Charlottesville was as close to a controlled social science experiment as you will likely ever get. On the one hand you had right wing protesters, and on the other you had left wing protesters. What happened? It seems rather pointless repeating this, but I will do so anyway. The right wing protesters acting within the confines of law, behaving peacefully, and exercising rights officially granted by the US government were subject to a state of emergency decree from the governor and shut down. As far as it appears, the decree declared that all protests should be removed. This didn’t happen. Instead, the left wing protesters who showed up and were prepared and organised for violence were not disbursed. Violence ensued culminating with a car being rammed into a crowd of anti-fa resulting in one death. Universal condemnation of the right was the result.
The take away from the above events from the mainstream right and alt-right has been boringly predictable. The usual bland platitudes and calls for everyone to lay their balls on a chopping block have flowed. Some of the more ridiculous criticisms include complaints of bad optics, complaints of unfairness from the police, and claims that political violence is somehow wrong and should be dissociated from. Generally it’s a confused mess.
The central problem here is that the political theory that everyone is working from is radically wrong and people are paying the price in blood. We can start with the role of protest in the political eco-sphere and the effect of popular conceptions of protests. Our current political system has come into effect with protests. From its very beginning the liberal system has been one long procession of protests and it is so ingrained that everyone takes these protests as being genuine causes for social changes, yet there is a problem with this common belief, this problem is that there has never been a successful protest which was not being used by someone already in a position of power. If you are going to use a protest, which is a political tool, a weapon, it is imperative you understand how it works and when to use it. The principle is no different to being proficient in firearm usage – knowing where the safety is, how to hold it, how to stand etc.
Now to break down a protest simply you have to do a number of things, you need numbers obviously which requires a network, you also need promotion. In addition, you need organisation. You need to plan where it will be, what time, and what the theme of the protest is. In addition, you will need to provide logistics. Transport, water, signs, food, security, and so on. The Charlottesville protest seems to have ticked all these boxes well. Now finally, and most importantly, you need a patron within the power structure who will provide cover while you piss in the face of his or her political enemies. In public. For everyone to see. If you don’t have this, then you are the one who is going to be the public spectacle, and a counter protest will be sent in by power actors so that they can use you to set an example against their enemies. Politics is about violence and degradation. Either you beat your enemy for all to see so the hierarchy is clear, or they beat you.
As we can see, the Charlottesville protest lacked this final piece of the puzzle. Worse, it didn’t even demonstrate a good audition for any power actors who may find them useful. Among the more egregious failures was a lack of centralised messaging. If something goes wrong, like a car ploughing into a crowd, the narrative should be obvious and every one should get on the right page quickly. At least demonstrate discipline. If the car incident was accidental – it was the local government, left wing, and protester’s fault and they should be forced to apologise for this tragedy and take steps to implement policy to assuage further anger from the protesters. If it was on purpose – it was the local government, left wing, and protester’s fault and they should be forced to apologise for this tragedy and take steps to implement policy to assuage further anger from the protesters. If you don’t know at all what happened – it was the local government, left wing, and protester’s fault and they should be forced to apologise for this tragedy and take steps to implement policy to assuage further anger from the protesters. I’m sure you get the idea.
Having the ability to demonstrate some discipline and ability to rally when and where needed will be useful to someone in power at sometime. That is your role as a protester. You are not the cause of spontaneous change. You don’t set off a chain reaction in a population of rational individuals as is central to liberal theory (left and right, all modern theory is liberal.) What you do is provide a threat and exude power to give a patron in power the appearance of legitimacy. Our current system is built on popular legitimacy. Any crack in this is a justification for a segment of the elite to use it to gain more power. Again, you are a gun, not the man holding the gun.
A brief example of this mechanism laid bare can be seen from any example of the Civil Rights Era. Take Little Rock Nine for example. Here a group of nine black students enrolled in High School following the Supreme Court ruling in the absurd Brown V Board of Eduaction (1954) case. Here we have a strange situation and one symptomatic of the US at this point in history. The local state governance was in constant conflict with the Federal Government which along with Foundations was on a mission to reshape the US. The black students were enrolled by the NAACP, which was and still is a North East anglo/ jewish liberal entity maintained by foundation money and the enrolment was completed under the protection of the 101st Airborne Division.
This case can be viewed from two angles. The first is the common one where these students enrolled without prompting, and the protests created a ripple effect through society which transformed rational individuals spontaneously with the radiance of their moral righteousness. This is the model that the Charlotesville protestors work on. The other view is that various centers of power in the US were in chronic conflict and the NAACP engineered a protest backed by federal government to impose their position and attack their enemies. The protests then being a setup as all successful protests are, thereby undermining the moral claims of the event.
So if the protest is merely a tool of someone in power, then someone in power must be located, money must be found, infrastructure and discipline needs development. That’s the take away, not “you need better optics so you don’t scare normies”