Leftist violence seems to be all the rage these days (get it? get it? bah. I’m dropping comedy gold here, people). The fascists in the antifa movement, the nuts in the anarchist movement, the whackos in the “social justice” cult… they’ve been using screaming, shouting, screwing with people just trying to get to work and a whole lot of poorly focused violence. On the whole this seems stupid. heck, i’ve pointed out before “this is why Trump won.”
Well, guess what. Now there’s science.
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.
In short: most people are just regular folk. Most protesters in the US, however, are not regular folk; they tend towards the excitable and highly irrational. So, when Regular Folk watch Excitable Idjits acting the fool, the Regular Folk unconsciously apply a simple test: Would I do that? And, well… no. And the result is that while “extreme protest tactics” gets more press, it turns people *away* from the goal of the movement, even if people might be otherwise sympathetic.
The study tested the reactions of test subjects to edited reports about animal rights protesters, Black Lives Matter protesters and anti-Trump protesters. Small changes in the reports – such as one version has the BLM protesters chanting anti-racist slogans, another has them chanting for violence against cops – led to noticeable differences in the stances of the participants. And those participants exposed to anti-Trump extremists wound up increasing their support *for* Trump.
So, go on, kids. Scream in the streets. Block the roads. Burn stuff what ain’t yours. Act like crazed lunatics. Your irrational hatred only strengthens the other side.
And thus we come to the Modest Proposal phase of the post: let’s use this. Can we come up with a way to infiltrate, say, Greenpeace, and influence them to use these whacko “extreme protest tactics” against something like, say, nuclear rockets? Can we get them to be *so* over the top that the end result is a Congressional mandate for SpaceX to build and fly a plasma-core nuclear rocket within five years? Can we so tweak the “Sanctuary City” and other pro-immigration-law-violation groups that the end result is that the US winds up not dissolving it’s borders, but instead colonizes and claims the Moon?