In a previous article, I examined the modern white power movement and broader political landscape in the United States. That essay’s aim wasn’t a comprehensive overview but a summary of who we’re fighting and the enemy’s defining characteristics. Equally important, what is the broader social and political landscape in the U.S.? And what about our side? What sort of resources, numbers, and capacity do we currently have?
In this piece, I emphasize the importance and necessity of organizing and how the left should generally relate to specific portions of the state, i.e., military and police. In my view, the left must spend more time organizing and less time critiquing, writing, and podcasting — none of which will change the world on their own. In fact, I argue that too much punditry has, in fact, hurt the left. Lastly, and most importantly, the left must develop a coherent position concerning the police and military. Doing so would greatly benefit future left-wing political efforts.
In Part Three, we’ll survey why the left must immediately support statist demands that would challenge capital and usher in a period of social democracy in the U.S. We’ll also discuss why the left must articulate a serious and principled vision for how to use the rule of law (the state) to corral, dismantle, charge, arrest, convict, and sentence members of the white power movement who advocate or participate in various forms of political terrorism.
More Organizing, Less Punditry
Organizing is the only way to defeat the white power movement. The majority of Americans don’t agree or identify with the white power movement. That’s good for us, but not good enough. Public opinion must be turned into effective organizations, institutions, and campaigns, with massive numbers of ordinary people engaged, empowered, and ready to fight back.
Without question, not enough Americans who call themselves “progressives” or “leftists” or who nominally identify with progressive values and policies are actively engaged in organizing efforts. It’s a long-standing problem. In my experience, many of the people who self-identify as progressive or leftist spend a lot of their time shouting from the sidelines, often detached from the larger community and ongoing political efforts, which isn’t helpful.
Punditry and organizing are not the same things. Yes, we need both, but today we have far too many pundits and far too few organizers. Yes, we’re amid a global pandemic; hence it’s more difficult to mobilize and organize — that also is understood. But the pandemic hasn’t stopped nurses, factory workers, teachers, students, churches, indigenous activists, environmentalists, immigrants, or unions from organizing over the past eleven months. Liberals, progressives, and leftists should learn important lessons from those who’ve successfully fought back during the worst pandemic in over 100 years. Their efforts are commendable.
Pundits focus on analysis and provide critiques. Organizers focus on power and deliver the strategy. Pundits talk about things we can’t control. Organizers talk about the things within our control. For instance, left-wing pundits complained that the DNC threw the primaries for Clinton in 2016 and Biden in 2020 over Bernie. Organizers went into those campaigns, as did Bernie (for those who listened), with the understanding that powerful interests would fight back. Pundits focus on individual politicians and how they act within our existing economic and political systems. Organizers seek to understand better and change those systems. Pundits point out the failures of the Biden administration. Organizers inherently understand those inadequacies and seek to exploit them to our advantage. Pundits talk. Organizers walk. Pundits spend their time online, sharing, surfing, liking, Tweeting, commenting, and replying to the same. Organizers spend their time in the streets, neighborhoods, workplaces, and communities, talking, planning, networking, building, strategizing and fighting.
Since the pandemic began, millions of Americans have started podcasts and YouTube programs. Nothing is shocking about this trend, but it isn’t reassuring. Before the pandemic, Americans spent a disproportionate amount of their time online, watching TV, playing video games, or generally spending time in front of two-dimensional screens. That’s one reason why Sergio Kochergin and I opened a community-cultural center in Michigan City, Indiana, where we live: namely, to get people off their couches and out in public interacting with their neighbors, strangers, and friends.
Our primary goal was to use the space as an organizing hub for both local and regional efforts. We aimed to combine culture and politics, social activities and art, intellectualism, and the street. Our movements and projects should be social and fun and sophisticated, disciplined, serious, committed, and strategic. We must also dig in for the long-haul (bouncing from city to city, town to town, won’t cut it). We must build a serious core of organizers, then spread and democratize that knowledge and experience throughout the community, and repeat over and over and over again until we create thousands of organizers who can radicalize every workplace, church, neighborhood, apartment complex, high school, middle school, and university campus throughout the U.S.
