The US profoundly sucks at counterinsurgency (aka “counterterrorism”)…as evidenced by the epic fail of the Viet Nam war, OIF and OEF. US is so very, very bad at counterinsurgency that it has now resorted to directly outsourcing the counterinsurgent effort to the local most badass tyrant/dictator/strongman/monarch in a profound contradiction of its oft-stated policy of promoting liberty, freedom, and justice for all (pluralist democracy lol), ie propping the local baddie (eg, Assad in Syria, Sisi in Egypt). But I digress– I’m really here to talk counternarratives. It would seem like outreach would be a great idea, non? But the US program on CVE (Countering Violent Extremism) has been terminated by the Trump administration. Tant pis, because that program could have been directed to outreach to radicalized youth in the alt-right and anti-fa movements non?
Lately there’s a whole rash of articles about “reaching out”, and part of the imperative is the “reaching out to radicalized youth ” where anti-fa is force-equivalenced with white nationalists, incels, channers, neo-Nazis, and the KKK. I feel like a talking parrot at this point, but both sides are not the same. Anti-fa are protesting against fascists coming to their town or university— what counternarrative are they offered? Allow it?
Socio-physics equivalency between ISIS and the Alt-right is being drawn with a heavy-hand as well. This analysis ignores the widely disparate proximate causes of emergence of ISIS and the Alt-right: ISIS is primarily motivated by brutal western aggression in islamic lands while the Alt-right is basically an internal grievance movement– confederate revanchists, neo-Nazis, incels, channers, white nationalists, HBD proponents, evangelicals, rationalists etc .
First– Dr. Atran– Don’t just Denounce Radicalized Youth. Engage with Them. Unlike America, his research into youth radicalization hasnt been defunded by the Trump admin. But he’s still wrong. Atran is on the record as stating there is no counternarrative to ISIS. The only counternarrative that would work for ISIS is self-representative government for the islamic world. Why would there be a counternarrative for the Alt-Right? The Alt-Right wants to capture US culture and redirect it. Main stream American culture has been rejecting their ideology for decades. Atran is backed by the US pundit class– We’ll Beat the Fascists with Ideas not Fists, etc. But how do you engage with sexually frustrated incels and Beta-males? These guys have already lost the culture war– girls won’t date them. And adding neo-Nazis, AR-15s and Confederate flags to the mix will just reduce their dating chances, not improve them.
What counternarrative will get these guys dates?
So, Dr. Atran– what counternarrative can you offer the Alt-right?
No one (except Nagle) will talk about this, but there is a deep and broad current of profound misogyny in the Alt-right. I think 10 years ago James Damore would have just brought a semi-automatic to work and capped a few of his female co-workers instead of posting a screed to an internal online group discussing women in tech. This is probably a good thing, but we need to admit the underlying cause of their disaffection– the Right has been disenfranchised from culture.
I just do not think its possible to construct a counternarrative for the alt-right, any more than it was possible to succeed at CVE for islamic youth. Dr. Atran is delusional. Culture has moved on. The VMAs were like an anti-Trump rally Sunday night. Pink wore a “Fuck Trump” jacket. Eminem lead an anti-Trump chant. Paris Jackson delivered a diatribe on Charlottesville.
“Leave here tonight remembering that we must show these Nazi white supremacist jerks in Charlottesville, and all over the country, that as a nation — with ‘liberty’ as our slogan — we have zero tolerance for their violence, their hatred, and their discrimination,” she urged the crowd. “We must resist.”
Something I learned in Evo Theory of Culture 101– a tribe without reps can’t long survive. Culture evolves, and moves on. Arts and Academe are the leading edge of the wave.
The reason Cthulu swims left is entropy — what confederate fan-boiz, neo-Nazis, the Alt-right, the Alt-Light, evangelicals, channers, Proud Boys, Identity Europa, incels, “rationalists”, Donald Trump and the GOP all have in common is a fervent desire for an entropy reset– to return to a past cooler and more ordered state.
Which like futile fantasies of counternarratives simply can’t be done.
UPDATE: Milo Yiannopoulis is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.