Political violence is a game the Right can’t win

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

If there’s one thing righties believe, it’s that they could beat lefties in a fight, David Hines says, yet political violence is a game the Right can’t win:

The first thing righties have to understand about Lefties is that lefties have a lot more practice building their own institutions, and assuming control of existing institutions, than their counterparts on the right do, and they share their practical experience with each other. Righties who like to build churches will build a church and worship in it. Lefties who like to build churches will build a church, write a book telling people how to build churches, go out and convince people church-building is the thing to do, run workshops on how to finance, build, and register churches, and then they’ll offer to arrange church guest speakers who’ll come preach the Lefty line.

Righties need to do a better job of teaching each other. And not just teaching the right-winger closest to them. The most organized groups on the Right are the pro-life and RKBA activists; everybody else on the Right should be learning from them.

The second thing to understand about Lefties is how they actually function. There’s a lot of independence involved. Righties like hierarchy, so often think of the Lefties as taking marching orders from George Soros or whoever in a very hierarchical fashion. Not so much. A lot of left-wing organization is very decentralized, and they negotiate with other lefty groups as to exactly how they’ll do things and time things to not hurt each others’ work, so the labor movement’s march is not derailed by black-bloc window-smashing (see, for example, DIRECT ACTION, L.A. Kauffman’s excellent history of the Left from the 60s on).

The Lefties call that approach “embracing a diversity of tactics,” which, taken to its logical extent, is a weasel-worded way of saying that the lefty mainstream is comfortable with radical leftist violence. People don’t like to talk about this much. But while it’s impossible to imagine, say, an abortion clinic bomber getting a cushy job at an elite university, that’s exactly what happened to a number of alumni of the 1970s leftist terror group known as the Weather Underground. As fugitives, they were financially and operationally supported by members of the National Lawyers’ Guild; afterward, they were so normalized that the 9/11 issue of The New York Times infamously ran a profile lauding Weatherman alumnus Bill Ayres. By contrast, right-wing terrorist Eric Rudolph’s fugitive days were spent hiding in the wilderness because no one would help him. He was caught literally dumpster-diving for food. Potential right-wing extremists face opportunity costs that their left-wing counterparts do not.

Righties frequently make allegations of paid protestors when Lefties get a bunch of people together. Again, that’s not how it works. Think of Lefty protests as being like a Grateful Dead concert. People absolutely got paid at a Grateful Dead concert: the band got paid, and the roadies got paid. But the Deadheads who followed the band around didn’t get paid. They weren’t roadies, they weren’t the band; they were there because they loved the music.

Lefties are excellent at protests, not because they pay seat-fillers, but because they’ve professionalized organizing them, as you’ll discover if you read any of their books. The protestors aren’t paid. The organizers are paid. The people who train the organizers and protestors are paid. Basically, the way the Lefty protest movement works is sort of like if the Koch brothers subsidized prepping and firearms classes.

Left-wingers have a combination of centralized and decentralized infrastructure, because they have different kinds of groups. Some groups use centralized organization: they’ll go out tabling, recruit people, trying to grow big. Other groups, particularly anarchists, favor a decentralized approach, where actions are performed by the collaborative actions of multiple small cells called affinity groups.

The affinity group structure began in Spain: anarchists there organized themselves into small groups of very close friends who knew each other very well, because such small groups were difficult to infiltrate. Even if they were infiltrated, exposing one group wouldn’t blow the whole organization.

The American Left picked up on affinity groups in the late 1960s. They started as a means for organizing protests and turned into a means of organizing movements. To coordinate, they send members back and forth to spokescouncils. The idea is to create a very collaborative discussion. This is partly due to the influence on the modern hard Left by Quaker organizers — if you remember those lengthy Occupy meetings that just went on and on and on, it’s because that’s how decision-making is done in Quaker meetings, and Quaker organizers taught the technique to Lefties in the ’70s anti-nuclear movement. And it spread, because lefties in different movements talk to each other and work together all the time.

By contrast, righty organizations have historically been slow to organize. When they do, right-wing activists tend to stay in their own lanes and not work together, share notes, or reach out to one another’s followers. Think about the mishmash of signs you typically see at a Lefty protest, and then try to remember the last time you saw, say, an RKBA sign at a pro-life rally. More unfortunately, when righties do become active, they tend to do something like start a blog. Or make a YouTube channel. Or write a magazine article. In short, they become street-corner evangelists. They tend not to do things in meatspace.

Lefties do the work in the real world. Guess who wins?

The recent Battles of Berkeley have shown that right-wing defense groups can acquit themselves admirably in street-fights, but hard experience has taught Lefties that an all-one-tactic mentality is a good way to give your opponents time to figure out how to counter you. If righties going to build things, they need to look at how the lefties are doing it, because they’ve been working on it for forty years. To paraphrase Trotsky, you may not be interested in politics, but politics are interested in you — and you can learn a lot from the people who’ve been working them to their advantage.


  1. Slovenian Guest says:

    Everyone should also read the sister post to his about the Days of Rage.

  2. DJohn1 says:

    Similar to a point I’ve made myself multiple times in other venues.

    Dixie very much thought itself the military powerhouse of the Union in the years leading upto the American Civil War, and Dixie was correct. They still got their posteriors handed to them on a silver platter by the more organized and resource-rich Yankees.

    A further point – logistics. In the 1860s, the North owned industry. Today, the Left owns IT. As the Germans learned 75 years ago, its hard to win a conflict if your communications are thoroughly compromised.

  3. Kirk says:

    If we allow it to degenerate into open conflict, we are all going to lose.

    I think the current situation has a lot of similarities to the conditions in Spain, before the Spanish Civil War. And, that things may play out along those lines, in terms of the internecine nature of it all. They are still digging up the mass graves from all the various massacres, and that’s something both sides should stop and think about before letting this mess slide into chaos.

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