by J Michael Waller / American Greatness / November 1, 2020
Far from being “spontaneous” or “mythical,” today’s militant political violence is not only organized, it even has user manuals. In destroying statues and other symbols of American history, the new violent extremist movement cultivates its own history:Indoctrinate people without them realizing it, gradually and slowly, by infiltrating their cultural institutions.
Italian Communist Party founder Antonio Gramsci laid it out in his Prison Notebooks to battle what he called the “cultural hegemony” of religion, politics, business, and folklore of Western civilization. Gramsci pioneered a “counter hegemony” to develop alternative values for all of society, including an alternative religion. Inculcating this alternative hegemony throughout society to change values over time, he argued, was necessary to create a social support base for violent revolution.
It’s all about replacing a society’s belief system.
“Socialism is precisely the religion that must overwhelm Christianity,” Gramsci wrote. “In the new order, Socialism will triumph by first capturing the culture via infiltration of schools, universities, churches, and the media by transforming the consciousness of society.”
Gramsci and others called for a warrior intellectual who didn’t just think radical thoughts. “Unless an intellectual has really participated in armed struggle, with the risks and danger which this entails, all his answers” to revolution “could easily become a pretentious intellectual comedy,” wrote Regis Debray, the French Communist who stressed culture as a tool of revolution. Debray lived it out, working with Che Guevara’s violent revolution in Bolivia and Chile’s Salvador Allende in revolution-through-political-infiltration. His critical analysis Revolution In the Revolution? became a guidebook for violent extremists in Latin America, later borrowed by American radicals.
Debray laid out what we see with Black Lives Matter and Antifa today—and with their supporters deep inside the Biden camp: “Armed self-defense” (aggressive defense using shields, barricades, helmets, and weapons), “armed propaganda,” “the guerrilla base,” and a merger of “the Party and the guerrilla.”
Debray devoted considerable attention to what he called “armed propaganda”—what others call “propaganda of the deed”—in which direct action, vandalism, destruction of national symbols, assassination, and other violence are valuable for their own propaganda purposes.
Bolsheviks such as Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky deplored armed propaganda as a counterproductive anarchist trick that needlessly provoked authorities into repressing the movement.
But others, including 1960s-era extremists in the Black Panther Party and the Weather Underground, viewed armed propaganda as a strategic asset purposefully to provoke police overreaction for all the world to see in the press and on television.
A New Generation of Radicals
For BLM and Antifa, armed propaganda produces precisely the overreaction they think justifies their causes and broadens their public support as heroic victims.