The role of the liberal intellectual establishment is to set very sharp bounds on how far you can go, ‘This far, and no further.’
– Noam Chomsky
A few weeks ago, it seemed like everyone from liberal elitists, to the Alt-Right, to his now ex-publisher, and the mainstream media, all wanted to defend Milo. Now, the same people couldn’t be happier to celebrate the troll’s demise, gleefully pointing out that Milo’s “reputation” has been destroyed by many of the same tactics that gave him a mild celebrity for years. As always, absent from the storm is any discussion on the role that grassroots opposition and mobilization played in bringing Milo down.
How could it, after all?
To give everyday people the credit for changing even just one thing, would be to acknowledge that change comes from below, not from elites like Obama or Trump, and certainly not from the mainstream media whose job it is to shape the minds of the masses through spectacle, not change their conditions.
It was militant direct action, clashes with the police, fighting with the Alt-Right, physically shutting down venues, applying pressure, and community organizing and outreach that stopped Milo. These tactics helped shine a spotlight on the toxic and white supremacist nature of the Alt-Right which Milo attempted to gain prominence through mainstreaming, while exposing the crossover nature of his support base which brought together college Republicans, the Trump administration, the manosphere, and active white nationalists. But resistance also came with a high cost, as demonstrators faced both police violence and arrests, as well as attacks, including an almost fatal shooting in Seattle from a far-Right Milo supporter.
We, through our ability to organize ourselves into a material force did this, not the media that gave Milo a platform and who normalized his views. We created the crisis, while his comments on pedophilia only made possible the sword for him to fall on.
Meanwhile, the pathetic hand wringing of washed-up, well paid, and pathetically useless non-profit career activists, bureaucrats, politicians in waiting, clickbait journalists, and liberal talking heads whose job it is is to sit on top of the working-class and the poor and police them and their actions through moralizing, bureaucracy, and movement policing – did nothing but attack us as well. The same reaction was mimicked by Trump himself, as he threatened to defund UC Berkeley as a form of collective punishment.
In shitty blogs, editorials, and in sound bytes, they waited for the next opportune moment to be critical of everyday people putting their lives and bodies on the line while taking action. Liberals did nothing as we went to jail and faced charges, were attacked in the press, shot while holding our ground, and as the police sought to arrest us. Nothing.
Meanwhile, the far-Right used opposition to Milo to claim there was a “cyber Jihad” on Trump supporters, ‘progressive’ professors claimed that the black bloc was working hand in hand with Milo himself, and media outlets everywhere contended that to physically confront Milo was to only give him a bigger platform. As opposition grew, the fight back seemed only to give the press more of a green-light to venerate him in the eyes of increasing resistance. Even as the attacks on Mosques and Islamic Centers spread across the US and white nationalists continue to carry out wave after wave of attacks, the mainstream remained in steadfast support of their favorite troll. As always, the real devils in the eyes of the establishment were everyday people willing to fight back, not a bourgeois talking head who supports Trump.
This is something that we have to remind ourselves as we push back against liberals in the center and the media: we didn’t give Milo a platform – we shut him down. The media gave Milo a platform, and demonized us. The liberals, they not only defended Milo, but attacked us as well. Don’t forget that, especially if you are hoping for some sort of antifascist or anti-Trump unity with those Left of center.
And so, the whole country was pushed to become terrified of groups of friends wearing black, while the Alt-Right was ushered into the Trump administration as simply another part of a broad “populist” coalition. Meanwhile, Steve Bannon is essentially running the country while giving props to the founders of fascism and dreaming of a Trump alliance with European nationalist parties. We have former pals of Richard Spencer working with Trump, KKK fan Jeff Sessions in the government, a white nationalist at the head of Border and Customs Protection, Paul Ryan planning to gut benefit programs, and Betsy DeVos wants to attack unions and public education. In the background, laws are being put forward that further criminalize protests and demonstrations, giving the police and the State more and more power.
In the face of this, Milo was the sacrificial troll of the Trump regime. Proof that those that go “too far” will be dealt with, as the administration prepares for a broad assault on the American population in an effort to make America great again for the billionaires.
We should feel good about Milo’s life collapsing around him, fuck him. But we should also be aware that the room himself and others have generated for white nationalist and Alt-Right politics has allowed sections of the Alt-Right to be mined for ideas by the current administration and in some instances, been allowed to enter into the halls of power. These ideas haven’t been just normalized, they’re establishment.
Let’s celebrate the death of Milo, but not forget that most of the real monsters don’t wear pearls and makeup as a means of promoting attacks on immigrants, African-Americans, and trans people. They aren’t hipsters and they don’t wear skinny jeans. Most of them don’t care about social media and being celebrities.
At the end of the day, it is these creatures who are much more dangerous than Milo could ever be.