“All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.” —Animal Farm
Heather Cox Richardson, professor of history at Boston College, wrote the following on Facebook: “In all my years of studying U.S. politics, seamy side and all, I never expected to see the name of an American president in the New York Times in a list comparing him to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. But then, I never expected to see an American president urge a mob to storm the U.S. Capitol to overturn an election, either.”
Right off the bat, a lie is assumed in what Richardson wrote. Trump did not urge a mob to storm the Capitol to overturn an election. It was exactly the opposite. Exercising their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble and petition Congress for a redress of their grievances, hundreds of thousands of protesters were asked to walk in an orderly and nonviolent manner to the Capitol to let their voices be heard concerning white spread evidence of election fraud, illegalities, and irregularities.
The record is clear: The president asked his supporters to “peacefully and patriotically” make their voices heard. That’s what democracy looks like. If a mentally ill aspiring voice actor in a Buffalo costume heard something else that’s not the president’s fault. Yet a trial looms in the Senate and the words of the QAnon Shaman may be used to convict a man who is no longer president.
For many, if the Senate convicts, it will prove Trump did what he obviously did not: provide an insurrection. (It wasn’t even an insurrection. It was a stunt.) It will stand as a moment when our government manufactured a big lie for history. And for what purpose? How could it be for any other purpose that to weaken authentic popular movements that disrupt establishment power?
George Orwell speaks powerfully to this moment. But so does Franz Kafka. A man is being tried for something he could not possibly have done. And the punishment associated with conviction is removal from an office in which he no long sits. (See “No, You Can’t Try an Impeached Former President.”) The elites are crazy in public.
Richardson illustrates before her adoring fans the point I have been about how progressives live in an alternative reality, one where months of destructive riots over nonexistent racism (at least not the sort they claim) are glorified as the language of the unheard while a peaceful protest over a stolen election held some forty-five minutes from the Capitol justified transforming Washington DC into a green zone and forcing thousands of soldiers to sleep in a parking garage.
I remind you that Richardson is a college professor. A professor of history. Somebody who is trained in the comparative method. I assure you she is no anomaly. Many academics sleep in the same dream. It is the same dream that cocoons pundits and journalists. Even political cartoonists. The New Yorker published a cartoon carrying the title “Meanwhile at Mar-a-Lago.” One might think it was mocking delusional progressives. In reality, the delusion is too deep for self-reflection. Establishment propagandists don’t even realize how their expressions like these give the game away. Those depicted in the cartoon organized a coup to overthrow the government? Really? At the behest of Trump? There are some wild theories out there, but this is about the wildest. It’s so obviously bullshit that a high-profile cartoon meant to convey anti-Trump sentiment winds up making fun of all the people who fell for this insurrection nonsense. And progressives reflexively share it as a meme.
More disturbing that Richardson’s ideological blindness (after reading several of her Facebook posts, I wouldn’t trust her history, for the record) is the reference in her conclusion to former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center Robert Grenier. He is the one who made the comparison. He’s the one who moved her to write her Facebook post.
It’s a reflex of deep state habitus. Grenier, a few days ago, told the New York Times that, quoting Richardson, “the United States is facing a violent insurgency and should apply the lessons we have learned about counterinsurgency to head off political violence.” In other words, bring back COINTELPRO. Don’t know what that is? In the mid-1970s, thanks to the Church Committee hearings, our own government documented the existence of a long-running FBI program of “covert action designed to disrupt and discredit the activities of groups and individuals deemed a threat to the social order,” known as COINTELPRO. The FBI included among the program’s many targets organizations such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the anti-Vietnam War movement, the Nation of Islam, the Black Panthers, and individuals such as Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as local, state, and federal elected officials.
In light of this, it might be surprising to hear such lunacy in self-described leftwing outlets. Loretta Ross’s “The Nazification of the Republican Party” in Counterpunch is an example of how woke ideology deranges people on the left. She sounds just like a cult member. A religious zealot. And Counterpunch published this. After absurdly asserting that the president is a “white supremacist,” Ross writes, “The Republicans are a morally bankrupt political party that supported a deranged president who brought this fragile, evolving democracy to the brink of extinction simply because they can’t stand the glacially slow and righteous empowerment of people of color and any limits on their power to amass an immoral amount of wealth.” Our country was brought to the brink of extinction? By Trump? In what universe?
Of course, Ross is a joke. It remains far more disturbing that the delusion is expressed by deep state actors. Richardson: “Grenier noted that it is a national security imperative to convict the former president and bar him from future elective office. ‘I watched as enraged crowds in the streets of Algiers, as in most Arab capitals, melted away when Saddam Hussein was ignominiously defeated in the Persian Gulf war,’ Grenier wrote. ‘Mass demonstrations in Pakistan in support of Osama bin Laden fell into dull quiescence when he was driven into hiding after Sept. 11. To blunt the extremists, Mr. Trump’s veneer of invincibility must similarly be crushed.’”
Richardson may not have expected to see this comparison, but, as disturbing as it is, it comes as no surprise to me (and, really, not to her, as her role as cultural manager is to push out establishment propaganda). Globalists see, or at least depict, all those whom they regard as standing in their way in the same light. Prominent enemies are reduced to Hitler. Their supporters portrayed as Brownshirts. It gives the national security apparatus permission to invade and wreck a country. And to make war on American citizens. That Richardson doesn’t see the problem with Grenier’s comparison, indeed leveraging it for her conclusion, tells us a great deal about the bias she brings to her work.
It is becoming progressively easier for people to conflate the Capitol protest with the Capitol riot. Indeed, it appears to have become reflex among so many. Elites are using the conflation to punish those who attended to protest. This is wrong and dangerous. I never conflated the BLM protests, with which I disagreed, with the BLM riots, which I condemned. While I disagreed with the BLM protests (because they rested on a false premise), I defended the right of my fellow citizens to participate in them.
As Americans, we don’t get to defend the First Amendment based on whether we agree with the content of an expression or an action which that amendment protects. An American—a real American—defends free speech and peaceful assembly whatever the content or the grievance. A real American defends the right of his fellow Americans to protest the results of an election whether the affected party is Democrat or Republican—or protest systematic racism whether it exists or not. After all, people have a right to worship God, and he’s not real. Only an un-American authoritarian asshole would think it okay to punish a Christian for his faith. Or censor ridicule of Muhammad. To be sure, punishing those who participated in the Capitol riot is justice. Punishing those who attended the Capitol protest is an affront to the First Amendment. Comparing them to insurrectionists is of course protected speech. But the comparison is a metric of ideological stupidity.
Progressives might ask them how they’d feel about an assembly outside the White House petitioning for a redress of grievances, namely demanding that the Biden Administration ensure the right of the little guy to participate in financial markets and not defend Wall Street as the exclusive club of the oligarchs? Progressives obviously didn’t think the integrity of the 2020 election was a worthy reason to come to Washington DC and peacefully petition the government. Of course they would if the shoe were on the other foot. So how about the integrity of financial markets? Is that a worthy cause? Democrats and progressives have a radically different understanding of equality of judgment. For them, and this is the substance of equity, power comes before justice.
Now the hysteria is over Publix, because an heir of the family that started the business helped fund the January 6th rally. Alex Jones is implicated, as well. The rhetoric is that scoundrels funded an insurrection. First, there was no insurrection. There was a riot. Some of it was organized well before the rally. Other persons took advantage of the situation to sow chaos. It was a riot. For some, it was a stunt. Second, the rally—not the Capitol beach—was entirely in line with the First Amendment. The rioters, not even a couple of hundred strong, stood in contrast to hundreds of thousands peaceful protestors.
Progressives are trying to cancel those funded a rally to raise consciousness about election illegalities, irregularities, and fraud. When conservatives petition government for a redress of grievances, when conservatives exercise their First Amendment rights, they are to be punished. This Esquire headline echoes headlines across the media: “Here Is How Alex Jones, a Trump Campaign Fundrasier and a Grocery Store Heiress Helped Plan the Jan. 6th Rally.” It’s all about the “the rally before the deadly attack on the Capitol.” (You would never hear about the Black Live Matters rallies before deadly riots.) Conservatives are punished because they are not supposed to participate in the political process. Progressives can’t win on ideas because they’re with the corporate elite and there is a rising populist consciousness in this country. Progressives do not represent working people. On the contrary, they work to suppress the working class voice. There is a widespread myth on the left that progressives represent the proletariat. Progressive ideology is the ideology of corporate governance. If lefties don’t get that through their collective head, they will never understand why they keep losing.
This is the crazy costal elitism, progressivism, identity politics, and globalist corporatism provoke. This is a red country with blue cities. And the cities are disaster areas. But it’s the Americans in the heartland who are the problem. However many tens of millions of them there are, their opinions and values don’t count. They are in the way. Since Republicans represent them, that party must be delegitimized and marginalized. De-Nazified. The government needs to “rein in” social media, by which actors like Sandy Ocasio mean excluding conservative voices. Of course, social media is already doing that. But it is not total, and progressives envision one-party/one ideology rule.
The instinct here is profoundly totalitarian. They are pushing us towards a future not unlike the dystopia of Airstrip One. If you don’t know what that means, see George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four. If you haven’t read that book, it is time that you did.
This is not an endorsement of William Lind, but I was asked whether the video The History of Political Correctness is accurate. Honesty demands that I answer yes. Indeed, it’s an excellent summary of the history of critical theory and the Frankfurt School.
