Last weekend, while I was going about my everyday business in Dublin city centre, I came across a populist protest. Curious to see who was organising it, and what the group were protesting, I chased after the mass of banners, placards, and tricolour flags. I was expecting a protest against immigration, Roderic O’Gorman, or perhaps even the meat plants at the centre of the recent Covid clusters.
To my surprise however, it was against none of these things. What it was about was, as far as I could see was face masks. Protestors shouted slogans such as “Only Slaves wear masks!”, and largely made claims such as Covid being if not completely fake, then a virus drastically blown out of proportion.
This is not the first time I’ve heard such rhetoric. I heard whispers of it before, both online and off, and the anti-mask position only appears to be getting stronger amongst the Irish Right.
As such, I want to point out why such a position is not only flawed, but self-destructive, and why the Irish Right should not only be pro-face mask, but the most pro-face mask group in Ireland.
First off, I want to establish some ground rule. I want to attack the strongest version of the anti-mask argument. As such, I will assume in this article that masks do absolutely nothing to protect people from Covid-19, or any other disease.
While I myself am unsure of the veracity of such claims, I do openly admit that such statements are not merely those of netizens. People with serious credentials have argued against the mandatory use of face masks using variants of such arguments, and my agnosticism is the result of medical ignorance, not skepticism.
However, even with such an assumption, it is clear that the Irish Right should be well behind the proliferation of mask wearing across the country. This is because they provide the wearer with protection from many of the modern world’s greatest dangers. The nature of these dangers, however, aren’t viral. They’re social.
Every single day, dissidents in this country have to live with the risk of being doxxed. Whether one is actively involved in Rightist politics or not, the risk always hangs over a dissident like a professional Sword of Damocles.
Over the past number of years, we have seen countless examples of people, both activists and otherwise, being ‘canceled’ by NGO or Corporate sponsored agitators. While sometimes these episodes of public excommunication are a result of countless hours of research done by nefarious actors against a specific target, more often than not, they are a result of opportunism. More often than not, people get canceled after being identified, either via video or image, as doing something heterodox, saying something blasphemous, or being present at an unsanctioned event or with a famous Right-wing activist.
Let’s examine this most common of doxxing scenarios for a second — what is it that allows the nefarious actor to cancel their victim? The answer is obvious: an image, either still or otherwise, of the person’s face. It is only with this that a perpetrator of wrongthink can be identified, and in turn attacked. Without that image, the nefarious actor cannot harm their victim.
This is where face masks come in. Up until the Covid crisis, we lived in a society where privacy was being eroded by the day. It was getting to the point where you couldn’t go anywhere without being watched, either by the state, corporate actors, or other citizens with smartphones. It was slowly getting to the point where you were never alone.
Post Covid, you can go almost anywhere in a state of near anonymity thanks to a cheap facemask. Previously, you couldn’t go into so much as a petrol station wearing a cap. Now, you can walk into the biggest bank in the country with your face covered, and no one will bat an eye.
Now consider your own situation — have you ever done or said something in public that you could have been canceled over? Perhaps you made an off-colour joke to a friend that could perhaps have been overheard, or perhaps you attended a protest in good faith that was later deemed to be evil and racist. Now consider how a face mask may have mitigated that risk, and suddenly you may begin to see my point.
What’s more, imagine if you had been canceled in the past. Imagine that you just had your face smeared all over both social and dinosaur media, and had been labelled a racist, xenophobic wrongthinker. Imagine how that would make everyday life more difficult, and how showing your face in certain parts of the country would put you in genuine danger. Now imagine you lived in an Ireland where face masks were common, and you could wear one without raising any suspicion. What a lifeline!
Even when we assume that face masks do nothing to protect against disease, it is crystal clear that the social protection they provide dissidents is invaluable. No longer will people be as much danger of malicious actors covertly recording private conversations in order to ruin the life of a Right wing brother, father, or community leader. With face masks, Rightists have a constant layer of social anonymity hitherto unheard of in the digital age. Even if they do not work against viruses, why should we ever argue against their mass usage, when they benefit us so much?
The only counterpoint I can think of to this argument is that relying on anonymity is cowardly, or otherwise antithetical to Rightist activism. I reject this position outright.
Looking at history, we can see quite clearly that the coward who fights well is almost always more effective than the soldier who fights bravely. Compare the IRB during the Rising to the IRA during the War for Independence. While the IRB were perhaps some of the bravest men Ireland had ever known, their Rising was effective only as a means of blood sacrifice. Militarily, it was a complete, abysmal failure.
Compare this to the method of the IRA, especially directed by Collins. I do not mean to insinuate these men were cowardly in any way. However, it is plain to see that their method of fighting was asymmetrical at best. The IRA frequently relied on ambushes and surprise assassinations to bring the British administration in Ireland to its knees. Direct use of force meanwhile was only met with failure.
Nowadays it is no different. While it is often rather impressive to see someone publicly stand for hardline Rightist values, their presence in the movement is frequently short lived. This is because, after sticking their exposed face above the parapet, they and their family are put under continuous bombardment by the Corporate-NGO complex until their complete social pariahs. For reference, see the harrowing tales of both Richard Spencer and John Connors.
Meanwhile, Rightists who act anonymously may not gain as much traction, but are able to act against the system of postmodernity over a greater period of time, and are so, in the end, more effective. The ability to fight another day should never be underestimated, and this ability is almost solely enabled by anonymity.
The established gombeens and cranks know this as fact, hence why the fight against the very notion of anonymity like there is no tomorrow. Not a day goes by without a blue checkmark complaining that they get the greatest pushback from anonymous accounts. They will frequently resort to mocking these people, who often hide behind images of flags, statues, or anime girls.
They brand these users cowards for not showing their face, however, these sponsored talking heads care nothing for bravery. What angers them so much is that they cannot strike back against anonymous users in the same way they can public figures. If they cannot cancel an interlocutor, they have no power over them. In short, their only option is to engage intellectually, and as we know, this never ends well for establishment stooges.
Face masks both enable and augment this power of anonymity in all of our daily lives. As this world edges every close to the limit of insanity, the face mask provides an invaluable defence for those who want to fight against the tyrannical power of the postmodern age. As such, to fight against the use of such protection is a blunder of massive proportion.
The Irish Right should champion face masks, not ridicule them. Face masks enable anonymity, and anonymity enables resistance. Resistance, in turn, enables us to have a shot of fixing this mess of a country.