I’ve been reflecting on the January 6th “insurrection,” now that a little time has passed.
The FBI has continued their campaign to identify, arrest, and convict participants. People are anonymously submitting tips against their relatives and friends at the request of the police. The legacy media has had a field day casting aspersions on the so-called domestic violent extremists involved that day. And there’s still a heavy military presence in DC, and barriers scattered around The Capitol.
The Cathedral has effectively made it a crime — a sociostatutory malum in se — to either have participated in the protests or to express any sentiment that isn’t a full and unquestionable rebuke of the Boomer Battalion and their unguided tour of the Capitol Building. All avenues of public and family life are surveilled, ready to sound the alarm at even a whiff of the loathsome MAGA Boomer or one of their sympathizers.
These social responses are, of course, entirely predictable. But that’s not what I want to talk about.
“What the hell were they thinking?!”
This is the question I keep coming back to.
In their own minds, Task Force Boomer had an entirely convincing reason to go to DC. Put yourself in their shoes: to them, the election had been stolen, and the fate of the republic hung in the balance.
It was time to do what patriots had done in years of old: get to The Capitol! The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the selfies of patriots and the stolen office supplies of tyrants. After all, they can’t write new gun laws if you steal their laptops!
Yeah, it was a real cluster fuck. In thinking about how poorly executed this whole “insurrection” thing was — no real leader, no clear goal, no specific demands, they didn’t even bring guns — I realized that perhaps I’m being too hard on the January 6th crowd. After all, they did put in the work to go up there, and I just write blog posts.
Plus, these people had the right instinct. Perceived injustice? Go make a scene. They had balls. Remember — there’s real personal risk involved here. It isn’t a small thing to break into Congress, and a lot of these people will end up paying a steep price for doing so. Hell, Ashli Babbitt died over it.
But while the Boomerwaffen had the right instinct to fight, they seemed to be entirely missing the instinct to go for the kill. (Note: “kill” here is used in the context of “killer instinct,” not the context of ‘incitement to commit violence,’ so please don’t send me to Guantanamo Bay). Their efforts were clumsy and uncoordinated; their actions confusing and seemingly unrelated to any clearly distinguishable goal.
The willingness to risk their lives, assets, status, and futures in exchange for a null outcome seems weird to me. Not natural, even. Like an animal that’s forgotten part of its instinct.
I mean, compare the Boomers to Antifa for a moment. Antifa is mostly comprised of young people who are poor and low-status. If you’re a CHAZ-dwelling communist vegan, there isn’t a huge risk in throwing a brick through a Starbucks window. You’re 20-years-old, you have a net worth of $11, and you change genders three times a day. The misdemeanor isn’t going to change your life, assuming the activist DA even prosecutes.
Conversely, it’s a huge risk for middle-aged people who own homes and have careers to force their way into Congress and give AOC post-traumatic attention-whore disorder.
So if you’re a Boomer, when you get to The Capitol, why wouldn’t you make it count? I mean, you’re already risking it all anyway. How can you break into Congress, take selfies there, upload them to social media, and then simply decide you’ve had a pretty big day, file out of the building, and waddle back to the charter bus to check your blood sugar, effectively accomplishing absolutely nothing?
Well, the answer is actually pretty simple.
Thanks to a thriving tech oligarchy and massive surveillance state, we mostly exist in a modern form of captivity. And animals living in captivity forget how to kill their prey or survive in the wild.
Picture a killer whale at Seaworld. It’s so accustomed to having its food brought to it that its muscles are atrophied and its instincts dulled. The once-noble creature is demoralized, undignified, and in poor physical health. Its life is comfortable apathy; depressing to see and be around. Not entirely unlike the Boomer, who spends his time on Facebook being unwittingly marketed to and having his brain smoothed out by The Algorithm.
And what happens if the whale realizes that it’s living in captivity and breaks out into the ocean? It forgets how to earn its keep. Incredibly, the tamed whale doesn’t feel comfortable catching fish without a zookeeper’s permission, and the creature is helpless.
Remember the whale in Free Willy? The abused captive whale breaks free from its enclosure and swims off to the freedom and promise of the open ocean.
It’s a true story, but the movie didn’t tell the whole thing. The real whale — Keiko — was ostracized by other whales once it was out in the wild, tried (and failed) to re-establish a relationship with humans, and then died of pneumonia after a brief but painful stint as a free animal.
A lot of people who were in DC on January 6th might face an analogous fate. You can’t go home again. After breaking from captivity, even for a brief and shining moment, The Boomer, like the whale, suffers an end that is — to steal from Hobbes — nasty, brutish, and short.
Understand that all this happens because we live in a strange form of captivity. Not everyone you know is a cop, but everyone you know has the potential to be a cop.
Your boss who overhears your political comments in the break room. Your kooky aunt who loves Joe Biden and sees your pro-2A Facebook posts. The person at the store who saw you weren’t wearing a mask. Your cable company, who reports your internet activity to the police. All of them could choose to simply deputize themselves at any moment and turn you in to the police for perpetuating the wrong narrative.
Almost everything you interact with can become a tool used against you. Smart phones mean that every interaction can be photographed and shared with the entire world. Every message, every share, every like, every tweet, can be logged and surveilled. Your location history, the metadata of your phone’s photos, your email inbox, your car’s GPS history — it’s all waiting to be weaponized against you.
Michel Foucault, as part of a New York Times interview in 1975 offered the following about prisons:
You ask where prisons come from. My answer is ‘from practically everywhere.’
In effect, it isolates a small group who can be controlled, kept under surveillance, and thoroughly known. They become the object of hostility and distrust of the very classes from which they come.
(qtd. in Michel Foucault, on the Role of Prisons, Roger-Pol Droit, New York Times, 1975)
The MAGA Boomer — who largely has committed no real crime other than political wrongthink — is surveilled by his local police, loathed by his neighbors, derided by his boss, cut off from his bank, and turned-in by his children and family.
Thus, The Boomer exists largely as a victim of Foucault’s panopticon.
Lacking a clear understanding of the electronic systems of surveillance and control used against them, they suddenly find themselves on the business end of the police state following their ham-fisted efforts at civil unrest. Movements tracked, finances scrutinized, incomes severed. (I thought this was a private Facebook group!)
Your average MAGA Boomer’s digital existence is simply an ever-flowing stream of exploitable data into the intelligence-gathering apparatus of the state.
To restate: theirs is an insidious form of captivity. And it led to a Boomer generation so accustomed to captivity that when they finally made a break for the open water, they forgot they’d have to kill their own prey when they arrived. There’s a lesson there.
The ride was for naught. It didn’t work. And now the Boomer, dorsal fin folded and limp, is either heading to jail or quietly seething under a laughably corrupt Biden administration.
Keep this in mind next time the ocean calls your name.