Outnumbered a million to one
All of the dicks in this dick town
Can't keep Johnny down
Men, piled up in a towering mound
None of them once has found
To keep Johnny down
—They Might Be Giants, Can't Keep Johnny Down
On account of recent events, we've seen an upsurge in interest among the members of the dumbassariat in violent resistance, something which is becoming increasingly popular among even otherwise sensible and basically literate people such as might read this site. Thus, as a public service and out of civic responsibility, this essay is devoted to examining some of the major outstanding issues of such courses of action, which have yet to be resolved and which will need to be successfully overcome before an effective violent protest movement can be organized.
I. You Can't Beat The Man
As just one example out of many, the musical Les Misérables is wildly popular among one or two species of revolutionary romantic. It has many rousing (but infamously badly-lyricked) songs about the people crying out in anger and revolution and so on. It's about the insurrection of June in Paris in 1832. But how did that really shake out? Almost parodically instructively: Eugène François Vidocq, chief of the Sûreté, led a dozen dragoons under the streets of the city, using his superior — perhaps never exceeded before nor since — knowledge of the catacombs and sewers of Paris subterrene to come up behind the barricades, at which point the dragoons ranked abreast and fired into the backs of the defenders, who in many cases never had time to realize the presence of the soldiers. He alone, with his squad of soldiers, cleared over fifty barricades in one night of fighting, the evening of July 5th, 1832, breaking the back of the rebellion and letting the army into the Faubourg Saint-Martin, where the rebels were finally quashed at the Cloître Saint-Merry. The results of the insurrection were literally nothing except that Victor Hugo wrote a book later which, &c. &c.
This illustrates the feebleness of resisting the Man when the Man is willing to push back: everything you get from such stratagems, you get though the mercy of Power. Take Black Lives Matter as an example. Does BLM constitute a threat to The Man?
Of course not; if The Man decided he was sick of BLM, he could still just rank up some lines of infantry and have them all shot, no fuss, no muss. But The Man is smarter than that, and realizes that A) these people are no kind of credible threat whatever and will achieve nothing, therefore it would be a waste of bullets; and B) the quickest way to make them resemble anything like a problem would be to kill them all, thus granting them posthumous credibility, validating them as a threat, and causing general outrage. So the iron fist stays, which is itself a mercy and a concession; but that doesn't mean your enemy is powerless. It doesn't even mean he's kind. It just means he's clever.
There is one case where you can beat The Man, which is when everybody agrees with you: when the situation escalates from resistance to all-out war. At the point when entire military regiments defect, you have a shot. But even that shot normally backfires. The French Revolution thought it had decapitated The Man along with the king, and its immediate result was Robespierre; its ultimate result Napoleon. The actual man changes, but The Man remains unchanged. And at any rate, that circumstance does not presently obtain. For instance, did you know that somewhere between 60-70% of Americans supported Trump's first travel ban? Most people are content, The Man holds sway unrattled, and you're fucked. I mean, think about it. The Man has everything, and you have nothing. That's why you're fucked off in the first place, isn't it? Did you think this through at all?
II. It Doesn't Work
That is, even when you go around beating people up, burning their houses down, killing or threatening to kill, sweet fuck-all happens. The women's suffrage movement is a classic example here, and since it's also becoming popular to beatify it and its participants, it's probably just as well that we puncture that balloon. The common idea is that modern women »owe these pioneers their votes«, but this is the worst kind of balderdash — in most Western nations, the women's suffrage movement did little or nothing to hasten or encourage the adoption of votes for women, which, on the contrary, had typically been an item of the ambitions of classical liberalism for the majority of the 19th century, long before any suffrage movement (as opposed to individual polemic women) had formed. Notably the scholarly consensus, though quietly uttered, is that in the country in which I now live, England, the women's suffrage movement retarded the adoption of votes for women by at least a decade and possibly as much as fifteen years due to their unsavory tactics and general bad mien making the policy impopular to the point of political impossibility — only to be implemented after the Great War, a time when there was much rhetoric about all people of all classes having fought as one and so on. (If not for that, it might have taken even longer.) In fact, then, women were given the vote by wealthy men because they thought that was fair, usually at the same time as it was granted to poor men, that is, as part of universal suffrage. Protest, whether violent or not, had negligible or even negative effect.
