Summary: Here is a summary of the political violence afflicting America, and a simple recommendation about what to do about it. This is a conclusion to a long series of posts about these disturbing trends.
First, look at the far Left in action.
This is cartoon but represents true events. The often violent war on free political speech at colleges (e.g., Edgewood College, Middlebury College, the Berkeley riot, Evergreen College). Their enthusiasm about their use of political violence (e.g., “punching Nazis“). The May Day riot in Portland. Their attempts to shut down Trump rallies (e.g., here and here). The frequent riots around the world at global trade meetings (e.g., G20 in Hamburg).
Second, look at the alt-Right in action.
This is terrifying and needs no comment. Nazis resurgent.
See the news media coverage of the street fighting.
The NYT applauds their thugs: “‘Antifa’ Grows as Left-Wing Faction Set to, Literally, Fight the Far Right.” They uncritically repeat the statements by the Antifa thugs, with amnesia about the many reports by observers and journalists that both sides were eagerly fighting.
“Last weekend, when a 27-year-old bike messenger showed up at the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Va., he came ready for battle. He joined a human chain that stretched in front of Emancipation Park and linked his arms with others, blocking waves of white supremacists — some of them in full Nazi regalia — from entering.
“’As soon as they got close,’ said the young man, who declined to give his real name and goes by Frank Sabaté after the famous Spanish anarchist, ‘they started swinging clubs, fists, shields. I’m not embarrassed to say that we were not shy in defending ourselves.’ …
“In the days after the violent events in Charlottesville, some antifa members responded with an angry call to arms, saying they could not back down from what they described as the ‘aggressors on the right, even if it meant an escalation into gunfights. …
“’The essence of their message is violence,’ Jed, an antifa organizer in New York who asked that his name not be used, said of his right-wing foes. ‘The other side’ — his side — ‘is just responding.’ …”
This is the hallmark of biased reporting of our political street fighting: each side declares that they were just defending themselves. No matter how obviously false, each tribe believes. For example, see How the Left sees its political violence: as innocents victimized.
For a slightly more sophisticated account of the alt-Right counter-revolution, see Reuters: “Charlottesville Exposes New Threat-for College Campuses” — Also note how the reporters are unclear about the problem. Is the problem the alt-Right are holding rallies and passing out flyers, that the Left responds violently, or that both sides are eager to fight. Also, the reporters have amnesia about the years of escalating violence by leftists on campuses, shutting down speech they don’t like.
“On college campuses, white supremacists and other far-right extremist groups see fertile ground to spread their messages and recruit followers. But for many colleges, last weekend’s deadly attack at a rally near the University of Virginia exposed a new threat.
“The rally in Charlottesville left universities across the U.S. bracing for more clashes between extremists and the protesters who oppose them. It also left schools in an increasingly tight bind as they try to ensure campus safety in the face of recruiting efforts by white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups that have escalated beyond campus flyers and online messages, and to balance that with freedom of speech.
“On the eve of Saturday’s rally, young white men wearing khakis and white polo shirts marched through the University of Virginia’s campus, holding torches as they chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans. …
“Far-right groups have promised that more rallies will follow. On Monday, Texas A&M University canceled plans for a “White Lives Matter” rally in September. Two days later, the University of Florida denied a request for white nationalist Richard Spencer to rent space on campus for a September event. Spencer and his supporters are promising court challenges.
“As colleges wonder which campus will be next, Riseling’s group is organizing a series of training events in October to help campus police prepare. ‘If you’re sitting on a campus where this hasn’t happened, consider this your wake-up call that it might,’ she said.
“Last school year, racist flyers popped up on college campuses at a rate that experts called unprecedented. The Anti-Defamation League counted 161 white supremacist ‘flyering incidents’ on 110 college campuses between September and June. Oren Segal, director of the group’s Center on Extremism, said the culprits can’t be dismissed as harmless trolls.”
What should we do?
So far the Left has been the aggressor — seeking out their foes’ demonstrations to disrupt. The Right has been eager to fight back. Let’s not allow their fighting escalate, making it even more difficult to stop.
Street fighters are criminals, no matter how noble their professed motives. There is no right in the Constitution to disrupt demonstrations of your foes. Political officials should condemn violence by both sides. But that is not enough.
