January is not even over, yet already what is likely to prove to be a fine sampling of what is to come politically for the year has already been laid out before us. But two days after the inauguration of Donald Trump, there is a great deal to cover with seemingly endless suggestions as to what we can expect for the year to come, not only in respect to governments (whose actions are possibly the greatest of our unknown factors in play) but also activism and popular movements. What a time to be alive.
Naturally, the protests which erupted during President Trump’s inauguration do bear the immediate point of scrutiny, both in terms of what they were and in terms of what they could mean going forward. Aside from the natural and rightly expected marches of feminists, social justice warriors and democrats, all of whom comprise various factions of the dramatically dubbed “resistance,” the day also saw the emergence of Antifa and the “Black Bloc.” These being two factions of “anti-fascists” and “anarchists” who are known more for their violence and destruction of property than any genuine, salient political insights.
While I could write pages on Antifa, I will instead choose to focus on Black Bloc here, leaving my thoughts on the former for your consideration in the link above. Now, described by progressive author Chris Hedges as “…the cancer of the Occupy movement,” and “…a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state,” this group of masked radical anarchists are known best for their uniform black hooded sweatshirts, black bandana masks and their propensity to attack “the system” by smashing the windows of cars and local businesses that, more often than not have only committed the heinous act of being in front of them. Far from anything resembling activism, the actions carried out by these enthusiastic simpletons really resemble the varieties of political terrorism carried out by the same brown shirts they claim to detest.
However though to many not altogether familiar with the various political factions which make up activist groups of the hard left, Black Bloc is largely seen as a curse to most any activism effort that seeks to organize in public. Known for crashing and infesting marches, rallies, protests and gaining particular notoriety during the Occupy movement for their efforts to push camps towards violence and destruction of property, Black Bloc is often regarded as possibly the most anti-liberal faction in what conservatives often deem “liberalism.” Though happy in so many instances to attack the exterior windows of a Starbucks, their most frequent targets are quite often other leftist movements such as organized labor, environmentalists and even the Zapatistas, a radical leftist Mexican revolutionary group.
Their central complaint with seemingly any leftist activists or revolutionaries who do not fall into their camp seems typically to be the desires to replace existing structures of government and society as opposed to simply ripping them down altogether. However as seen both over this past week amidst the riots (euphemistically dubbed “protests” by so many a mainstream media outlet,) as well as seen through the eyes of your author in his former career as a professional leftist himself, Black Bloc will almost inevitably seek to place itself at the center of whatever future anti-Trump actions that may come. In a sense of things that would be comically ironic were it not so grotesquely counterproductive, the violent thugs of Antifa and Black Bloc alike seem to be chomping at the bit to embody every ounce of the radical, militant terrorist that many upon the hard right seek to paint the entirety of the liberal left as being.
I am sure in this case, that just as the endless wails and moans of racism from the progressive left have served to fuel the rise of the alt-right, we will likely see a similar rise in the militancy of such, in response to, if not outright exploiting the opportunities afforded for such by the actions of these bandana clad thugs espousing notions of progress through regress.
However the hard left is not the only place we find growing and emboldened in this new current year. Following being doxed and punched in the face respectively, white nationalist alt-right figureheads Millennial Woes and Richard Spencer have decided to flip the script in regards to victimhood narratives using the incidents to highlight how terribly under threat and by extension, the white race truly are in these times of radical leftism. While the violence and doxing of their adversaries by the aforementioned Black Bloc and Antifa are in fact genuine threats to public safety and patently unacceptable, Spencer himself seems to be taking his own assault in stride, using it and the exposure it gained him to advance his message of an ongoing white genocide, telling reporters; “[The president] said little about the assaults our people suffered at his rallies. Let’s hope he does …”
Not to defend the actions of the masked imbecile who couldn’t help but make Spencer more of a story than he already was, the noted rise of the white nationalist alt-right )itself embodying the very same racist boogeyman the hard left has been trying to paint conservatism as for many years now,) corresponds so perfectly with that of the Black Bloc/Antifa hard left that it almost seems as though we’re primed to see an American reenactment of the Spanish Civil War.
Clashes between fascists, anarchists, communists and in time, genuine republicans. If only Orwell could see us now…
But it would be unfair to paint the forthcoming politics of our age with a brush of universal depression and malevolence. For despite how accurate it may be to describe the factional conflicts of times to come as such, we are also in for some serious dark comedy. We should begin here of course with the inauguration of Donald Trump.