Of course, all of this is easier said than done. Still, it starts with the explicit goal of organizing large numbers of ordinary people (those who don’t already self-identify with left-wing and progressive politics) to build enough power to create crises for elites and, eventually, take control of the state apparatus and economy. We seek to wield power, not run from it. And we aim to use the state to beat back capital, with the long-term goal of castrating capitalism, elevating democratic norms and workers’ control, and protecting the environment.
Where to organize? Ideally, workplaces, communities (even better, neighborhoods, to the extent they still exist), apartment and housing complexes, houses of worship, and various other structures with a defined number of people, geographical and institutional boundaries, and the ability to wield power. On the other hand, some groups, such as Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) or Black Lives Matter (BLM), may develop from a group of people who already self-identify with a set of values (socialism) or specific causes (policing). Such organizations can also play vital roles in building vibrant, broad-based political movements necessary to defeat the white power movement.
Let’s take one example: houses of worship. Religious entities still have a tremendous amount of power in the U.S. Of course, some more than others due to historical, geographical, or demographic factors. For instance, Christian churches are less influential in Vermont’s political landscape than Tennesee’s. Likewise, Mosques are more potent in the greater-Detroit region than those in Tampa Bay’s political power structure. That said, there’s no avoiding them. We must include houses of worship in our power structure analyses. The power they wield is mainly in the ideological, cultural, and political realms. For example, places of worship can’t shut down the economy, but they can influence how workers view and process their economic position within the capitalist system. They can pressure or boycott companies. Religious entities can’t officially endorse candidates, but political campaigns must interact with them. In many ways, churches, mosques, and synagogues can cause serious trouble for elites, which is why they remain an essential place for organizing efforts.
Another example, and much easier to comprehend, is workplace organizing. Organizing at one’s workplace is an essential component of our broader political efforts because workers have the potential to wield a tremendous amount of power if their actions are coordinated and strategic. Further, workers who do so within strategic sectors of the economy have even more potential to alter power relations between workers and bosses fundamentally. Plus, people spend most of their waking hours at work, so it only makes sense to center the workplace in our organizing efforts.
The problem for groups such as DSA and BLM is that they don’t fit any particular structure or defined boundary. While both organizations are quite different, they share the same fundamental quality: their membership comprises self-identified radicals, leftists, and socialists. Their organizations are what we would call “self-selected,” meaning people join such organizations because they already identify with said organization’s values and objectives, worldview, and so on. Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with self-selected organizations. Yet, they face the problem of getting bogged down in social circles of familiar faces, mobilizing with the same group of people, and never really expanding their core leadership or base of supporters beyond those who already agree.
Self-selected organizations also face the challenge of determining where and how, exactly, to wield political power. DSA is a perfect example. DSA, as it stands today, has varying levels of power at the local level, depending on geographical location, but little to no influence over national policy decisions. DSA members have been elected to office, but mostly in liberal states, cities, and campus towns, with a few exceptions. Again, nothing inherently wrong with that. I’m a member of DSA. I hope to contribute to building a powerful DSA contingent in Northwest Indiana, across the state and the broader Great Lakes and Rust Belt regions. But along the way, we must engage in difficult conversations and debates about vision, strategy, structure, tactics, and how, precisely, we understand and plan to build and use our power. Fortunately, that’s already happening in our chapter — thanks in large part to the work of some dedicated members who’ve taken the lead and initiated the official chapter certification process, organizing, and strategic planning sessions.
Now is the time for liberals, progressives, and leftists to dedicate as much of our waking hours as possible to organizing efforts. Our conversations and ideas should reflect the gravity of our collective predicament, as should our goals, long-term objectives, and vision. And none of that will happen through social media or internet chatrooms. Unlike the white power movement, we don’t seek to build an underground, completely horizontal, unaccountable paramilitary/terrorist organization whose sole goal is the absolute destruction of the state. As a result, our movement (above-ground, mass numbers, diverse, democratic) requires face-to-face contact and connection. Socializing is key to our political organizing efforts.
Antisocial and hyper-individualistic behavior, like spending countless hours online or obtaining one’s worldview from bombastic YouTubers or podcasters, celebrities, or media personalities, is not conducive to progressive political organizing efforts. Pundits, unlike organizers, can operate as individuals. Pundits answer to no one, which is fine if one’s goal is to build an audience that consumes a product. If our goal is to create organizations and movements that cater to the masses (not the asses), we must reject cultural habits, weird, and unhelpful social norms people pick up from such rubbish. Effective organizers can socialize. And effective organizing requires a level of trust and collectivity that’s not cultivated by professional class pundits or the toxic culture they produce. Remember, organizers speak to the community, not atthe community.
