The authoritarian left took another scalp this week. Alex Jones may be on the phone with Roseanne, both wondering what happened to all their friends. The pattern was the same in both cases: years of ugly-provocative, politically incorrect language, then the boom lowers, the hook comes out, and off the stage they go. In an age when college students can force Jerry Seinfeld off their campuses, you wonder what took so long.
Everyone wonders whether our democracy can survive Trump and Trumpism. Fewer people ask whether our democracy can survive authoritarians who appear to hate anything that does not fit their conception of the way you ought to behave. Both questions have an underlying problem: do we have a democracy worth saving anymore? Perhaps the aquarium just needs some new fish, as the ones in it are already dying on the bottom. Once a fish lies dying on the bottom, you know you can’t save it.
Trumpists and Red Guard leftists share this important mentality: utter contempt for democratic institutions and rights.
Trumpists and Red Guard leftists share this important mentality: utter contempt for democratic institutions and rights. Both groups want to use the state’s power to impose their vision on you. One learns quickly in politics that procedure and process matter. If you let people who harbor contempt for procedure and process have power, you find soon enough they don’t give a damn about your rights. They use intimidation and other blunt instruments to obtain power, and they do not put those instruments down after they have it. Their vision does not include forgiveness or compassion, only coercion, aggression, and implicit threats.
Hannah Arendt observed the violent, often deadly battles between Communists and National Socialists in Germany during the 1920s and 30s. The two sides hated each other. Moreover, Socialists and Fascists advanced markedly different visions for economic and social organization. Yet Arendt perceived how similar these two groups were. No matter who won the struggle, a lot of people would wind up in slave labor camps. Others would die of starvation, disease, or warfare. No matter which vision you picked, Hitler or Stalin, they led to the same place: hell.
Not to overstate the case, that is what we have on offer in the United States. If you want to see what happens when leftist thugs succeed in what used to be a microcosm of free speech, observe Reed College, where Reedies Against Racism bagged a college president, and pretty much held the campus captive off and on for two years until administration and faculty gave them what they wanted. They acted like the pigs in Animal Farm.
The Charlottesville battle occurred one year ago this weekend. I’m not sure anyone believes that confrontation will be the last one.
If you want to see what happens when white supremacist thugs succeed in what used to be a microcosm of free speech, observe Charlottesville, where under Richard Spencer’s leadership, Heather Heyer died as a sacrifice to torch-bearing racists who appear to love violence as long as it’s fun and promotes racial purity. Spencer, apparently calculating the number of people who showed up over the number of people who died, called the event a success.
The Charlottesville battle occurred one year ago this weekend. I’m not sure anyone believes that confrontation will be the last one. We can take a key lesson from it, though. Both sides want to fight, just as Communists and Brown Shirts wanted to fight in the streets of Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich, Cologne, and other German cities. Both sides want as much freedom as they can get for themselves, which means no freedom for anyone else. Both sides know they have to fight dirty to win. So watch carefully, and see if you don’t agree the two sides have a lot in common. Democracy in our republic cannot survive either party.