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Technology: Is going back-to-the-land a solution to modern problems?

Is going back-to-the-land a solution to modern problems? Back-to-the-land means to quit urban/suburban life, move into the country, buy some land, and try to gain a greater degree of self-sufficiency and independence from the industrial/economic system, such as by growing your own food. This has been promoted by Luke Smith lately and I've been considering the idea, especially since I am unsatisfied with suburban life. I want to explore this idea as someone who has lived in a bubble my whole life.
By modern problems, I mean hypothesized ailments such as
  • Loneliness, including a lack of a sense of community
  • A sedentary lifestyle, and its associated health problems
  • Lack of purpose, and the feeling of being a cog in a machine
  • Lack of control: being at the mercy of the economy, large corporations, broken governance. The current economic fallout from the pandemic is a great example of this. Automation is also looming.
  • The difficulty of avoiding or opting-out of superstimuli such as the internet, junk food, pornography, television, social media, etc. This also includes the difficulty of opting your children out of such things. For instance, in the case of social media, there is strong peer pressure to be on it, despite its harmful effects on middle-schoolers.
Whether some of these are modern problems depends on what we mean by modern. Let's look at loneliness. Despite a common narrative in media articles about loneliness increasing since either the 1950s or the 1970s or the 1980s, there isn't any evidence for it, in the sense that there are no long-term, reliable surveys which ask similar questions of a similar age-group. The ones that do, such as a standardized one used on Harvard college students, found a slight decrease in loneliness among that group since the 70s. Other measures, such as alone-ness (not having many social contacts, which is only weakly correlated with the subjective feeling of loneliness) also have had problems. Now, a lack of evidence is not evidence of absence, and concluding loneliness has decreased just seems intuitively wrong to me. For instance, how do we explain the sex recession? It's possible loneliness is instead an extremely recent trend driven by the internet (and the way it potentially enables people to stay inside all day by offering unlimited entertainment) or social media (and the way it potentially displaces in-person interactions with more shallow interactions, public broadcasting, and signaling). But let's grant that things aren't getting worse since the 50s/60s/70s/80s, as Scott argues in his Anti-Reactionary FAQ. Scott says, "If things are getting better now, we may perhaps separate societies into two groups, Traditional and Industrialized, admit that the transition from the first to the second caused a whole lot of problems, but be satisfied that industrialized society is gradually improving and fixing its defects."
So when comparing modern times to the past, maybe we shouldn't be looking at some hypothesized golden age during the 50s; maybe we should look towards the industrial revolution itself. In the very evidence brief going over the issues with the data on loneliness trends, it includes a graph from Google Ngram showing that usage of the word 'loneliness' in print was uncommon until the early 1800s, when there was a quick rise that continued throughout the century and started to level off and grow only slowly between the 1920s and 2000, consistent with an effect caused by industrialization and urbanization. The article interprets this to mean that interest in the concept of loneliness has therefor increased. Now, this result may just be because the word itself wasn't very widely used; instead other words were used for the same concept but the language evolved. After all, two to three centuries is plenty of time for the English language to change. I would try to include these archaic words in the graph but I don't know which words I would need to use to get a good comparison; I would be interested in the results from any linguistics-minded people who can get this right.
This all suggests a better comparison would be to look at the difference between urban and rural areas today rather than trying to interpret overall trends (after all, the US is a large heterogeneous mixture of rural and urban areas, so overall trends don't capture the detail well about what is improving/deteriorating) So,

Is rural life better than urban life?

First, a look at mental health. This 2010 meta-analysis found that the prevalence rate in urban areas compared to rural areas for any psychiatric disorder was 38% higher, for mood disorders 39% higher, and for anxiety disorders 21% higher. These numbers are not adjusted for confounders such as age, sex, and economic status. The adjusted numbers are 21% higher, 28% higher, and 13% higher, respectively. The meta-analysis used studies done since 1985 in a wide range of developed countries. Interestingly, the unadjusted OR (odds-ratio) listed for the US for mood disorders indicates a 196% higher incidence in urban areas (!), however, I'm not sure about peeking into the raw data in the tables like this. Overall, I don't know what types of adjustments were made in the study or how prevalence rates were calculated in the constituent studies, and I cannot comment on whether the methodology is sound. It's worth mentioning that religiosity is higher in rural areas, and that "highly religious adults are more engaged with family [57% more likely], more likely to volunteer [61% more likely], and happier overall [38% more likely]" Source: Pew Research.