(We may similarly observe, while we're at it, that most of the suffragettes themselves were appallingly unpleasant people, and that one would do well to read up on e.g. Emmeline Pankhurst carefully before praising a single one of her words or deeds.)
To make a long story short, this is a pattern which recurs over all such movements. What the 20th century called social progress was benignantly granted the have-nots from above by the haves out of benevolence, to the extent that it occurred at all. This fact galls many people, whose self-image it wounds; they like to imagine themselves as fierce warriors for justice, not as the powerless clients of a class of personally inaccessible, occasionally kind patrons — but that, of course, does not stop it from being true, any more than frustration halts aging or distaste prevents the onset of winter. The Earth moves.
III. You Don't Want It To Work Anyway
Seriously, you don't. We already noted the general popular satisfaction, the massive wadge of people who like things the way they are, but even you »resisters« yourselves don't want it to work. The Black Bloc, for instance, don't really want to put their lives on the line; they just want to destroy things and feel smug about it. (Newsflash, assholes: you're not the knight, who always stands alone. You're not even the dragon. You're just a guy giving The Man an insurance payout for the window of a McDonald's, scaring some people who are by definition proles or they wouldn't be eating at McDonald's, throwing a glazier some work, and making Bastiat roll in his grave.) Quite possibly not one single feminist has ever genuinely wanted to wage her life for liberty (few have even bothered to claim it); and so on.
The ultimate reason is that right now, as already noted, nearly everyone in the West is actually pretty comfortable with where he is. The squealing and rage is mostly about the fact that anyone even dares to disagree with the wailers, not with any real problems of the sort people are willing to fight and die for; we are really even preposterously prosperous and secure. Any minuscule shift toward international insecurity caused by Onald Rump, for instance, is still a laughable nothing; we're nowhere near the tension and instability of 1890, 1910, 1925, or even 1970. The 1990s were absurdly peaceful and secure and by no means the historical norm or average; it rather seems like anybody should have been able to figure that out when those buildings fell over. One can't just decide those few placid years of fat and pushing consequences on the future are the yardstick for the entire rest of history and that any step away is a full-scale catablasm. One must maintain some proportion, not immediately move into DEFCON Chicken Little at the first provocation.
We observe also that the aforementioned airplane-based act of violent resistance didn't really catalyze effective social change in a direction the activists regarded as positive. On the contrary, drinking and whoring continue to be the favorite pastimes of America and in fact everywhere; a Muslim didn't become President; gay marriage was illegal at the time and is legal now. Like the suffragettes, the islamists only managed to make their own group more detested.
We have made an overview of some serious problems inhibiting the effective application of violent protest and resistance: most people are basically happy and satisfied; most people regard violent intervention in even the unfair proceedings of democracy with disdain and repugnance; nobody on your own side is willing to sacrifice his life; and none of them really believes in anything. These are serious problems when attempting to present genuine resistance.
Consequently, we conclude that a prospective wielder of violent protest as an effective instrument must first consider whether he can dismay the people to the point of taking up arms (to say nothing of whether plunging everyone into such a level of misery would be a good or moral act), or if he can't do that, whether he has a new way to make people in general pay attention to his antisocial behavior and approve of it; then, he has to figure out a way to actually care about the issues himself, instead of just whether this protest shit can let him hit someone with a shovel and a clean conscience, or get him laid. Finally, he must then transmit this method to his prospective cohorts. I respectfully submit that this will not work any time soon, and also that you're a moron for even considering it, if you were.
Maybe this makes you angry. But what exactly are you going to do about it?
Beat me up?