Is the Berkeley riot the start of an uprising by America’s young men?

Summary: 2016 was the year of the Trump surprise. The Berkeley riot suggests that 2017 might hold a bigger surprise – the uprising of an underclass of America’s young men. It might change America’s politics for a generation, or forever.

“No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main. …”
— “No Man Is An Island” by John Donne (1624).


America has taken some steps on a dark path. America has bred an underclass of young men — dispirited by their upbringing in feminist-run schools, by poor prospects for careers, too beta to interest attractive young girls, despised by both political parties. Many have retreated to booze, drugs, sports, porn, and video games.

For years I have said that young men will do as they always do: self-organize into packs and find that they are strong when they stand together. We could only guess where this spark will occur. I have suggested to look at the online gaming communities (e.g., here I examined the massively multiplayer online game Eve Online).

Now it has happened, as loose groups form such as Anonymous, 4chan, and Black Bloc. We do not have surveys, and they have different compositions, but available evidence suggests that they are mostly young men —

The obvious historical analogy is with the young disaffected vets of Germany after WWI. Vets of WWII, disaffected from post-WWI German society, who organized into the Freikorps that played a key role in the 1918 – 1920 period — and some of whom played a key role in Weimar’s disturbed politics.  That didn’t end well; perhaps it will work out better for America. Let’s pay attention to avoid repeating history. Two recent articles provide valuable information about this phenomenon, looking at the young men coming from the online communities.

Beran’s article is especially enlightening. Here are snippets of the many insights he provides. Note how the 4chan communities have already proven themselves to be a creative and vital force. Read it in full!

“4chan invented the meme as we use it today. At the time, one of the few places you saw memes was there. The white Impact font with the black outlines, that was them (via S.A.). Terms like “win” and “epic” and “fail” were all created or popularized on 4chan, used there for years before they became a ubiquitous part of the culture. The very method of how gifs and images are interspersed with dialogue in Slack or now iMessage or wherever is deeply 4chanian. …the site left a profound impression on how we as a culture behave and interact. …

“To those with a passing knowledge of 4chan it’s strange to think of it having a value system. And indeed it did try its mightiest to be nihilistic, to hate, to deny, to shrug, to laugh off everything as a joke like all teenage boys do (the board was mostly young men). This effort was of course impossible. The attempts to be “random”, like a Rorschach test, painted a portrait of exactly who they were, the voids filled in with their identity, their interests, their tastes. …There were things it loved, things it hated, ways of being and acting that met with approval and disapproval in the group.

Lord of the Flies
Available at Amazon.

“All the rules had a Lord of the Flies vibe to them, that is to say, they were very obviously created by a bullying and anarchic society of adolescent boys  —  or at least, men with the mindset of boys  —  particularly lonely, sex starved man-boys, who according to their own frequent jokes about the subject, lived in their parents’ basement. …They were obsessed with Japanese culture and, naturally enough, there was already a term for people like them in Japan, hikikomori  —  meaning “pulling inward, or being confined”  —  teens and adults who withdrew from society into fantasy worlds constructed by anime, video games, and now the internet.

“And of course, it’s relevant to note here the themes of Fight Club itself, a film about a male collective that regains its masculinity through extreme acts after it has been debased by modern corporate culture.

“…take for example Milo Yiannopoulos, the “Technology Editor” at Breitbart News, whose scheduled lecture this month at Berkeley spawned massive riots and protests. Yiannopoulos rose to prominence via Gamergate. He is not a “technology” editor because he compares the chip architectures of competing graphics cards. Rather the “tech” here is code for the fact that his audience is the vast population of sad young men who have retreated to internet communities. Likewise the mainstream press sometimes describes him as troll as a way of capturing his vague association with 4chan. This term, too, is inaccurate. He is 4chan at its most earnest, after all these men have finally discovered their issue  —  the thing that unites them  —  their failure and powerlessness …

As Beran’s article winds to a conclusion, he retreats into leftist garble-doctrine. While his analysis is weak, his observations (much of which seem first-hand) are incisive. Only time will tell to what extent this applies (in a general sense) to other groups of young men.

Some mobs become gangs. Eventually all gangs find leaders.