Community cohesion: According to Pew Research, "Four-in-ten rural residents say they know all or most of their neighbors, compared with 24% in urban and 28% in suburban areas." In contrast, "Nearly identical shares of residents in urban, suburban and rural areas feel a sense of attachment to their local community."
I tried to look at suicide, but I couldn't draw any conclusions. According to a 2017 CDC study, "Rural counties consistently had higher suicide rates than metropolitan counties from 2001-2015." The favorite theory from the media for this phenomenon is that rural areas have higher gun ownership rates, and guns simply make it easier for suicides to be successful. The political motivations for reporting this and finding this result in studies makes me somewhat suspicious, but it makes intuitive sense. If someone impulsively wants to commit suicide right now, a gun would be very easy and likely effective. Other methods are more complicated and require more thinking and planning: hanging requires finding suitable rope, learning how to tie it properly, finding somewhere to hang it, might not even work, etc. This study examines the literature and finds that gun control is "generally ineffective in decreasing violent crimes" but that it does have an effect on suicides. I don't feel like checking the studies they checked, so I tried to look at the UK, which has very strong gun laws, but that didn't really help. This study, "Urban-rural variations in suicides and undetermined deaths in England and Wales", tried to look at differences, finding rural areas had more reported suicides, but that urban areas had more undetermined deaths which could have been suicides; also, the study says rural areas in the UK still have higher rates of firearm ownership, and I found out rifles are not prohibited in the UK, so still inconclusive here.
Though, in looking at suicide, another popular theory is that it is because of the lack of economic opportunity in rural areas and small towns. Economics seems to be the biggest obstacle in going rural. Rural flight is obviously happening, but why? Why are jobs disappearing? How did they sustain their small economies previously (including before the industrial revolution); what was/is the job makeup like? Is rural flight a recent phenomenon, and if so, does it have anything to do with structural economic changes such as outsourcing and automation? I would think that would only be relevant to former metropolitan areas of manufacturing, not agrarian areas (if anything, declining manufacturing should make urbanization less appealing). I'm curious about the answers to these questions. All of this is too above my head to figure out, so I'll just defer to the Wikipedia page for rural flight:
Prior to the Industrial Revolution, rural flight occurred in mostly localized regions. Pre-industrial societies did not experience large rural-urban migration flows primarily due to the inability of cities to support large populations. Lack of large employment industries, high urban mortality, and low food supplies all served as checks keeping pre-industrial cities much smaller than their modern counterparts.
Post-World War II rural flight has been caused primarily by the spread of industrialized agriculture. Small, labor-intensive family farms have grown into, or have been replaced by, heavily mechanized and specialized industrial farms. ... The consolidation of the feed, seed, processed grain, and livestock industries has meant that there are fewer small businesses in rural areas. This decrease in turn exacerbated the decreased demand for labor. Rural areas that used to be able to provide employment for all young adults willing to work in challenging conditions, increasingly provide fewer opportunities for young adults.
It's very light on sources for these statements, but it's plausible. More generally, my guess is that advances in well-developed, highly industrialized and centralized industries with large economies of scale have made all kinds of rural industries uncompetitive not just outside of, but also within those rural communities, so that they can no longer be self-sustaining because the demand leaves the community but not enough supply does (a trade deficit).

Potential issues

Now some potential issues with going back-to-the-land. The most obvious objection is that it is not feasible for everyone to do this; the population is too high for economically inefficient low-density life, and industrial society is here to stay. But I'm just interested in exploring this idea as something individuals can do rather than necessarily prescribing government policy. The other objection is that it's just not as good as it's commonly made out to be. Maybe the economics is just too dire for it to work, or maybe those finding themselves alone in urban/suburban life will not be helped by trying something else, as suggested by this charity in rural Britain:
As an independent charity working right at the heart of rural communities, we often see that when people move to a rural area, they have one attempt to make new friends and connections. If that goes wrong for any reason, or they fall out with their peers, loneliness and social isolation can become magnified. There’s simply no one else for them to turn to.
