There’s a debate happening on theunitofcaring’s post about Charles Murray, recent events at Middlebury, and antifa in general. Unfortunately I can not participate directly in that debate as theunitofcaring has blocked me- so instead I’m making this separate post to make my case.
As I’ve stated a few times before, I spent my teen years on the chans, and watched as that community was consumed by neo-fascism and calls for the Day Of The Rope. And I remember, very clearly, that it was endless threads about Charles Murray’s work- namely The Bell Curve- which was the first step 4chan took down that slippery slope.
Hence why I roll my eyes when I hear the argument “oh, no effort at pushing back against this kind of thing is necessary, if people hear their position they’ll just see how silly it is! the best thing to do in response is nothing! And if you think that any pushback against this memeplex is necessary, well, you must secretly think the memeplex has merit!”
I know, from experience, that the result of Charles Murrays work being widely broadcast is not “everything turns out fine :)” but rather “genocidal bloodlust becomes the new viral meme.” And I don’t think what happened had anything to do with Charles Murray’s work having merit.
I don’t know if I can fully explain what happened. But what I saw there convinced me that liberalism wasn’t enough to fight the memetic plague that swept over that community. What’s necessary is a memeplex that actually pushes back against that ideology, and much like antifa successfully managed to do in the underground music scene- the hardcore scene was, for a time, nearly as infested with neonazis as 4chan, and it was the efforts of antifa that managed to seize that cultural territory away from the fascists.
This is what my support for antifa comes down to- not uncritical support for every action done in the name of antifa, but rather the position that the evidence shows that the world is better off, overall, because that memeplex exists. That without the antifa memeplex to act as a counter-force against the neofascist memeplex, that fascists would have claimed more cultural territory, recruited more people, and gotten closer to achieving their goals.
@theunitofcaring and the rest of the lesswrongers: if you think that there should be a better memetic counter-force against fascism than antifa, I’d love to hear what you have in mind. But we already tried “just do nothing!” and that didn’t fucking work.