by Rod D. Martin
November 22, 2022

I understand the idea of “politics is downstream from culture”, and have enormous respect for that idea’s proponents. But I think it attempts to prove too much, and also plays to the preferences and biases of the church.

First, I don’t believe it’s true, partly for this reason: politics and culture are expressions of one another. They are entirely interrelated and constantly affect one another. We understand that in the one direction, but forget that politics is all about persuasion and thus politics is constantly persuading the culture.

One example: there was a poll about 20 years ago that asked women who’d had an abortion if they’d have even considered it had it been illegal. 90% said no.

The law is a teacher. So are politicians.

Did that affect culture? Absolutely: people widely came to believe — who had not before — that abortion was not just a right but a good. A minority in politics taught a majority to disrespect and disregard life, based on convenience.

Were some already there? Yes. Might the rest have gotten there without Roe? Maybe. But we’ll never know, because politics first moved the culture.

Most people mostly believe if something is illegal it’s wrong, and if it’s legal it’s okay.

Small minorities can change law.

Indeed, a minority of 7 gave us Roe. A minority of about 1/3 gave Germany Hitler and all that came with him. A minority of 3,000 Bolsheviks saddled Russia with Communism and changed the culture of at least half the world.

When Henry V says to Catherine that “we are the makers of manners” he’s right.

We may have transferred that function to Hollywood in our culture. But have we really? Reagan moved culture in countless ways: I was there and saw it. We’ve just democratized cultural leadership.

That democratization is itself an example of politics moving culture: it’s an expression of the American Revolution. It’s not common historically, because artists used to need elite patrons but can now go to the mass market. That’s new.

But that brings me to the most dangerous point. Politics IS a religion to the left, and thus its culture. The more the l succeeds, the more it politicizes everything — especially culture — and the more inescapable politics becomes. Culture becomes a mere arm of the party.

This shouldn’t surprise us. This has been true in every totalitarian society, and to a lesser degree in all authoritarian ones throughout time.

So when we say “politics is downstream from culture”, we are describing our preference, but also a luxury: the consequence of the increased sanctification afforded by the American Revolution. And we’re ignoring the left’s active use of politics to impose its culture upon us.

Do we even need to look further than the government schools, which through the political choices at the NEA are reshaping an entire generation into anti-American anti-Christians, even grooming them and physically mutilating them for life without parental consent?

That’s politics, folks. Your culture is being replaced before your eyes, by a handful of political actors who hate you. Your culture isn’t just downstream from it: it’s at the bottom of a waterfall.

Can culture defeat all that? Sure. In time to still matter? 20 years ago maybe. 40 maybe. Now? Not without a LOT of politics.

But that was my point all along:

Politics and culture are part of one whole. They aren’t separate compartments. They constantly interact. In a more Christian culture, the culture tends to dominate. In a less Christian culture, the state/party always does. And there’s a sliding scale in between.

We need to recognize this if we want to win. If we don’t, we’re that much closer to your church being annexed by the Three Self Movement, your new house church being decimated by social credit scores, and your cultural decisions being made by your Politburo.

IS POLITICS REALLY DOWNSTREAM FROM CULTURE? originally appeared as a Facebook post by Rod D. Martin.