Over the past 18 months, there has been a significant increase in the frequency and severity of riots conducted by the extreme left. Their ranks are comprised of self-described anti-fascists, anarcho-communists, radical 3rd wave feminists, Black Lives Matter (BLM), and other social justice warriors (SJWs). They have attained great notoriety through their willingness to employ violence/intimidation, vandalize/loot private property, and engage in the very same behavior they accuse their ideological opponents of perpetrating. Tragically, innocent and non-interested bystanders often get caught in the cross hairs whilst they throw their violent temper tantrums. To add further cause for concern, these otherwise marginal groups are coalescing under the banner of “intersectionality” thereby effecting a swelling of their ranks, temerity, and menace.
However, as Professor Matthew Feinberg of the University of Toronto recently published a study confirming “extreme protest tactics reduce popular support for social movements.” Violent and destructive protests render peaceful protestors inept and guilty by association. The following summarizes the results of the study in greater detail:
“Social movements are critical agents of change that vary greatly in both tactics and popular support. Prior work shows that extreme protest tactics – actions that are highly counter-normative, disruptive, or harmful to others, including inflammatory rhetoric, blocking traffic, and damaging property – are effective for gaining publicity. However, we find across three experiments that extreme protest tactics decreased popular support for a given cause because they reduced feelings of identification with the movement. Though this effect obtained in tests of popular responses to extreme tactics used by animal rights, Black Lives Matter, and anti-Trump protests (Studies 1-3), we found that self-identified political activists were willing to use extreme tactics because they believed them to be effective for recruiting popular support (Studies 4a & 4b). The activist’s dilemma – wherein tactics that raise awareness also tend to reduce popular support – highlights a key challenge faced by social movements struggling to affect progressive change.”
To further illustrate the nature of such protests/riots a brief outline and analysis of the more notable examples will be provided in the following sections.
Berkeley Students Racist Barricade
In late October of 2016, a number of angry Berkeley SJWs barricaded a key bridge on campus to physically bar any white people from crossing. The objective of the protest was to secure more segregated spaces for people of color a.k.a. “spaces of color”. Any white person who attempted to breach the barricade was violently denied. The group also saw fit to post faux eviction notices on a private bookstore with the threat that “community action will continue to escalate” lest they cede the location to the student protesters for the purpose of transforming it into a “space of color.” Though obvious, it is worth explicitly recognizing the utter hypocrisy of this allegedly “anti-racist” group employing violence and threats against others based merely on the color of their skin for the sake of securing racially segregated spaces.
Berkeley Anti-Milo Riot
Riots erupted on February 1st, 2017 at the University of California at Berkeley over the arrival of the conservative celebrity and self-described “dangerous faggot” Milo Yiannopoulos. So-called anti-fascists and other SJWs were inciting mass violence, vandalism, and hysteria in order to prevent the gay interracial loving Jewish foreigner from peacefully expressing a political opinion that differs from their own. They firebombed the location where Milo’s event was to take place, pepper sprayed a female while being interviewed (and who was ironically offering words of respect to the non-violent protestors who showed up), burned Milo effigies, beat Milo supporters unconscious, and even violated neutral yet curious bystanders. It has repeatedly been made clear that as soon as a person of color, queer, woman, or Muslim expresses non-leftist/non-egalitarian views, the left will treat him/her with the same or even greater level of disdain and prejudice they accuse “right leaning” bogeymen of.
Yes, Yiannopoulos is a troll and says things to rile up the masses, but meeting free speech with violence only serves to empower your opposition.
Free speech was stomped on by the radical left at the birthplace of the free speech movement. The poorly named “anti-fascists” (a.k.a antifas) were the ones leading the violent charge to silence and censor the gay Jew. If the irony weren’t thick enough, the topic of Milo’s discussion was a critical examination of “cultural appropriation,” yet it seems the antifas took no issue with culturally appropriating the tactics of fascists and Nazis.
Presidential Inauguration Riots
On January 20, 2017, in Washington D.C. several hundred antifas, anarcho-communists, and other radical leftists came together to protest the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. To the dismay of peaceful protestors and Trump supporters alike, the radical leftist rioters quickly resorted to tactics of violence and vandalism. Many were caught throwing bricks and blocks of concrete, breaking the windows of private businesses, violently clashing with and intimidating Trump supporters, setting cars on fire, and harassing defenseless trash cans. Before the day was done, over 200 rioters would be arrested. One may rest assured that engaging in such public, juvenile, and violent behavior is the surest way to secure a second term for the controversial commander in chief.
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Black Lives Matter (BLM) Riots
While most Black Lives Matter protests across the country remain entirely peaceful the majority of the time, some of them, often with the help of outside instigators devolve into utter chaos. Examples of this chaos happened in August and September of 2016, when violent BLM protests devolved and riots broke out in Milwaukee, WI and Charlotte, NC respectively. In Milwaukee, BLM rioters set fires to gas stations, auto parts stores, banks, and several other businesses. There were also reports of rioters firing off guns, hurling bricks, and looting local grocery stores.
In Charlotte, BLM chaos erupted after a black police officer shot a black man. Rioters responded by shutting down an interstate and setting it ablaze, looting several private businesses, throwing rocks at random motorists, and even targeting white people for beat downs simply for being white. It’s fairly safe to say that if your cause is to diminish the ill effects that racism has on society and your community, then it’s probably best not to burn down local productive enterprises, hinder your community’s ability to travel safely, and beat down any white person you can find with extreme prejudice.
On January 21st, 2017 more than 2.5 million protestors participated in the worldwide “Women’s March” whose aim was to promote human, civil, and reproductive rights. Unlike the other examples, this protest was largely absent the more injurious elements of violence and intimidation. However, many of the same themes were promoted and other off-putting tactics used thus a brief examination is warranted.
Perhaps the most paradoxical feature of the protest was the ubiquitous presence of both vagina attire (ranging from subtle vagina shaped/colored headwear to ostentatious full bodied vagina costumes) and anti-“islamophobia” themes.
It’s amusing to consider how the average Muslim, in his capacity as a Muslim, would be absolutely mortified upon encountering a woman dressed as a giant pubic hair infested vagina. Such a costume must be the antithesis of the hijab.
Beyond this, of course, the majority of the march’s themes were anti-libertarian as they included support for anti-discrimination laws, tax-funded healthcare, and the subsidization of both contraceptives and abortion. It should go without saying that all such measures entail both theft and private property violations. Thus, to say this was a march for liberty would be a gross misnomer. It was instead a march for entitlements funded at liberty’s expense.
If one is sincerely opposed to racism, sexism, and fascism then it may be best for him to refrain from engaging in racist, sexist, and fascist means to support his cause. The fact these radical leftist factions utilize such means indicates a more sinister and subtle objective than the purported one of “social justice.” And unfortunately, any legitimate peaceful protests to stop injustice will be deemed illegitimate and the cause ignored as it will be immediately associated with violence. Aside from the societal damage created by such violence and intolerance, this divisive and obstinate environment plays right into the hands of those who want to keep you under control.
When objectively assessed, these violent protests are revealed as being among the most bigoted, hateful, and dangerous threats to the cause of liberty.
Chase Rachels is a libertarian/anarcho-capitalist philosopher and Austrian school economist. His studies were conducted through the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Prior to his anarchist inclinations, he was employed as an intelligence analyst with the United States Air Force. He has since authored the book “A Spontaneous Order: The Capitalist Case For A Stateless Society,” and hosts the “An-Cap Radio” YouTube series.