However, the video misses what ultimately lies behind critical theory. Because the analysis hails from the political right, it sees Marxist ambition behind critical theory. This is the great failing of rightwing politics, and occurs because it is unable to work outside the capitalist standpoint. The right operates primarily from a petty bourgeois standpoint and does not grasp that big capital operates from neither right nor left, but remains free to choose from whatever side of the political divide advances its interests in the moment. Presently that is the progressive leftwing sensibilities of the coasts of the United States.
Political correctness and identity politics do not represent a Marxist takeover of Western institutions. There is no widespread teaching of class consciousness and class struggle in the institutions of the West. There are business departments on college campuses across the nation teaching students how to better exploit labor, capture markets, and maximize profits. Departments preparing students to overthrow capitalism? Not so much. Hardly at all. But there are plenty of women’s studies, ethnic studies, gender studies, queer studies, and fat studies. The one notable thing none of them have in common is a concern for class struggle. Despite Jordan Peterson’s fevered dreams, postcolonialism, postmodernism, poststructuralism, and the like are not Marxism or really even like Marxism.
Like the conservative critique, the right libertarian critique also misses the actual force driving leftwing authoritarianism, namely transnationalism, which is a corporatist phenomenon. To hear an example, click on the Twitter link above. The left busybodies identified in that podcast have no power beyond that which is given to it by corporate power. The left—or what passes for the left these days—is a servant of capital. So far, the only person online talking about this who understands international political economy (besides me) is Steve Bannon, who warns conservatives about spreading the false notion that socialism is the problem. (The folks over at Spiked come pretty close to getting at the truth at times.)
Despite what you may have heard, there are very few Marxists in the academy. Most of those who identify as “on the left” work hand-in-hand with corporations to meet their needs for expanded exploitation of resources, workforce development, profit generation, and legitimizing corporate governance. The academy is part of what Antonio Gramsci calls the extended state. Today, that’s state monopoly capitalism. Instead of raising class consciousness, the academy indoctrinates youth in gender and race politics, etc., conditioning them to loathe Western civilization, which is portrayed as irredeemably racist and sexist.
Political correctness and identity politics comprise not a strategy to advance communism (conservatives sound silly when they make this claim), but a strategy used by corporate power to fragment the working class along lines constructed by abstract categories and disrupt the development of class consciousness by involving men and women in divisive identity politics, diverting them from class politics. More than this, because the corporatist project is has as its goal the establishment of a thoroughgoing transnational order, societal and cultural institutions condition the young to associate western civilization of racism and colonialism in order to enlist them in a denationalizing project to cancel democratic-republicanism, erase nation states, and integrate the working classes of the West fully into the global economy, where the state capitalist model of the Chinese Communist Party is inviable.
The New Left is largely a simulation running on corporate power. For example, if racism is functionally useful to elites, and society has overcome racism, then elites will reconstruct a new racism—a simulation—to restore that function. James Lindsay the author of Cynical Theories, usefully calls the effect of the simulation “pseudo-reality.” A jargon and slogans construct the simulacra of racist and sexist oppression that stand in place of the oppression lost to history and struggle—a history that proves the validity of the democratic-republican institutions of western civilization.
The left thus live in a fact-free universe. Search through and find and read my posts where I debunk the Black Lives Matter claim that cops shoot blacks are a disproportionately higher rate than they do whites. Or ask yourself, do those who claim that had a black mob breached the Capitol cops would have mowed them down base that counterfactual on the the nonfact that cops killed scores of black men during the summer riots? The reason one should find the counterfactual so ridiculous is because of widespread support from the so-called white establishment in these cities for the riots. Based on that fact, what we should instead imagine happening in the counterfactual is Democrats apologizing for a black mob beaching the White House. Pelosi would have put on her Kente cloth and took a knee.
However, as W.I. Thomas noted more almost a century ago in his “definition of a situation,” “if men define situations as real they are real in the consequences,” the manufacture of oppression nonetheless carries real effects. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Tell people they are victims of racism enough and they come to believe it. Tell them western civilization is the source of their oppression, and they will seek to overthrow it.
People who perceive falsehoods as foundational truths are nearly impossible to reason with. Arguing with a congregant of the Church of Woke is like arguing with a fundamentalist Muslim. You aren’t likely to get anywhere. I don’t even try much anymore, frankly. It’s why I almost never intervene on other people’s Facebook or Twitter pages. But when the woke are trying to force the rest of us to live in their simulation, their pseudo-reality, then we have to draw the line and resist.
Since the source of oppression is reproduced by the vocabulary that produces it, which is itself expresses a desire to oppress (“all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”), there is no way out of it on its own terms. So we have to reject the vocabulary and demand of those who would converse with us language that describes reality not constructs it.
Here’s another example. When people talk about “systemic racism” they remind me, as if I didn’t know, that racism can be systemic. I teach race and ethnic relations. I wrote a two-volume 800-plus dissertation on the subject. I know the literature. I know that actual examples of systemic racism—Jim Crow segregation in the United States or apartheid in South Africa—were abolished decades ago. What they are really doing by “reminding” me of this is changing the definition while pretending they aren’t. Systemic must mean something else in their usage. I’m not necessarily suggesting their deceit is intentional. But it doesn’t matter whether it is. It functions the same way—actually, even better if it is reflex.
One more example. On January 20, 2021, Counterpunch published an essay, “The Nazification of the Republican Party,” by Loretta J. Ross. After asserting that the Trump is a “white supremacist,” she writes, “The Republicans are a morally bankrupt political party that supported a deranged president who brought this fragile, evolving democracy to the brink of extinction simply because they can’t stand the glacially slow and righteous empowerment of people of color and any limits on their power to amass an immoral amount of wealth.” The essay is a terrific example of how woke ideology deranges thinking. The degree of delusion in the essay indicates a mentality not unlike that of a cult member or a religious zealot. Democracy was brought to the brink of extinction by a messy riot at the US Capitol? All the milling about of a menagerie if individuals across the political spectrum, some of who were clearly mentally ill, represented an organized plan to overthrow the American government? Ross doesn’t live in the real world. She lives in the simulation.
“I know this,” Ross writes about her expertise on Nazism, “because I teach a course on White Supremacy at Smith College.” Smith College is a private liberal arts women’s college in Northampton, Massachusetts. The college portrays itself as a paradigm of progressive education, operating without programmatic curriculum or course requirements. It’s to the left of Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Unlike Evergreen, it’s a very exclusive fair, its student body populating key roles in the culture industry (which their starting point in economic privilege would have place them anyway). This college is the place where, for using the word “nigger” in a discussion about the word, a campaign of cancellation against Wendy Kaminer was initiated. Students accused her of committing “an explicit act of racial violence.” She remarked to Susan Kruth from The New York Times (read a summary of the article at FIRE), “It’s amazing to me that [students] can’t distinguish between racist speech and speech about racist speech, between racism and discussions of racism.” I often express amazement, as well. But it’s not really amazing when you understand what’s going on. These are the sites where the simulation is downloaded and installed on the wetware of human brains.
It is a monumental task to correct the massive error that New Left ideology has wrought on the West. Because it is a corporate-powered simulation, it has been embedded across our institutions—the academy, the administrative apparatus (public and private), the culture industry, the government, the mass media, even churches. The liberal—autonomous, rational, secular, skeptical—is outgunned by the overgrowth of the corporatist establishment. A heretic, this character we should celebrate, the liberal even becomes a pariah. Cast as repressive tolerance, free speech is a rightwing idea. The liberal’s opposition to racism and authoritarianism, and his commitment to individual liberty, make him a racist and a fascist. A strange and powerful alchemy is at work. The situation is very much like the free thinker confronting the religious establishment before the emergence of the secular nation-state. But this history should inspire us. We put the Borg on its back foot before. We can do it again.
One of the things that makes this work difficult is the dependency of so many on the left on security of the Democratic Party. It is amazing to me that a party with such stupid rhetoric impresses so many intelligent people. When I hear progressives say they can once again safely fall asleep in the backseat of the car because their father is driving, I hear in that metaphor a deep and pathological need for a father. You probably saw CNN political director David Chalian gushing: “The contrast on display tonight was so stark, I mean those lights that are just shooting out of the Lincoln Memorial along the Reflecting Pool, it’s like almost extensions of Joe Biden’s arms embracing America.” In case you missed it, here it is in all its cringe-worthiness:
It is an authoritarian desire for an adult to wish to fall asleep in the father’s arms. Authoritarianism, one must remember, is not just manifest in those who take control of society and govern as a father, it is also manifest in adults who pine to be treated like children. This is an effect of the progressive technocratic order: learned helplessness. The coddling state. This conditioning has produced a generation of brats who see themselves as victims. This is not a psychologically healthy state of being. For their sake we must object.
I have a much longer essay coming out in the future on the problem of partisan ideology obscuring the force behind identity politics. It will truly be a deep dive. The problem that inspires this work is this: modern conservatives, who are natural allies of the working class, because the working class is conservative and classically liberal, wrongly believe that Marxists have taken over the institutions of US society. How could this be possible in a capitalist society? It’s not. Marxism’s choice of comrades–the working class–stand in opposition to the bourgeoisie, the capitalist class. However, simply pointing out that truism is not enough to convince people. So I have been providing in these essays analyses of the structure of progressive ideology and practice and linking it to the functional apparatus securing, advancing, and entrenching a particular fraction of the capitalist class, namely big capital in the form of the limited liability corporation.
