South Africa’s apartheid would have collapsed decades before it did; but like American Blacks were by Democrats, they were promised jobs, job security and social advancement by the Afrikaner nationalists, which meant that the White working classes bought into the eventual promise of apartheid: separate development. The “dumping grounds” of South African apartheid followed shortly thereafter. White voters, in other words, are just as capable of adopting an evil philosophy (apartheid) as Black voters are drawn towards supporting a different evil philosophy (socialism).

And that’s another part of alt-Right philosophy that pisses me off. If I may use the rhetoric of Albert Jay Nock: suppose that you’re right; suppose that we Whites should create an exclusive White ethnostate that bars (among so many others) Blacks and Jews: how, exactly, are you going to create this little White nationalist Nirvana? How are you going to move this from a unicorn’s wet dream to ugly (and it would be ugly) reality? It sure as hell isn’t going to happen in the United States, no matter how much you want to create the White Man’s Paradise in, say, Utah or Idaho, because there will have to be some rearrangement of peoples for that to happen — and I repeat, that ain’t gonna happen anywhere in the U.S. Good luck trying that elsewhere — well, maybe in South Africa’s Orania, but guess what: you alt-Righters won’t be welcome there because you’re not Afrikaans. See how this ethnic superiority thing works?

I saw at first hand how the South African government went about creating the reality of “separateness” in a multi-racial society, and let me tell you, it was revolting, appalling, and made me want to join Mandela’s Spear Of The Nation organization, albeit only for a short while. I’ll tell that story another time, because if I do so now, it will engender a red-hot anger in me that would make Pussification seem like a scholarly discourse.

Let me tell you all: underneath all the words about “White pride”, “promoting Western European values and culture” and “cultural superiority” are some really, really ugly beliefs, philosophies and plans of action; and I want absolutely no part of them.

I know that my way of supporting Western civilization might seem weak and ineffective to the alt-Right. I prefer to vote for politicians who prefer capitalism to socialism, Western culture over, say, Muslim culture or African culture. I prefer to write about Western civilization and extol it, letting people read my stuff and thereby (I hope) being persuaded to follow my example and in turn persuading others to be likewise. I raised my children in the Western tradition, and have drawn maybe thousands of people to my way of thinking — even if only by reading my stuff, they realize that they aren’t alone in their beliefs, and that our mostly-Anglocentric Western way of life is the right one.

Most of the human condition is dealing with The Pendulum: as our societies develop, the pendulum swings from Right to Left and back again. Often, the reverse swing is overly long, and that leads to all kinds of trouble. (The French Revolution’s Reign of Terror is an excellent example, by the way, albeit an example of showing that even Western civilization can screw things up.) The alt-Right, to me, represents just such an over-correction of The Pendulum’s erstwhile swing to the Left, and frankly, I don’t find much to recommend their fantasies.

I am aware that the alt-Right may turn on me and start with the name-calling, e.g. “race-traitor” (which sounds so much better in the original Afrikaans, volks-verraaier, and which has been used on me before), or their favorite, “cuckservative” (one who is nominally conservative, but actually in thrall to liberals), and all the other cute little epithets they’ve come up with to describe those who, if they aren’t with them, must be against them.

Guess what? I am against you. I’m against your anti-Semitism, your White supremacism, and all the other bullshit that you hide under camouflage phrases and euphemisms. I know exactly who you are, and I’m not one of you.

There is no “paradox” in my philosophy; I just refuse to succumb to the temptation of ascribing societal failures to outside influences such as the “Jewish Conspiracy” or “negroid inferiority”. (Historically, it reminds me too much of Weimar Germany and pre-1917 Bolshevism.) As Quinn noted, I don’t take that extra step in “logic” that will move me over to the alt-Right because quite simply, it’s a step too far. Sorry if that puzzles you. Life isn’t a simple case of black and white, or even Black and White: it’s far more complex than that, and I’m sorry if you can’t see it.

And one last thing: in his essay, Spencer Quinn has many kind words to say about my bravery and “brass balls” (as he puts it). Do not for one moment think that any of that is going to disappear should someone decide to confront me in person. Please remember that as a young man, I once stood up against the guns and sjamboks of Afrikaner apartheid; and I’m prepared, even in my old age, to stand up to you. I am a lot meaner now than I was then, and I have a lot less to lose. That’s not a challenge, by the way; as Quinn noted, I really just want to be left alone — and in the alt-Right’s case, that means not co-opting my writings in support of your foolishness.

Sincerely,

Kim du Toit