Friday Ephemera
Just Keep Your Hands Where I Can See Them

Make Way For The Activist-Wanker Caste

As the activist delight in vandalism and traffic obstruction has cropped up in the comments, along with their bizarre rationalisations, I thought it might be worth revisiting some earlier rumblings on the subject.

For instance,

It’s interesting just how often “social justice” posturing entails something that looks an awful lot like spite or petty malice, or an attempt to harass and dominate, or some other obnoxious behaviour. Behaviour that, without a “social justice” pretext, might get you called a wanker or a bitch. A coincidence, I’m sure.

It is, I think, worth pondering why it is that these supposed displays of righteousness routinely take the form of obnoxious or bullying or sociopathic behaviour, whereby random people are screwed over and dominated, and often reduced to pleading. Pleading just to get home, to children, or to work, or to get to the doctor’s surgery. Even ambulances and fire engines can be obstructed, indefinitely, with both impunity and moral indifference. Among our self-imagined betters, it seems to be the go-to approach for practically any purported cause. Which is terribly convenient. Almost as if the supposed activism were more of a pretext, an excuse, a license to indulge pre-existing urges.

And what kind of person would have urges like that? 

Update, via the comments:

The little people will mop up afterwards.

Fearless, selfless, an inspiration to us all. No wait. The other thing.

Imagine the thought process.

“Comrades, I have an idea. It’s brilliantly radical and a jolly lark. Let’s walk into Waitrose and then needlessly steal and destroy dozens of pints of milk, by tipping the contents across the floor while telling people what to do, so that someone else – someone less radical and less well-off - will have to do hours of extra work to clear up the mess before someone slips and the whole thing starts to stink. The customers and staff will be too bewildered and too polite to give us the kicking we deserve. The most they’ll do is walk us out of the store…! How heroic we will be!”

As a way to win hearts and minds, or to sway government policy, it’s not exactly promising. Indeed, the reaction of the general public tends to be overwhelmingly negative, often vehemently so, and hostility to the professed cause is, if anything, likely to increase. But as a way to indulge in some practised self-involvement, and to feel important and powerful at others’ expense, it does have potential. Expressing contempt for those deemed unsophisticated - and generally fucking people over - can be its own reward, for a certain kind of person. All that’s needed is a pseudo-moral fig-leaf. 

It seems we are to be scolded by the inadequate, the confused, and the psychologically marginal. And so, the assorted cranks and monomaniacs invoke their End Times fever dreams and boast of how they “will not be stopped” by such trivia as the law, or norms of reciprocation, or common decency. Apparently, and rather conveniently, they “have every right” to vandalise whatever they choose and to screw over countless other people, recreationally and gleefully, in whatever ways they deem fit, while applauding themselves. Say, by “disrupting traffic, throwing soup, and blocking oil depots.” Verily, they have been touched by The Lord. 

I suppose some people are all but destined to join apocalyptic cults. It isn’t too hard to see the appeal of the fervour and license of a new-found religion - conveniently stripped of those annoying restrictions on one’s own behaviour. Only the behaviour of others. And with Just Stop Oil, Animal Rebellion and Insulate Britain all indulging in their antisocial roleplay, the subsets of the activist-wanker caste are vying for our attention. And our deference, obviously.

Update 2

It’s also worth noting how the activist-wanker demographic is quite defined, socially, in terms of class. We don’t see much of the lumpen proletariat, or people who are busy earning a living. But we have seen quite a few videos of upper-middle-class activists, very often upper-middle-class women, looking faintly confused, or just smug, when frustrated working-class people explain, desperately and in vain, that they’re trying to get to work, or trying to take a child to hospital. The same, rather pointed, class divide is evident in terms of social media support and excuse-making. People who want us to know that they work for the BBC, the Guardian, and the New York Timesfor instance, are much more likely to excuse the vandalising of galleries, supermarkets and petrol pumps, and to downplay the obstruction of tube trains and emergency vehicles, than people whose livings are less glamorous and perhaps more modest.

As is the custom among the activist-wanker caste, much of the behaviour we’ve seen, and will doubtless see again, amounts to a moral non-sequitur. Rather like saying, “I’m troubled by the plight of the Javan rhinoceros, so I’m going to start spitting at the elderly and keying random cars, and then boast about it on Twitter, while waiting for likes.” Hence the need to consider other, less edifying motives.

And were I feeling particularly animated about an issue, I don’t think my first thought would be to vandalise an art gallery or a supermarket, or to gratuitously immobilise thousands of random commuters, or to trap ambulances and fire engines, thereby endangering lives, all while feeling important, and powerful, and immensely self-satisfied. I don’t think that would occur to me as an obvious thing to do. I mean, the thought of people dying needlessly because the ambulance couldn’t get to them, or people consequently burning to death in a fire, would, I suspect, put a downer on any self-righteous buzz.

But hey, maybe that’s just me.


Heavens, a button. I wonder what it does.