The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Revolution

At first blush, the antifa and BLM rioters (a.k.a. "mostly peaceful protesters") who have accosted Portland, Seattle, New York, Chicago and to a lesser extent, a dozen other cities in the U.S are hard to take seriously. They are, some say, ideological fanatics, but that's all.  They create chaos, destruction and even violence, others lament, but it'll dissipate. They'll burn themselves out or self-immolate. They are nothing more than angry, America hating leftists. 


But there's an equal chance they're much more dangerous. In an in-depth article that explores the origins of the French, Russian, and Chinese revolutions (this is a classic, read the whole thing), Abe Greenwald writes:

The battle for the survival of the United States of America is upon us. It has not come in the form of traditional civil war. There are no uniformed armies, competing flags, or alternate constitutions. The great showdown is not being fought within the physical limits of a battlefield. It is instead happening all around us and directly to us. It defines our culture, sustains our media, and gives new shape to our public and private institutions. In this fight, there is no distinction between what was once known as the culture war and politics rightly understood. The confrontation stretches through time and space, reframing our distant past even as it transforms the horizon, erupting from coast to coast, and constraining our lives in subtle and obvious ways. And it’s happening too fast for us to take its full measure.

Greenwald's opening paragraph seems overwrought—until you read on. He describes the conditions the players, and the strategies that led to the French, Russian and Chinese revolutions and draws concerning parallels to the same characteristics that are evident in today's United States.

Greenwald calls this "the great unraveling" and describes it this way:

As of this writing, Portland, Oregon, has endured more than two months straight of anarchist violence directed at federal buildings and employees. In other cities—New York, Los Angeles, Richmond, Omaha, and Austin, to name a few—mob violence continues to erupt regularly, always connected to cries for justice and sometimes resulting in death. Accelerating the general dissolution, police forces have been successfully hobbled in response to the killing of George Floyd, and the resulting spike in murder and violent crime shows no sign of abating. All the while, armchair lynch mobs have continued to claim the scalps of those who veer from or merely stumble on the path to social-justice enlightenment. It is the full-time job of any American with a public presence to bow down before the identity cult. Professional athletes have mutated overnight into a congeries of Kaepernicks. As for the public, 62 percent of all Americans, according to a poll by the CATO Institute, now say they’re afraid to voice their political views lest they be punished professionally.

Leading media organizations, as they did from the start, lend their approval to all of it. After months of defending chaos in the streets as “mostly peaceful,” the media elite is openly covering for a movement whose defining features are intimidation and mass violence. 

After discussing characteristics of the great unraveling in a historical context ,he suggests how it can be defeated:

[Defeating it] will be accomplished, if it is to be accomplished, as Americans outside the revolution’s burning core come to grips with what it is; as its wreckage exceeds its justification; and as the gap between revolutionary claims and reality becomes too great to ignore. Metropolitan liberals may be passionate about social justice, but they won’t want their cities forever blighted by crime. Americans of faith may feel compelled to support a movement claiming to speak for the oppressed, but they won’t abide Bibles in bonfires.2

At the moment, the elites are stunned. The revolution’s instantaneous appearance amid a larger national crisis took them by surprise. They have scrambled to get on the side of the supposedly righteous. But as more Americans endure the noxious consequences of the unraveling, elected officials responsive to their needs will be compelled to change course. Let us not forget that after the immediate upheavals of the 1960s, busing, quotas, and spiking crime all came under attack by the American public—despite an elite atmosphere that sought to discredit the response as an explosion of racist rage. Even with the strength of that criticism, busing was ended, the use of quotas in hiring was curtailed, and punishment for criminal action became tougher.

The revolution’s most exploitable weakness is that it is wrong. To be sure, catastrophically mistaken revolutions have succeeded in the past. Most revolutions are in fact terrible affairs all the way through. But even so, they grew out of intolerance for states and systems that deserved contempt. Louis XVI’s France was a deeply corrupt country, already undone by war debt, aristocratic privilege, and a mode of inequality that would be science-fictional by current Western norms. Much the same applies to czarist Russia, too, which was a punishing hell for displaced peasants and industrial workers. The current revolutionaries, on the other hand, are fundamentally wrong. As a factual matter, America is a vigorous democratic republic—the freest and least prejudiced country of this or any time. 

The Left's "blame America first" policy is a combination of dishonesty, failed thinking on both human and political levels, and outright nonsense. It will fail, and the first signs that it is failing will come in November.