On The Edge Of Revolt – A Thoughtful Appraisal Concerning Violent Reaction In America
I find it interesting the Department of Homeland Security deems it necessary to warn of rightwing extremists, as they ignore the fact of leftwing extremism. As a point of fact, making its rounds within the United States is a little book titled The Coming Insurrection. From the product description on Amazon:
The Coming Insurrection is an eloquent call to arms arising from the recent waves of social contestation in France and Europe. Written by the anonymous Invisible Committee in the vein of Guy Debord—and with comparable elegance—it has been proclaimed a manual for terrorism by the French government (who recently arrested its alleged authors). One of its members more adequately described the group as “the name given to a collective voice bent on denouncing contemporary cynicism and reality.” The Coming Insurrection is a strategic prescription for an emergent war-machine to “spread anarchy and live communism.”
Written in the wake of the riots that erupted throughout the Paris suburbs in the fall of 2005 and presaging more recent riots and general strikes in France and Greece, The Coming Insurrection articulates a rejection of the official Left and its reformist agenda, aligning itself instead with the younger, wilder forms of resistance that have emerged in Europe around recent struggles against immigration control and the “war on terror.”
Hot-wired to the movement of ’77 in Italy, its preferred historical reference point, The Coming Insurrection formulates an ethics that takes as its starting point theft, sabotage, the refusal to work, and the elaboration of collective, self-organized forms-of-life. It is a philosophical statement that addresses the growing number of those—in France, in the United States, and elsewhere—who refuse the idea that theory, politics, and life are separate realms.
I eagerly await the Department of Homeland Security’s admonitions of the dangers of leftwing extremism.
Our own Declaration of Independence – a bit more eloquent – was used as a preamble to describe the abuse of power by Great Britain and subsequent call-to-action for independence. The beginning is a generalization of the human condition under any form of tyrannical government:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government.
Civilization is a thin veneer that separates us from the hardships of raw survival. While western civilization has provided us with the opportunity to enjoy the more heady pursuit of philosophy, our love affair with the mind and its capacity for abstract thought often precludes us from noting the ephemeral nature of civilized discourse. Such is the blessing and the curse of living in a society such as ours. In our ignorance of the transient nature of civilization we are freed from a constant anxiety visiting itself upon us, blinding us to a harsher reality that peeks from just around the corner – that mass violence can, and has, occurred in America.
The start of the Revolutionary War did not come about through “light and transient causes”, but through “a long train of abuses and usurpations”. Historians estimate that approximately 40-45% of the colonists actively supported the rebellion against England, 15-20% of the population of the thirteen colonies remained loyal to the British Crown, and the remaining 35-45% attempted to remain neutral. While hard to gauge how many males would support violence as a means to secure liberty from oppression, I believe the number not to be small. How many of these would consider it their duty “to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security”? I am of the impression, given my arguments below, that any such action taken by the citizenry of this country would quickly escalate, swelling the numbers of those opposed to a power grab by a centralized government and willing to take up arms to settle their grievances. If one believes I am a fear-monger, think of this: America has enjoyed one of the longest stretches of peace within our borders than almost every other nation on this planet. There were those who thought something like 9/11 could not happen here. They were wrong. Given the current supercharged political climate and the blistering pace at which standard pillars of American society are falling, I do not belong to the “it can’t happen here” crowd. I do, however, hope it does not happen here. Unfortunately, the signs I see do not point me in a direction of comfort concerning this matter. Many whom I have spoken to share the same sentiments. Unless the current administration changes course and desists in usurping the personal rights held dearly since the birth of this nation, it is my belief that a great violence shall overtake our nation.
In the struggle for the life and death of liberty there exists no greater potential for instigating revolution than trampling on the will of the majority in an attempt to steal away rights endeared to our hearts. As America watches treasured traditions and freedoms quickly vanish from the landscape, it is my fear that battles fought with words will morph into something far more nefarious.
White House spy programs, carbon taxes, the plunging value of the dollar, a stimulus package that is not stimulating, exploding deficits that saddle us and future generations with huge tax burdens, government takeovers of the private sector, and a slew of other offenses are beginning to build up a certain sort of pressure. Should health care be rammed down our throats, whether along with cap-and-trade or not, the result could very well be explosive.
