Baptism by Fire

Reader Durandel asks,
Can we win with the leaderless, multiheaded hydra approach without at some point having a legitimate, genuine leader who is then martyred for the cause to trigger the Right into action?
I've had reservations about the "no leaders" approach for a while. Granted, military history is not my forte. But every social system abhors a power vacuum, and people naturally seek out leaders to guide them--see the alpha-beta dynamic. The fact that many willingly followed the Charlottesville organizers into a trap those leaders should've seen coming is just one example.

At the same time, abuse of leadership does not militate against legitimate use. There's a difference between decentralized action and a leaderless movement. What's brewing on the horizon is more likely to herald the arrival of the Man.

We've seen that cycle play out elsewhere already. Italy, Hungary, Poland, and Brazil, to name a few, have their true populist nationalist leaders. Most of those countries faced crises far more severe than anything the US has yet experienced. It seems like rebirth may not be possible without going through the fire.

Contrast Trump with figures like Orban, Salvini, and even Bolsonaro. Trump is not the Man. He is more of a Tar-Palantir figure who makes a last doomed effort at reform while the rest of the elite tragically refuse to repent.

We may have to go through whatever waits in the post-Trump era and come out the other side before we get serious leaders. Despite all the troubles, most Americans are too fat and complacent to risk losing it all by challenging the powers that be.

They martyrdom question has taken on new pertinence lately. Ever since Mueller kicked off his witch hunt, MAGApedes have issued dire warnings of large-scale civil unrest, up to and including open rebellion, if Trump were impeached on some bogus process crime.

But that was before it looked nigh certain that Trump would fail to deliver on the major promises he made to his base. His last chance to build the Wall is rapidly slipping through his fingers. In a tragic twist, the same cosmopolitan elites who've been desperate to get rid of Trump to quash his agenda may clear the way to get rid of him by having quashed his agenda.

One of conservatives' favorite mistakes is assuming the Left's threats aren't serious. Seeing as how everyone on the Left from street thugs to washed-up comedians to network talking heads has sworn a mighty oath to make sure Trump spends his golden years in prison, it beggars belief that the man apparently doesn't think his many powerful enemies won't pull out all the stops to see him thrown in prison for life.

Perhaps he assumes the Left won't stoop to incarcerating an ex-president. If so, he hasn't been paying attention. They're fighting tooth and nail to lock up a sitting president. The residual glamour of the office won't save him.

A leader is only as good as his advisers, and Trump has surrounded himself with some supremely foolish and two-faced advisers. Odds are they're falsely assuring him that if a crook like Hillary Clinton can get away with murder, he has nothing to worry about since he's innocent of the charges. As we've seen, that's not how it works.

How Trump didn't realize that he faced implacable foes, that his base's loyalty was his only safeguard, and that failing his base would leave him at his enemies' mercy, is a riddle we'll probably never know the answer to.


  1. No revolt that didn't have the support of the elites has ever succeeded, there are plenty that have happened but no one remembers any of them because they all failed. Leaderless movements are doomed to fail. All the people who champion this silliness always point to GG conveniently blind to the fact that it failed, empty concessions like policy updates are not a win. None of the people at Polygon, Kotaku, etc. got fired, Grayson still works in the industry as far as I know. Gawker got taken down, you may object, but that was only because they lost the Hulk Hogan lawsuit. GG alone would have merely been an annoyance. The real lessons from GG is that leaderless movements are prone to crippling flaws they're incapable of overcoming. I watched the whole thing since only a few months in and continued to do so for the next few years after it started. It was characterized by constant infighting and bickering, an chronic inability to even agree on who the actual enemy was or what everyone was supposed to be fighting for. Every sub division (reddit, 4chan, 8chan, etc) was always squabbling amongst the others and subdividing inside themselves. I remember on the KIA board a year or so in a few people made a ruckus about how the board had devolved into a social club and no one was doing anything but sitting around and complaining. They tried to restart a campaign to email & call advertisers and nearly no one participated. Too much work.