Corporations, operating on the rationality of monopolization and profit maximization, are open to whatever ideology advances their material interests. Today corporations are woke and take up leftwing ideology. But that hardly means their communist or socialist. The petty bourgeoisie, the small capitalist, does not operate in the same way. My sympathy for the petty bourgeoisie is often misunderstood as support for rightwing ideology. This could not be more wrong. My vision of a proper democratic-republic society in one in which workers, in charge of their firms of scale, work alongside small businesses, craftsmen, etc., and together in a spirit of social improvement manage the affairs of their communities for the benefit of their families. That is the populist vision, and it is neither right nor left. Rather, it is humanist, individualist, democratic, and secular. My arguments are a call for a restoration of the Enlightenment and the nation-state.
Science is not a monolithic thing. There is no one way science works, is the best science or even the only science, that just happens to be the way a particular person wants it to work, because it fits their politics (which are often falsely conscious politics in light of explicit choice of comrades), hypostatizing in theory and concept, dictating methods, and so forth. The cognitive and behavioral sciences prevailing in today’s academy, the context in which so many young Americans and Europeans are being socialized (or, perhaps, more critically, indoctrinated), are the epitome of scientism, i.e. ideology masquerading as science.
To be sure, there is a critical sounding jargon emanating from the universities. But I do not see in the arguments of many young graduate students today a critical understanding of the diversity of scientific thinking and activity or especially the way scientific jargon (positivism) is used to convey a false authority, to advance an ideology to justify and perpetuate and extend and entrench concrete social arrangements beneficial to one group over another. There is no critique. Where is a critique of behavioral and cognitive sciences like the critique of the science that drives corporate exploitation of the environment and the manmade chemical blanket over nature?
I’m not talking about postmodernism or the current iteration of critical theory, which function either to deny truth or manufacture it (e.g., critical race theory, the error of which is more fundamental than scientific error by committing the logical fallacy of misplaced concreteness). I’m talking about a critical understanding of science as a human product that works through paradigms (in a Kuhnian sense) that can be and are commandeered by those in power and cynically used to justify particular relations that exist or that are desired to exist that reproduce social arrangements that do or will benefit the ruling class, which is presently a corporate oligarchy.
What did Marx tell us? Those who control the means of material production at the same time control the means of ideological production. This is a truism. Who controls the university? The administrative state in the service of the power elite. This is a university that exists as part of the social logic of state monopoly capitalism. Where is a theory of power in the argument that advances the scientism promulgated by the (post)modern university?
Science is not one thing at once or through time. There exist paradigms at one point or another. If we were doing science in the 19th century, the aspiring psychologist in graduate school pushing out objective notions of race (which does not in the way it is usually constructed exist apart from racial thinking), to be in alignment with the literature, to graduate with a degree, to uphold the reputation of the discipline, to land an academic position, to be taken seriously at conferences, would have to sound like what we know today as a vulgar racist. He would be working from a set of assumptions, operating inside a paradigm, that would provide for him methods affirming the validity of theoretical concepts that (a) identify races as really existing things and existing in a particular way that can be (b) arranged in hierarchies that vary along lines of moral character, cognitive ability, behavioral proclivity, and so on.
If we take a critical historical view, we can see 19th century race science (racism or racialism) for what it was. To be sure, most of us see it now. But we would have seen it then using the appropriate method. There were people then who could see it how we see it now. Marx, who developed the method, didn’t think Darwin’s theories of speciation applied to human beings in its diversity or especially to their societies (neither did the co-discoverer of natural selection, Alfred Wallace). Marx’s method builds on the same method used to show that religion is also a product of human creativity (Feuerbach). This is anthropology. You cannot reduce the study of society and history to positivist methodology. Why? Because that paradigm is historically situated and tied to concrete relations of power.
The conflation of racism as a thing existing with the thinking and behavior of people the progressive doesn’t like, or whom he thinks need deprogramming, depends on defining racism in a way that avoids confronting the reality that thoughts and behaviors approximating racism exists in the people he does like. That involves a vast body of literature, which he fancies as science, which he brings before us puzzling why we do not accept it, that has replaced what we all recognize as racism. The difference is that I see a vast ideological superstructure that recodes racism as antiracism that replaces the previous system of ideological control that lost its gas in the face of popular movements in the 20th century and then erects a vast edifice of “science” to make it all look objective and true.
The tragedy of the current moment is that popular movements are aligned with the racial thinking that keep the proletariat from class consciousness. These movements are bound up in ideological and practice, what is called progressivism, that rewards those who accept positivism as the way to truth and punishes those who deviate from it, even calling them “racists” and “white supremacists.” And that is not scientific thinking. That is the function of racism always. What is it the French say? “Plus les choses changent, plus elles restent les mêmes.” What is needed is a method that allows man to think outside the moment. In historical view, man has to take the longue durée. The materialist conception of history is the required meta-theory of the relationship between social relations and knowledge production.
This post contains an excerpt from The 1776 Report released by The President’s Advisory 1776 Commission, January 2021. The report was scrubbed from the White House web pages simultaneous with the installation of Joe Biden as president, so I had to rely on a link from Wikipedia. I may have to update that link again as the problem of memory holing steps up in the age of Big Tech tyranny.
Victor Davis Hanson, emeritus professor at California States University, Fresno and Senior Fellow at Standard University’s Hoover Institution, is one of the historians on the Commission that produced the report. I have over the last few years found Hanson’s observations and interpretations helpful in developing a deeper understanding of the world.
Also on the commission was Carol Swain, who served as Vice Chair. Swain was professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University. Raised in poverty, earning a GED while working as a cashier at McDonald’s, Swain obtained her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at chapel Hill. Before finishing her career at Vanderbilt, Swain earned tenure at Princeton. I mention that because the media is trying to tear down her reputation.
While I don’t agree with everything in the document (especially, for example, its advocacy of religion values), it is not what it is characterized as. The establishment media is painting the Commission’s report as racist apologia for slavery and white supremacy. This characterization means to deny the usefulness of the approach, indeed to keep people from considering its arguments.
I believe the excerpt I have selected, titled “Progressivism,” is especially important for people to reflect upon. I have been writing about the dynamic and problem of progressivism for some time now. I have contrasted progressivism with populism in lengthy blogs on Freedom and Reason. I have another piece on progressivism in the cue, but, until then, this excerpt aligns with the spirit of my analysis.
In June 2003, Richard Grossman, in criticizing Bill Moyer’s speech to the Take Back America conference, delivered June 4, 2003, argues that “by lumping Populism with Progressivism, by extolling the Progressive Era’s legacy of regulatory and administrative law, he joins countless 20th century leaders and historians in denying the Populist Movement. What they all work so hard to deny, alas, is the largest democratic mass movement in US history, a massing devoted to building upon the trampled ideals of the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence.
“Populists were farmers, workers and like-minded intellectuals challenging usurpations galore declared lawful by men of property,” Grossman continues. “Populists had no interest in regulating destructive and rights-denying corporate behaviors. Daring to trust their own experiences with banking, railroad, grain, land, insurance, and manufacturing magnates (and their corporations), they had no illusions that permitting and disclosure—the basis of “progressive” regulations—would fix a corporate state.” (See, “Who Were the Populists?”)
The Commission’s report goes beyond Grossman’s arguments, identifying the destructive general effects of progressivism on the ability for people to self-govern and enjoy their natural rights (whether given by god or nature). It packs a lot in a few words. My pending blog will explore these effects is greater detail. Without further ado, here is the excerpt.
In the decades that followed the Civil War, in response to the industrial revolution and the expansion of urban society, many American elites adopted a series of ideas to address these changes called Progressivism. Although not all of one piece, and not without its practical merits, the political thought of Progressivism held that the times had moved far beyond the founding era, and that contemporary society was too complex any longer to be governed by principles formulated in the 18th century. To use a contemporary analogy, Progressives believed that America’ s original “software”—the founding documents—were no longer capable of operating America’s vastly more complex “hardware”: the advanced industrial society that had emerged since the founding.
More significantly, the Progressives held that truths were not permanent but only relative to their time. They rejected the self-evident truth of the Declaration that all men are created equal and are endowed equally, either by nature or by God, with unchanging rights. As one prominent Progressive historian wrote in 1922, “To ask whether the natural rights philosophy of the Declaration of Independence is true or false, is essentially a meaningless question.” Instead, Progressives believed there were only group rights that are constantly redefined and change with the times. Indeed, society has the power and obligation not only to define and grant new rights, but also to take old rights away as the country develops.
Based on this false understanding of rights, the Progressives designed a new system of government. Instead of securing fundamental rights grounded in nature, government—operating under a new theory of the “living” Constitution—should constantly evolve to secure evolving rights.
In order to keep up with these changes, government would be run more and more by credentialed managers, who would direct society through rules and regulations that mold to the currents of the time. Before he became President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson laid out this new system whereby “the functions of government are in a very real sense independent of legislation, and even constitutions,” meaning that this new view of government would operate independent of the people.
Far from creating an omniscient body of civil servants led only by “pragmatism” or “science,” though, progressives instead created what amounts to a fourth branch of government called at times the bureaucracy or the administrative state. This shadow government never faces elections and today operates largely without checks and balances. The founders always opposed government unaccountable to the people and without constitutional restraint, yet it continues to grow around us.
“By turning to bitterness and judgment, distorted histories of those like Howard Zinn or the journalists behind the ‘1619 Project’ have prevented their students from learning to think inductively with a rich repository of cultural, historical, and literary referents.” — The 1776 Report
Vazquez writes, “A commission stood up by President Trump as a rebuttal to schools applying a more accurate history curriculum around slavery in the US issued its inflammatory report on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.” I blogged about antiracism curriculum in “California Moves Ahead with Divisive Antiracism Curriculum” on September 22, 2020. Vazquez’ assertion of greater accuracy is inaccurate.
