These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
–Some old white guy
Street protests and street theater are largely useless as political tactics in the modern age. A century ago, a gaggle of prim-faced scolds marching through the middle of town, demanding the end of alcohol, not only got people’s attention, it changed their minds about the issue. The street protests projected strength and suggested that the numbers on the side of the marchers were larger than assumed. The men in charge responded by giving women the franchise and banning alcohol. The downward spiral started soon after.
Today, people know that the street protest is a made for TV event and that the “protesters” are often paid to show up and make noise. Alternatively, it is assumed that the true believers are batshit crazy and best ignored. In other words, it’s just another TV show in an age where we are awash in TV shows. For the most part, the street protest is for weak losers desperate for attention. The only impact they have on the larger public is to confirm that the “movement” is impotent and can be ignored.
That does not mean street theater is entirely worthless. The alt-right showing up at Berkeley to beat up the Antifa losers was entertaining and it did scare the people in charge of the place. So much so they moved heaven and earth to block Ann Coulter’s speech last week. Make no mistake, the reason the school went to all this trouble is they feared a bunch of dudes in home made battle gear beating the hell out of the Potemkin Protesters the Left now hires to do their protesting for them. A replay would be embarrassing.
Berkeley is the epicenter of West Coast progressive lunacy so for the true believers at the center of the hive to feel this uncertain is suggestive. They have been in charge for so long they just take it for granted. The narrative says they are the ones in the street fighting the man. When the roles are flipped and they are suddenly the man, their go to move is to shut it all down. They have no choice, as to do otherwise would mean facing up to the reality of their situation and that’s never going to happen with true believers.
The real lesson, the one most useful to the alt-right, is seeing the controlled opposition confirm what many have been pointing out for years now. As soon as things got a little tough, the College Republicans folded their tents and blamed the “extremists” of the alt-right. The Young American Foundation, a Conservative Inc. racket to recruit college students, made a show of “defending free speech” but made sure they did not offer any material support. It was just another way to raise money for their racket.
In contrast, a handful of rednecks down south were able to force Auburn to host the notorious Richard Spencer, a guy everyone seems to think is Hitler in a cardigan. They went to court and quickly forced the school to honor its legal obligations. They were also able to rally a security force and get the cops to enforce public order. The result being a peaceful and orderly event. Conservative Inc. has tens of millions in cash at their disposal and an army of elite educated lawyers and they could not even defend Coulter.
What they could do though, is attack Ann Coulter when she correctly pointed out that the summer soldiers of Conservative Inc ran and hid as soon as things got difficult. David French is a mentally unbalanced crackpot, but he does speak for the dwindling number of Buckley Conservatives, who claim to be the vanguard of anti-Progressive forces in America. French speaks for all of the so-called conservatives when he is more upset at Coulter’s noticing than he is at black clad thugs shutting down her speech.
The whole affair is insignificant in isolation, but it is a another reminder to those who have begun the journey away from Buckley Conservatism, Libertarianism and boomer politics that those well-paid heroes of the Right never win these fights. They invest so heavily in the symbolism of conservatism because they conserve nothing but their own place at Lefty’s table. At best they are well-intentioned losers. At worst, they are willing props deployed by the ruling orthodoxy to disrupt the opposition.
The people in the dissident movements are not without their problems and many of them are certainly nuts, but that’s the nature of outsider movements. What’s increasingly clear is the fact that it is the outsider movements who are scoring the victories. They are the people changing minds and forcing the the fight onto the turf of Lefty. It’s not the dorks in blue blazers mooning over photos of Reagan. It’s the guys with home made armor decorated with sun wheels and cartoon frogs.
The other day, an old friend, who was a “happy warrior” type, mostly in the libertarian wing of the Buckley Right, quoted Mike Cernovich to me. I cautioned him to not take everything Cerno says at face value and he responded with, “Hey, no enemies on the Right.” A year ago he probably would have sided with David French or at least frowned upon the alt-right guys raising hell. When given the choice between those who are not afraid to be called a heretic and those who live in fear of it, people naturally choose the former over the latter.