The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies


Societies that wish to survive devote much thought and energy into the socialization of each generation of young men. America has done the opposite, assuming that nature provides a crop of dutiful citizens without any special effort. We are testing that belief. The price for our folly might be high.

The self-mobilization of America’s young men has just begun. Some of them have learned that when they stand together they are strong. That’s an infectious insight. They’re still discovering what they want to stand for. So far no strong leaders have emerged. But that next stage will happen as day follows night. Leadership will be a force-multiplier for them. Perhaps they will evolve into a political force, or become a building block in a larger new coalition, or get absorbed by an existing movement (as the GOP co-opted the Tea Party).

We cannot accurately predict what will happen or if the result will be large or small. If large, this will be an uprising of an underclass (unlike the graduates of elites schools who dominate the US news), and so will be difficult to predict. How this plays out in America’s political conflicts might determine which side wins in the next generation.

For More Information

To understand the dimensions of the problem, see this disturbing US Census report “The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood: 1975-2016” by Jonathan Vespa, April 2017. To understand the risk, see the Homeland Security Assessment “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment“, 7 April 2009.

If you found this post of use, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Also see these posts about the Berkeley riot, about women and the gender revolution, about reforming America – steps to a new politics, and especially these…

Background reading to understand this new rebellion.

The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex
Available at Amazon.
The War Against Boys: How Misguided Policies are Harming Our Young Men
Available at Amazon.


20 thoughts on “Is the Berkeley riot the start of an uprising by America’s young men?”

  1. US combat troops have generally right wing sympathies, with exceptions. A lot of US combat troops have been discharged since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been downsized, and not all of them have been able to integrate into mainstream society. A few of them may even be looking for a cause.

    Such young men may not have financing to rival the George Soros political activist consortium, but they do have some training which may find application in further confrontations.

    I do not consider the “sucker punch” episode a true riot, more of a clash. The weeks-earlier episode at the aborted Milo speech in Berkeley turned into a full riot of widespread vandalism and looting.

    Berkeley city officials need to consider that inviting this kind of violence into their city by encouraging masked instigators of violence to disrupt lawful assembly, leaves them liable for damages caused should widespread rioting — meaning arson, vandalism, looting, and probably murder — take its natural place in the course of events.

    To all appearances, some powerful people would like to see blood spilled, in order to fit a public narrative which will accept nothing less.

    1. alfin,

      You touch upon an important issue which I deliberately didn’t touch upon in this (except by implication). This looks at online communities. What about unintegrated vets? Their numbers are relatively small (most integrate well), thanks to Vet benefits and our (slowly) growing economy. But these are powerful young men, and even small numbers joining right-wing groups (as you note) — such as militia — might have big effects.

      The dynamics described here apply just as well to them. It’s something to watch for.

  2. Probably just the visible part of an emerging Iceberg. Consider the Opiod epidemics few will publicize. These are used by people in pain and depression (physical pain is part of depression). Out of work? Pain. Out of money? Depression. No meaningful elements to your life? Depression. Medicaid funding via ACA…..drugs.
    The upcoming or onrushing replacement of lower level jobs and increasing digital replacement of mid, mid level jobs. Well, one can get the Picture and it is not wonderful and hopeful, now is it. And it is coming quite rapidly as all things seem to these days.
    Except recognition and beginning solutions.

  3. Wow. This article hit home on a bunch of levels, most of all personal, being a young man who has struggled to “launch” in life. There was a time in my life not too long ago that I would have been a likely candidate for this sort of thing. The need to believe and belong can be more important than the ideology on some level, doubly so because of these young men are equally alienated by both parties these days and are, on some level, genuinely less ideological than their elders and more willing to listen to positions outside the Overton window. (My own personal anecdotal experience, so I can’t back this up. Feel free to correct me if you disagree.)