DoD has equipped US police to fight a small war. Order the police to keep both sides apart at their events, and quickly suppress any fights that do break out. If necessary, tear gas will weaken the gangs’ enthusiasm. A night in jail will provider rioters time for contemplation about the value of rational debate.
These measures will fix nothing. They will, hopefully, maintain public order — buying time for our normal political processes to sort out these issues. Hopefully to a good end.
What about the alt-Right rallies, their torchlight parades, their Nazi racist anti-semitic slogans? Let them march. If this madness finds a large audience, we are well and truly screwed. I doubt that it will. Political officials failing to condemn them should be ostracised by their own parties.
Suppressing political violence is a matter of will, requiring us to rise above our tribal loyalty to defend the political system that is the heart of America. It is a relatively easy task compared to others that lie ahead.
Which side to support in our Weimerica street battles? The police maintaining order.
For More Information
For more about this problem see Fear the rise of political violence in America. We can still stop it.
If you found this post of use, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Also see these posts about political violence, about racism, about fascism, about reforming America – steps to a new politics, and especially these…
- Fear the rise of political violence in America. We can still stop it.
- Terrorism won yesterday in Berkeley and Portland. See these important stories.
- How the Left sees its political violence: as innocents victimized.
- The Right began the current cycle of political violence in America.
- See the facts about the Charlottesville riot. You decide what they mean.
A reminder from the past.
Let’s not follow the path taken by the Weimar Republic, with its street battles between thuggish armies of Communists and Nazis. It did not end well for them, and won’t end well for us. To see this sad but useful history I recommend Political Violence in the Weimar Republic, 1918-1933: Fight for the Streets and Fear of Civil War by Dirk Schumann (Professor of History at Georg-August University, Göttingen), 2009. From the publisher…
“This book provides a comprehensive analysis of political violence in Weimar Germany with particular emphasis on the political culture from which it emerged. It refutes both the claim that the Bolshevik revolution was the prime cause of violence, and the argument that the First World War’s all-encompassing ‘brutalization’ doomed post-1918 German political life from the very beginning. The study thus contributes to a view of the Weimar Republic as a state in severe crisis but with alternatives to the Nazi takeover.”
35 thoughts on “A simple solution to the political violence afflicting America”
The Weimar Republic failed because, to use Quigley’s term, the quartet (the Prussian junker landowners, the army leadership, the industrialists and the senior bureaucracy) did not accept their defeat in WWI and its aftermath, the Versailles peace treaty (they briefly allowed a Social Democrat government to sign the treaty).
Their biggest fear was a Communist takeover and, secondly, a left-wing pro-Labour government. They started preparing the demise of Weimer by surreptitiously building up the armed forces and industry using money lent by the US. They thought they could use the Nazi’s as a tool to achieve their aims. The Nazi’s ended up controlling the quartet and the country. The only part of the quartet left unorganized by the Nazi’s was the industrialists, who gladly accepted the Nazi leadership anyway.
I don’t understand the relevance of your comment to this post. But I’ll comment on its specifics.
“did not accept their defeat in WWI and its aftermath, the Versailles peace treaty”
I don’t believe that is accurate. First, if the quartet of German power centers didn’t like Weimar why did they rule through it for 15 years? That’s a long time.
Second, I don’t know what “not accept defeat means” — but I see little evidence of it. Third, the Versailles Peace Treat was grossly inequitable as a solution to a war both sides had a role in starting. This was obvious in 1918, as so clearly shown by Keynes in his highly influential book, The Economic Consequences of the Peace. I doubt any nation would have accepted it.
“They started preparing the demise of Weimer by surreptitiously building up the armed forces and industry ”
First, there is nothing unusual about Weimar building its armed forces despite the Treaty. No nation would allow itself to be without an ability to defend itself. Second, they didn’t build their industries “surreptitiously”, nor was their anything wrong in doing so.
“The Nazi’s ended up controlling the quartet and the country.”