I’ll write more about specific organizing efforts in future segments, both ongoing and theoretical, that people can potentially recreate or develop independently. Here, I’m thinking of everything from electoral campaigns and workplace organizing to cultural projects, media projects, sports leagues, social clubs, community centers, and much more.
Reflections on the State
As noted in Part One, today’s white power movement and sections of the broader far-right seeks to destroy the federal government. This component of their ideology offers more overlap and coherency than any other element of their political program. Anti-communism has long been the glue that holds together a disparate group of far-right extremists. Regardless of how one may “feel” or “think” about the state, in my view, the state apparatus, at least as we understand it, is not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, quite the opposite. Hence, it’s critical to determine how left-wing political movements wish to relate to the state, especially in a context of a raging pandemic, runaway climate change, broader ecological devastation, racial schisms, economic suffering, international geopolitical crises and challenges, and a whole host of problems that humanity can’t meaningfully or adequately address without massive state action.
If the left hopes to one day run the state or wield its power, it should have a coherent position concerning the police and military. That, too, is a requirement of any serious left-wing political movement. If the left’s position is the abolition of everything: police, military, borders, and prisons, to name a few, the left has no chance of winning and remains totally out of touch with ordinary people (the very people needed for left movements to succeed). That said, utopian visions do serve a purpose: expanding our collective political horizons is necessary and inspiring. We must explore creative concepts and alternatives for the future. Hopefully, our existing efforts feed into those, but our immediate analysis should be grounded in reality, i.e., the current world’s material conditions.
Likewise, anyone on the left speaking of revolution or insurrection is entirely out of touch with reality. Currently, no counter-power left-wing forces exist in the U.S. The U.S. left has no army, militias, paramilitary forces, militant broad-based unions, a Communist Party, or a Socialist Party, nor does it control any sector of the state apparatus (military, police), the economy, or the existing major political parties. It’s absurd to suggest that a small band of mostly disorganized and ideologically fragmented downwardly mobile millennials who spend most of their time surfing the web will somehow lead the poor and working-class masses to a revolutionary victory. Equally silly is the idea that a professional class milieu of college professors, NGO-types, and independent journalists will serve as the vanguard of the U.S. left.
In short, revolution is not on the horizon. Revolutions require large numbers of organized people who are committed, disciplined, and politically sophisticated, and strategic. Furthermore, historically speaking, revolutions have always included at least portions of the military or police. Accordingly, leftists interested in developing revolutionary forces must consider how they will interact with and position themselves toward the police and military.
How the Left Relates to the Police
Last summer, during the George Floyd uprisings, anarchist activists set up an “autonomous zone” in downtown Seattle. Ironically, they immediately set up armed patrols, otherwise known as the police, and a security perimeter, otherwise known as a border. It didn’t take long for so-called prefigurative politics to replicate the very structures anarcho-activists nominally purport to reject. It turns out, in reality, security is always needed, especially in the context of a resurgent right hellbent on inflicting as much terror as they can on vulnerable populations.
Now, without a doubt, police forces in the U.S. are overly militarized, structured in a manner that fosters abusive and criminal behavior, and culturally destructive. They lack accountability and serve powerful corporate interests. All true. Polls show that most Americans fully understand the need for police reforms, but merely detailing police officers’ violence or the inherent violence of militarized policing tells us very little about the sort of reforms people support or how we could achieve them.
Last year, amid the George Floyd uprisings, I wrote a piece detailing the public opinion polling data on several proposed police reforms:
Public opinion concerning the police is changing, but mostly in the direction of minor reforms. Gallup recently released a wide-ranging poll of 36,000 participants who were asked various questions about policing reforms. Below are their responses:
Requiring Officers to have good relations with the community: This idea meets with little controversy, as almost all Americans (97%) support it overall, including 77% who strongly support it. Black Americans are somewhat more likely to strongly support this requirement, at 83%, than are White (76%) or Hispanic Americans (77%).
