I was reading an article in a socialist magazine last week, where the author accused the Far Right of wanting the Far Left dead. Coincidentally, that’s the same thing the Far Right says of the Far Left: “They want us dead.” Ultimately, both sides may be correct.
A survey of soft and hard power availability likely dictates how each side will attempt to achieve its end goals.
This view of soft power and hard power may be the biggest strategy difference between right wing and left wing groups. In short, left wing groups exercise soft power, while right wing groups emphasize the use of hard power.
“Soft power” is influence, persuasion, and appealing to moral authority, as opposed to “hard power” which is primarily armed coercion and violence.
Exercising control over national institutions — the Cathedral of education, media, pop culture, the federal government and its agencies, etc. — is the center of gravity for this exercise of the Left’s soft power.
This is why athletes, musicians, and other pop culture figures are applauded for joining the social justice movement: this has always been an effort to saturate social justice messaging into the mainstream, to shape moral authority and the moral high ground, and activate those who sit outside the political and social spheres of influence.
In the information environment of today, it’s very difficult to sustain the use of hard power (coercion or violence) without substantial soft power.
But the reverse of this power balance is almost always true: the most important thing to understand about soft power is that it’s a great enabler of hard power. Soft power is the ability to frame information through a popular narrative, which absolutely supports armed violence if the message can shape the moral high ground that supports it.
One reason why Floyd’s Rebellion went on all summer is because of soft power messaging that justified violence and property damage. In the summer of 2020, how many times were we told that “A riot is the language of the unheard”? Through this moral imperative, the country was obligated to hear the rioters.
This is a lesson that the Far Right is learning the hard way. They exercise very little soft power because they’ve been cut off from the most widely available mainstream avenues.
This is why the Far Right, as of right now and likely by design, is doomed to the use of hard power to achieve its goals. It cannot achieve its goals politically, especially not with the rapidly shifting political and demographic landscape. With no soft power to gain support for the use of hard power, the Far Right is likely to ultimately lose.
For the Far Left (and the broader Left, in general), soft power (the ability to shape popular moral authority) is and will continue being used to support hard power (coercion and violence). Social pressure, the politics of exclusion and federal law enforcement action is primarily how they’ll pursue their goals against the Far Right.
Here’s the ground truth of this Low Intensity Conflict: unless the Far Right can build substantial soft power through political representation and access to the mainstream, violence is the only way forward. This is why these avenues are being shut off. It’s also why “There is no political solution” is a popular refrain among the Far Right. They already know it.
This is likely why there’s a growing government focus on domestic violent extremism (DVE) — not because of the levels of violence today, but because of the likelihood of growing levels of violence to come. It’s going to be a long decade.
Until next time, be well.
Always Out Front,
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