To read the Trump commission report, click here: The 1776 Report. The New York Times has attempted to to confuse the public with its own headline, “Trump’s 1776 Commission Critiques Liberalism in Report Derided by Historians.” In fact, the report is a defense of liberalism, not a critique of it. The New York Times continues its habit of conflating liberalism with illiberalism on the left. (One of my favorite historians, Victor Davis Hanson, sat on the commission.)
Vazquez and The New York Times are, of course, talking about fellow journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones’ The 1619 Project which, as several historians have pointed out (Victoria Bynum, James McPherson, James Oakes, Sean Wilentz, and Gordon Wood), is chock full of falsehood and misrepresentation. At first, the editor of The New York Times Magazine lamely said it wasn’t those things and refused for months to issue any corrections. When he finally relented, his corrections were accompanied by unacknowledged changes revising problematic aspects of the argument.
Announcing the 1619 Project by its accolade “Pulitzer Prize-winning” doesn’t save it. Indeed, awarding shoddy scholarship only casts disrepute on the prize. Trump characterized the 1619 Project as “toxic propaganda.” I don’t like the word “toxic” attached to such matters. Toxic or not, the 1619 project is propaganda.
Nor does going after members of the president’s commission save Vazquez’s rant. She writes, “The commission’s vice chair, Carol Swain, once wrote that Islam “poses an absolute danger to us and our children.” The article in question, Charlie Hebdo attacks prove critics were right about Islam,” can be found here. Vazquez quotes Swain as if she were some hack. Swain, a black woman, a single mother, earning a GED while working as a cashier at McDonald’s, obtained a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and, before finishing her career as full professor at Vanderbilt, earned tenure at Princeton.
Trump established the 1776 Commission last fall in response to the Black Lives Matter protests that disrupted cities across the nation. Trump blamed anti-racist school curriculum for the violence that routinely followed the protests, claiming that “the left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools.” I blogged about this extensively, so surf the table of contents of Freedom and Reason.
The president was right. Motive for the protests and riots were clearly articulated in rhetoric uttered by the protestors and rioters. The content of slogans and arguments indicated that BLM was guided by the New Left ideology that has become standard in American universities. I know. I’m a professor of sociology who teaches in a program called Democracy and Justice Studies. I teach, among other things, race and ethnic relations. Critical race theory and identity politics are ubiquitous in the programming.
“Trump’s presidency has been marked by his racist statements and actions,” Vazquez asserts in her article, providing only one alleged example, “his incitement of a mob, which included White supremacists, to storm the US Capitol on January 6 in protest of Biden’s victory.” But Trump didn’t incite the mob that stormed the White House. His speech was an impassioned call for peaceful demonstrations (the text of his speech will be his best defense if his impeachment ever goes to trial). What is more, the timeline of events makes it impossible for Trump to have incited the riot whatever the content of his speech. The presence of white supremacists anywhere has no bearing on Trump. Trump isn’t responsible for white supremacy. He has denounced white supremacy more than any president alive or dead.
Vazquez reports that the “White House statement calls the report ‘a dispositive rebuttal of reckless “re-education” attempts that seek to reframe American history around the idea that the United States is not an exceptional country but an evil one.’” This is indeed the message of antiracism and the work of diversity training (see For the Good of Your Soul: Tribal Stigma and the God of Reparations; The Church of Woke: A Moment of Reckoning for White Christians?) “Americans are deeply divided about the meaning of their country, its history, and how it should be governed”—She quotes this from the report as if Trump is the author of this deep divide.
Vazquez flips obvious truths like this throughout her article. “The report’s authors also argue that ‘the Civil Rights Movement was almost immediately turned to programs that ran counter to the lofty ideals of the founders,’ specifically criticizing affirmative action policies.” She then quotes this powerful passage from the report: “Today, far from a regime of equal natural rights for equal citizens, enforced by the equal application of law, we have moved toward a system of explicit group privilege that, in the name of ‘social justice,’ demands equal results and explicitly sorts citizens into ‘protected classes’ based on race and other demographic categories.” Is tat note the point of equity. The 1776 Report continues, “Eventually this regime of formal inequality would come to be known as ‘identity politics.’” Identity politics are “the opposite of King’s hope that his children would ‘live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’”
Vazquez habit of quoting from the report as if it invalidates itself continues throughout: “A radical women’s liberation movement reimagined America as a patriarchal system, asserting that every woman is a victim of oppression by men. The Black Power and black nationalist movements reimagined America as a white supremacist regime. Meanwhile, other activists constructed artificial groupings to further divide Americans by race, creating new categories like ‘Asian American’ and ‘Hispanic’ to teach Americans to think of themselves in terms of group identities and to rouse various groups into politically cohesive bodies.” Identity politics, the report contends, makes “a mockery of equality with an ever-changing scale of special privileges on the basis of racial and sexual identities.”
The report contend that universities are “hotbeds of anti-Americanism, libel, and censorship that combine to generate in students and in the broader culture at the very least disdain and at worst outright hatred for this country.” It recommends that “states and school districts…reject any curriculum that promotes one-sided partisan opinions, activist propaganda, or factional ideologies that demean America’s heritage, dishonor our heroes, or deny our principles.” It desires that teachers “convey a sense of enlightened patriotism that equips each generation with a knowledge of America’s founding principles, a deep reverence for their liberties, and a profound love of their country.”
I relied on Vazquez for the quoted passages. However, I have read the 1776 Report. The section on progressivism (pages 12-13) is especially good. The progressive belief that the foundational truths of the republic are relative only to their own time anticipates postmodern epistemology and obviates in principle the need to adhere to the founding documents. Of course, as an atheist, I do not subscribe to the faith elements articulated by the authors. At the same time, attempting to deny that the Christian faith played a significant role in the founding and development of the republic would be absurd. Thankfully, one of the founding principles of the republic was secularism.
As for accusations in other media sources that the report excuses slavery, it is true that slavery is not “a uniquely American evil” and it is important that “the institution be seen in a much broader perspective.” It is a matter of historical facts that the United States was founded in the context of world slavery, the US Constitution abolished the slave trade, and chattel slavery itself was abolished within a century of the country’s founding. Also, I am seeing the claim that the report justifies the compromise that counts black people as three-fifths of a person. But the compromise does not count black people as three-fifths of a person. That is a misrepresentation of the compromise. For purposes of determining the number of representatives for each state in the House (and direct taxes), the compromise was that the government would count only three-fifths of slaves (not all of them from the Southern states). Free blacks, of which there were tens of thousands, were counted on par with whites. It was not about race but about servitude. What is rarely acknowledged is that the Constitution avoids affirming the legitimacy of property in persons. As we know from Madison’s notes, this was intentional.
Vazquez ends her article by reassuring the reader: “The commission does not have authority to enforce the recommendations it has made for educators.”
On balance, who have been the greatest beneficiaries of freedom of speech and thought in history? The patriarchy or women? Heterosexism or homosexuals? Monarchies or democrats? Religion or scientists? Are we still where we were before the enlightenment? Or are we freer and more rational today? Did our ability to speak freely play any part in this? Historically, who have been the greatest advocates of limits on speech? Monarchists and authoritarians? Religious leaders? Or liberals and democrats? How about progressives? Was civil rights advanced by limiting or by expanding the liberty of people to speak?
Belief in God is associated with violence. Who doesn’t know this? Should we censor those who quote scripture? Of course not. Despite the fact that Islam motivated men to fly planes into buildings and commit mass murder in a gay bar and many other atrocities across the world, I have never argued for censoring the speech of Muslims. My work has always been to criticize Islam and condemn violence associated with it. But I require freedom of expression to do this.
Imagine a world in which you were not allowed to criticize Islam. You know you don’t have to imagine such a world. There are plenty of real world examples where those who criticize Islam are canceled, even executed. You wouldn’t want to live in those countries. People are literally dying to get out of those countries.
When the Church tried to stop speech claiming that the sun not the earth sat at the throne of our solar system, did they do so by claiming that a handful of people might be motivated to commit violence on this claim? It was a possibility. Some people might be very angry to learn that the Church had been lying to them about something as important as the actual structure of the solar system. Imagine a mob in the Vatican. Or was the Church really concerned that people might actually consider whether the claim that the earth not the sun sat on the throne was false and knowing this would delegitimize the Doctrine. Obviously it was the latter. This is why the Church suppressed the message of heliocentric and punished the messenger.
All this presumes that the speech in question is connected with the violence the speech is alleged to have inspired or provoked. I put the matter that way because I want to steel-man my argument for free speech. In the case of the more violent passages in popular religious texts, I am obviously a strong proponent for the free speech right. However, peaceably assembling to ask Congress for a redress of grievances, along with free speech and a free press, a right explicitly protected by the US Bill of Rights, is not a provocation to commit violence. It is not an incitement to riot. Proximate violence is not the fault of the assembly but of the fault of those individuals and only those individuals.
What Democrats are doing is entirely contrary to the foundational values of the American Republic. Their censorious desires is more than offensive to the American Creed. It a threat to our liberty and our democracy. Listen to the rhetoric of progressives across the country. The spirit of authoritarian has possessed them.
I told you January 6, 2021 would be a doozy. I was right, But not in the way I thought I would be. I expected Mike Pence to either bounce the electoral college process back to the states to resolve their many outstanding issues or allow the several contested states to make their objections during the scheduled Joint Session of Congress and work their way through the process.