Changing management practices so officer abuses are punished: 96% of Americans support changing management practices, so officer abuses are punished, with 76% saying they strongly support the idea. Nine in 10 Black Americans (91%) strongly support such a change, versus eight in 10 Hispanic Americans (80%) and just over seven in 10 White Americans (72%).
Promoting community-based alternatives such as violence intervention: 82% of Americans overall support a greater role for community organizations, with 50% saying they strongly support it. Most likely to strongly support the idea are Black Americans (73%), Democrats (75%), and adults aged 18 to 34 (65%).
Abolishing police departments: For most Americans, the idea of abolishing the police goes too far: 15% overall say they support it, with Black Americans (22%) and Hispanic Americans (20%) somewhat more likely than White Americans (12%) to do so. Almost no Republicans (1%) support the idea, versus 27% of Democrats and 12% of independents. However, there is also a sharp distinction between younger and older adults on this question; one-third of those younger than 35 (33%) support the idea, compared with 16% of those aged 35 to 49 and 4% of those aged 50 and older.
Ending ‘Stop and Frisk’: Overall, 74% of Americans support the idea of ending stop-and-frisk policing altogether, with 58% saying they strongly support it. Though Black Americans are most likely to strongly or somewhat support ending stop and frisk at 93%, strong majorities of Hispanic (76%) and White Americans (70%) do as well. However, there is a much larger partisan divide; 94% of Democrats versus 44% of Republicans support ending the practice, with independents in between at 76%.
Eliminating police unions: A majority of Americans, 56%, support eliminating police unions, with results relatively consistent among Black (61%), Hispanic (56%), and White (55%) adults. Despite much higher approval of labor unions in general among Democrats than Republicans, Democrats are significantly more likely than Republicans to favor eliminating police unions (62% vs. 45%, respectively). Political independents fall closer to Democrats, at 57%.
Eliminating officer enforcement of nonviolent crimes: Half of Americans overall (50%) strongly or somewhat support this idea, including majorities of Black (72%) and Hispanic (55%) Americans, compared with 44% of White Americans. As with ending stop and frisk, there is also a huge partisan divide on this proposal; three-fourths of Democrats (75%) and about half of independents (49%) support the idea, but 16% of Republicans do.
Reducing police department funding and shifting the money to social programs: Overall, 47% say they support reducing police department budgets and shifting the money to social programs, including 28% who strongly support it. However, 70% of Black Americans strongly or somewhat support reducing police department budgets, versus 49% of Hispanic Americans and 41% of White Americans. Moreover, the partisan divide is wider for this idea than for any other police reform proposal: 5% of Republicans support it, compared with 78% of Democrats and 46% of independents.
As the poll shows, Americans support minor, even significant reforms, but they overwhelmingly reject the idea of “abolishing the police.” And less than half support “defunding the police.” Perhaps more Americans would support the concept of “defunding the police” if they were better informed about what that demand actually entails. However, many municipalities lack the funds to redirect any portion of the existing budget. In other words, where I live, in Michigan City, Indiana, there’s simply no money to move around. Our city is cash-strapped, lacking funds, and losing money. Our tax base is dwindling. Already city workers, including the police, face potential cuts and shorter hours. Demands such as “defunding the police” might have more traction in places such as Chicago, but not where I live. Even in Chicago, “defunding the police” has limited potential. For instance, the 2020 police budget in Chicago was $1.6 billion. That may sound like a lot of money, but it amounts to a measly $600 per city resident — hardly a game-changer for most Chicagoans.
Organizers and activists should pursue the reforms Americans do, in fact, support. Such measures would lead to real-world victories and save innocent lives. Moreover, the events of January 6th should remind us that security forces are an essential component of a democratic society. If Bernie Sanders had been President-Elect on January 6th, the attempted coup would’ve been that much more violent, unhinged, and potentially effective. Does the abolitionist left understand that millions of Trump’s supporters would happily murder them? Does the abolitionist left wish to allow right-wing insurrectionists to disrupt democratic elections? Does the abolitionist left believe it maintains the forces necessary to defend, let alone quell right-wing political violence? Call me crazy, but I don’t trust that your anarchist affinity group or socialist gun club is trained and prepared for a war against the white power movement.
As far as organizing within the police is concerned, I have yet to encounter a robust analysis of previous or existing efforts. I’m not even sure they exist, to be honest. I’ve never met or heard of a group who’s successfully tried. Any future discussions about potentially organizing within the police will be highly theoretical and lacking real-world examples.
