In 2000 the CEO of Blockbuster, John Antioco, laughed the Netflix executives out of the building as well as their offer of a buyout for $50M. By the first quarter of 2016 Netflix was valued at $41B and Blockbuster was celebrating the 6th anniversary of its bankruptcy. Agincourt, Somalia, the Alamo, Trasimene, the invasion of Gallipoli, the Bay of Pigs, Waterloo, Little Big Horn…most have now become synonyms for failure, or at the very least have made it into textbooks as cautionary tales. When outside stimuli are no longer allowed to sufficiently influence your behavior or decision making process, it is inevitable you will eventually make decisions worthy of being used as a cautionary tale. We laugh and mock those who have made such colossal mistakes and some of the smarter ones study them. The commonality between the aforementioned examples is that a) there was a fundamental misunderstanding of facts and b) there was enormous misplaced confidence, the Dunning-Kruger effect was off the charts. The burning question right now is, if protesting and rioting don’t result in prosecution, but don’t result in change either…where does this go next?
People can often become so invested and intrenched in a specific ideology or belief that aside from rational arguments, they are simply unwilling to change because of the time invested and the power the idea has on their psyche. One can become so wrapped up in a particular idea or label that it in a very literal sense, defines them. The weaponization of identity by the progressives has created not just a social conflict in America among many of my generation, but also an identity crisis. If I walked into the crowd at Berkley a few days ago with a sign that said ‘I am _____.’ and asked the people to only fill in one thing, I would almost guarantee you it would be in identitarian terms. I am white. Therefore, I am responsible for slavery, famine, and probably eat children. I am male. Therefore, I am responsible for slavery, famine, the ‘gender wage gap,’ sexism, rape and probably eat children. When I was pulled from the womb I became guilty of all those things, despite never actually having committed them. Conversely, if I checked the appropriate box, then my own potential discrimination cancels out some of the guilt I was born with and puts me in the good category, provided I don’t espouse heretical political beliefs like Milo. I hope you can see the religious overtones to the ideology, it relies very heavily on a perversion of the Original Sin concept with the zealot being responsible for his redemption through works and appropriate rites like virtue signaling.
The current crisis is one of Tolkien magnitude to the True Believers. Their entire worldview, and to borrow from Freud, super-ego is wrapped up in either self-flagellation or flagellation of those who have not sufficiently repented of their Original Sin. If I had to fill in a single thing about what I am, my race and sex don’t break the top ten. This is not the virtue signaling we see so often among the right, in a vain attempt to prove they are the mythical colorblind creature so many pundits and politicians pretend to be. I believe you are what you do, and even then it’s only part of the story at any given point. Most millennials were too young during the George W. era, though there was only token resistance to the idea at all. The vast majority have known no other president that Barack Obama who was equally as zealous in his belief of Original Sin, as indicated through his many remarks about the scourge of Western ideology on the world and in particular his desire to fundamentally transform the country. To people like the Berkley rioters, I believe many simply do not contemplate that there are communities that might differ in politics from their own little bubble. One can see this effect inside the Beltway, Hollywood and other conclaves where it is inconceivable that someone is not a True Believer. Many don’t know what they don’t know. The rest can simply afford to ignore what they should know…for now.
We have vainly attempted to approach this problem from the wrong angle, as a policy debate rather than a psychological one. Trump’s actions are irrelevant to the legacy media and most of the people we are discussing here. People pointed out the ‘Muslim ban’ wasn’t, and I doubt very seriously even those writing articles on the executive order actually read it. Facts. Do. Not. Matter. You simply cannot reason a person out of a position they were never reasoned into. Particularly if that position is such a significant part of their self-worth that it is them. So rather than attempt to refute ideas and accusations that no longer make sense to even the most tortured misreading of plain English, it bears contemplating what a person in psychological distress will do. We had a march on D.C. with an entertaining amalgam of costumes and near incomprehensible ramblings by the celebrities du jour and those looking to resurrect their relevance. I honestly believe many there expected some kind of sea change and shift in policy. It didn’t happen. There were protests about a temporary ban on visas. There were riots over a speaker in Berkley and people were beaten, one assault could be categorized as attempted voluntary manslaughter. The response from the state and local government was nothing less than tacit approval of the violent escalation in Berkley, and the response from the federal government was a snarky tweet. Still, Trump remains in power and his agenda looks to be rolling on.
Thus far the escalation from screaming, to marching to rioting has occurred and there certainly doesn’t look to be a deescalation to discussion any time soon. The progressive wing of the statists look to have learned very little from the Trump victory in November and absolutely refuse to acknowledge their version of reality is not measuring up to the facts of the situation. A more stark example of the Dunning-Kruger effect I cannot think of. The people protesting have the misplaced idea that Newton’s third law does not translate on a sociological level. The election most are so upset over is proof positive that a segment of America feels very attacked and very marginalized, and over the last eight years has not only showed up to the voting booth but showed up to the gun store as well. I don’t pretend to be able to read the tea leaves. However, there will come a point when the violence will elicit a reaction from either a state actor or non-state actors, or both. Starbucks and Berkley may not bother to defend their private property, but there will inevitably be a Korean shopkeeper moment. What would have been the response in Berkley to dead protestors and someone who claimed he feared for his life? Half the country would believe them, half would call him a murderer. The facts would be irrelevant either way. If ‘looking like a Nazi’ aka a Syrian student in a suit, is enough to warrant assault then what would be their likely response to dead or injured colleagues?
You get to laugh Netflix out of the building once. Reality is a cruel mistress, and often makes very stunning examples out of those who scorn her. The laughing is beginning to stop on the street, though it continues in the legacy media and among the pundit class in their gated communities. The next evolution will show us how many true believers exist, as many choose to continue to escalate to violent behavior rather than face a crisis of identity. The crisis of identity has been a generation in the making, and inconvenient facts will not reverse a generation raised on political tribalism. Escalation is inevitable because it is the only course left. Trump was the third way Glenn Beck is so obsessed with, a peaceful, albeit crude, stopgap. Unlike peace, war only requires one party to acknowledge the fact. People will die at some point, as a beating gets out of control or a building catches on fire. Trump will feel the need to respond and will likely involve federal agents or possibly the National Guard if the situation escalates even further. The echoes of Kent State are strong here. The moment boots on the ground show up the movement is legitimized and the color revolution has the optics they need. What happens after that is anyone’s guess. One thing is for sure, it will not go away.