In a letter dated Monday, January 4, and addressed to US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, signed by Pennsylvania state Senator Jake Corman, Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, Sen. Judy Ward and Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, legislators accused Governor Tom Wolf, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, and the PA Supreme Court of altering election code in an attempt to circumvent the democratic process. I have been asked why PA legislators would object to the certification so late in the game. The PA legislature was out of commission for several weeks and just recently reconvened. But PA isn’t the only state with elected leaders objecting to certification.
Either course was expected to be met with great outrage from the Democratic party and the establishment punditry. Their desire to see Trump denied a second term is so deeply felt that any democratic challenge to the votes as certified, which gives their man Joe Biden the presidency, must be shamed or shutdown.
Pence, at his core a man of the establishment and personal ambition, opened the Joint Session by failing to adjourn it, a lawful power he falsely denied possessing. Adding insult to injury, in explaining his actions, he misled the public about what it was that the president expected from him (the president only expected him to adjourn and send it back to the states). The man ruthlessly mocked for having a fly on his head during his one an only debate with Kamala Harris suddenly became a hero on the left, many of them wanting him to be President of the United States for a couple of days.
As it turned out, a mob, at least some of whom were decked out in Trump paraphernalia, apparently with some help from DC Police (“I don’t agree with this,” one cop says on camera, while another takes a selfie with a member of the mob), breached the Capitol building and shut down the the Republican challenge to the electoral process. That’s right: the mob’s actions, which the media tells its slack-jawed audience was essentially an insurrection directed by Trump and motivated by a desire to stop the process, whether by design or because of incompetence, did the establishment’s work for them. When Congress reconvened a few hours later, Biden and Harris sailed through through the process. Trump conceded the next day.
The Capitol police serve under the command of Black Lives Matter activist D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Perhaps Trump should have followed through with his proposal to take control of the DC Police back in June 2020 when Bowser was allowing BLM protesters to attack her officers, loot stores, and burn churches. In fact, so close did the mob come to the White House on June 1, that the Secret Service moved the Trump family to the White House bunker and staffers were told to hide their ID badges until they could be safely inside the compound’s security perimeter. Progressives predictably mocked Trump for “hiding in his bunker.” They celebrated when the White House, surrounded by a throng of Antifa and BLM protestors shouting slogans and threats, dimmed its lights. Those are the same progressives who now absurdly claim that an isolated riot at the Capitol building on January 6, 2021 was an “insurrection.” Those same progressives said these sorts of things all through the summer months while American, wracked with COVID-19, burned:
Americans reacted to the mayhem predictably, polls recording a partisan gulf in opinion. For example, while a YouGov Direct poll of 1,397 registered voters found that nearly two-thirds of voters perceived the breaching of the Capitol building as a threat to democracy, cross-tabs reveal profound political-ideological differentiation in perception. Among Republicans, only a bit more than a quarter considered the riot as a threat to democracy, with more than two-thirds saying it was not. Democrats, on the other hand, in overwhelming numbers, say it was threat to democracy, with 93 percent answering “yes.”
An objective analysis of the situation indicates that, on this question, Democrats are rather untethered from reality. The riot at the Capitol did not represent a threat to democracy, at least not in the way we are meant to understand such threats. It was more of a stunt if anything, albeit a deadly one. Police quickly corralled the mob, many of whom were ragamuffins wandering around the capital taking pictures and video, and ushered them outside. However, perhaps more startling in the poll, while 43 percent of Republicans opposed the actions of those at the Capitol, 45 percent of Republicans supported their actions. Perhaps Republicans responding to the poll didn’t understand that it was a menagerie of clowns who breached the Capitol building and were answering the question in the abstract. In any case, the response is a metric of conservative populist frustration.
Certainly the government is portraying what happened as a threat to democracy. And they have blamed it on Trump. Prominent leaders have called for Mike Pence to organize the Trump cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would, if not overridden by Congress, remove Trump from office by declaring him unfit to continue in that role. Democrats threatened to impeach the president (again) if that does not happen. Now it appears that, on Monday, articles of impeachment may be filed in the House. According the ABC News, “House Democrats on Friday discussed moving forward with efforts to impeach President Donald Trump a second time, circulating the draft of a single article citing ‘incitement of insurrection’ that they could introduce as early as Monday and hold a full House vote on as early as the middle of next week.”
It’s not only the government who is eager to see Trump removed and delegitimized. Corporate leaders want him out of office. The leader of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), a group representing 14,000 companies in the US, in what CNBC describes as a “sharply worded statement,” called on Pence to “seriously consider” invoking the 25th Amendment. What better group of people than the NAM to call for removing a president from office. That doesn’t sound like a coup at all—just the echos of the “Business Plot,” also known as the “White House Putsch,” against President Roosevelt in 1933. Seriously, it’s fucking scary when the “business community” asks for the removal of one of the only two democratically elected official who represents all Americans.
* * *
The New York Post reported yesterday that 68 people who breached the Capitol building have so far been arrested (new reporting raises that number to more than 80). The paper also reports that DC Police have released dozens of photos of those who breached the Capitol building, which the paper has published. You can look at each of these pictures by clicking on the previous link. According to the BBC, investigators in DC say they have received over 17,000 tips from the public on the rioters. (Note that while I use the word “breach” throughout this essay, in several videos one can plainly see DC Police opening doors for the rabble.)
I reported on the killing of Ashli Babbit in an update to the blog I cite above. The US Capitol Police have since confirmed the death of Officer Brian Sicknick, who sustained injuries at the Capitol. His union said he died of a stroke. However, according to The New York Times, Officer Sicknick was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher by a rioter. If his death was caused by human agency, we should hope whoever is responsible for his demise has been or will be identified and held accountable. The establishment is busy making Sicknick a martyr to their cause. But Sicknick was one of us. He knew the system is fundamentally rigged in favor of the power elite. The New York Post reports, “After serving his country and observing the workings of its government, Sicknick had come to believe that America is governed by a self-interested, unresponsive and unaccountable oligarchy.”
In addition to Babbit and Sicknick, a woman named Rosanne Boyland was trampled to death in the Rotunda. While I may disagree with Babbit and Boyland’s reasons for being in the Capitol building, their deaths are nonetheless tragic and regrettable, as was Officer Sicknick’s. I should emphasize that, while Babbit’s motives appear obvious, I am not sure of Boyland’s reasons for being there. Boyland had a troubled past. She was arrested multiple times for distribution of heroin. She had also been arrested on battery charges, obstruction of law enforcement, and trespass. If the character of many of those who rioted in the Antifa and Black Lives Matter protests is any indication, it is likely that many of the other rioters at the US Capitol have extensive criminal records. Upstanding citizens are disinclined to riot.
There are other reported deaths at the Capitol, but most appear to be unrelated to the violence (heart attacks, strokes) so their inclusion in the media death toll appears to serve a narrative and are not really relevant to an objective analysis of the event (except in that sense). There is, however, one additional death that may be related to the Capitol breach. Howard Liebengood, who worked in the Senate Division of the Capitol Police, and was among those who responded to the riot that day, has committed suicide. I won’t speculate as to the reasons why he took his life.
* * *
News stories are emerging that some of those who breached the Capitol building with bad intent are being fired from their jobs. Individuals should certainly be held accountable for their criminal behavior. Perhaps in some cases there is justification for the firings. But there are also reports emerging of those who were peacefully protesting outside the Capitol being fired or suspended from their jobs. For example, Detective Jennifer Gugger was removed from her position in the Philadelphia police department’s Recruit Background Investigations Unit on Saturday after Internal Affairs received a tip that she had been at the event, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The paper reports that the tip did not include evidence that Gugger had been inside the Capitol or had participated in the violence.
This is a troubling development, one fueled by the media’s attempt to portray all protesters at the Capitol as rioters. The New York Times is leading the media campaign to mainstream such portrayals in the article “Why D.C. Rioters Wear Costumes.” The attempt to paint patriotic symbols as evidence of domestic terrorism should frighten everybody. The fact that the vast majority of those who attended the January 6 rally, including those who donned patriotic attire, were peaceful protesters is not only of no concern to the establishment media but a fact that must be leveraged for propagandistic purposes.
With dozens of massive peaceful rallies logged, it seems the effort means to map back upon history an impression of Trump rallies and supporters that they were the equivalent of Brownshirts being prepared for acts of violence. It doesn’t matter that the peaceful character of Trump rallies contrasted unfavorably with Black Lives Matter protests, which the the media and Democrats depicted as “mostly peaceful.” Any violence during those protests was justified or at least understandable in light of the racist reality of the American system. As Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us, the riot is the language or the unheard. Antifa and BLM protesters wore costumes, too. They didn’t wear American flags, of course. They burned them instead. Why wouldn’t they? That flag is the symbol of their oppression.
Remember when, in late May 2020, journalism professor Steven Thrasher, writing in Slate, made the following point? “The destruction of a police precinct is not only a tactically reasonable response to the crisis of policing, it is a quintessentially American response, and a predictable one. The uprising we’ve seen this week is speaking to the American police state in its own language, up to and including the use of fireworks to mark a battle victory. Property destruction for social change is as American as the Boston Tea Party.” The next several months were chockfull of tactically reasonable responses, quintessentially American responses, predictable responses—violent and lethal responses—responses glorified by the Democratic Party, corporate media, and progressives at universities and on social media.