Depending on where one lives, the situation could look radically different. For instance, in Gary, Indiana, a city of a little less than 100,000 people, roughly 85% of residents, and the overwhelming majority of police officers are black. They are not white supremacists. They might identify with some forms of conservative ideologies, but they are not Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, or Boogaloos, nor do they support or sympathize with such groups. They’re mostly working-class people who found employment through the city, which for them and their families means decent pay, benefits, and regular hours.
How left-wing organizers and activists interact with police officers in Gary will (and should) differ significantly from how left-wing organizers and activists deal with police in larger cities, such as Chicago, where significant numbers of the department are white, hostile toward liberal-progressive politicians and who wield serious political power through their union. In small towns and cities, the police are not taking suspects to black sites and torturing them as the police have done in Chicago. Indeed, the situation will look different in Miami than it will in Omaha. It will look different in Michigan City, Indiana, than in Washington D.C. Using blanket statements and slogans isn’t helpful. It’s also not beneficial to promote the police’s abolition when 87% of Americans don’t agree with such a demand.
Let’s say there’s no hope for organizing from within the ranks of the police. I can accept such a conclusion, though I remain on the fence (again, context matters). Does that also mean we shouldn’t encourage infiltrators? For decades, the mafia, white power groups, drug cartels, and religious entities have sent their members to infiltrate the police. Why shouldn’t the left? Is it such a bad idea for the left to have at least a handful of comrades within every police department in the U.S.? Providing inside knowledge and information would be their primary task. Recruitment for such positions could start immediately following high school. And those recruited should come from the families of long-time committed left-wing activists. Serious rewards and support should flow to those willing to engage in such efforts.
Over the medium-term, we should aim to transform the police into a force capable of defending the state against right-wing terrorists while also performing essential investigative functions such as tracking down murders, rapists, violent criminals, and terrorists, such as those in the white power movement. Who would conduct such investigations if a left government abolished the police, FBI, and various other law enforcement agencies? Is the idea that the left shouldn’t bother with such things? Or is the suggestion that an affinity group will investigate the Aryan Nation and Proud Boys? Again, even if we conclude that abolishing existing institutions is ideal, it’s clear that potential alternative institutions would still need to perform similar tasks: crime scene investigations, evidence, and intelligence gathering, tracking and questioning suspects, filing charges, so on and so on — and that’s not to mention the actual legal process (the law, courts, rules, procedures, lawyers, judges, and who administers the process). Do abolitionists bother to think about these issues, or is the assumption that once a left-wing government takes power, everything will be hunky-dory?
If the left hopes to take state power, it should understand that right-wing forces, specifically the white power movement, will be waiting in the shadows to inflict counterrevolutionary death and destruction. If the left doesn’t plan to deal with those forces, the left isn’t serious about power.
How the Left Relates to the Military
Matt Kennard’s book, Irregular Army: How the U.S. Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members, and Criminals to Fight the War on Terror, documents the U.S. military’s track record of recruiting extremists to fight the GWOT. Simultaneously, this somewhat uniquely post-9/11 phenomenon (the explicit targeting of undesirable recruits in the post-draft era) aligns with the long-term trend of U.S. veterans coming home and joining far-right political movements and organizations, something documented in Part One of this series. Yes, there’s a long history of reactionary Americans joining the military, gaining skills and learning tactics, fighting wars, and eventually bringing the action home in the form of far-right political violence.
As historian Kathleen Belew notes, it’s impossible to determine how many U.S. veterans are white power activists or sympathizers because their military service records are sealed and can’t be accessed using FOIA. We need further investigations, a salient demand finding more traction in the mainstream press and elite political circles. Leftists should press the government to conduct extensive background checks and investigations into suspected white power activists within the ranks of the U.S. military. We must weed out and make examples of such individuals and dismantle the organizations to which they belong. This is a top priority.
Recently, President Biden’s newly appointed Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, “has ordered a staggered pause of operations across the entire US military so commanders can have ‘needed discussions’ with service members about the issue of extremism over the next 60 days, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby announced on Wednesday . . . Austin hopes the pause, known as a stand down, will accomplish two things — he wants leaders of each branch to be able to communicate their expectations of how their troops should behave, and leaders to ‘gain insight’ from members on the ‘scope of the problem from their view.’” A good start, but mostly symbolic and still lacking the urgency and depth of understanding that’s needed to truly crush the white power movement within the ranks of the U.S. military.