You skipped several important steps. The Nazis were almost destroyed in the 1928 election. The event that put them in power was the response of Weimar’s leadership to the Great Depression: austerity. If Hoover had won the 1932 election and continued SecDef Mellon’s policy, we might have had a revolution:
Maybe you’ll find useful, to a better understanding of Weimar Republic, a political essay by Jacques Bainville, “Les conséquences politiques de la paix”, published in 1920 (English translation here: http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~purslow/bv/bv.pdf) . Bainville was a nationalist French historian and political writer, close to Maurras’ Action Francaise, adviser to French Foreign Minister Théophile Delcassé.
In this essay, Bainville forecasts with an amazing precision why, where and when WWII will break loose.
His main arguments against Versailles Treaty were: 1) It left Germany politically united 2) It exacted war reparations impossible to be repaid in full 3) it put any Germany’s ruling class who signed the Treaty in an intenable position, delegitimizing and humiliating it, and destabilizing the German State.
His main recipe for peace had been: calling back the main old, pre-bismarckian unity German dynasties, carve up Germany, do not exact heavy war reparations, go back to Europe’s balance of power, which is possible only if Germany is not politically united.
Thank you for the book recommendation!
To learn about the causes of WWII in the events of WWI, the book at the top of any reading list imo should be Keynes The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919). Keynes attended the Paris Peace Conference as a delegate of the British Treasury and argued for a much more generous peace. It was a best-seller throughout the world. And quite prescient.
For broader analysis of the causes of WWII I strongly recommend Martin van Creveld’s “autobiography” of Hitler: Hitler in Hell.
Thank you for your kind reply. I agree, Keynes’ book is very good. That’s why I recommended the less commonly known “Les conséquences politiques de la paix”, because I think that reading both books is the best and most complete introduction to the understanding of Weimar and to the second half of the European Civil War.
You should also include the leftist thugs who carved a backwards ‘B’ in that poor girl’s face for Obama’s election. This has been going on for too long!
You refer to the Ashley Todd mugging hoax. She confessed that she made up the story. Follow the links given in the Wikipedia entry.
We are afloat in propaganda. Only skepticism and a love of truth will make reform possible.
No way! Next your gonna tell me the comic sans antifa pamphlet instructing people to kill white children is fake too. Please tell me that George Soros actually does personally pay most left-wing protestors in America though. There’s no way that one’s not true
This is the problem, you tell people the truth and they still refuse to believe it. Yes the Antifa flier is fake and Soros is not paying Antifa anything or other protestors…
I’m sorry your mind is so susceptible to propaganda. Good-bye.
I strongly agree. Stop the violence. Let the extremists express their views and alienate the populace. As Louis Brandeis said, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.
For the sake of the republic the police need to work hard to keep the sides apart, shut down any violence, and if they observe serious crimes such as arson or assault with a deadly weapon, make arrests and make cases, and prosecutors need to charge and endeavor to convict the perpetrators… no sandbagging, no grandstanding, no going easy on one side because of political calculations, etc. But how you get them to do that is an open question, especially in this era when people use “resisting Trump” to justify all manner of bad behavior.
There are ongoing efforts to criminalize BDS on campus (see Cuomo’s boycott) yet how many times have you been bothered to write about that very real violation of free speech on campus? You’re entire framing of campus free speech issues is very dishonest.
Editor’s note: BDS refers to “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” — a Palestinian-led movement protesting Israel’s violations of their human rights.
“There are ongoing efforts to criminalize BDS on campus”
That’s news to me. And your evidence of that is…
“see Cuomo’s boycott”
You appear unclear about the meaning of “criminalize.” See this NYT article descibing what Cuomo is actually doing: “Cuomo to Halt State Business With Groups That Back Boycott of Israel“. Boycotts are a time-honored peaceful political tool.
“about that very real violation of free speech on campus?”
What mobs have been suppressing BDS speakers on campus? Evidence, please.
Re: criminalizing BDS
Perhaps he refers to this: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/720
Which may apply to the university itself if it endorses a student or faculty led BDS effort. Anyway, that discussion will just severely confuse this one, it’s complicated enough as is.
Wow. Thanks for pointing to this bill!
Here is The Intercept’s shocking analysis. It is supported by 43 senators — 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats, showing yet again that those lurid stories of political polarization in Washington are exaggerated.
