The juggalos, class struggle, and the left

The juggalos are marching on DC this weekend, to protest the FBI's classification of the music fandom/subculture as a dangerous gang, placing it on a watchlist alongside the Aryan Nation.

Their march happens to coincide with an alt-right gathering of white supremacists and neo-Nazis, a fact that has sparked some speculative memes in which hatchet-wielding horror clowns take Nazi-punching to new levels (the leaders of the Juggalo march say they intend to avoid any conflict with the neo-Nazis).

But as Adam Theron-Lee Rensch writes in Jacobin, juggalos and Insane Clown Posse are firmly situated on the political left, a movement whose anthems espouse "hatred of racists, rich charlatans, and misogynists" (as well as testicales so unclean they attract insects, and "dressing up like a clown and eating someone's head"). And while the movement "suffers from its share of racism, sexism, and homophobia," this is something that has to be rooted out in many left wing movements.

Insane Clown Posse is a band that arose from the industrial collapse of Detroit in which the pursuit of profits led to the destruction of an industry and the people who built it. Juggalos "were the outcasts, misfits, and fuckups in high school, considered too ugly or freakish to sit at the cool kids' table;" today, they are "the cashiers at Walmart and the servers at McDonald's, spectacles of misfortune either ignored or blithely exploited for cheap laughs. They live a life of menial labor that elite ideology insists they deserve."

In the face of this injustice, juggalos evince class solidarity, gathering around music that expresses "class frustration and alienation," building a subculture "sutured itself together through members' shared understanding of their status as the dregs of society, a genuine example of class-consciousness that any socialist should admire."

The Juggalo March on Washington presents the Left with an opportunity to start building a coalition that exchanges the battle of cultural authenticity for the battle against oppression.

You don't have to like ICP's music or understand why anyone would join their community of outcasts and freaks, but you can recognize that these young men and women have found themselves, after generations of structural inequality, at the margins of an economic system that has intentionally pushed them aside in order to maximize profit.

They did not turn on each other but instead came together, recognizing their shared interests. They have used this knowledge not just to throw a raucous yearly festival, but also to organize a march against a federal agency that stands for state violence.

And hey, if the idea of socialists linking arms with Juggalos still sounds absurd, perhaps a little ridiculousness  —  a clownish embrace  —  is exactly what we need in the age of Trump.

Class Clowns
[Adam Theron-Lee Rensch/Jacobin]

(via Naked Capitalism)