    The scary thing is that it is entirely plausible: it is beyond delusional to expect that average underemployed, unconnected/unsocialized young men (with all the social and mental consequences this brings, especially in the age of the Internet) are going to happily choose being bedpan cleaners or service sector workers or HR drones over joining a paramilitary funded by some unscrupulous billionaire with political ambitions, if given the choice. Especially since entry-level jobs these days are not only harder to come by, but pay less and offer less benefits-and offer even less in the way of masculine dignity-than they did decades ago. The power of alienated, frustrated, unattached testosterone seeking a purpose in life ought never to be underestimated, and it is only a matter of time before certain ambitious folks realize this. The ironic thing is that I do see a couple of ways where this can be channeled for the good of greater society, but so many more ways where it can be channeled for bad…

    Speaking of which, Fabius Maximus, I have another question to ask: do you think the age of the professional politician is going to eventually come to an end in the US with Presidential races, with Caesaristic style “outsider” candidates taking their place? I’m far from an expert on this sort of thing, but the way I see it, it is only a matter of time before other, more clever and self-disciplined donor types realize that if Trump can waltz into the White House, so can they. They might also be more likely to actually have their own agendas.

  4. The Japanese article seems to suggest that these folks may eventually get integrated in a strange way with a standard political coalition – as far as I know, modern Japan has had any drastic shifts of internal policies, though Abe wants to rearm.

    1. Dana,

      Perhaps. Early days yet. Too soon for conclusions. But this sounds like one online community is already aligning with the far-Right in Japan:

      “The book promoted pro-Japan nationalist conspiracy theories, like questioning whether or not the Nanking massacre, a mass murder and rape campaign by Japanese troops during the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, ever happened. When the news broke, Japan’s notorious troll army, the netto-uyoku, immediately flooded social media with propaganda about Japan’s racial superiority, and attacked any media outlet — including BuzzFeed News — that criticized the hotel’s “history” books.

      “The Nanking massacre is one of the many obsessions of the netto-uyoku, who over the years have become the de facto cultural police on the Japanese internet. The members of Japan’s nationalist troll army hate Koreans and the Chinese, and will usually swarm anything written on social media about Japanese immigration policy. They don’t trust their country’s media and believe that journalists are attempting to erode Japanese values with fake news. They also love their current prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who they see as a leader who is trying to, well, make Japan great again.”

    2. And here I’d read that Abe was thinking of (slightly) loosening immigration and other programs. Might just be what faces our side of the news, or maybe these people are in the same position as many American special interest groups: They’ll get some catering-to, where it doesn’t get in the way of the powers that be, but they aren’t driving the bus.

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  6. Fabius –

    “Suppress, provoke to violence, eliminate.” The elites use this gambit abroad all the time; it’s their standard m.o. The young men are increasingly armed, but the DHS with its 50 billion rounds of ammo is ready.

    Yes, the country is moving toward a very dark place.


    1. benign,

      We can only guess at such things, but I see no signs of that. The violence at Berkeley is unlike anything the mass movements of young men join in, such as the hackers of Anonymous or the swarms of 4chan,

      Rather, street fights by fringes of Left and Right are typical peasants protests. Blowing off steam, releasing social stress — unable to gain any mass support, but useful to our rulers because they boost support for strong policing. Violent fringes increase support for mainstream political parties, like barking dogs on the fringes moving the sheep into a cohesive flock.

    2. I thought that enormous purchase of ammo that everyone got all excited about as proof of imminent mass shooting of all the undesirables was actually coming out to “a couple hundred rounds per federal LEO per year for the next couple of years,” in other words “enough for what they carry around and a reasonable schedule of range training.”

      I’m surprised the story never became that the feds were buying up all the bullets because the real American patriots were keeping them from restricting guns. That would be a great way to sell home handloading equipment…

  7. An interesting article. Let me propose a different, and simpler, take on the issue.

    How do societies fail? The classic way is through grinding brutal poverty (typically through too-rapid population growth, which is more often than you might realize due to pro-natalist government policies). People don’t like to be cold and chronically malnourished and without hope (outright famine is historically rare).

    But even before food runs short, there is another classic toxin to society. When young men of ordinary ability find it impossible to earn a decent living (by prevailing societal standards) and raise a family, bad things happen. I don’t mean to diss women, please, but young men are especially devastated by a lack of job opportunities. No culture or race is immune to this effect. The Chinese during the cultural revolution, the Japanese before WWII, even the most apparently homogenous and disciplined societies will tear themselves apart when young men are left aimless.