In what many seem to regard as a relatively rousing speech from an otherwise lackluster orator, Trump began his Presidency promising unity, strength and a return of power into the hands of the people. While detractors saw little more than empty rhetoric and supporters saw a series of promises for what his administration might yield, a small number of observers (primarily on the internet) saw something entirely different. What they saw, was Baneposting.
Though not ripped from the iconic scene between Tom Hardy and Aiden Gillen, wherein Bane fools the haughty “CIA” before crashing his plane, some of the rhetoric offered in Trump’s speech did seem to reflect that of the speech offered by the Batman villain during his faux revolution upon Gotham City. Promising to rip the elites from their perches of privilege and restore power to the hands of the common citizen, the internet quietly exploded Friday with references and photoshops comparing the new President to one of the Dark Knight’s most dangerous adversaries.
Though invariably unintentional, throughout much of Trump’s campaign meme culture itself often played a serious role in advancing his rhetoric and candidacy. By no means propelling him to victory itself, the proliferation of Pepe the Frog memes became so widespread that even Hillary Clinton took to addressing Pepe as a sign of Trump’s deplorable white supremacist support base. This of course only serving to show just how out of the loop ‘grandma’ truly was, the meme culture which had supported Trump does not seem likely to disappear anytime soon. Likewise, as most less informed pop-political observers (including those within much of the mainstream press) seem altogether clueless as to what to really expect from a Trump administration, the comedic under and overtones of times to come can be expected to be strong enough to where moderates on both left and right will likely find a surplus of available chuckles.
Finally then, on the more “lol” inspiring political developments of this new year, we have the announced candidacy for Congress of none other than Brianna Wu. For those who are not familiar with Wu, she became a central figure within the media’s reporting of Gamergate, thrusting herself in front of any camera she could find so as to paint herself as the central victim of what she described as a hate movement against women in videogames. Despite countless examples of Wu’s patent dishonesty when it comes to her “victimhood,” ranging from fabricated claims of online threats to self-manufactured “abuse” on the gaming service Steam , she has somehow maintained an unassailable reputation as a bold and honest feminist throughout the mainstream media landscape.
Now deciding that news and talk show appearances where she can brand herself as a perpetually victimized feminist heroine simply isn’t enough, Wu has declared her intention to take the seat of liberal Democratic congressmen Stephen Lynch in the next election cycle. Already attempting to invoke Gamergate and paint such as an “alt-right” movement itself in her opening media pitches, Wu’s “candidacy” seems an odd choice for someone who believes that as a private citizen, they ought to be immune from criticism, mockery or general lambasting. One can only wonder how many claims of “harassment” she’ll make into campaign issues when genuine political scrutiny begins pouring in.
All in all these first few weeks of 2017 have painted a tragically hilarious picture of what American politics is likely to look like going forward. Between the rampant violence amongst the ideologically certain yet civically inept, as well as the mind bending silliness of much of the more mainstream politics, these few items here bare scratch the surface of what has even gone on in the past several days alone. With these four items being but a small sampling of the utter inanity that is sure to both darkly amuse your author, while also completely distract the public and media alike from the pressing issues of the day, we can also be sure that any genuine progress in most any direction other than those such has generally been made in (namely the interests of the elites in power.)
For those favoring liberty, the erosions of privacy and civil liberties in the name of security should be easy to ignore amidst the din of epic banality that is in store. For those of a liberal persuasion, the destruction of organized labor, the ecology and the growth of the global war state will likely be easily missed as the mounting cacophony of imbecilic hysterics and violence sweeps the nation. For our conservative friends though too, in spite of the GOP taking such tremendous power, the growth of government and inevitable growths in spending that are at this point inevitable should be easy to ignore as the perpetual dog and pony show of factional warfare and lolcow politics continue to take center stage.
At the end of the day we can, I suppose, at least be grateful for the following. There will be no shortage of sad laughter to be had. There will be no absence of hysterics to be mocked. And of course, in times we find the weather getting chilly, there ought to be plenty enough that is on fire to keep us nice and warm as this new current year gets fully underway.
(Update: Featured image has been changed after incorrect image was uploaded from hard drive)