Yes, that was the bill I had in mind. It’s been talked about extensively in many US outlets (Atlantic, Intercept, Jacobin, NYT, etc) and ACLU has a number of articles on it. “Boycotts are a time-honored peaceful political tool”. Yes, exactly and Cuomo’s exec order is a unilateral attempt to quash that legitimate political act.
That’s what I was getting at with saying your framing is dishonest. There’s a prominent group doing exactly what you say these leftwing protestors should do if they want to be taken seriously: they articulate a serious political program and protest peacefully and legally. Yet for someone who writes weekly on campus free speech, you haven’t so much as heard about it let alone written a word about it. That’s a very telling blind spot and a great example of what effective propaganda produces: complete ignorance and silence on a matter that is not ideologically profitable, no matter how relevant or concerning.
Basically, by your view people like Coulter have the right to inflammatory, bigoted speech at whatever venue they so please, under whatever terms(venue size, ticket pricing, etc) and when those terms aren’t automatically agreed to, gets to spin a contractual dispute into a cynical PR campaign. Of course, Coulter’s PR framing is uncritically parroted by the likes of people you as a brave stance for free speech. Meanwhile, a (well publicized) peaceful movement facing organized political opposition to criminalize their 1st am. rights from university administration to national level ain’t worth so much as a tweet.
“Yet for someone who writes weekly on campus free speech, you haven’t so much as heard about it let alone written a word about it.”
While I appreciate your belief in my omniscence, that’s quite a daft statement.
“Basically, by your view people like Coulter have the right to inflammatory, bigoted speech at whatever venue they so please,”
I suggest you go to the ACLU website and read what they say about the Constitution and freedom of speech. Or find a grade school textbook. Your statements show an appalling ignorance of how America works.
Yeah sure, it takes godlike omniscience to be aware of all of two issues covered widely in the US press. No one’s gonna force you to leave the confines of your little safe space if you don’t want to. Don’t worry!
Though here’s a little supplementary reading if you want to take a step back before parroting PR talking points for free. If you’re gonna carry someone else’s water, you might as well get paid for it at the very least.
It’s been interesting. Good-bye.
I am not pro-violence, but I do find this argument compelling
It’s the Left that is preaching intolerance of speech by their foes, rioting to shut down their events — a wide range of conservatives (not just “Nazis). You want the government to limit speech by the Left?
Do we amend the Constitution to create speech permits? Speech courts to evaluate claims of intolerance?
We already have laws regarding hate crimes and hate speech and courts to enforce them, and I believe they should do so. I personally don’t condone violence in any context, especially regarding non-hate based protest. It is when explicit violence against race and gender get involved that I would say our norms of free speech no longer apply, like shouting fire in a movie theater. You don’t do that and you don’t espouse violence for any reason, left, right, whatever.
The problem is that 3/4 of the US military personnel who vote and 2/3 of US police who vote, voted for and still support Donald Trump.
Rule of thumb: if you support a cryptofascist racist, you *are* a cryptofascist racist.
The US military and police overwhelmingly support the white supremacist marchers & love seeing the neo-Nazis openly carry military assault rifles while dressed in paramilitary camo gear to intimidate their political opponents.
Once marchers in a so-called “peaceful protest” are permitted to dress up like military personnel and carry military weaponry, violence becomes inevitable.
We don’t need new laws or new polices to deal with this issue. As FM has remarked, we merely need our police to enforce existing laws — for example, the Virginia state criminal statute against inciting a riot.
A military assault rifle has no other purpose than violence. What, are the marchers going to tell us the rifles would be used to hoist placards on? Please. There is one and only one purpose for openly displaying military weaponry: to threaten violence.
Either left or right protesters who carry or use weapons in a supposedly non-violent protest should be arrested using this statute, disarmed, and sent to jail for the night to cool off. But US police refuse to do this, because 2/3 of them love the white supremacist agenda and support the neo-Nazis.
“The problem is that 3/4 of the US military personnel who vote and 2/3 of US police who vote, voted for and still support Donald Trump.”
Wow. It sounds like you are the problem, with your lack of support for the Constitution. I’ll bet that most of the 3/4 of US military personnel support it more than you, fortunately.
“Rule of thumb: if you support a cryptofascist racist, you *are* a cryptofascist racist.”