    In the West the elites used to realize this (think FDR and even Eisenhower) but now the elites have, as you say, taken societal peace for granted. We are deliberately, with malice aforethought, crushing the ability of young men who are not PhD astronaut brain surgeons to earn an honest living and raise a family. Because cheap labor is so very profitable for the elites. Sure young men may have cellphones and video games and burger king – for now – but that’s not what young men really need.

    It’s an old story. Our elites have sacrificed long-term societal stability and national strength for short-term profits. Nothing that angry young men can do will change things so long as our elites hold to this program, IMHO.

  8. perpetuaofcarthage

    I found a website of a guy who is bringing a group to Berkeley to protest for Free Speech and actually was here also on April 15th. Joey Gibson.
    Joey Gibson is married according to face book. I clicked on the first two men commenting on his most recent post on Facebook:
    Clint Hatfield
    Clint is married according to Facebook.
    Todd Norfleet His facebook page material is mostly private but his photo seems to be of him and his wife.
    So, looks like a bunch of married guys to me.

    1. Perpetual,

      “So, looks like a bunch of married guys to me.”

      And your point is? Let’s replay the tape. I said: “evidence suggests that they are mostly young men.” The average age of marriage for men in the US (and in California) is 29. So half are younger. The average age is even younger in the underclass (the group discussed here).

      Also, the “I found a guy” is a bizarre way to conclude that it “looks like a bunch of married guys to me.”

      1. More about the demographics of these movements

        This post was linked in a newsletter article by the founder of the Proud Boys. It got over 600 hits, showing they have a large audience (click-thru rates are typically 1% or less).

        An email from someone active in the Proud Boys and 4chan says that the PB and 4chan participants range from college age to younger 30’s. As usual, the median age of the long term participants is older (they probably provide most of the leadership), in their early thirties. Much like reddit, they have a large base of college students and young men either underemployed or working in low end jobs.

        For an example of these groups in action see “He Will Not Divide Us has become a portal to another dimension” by Peter Case at Medium.

  9. perpetuaofcarthage

    Hi E of FM,
    Reading this article, these quotes jumped out at me
    E of FM wrote”America has taken some steps on a dark path. America has bred an underclass of young men — dispirited by their upbringing in feminist-run schools, by poor prospects for careers, too beta to interest attractive young girls, despised by both political parties.”
    and E of FM quoted Beran “…particularly lonely, sex starved man-boys, who according to their own frequent jokes about the subject, lived in their parents’ basement …”
    I wondered if the men showing up in Berkeley to stand against Alifa were “too beta to interest attractive young girls” and “sex-starved man-boys”. So, I went to the website I had just discovered that morning of a man who was coming all the way from Washington state to be in Berkeley on Thursday. I saw that he was actually married with an attractive wife. I checked the first two commenters on his most recent post and they were also married. So, I thought, hmmm, doesn’t look like “sex starved” guys who are “too beta to interest attractive” women.
    Interesting that you reference the Proud Boys. One of their rules is they can’t masturbate. So maybe they are trying to create a form of sex starvation. But I think it is actually they are being forced to seek out actual women for actual sexual relationships.
    I think the guys on 4Chan are not the same guys who are showing up at the Berkeley face-offs. Definitely 4Chan is a website with a large number of young men on the Autism spectrum. They are brainy, many may be dependent on their parents all their lives and many probably will have difficulties forming relations with women. But I say this with compassion, not to be judgmental. Brainy people have a lot to contribute to the world even if they have difficulties in social interactions and difficulties living independently from their parents. It was the guys on 4Chan who discovered the identity of the masked Antifa guy conking people over the head with a large metal U lock was the local community college lecturer Eric Clanton. Hmmm, I’m wondering if Eric Clanton fits your profile.

    1. Perpetual,

      “I wondered if the men showing up in Berkeley to stand against Alifa were “too beta to interest attractive young girls” and “sex-starved man-boys”.

      Who knows? We have no data. Guessing is a waste of time. This post discussed 4chan, showing a plausible first-person account.

      “I went to the website I had just discovered that morning of a man”

      Too absurd to comment on again. I recommend taking a basic stats course, or to read about public opinion surveys.

      “I think the guys on 4Chan are not the same guys who are showing up at the Berkeley face-offs.”

      Duh. Does anyone believe that they are?

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