A lot of people on the electronic right like to complain about “LARPing,” which has taken on the meaning of “advocating for unrealistic political ideals that cannot be implemented in the foreseeable future or are implausible.” The acronym comes from Live Action Role-Playing, an activity where people dress up as knights or Civil War soldiers and beat each other up. Just like old school RPGs, the fun is in your mind. And a lot of the time, the electronic right does this, electronically. I’m a post-Romantic traditionalist neo-feudal divine monarchist and here’s why ancaps are stupid! Almost nobody cares. But ancaps are stupid.
LARPing tends to get a bad rap if you take it to its extremes, but I don’t think it’s totally useless. It can be quite entertaining, morale-boosting, and in the long-run helps to build an ideological tradition and heritage. It can lead to action once its ideals have spread widely enough and under the right conditions. Irish nationalism, and the historical struggle for an independent Irish republic, is one of the most successful projects in history that began as LARPing.
->independent from the British empire
->u wot m8
The first Irish rebellion to adopt this ideology was in 1798 and like the majority of Irish rebellions before and after, it was a spectacular failure. The rebels fought the British army with pikes and hinged the entire success of their rebellion on France invading Ireland in conjunction with a popular uprising. Theobald Wolfe Tone, one of the leaders of the United Irishmen rebellion, actually convinced the French government he represented a well-armed political organization and they made him an actual military general. LARPy as fuck. Again, it was a spectacular failure, but failure created martyrs and helped to spread the rebels’ ideology, providing kindling for future rebellions. And each rebellion would help clarify the cause and better define its goals. Irish republicanism became a generational struggle, a long march. There was a time when Irish Catholics supported the Stuart dynasty as monarchs of Ireland because they believed they would be lenient towards their religion; independence from Britain altogether wasn’t even thought of until later. Meta-political progress moved at a snail’s pace in the pre-industrial era.
One of my favorite episodes in the history of Irish LARPing isn’t particularly well-known—let’s face it, who cares about Ireland—but in my opinion it’s the LARPiest thing of all time:
What if an army of Irish-American Civil War veterans invaded Canada and held it hostage from the British empire, demanding that Ireland be released as an independent country?
That was the premise held by the American chapter of the Fenian Brotherhood, a trans-Atlantic Irish nationalist organization. Nearly 200,000 Union soldiers had been born in Ireland, so even a fraction of them joining the Fenians would have created a substantial and experienced fighting force. They also believed that President Johnson would be sympathetic towards them launching an attack on British territory from American soil since Britain had tacitly supported the Confederacy during the war. And there’s some evidence that he was, initially. What’s instructive is that the Fenians realized the importance of ex-military support and getting at least some of the establishment to either support or turn a blind eye to their activities.
There were ultimately five “Fenian raids” between 1866-1871 against British targets in Canada, and all of them ended in defeat, obviously. Canada was never conquered by Irish rebels. But I’ll be damned if that isn’t the LARPiest thing anyone’s ever tried. Saying you think America should be a neo-fascist patrician ethnostate is one thing, but no one’s getting shot over it. The next time you think about LARPing, ask yourself, “Would I be willing to invade Canada with a band of followers in order to live out my ideals?”
Hi COINTELPRO. I would just like to clarify that I am not advocating for war against Canada. Thanks.