There’s also a real paradox in rural areas of ‘goldfish bowl’ living. Being surrounded by people and being very visible in a village can be stifling, making some people retreat further into their own homes. Any perceived eccentricities, or perhaps issues around mental health can be magnified, making that person feel yet more isolated and detached from local life.
This article is putting forth one dynamic. A contrasting dynamic is that while urban environments have many more people, the anonymity enables those with shy tendencies to withdraw entirely, turning that tendency into a massive problem, whereas I'm guessing there's more pressure and norms in favor of interacting and keeping up with others in small towns. I wonder if this underlies the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in urban environments: normal genetic variation which would just manifest as differences in personality traits in traditional and ancestral environments is maladaptive and destructive in modern environments.
Another potential problem, for men, brought up by erwgv3g34 is that downgrading to a blue-collar job in a rural environment could hurt marriage prospects due to the phenomenon of women marrying up. Though if most of the people in the area are working similar jobs, this might not be an issue. There's always remote work for those of us who are STEM-inclined, but I kind of want to get away from the internet.
In response, naraburns brings up another problem particularly relevant to the demographics of this subreddit:
Just as in the 1990s there was a wave of "spiritual but not religious" that swept through a lot of young people, it is entirely possible to be "religious but not spiritual." I don't know that abandoning cities wholesale and looking for blue collar work in rural communities is actually going to deliver the fulfillment this guy seems to think it can deliver. For some people, it probably will. But you don't get the "full package" of benefits in rural America, such as they are, by picking up some manual labor and a rifle. You've got to pick up a Bible, too. For people who find that a bridge too far, answers almost certainly lie elsewhere.
For me personally, I like the idea of a community where a traditional lifestyle is not just tolerated, but encouraged, and where it's easier to opt-out of certain technologies. But picking up that Bible will be a challenge, though I'm willing to try.

Concluding remarks

I still don't feel I have a good grasp on this topic; a lot of the data is conflicting and I'm just not knowledgeable enough about life "out there" to reason about it. And as Scott said in his post exploring Amish happiness, it's important to get this right, since there's "a lot of discussion over whether modern society produces ennui, meaninglessness, atomization, etc – and whether our material wealth has really brought us happiness." So I'm interested in what everyone here has to say on this topic.
submitted by 7baquilin to TheMotte

Why Right Populists Win (and Left Wing Populists Don't)

A theory I've seen from Destiny before is that these Trump supporters and the like didn't just pop out of nowhere. They were always there but no one could really mobilize them. As such, we thought we reached the end of history and it was Social Progressivism. Everyone MUST think like that. This first paper supports his theory. Basically, Social Progressivism became such an ingrained part of the political establishment that only the most extreme Right parties could draw out some voters because the mainstream Right lost too much ground.
It also offers a few theories on why the Far Right beats he Far Left electorcaally.
We argue, though, that in the advanced West, voter demand for left populist politicians and parties is comparatively limited. Why? In short, poverty, inequality, economic rent-seeking, and corruption are (almost by definition) less extreme in the developed world than in the developing world. As a result, voters in the advanced West suffer less absolute and relative deprivation, and regard their economies as less unfair, than do voters in developing countries. More voters in the advanced West belong to the middle class, or to what Seymour Lipset might have called the “relatively well-to-do working class.” It follows, we posit, that they place more emphasis on the promotion and protection of their core values and culture, and less emphasis on advancing their absolute or relative economic position, than voters in developing countries.
They are also less susceptible to class-based appeals and economic tribalism. After all, where the gap between rich and poor (economic and otherwise) is smaller, and where the middle class and “relatively well-to-do” working class are larger, fewer voters are liable to define themselves as lower-class, or to identify themselves in opposition to the rich or economic elite. Even in countries like the US, where inequality has become an important political issue, a large majority of citizens self-identify as middle-class and express hopes of becoming wealthy. In such contexts, there is limited demand for left populist rhetoric emphasizing class solidarity and an economy “rigged” by elites. When such demand does arise, it is often in response to cyclical – and hence temporary – downturns like the Great Recession.
