Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Liberal Culture of "Peaceful Protest" is a Lie

Because of President Obama we conservatives have learned a lot more about the left-wing culture of "protest" and "activism" than we wanted. We've had to become familiar with Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals; we've made a nodding acquaintance with the cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School; we've wrinkled our noses about the wonder of community organizing, and now we are getting abused by the Black Autumn of Black Lives Matter and student protests at our most prestigious universities with the lists of "demands."

My own personal encounter with this left-wing culture was during classes at the University of Washington, where I repaired in recent years to take classes in Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Hume. On two separate occasions some young woman spoke up about politics as peaceful protest. In the minds of these young women, politics consists of organizing a protest march to City Hall.

This is rubbish. It is illegitimate for the scions of the ruling class to use street violence, even under the euphemism of "peaceful protest," in the war of politics.

Back in the day, the bourgeoisie feared nothing more than the "mob." I assume they meant a spontaneous or planned explosion of the lower orders into the streets. You can read about it in histories of the American Revolution. Mobs would attack the house of a prominent Tory and sack and burn it. Alexander Hamilton, as a young student, stood at the front door of King's College (now Columbia University) to temporize with the mob that wanted to deal with the notorious Tory president of the college, Dr. Myles Cooper.

Today, the ruling-class youth think nothing is more noble than to lead a "peaceful protest" against some injustice and present its demands to a ruling class official at a college or a government office.

It all makes sense, given the over-under coalition between liberals and government-approved victim classes that coalesces in the Democratic Party. The normal way for the lower orders to express their rage is by the street riot. So the sensible thing to do is for the educated, evolved ruling-class community organizer to deflect their unfocussed rage into a "march" or a "peaceful protest."

But, of course, there is a problem. Our ruling-class activists do not just use this technique to give a voice to the voiceless. They use it to push their own ruling-class agenda. They protest about climate change: you'll have seen reference to "peaceful protests" in Paris at #COP21 recently. Given the way that left-wing media report these protests you would be forgiven for thinking that in the left-wing world, protest is a kind of sacrament. They protest about African American rights, although you might be forgiven for thinking that the need to protest against government injustice dissolved about half a century ago.

Thus with feminism and gay rights. These are not issues that animate the lower orders; they are the political agenda of elite ruling-class liberals. I argue that it is an illegitimate and unjust use of the ruling class's cultural and political power for ruling-class feminists and ruling-class gays to indulge themselves in street action.

Now one thing that the left has properly publicized is that, in the bad old days of fascism, the fascist demonstrators were tolerated by the justice system. Fascist demonstrators got light sentences for disturbing the peace. And this encouraged them in their street action and violence.

What our tender liberals of today don't grasp is that their "peaceful protests" get exactly the same treatment from the justice system as the fascists did nearly a century ago. James Hansen, government administrator and climate activist, gets himself arrested outside the White House. Does he get prosecuted to the full extent of the law, as conservative Dinesh D'Sousa did for a minor campaign violation? Goodness no! Because Hansen is doing the ruling class's work for it with his climate activism.

A telling marker is to note what happens when the other side does it. The Tea Party was a spontaneous eruption of middle-class rage in the wake of the bank bailouts and President Obama's election. (Yes, I think that there was some inchoate racism involved). As soon as the Tea Party got on the liberal radar liberals launched into a huge campaign to delegitimize it, and to paint it as a dangerous eruption of right-wing extremism. Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, talked about "Astroturf," meaning that the Tea Party was organized by conservative elitists. Others tagged the Tea Partiers as "tea-baggers," a reference to gay sexual practice. And of course, whenever there is a mass shooting, liberals shoulder each other aside in immediately blaming right-wing extremism, "eliminationist rhetoric" and racism and sexism for the outrage. In other words, liberals are scared stiff that conservatives might organize into a protest movement against them. That is why liberals are permanently in a panic about "right-wing militias."

In other words, protest is fine for liberals, but not for conservatives: protest for me, but not for thee.

So the whole culture of left-wing protest is a ruling-class conceit, a lie. It is used to advance liberal causes, and to demonize conservatives.

I like to say that after the election of Richard Nixon and then Ronald Reagan the liberal command bunker came to realize that it needed to push the protesters to the back of the line and teach the American people that liberals were just like them, only more compassionate. But now we have a new generation of liberals that have forgotten the hard-won wisdom of their fathers.

And so they will have to learn it the hard way, in landslide political defeat.

When you say that the street action of your supporters is nothing more than "peaceful protest" while the other guys are nothing more than "right-wing extremists" you are sending out a rather clear message.

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