Any society, particularly ours, is nothing more than a social contract among citizens to follow a basic set of precepts. As our individual survival is paramount, these group covenants typically address issues related to our own physical and mental well-being, allowing the parties to enjoy a certain level of freedom and to thrive. Don’t murder me; don’t steal from me; don’t cheat me; protect me. In our own peculiar American civilization, many of these intersect with the ideas of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are the most basic tenets of our civilization, and in reality apply to most Western civilizations. They lead to laws against killing and stealing; laws of fair-business practices, and the recruiting and training of a military. With these basic needs protected, remaining resources concentrate on agriculture, infrastructure, education, and a host of other higher functions: philosophy, mathematics, science, engineering, and the arts, to name a few.
In the advanced stages of civilization it becomes easy to forget just how close we are to savagery. If you take away the contract – or a centralized power continuously and unabatedly attacks our liberties, usurps our power, and abuses us – then like a cornered wild animal we will turn on those who commit such grievous insults, grab back our liberty and take back our power. At first, the attempts will be benign, including legal actions such as 10th Amendment assertion of states rights. However, should the courts rule for the centralized power, allowing the assaults on liberty to continue, then rebellion in some form or another may take place. Will it be the pursuit of legal resolution , civil disobedience, secession, domestic terrorism, or outright rebellion? While hard to quantify, qualitatively the list appears to progress from most likely to least likely, with the possibility of overlap. However, domestic terrorism is a real threat – from both leftwing and rightwing extremists. As the Irish Republican Army once told the Prime Minister of England – we only have to be right once, you have to get it right every time. Such actions would forever change the landscape of our country and I fear the current administration is on track to create such an explosive atmosphere. My fear is that any armed resistance from one side will quickly draw the opposing side into conflict. Whether the sphere of influence for either side widens, drawing in those more moderate to the conflict, remains to be seen. We have already witnessed leftwing SEIU members commit acts of violence against peaceful town hall protesters. This after what almost appears like a cloaked tacit approval to “hit them back twice as hard”. The source of the last statement – the President of the United States. Political language is often parsed for hidden meanings, which is why politicians must be very careful how they use the powerful weapon of speech. For some, it will be difficult to discern whether the leader of the free world, through either naivety or actual support, is recommending violent resistance through a form of passive aggressive use of speech. Combined with flagging spy programs, pre-screened audiences at Presidential town halls, plants at Congressional town halls masquerading as doctors to lend credibility to a health care reform plan which, at its very core, cannot be defended, the signs are troubling. Naturally, the natives are getting restless. Years of not trusting government, combined with the current political atmosphere, the level of engagement by those opposed to the path charted by a very liberal administration, buyer’s remorse by many who voted for “hope and change” and are getting more than they bargained for, and some Congressional members stating they will vote for health care reform in the face of majority disapproval by constituents, is setting the stage for a showdown. What shape the conflict will take remains to be seen.
The civic body can only take so much insult before rebellion. No other species on the planet possesses the savagery and cunning of homo sapiens; there is a reason we rule the earth. Our higher functioning brain evolved for survival – civilization is a side effect, and is nothing more than another tool for survival. Take away this tool, and others quickly take its place. We may cherish our moral and ethical framework, but events in history prove over and over again that this framework has no power over our more basal instincts when the facade is ripped away – regardless of how we wish it to be. This is the human condition. Everyone will throw out the rules at one point or another if pushed over the brink.
In such a situation, instinct is now the driving force to reacquire principles and rights, and the sphere of influence for social contracts in such situations shrinks drastically. It is a blessing and a curse of our own civilization that we are unable – and unwilling – to see just how fragile all of this is. We spend so much time caressing our ideologies and cooing over how clever we are that we miss the point. To survive we must be pragmatic before we are ideologues, or at least a better balance must be struck between the two. There is so much more we need to do to ensure our own survival and the survival of our civilization, and it must start with those who, unbeknown to them, are stirring the pot by absconding with our liberties. That they do this with ideology is the real danger. Blinded by this very ideology, they are myopic to the consequences of their actions. There is nothing conducive whatsoever in any of the proposals coming from the liberal establishment of this country. An insurmountable intellectual gap separates reality from anything resembling utilitarian ideas. The reactionary forces will themselves be ideological, for it is principles and ideas which drive us towards and away from civilized behavior – they are our only point of reference. America’s leadership is setting America up for full-scale disillusionment. We sit on a social powder keg.