Advanced Western countries also have larger welfare states and have used these welfare states to materially compensate the less well-off. In Northern Europe and North America, if a citizen loses her job, she can receive unemployment insurance and public health care. If he falls below the poverty line, he may qualify for supplemental cash transfers. The EU provides economic support to its poorest subnational regions. Over the past three decades – the very time period in which free market policies have proliferated – mean per capita social spending has increased across Northern Europe and North America. Some programs, such as the American “Trade Adjustment Assistance” fund, explicitly compensate those dislocated by free market policies.
Just as the political right led the neoliberal turn, the political left led this socially progressive turn; and just as established left forces accepted the neoliberal turn, established right forces have largely accepted the socially progressive turn. In recent decades, conservative establishments across the Western world have shifted considerably on specific policy questions such as abortion, same-sex marriage, and immigration, and with respect to broader social trends such as changing gender roles, racial and sexual diversity, and multiculturalism. An increasing proportion of “establishment” Republican elites and opinion leaders in the United States, for example, support same-sex marriage and (at least prior to the rise of Donald Trump) immigration reform.xiii Germany’s Christian Democratic Party, under the leadership of Angela Merkel, famously oversaw the “welcoming” of nearly one million migrants in 2015. Under David Cameron, British Conservatives “modernized”xiv their policies on same-sex marriage and other hot-button cultural issues. Across Europe, parties of the mainstream right now advocate a minimalist nationalism and embrace the quasi-supranational vision of the EU. In short, on the divisive social questions of recent decades, major pre-populist parties of the right sued for peace.
In contrast to left populist voters, right populist voters are socially and culturally driven. They are social conservatives, and their primary subjective political grievances are social progressivism and mass immigration. Like their left populist counterparts, they believe that they no longer have a “dog in the fight” – i.e., that there is no longer an established political force that opposes social progressivism and mass immigration. Right populists (e.g., Trump, Germany’s AfD) enter this vacuum, placing central programmatic emphasis on rejecting or reversing social progressivism. They focus on social and cultural grievances; lament the erosion of traditional values and national identities and criticize established right forces for capitulating to social progressivism and demographic change.
The shift to social progressivism in the advanced West, both culturally and politically, has alienated social conservatives, creating significant electoral demand for right populism. Traditional values and religious beliefs have fallen out of the mainstream and are increasingly regarded as outdated. Formerly homogenous communities have been disrupted by mass immigration, and new ethnic cleavages have emerged (e.g., between Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe; between Spanish-speaking Latin Americans and English-speaking Euro- and AfricanAmericans in the United States). Social conservatives in Northern Europe and the US report an increasing sense of cultural erosion and dilution, of feeling less “at home” in their countries.
Two additional points bear mention in this context. First, because many immigrants and refugees in advanced Western countries are low-skilled workers, their growing presence in the population has made native-born low-skilled workers less susceptible to broad class-based appeals. Native-born workers often do not identify culturally or ethnically with these immigrants and refugees, and to some extent they compete with them for jobs. The result is fragmentation rather than solidarity among the working class. This further limits electoral demand for left populism, which depends on class appeals.
Second, there have not been – and arguably, there cannot be – policies compensating social conservatives for mass immigration and the rise of post-materialism. In other words, there is no analogue of the welfare state in the more “zero-sum” sociocultural domain.xvii If same-sex marriage or abortion is legalized; if a country changes demographically and becomes more culturally plural due to increased immigration; if traditional gender norms and roles erode, politicians cannot, at the level of national policy, provide compensation to citizens who oppose these shifts. They can only roll back the socially progressive policies themselves (e.g., reimpose bans on same-sex marriage or abortion). In areas like immigration, this would require extreme measures (e.g., mass deportation) regarded as unthinkable or infeasible.
