The Limits of Trolling

Some commentators have acidly criticized the Alt Right this past year for problems at public events. The Alt Right was vastly successful with online activism, beginning in 2015 and leading up to the election of Donald Trump. What shocked me and many others who incline towards civil discourse is that the shock tactics of trolling seemed effective. As long as not done too earnestly, and with a sense of irony, mocking the holiest Leftist narratives in a maximally offensive way was effective.

This same approach does not work offline, as Heilgate, Charlottesville, and University of Florida have shown. What accounts for the difference?

Trolling works best anonymously. My GPA in college was lower than it should have been because of lost hours spent playing Panzer General and Panzer General II. The game was a strategic masterpiece, challenging the player to win with the largely outgunned and undersupplied WWII German military. From it, I learned some basics of military strategy, particularly the elements of blitzkrieg. For the entire war, the German military was inferior in numbers and, much of the time, equipment quality, to their opponents. In such a scenario, the player could not try to win battles by attrition and the art of blitzkrieg consisted of largely avoiding attacking entrenched enemies, moving as quickly as possible behind them, forcing them to abandon their defenses, then destroying them from the rear with very concentrated attacks against softened targets. Online trolling is very much like an artillery barrage, useful as a prelude to a conventional attack. Artillery are very soft targets if attacked, which is why their location must remain hidden or defended from the enemy.

The anonymity of trolling is like an artillery piece – however well entrenched the enemy may be, the shots fired do make an impact, and they have to sit there and take it. In such an asymmetrical environment, a sort of Darwinian rhetorical meme war can take place, with different people trying different approaches, most of them ineffective and many of them overly offensive. Both of the latter categories tend to get buried from visibility by the social media engagement algorithms. However, occasionally, out of hundreds of thousands of memes, something hits home, like the “cuckservative” meme. The enemy overreacted, generating publicity and sympathy for nationalists.

Real life brings real vulnerabilities. We all have fragile bodies, and lives we want to live with people we care about. We are not yet at the point where people are willing to die for this cause, and hopefully our situation never becomes so desperate. As a father, I cannot with good conscience risk my life unless it is in direct defense of my children. With Antifa allowed to terrorize as they wish, showing up in person is seen as very risky.

Real life allows the media to distort. The fat guys with bad beards, some of them feds, who like to LARP as Nazis, or barely disguised Nazis, are too dumb generally to have much influence in the Darwinian world of online activism. I think they are frustrated by this. It used to be that you could be a loser, setup a Nazi website, and get lots of media attention. Now, the Jerry Springer tabloid TV world is behind us, and quality, true quality activists, are being rewarded with influence in the meritocratic and competitive social media landscape. Because it is so hard to get quality people with something to lose to show up in real life, organizers of these events end up casting a big tent, so as to make the movement appear as large as possible. The result is that a disproportionate number of attendees, or a sufficient number, are aesthetically revolting to normal people. While the media would look ridiculous quoting some Neo-Nazi Twitter account with few followers to smear the serious Alt-Right, in real life they can get all the photographs they want of the troubled people who are attracted to this movement. They can also bait these less intelligent folks into violence more easily, as they have less to lose, and perhaps notoriety to gain, by being arrested. Some guy with 30% body fat who thinks he’s SS material can’t meme very well, because he’s dumb, but he can get arrested and patted on the back for his ideological purity. Normies are very convinced by visuals and real life events with idiots involved gives the media all they need.

The transition to real life will require starting small and purging liabilities. It feels wrong to “punch right,” after so many Alt Righters have felt unfairly attacked by movement conservatives who ought to know better. That said, you cannot have an effective public movement with lunatics involved. This may explain why Jared Taylor has had so much staying power. Agree or not, his reputation as a Jewish-friendly race realist helps filter the nutjobs from associating with him. And, honestly, many of the anti-Semites are nutjobs, taking a tendency among Jews to be an absolute. One could make an argument that Taylor’s neutral stance is a feature, not a bug, in that whatever concessions he makes to the truth on the JQ is more than compensated tactically by repelling crazy people from his orbit. I have an intuition that some, but not all, in the “Alt Lite” take a similarly practical position. The crazies are so destructive in their LARPing and virtue signaling that you may be a more effective activist by keeping your actual position somewhat hidden, allowing you and your audience to have plausible deniability as you work on stretching the edges of the Overton window rather than pointlessly banging your head into the brick wall to its right. Better to be labeled a “cuck” than have to constantly deal with dumb people who don’t get the practical necessity of honing messages for maximum impact.

Again, it feels bad to punch right. Many of these people are white brothers who have the right instincts, but just aren’t smart enough, or come from a lower social class, and can’t understand the problem with their approach. We should be as graceful as possible, but we must separate ourselves from liabilities if we are serious about winning.

Real life requires defenses in depth to repel an attack. If online trolling is artillery, real life activism is the infantry. Only dumb infantry officers charge into entrenched enemies on unfavorable ground. Much smarter is to take and hold some favorable terrain and make the enemy come to you. To convince normies in the great public debates, we must find the minimal public position that the Left will not tolerate, and then defend that position, counting on the Left’s hubris and overreaction to cause them to counterattack. The “It’s Okay to Be White” meme was a brilliant example of this. Make them attack on unfavorable ground, choose battles we can win, and disappear into the forest to fight another day. For this tactic to work, we cannot have attention-seeking crazies sieg-heiling and undermining our entrenchments.

The flash displays of banners with reasonable rhetoric in public places by Identity Europa and others is a great step in this direction. Our public activism must be “above reproach.” Perhaps white advocates have a lot to learn from Martin Luther King, Jr. While a degenerate and radical in private, in public he picked defensible, sympathetic positions, maintained a pristine public image as a pastor and family man, and goaded his enemies into overreacting. We can begin, like MLKJ did, with small demonstrations of carefully vetted, normal, attractive individuals. The right people will join us once we appear normal and sane. This is how we convince the broader white population that we are serious, and that we can win.

My social group is mostly normal middle class people, and I observe them as an outsider since I’m a working class kid who caught some breaks. I cannot tell you how important this is. Something has to appear socially acceptable before they can even begin to evaluate its truth.

One thought on “The Limits of Trolling

  1. I think you are correct, and I found the analogy to military strategy very illustrative.

    After Charlottesville people like Anglin and Patrick Casey already saw that tactics had to change. Unfortunately they were mocked and/or ignored by Spencer and TWP. At this point I think people are coming to more of an agreement.

    Like

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