Ryan England: The antics of antifa and the black-bloc are a concern of mine. My issue with them isn’t so much their ideology – the endgame for the kind of society and world I’d like to see looks very much like something out of anarchist and communist theory. This has been the case for me for decades now. But going out and smashing windows and lighting trashcans on fire isn’t going to result in the democratization of capital or even garner popular support for anti-capitalist ideals.
Leftwing politics have been struggling with a serious image problem for years now. We need to think in terms of how the moderates see us. We have to stop LARPing and beware the tendency to descend into an ideological purity spiral. This has been a concern of mine going back to the 1990’s, and with the rise of the Social Justice Warrior as the Internet’s favorite punching bag, it’s only gotten worse. Shit, the annoyance they’ve caused for so many people recently is a contributing factor to Trump getting in the White House.
The Left fails because it’s an insular little clique with its own lingo and its own little subcultures, and the bulk of the population – the people who most need to know what we have to say – are put off by it. On top of that, people get expelled from Leftist circles for the most frivolous and stupid of deviations from the ideological line – the big Alt-Left groups on Facebook are constantly getting posts from newbies talking about the stupid shit they get banned from anarchist and communist groups for.
We can’t riot. We can’t smash windows. We can’t shut down campus speakers we don’t like. That’s what Milo Yiannopoulos and his ilk want us to do. Did you all know that sales of his books SKYROCKETED since the Berkeley riots? He’s laughing all the way to the bank because of what happened, and many thousands – hundreds of thousands – more people who otherwise wouldn’t have otherwise have become interested in and even sympathetic with Milo’s thought. Goading dumb Leftists into doing dumb stuff is Milo’s whole business model. Why would we want to feed it?
We can’t sucker punch Nazis – not unless it’s clear that they’re out to cause trouble, and they were at one time. I remember Nazi skinhead gangs. They were bad news. You need antifa to deal with that. But socking a goofy civvy in the face, even one who has Nazi views, might make us feel good but also makes us look bad. Maybe not bad in our own books, but bad to the Average Joe whose long-term decision on whether to go Right or Left may ultimately hinge on which faction abstains from needless violence. Notice that the rightwingers stand off or even retreat when the shit hits the fan now and let the Left make asses of themselves? They’ve learned their lessons and are playing a long game here.
If Leftists keep rioting, we’ll burn not just our colleges and neighborhoods to the ground. We’ll burn our futures to the ground as well. We have to stop it. We have to stop LARPing, we have to present ourselves in a calm and rational manner so that our critiques of Trump and the deeper historical materialist ideas that our critiques are rooted in get taken seriously.
I am unsure. The peaceful protests and even the property-destroying riots and Trumpster-assaulting riots are not increasing Trump’s popularity or decreasing the popularity of our side.
Yes, there are posts on Trump groups by people saying, “I am on your side now!” but most of them we don’t want on our side anyway. I am inclined to say, “Go vote for the Right!” for these people. A lot of these people call themselves moderates, but in the US, that means, “Trump and the Republicans are right 50% of the time.” That’s not moderate.
Since January 26, support for our side has gone up 3 points and support for Trump has fallen by 7 points. So even the violent riots are not hurting us yet. As long as they are not hurting us, I’m not inclined to support the argument that we need to stop this stuff because we are turning people off. In fact, we may even be converting some people. Antifas went to the Women’s March and tries to explain why they were rioting in DC on Jan. 20 (mostly property damage) and they said some of the liberal women were saying, “Well, maybe so. Maybe it needs to come to that.”
A lot of others on the Left, not just Leftists but often regular liberals, are acting nuts now too.
Sarah Silverman called for a military coup to oust Trump.
Kaine just told Americans to “take it to the streets.” This is being framed by the Opposition as a call for street violence.
Police refused to make even one arrest for the Berkeley riots. The mayor apparently gave them a stand-down order. There are photos of hundreds of police standing around doing nothing on the second floor of the Student Union while the Opposition is getting pummeled outside. They let the vandalism go on and not one person was arrested for a lot of serious assaults on Trumpsters. It sure looks like the police are implicitly saying they will not interfere when people smash stuff and beat up the Opposition. Few if any prominent liberals have even criticized the Berkeley riots, and the media is pretty much blacking them out, which is tacit acceptance at least for media cover-up.
I have not seen the Left so activated since the 1970’s. The anarchists themselves say that anarchism has never been so popular.
There are regular calls to assassinate Trump. Madonna practically threatened to blow up the White House. A BLM speaker the other day advocating “Killing people…killing the White House.”#killtrump tags have appeared in the 10,000’s on Twitter. There are so many that I am certain that the SS is hardly investigating them. There are SS agents themselves saying they will not protect him from assassin.
And Trump’s actions by themselves are quite violent. So we are comparing the structural violence of Trump with the street violence of antifa. I must say Trump’s violence is worse. Until it can be shown that these riots are objectively hurting us, I won’t agree with an argument that they are bad tactics due to decreasing our support and driving support to the Opposition.