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The symbolic frontal confrontation in the “front lines” of a street protest replaces the normal wear and tear of the social fabric, whose secret in the commodity form constantly remains hidden, with a foe in which the process of decay is concentrated and personified as the riot police in formation. Social conflict achieves entertainment value: it becomes consumable as a separate world apart.

As long as the front-liners confine their imaginary secession from society to the “front lines”, they, but particularly the State and the current social order, remains relatively safe. But the success of the Leaders (identified by their number of followers on social media) in seducing adherents leads the Leaders, by a sort of automatism, to believe in their own lies. The followers who, powerless in themselves, delegate their existence to the Leader demand real compensation: they demand power. Because of the necessity of putting into practice the image of themselves which their followers project onto them (without the followers, the Leader is nothing), the Leaders become the victims of their own propaganda, mere actors playing a part. The moment of truth comes when the Leaders, if only by a lapse in calculation, extends their pretension of superiority over the spectacle to a pretension of superiority over the spectacle's enforcer: the social media platforms themselves, and the State. The initial skirmish with the social media platforms portends the cults’ downfall. They knew that they were incapable of confrontation with social media platforms or the State. Their choice is to be at their mercy or to withdraw from these social media platforms and from “the front lines” of ritualistic symbolic spectacular street confrontations.

The tendency to reduce all chaos into a Manichean narrative is a banality to every journalist (or any anarchist/autonomist-as-populism mouthpiece) who values their role. The role of the “radical” is increasingly becoming to embrace of this tendency - not out of some journalistic vocation, but because of the imperatives of living your life via social media (read: clout). One of the most frequently employed means of confronting the generalized encroachment of the Internet and social media platforms has become to acknowledge it openly and make it a big issue. By anticipating the criticism of the spectator - thus postulating as fact the agreement it intends to create - the media maps out the terrain of improvement, the solution always remains within the specialized world of the media.

CrimethInc and Inhabit stated several months prior to their respective de-platforming from 2 different social media platforms that they knew they would be censored sooner or later. In retrospect, this makes them appear lucid. But in fact, it is a banal case of the increasing self-consciousness of the modern actor, the live-action role-player, who knows enough to realize that their role is self-defeating but who doesn't know enough to do something different. As roles become more and more clearly defined as such, as roles, a certain lucidity is required simply in order to play them credibly. Like the advertisements which recognize that people have been subjected to previous advertisements and have been disappointed - and political texts which even go so far as to refer mockingly to previous political projects in order to go them one better. The modern actor self-righteously admits his impending fate in order to exit with a flourish. Beyond the aestheticized role, the choice is simple: you either submit to your "fate" or undercut in practice the objective bases of your own participation in what makes you a perennial loser.

"Read this incredibly thoughtful reflection, discussing the composition, emergent strategies, and challenges of the uprising in Portland. it’s worth it." exhorted Inhabit in their posthumous twitter address, the center of the social-political crusade. The ideology of going out to the streets as front-liners stakes the entire value of the individual on the moment when they act publicly, following the basic forms of this society in which appearance denotes the essential moment of individual transformation. Once beyond the old moral-social stigma (which hundreds of thousands of people in numerous urban centers already are), going out to street protests is the single most immediately accessible total package on the market of non-conformist choices, both because it provides the spectacle of complete social and personal change on the terrain that is farthest from the center of Power, and because it need not be mediated by any particular authority. Being a front-liner at street protest plays the function formerly limited to voting but goes further, in that it is a general social statement as well as a particular social act. At the same time, each subsequent street protest is automatically imbued with an aura of generality to a far greater degree than presidential elections; one receives social validation on social media not only by taking pictures and videos of being a front-liner, but by offering an instantly identifiable reciprocal valorization for a whole way of life. The smug attitude of superiority over liberals common in “radical” milieus relies on the collective etiquette which places on the top rung the role of live-action role-playing, of being a “frontliner”.

The incredible proliferation of “anarchists” in the last decade is an indisputable sign of the fact that the most natural relations – being ungovernable - have become completely socialized as a sign, an empty signifier. The possible import and effect of this practice is mitigated, however, by affirming one's engagement in street protests. In the most absurd spectacle, historical precedents of revolt (because people have always done it, it's natural) are dredged up as external justification for subjective choice. History becomes an opiate of the masses whenever it is required as a supplementary explanation for conscious action.

