The adoption of activism as a lifestyle rather than a medium for bringing about social change serves to alienate those who do not identify with its idiosyncratic culture. The unspoken rules of what hairstyles, clothing, diet and lifestyle choices are and aren’t acceptable in the activist ghetto are major barriers to those who are interested in the same revolutionary aims but don’t share the lifestyle.
This results in a limbo situation for such people who cannot fit in. Most end up giving up on a scene that they feel they can never be fully part of.
Aside from the obvious cultural bias in activist circles towards whiteness, the disproportionate dominance of student politics (as well as those who have come through the university system) means that those from working class backgrounds often feel a similar alienation from activism. The intellectuals of the movement love to communicate in lengthy theses on this or that particular issue, often lacking direct connections to those on the front line.
Walking into a subculture is kind of like walking into somebody's home. It tells us something about who someone is at a particular point in their life. It might represent who they are or who they are trying to be. You're not going to know much about it unless you spend some time there, because it's not your home. When you are in someone else's home you try to be respectful.
A home is fundamentally an enclosure from what is happening outside. Some people have wonderful homes that you never want to leave. But if we want to engage with the world outside, eventually we are going to have to leave the house.
It is revealing to me how often I can be critical of other people's homes while very rarely leaving my own. I really like my home. And have you seen what is going on outside lately? F that!
We can't expect that other people are going to rearrange their furniture on the basis of our preferences. However, it is important to try to make other people comfortable in our home, particularly if we want them to stay; and to visit others from time to time, if we want to know who they are.