In explaining why they permanently banned Donald Trump from its platform, Twitter appealed to the problem of how an abstract person may interpret Trump’s words. This bullet point stood out in particular: “The use of the words ‘American Patriots’ to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol.” Taking a virtue, the virtue of American patriotism, and flipping it into a vice is designed to portray patriots as bad people by definition. Jack Dorsey and his ilk, the new owners of the public square, are redefining patriotic Americans as domestic terrorists at the same time Democrats are moving to ramp up the security state.
Thus another tragedy in all this is having to point out that, while the objections and sentiments Trump supporters express in public may not be shared by some of their employers or those with whom they do business, no person should ever be fired from her job for exercising her First Amendment rights. Peaceful protest is the right of every American and a right cannot be freely exercised if there are consequences attached to it. The establishment is trying to change popular understanding of free speech. To be sure, the progressive left did not need to be brought to this place. A censorious bunch, they’ve been waiting for the move. The Guardian article, “Republicans and Democrats split over freedom of speech,” is one of many showing that Democrats and progressives are eager to clamp down on the right of Americans to freely transmit and receive information.
It is already too easy to forget or never understand that our rights extend to those with whom we disagree and that protecting their rights to the fullest is at the same time protecting the integrity of our own rights. Perhaps some do not wish to be free in this way, but to be a sovereign person means not having your rights violated by other persons or manmade entities. It really shouldn’t matter if it’s a private employer. Free people are not slaves to private power. They are citizens of a constitutional republic first and foremost, which entitles them to the protection of the US Bill of Rights. Employers shouldn’t be able punish employees for exercising their constitutionally-protected rights.
I know Trump-loathing is for many intensely felt (for some it’s pathological) and there is a desire to see those perceived as pro-Trump protestors (and even supporters) cancelled. I would ask progressives to consider that there are employers who harbor the same degree of loathing of Black Lives Matter. Would it be okay for an employee to be fired from his job for attending a BLM rally or expressing support for BLM? For the record, I have defended the right of Black Lives Matter devotees to peacefully protest. Because I am principled, I do the same for those who object to the 2020 election. Progressives, don’t be masochistic. Don’t make a whip for your own backs. At least don’t make a whip for mine. Don’t call yourself a liberal if you do.
It isn’t only free speech at stake here. Among the rights articulated in the First Amendment to the US Constitution is the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Whether you agree with the tens (perhaps hundreds) of thousands who gathered in Washington DC on January 6, 2021 to object to what they believe to have been an unlawful presidential election and widespread rigging and fraud, they were by definition an aggrieved party whose assembly and expression the First Amendment is designed to protect. Indeed, I can think of no better illustration of what our First Amendment rights looks like than what happed outside the Capitol building on January 6.
What happened inside the building was not an exercise of free speech. While I have long maintained that violence is sometimes necessary in the defense of freedom and person (just war, self-defense, overthrow of tyranny), the violence perpetrated by individuals breaching the Capitol building was ethically unjustified and politically counterproductive. The group that entered the Capitol building with bad intent crossed over from protester to criminal. Some were vandals. Others may have thought they were insurrectionists, but in reality they seemed more narcissists and troublemakers than coup plotters and operators. Some may have thought they were stopping the counting of electoral votes. But they must have realized they were too small in number to affect anything. Perhaps they were too stupid to. All were trespassers if they were not supposed to be there. Prosecute them.
To sum up this section, it should trouble all of us to see an emerging argument that rightwing populists have no right to exercise their First Amendment rights. The notion that objecting to the 2020 election results is in itself an incitement to violence is nothing more than telling the public that they are not allowed to object to the 2020 election results. In other words, don’t question the process by which your president is selected if you are on the wrong side. That’s exactly the message members of a totalitarian society can expect to receive—and not complain about it.
* * *
As a social scientist, I find it fascinating how easy it is those in power to so freely suppose things, in this case the notion that those who breached the Capitol building were there to stop the vote counting under the spell of a profoundly deluded belief that this would change anything, while, on the other hand, claim that it’s conspiracy theory to suppose that what actually happened was what was actually desired. The charge of conspiracy theory is of course a thought-stopping exercise. It is mean to shame those who posit an alternative explanation while designating the prevailing narrative as the obvious one. This allows assertions to be made without presenting evidence or presenting as evidence more supposition.
Those of you who know me know I am a criminologist and sociologist of the law. Conspiracy is an ordinary category of criminal law. People are arrested, charged, tried, and found guilty of conspiracy all the time. Accusing somebody of advancing a conspiracy theory is a propaganda ploy. A conspiracy is merely a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful. Moreover, in law, as in science, one can have theories about anything, including even secret plans by groups up to unlawful and harmful actions. When advancing theories, the lawyer or the scientists wants ones that make sense.
The theory that those who breached the Capitol as part of a conspiracy to save Trump’s presidency strikes me not merely as a bad one, but a crazy one. Yet it is held with such confidence that it spins out in bizarre what-ifs like this one from veteran journalist Juan Williams, “What if the coup had worked?” Williams writes in The Hill, “That would have extended President Trump’s control of the White House— and the military—possibly past Inauguration Day until the radicals relented. The Trump seditionists wanted just such a coup. And they came close.”
I wish that crazy was all there was to it. But, as with some other bad theories (for example, critical race theory) we’re about to change the way we live and work on account of it. People aren’t supposed to think about the fact that those who claim this was an insurrection for Trump are advancing a conspiracy theory. But they are.
Then there is at the false flag crowd. Was the mob really trying to stop the counting of electoral votes? Or was the mob trying to stop the challenging of electoral votes? If we are honest, it looks a lot like the latter. If feels a bit too opportune. (See Kit Knightly’s “‘The Storming of the Capitol’: America’s Reichstag Fire?”) I know folks aren’t supposed to think that, but they are. They’re thinking that if the rioters were instead trying the stop the challenging of electoral votes, then mission accomplished. Biden is now president-elect and it is highly unlikely that challenges to that result will be able to move forward now.
Media claims that there were no Antifa involved is said with too much confidence. How do they know? Indeed, it would seem they don’t know the first thing about Antifa. If they did they would know that Antifa is always at public events where there are conservatives and rightwing populists. Antifa apology has always struck me as highly suspicious. The media goes out of its way to deny their significance on the trans-Atlantic political landscape.
According to America’s oldest newspaper, The New York Post, which got the Hunter Biden laptop story right when all the other media refused to report on it and establishment security officials ran interference for Biden, at least two known Antifa members were spotted among the protesters. This is according to a law enforcement source. The Antifa members disguised themselves with pro-Trump clothing to join in the DC rioting. Law enforcement identified them while monitoring video coverage from the Capitol. The infiltrators were known to police, having participated in the New York City demonstrations. Why would Antifa disguise themselves as Trump supporters? So that Trump would get blamed, the source said. Were these the only two? We are waiting for more information to come out, but never forget that Antifa is more than an idea. (And, no, they are not in the room with me right now.)
One especially absurd theory I have been reading about on social media is that the police were assisting Trump in his plot to assume dictatorial powers. This is typically a progressive angle. Even respectable progressive magazines like Jacobin flirt with this notion, its Peter Gowan writing, “Let’s get one thing out of the way: if the federal police did not want far-right protesters to be inside the Capitol, they would not be inside the Capitol.” Trump and his Republican Party representing the ruling class, the story goes, so this is fascism rising.
Assume for a moment that the police work primarily for the interests of the ruling class. If this is true, and the left is likely to agree that it is, then when those who see the police waving protestors into the Capitol uncritically suppose the cops are working for Trump, shouldn’t we know right away that they are uninterested in exploring the nature of political power? After all, perhaps nothing is more true than this: Trump is not and never has been a member of the ruling class. If he were, he would not have been been falsely accused of colluding with the Russians, impeached and tried in the Senate for a phone call to the Ukrainian president, condemned for his handling of the pandemic, mocked for his foreign policy, smeared as a fascist for defending the southern border, or, as he is now, being accused of trying to overthrow the American republic.
It’s not that those who lie to you don’t have a theory of power. They’re not really uninterested in such questions. They just don’t want you to have a theory of power. They don’t want you to be interested. Because if you did, if you were, if you had a theory of how the world works, then you would grasp the significance of this fact: in the world of big money, Trump is but a bit-player, a small-time businessman from Queens whose election to the presidency was a complete surprise to the ruling class. The ruling class is on the record as regarding Trump as a short-fingered vulgarian whose candidacy was supposed to embody and play the part of the court jester in the coronation of Hillary Clinton.
But the clown won and embarrassed the establishment. He poked a hole in what sociologist C. Wright Mills long ago called the power elite assumed was the perfect control system: the two-party political apparatus, what is actually, when it is working properly, the hegemonic uniparty. Trump decimated the entire Republican field in the Republican primary. He exploded every supposed Republican shibboleth. The myths of the neoconservative were one by one shattered. And that hits the Democrats, too. They were ready for Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard. They weren’t ready for Donald Trump. The Clintons even promoted him as a “pied piper” candidate. Hillary still doesn’t believe she lost to the man.
Trump brought along with him those Hillary dubbed “the deplorables,” petty bourgeois and working class Americans whose patriotism, populism, and nationalism threatened to upset the globalist agenda. The vulgarian threatened to let the rabble inside the protective belt the power elite had been building for years. Not inside the Capitol building. Inside the political and ideological barriers that were erected decades ago and elaborated over the ensuing decades to keep away ordinary Americans from self-government. Democracy is not for the common man. Democracy is a game for elites. The common man is too dumb for democracy. Trump is proof of that tenet of modern politics.