In short, not only have social progressivism and mass immigration generated a comparatively large number of right populist voters in the advanced West, these right populist voters are more subjectively aggrieved than left populist voters. Right populist voters reject both the left-wing social status quo (i.e., social progressivism, demographic change) and the rightwing economic status quo (i.e., neoliberalism). By contrast, left populist voters only reject the economic status quo, tending to support social progressivism. Thus, whereas left populist voters only feel economic alienation, right populist voters feel social and economic alienation, making them an especially committed and combustible electoral constituency. Consequently, electoral demand for right-wing populism is not only higher but also more intense and persistent than electoral demand for left-wing populism (Demand-Side
Right populists have a clear advantage over left populists in internecine electoral contests (i.e., in electoral contests between mainstream forces and new populist entrants on either side of the political spectrum). Why? Very simply, right populists are more programmatically distinct from their mainstream rivals than are left populists. Right populists differ from the right-wing establishment socially and economically; by contrast, left populists only differ from the left-wing establishment economically. Consequently, right populists have a clearer, more effective brand vis-a-vis their mainstreamxxi counterparts and can siphon more votes from them (Supply-Side Argument 1).
Right populists also hold an advantage over left populists in open, nationwide elections. Why? From the perspective of ordinary voters, left populists are more radical than the mainstream left on economic issues and roughly indistinguishable on social issues. By contrast, right populists are more radical than the mainstream right on social issues but more moderate on economic issues. This has two effects. First, right populists can more easily attract former left-wing voters than left populists can attract former right-wing voters. After all, they hold some anti-neoliberal economic positions, whereas left populists do not hold any conservative social positions. Second, because right populists mix right and left positions, ordinary voters perceive them as, on balance, more programmatically moderate than left populists – although not necessarily more moderate in their attitude toward democracy. Consequently, right populists can also more easily attract moderate, centrist voters – at least those primarily concerned with programmatic issues. Both dynamics advantage right populists in open, nationwide elections (Supply-Side Argument 2).
The data bear out this set of arguments . Before the 2016 US presidential election, for example, American voters regarded Donald Trump as the most moderate and least partisan GOP nominee in a generation.xxv Trump’s winning electoral coalition included a plurality of moderates and independents, and his popularity with both groups substantially exceeded that of previous Republican nominees. France’s National Front and Germany’s AfD, despite drawing most of their support from traditional constituencies of the mainstream right, made crucial inroads with formerly non-right voting blocs. The National Front performed well in France’s “Socialist strongholds,”xxvi and the AfD siphoned nearly a million votes from the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) and far-left Left Party (Die Linke) in the 2017 German elections.xxvii In the 2019 EU Parliament elections, Britain’s right populist Brexit Party drew 13 percent of its support from erstwhile Labour Voters, while the Labour Party, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, did not draw significant support from the Conservative Party.xxviii
TL'DR: The Far Right galvanizes greater support because it offers a wholesale change. Bernie and friends say the exact same social things as regular Progressives but have more radical economic policies. This dual prongs of right wing social policy and left wing economics allows the Far Right to lure in people from all over while Left Wing Populists can only draw from the usual voter pool.
On that topic,
Secondly, many countries have seen a realignment in which the sociocultural dimension has increased in salience, at the expense of the socioeconomic axis of conflict (Rydgren 2002; Kriesi et al. 2008; Bornschier 2018). This tends to benefit radical right‐wing parties, as their profile issues belong to the sociocultural dimension (Oesch 2008). In Sweden, for example, there has been a marked increase in the degree to which voters consider immigration – SD's core issue – to be an important political issue. In 2010, only 19% of the Swedish voters considered immigration to be an important political issue; in 2014 this proportion had increased to 27% and in 2015 to 53% (Bergström & Oscarsson 2015; Demker & van der Meiden 2016).
Thirdly, voters are less likely to vote for alternative parties if they can easily find policy alternatives among mainstream parties (Rydgren 2002). Across the Western world parties have been converging across the left‐right divide on socioeconomic issues (Kitschelt 2018). In Sweden, this process was further intensified after 2006 when the centre‐right coalition Alliance1 was established. Such converging may lead voters to perceive all mainstream parties as being very similar, thereby contributing to a depoliticization of the traditional socioeconomic issues and increasing salience of (and voting based on) sociocultural issues (Rydgren & van der Meiden 2018).
