There's been a major shift from the riots of the mid-2010s to the latest explosion. The black riots of the BLM type used to focus on cops and whitey, while the antifa type focused on Trump, GOP offices, "punching Nazis," conservative media, the Republican inauguration, and so on and so forth. In other words, none of their targets were fellow members of the Democrat coalition, either at the elite or popular level.
When antifa was going nuts back in 2016 and '17, I pointed out how closely they resembled the informational wing of the Deep State -- that is, the CIA rather than the Pentagon -- in their choice of targets. What happened to smashing up Starbucks from the early 2000s anti-globalization days? Or the corporate media? Or the banks, on Wall Street or elsewhere? Or mainstream / sell-out / corporate Democrats like Crooked Hillary or Joe Biden? Or the DNC writ large?
Antifa were utterly MIA when it came to protesting the DNC in 2016, for example, whereas the Bernie bros and babes were out in full force, along with Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Lots of Bernie's delegates were protesting from the convention floor, drowning out the neolib speakers. And yet, not an anti-fascist activist in sight -- then, or throughout that entire primary season.
That's because antifa is not a substantively radical group. Nope: like other brands of liberal, including the DSA and the fanbase of the Chapo Trap House podcast, they were mostly whipped up into a frenzy by Crooked Hillary's loss in November 2016, and the prospect of the Orange Bad Man occupying the White House. They are aesthetically radical, emotionally / socially / psychologically radicalized, etc. But politically they're slaves to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. They are angry, polarized liberals -- not Marxists, communists, revolutionaries, or whatever else they and their right-wing foils want to believe them to be.
However, over the past week the nationwide riots show these two groups -- angry blacks and angry white liberals -- going in a new direction. No longer are they confining their targets to the safe ones for their political coalition -- e.g., Trump supporters, "Nazis," GOP politicians, oil pipelines, police, military, and brands associated with conservative / GOP voters like Walmart, Chick-fil-A, and the like.
Why not? If you wanted to loot a big box retailer, why loot the Walmart for liberals -- AKA Target? Friendly fire! Why burn down a McDonalds, famous for liberal culture warring in their ads, rather than the Christian conservative Chick-fil-A? Why descend upon and vandalize the corporate headquarters of CNN, progressive local newspapers, and indie bookstores, rather than Fox News, conservative local papers, and Christian bookstores? Why destroy an Apple Store rather than a boat dealership? An Amazon truck rather than a supermarket?
It's not as though the rioters are ignoring the safe targets -- they're still punching Trump supporters, running over cops, and looting gas stations. But for the most part, they're turning on their own within the Democrat coalition, whose elites control the sectors of finance, tech, and media / entertainment. They've even set fire to the headquarters of the AFL-CIO, striking at the organized working class in the sub-elite level. So much for this being a Marxist, communist, or economically focused insurrection.
As for unorganized groups, who are not part of the 1%, most of those being terrorized by these riots are fellow liberals, Democrats, and urbanites. That includes professional-class city dwellers, as well as poor urban blacks. None of them feel great seeing their own backyard literally going up in flames. Of course the urban blacks and professional urbanites who are out rioting, or egging them on over the internet, feel great -- I'm talking about the typical slum dweller or yuppie. They may not want to say anything out loud, but they do not want to see wanton destruction of the city they like.
Suburban, exurban, and rural residents may be incensed by what they're seeing going on in the cities, but they don't feel terrorized. They know it's not going to reach their neighborhood, let alone their doorstep. And they're more comfortable than the urbanites in writing off the anarchy and destruction going on in the urban core -- if they gave that much of a damn about such places, they wouldn't choose to live far away from them.
They washed their hands of the ghettos decades ago, but by now they don't even give a shit about the yuppie gentrifiers who moved in to "clean the place up". I don't think professional-class transplants understand just how little respect everyone else has for their crusade of gentrification. We don't care that crime is low in some downtown area that we never went to in the bad old days. And we don't find your new neighborhoods cool and enviable -- a vegan Buddhist cafe instead of a guitar store on St. Mark's? A trannie ball-waxing salon instead of a used bookstore? Borrrinnng.
While we don't like what we're seeing, it doesn't strike fear into our hearts like it does for the urban liberal Democrats whose neighborhoods are being pummeled into oblivion.
So, what this wave of riots shows is that polarization has intensified so much that it's moved past the basic level of left vs. right. They did that back in 2015-'18. Now it's entirely groups within the left half of the spectrum turning on each other -- and the occasional police target, since cops still get in the way of rioting sometimes, but not extending to broader right-wing targets.
This is the IRL version of the collapse of the leftist bubble that had inflated during the previous vulnerable phase of the excitement cycle (2015-'19). Indeed, none of them care about what Bernie is saying or doing -- he's just being ignored in the corner. And none of them are holding up Biden as a leader or savior. Sure, if they turn out to vote, they'll vote Biden over Trump. But when a political coalition is this fragmented and waging open-ended and escalating internecine violence and destruction -- don't count on a large-scale unified assault on Election Day.
If you thought the divisive Dem primary of 2016 portended electoral fragmentation when it counted in November, it'll be even worse this time, as the clients of the various Democrat patronage networks are biting the hand that feeds, and as the representatives of the Democrat machine are forced into punishing their clients, however lightly it may seem to conservatives outside of those networks.
Just imagine having the most recent memory of your party being either fear caused by their inaction -- for non-psychotic blacks / white libs -- or burning resentment over their cracking down on your public outrage -- for psycho blacks / white libs. That is not going to inspire and motivate turn-out for that party in the general election.
As usual, all signs point to this disjunctive phase in the regime cycle lasting more than just the usual one term, and thus like the 1856 election preceding the Civil War. The opposition party -- Whigs then, Dems now -- are too psychotically polarized at the moment to accept a mass wave of defectors from the dominant party (Democrats then, Republicans now). They are so polarized they've devolved lower than intransigence against the other major party, and are hell-bent on splintering their own coalition to maintain the purity of their own narrow little sub-group.
The realignment phase will have to wait until, like the GOP grew out of the ashes of the Whigs, something new grows out of the self-immolation of today's Democrats.