There are important distinctions between the police and the military. Unlike the police, most military personnel serve only one term: a two, four, or six-year stint, then back to civilian life. The military is a momentary stop, not a lifelong career — big difference. Also, let’s not forget that Bernie Sanders received more donations from active-duty military personnel during the 2020 primaries than every other Democratic candidate combined and was on pace to beat Trump in that arena as well. I can’t find any such corollary in the realm of policing.
Additionally, recent polls show that both active-duty military and veterans oppose the prospect of future wars and believe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not been “worth it.” Again, no such corollary among police officers. In many ways, the military offers much more fertile organizing soil than do police forces in the U.S. The left would be wise to tap into existing trends and to change attitudes within the military ranks. Remember, the military is not a monolith. Treat it accordingly.
Again, suppose the left starts with the premise that it seeks to control the state. What happens once we’re in power? Currently, the U.S. operates 800–1,000 military bases spread across six continents. The U.S. is bombing, occupying, drone-striking, and conducting military operations in dozens of nations. Intelligence gathering, assassinations, cyber-warfare, and a whole host of actions occur on an almost daily basis, not to mention the various departments, projects, and institutions connected to the military: universities, municipalities, foreign governments, corporations, private contractors, sub-contractors, and so on. Untangling the military-industrial-complex is not an easy task, but one that must be undertaken.
In short, the left must remember that the U.S. is an empire — the largest in history. That doesn’t mean it should maintain its empire; it’s merely a recognition that if the left ever takes power in the U.S., it will take control of the most powerful military empire ever assembled. Disassembly will not happen overnight. Plus, the question remains: does the left intend to maintain a standing army? If so, how should we structure the military? What sort of rules and laws should govern the military? Obviously, a future hypothetical left-wing government should adhere to international law and norms, but what happens if a left-wing government takes power in the U.S., but right-wing governments continue to grow throughout the world? Does the abolitionist left assume that nation-state conflicts are over? Or, do they believe that once the left takes power, nation-state conflicts will be totally avoidable? Put differently, what about World War Three? What if a bloc of reactionary/neo-fascist governments develop regional partnerships to undercut left-wing governments? In other words, what if the U.S. finds itself in the same position as so many of its former foes whose democratically-elected governments were threatened or ousted by the CIA or CIA-backed forces? Do we allow our comrades and allies to get smashed? Do we allow right-wing governments to surround our newly formed left-wing government? Not if we’re serious.
For now, instead of sending troops to fight and die in endless wars based on fundamentally unsound geopolitical strategy and a warped worldview intertwined with capitalist economic interests, the left should insist that the U.S. radically cut the military budget and refit what remains to meet 21st century needs: climate change, climate refugees, broader ecological shocks and disasters, pandemics, etc. The military has the logistical capacity to tackle such challenges. A future left-wing government should use the full technological and logistical power of the U.S. military, but always within the international law guidelines and in cooperation with international partners.
Besides, plenty of Americans join the military with good intentions, seeking to help their fellow citizens and people worldwide. Let’s provide those willing to serve our country with productive objectives and tasks. The left should want young Americans to join the military and serve the country, but only if service and patriotism mean adhering to our stated collective principles and values. It is not honorable to serve a government that destroys the planet and subjugates people. However, it is quite honorable to serve a government that seeks to transform the economy, provide for everyone, protect the environment, uphold and expand democratic norms and the social and civic arena. Without question, I could spend many pages writing about how the left should relate to the military. This is a topic I’ve been thinking about for over fifteen years, or since the day I got out of the United States Marine Corps and joined the antiwar movement. Soon, I’ll expand this section and write more about the topic. In my view, it’s one of the most important issues of our time: namely, who (politically and ideologically) controls the military?
In conclusion, the left must take seriously the business of running society, which means spending more time organizing and less time engaged in punditry. Moreover, developing a reasonable position concerning the state and its many functions, including the military and police, remains an essential intellectual, ethical, and political task. Sloganeering doesn’t help us understand modern society’s complex nature, nor does it answer important questions about neutering or dismantling the white power movement.