A given aesthetic or political movement will be popular in proportion to 3 metrics:
1. the perceived aesthetic beauty of the participants
2. the social or monetary cost of participation in the movement
3. the amount of power a participant may exercise as part of the movement
Given that a movement is perceived to be aesthetically beautiful, has low social and monetary costs to participate, and a participant may exercise large amounts of power by being part of the movement, it will be popular. I will provide examples of this phenomenon in action.
The emo movement of the 2000s was not a particularly popular aesthetic movement. Its participants were generally not aesthetically beautiful, nor was any media organ particularly interested in making them appear to be. Most emos looked like freaks and weirdos, and were often derided as such by media organs.
Because of said derision, being an emo came with a high social cost. Being an emo constrained one to only hanging out with other emos. Even then, one could be considered a poser, at which point one was constrained only to hanging out with other emo posers. The movement also bore high monetary costs: Hot Topic shirts, black makeup, and razors to cut yourself with did not come cheap.
Finally, being an emo does not allow a participant to exercise a large amount of power. Being emo did not help you ‘change the world,’ nor did it do very much else besides piss off one’s parents. Pissing people off is an exercise of power, make no mistake, but it is not a sufficient exercise of power to bear the high social and monetary costs of being an emo, compounded by that emos looked like freaks and weirdos.
This analysis can also be applied to Christianity. Christianity has been losing a lot of steam in the West, especially with youth. Why? Simple.
Christianity does not have great aesthetics, publicly speaking. Of course, the icons of saints and of Our Lady and Our Lord are as aesthetically beautiful as always. But when people think of Christianity today they do not think of an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They think of Christian Rock and televangelists. Failing this, they think of women preachers wearing trans flags around their necks, spiritually castrated and in utter submission to the new progressive order. This is objectively terrible aesthetics.
Christianity has a high social cost. Being a Christian of any sort comes with an automatic suspicion that you are secretly a gay-hater, a prude, and a reactionary. This is why many Christians, including those who are actually culturally conservative, make such an effort to deny any such allegations. They understand that being branded a prude or a gay-hater comes with massive social costs for them. This is also why so-called ‘progressive Christianity’ exists: people trying to either syncretise progressivism and Christianity, or else escape the Christian stereotypes of gay-haters and prudes.
Christianity also does not allow a participant to exercise very much power. Pride is a sin, the worst sin, and so one cannot boast of one’s good and charitable works. Similarly, much of the Gospel focuses on turning the other cheek and rejecting material wealth. This does not make for very much power for the participant.
This does not mean Christianity is not true. Christianity is THE true religion. This merely explains why Christianity has been experiencing a decline in popularity in the late 20th and 21st centuries.
Finally, let’s look at an example of a popular political and aesthetic movement: the LGBT movement.
Gays aren’t broadly speaking good-looking people. Some gay men look alright. Lesbians have the stereotype of being ugly for a reason. Let’s not even get into transgenders: there’s mocking Twitter accounts called ‘trans faces.’
You might think of this as bad aesthetics. However, gays have a massive branding advantage. Gays have every commercial and TV series running hard PR on them as fabulously dressed interior designers, lisping and dancing all over the place. Lesbians have got Katy Perry and the porn industry running their branding. Even transgenders get in on the action with stuff like RuPaul’s drag race and Kaitlyn Jenner.
Thus, gays get a point on point 1: good public branding.
There’s a surprisingly low cost to participate in the LGBT movement. One need not do anything more than declare themselves bisexual to be a full participant. For those too squeamish to do so, one can simply declare themselves a “straight ally.” While being a transgender is hard, what with those expensive hormones and surgeries, being ‘queer’ is incredibly easy and comes with virtually the same amount of prestige, without much required.
Note that over the years the cost of participation has been gradually lowered: you used to have to actually engage in homosexual activity in order to be considered ‘gay.’ Now, it is merely a declaration. Similarly, in order to be ‘transgender,’ you used to have to get an operation or something. Now you can be ‘genderqueer’ with little more than a statement in public and a change of pronoun.
Thus, gays get a point on point 2: low participation cost.
Finally, gays have a ton of power. Want proof? Gays have mobilised to overturn a military coup in a country where being gay is illegal, and enjoy international support. The United Nations supports gays. The United States wants to make Pakistan, a country whose capital city is called Islamabad, more gay-friendly. Even very Catholic Ireland has legalised gay marriage. Being part of the LGBT movement means ‘changing the world,’ it means being ‘modern’ and ‘helping the oppressed.’ All of these are cover words for ‘exercising power.’ Your average gay activist is absolutely high on power, and is a total junkie for it. The LGBT cause just keeps delivering.
Thus, gays get a point on point 3: high amount of power exercised.
The optimal solution to stopping progressivism is dealing with branding and increasing the cost of participation while lowering the amount of power the homosexual movement can exercise.