Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of left-wing protests. The first I recall was on the Mall in Washington in the 80’s. I no longer recall what they were protesting, but I recall a stubby old women with a bullhorn hanging off her hip. She was screaming something rhythmic, but the audio was unintelligible. The whole scene was just a freak show for no other purpose than for the freaks to be seen. Tourists took pictures and everyone else just ignored it. It was just a part of the rich pageantry of American democracy.
With some exceptions, that’s the model for all lefty protests. At American Renaissance last year, Antifa and a local women’s group put on an all day freak show for the conference attendees. Some were there to “protests the Nazis”, but most were there for reasons that ran from the obscure to the mysterious. Some appeared to be having some sort of hallucinatory break with reality, rhythmically screaming and twirling around or just making crazy faces at people. Again, the point was to put on a show for onlookers.
This year, the authorities penned them up so passersby could not see them. The only way to get a clean look at the protesters was from the top floor of the conference center and you needed binoculars. I counted maybe 40 people in the protest pen at the peak and at least ten were “media.” The rules against masks and weapons scared off many of the Antifa, but the rest stayed away knowing they would not be able to put on a show. If a protests happens in the woods and no one sees it, did it really happen?
The general consensus on these groups is that outside of the ones financed by Soros and the Democrats, they are just fringe loonies looking for a reason to protest. The guy with the boot on his head shows up at all sorts of events. There’s an enormously obese black guy, who gets wheeled into protests around the country. He usually just sits in a beach chair so people can take pics of him. Then there are the anarchist that just want to smash things and rumble in the streets. Again, it is just a performance that means nothing.
For the last month or so I have been monitoring a bunch of social media accounts of prominent protesters. Mostly it was in preparation for AmRen, but when you scan a lot of them you can’t help but notice the patterns. These people define themselves within their movement by their association with specific events. There’s no normal human back and forth, just trading links and pics from the events they attended. The other type of post is sympathy for some fringe action, as if they get credit by proxy, for the action.
An example of what I mean is this HuffPo piece. Christopher Mathias is actually just an Antifa member they pay to submit field reports for them. Like everyone in these protest movements, he struggles with his sanity. His “report” is actually just a testament to the fact he was there. The protest was a flop as hardly anyone showed up and they were sequestered in a holding pen away from everyone. That left little social credit to be gained from the action, other than tweets and selfies from those who bothered to attend.
I recently had some interaction with a local group affiliated with Antifa, at least that’s what they said. They may have been boasting, but they were definitely into the protest life. That was the thing. All they talked about was where they had been and the “actions” they had done. It was what got me thinking about these protest groups functioning like a cult, where the events are social credits within the subculture. If all you talk about and all you focus on in your life is the events you attended, the attendance has a lot of value to you.
What it brought to mind is people who get into narrow hobbies like model trains or some sort of collecting. They get together not to trade information about their hobby, but to display what they have or what they know. Their events are peacocking festivals so they can display their social capital. Oddly, prisons work on a similar dynamic. Prison ink is about advertising your history in the system and your violence capital. That suggests the protest culture is entirely inward looking and not really about getting our attention.
This would explain why they have started to fight with one another. The alt-right has retreated from the real world and has stopped fighting with Antifa on-line. The affiliated actors like TWP have evaporated. If your thing is to protest other fringe groups and those fringe groups have left the field, you end up protesting yourself. Or in the case of some, like Lacy MacAuley, they start jump from one momentary issue to the next. It’s the old gag. Question: What are you rebelling against? Answer: What have you got?
None of this may seem all that interesting, but it raises questions about modernity. This phenomenon did not exist in the 19th century or the 15th century. These subcultures rooted in vague and shifting causes did not exist in our grandparents age. A major reason is the splintering of society on the rocks of diversity. There’s also the collapse of mainstream Christianity and the related collapse of traditional social arrangements. These sorts of subcultures were denied oxygen in a thriving and dominant mainstream culture.