Wow. Big words. Small meanings.
“The US military and police overwhelmingly support the white supremacist marchers & love seeing the neo-Nazis openly carry military assault rifles while dressed …”
Do you have evidence for this, or are you just making stuff up?
“Once marchers in a so-called “peaceful protest” are permitted to dress up like military personnel and carry military weaponry, violence becomes inevitable.”
You’ve been getting your fake news from leftist propaganda. See section 3 in my post about Charlottesville for more accurate info.
The rest of your post was just making stuff up. I have seen no reports that the militia at Charlottesville used their guns, or threatened anyone. Even The Guardian, a solid leftist voice, contradicts your claims.
I would like to see cage fighting leagues pitting the Antifa League against the NeoNazi League, and any other overt and covert youth groups promoting violence, who wish to join.
These people (the ones who survive) could be providing entertainment to society and earning honest money, probably for the first time in their sad lives.
The main losers in such a scheme would be the media and the National Football League.
One suggestion I have heard is that there should be laws against wearing wearing masks at a demonstration. Some states have such laws already. (In the South it’s generally been done as a measure against the Klan, but it might be useful against other troublemakers as well) Perhaps these laws should be universal, since if someone is wearing a mask at a demonstration, the phrase Up To No Good comes to mind. Note that if the problem is a lack of will to enforce the laws and maintain order on the streets, this suggestion will prove completely useless.
“One suggestion I have heard is that there should be laws against wearing wearing masks at a demonstration.”
Thank you for raising this. That is imo a just and wise regulation, one with a long history and widely used around the world. As you note, in the US these were mostly enacted to limit masked violence by the Right. I expect that the Left will now discover that masked protesters are constitutionally protected when they want to use them.
For more information:
Wikipedia entry for Antimask Laws — showing their use around the world.
NYT: “Is It Illegal to Wear Masks at a Protest? It Depends on the Place“, April 2017.
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Thank you for your articles and comments on your website. As an Australian it saddens me to watch what is happening in your great country, l have been a republican here in this Commonwealth with alas the queen as head of state, for many years. I dream one day of an Australian republic!
My question is do you think America could descend into a type of Marius Sulla Civil War that occurred in Rome in the late Republic if this violence gets worse over the next decade. I rely on your website for objective articles on the American Republic on its politics
Thank you for the feedback! As for civil war, I discussed that last week here.
Another question is why all the talk of civil war. Here’s my guess (emphasis on guess). Our problem is that we have become passive and apathetic. We know at some level that we are the weak link, falling below the standard set by previous generations of Americans. So we compensate by talking big about the Great Day When We Rise Up and Smite The Bad Guys. It’s all talk, by a divided and weak people. Much more likely is that the 1% continue to gain power, and we become accustomed to our new role as peons. It’s an old story in history. America isn’t falling like the Roman Empire. It’s falling like Rome’s Republic.
As for Marius-Sulla-etc civil wars, I don’t believe there are any substantial similarities between that time and ours. between the Roman Republic of that time and America today.
Thanks for your reply, l shall read those previous articles, the 1% have been very active down under too!
That’s interesting to hear about Australia. All the developing nations are locked into broadly similar economic trends, for mysterious reasons. But we respond to them differently!
I think a good measure to counter antifa at least. Is making it impossible to wear masks.
That’s an important point, In many (most?) urban areas in the US it is already illegal to wear masks at protests. That is imo a just and wise regulation, one with a long history and widely used around the world. As you note, in the US these were mostly enacted to limit masked violence by the Right. I wonder if the Left will now discover that masked protesters are constitutionally protected when they want to use them.
But it is illegal to bash heads and pepper spray people. If the police are willing to drink coffee and eat donuts while watching that, it is too much to expect them to enforce anti-mask laws. This goes to one of the great questions ignored by our stenographer-pretending-to-be journalists: why have police watched the outbreaks of political violence without acting? We can guess, but don’t know. In several instances (Berkeley, Charlottesville) police and city leaders congratulated the police for allowing the violence.
For more information:
Wikipedia entry for Antimask Laws — showing their use around the world.
NYT: “Is It Illegal to Wear Masks at a Protest? It Depends on the Place“, April 2017.