    As far as Trump and the wall goes he said he was going to use the military to build it and I saw a news article about how the Pentagon still has a 18.5 billion dollar budget set for Syrian operations in 2019 despite the fact that we're now pulling out. I think there's a real possibility he actually is going to use the military to build the wall. If he has the money then no one can stop him from just order the Army Corpse of Engineering to do it.

    1. Chris,

      but who within the current elites will support a nationalist agenda? Brian is correct that the U.S. (anad Canada) will have to go through a brutal cleansing fire.
      In Canada, the Chinese bullying over the Huawei arrest might finally be the catalyst.
      In the U.S. it'll be the left's fanatical pit bull on crystal meth reaction towards the deplorables if Trump is jailed.
      I can see the left going full Pol pot as retaliation for being thwarted and the deplorables reacting with equal ferocity.

    2. "All the people who champion this silliness always point to GG conveniently blind to the fact that it failed"

      Your appraisal jibes with my recollection. The Qu Qu and Dan Wolfgang have done excellent work on why #GG failed. Jim in his Internet Aristocrat incarnation saw where it was headed and had the good sense to bail early.

      Sure, GamerGate gave the libs fits, but as we've seen, they're inveterate paranoiacs who jump at their own shadows.

  2. Been a strange past 24 hours with Trump, went to seeming weak and ready to lets the spending bill go by, to vetoing the spending bill, pulling out of syria, and signalling he'll pull out of Afghanistan. All the more reason to give Trump 3 days before judging his statements. This shouldn't surprise anyone who has been watching him. That said I do wonder if it's too little, too late. Is this a desperate attempt to win back the base, or trumps usual style of making huge advances, then coasting before repeating?

    I absolutely agree that trump surrounds himself with the worst advisors, (and his relatives seem to be the the same way.)And every time he fires, or loses a bad staff member, he replaces them with someone worse. The strategy at first would have made sense, since Trump was hoping the establishment would work with him, but he's still bringing them in, this late in the game when their true colors have been proven.

    Another thing to watch will be the Mattis situation. Mattis did love him some police actions, so I can see where the conflict comes in when Trump is going back to fulfilling his promises on foreign policy. At the same time Mattis is revered among the Marines, and I worry this will erode some of the support trump gets from the armed forces.

    1. Recent events lend weight to the "prisoner in the White House insulated from the people's cries by wicked advisers" scenario. It's said that a Battle Beagle tweet RT'd by Ann Coulter precipitated the Afghanistan announcement. The NY AG's criminal investigation into the Trump Organization probably helped motivate him.

      The constant ups and downs are getting tiresome, even for people who were willing to give Trump mulligans till the bitter end. If he had the votes for Wall funding today, he had them 18 months ago, so why the eleventh hour cliff hanger?

      I think it speaks to Trump's understandable lack of familiarity with the system and his continued and baffling appointing of people who don't share his vision.

      Anyway, the last 24 hours have seen a lot of positive developments. McConnell now holds Trump's fate in his hands. He needs to invoke the nuclear option tomorrow or ride out a partial shutdown and delay the Wall vote till the bigger Republican majority is seated. We'll see if Cocaine Mitch reemerges.

      As for Mattis' departure costing Trump support from the military, it's all academic if Wall funding doesn't pass the Senate. I like Trump personally, and I hope he pulls a rabbit out of his hat, but if there's no Wall, I'm not losing any sleep when he goes to jail after failing to protect his supporters.

    2. Trump’s astute enough to know that his future hinges on the wall. There’s nothing he won’t do to get it

    3. It’s the wall/immigration or he’s cooked. I for one will think hard about voting for him again.

    4. Agreed Harrison, he knows he has to deliver on the wall to even possibly win the 2020 election.

      Granted, I think his inability to close the border completely, legal and illegal immigration, plus the 10 mil or so older Americans who will die between no nd the election, that even with the wall, the numbers may simply not be there.

      The invasion has been quite successful.