Protests Feed What They Oppose
Joe Brewer

Joe, this is a deeper phenonemon called the “tar-baby” principle and is basically:

You are attached to what you attack.

In academic parlance, the idea is that the currently reigning powers define the space and the terms of engagement. Both the definition of “culture” and “counter-culture” are part of a “hegemonic discourse” (Antonio Gramsci).

Moreover, we have this point from Umberto Eco:

“The dominant culture tolerates parasitic counter-cultures as more or less innocuous deviations, but it cannot accept critical manifestations which call it [the dominant culture] into question. Counter-culture comes about when those who transform the culture in which they live become critically conscious of what they are doing and elaborate a theory of their deviation from the dominant model, offering a model that is capable of sustaining itself.

Which is taken from a quote I posted on my Incites publication:

Hannah Arendt is also instructive. In a conversation that the online journal “Re-Public” did with myself and Trebor Scholz back in 2007, I commented:

“This is the primary reason, in fact, why I keep returning to Hannah Arendt as a political thinker. From her we gain insight into the ability of people to undermine ostensibly illegitimate political and social practices, not by attacking them, but by simply engaging in some other practice that, by its very nature, calls the practices into question and, eventually, to account.
Ultimately, I think this is where Marxism fails, except maybe for Gramsci’s “war of position.” It’s the “tar baby” principle: You become attached to what you attack. You don’t want to take on those structures at the sites that they have defined, and which they hold, because, first of all, they operate in that space better than you do, and, second, you end up taking on their negative features in order to confront them. You lose a lot of yourself in that kind of terminal opposition. What you CAN do is refuse to play by their rules, and go off and explore what it is like to play by some other rules.”

(bold added for emphasis)
Here is the Internet Archive version of the original:

So, yes, resistance can be important in its value as social signaling, but resistance is always only allowed within a context that has already been defined and controlled and mediated by the dominant paradigm. Instead, let us instead come together to build the future we want, and let the dying infrastructure around us decay organically. It is its own obsolescence.

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