Enough is Enough: This is Not a Civil Rights Movement

This is not a civil right movement. This is a violent countermovement against freedom and progress (see The New Left’s War on Imaginary Structures of Oppression in Order to Hide the Real Ones). The federal government has to step in and stop this. Enough is enough. All the so-called leftist who support this? People, please. You made the wrong choice of comrades. Wake up. You let something confuse you and you don’t have your head on straight. Shake yourself out of the fog you’re in.

“Wall of Moms” between law enforcement and rioters in Portland

The question is not whether federal troops ought to intervene in situations occurring in the states. If this were true, the only place the federal government could appear is in the District of Columbia (and progressives have a problem even with that—because Trump is president). It is bizarre, frankly, to see progressives make the “states rights” argument. What do they think about President Eisenhower’s intervention in Little Rock, Arkansas when Orval Faubus used military force to stifle the right of black people to attend school with whites? We are first and foremost citizens of the United States of America. Arkansas blacks were right to expect that the federal government would defend their rights because their rights applied to all people regardless of the color of their skin. (See Fake News, Executive Power, and the Anti-Working Class Character of Street Crime.)

Unless you believe that your perspective magically shapes reality for the rest of us, the question is about whether criminal procedure is being followed not whether the rule of law is supposed to be followed in a constitutional republic. Without the rule of law there is no republic. (See Acting DHS secretary hits back at Portland mayor’s ‘completely irresponsible’ claim that feds are ‘escalating’ unrest.)

“Protestors” in Portland

I am reading progressives on the matter of Portland and they sound like the far-right wing-nuts who, during the 1990s, characterized the ATF, the FBI, and other federal officers as “jackbooted thugs.” Remember that? These reactionaries claimed that the federal government was a fascistic entity depriving them of their rights. Their concerns of course fell on the deaf ears of progressives. But Waco wasn’t wrong because the feds intervened. Waco was wrong because the feds acted stupidly and recklessly. Same thing in Portland.

What we are seeing from the left is not judgment based on principle and the rule of law in a democratic republic, but panicked knee-jerking when the rule of law is applied a particular group with whom they agree. For progressives, smashing right-wingers is a beautiful thing—even when the protests are peaceful. Just the presence of conservatives and right-wingers is violence in the progressive’s eyes. They abhor the “deplorables,” white they adore Antifa for punching them in the face. When the cause they support involves arson, looting, and physical violence, then law enforcement is supposed to stand down because that mob is justified. It is an utterly contemptible double standard.

“Protestors” on the run in Portland

These progressive voices like to think of themselves as on the left, but as a lifelong left-winger, the double standard just isn’t working for me. As Marx explains, “laws are in no way repressive measures against freedom, any more than the law of gravity is a repressive measure against motion, because while, as the law of gravitation, it governs the eternal motions of the celestial bodies, as the law of falling it kills me if I violate it and want to dance in the air. Laws are rather the positive, clear, universal norms in which freedom has acquired an impersonal, theoretical existence independent of the arbitrariness of the individual.” He writes, “A statute book is a people’s bible of freedom.”

Marx was not an anarchist (neither am I).

For Marx, reason—the natural law, which for Marx is human rights, found in the objective potential of species-being—is realized in positive laws that establish the conditions for freedom (positive and negative), which has at its base security. Marx was an advocate of socialism because he wanted to improve the life chances for people. People cannot be free under conditions of anarchy because under conditions of anarchy there is no rule of law.

When E.P. Thompson embraced the rule of law in Whigs and Hunters, he was attacked by many on the left for deviating from Marxism. They did not grasp Thompson’s point that leaders disregarding the rule of law—which Ted Wheeler, Mayor of Portland, is guilty of—are a menace to freedom. Thompson meant to contrast the lawless leader from leaders constrained by the rule of law. Thompson understood that in any complex social system, the law is a necessary institution. Wheeler is not above the law. The mob he is advocating for is not above the law.

People have to understand what’s going on here. This is the work of corporate power. Progressives are the technocratic arm of the corporatists and the mob on the street is a tactic to disorganize the working class. They trained them for this moment. By defending the republic, the federal government preserves the machinery the workers need to effect change for their class—independent of race. (The Actual Bifurcation Points: Seeing the World in Real Terms; Zombie Politics: The Corporatist Ideology of Antiracism; Corporations Own the Left. Black Lives Matter Proves it.)

“Protestors” on the run in Portland

Progressives do not represent working people. They mean to disorganize the left with identity politics and postmodern thinking. They seek group rights not human rights, which are necessarily individual rights. Whatever Trump’s thinking is for intervening, the effect of his actions is pro-working class.

The just-minded don’t break laws unless they absolutely have to and this requires a legitimate cause. The mob in our streets is illegitimate. Their claims are objectively wrong. This is not a civil rights movement. It is a countermovement against progress. It is reactionary.

Civil disobedience to one side, there is no justification for destruction, plunder, and violence. Citizens have the right to expect that the government will intervene to protect them (see The States Rights Fallacy; Portland and the Rule of Law). If Wheeler fails to do that, then the federal government has to step it.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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