The power elite have been trying to figure a way to undo that election ever since 2016. Their efforts have been wild. Their lies big and bold. Add to their incessant and unhinged attempts to delegitimize him, a near-total blackout of the man’s accomplishments on matters of great importance to working class interests: criminal justice reform, fuller employment and higher wages, immigration restrictions, America first trade policy, and foreign policy.
In the end, the establishment won. Operatives for both major parties rigged an election, cynically using a pandemic to weaken the integrity of your vote, and, when the moment came where national consciousness was sure to be raised, a ragtag regiment of misfits fought with police officers, breached the Capitol building, and engaged in vandalism and petty theft.
Aware that the motley crew who invaded the Capitol building were ridiculous people, progressive media desperately try to spin the situation. Here’s a choice headline from Common Dreams: “Yes It Was Attempted by Wingnuts, But It Was a Coup Attempt Just the Same.” Dear Juan Cole, this was not a coup attempt. It was a stunt by am assortment of ne’er-do-wells. These individuals are not representative of Trump supporters.
Of course, we don’t need to determine motive to determine how actions function in the scheme of things, that is, in the results they bring about. Perhaps the man in the buffalo costume wasn’t there to sink Trump’s second term. Maybe he had no plan at all. He doesn’t look like a man with a plan. Maybe the best he can pull off is gathering together a handful of weirdos seeking celebrity to pull of a stunt for his own self-aggrandizement. The media, operating from an unreasonable conspiracy theory with no reasonable boundaries, is seeking a response from the White House because the man dressed as a buffalo claims Trump invited him to take over the Capitol building. They might ask themselves whether they are being buffaloed.
But we must recognize that two disconnected events can become interrelated in history because they advance an agenda. A prime example of this is how the attacks of September 11, 2001 by Muslim terrorists were exploited by neoconservatives to expand and elaborate the national security state and put into action the Project for a New American Century (see my War Hawks and the Ugly American: The Origins of Bush’s Middle East Policy). I do no in any way mean to compare the Capitol riots to 9/11 in scope, scale, or seriousness. Ilhan Omar downplays the significance of 9/11. I don’t. I mean only to illustrate how the opportunistic never let a crisis go to waste, even if it means building up something into a crisis and accepting as given that which requires evidence. Some have supposed George W. Bush at the very least allowed 9/11 to happen, that this was a new Pearl Harbor. I remain agnostic on that question. But what happened happened. It changed the course of a nation. And a lot of people died.
A mob decked out in patriotic paraphernalia was exactly what the establishment needed at that moment. But the elite need more than this. Just like the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington DC gave the government led by establishment figures Bush and Dick Cheney justification for implementing a range of security measures they had waiting on the shelf, most famously the ironically named the USA PATRIOT (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act, the “attempted coup” on Wednesday provides the perfect opportunity to crush the populist-nationalist movement under the guise of defending the country from “domestic terrorism.”
Right on cue, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin announced that he will reintroduce the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act in the wake of the Capitol Hill attack. Durbin’s bill targets in particular conservatives and right-wingers. If you have a theory of power, you knew this was coming. The PATRIOT ACT used “foreign threats” to justify elaborating the national security state. Now they’ll use “domestic threats” to further entrench the national security state.
I want to close this section on a theoretical note. Many of you may not know who C. Wright Mills is. But for those of you who do, you know that Mills didn’t care if you thought he was crazy. He really didn’t. He was a biker from Waco, Texas who died in his forties from a massive heart attack. It took four or five of them to do the trick. He was a tough hombre. Mills was more concerned with acknowledging the obvious and telling the truth then he was about what people thought about him. This is because he was a man of unusual moral character. For this, he was acknowledged, albeit sideways, by that great general and president Dwight D. Eisenhower. I do not claim to be in their league, but I will proudly associate myself with men like Mills. (This is a teaser. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog in which Mills prominently figures. Until then, you might want to learn about him and his landmark 1956 The Power Elite.)
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Trump had to tweet his latest declaration of intent to see a peaceful transfer of power through White House deputy chief of staff for communications Dan Scavino’s account because, as I noted earlier, Twitter (along with other social media platforms) is censoring the President. I am paraphrasing his message here: There will be an orderly transition on January 20 and Joe Biden will be sworn in as President. The suggestion that Trump wouldn’t leave office has always among the more silly advanced by the media. As silly as it was, however, it scared a lot of people. And that was the point. As I have said, it is in the spirit of preparing the ground for the more thoroughgoing national security state.
Trump released a long version of his thoughts on this, but social media didn’t want you to hear those words. The video was banned by a number of platforms. What did Trump say in the video? Fortunately, they couldn’t memory hole the transcript. “I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt. It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us—from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel, but go home, and go home in peace.”
It was almost as if social media did not want the violent protesters to hear Trump message telling them to go home. They certainly didn’t want Trump supporters to hear the phrase “fraudulent election.” But, on an emotional level, the video is a total disaster in the effort to dehumanize the man. Trump sounds like a sweet and decent human being who empathizes with his supporters. Social media operatives cannot abide by anything that contradicts the narrative that Trump is anything but a selfish fascist thug. As Ben Shapiro likes to say, Trump is a big orange bad man who is bad because he is big and orange.
That Big Tech and the legacy media loathe this president that much has been obvious since he won the presidency. Think about it: Trump keeps denouncing white supremacy. The media keeps asking him, “Why won’t you just denounce white supremacy?” What was it? Thirty-eight times he’s denounced white supremacy? How many presidents do we need to go through before we approach that number? Trump says there will be a peaceful and order transition of power. The media terrifies the public with suggestions that Trump plans to barricade himself in the White House (while mocking him when he had actually had to do that in the face of Antifa and BLM protestors). Trump calls for peace. The media accuses him of inciting a riot. This is textbook gas lighting.
Finally Trump got through to the public at large with the below video, carried by major network and cable news. The ABC News coverage doesn’t wrap the concession in the ridiculous accusation that Trump incited the riot, so I am using that one.
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So Trump is going away. What about those 74 million Trump supporters? I don’t think they’re going away. The establishment treats them as if they don’t really exist. There appears to be no awareness that bullying Trump is bullying half the country’s population. How did Trump get into the White House in the first place? How was he able to gain more than 10 million more voters in 2020 compared to four years earlier? The establishment is aware of the alternative media system is being developed on the populist right: CloutHub, Parler, America’s Voice, etc. Full spectrum populist-nationalists media. The ongoing purge of conservatives on the major social media platforms is a gift to the new network. A year from now it will be very difficult to keep the people out of the loop without a more authoritarian Chinese-like control system.
So Big Tech is moving the country farther down the CCP road to meet this new threat. According to Axios, Google suspended Parler from app store pending the development of user policy that conformed to Google’s dictates. Applies has threatened banning Parler with the same demands. In what Steve Bannon has called the “night of the digital long knives,” social media platforms have purged thousands of accounts and shadow banned thousands more. The main targets were the biggest social influencers in conservative populist conservative circles. Bannon’s show War Room Pandemic was removed entirely from YouTube. They also removed Rudy Giuliani’s Common Sense podcast. The elites have clearly been thinking about those 45 percent of Republicans who at least support some sort of violent intervention in our Capitol.
Big Tech is clamping down in part because they worry that they will lose their immunity (they should) and see their monopoly broken up (it should) if they don’t flatter the ruling class and marginalize populists. Now that Democrats control the legislative and executive branches, social media is moving to exclude populists from conversations about how to proceed with respect to corporate power. Big Tech and the progressive establishment must prevent populism from returning because populism is the force that challenges the globalist project. Trump and his populist allies in Congress were moving the take away immunity and break up their monopoly.
Will there be a backlash? We might reflect on what MLK, Jr. said about the language of the unheard. Expanding and elaborating their own social networks will move the deplorables beyond the frustration expressed in riots to a more comprehensive and rational program. Thwarting the elaboration of these networks will add the frustration that fuels riotous sentiments. I’m not advocating violence. I am making an observation. King was correct about how disregard for those who wish to be heard suggests riots as a means of communication. John F. Kennedy put it this way: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” He said this in a speech expressing a desire for a “hemisphere where all men can hope for a suitable standard of living and all can live out their lives in dignity and in freedom.” For Kennedy, more that suggesting violent action, stifling the desire for peaceful change guarantees it.
I can hear people objecting that it is wrong to appeal to King to describe the frustrations right wing people feel. This is because they use King to justify burning structures, pulling down statues, desecrating memorials, looting stores, vandalizing property, physically assaulting civilians and police officers, and intimidating white citizens into swearing featly to Black Lives Matter. Conservatives and rightwing populists aren’t even entitled to their grievances. White privilege and all that. But they are Americans like the rest of us. And the vast majority of them are peaceful and upstanding citizens.
We can hope that the extent of the populist media is such that it is limiting the ability of the ruling class to regain control over the American mind. Polls showing that tens of millions of Americans continue to grasp reality must be a source of great frustration for those whose function is mind control. There is something very scary that lurks in elite failure, however, namely the impulse to move beyond information warfare to kinetic warfare. Talk of “domestic terrorism” is an indicator of the direction in which the elite are willing to move. At the same time, a majority of Americans now believe Trump should leave or be removed from office, so the establishment can still move mass public opinion in a desired ideological direction in the face of objective reality.
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Did the rally that day incite an insurrection? I watched the rally at which, most notably, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney and former major of New York City, and then President Trump spoke. No speaker at the event encouraged the crowd to commit violence. The implication that just by speaking to supporters Trump encourages violence feeling very wrong, the media rationalizes what Trump and his surrogates say as encouraging violence.