Take for example the complete lack of pragmatism regarding cap-and-trade. First, if one believes global warming is man-made, the current cap-and-trade bill only moves around the chess pieces as it were. In the process, a transfer of wealth from energy using states to states using less energy through the purchase of carbon credits on a market will have zero affect on the global climate as greenhouse gasses will not be reduced. Even if greenhouse emission reductions are mandated, as they are, if China and India do not participate, America is put at an economic disadvantage. Where is the pragmatism here?
Recently the Australian Senate rejected cap-and-trade due to a seismic shift in the public’s opinion concerning man-made global warming. It now appears that evidence is pointing to other sources of global warming and not industry as the cause. Yet we still suffer from global warming hysteria in this country. Read A Tax On Thin Air. Using what now amounts to shaky science, we are about to submit our economy and future generations to an oppressive centralized regime for reasons that appear more groundless by the day, especially in light of the explosion of the climategate scandal. Try to entertain an opposing opinion to the anthropocentric global warming meme and you are likely to be compared to a holocaust denier. It is this complete lack of imagination on the part of liberals that is so infuriating. And this is not the only subject matter of which liberals are guilty of such transgressions against simple logic. Their tendency towards the illogic on a host of issues and the subequent sacrifice of our liberties in pursuit of a solution that places more control into the hands of a centralized behemoth defies common sense. Yet here we are.
Reihan Salam writes in Pelosi Is Wrong (emphasis mine):
If Obamacare eventually passes in some form, I’ll make you a guarantee: these ferocious protests will keep getting bigger and louder.
To get a glimpse of America’s future, consider France. The French have the health-care system that Americans desperately want [polls strongly repudiate this last point – I am not quite sure what the Mr. Salam was thinking when he wrote this rather obvious misrepresentation]: it combines private providers and patient choice with a large and generous public insurance system, one that keeps out-of-pocket costs extremely low for working families. The French system is also dramatically cheaper than our own. But whenever there’s a move to tweak the system in some way say, to gently nudge patients to get the approval of a general practitioner before seeing a specialist the French go absolutely mad with rage. Doctors go on strike, massive street protests ensue, the riot police come out: it’s a crazy scene.
And it makes perfect sense: as more life and death decisions are placed in the hands of democratically elected legislators, politics become more than an occasional nuisance. When your wages are stagnant or your health insurance premiums are zooming skyward, you don’t blame your boss or bad luck; instead, you blame the knuckleheads running, or rather ruining, the country. You come to feel as though you can’t just wait until the next election: You need to make your voice heard now even if that means taking to the streets or throwing a punch. We can call the protesters un-American. Yet America has gone through long periods of roiling unrest before and it can happen again.
Some may not wait for the next election. I plead with our leaders to tread lightly or I fear they may send us down a path none of us really wants. Whether from the left, right, or middle, things could get ugly out there.
Let us hope it is ideas and not violence that resolves our differences. In my humble opinion, the Obama administration is pushing the envelope and the buttons that could very well lead to the violence I and most of you would wish to avoid. The time for leadership is now. Obama, the time to listen to the American people is now.
The above essay, written August of last year, started me on a quest to understand if there is a constitutional non-violent way to take back our liberties from an oppressive centralized regime. When I came across the idea and constitutionality of nullification and the fact it has been used successfully in the past in a non-violent way as pointed out by Judge Napolitano, it became clear to me nullification is the path forward to regaining our liberty without resorting to violence. Failing that, our only option is to live under tyranny or the balkanization of the United States, with daily reports of the tactics of assymetrical warfare we only read or hear about on the nightly news; those things that happen only in other countries. I reject this as necessary IF we are willing to perform the tasks necessary to take our country back peacefully. If we do nothing, I fear the extremists from either end of the poltical sprectum will begin their campaigns of terror. Given recent events in the news, some would say it has already started.
Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
This is more true today than ever before.
Cross-posted at Wolves of Liberty