Protests and street-action have recently captured the imagination of many on the Irish Right. The desire to stage protests is not a new one, but an old one finally realised. The decimation of an effective left-wing opposition at a street level combined with a swelling of numbers of those willing to attend ‘anti-régime’ public protests has given the impression to some that the right is ‘on the march’.
Perhaps you, the reader, have attended a protest such as the recent one at the Custom House held on 22nd August, or have written in defence of it online. On the assumption that you hold a broadly conservative-nationalist worldview and oppose the sacred cows of the liberal régime (such as mass-immigration or abortion-on-demand or supranationalism), it is perfectly reasonable and fair to ask yourself the question “How will these protests further the cause which matters to me?”.
Notwithstanding the clamouring of the discredited far-left to the contrary, the recent protests are not made up of ‘fascists’ imitating the Nuremberg Rallies. Any reasonable person understands that the protesters who came together represent a tapestry of various grievances against the régime.
The current chief grievance is with mandatory facemasks. But is it a problem in and of itself that the mass of people attending protests, and feeling disaffection with the régime, are not well-trained ideologues?
No, it isn’t. Any realist will tell you that the majority of people will never subscribe to a doctrinal conformity of any one ideology.
Most people are unideological. A successful political movement, be it of the left or the right, requires supporters (and voters) outside of the movement’s own narrow ideological core in order to win power.
The amorphous nature running through every element of these protests is where the problem lies. Little is required of a participant by the protest’s organisers other than to agree with a very broad statement, in this instance against compulsory facemasks. And after the event dissipates and everyone goes home where then can the attendees direct their support?
Because the organisers behind these protests are unwilling to take a deeper ideological stance, virtually no commitment is required on the part of the attendees, rendering the protests politically null.
But this isn’t even necessarily the fault of the organisers for ‘shirking’ their duty to win converts to a national-conservative movement. The organisers are as ideologically diffuse as the attendees. As we saw with Marcus de Brún, who took to twitter to flaunt his left-wing credentials and reject accusations of being right-wing, the organisers of these rallies are not committed to the same deeper ideological agenda as you or I. Thus, they cannot be blamed for failing to capitalise politically in our favour – why would they? No nationalist or conservative agenda permeates through the current rake of protests.
The reader may have already drawn the aforementioned conclusion themselves. Nonetheless, you may feel that defending these protests either physically or intellectually in reaction to left-wing criticism and attack is worth doing. Or perhaps you feel that despite the lack of direct political utility arising from the protests, they are still worthwhile as they demonstrate ‘our’ numerical strength as a movement on the day. These are understandable attitudes.
Yet we must not be deceived into believing that controlling the streets for one day is the same thing as real power. A temporary feeling of power and control which isn’t truly there cannot be a substitute for the real thing, which can only come from effective political organising.
In fact, the illusion of having power but really having none can pose risks to the development of a genuine political movement. If ephemeral mass-protests provide a dopamine hit that on-the-ground political organising does not many people will choose the former. Thus, the diffuse nature of the current protests renders them effectively pointless and in fact pose dangers by distracting well-intentioned people from practical alternatives that further our ideas.
The nebulous nature of the protests allows disreputable elements to cling to its coattails. The reader will fully appreciate the negative drawbacks of associating his/her mature political philosophy and ideology with disreputable and risible conspiracies for example. At best they are unhelpful, at worst they are utterly damaging our ideas by association.
The reader will further understand that a successful national-conservative movement will not achieve success by anchoring itself to the ballast pit of the bizarre and confused ideas of David Icke. The failure of previous protests to make any political statement deeper than appealing to the lowest-common denominator of opposition to mandatory facemasks is matched by its failure to exclude the worst elements of conspiracy theories from its ranks. You, the reader, have more to offer your ideological cause than being merely another face in a crowd. To defend these protests purely in reaction against left-wing hostility is to defend not only a pointless endeavour but one that is actively harming the ideology you believe in. Don’t allow yourself to be shanghaied into this counterproductive dance.
In your heart you know that you possess a deeper understanding of history, philosophy and politics than most people do or ever will. You understand the importance of ideological duty and praxis. By your innate nature and by careful study you have already equipped yourself with critical tools not possessed by the vast majority of the population.
The protests as we have seen them so far do not enable you to make proper use of your talents. They ask nothing more of you other than to stand, clap, and cheer in slavish response to obtuse catch-all slogans. It would be contradictory folly on the part of this author to believe this article will be read by even a sizeable proportion of those who have attended the protests hitherto. Furthermore, it’s logical to assume that the protests will continue in much the same vein, possibly with decreased turnout due to external factors and the law of diminishing marginal utility as time wears on.
But unless their fundamental nature changes, they are counter-productive and ergo you have no obligation to support or defend them.
Naturally, the point of this conclusion should not be interpreted as justifying ideological malingering. On the contrary, as previously mentioned, you already possess tools of critical thinking which are in short supply. These talents should be utilised properly through effective organising for your ideological cause rather than being needlessly ignored and substituted for being part of a head count. You likely subscribe to an ideology combining elements of social conservatism and Irish nationalism. This ideology is not a lonely island in a sea of liberalism. Find the one organisation which truly aligns with your ideological convictions and which isn’t motivated by chicanery. It’s worth remembering the final words of Joe Hill, ‘Don’t mourn, just organise!’. The left understands the importance of tactics and planning and it’s high time the right plays catch up.