I have a theory. The theory is that subcultures are inherently unifying, while politics are inherently divisive.
Think about it: At an EDM show, nobody in the audience cares what anybody else’s political leaning is. Gaming tournaments don’t ask contestants what candidate they endorse. The battle lines at airsoft games aren’t drawn along political left and right.
Everyone’s there for the activity.
Some subcultures are political as a default (Though, I’d assert that there are fewer of those than people think), but for the most part, subcultures tend to be apolitical and succeed in bringing together people from all walks of life to share in collective experiences. The focus is on sharing in the experience with others, and exchanging ideas, both for personal enlightenment and for the advancement of the subculture.
Politics, on the other hand, imply the construction of a power structure. Power structures aren’t bad in and of themselves, but when deployed in societal microcosms such as niche subcultures, they become highly corruptible and susceptible to abuse by people who have selfish motivations.
Further, when people with political motivations begin to impose those leanings upon a subculture, their true motivation is to subjugate that subculture to the power structure implied by their chosen political leaning. Which means bringing that subculture into line with whatever standards their chosen political leaning holds up.
Even if that means core aspects of the subculture must be changed.
The encroachment of politics into people’s day-to-day lives is palpable, especially in this day and age. Some might insist that the personal has always been political, but in previous decades we did not feel the necessity for political respite that many of us do now.
Political interests have convinced many people, younger and older, that the political battle lines exist in all spaces and must be enforced. That the power structure must rule over all aspects of life. That they’re doing the subculture a favor by turning it into a power play.
Political interests can seldom tolerate the presence of open spaces free from their influence. The comingling of people and free exchange of ideas that subcultures encourage could very well result in people shifting political leanings, simply by virtue of interacting with others in the subculture who happen to have differing worldviews, in a space that lacks a political context.
As a result, when people in the subculture start to draw political battle lines, it’s seen by others, especially those who don’t share those politics, as an inappropriate space for that type of influence. This goes double when the people drawing those lines are in positions of influence within the subculture. It’s an abuse of the position.
When no aspect of life is seen as inappropriate for political influence, people are forced to choose sides, dividing themselves while doing so, as what once united them becomes divided, politicized, and balkanized.
People flock to subcultures to be united, not divided. They want to connect with people, not go to war over unnecessary differences.
It’s a narcissistic paradigm, that which insists political divides be enforced in these subcultures. It’s a paradigm that implies that being of service to a power structure is more important than people’s desire to put aside whatever differences they have and unite around a shared interest.
Subculture > Politics.
Because where subcultures unite, politics divide. Politics is a business built on division, on pitting people against one another, destroying their social cohesion so the power structure can line its pockets.
Subcultures, on the other hand, are how we overcame Dunbar’s Number. When we’re able to congregate around a shared idea: The love of music, the love of the game, the love of animation, we’re able to transcend tribalism by creating a larger tribe.
It’s important we don’t let that ideal get co-opted by people seeking social and political profit, no matter where they stand politically.