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Content free June 24, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

One of the current aspects of the contemporary political environment is the sense that for large parts of the political spectrum there is no particular there there. By this I mean that – and it’s a product of many overlapping dynamics, ideology and substance are conspicuous by their absence.

By way of example? Found this fascinating, a long piece from Rolling Stone that looked at the rise, and perhaps fall, of the US far-right group, the Proud Boys. What strikes me on reading it is not that they are not a problem, because they are a problem, but rather that for such a problem their actual sociopolitical content is near enough zero.

What do they believe?

If you asked members of the group, chances are they’d describe themselves as nothing more than a boisterous drinking club or “fraternal organization,” a bunch of bearded, tattooed “Western chauvinists” who were not averse to beating the shit out of the occasional lefty. If you asked far-right figures like Matt Gaetz and Roger Stone, they’d probably call the group enforcers, a necessary security detail that protected them from the threat of the far left. And if you’d asked the anti-fascists themselves, they would have told you the Proud Boys were violent white supremacists, or “nerds who thought they could start a gang,” as longtime activist Daryle Lamont Jenkins puts it.

Ask for more and up would come stuff about anti-political correctness, misogyny, anti-immigrant and Islamophobic rhetoric. And of course none of this is to be casually dismissed, but as the starting point for structuring society it is lacking in any clear programmatic approach as indeed where they as a group. Indeed it’s telling that as the PB’s began to falter – both in the lead up to the events at the Capitol in Washington and subsequently once members were charged with various offences – how some have moved ever closer to overt neo-Nazism.

But perhaps that’s part of a hiding in plain sight. The piece notes one observer noting that unlike most other groups they were quite public in their willingness to the ‘explicit promotion of violence’. And difficult not to think that in some ways there was a part conscious effort to legitimise rhetorical and other violence to political ends.

There are questions there, but also whether the brew of ‘issues’ that exercise them are in and of themselves guiding and organising forces sufficient to motivate political forces, or do they need more? My own sense is, probably the latter. That while there’s a core of people who are consumed by those issues they’re not huge in numbers, or at least not enough to mobilise as serious forces. And there’s other aspects too. Their very imagery, structure, form is such as to alienate others in the US polity. There’s talk about them taking a political turn into representational politics, but it seems implausible that as themselves they’d have a winning combination of elements, and in truth one suspects they would essentially as individuals wind up as adjuncts to the Republican Party, should it continue its turn into inchoate but quite real right of right wing radicalism.

None of which is comforting.


1. EWI - June 24, 2021

What strikes me on reading it is not that they are not a problem, because they are a problem, but rather that for such a problem their actual sociopolitical content is near enough zero.

Ever time a Democratic US president comes to power another one of these well-funded astroturf groups surfaces and is promoted on the right to be an arms-length and relentless far-right radicalisation tool. The lack of actual ‘content’ is telling.


WorldbyStorm - June 24, 2021



2. 6to5against - June 24, 2021

One thing that fascinates me is looking for the link between all the issues that seem to split along a left-right divide, whether its social welfare, taxation systems, LGBTQ or reproductive rights or Israel/Palestinian politics.

From the left, it seems that me that all of these things are linked by a general desire for fairness, for equality and for healthy functional societies.

But what links them on the right? Why does a belief that, say, welfare payments tend to be too generous so often coincide with a defence of Israel is almost any situation? And why would either tend to coincide with a distaste for marriage equality?

Surely its too crude to say that if a desire for fairness unites the left, a general taste for unfairness unites the right?


WorldbyStorm - June 24, 2021

Expedience? Laziness? Contrarianism too and simple efforts to build political distinction from opponents, if x is in favour, we ‘y’ will be against. It’s impossible to look at Mitch McConnell’s career and not feel that that was a signficant element of his make up.

Liked by 1 person

3. crocodileshoes - June 25, 2021

I remember James O’Brien pointing out that everyone saying nasty things about the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster was an ‘ardent Brexiteer’. An American friend of mine doesn’t stop at predicting where a Republican will stand on political or social issues: she’ll describe certain cars, certain dogs, even – on one memorable occasion – a certain sandwich in Subway as ‘Republican’, such is the predictability, according to her, of Republican attitudes. Tribalism, innit?


yourcousin - June 25, 2021

Depends on the dogs, trucks, and sandwiches.

Liked by 2 people

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