The Fall of Christopher Cantwell — A Cautionary Tale

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Be careful what you pretend to be, because in the end, you are what you pretend to be.

Following the Charlottesville aftermath —

Christopher Cantwell, a “leader of the Alt-Right” was taken into custody on Thursday by the police department in Lynchburg, Virginia and denied bail.

He faces three felony charges: two counts of the illegal use of tear gas or other gases and one count of malicious bodily injury with a “caustic substance,” discharging mace at the Unite the Right evening rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Cantwell maintains his innocence.

His official statement says that he only used mace in the defense of other people who were being assaulted by Antifa. He said “my only other choice was to knock his teeth in.”

This isn’t the first time a supposed “member of the Alt-Right” has been arrested after a public brawl with Antifa — the notorious example being Based Stickman.

But, this time fundraising efforts by groups like WeSearchr and Rootbocks have been stymied by webhost providers no-platforming anything connectedto the Alt-Right.

Cantwell has requested anyone with video or photographic evidence to come forward on his behalf.

However, Cantwell has a problem and he knows it.

His problem is 300 of his banned-from-Youtube podcasts, the “Radical Agenda” in which he states his desire to, among other things, throw Antifa and Communists out of helicopters. To an unfamiliar observer, it seems violent.

“It was all just a joke,”

“A joke.” This was the explanation offered in a tearful video that is now widely mocked. Even the Alt-Right mocked him. Cantwell broke the sacred rule of insurgency: no quarter can be asked for and none will be given.

I’ve heard his podcasts. I believe him when he says that his audience understands that he’s not suggesting anyone be violent. He was participating in a peculiar new genre, a shock jock for a new kind of audience who has been desensitized to almost everything else.

And that brings us to the strange world of Alt-Right podcasts.

A “normie” is someone who hasn’t taken “the red pill.”

Normies stumbling on Alt-Right shock jock podcasts are in for quite a trip.

Like a pessimist on acid, if you take it too seriously you’re going to have a bad time. However, people who grew up in the late 80s and 90s before the era of PC are particularly fond of satire with an edge of cruelty.

This was the appeal of Howard Stern, Married With Children and South Park. Appropriately, sexual jokes, misogynistic jokes, and anti-Jewish jokes abound.

If you’re able to laugh along with the exaggerated prejudices of the host, nationalist and Alt-Right podcasts are occasionally some of the most sincere forms of counter-culture critique of neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism that currently exists.

If you’re not, they’re — well, literally Hitler with a podcast.

The Fall of Christopher Cantwell — A Cautionary Tale

Just eighteen months ago —

Cantwell would have laughed at the assertion of being “a leader of the Alt-Right.” Eighteen months ago, he was busy criticizing the Alt Right: “Let me tell you my friends, Adolf Hitler is not the answer to your problems.” He believed that then and he probably still believes it now.

But as the Trump phenomena accelerated, Cantwell found himself increasingly associated with the emerging political dissidence movement on Youtube that included everything from mild jingoists and pagan right-wing libertarians to genuine neo-Nazis — and even a few actual socialists.

All of these were lumped together by the media as “Alt-Right.”

Accordingly, the increasing volatility of Cantwell and the Alt-Right rhetoric became an integral part of its value.

I suspect it’s the internet equivalent of the shock therapy of Diogenes: instead of masturbating in public to shock society out of its complacency, these guys rant against every protected class under the sun — and have more than a few fingers pointed at those you’re not allowed to even criticize.

Isn’t that precisely what speaking truth to power is supposed to be? Hence why real satirists are hermits as well — and generally on the right.

For Cantwell everything concludes in Charlottesville.

Of all the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, only Cantwell has been charged.

It would be naive not to believe that this also had to do with the cringe-worthy VICE interview Cantwell gave shortly before his arrest (someone didn’t give Cantwell the memo — radicals can’t talk to the press).

The idea that he can have a fair and impartial hearing — well, Eichmann might have hoped for the same.

That brings us to our moral and caution:

Be careful what you pretend to be, because in the end you are what you pretend to be.

Cantwell is in the same trap as the protagonist from Kurt Vonnegut’s “Mother Night.” If he was only pretending or even being satirical, he’s on the wrong political side to make that defense.

The mob doesn’t believe in right-wing satire. They also don’t believe in right-wing “just pretending” (which seems absurd, since human beings spend a great amount of their lives pretending to be competent).

This is why the right wing must behave legally while simultaneously thinking it is illegal —

The insurgency tactic.

Openly flaunting legality will get you no-platformed across internet utilities, blacklisted, fired from your job and bashed over the head. You will be held responsible for the uncharitable and literal interpretation of every utterance. If such an enterprise is meant to bare truth to power, perhaps this is where it could succeed: the timeless truth that satire isn’t good unless it can land you in prison.

That’s genuine satire, speaking truth to the king: the kind that costs your head.