Let’s Storm the Capitol and then, I Don’t Know, Mill Around for a Bit?

Online-life, whatever its capacity to connect people and foster positive relationships, is characterised by tribal hostility and conflict. Campaigns seem to rise up out of the collective unconscious, then spread through the online communities like viruses (or memes) before being replaced by the next. Almost all of these projects are seen as struggles against an enemy. 

Since the killing of George Floyd, the most vigorous campaigning has clustered around the issue of racial equality, but before that, trans rights were in the ascendant. By contrast, old-school feminism, and traditional Marxist class-struggle, are in decline, presumably because they pre-date the internet and nobody wants to support the same causes as their dear old mum. Meanwhile, down in the sewers, the id-monsters of the far-right seem to be cultivating some truly crazy shit (and then smoking it.[1])

Activism associated with Black Lives Matter seems particularly energised. Its aims seem entirely in line with the core principles of most internet users and so its campaigners feed on the energy of mass support. They sense victory. They can feel the old order weakening; one last push, and they’ll break through: they’ll have achieved Utopia (or at least substantive, positive change): Hurrah!

All of society, for them, is underpinned by egalitarian principles, which have been hijacked and subverted by a sort of corrupting white establishment. If they can dismantle this system, they’ll return to a state of humanist virtue, inherent in human consciousness, but smothered by White Capitalism. It’s typical, Classical Liberalism, seasoned with a bit of Marxist, class-consciousness stuff. 

This seems naïve to me, and I wonder if it is a mind-set that has been fostered by the internet, where all programmes are founded on basic computer operation protocols. We never think about them, but we rely on them to function, so that it’s actually pretty difficult, these days, to crash the whole system and lose everything. There’s always back up on the cloud or somewhere. 

But what if society is more fragile, has no back up, can’t be rebooted or off-and-on-again-ed? We should proceed with caution, I think. It’s not enough just to protest and destroy things, then wait for someone else to clear up: “move fast and break things”. You must come up with robust working alternatives and be ready to implement them.  Nation or world-wide structural change can’t be done by grassroots organisation. It must, by necessity, be top-down. It would need to be created and administered by people with expertise and experience of government and social administration, not clueless, amateur vanguard-party ideologues. And that suggests incremental change and no revolution. Sorry, folks. I know all that score-settling would’ve been fun (and justifiable), but…


[1] I’m not going to discuss the far-right because I don’t go down there, and once you’ve said their ideas are completely irrational and baseless, there’s nothing more to say.

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