Thus, individuals may vote based on their social class, attitudes on specific issues such as taxes or immigration, and/or underlying values and ideological worldviews. Importantly, recent changes in voter behaviour seem to reflect an increased prioritization of sociocultural issues in politics, rather than a shift in the values and attitudes that explain these sociocultural preferences (Ivarsflaten 2008; Mudde 2010; Rydgren & van der Meiden 2018). By being less focused – or even intentionally vague – on socioeconomic issues, radical right‐wing parties can attract voters from different positions on the political spectrum, as long as voters agree that their core sociocultural issue, most notably opposition to immigration, needs to be prioritized in politics (Rovny 2013).
Social class and socioeconomic status
To gain a clearer picture of social class among voters who are currently of working age, we compared voter groups after excluding retirees from the analyses. A chi‐squared analysis revealed statistically significant group differences in occupation categories, χ 2 (21) = 175.45, p < .001. SD supporters who previously voted for the Social Democrats more commonly come from the working class (50%) compared to current Social Democrat voters (38%), as well as SD voters who previously voted for the Conservative Party (30%) and current Conservative Party (27%) voters. Also, being unemployed or on a long‐term sick leave was more common in this group (12%) compared to SD voters who previously voted for the Conservative Party (9.9%), as well as current Social Democratic (6.9%) and Conservative Party (3.6%) voters. Complete distributions of occupation are presented Table S1 in the Supplementary Material.
Regarding education, a chi‐squared analysis (excluding students) confirmed statistically significant group differences, χ 2 (3) = 72.35, p < .001. To have university education was approximately 1.7 times less common among SD voters who previously voted for the Social Democrats (25.1%) than among SD voters who previously voted for the Conservative Party (41.8%) and current Social Democratic (44.3%) voters, and twice less common compared to current Conservative Party (51.0%) voters.
Concerning income, a chi‐squared analysis (excluding retirees and students) revealed statistically significant group differences, χ 2 (21) = 101.29, p < .001. Low income was more common, and very high income was less common, among previous and current Social Democratic voters than among previous and current Conservative Party voters: 27.7 per cent of current, and 26.5 per cent of previous, Social Democratic voters belonged to the two lowest income groups (<20,000 SEK/month), which can be contrasted with 15.6 per cent of SD voters who previously voted for the Conservative Party, and 14.7 per cent of current Conservative Party voters. Reversed patterns are observed at the other end of the income distribution: 4.0% of current Social Democratic voters, and 2.8 per cent of SD voters who previously voted for the Social Democrats, belonged to the three highest income groups (≥50,000 SEK/month), compared to 10.0 per cent of SD voters who previously voted for the Conservative Party, and 14.1 per cent of current Conservative Party voters. Complete distributions over income are presented in Table S2 in the Supplementary Material.
Finally, ANOVA analysis showed statistically significant group differences in subjective socioeconomic status, F (3, 2571) = 55.6, p < .001, η 2 = .06. SD voters who previously voted for the Social Democrats ascribed the lowest status to themselves (M = 5.82, Sd = 1.7), followed by current Social Democratic voters (M = 6.19, Sd = 1.7), SD voters who previously voted for the Conservative Party (M = 6.68, Sd = 1.6), and current Conservative Party voters (M = 6.92, Sd = 1.4). Bonferroni post hoc analysis confirmed that all these group differences were statistically significant (ps < .05).
In sum, these results support hypothesis 1a and (partly) 1b: SD voters who previously voted for the Social Democratic party had lower socioeconomic status than SD voters who previously voted for the Conservative Party. SD voters reported lower subjective socioeconomic status than the voters of the Social Democrats and the Conservative Party, but in terms of education, income, and subjective socioeconomic status, SD voters nevertheless resembled voters of their previous parties more than other SD voters.
I've always heard how Sweden is THE progressive country. Apparently this was agreed upon even in academia since they had a term for it. "Swedish exceptionalism" referred to how they had no far right parties in power. Then the Sweden Democrats got a lot of votes and some of that is due to luring away Social Democrats.
And on the topic of economic explanations vs. cultural explanations:
Yet evidence from the American case casts doubt on the hypothesized relationship between declining economic conditions and support for right-wing populism (Mutz, 2018). Examining electoral behavior in the American 2016 elections, Manza and Crowley (2017) conclude that there is no empirical support to the claim that Trump’s right-wing populist appeals resonated especially with economically disadvantaged voters; if anything, the evidence points in the opposite direction (but see Morgan and Lee (2017, 2018)).
