The term “virtue signalling” tends to denote a trend among western ultra-liberals who attain an emotional uplift from going out of one’s way to demonstrate how one is morally superior to those living more conventional lifestyles. Whether it is someone bragging about their recycled socks or their bicycle made out of regurgitated bird food, it is not hard to find virtue signallers among affluent and bored westerners. Unfortunately, virtue signalling isn’t strictly limited to social liberals.
The western anti-war movement that in the 21st century reached its zenith when demonstrating against the war on Iraq has become fragmented to the point of being insignificant. Against this background, younger opponents of war tend to virtue signal their opposition to pro-war mainstream western politics on social media and no where else. However it makes one feel personally, the fact of the matter is that online virtue signalling has no real world impact on politics and hardly any impact on public opinion.
The key for any successful political movement is to engage directly in a political system rather than to simply protest the system on the periphery. That being said, setting up a specifically anti-war party is costly, time consuming and when it has been tried in the past, few such parties have broken through the political glass ceiling in most western nations.
A solution to this problem would be to identify anti-war individuals among existing major and medium sized parties and to then utilise one’s energy and time to promote the candidacies of such individuals. Likewise, the anti-war movement should encourage those opposed to war to enter a mainstream political party, even if it is on the fringe of such a party.
In order for this to work however, the anti-war movement will have to relieve itself of tired dogmas which too often seek to cast the anti-war movement as a grand ideological monolith. The truth is that there are individuals passionately opposed to war on the left, right and centre. There are capitalists, communists, social conservatives, hippies, businessmen, workers, students and pensioners who for a variety of reasons have reached the sound and ethical conclusion that military aggression has no place in the modern world. This is truer than ever now that the traditional party-political order is shifting dramatically in countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Italy and potentially even in Germany.
The key therefore is for the anti-war movement to put aside individual prejudices and ideologies and to endorse, campaign for, raise funds for and actively promote any and all candidates that demonstrate the courage to oppose war, irrespective of their other political views.
To do otherwise would be to reduce the anti-war movement to an online gaggle of boring virtue signallers who may have the right virtues but who are nevertheless sending all the wrong signals.