What is everywhere repressed in this society is memory of revolt: one's own, with others, that of the whole, and above all, the mediations among the three. A tragedy without beginning nor end, the carousel becomes more farcical with each dizzying turn. The riot cop affectation of many “front-liners” has a social basis that goes beyond personality and individual role playing. It is simply one form among thousands of expressing practically the notion that by changing oneself one changes the world, resolves its contradictions. In prefiguring the world they’d like to see, they resemble cops. If one believes that one is non-conformist because of one's participation in the spectacle of street protests, one must find a means of expressing this to all comers. The compulsion to inform others that one is a front-liner - with about as much particular reason as one has to confess to another person what one's hobby is - is another symptom of the same impoverishment; as is the ubiquitous "front-liner:" The stupidity and rigidity of society in responding to the spectacular displays of symbolic attacks, like painting monuments or toppling statues, reinforces the illusion of one's personal and personalized subversiveness. Regardless of the professed vocation of sober realist analysts and strategists, this parody of "attack" of the traditional antiquated military role remains an established form of behavior.

If front-liners did to critical infrastructure what they do to glass facades on the streets in terms of material attack, violent reaction against them would be frequent. The most commodified form of violent catharsis, being a front-liner is about as selective, well-considered and grounded in creative desire as the purchase of laundry detergent, is semi-officially legitimized by the quasi-mystical aura of the urban terrain. The compatibility of the front-liner scene with the dominant society is eminently revealed by the hordes of tourists who now hop from city to city chasing the action as “independent journalists”: the role of playing with violent catharsis in the role of front-liner is so pedestrian that it is highly consumable even for the most hungup midwest tourists. While the participants in these ongoing revolts may harbor illusions as to the social-political import of their regalia, the tourists go to the heart of the matter: they come quite correctly to see America's biggest fashion show, a welcome respite from the boredom of quarantine lockdown.

The ease with which so many find in these areas an acceptable terrain for the pursuit of their violent catharsis is, as noted previously, a sad commentary on their initiative, creativity and individuality. But the social function of the ideology of the militarily charged spectacle does not stop at a hierarchically organized subjectivity. The commodity which presents itself as war's greatest agent in fact puts militarization to its own good use, using it extensively and thoroughly to rearrange its decomposing urban landscape from top to bottom. Behind the aura which broadcasts the possibility of a battle in the streets at any time - but which never happens and is never intended to happen - lies a real battle of State speculation.

In the appropriate context of a commune or hub which supplies an illusion of unity, the “front line” is the nexus of the illusion of the front-liners "community." The illusion fulfills the need, created by the very logic itself of autonomism-as-populism ideology, that the “front lines” fulfill: the need for a spatial link between public and private life which allows enough latitude for living out the ideology, but which is sufficiently self-contained that it does not openly challenge the privation to which violence in this society is necessarily subjected. Without the “front lines”, delineated by the riot police, there would be no "community" around the front-liners as such; and this indispensable element in turn reveals very precisely this "community's" limits in revealing its foundation. It is a "community" of the supply-chain of the sustenance of the spectacle of street protests, of, by and for street protests. Monetary exchange and re-formulations towards a new democratic constituency comes in, as it were, through the back door.

The unusual social context provided by the 2020 uprisings served not as a source for a wealth of material or as impetus to formal innovation, but rather as an external excuse by which the most hackneyed, repetitious, totally technologized aesthetic mediocrity, inherited from decomposed rural life, gained a new lease on life. The totalitarian imposition of the bold bombastic orange buffoon, standing before a humiliated liberal audience pacified by social media in an uncomfortable and claustrophobic immobility, is replaced by a democratized, participatory situation in which the crowd humiliates itself in the streets. Everyone is a potential specialist, a potential star, a potential critic. Whether the now active consumer is isolated as "individual"-as spotlighted dancer who expresses himself by displaying how well he has absorbed and perfected a dancing technique whose criteria are recognizable and open to the well considered judgment of everyone or whether the individual dancer is lost in a sea of flashing lights to the point where even his body adds to the decor only as image, total immersion of self in a planned, organized urban environment remains the rule. Front-liners to the front line! Regimented cannon fodder.

When adopting the identity of a victim becomes the requirement to demand justice from the State, it’s only to be expected that thousands of thousands would walk up to riot cops to become victims of police brutality in order to rightfully demand justice against police brutality. Front-liners do not oppose the police but merely make a formal claim. Flaunting their roles as rowdy front-liners resolves nothing; it leaves untouched the root of the matter, much the same as the anti-fascists who create their own treadmill in their simplistic opposition to fascism. Violence as catharsis, violence as a moment of reformism. Power is reduced to a pose: the ability to appear so militant that one's adversaries will back down in the face of any demands (which will, as long as this set-up is accepted, always be demands for a rearranged form of the individual's powerlessness).

While the frontliners fuzzed and fizzled in the “front lines” several police cars were burned in the back streets and back lots. Several businesses were looted. Fires raged. Cops were injured. All the predictable "explanations" were hurriedly issued. All kinds of imbeciles debated scenarios for the outcome of the elections, in terms of the legal system that was undeniably rejected. Everyone looked helterskelter for the agitators, provocateurs, radicals and what-not. All this noise is inevitable; the script could have been written ten years ago, leaving blank spaces for the particulars.