Any institution that potentially competes with the influence of the regime (e.g., families, churches, other private associations or subsidiary units of government) is opposed, usually through subversion rather than open hostility. Thus, the individual is made a fit subject of the regime by a process of emancipating the individual from any non-regime source of authority and alienating the individual from any competing human societies. Culture war flare-ups, like CRT, LGBTQ+ activism and COVID-19 are merely the most visible effects of the deeper tectonic project.
Part 1: An Explainer
This is part 1 of a series explaining the concept of the regime, how it relates to Christians and their institutions, and how it should be opposed.
Why has the pace of social change increased so rapidly over the last 15 years? Why have all major institutions in society become intellectual monoliths committed to the same shibboleths in policy and practice? Why have the people who comprise these institutions become so cowed, apparently incapable of meaningful dissent or critical thought? How have facially absurd ideas, like COVID-19 hysteria, transgender transitions for minors and ESG investing criteria come to so thoroughly mainstream institutions and crush dissent? The best explanatory framework for these dizzying developments is the idea that a new regime has ascended.
You will encounter this term regime if you spend five minutes on right-wing Twitter or in the pages of New Right publications. The phrase may strike you as odd at first, especially since it is often used to refer to non-governmental actors. But the phrase is vital. It can be defined with precision. It names something real that might otherwise escape notice. And it has incredible explanatory power in deciphering why social “progress,” often facially insane and politically unpopular, has so quickly advanced.
If you want a quick and dirty heuristic for identifying the regime, just look for any institutions that fly its banner – the Progress Flag.
But if you want a more precise understanding of the regime, read on. I propose the following:
A set of public, quasi-public and private actors exercising coordinated power for the purposes of advancing a shared agenda for social and political control.
The definition includes actors typically considered to be part of any regime – i.e., governmental actors – but also much more. And crucially, the regime is not under the control of the electoral process. Now, to be fair, conservatives have long decried how the administrative state inevitably grows and is impervious to reform-minded presidential administrations. Even the most wildly successful conservative administrations succeed only in temporarily halting its growth. And of course, substantive administrative law is laden with one-way ratchets that quickly facilitate progressive expansion but make rollback of progressive agenda items nearly impossible. So far, this may all sound like a traditional conservative account.
But we must next consider the interactions between formal government actors and quasi-public actors – actors that are technically private, but in fact function under administrative state control because of expansive financial or other regulatory controls. Some of these quasi-public actors are professional associations or other bodies with licensing functions who have de facto monopolies over certain regulatory functions and play a pivotal role in the work of the administrative state (i.e., regulatory rulemakings, adjudications and licensure). Examples include various licensing and accreditation agencies, the American Medical Association and bar associations. In other cases, the administrative state commandeers quasi-public actors in order to further policy goals through expansive uses of existing statutory authority (e.g., higher education and Title IX, or DEI requirements amongst government contractors).
Finally, this regime expands outward even to actors traditionally considered to be entirely private. In some cases, the regulatory state is the explicit cause of such coordinated action – the SEC, for example, now requires companies to disclose certain ESG metrics and in some states, public companies are even subjected to DEI requirements for their boards or executive teams. In other cases, America’s security apparatus exerts pressure through means that we cannot entirely ascertain, but appear to be effective – the CIA and FBI, for example, now routinely coordinate with social media companies to suppress certain viewpoints and factual reporting. But in most cases, companies voluntarily participate in the social change agenda, walking in lockstep even in cases where doing so demonstrably imperils the bottom line.