Submitted by Eli Wallace
At this point, most readers of this site are well acquainted with the work of David Hines. The prolific tweeter and sometimes writer who has usefully documented the minutiae of the organization and history of various left-wing activist groups in the United States.
Hines’ latest at TAC is a useful analysis of the January 6th protest-riot on Capitol Hill. But if you’ve read one Hines piece you’ve read them all. The analysis is almost always the same: in short, Leftist dissident groups are well organized, well lawyered and only engage in direct actions in which all reasonable contingencies have already been planned for. Unsurprisingly, the Right’s dissidents are the complete opposite of this: completely unorganized, naive about even the most basic opec (still using discord, not concealing their identities to own the libs, etc.), utterly unlawyered and naively trusting of federal law enforcement.
All of this is stupidly obvious and has been for years. Still Hines’ detailed analysis of it is useful, particularly as an explainer for Right-Wing boomers (who frequently need to have the stupidly obvious explained to them). The problem however is that Hines’ solution (to have Right wing dissidents mimic these tactics) is not a particularly good one, at least not at the current time.
The reason it is a bad idea, however, is not the classic critique of Right Wing activism offered by the likes of Curtis Yarvin. Curtis, though an extremely nice guy and delightful dinner guest, is frequently wrong. His critique of Right Wing activism, falls under this ‘frequently wrong’ category which he often falls into. I’m not going to argue against it at length here, as this is not my purpose in this essay. I will simply assert that it is not the case that activism is always bound to fail unless it is a transparent cat’s paw of a powerful and well monied interest. Certainly this can work (as BLM’s hero treatment from the media this summer showed), and it’s common sense to cultivate as many powerful allies as possible, but the initial lack of many of these things doesn’t necessarily prevent a movement from achieving ultimate victory. Let’s just say that (although this statement can obviously be debated at greater length) in the 50’s an 60’s J. Edgar Hoover and much of the U.S. establishment were not exactly fans of the Left, yet they ultimately prevailed in the end anyway.
The actual reason the activist tactics Hines details probably can’t work (at least at scale) for most Right wing dissidents is a sociological one. Namely because the Left has something the Right doesn’t: warrior monks.
Now obviously the Left doesn’t literally have armies of bow staff twirling celibates in long robes leading the charge, but spiritually they do.
Christianity and Buddhism are the religions with the most well developed forms of monasticism and this attribute played a key role in helping the rapid spread of both religions (especially the former’s).
The common stereotypes of the Christian hermit fighting off inner temptation alone in a desert cave or the the Buddhist acolyte ascending to the heights of quiet enlightenment on some deserted Himalayan mountaintop both have elements of truth in them they are far from the whole story.
Though the role of monks obviously varied, depending on the time and tradition in question, a primary function they played were as shock troops, a militant and courageous vanguard willing to take the greatest risks against the longest odds to advance the interests of their faiths.
This included not only participation in actual warfare, as was famously done both by crusading Christian monks and Buddhist ones during the Medieval period, but also as vanguard missionaries to extremely hostile or otherwise utterly desolate shit holes (6th Century Ireland for example) or to wage decades and centuries long wars of extermination against rival sects. Because they were celibate and had sworn off worldly possessions these men possessed a freedom which was second to none, they literally had nothing to lose, and this is what gave them their immense power. And it was this power which enabled these monks to ultimately subjugate large swaths of the world for their faiths.
Now obviously the comparison between a crusading celibate of the 13th century Catholic church and a blue haired transvestite activist from Berkley isn’t one for one, but the fact is that, in spite of their obvious differences, both serve to fill the same ideological niche within their respective faiths/ideologies: as the vanguard.
The activists who are the actual organizers of the left wing actions Hines’ describes are the tip of the spear (or perhaps in this case, the “tip of the dildo”) of modern liberalism. They, by and large, aren’t weekend warriors or soccer moms who got radicalized by facebook memes but rather professional and committed ideologies who have been doing this for years.
While they certainly aren’t celibate in the traditional sense of the term, they also usually don’t go home to the wife and kids at night either. Fucking, for them is actually encouraged, but not the procreative kind, or if that kind does accidentally happen a quick trip to the butcher shop usually alleviates any unwanted consequences associated with it.
As far as compensation goes, yes it is true that certain members of the leftist activist class (the ones who receive most of the attention) can be well paid and quite wealthy. These people are usually the heads of NGO’s, Nonprofits or other activist groups, many of whom are also Ivy League educated and sometimes scions of famous liberal families.
But claiming that because of this that therefore most of these people are ultimately just grifters in it for the money would be wrong. The same thing as claiming that, because a handful of Catholic Bishops in the Middle Ages were vast landowners the motivation of the average monk was therefore primarily monetary.
In reality the average liberal activist lives a relatively meager existence, usually paying exorbitant rents for a tiny apartment in large blue cities that are split among roommates while being employed in a poorly paid gig as an adjunct professor, media dipshit or mid level employee of a non-profit. Their only real rewards are social: the praise and respect they get from their liberal peers when they inform them that they work for a non-profit pushing to ensure 8-year-old boys in Macedonia can have their dicks snipped off at affordable rate, as well as the personal satisfaction of knowing they are fighting the good fight for a worthy cause and thus “on the right side of history.”
And it is these poorly paid, almost homeless bohemian warrior monks who make up the vanguard of the Left which puts on the actions Hines’ is so rightfully impressed by.
The problem is that the Right just doesn’t have this, and potentially never will, because its ideology simply doesn’t allow for it.
The Right in the United States is primarily a (for lack of a better term) petty bourgeoise movement. Simply put, it is comprised of an elite of fantastically wealthy donors and a voter and activist base comprised primarily of small business owners and other members of the Upper Middle and Middle Class. This group of people is characterized by a mindset which favors practicality, lionizes family formation, and therefore tends to be generally quite materialistic in its outlook (there is a reason one of Trump’s main achievements was cutting taxes for upper income brackets).
The practical outcome of this worldview is the creation of a Right-wing ecosystem without a meaningful vanguard, along with a tendency to produce shameless grifters. The ‘grifter’ as we have come to know it, in reality is usually a failed Right Wing activist. Essentially someone who likely started off quite idealistic but eventually was forced to cave to the pressure created by the materialistic ideology of D.C. conservatism in which net worth is frequently used as a stand in for personal value and thus was pressured into grifting to maintain a respectable net worth (or at least the illusion of one).
Simply put, until the right figures out a way to produce, maintain, and reward a class of activist warrior monks it will never be able to competently pull off the kinds of direct actions Hines documents so well.