I was talking to some smart people the other night about political movements, and it got me thinking about differences in how the Right and the Left organize. Thread incoming.
One thing the Right - especially the Far Right - does that the Left doesn't seem to do as much is politicize already existing communities.
We see this with gamers, furries, comics fans, Star Wars fans, sci-fi fans, etc. Any community with a large, Millennial, white, male population.
Alt-Right types don't simply siphon members over to Stormfront, they try to shift the entire community Rightward.
Conversely, the Left tends to create communities around political purposes. A community springs up to fight police violence, or to stand for immigrant rights, or to protest wealth inequality.
People in these communities have no pre-existing relationship with each other.
And if people in those communities have things in common other than a specific political purpose, the community isn't necessarily designed to foster those connections.
One of the major risks of a community where no one knows each other is infiltration.
In protest movements, there's always the knowledge that, quite likely, someone at the meeting is a cop.
And cops don't simply report what they hear, they stir up infighting.
So whenever you're having disagreements, you always have to be wondering, "is this fight sincere, or is this person the cop?"
In online spaces, you have to wonder if you've got Alt-Right sock puppets doing the same.
Folks I was talking to stressed that one of the reasons the Ferguson protests were so cohesive is because they were literally neighbors.
Very hard to infiltrate a community where everyone already knows each other. Who's the cop? Almost certainly that guy no one knows.
What the Alt-Right understands about existing communities is that people don't want to go against their friends.
If your forum starts radicalizing, you will either tolerate it to maintain access to your community, or you will leave.
Which means the WHOLE FORUM becomes an Alt-Right breeding ground. They don't get a few converts, they get the entire site. The problem with bigotry in EVERY community is privileged people not wanting to call out their homies.
I'm not aware of the Left doing this very often at all. If an entire community skews Left, it's usually because it was built by a progressive in the first place, or, if you're very lucky, it happened organically by lucking into some good people and having decent moderators.
The Left is not, generally speaking, finding potentially sympathetic communities and trying to educate them. It's not relying on existing relationships. It's usually trying to start movements from scratch.
And that's weird, right? All this data says conservatives are more willing to tolerate their friends' progressive beliefs than progressives are willing to tolerate conservative ones.
So conservatives would be less likely to leave a community that shifts Left, wouldn't they?
My (limited) experience with Occupy was of a group very efficient at coming to political consensus but riddle with interpersonal conflicts because no one knew how to be friends with each other.
Anyway, I don't have a conclusion, exactly. I feel this was an important thing to realize.
Please challenge/elaborate if you have more information.