In the European context, another line of research suggests that support for the populist right is strong among those who are just a few rungs above the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, but not among the most economically vulnerable (Bornschier and Kriesi, 2013; Gidron and Hall, 2017; Im et al. 2019). Biggs and Kanuss (2012) find that active support for the radical right British National Party is in fact lower in localities with high unemployment. In Belgium, Rink, Phalet and Swyngedouw (2009) find no relationship between local unemployment and voting for the radical right party Vlaams Blok. These findings resonate with recent studies of mass public opinion which situate anti-immigration attitudes in cultural rather than economic concerns (Hopkins and Hainmueller, 2014); this more cultural perspective has become the established common-wisdom in the field.
Economic downturns are often followed by growing support for populist appeals and the radical parties that voice them; but is this increased support for radical parties in hard economic times driven by those people personally experiencing loss of income? In our effort to answer this question, we took as our starting point the literature on populism across Western democracies in general, and in Europe in particular. Scholarship suggests that populist parties benefit from economic crises (Roberts, 2017) and documents a correlation between low socio-economic status and voting for these parties (Rooduijn and Burgoon, 2017; Visser et al., 2014), as well as regional-level associations between economic hardship and these parties’ bases of support.
Our findings are interesting in light of evidence that economic crises primarily benefit the populist radical right (Funke, Schularick and Trebesch, 2016). Our results suggest that if this is the case, the electoral success of the radical right likely comes from people other than those most directly and personally affected by the crisis. Previous work suggests that greater commitment to redistributive policies is required in order to deal with the challenge of radical right parties (Colantone and Stanig 2018). Yet our findings cast doubt on this conclusion, since individual-level economic losses do not serve as a major driver of support for the radical right. At the same time, the small increase in nativist attitudes among those hit by the crisis in the Netherlands suggests there is a potential incentive for right-wing political actors to make anti-immigration appeals in times of economic downturn. The fact that, at least in the case of The Netherlands, growing nativist attitudes did not go hand in hand with increased support for the radical right may suggest that other parties, including the mainstream right, have found ways to capitalize on such sentiments in the short term.
Another implication of our findings, which resonates with research on European populism, is that different mechanisms drive support for the radical left and the radical right (Akkerman, Zaslove and Spruyt, 2017; van Hauwaert and van Kessel, 2018). These results are relevant for the literature on support for populism in the American context, where scholars have mostly focused on what drives support for populism on the right (Manza and Crowley, 2017; Morgan and Lee, 2017, 2018).
Our analyses also invite further discussion about the relationship between economic, cultural and societal factors in driving support for populist radical parties (Gidron and Hall, 2017). For instance, ethnographic research locates the core concerns of populist and radical right supporters in demand for social recognition, which likely stems from a combination of economic and cultural factors (Cramer, 2016; Gest 2016). We hope our findings will help push forward the literature on the determinants of the rise in populism and the intersection of economic and cultural factors.
In conclusion, it bears emphasis that our findings do not suggest that economic factors are irrelevant for understanding support for the radical populist right. Economic factors may shape support for such parties not through personal income loss, but by an increased scarcity of welfare services (Cavaille and Ferwerda, 2017), a sharpening of moral boundaries toward outgroups (Mijs, Bakhtiari and Lamont, 2016), or by growing concerns over subjective social status (Gidron and Hall, 2017). There are likely to be multiple sources feeding right-wing populism, some of them more closely linked to economic factors than others (Harteveld and de Lange, 2018; Stockemer, Lentz and Mayer, 2018). Our findings call for renewed thinking about alternative mechanisms through which changes in economic circumstances shape the populist politics of our time.

I've seen this addressed in many articles and books but this one explicitly cites how it's the "common-wisdom" that culture is the dominant motivation for the success of the Right and that's why I selected it. If you'd like some other sources, I have them.
I just hear so many rando online theories without data and wanted to get some more scholarly arguments. .I had fun and I hope some of this might be illuminating. If you perhaps disagree with the listed reasons why the Right is beating the Left, that could also be an interesting discussion.
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