Actually to call it rationalization is too kind. It’s lying. Remember when MIT Linguist Noam Chomsky once said about the establishment media’s coverage of an overseas events that the amount of lying by reporters and editors was so vast that it would make Stalin cringe? I feel PRETTY confident in repurposing that phraseology today in regards to the way the establishment media has covered the last several years of domestic events. Throw Goebbels in there, as well. Even he would be astonished at the audacious attempt of the establishment to not, as the Nazis did, paint a minority as the enemy of the people, but to portray the majority as such.
Reminiscent of how the media twisted Trump’s words after the Charlottesville incident, when he was supposed to have said that neo-Nazis and white supremacists were “very fine people,” the media twisted Giuliani’s words. For example, The Independent carried the headline “Rudy Giuliani says pro-Trump rioters attacking US Capitol building are ‘on the right side of history.’” Giuliani did not say this. Here’s what he said:
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I don’t know if there was any polling on this at the time, but I am sure that a lot of Germans believed for some times after the Reichstag fire that it was the Communists not the Nazis who set the fire that led to the consolidation of power into the hands of the party and the constellation of banks and corporations that party represented. No, I’m not agreeing with Kit Knightly that what happened at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 was a false flag operation. I making an observation about the uncritical character of popular assumptions.
That bit of history that brings me to this concluding point: If a cogent and straightforward definition of fascism can be had, it might look something like this: the amalgamation of state monopoly capitalism, a technocratically-oriented administrative apparatus, and effective one-party rule. This amalgamation is supported by a vast communications, cultural, and educational infrastructure that transmits the values and virtues that legitimize the prevailing structure of power. In such a system, other opinions cannot be tolerated. More than this, not content with silencing alternative views, professing allegiance to doctrine is expected and persons who fail articulate the correct position will be smear or punished.
In my own state of Wisconsin, one find a useful illustration of the double standard operating on the progressive left: the occupation of the Wisconsin State Capitol building. Everybody around me glorified the moment protestors occupied the structure during the Act 10 protests in 2011. The occupation lasted several days. The number of occupiers put the alleged January 6, 2021 Washington DC coup to shame. “It’s the people’s house!” “We have the right to be here!” “We will not be moved! Occupation of the state capitol was justified as legitimate protest. Attacking the car Governor Walker rode in when he came to Green Bay to meet with business leaders was legitimate protest because the grievances were legitimate.
I witnessed all of it personally because I took part in it. Colleagues took their children to the occupation to share in the thrill of “what democracy looks like.” It was a family affair. Administrators excused public employees from work to go protest. When conservative employees complained, they were marginalized, scolded, and shamed. Public employee’s had a right to be angry because Walker and the Republicans were messing with their interests in preserving their right to unionize “We know we have a right to peaceful protest,” said Candice Owley, a Milwaukee nurse with the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals. “We don’t believe they should be removing us from the State Capitol.” Well, they did. And there were no arrests to my knowledge.
I am not the only one who thought of the comparison. Fox 11 News in Madison put up an article that, using the two sources rule, was a clinic in differential perception rooted in ideological commitment: Comparisons made between Washington D.C. and Wisconsin’s Act 10 protests. “It reminds me a lot of the actions that liberals in Wisconsin took back in 2011 when they stormed the capitol back then,” said Republican State Rep. Jim Steineke, Assembly Majority Leader. “They took it over. It was despicable back then. It’s despicable now.” “It was not a liberal movement,” objected Toni Baeb, former president of the Green Bay Education Association when asked about Steineke’s comment. “It was a movement about education and about a case and an issue that was important to educators and supporters of educators.”
First, if by “liberal” we mean progressive, which is what Steineke probably meant, then, yes, it was liberal in character (but that’s not really what liberal means). But, second, what difference does it make? Baeb admits that the 2011 protests were to try to stop Act 10, legislation that took away most collective bargaining rights for most of the state’s public employees. “There were thousands of people at the Capitol at that time,” said Baeb, “but I would venture to say that nobody felt the kind of danger that we saw today at our nation’s capitol.” Is it fear that decides whether occupying a capitol building is justified or is it politics, Baeb? But speaking of fear, “It was frightening,” Steineke responded. “A lot of us were being personally threatened, our families were being threatened, our homes were being protested at in some cases.” You know, like what we saw at the Black Lives Matter protests (which I blogged about extensively on Freedom and Reason).
Alongside the progressive double standard are the progressive false claims of double standards. We are told in memes and social media posts, even in the legacy media, that had the rioters at the Capitol been black and brown they would have been killed. It seems they missed entirely all the black and brown people at the protests and in the Capitol building (some of whom are being sought by the FBI). Perhaps that’s because they were too busy falsely characterizing this as the work of “white supremacists.” In one popular meme, we are shown a June 2, 2020 image of National Guard surrounding the Lincoln Memorial during the June Black Lives Matter protests. The soldiers were decked out in intimidating riot gear. Where was the riot gear on January 6, 2021? Progressives asked. Apparently they missed that, too.
However, those sharing the June 2, 2020 meme get the Lincoln Memorial picture entirely wrong. The GettyImages photo they’re sharing carried the headline, “US Cities Clean Up Damage As Riots Continue Across The Country,” it’s caption: “Anti-racism protests have put several US cities under curfew to suppress rioting, following the death of George Floyd in police custody.” The National Guard was called out only after widespread violence. You can figure this out by asking simple questions: What was happening on June 1? What is the context of this photo? The evidence is easily found by searching Google images. During the day the DC marches were peaceful. As you can see below, a massive BLM crowd marched on the White House without any significant police controls. This despite evidence that BLM had demonstrated an appetite for violence during the nights leading up to the march.
Nor did Black Lives Matter encounter any significant controls at the Capitol during the day.
It’s what happened over several nights that caused the DC Police and National Guard to break out the riot gear. Do I need to show you all the fires, overturned cars, and looted stores? Do a Google search. See for yourself. Just make sure you identify the right city, because a lot of cities were on fire in those days. The mayhem was based on the false claim that there is systemic racism in civilian-officer encounters. The media has yet to educate the public on the voracity of Black Lives Matter claims (I am sure they have checked). For the record, the claims are false, as I proved on this blog.
I should be vaccinated why? To protect others? No. To protect myself. Turns out that’s the only (selfish) reason.
Maybe I don’t want to protect myself? My choice, right? Nuremberg. What difference does it make to you? Not your insurance premiums. Please. Too abstract.
CDC tells me that I should be vaccinated because, after all, you can never tell how coronavirus will affect you. But I do—if probability means anything to anybody. Given age and situation, the risk is known to me. If it’s not, then I should never fly in an airplane again.
Imagine the CDC telling you: You will never know whether you will die on a plane flight because people have been known to die in plane crashes. If I buy this I have a phobia and am in need of psychological intervention. Why? Because probability tells me that plane travel is safe. They also say that about vaccine injuries.
Is the CDC gaslighting me? Or does Big Pharma need some bucks? Both. The first is instrumental to the second.
A group of people approached Benjamin Franklin at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention asking what sort of government the delegates had created. Franklin answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Whether this encounter is fact or legend, the founders were no doubt aware of the challenges that a republican form of government presented to a people. It is often remarked upon that the same year that the Declaration of Independence was penned, Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations first appeared. Less well known is that that was also the year that the first volume of Edward Gibbons’ The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire appeared. The lesson of that book is this: will we remain citizens of a republic or become subjects in an oligarchy? That question was surely on Franklin’s mind all those years later. Sadly, it seems a lot of people are eager to become the latter. They shame those who a passionately republican.
In his speech today, before a massive crowd in Washington DC, President Trump went through some of the evidence for election rigging and fraud—as well as violations of the Constitution and called on Vice-President Pence to send the matter back to the states. I have blogged about this, but the accounting is covered in much greater depth in such alternative news outlets as The National Pulse and Revolver News, as well as in Peter Navarro’s reports The Immaculate Deception and The Art of the Steal. What the President said today is largely correct. At the very least, if one cares to know, and that is the very least one should do, he should learn about it and demand a closer look at it. When the media tells you there is no fraud, the media is lying to you.
Also today, after Alabama and Alaska affirmed their electors, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) objected to the certification of Arizona’s Electoral College votes during the joint session of the House and Senate to count the electoral votes cast in November’s election. His objection threw what was in establishment circles supposed to be a routine exercise into a different Constitutional process. The House and Senate will now participate in two hours of debate on the Arizona objection in each chamber. Arizona is only the first state to object. More are expected.
That debate has been delayed, for, at the same moment, the pro-Trump crowd marched on Congress, the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances manifest. However, not all protestors marched with peaceful intent. Some entered the Congress to meet Capitol police with arms drawn. Scuffles broke out between officers and protestors. Now it appears that Capitol police have shot a protestor in the chest. Outside, fights between individuals were recorded. It is unclear as to who all is involved. Congressmen were evacuated.
In light of the violence, Trump has taken to Twitter to calm matters, throwing his weight behind peaceful protest and the rule of law. We hope that people listen to him and avoid violence. But some are surely too caught up in the passions of the moment to heed his call.
He followed that with this:
I’ve been giving folks the heads up on these developments for months. That frustrations would boil over was not unexpected. Those who rely on the censorious social media and legacy media—the propaganda arm of corporate governance—have been made ignorant. Today comes as a surprise to people who haven’t been paying attention. This moment is bigger than the president. People believe they’re losing their republic. As I have documented on this blog, they are not incorrect.
Detractors say that it is Trump who is overthrowing the government. Amy Klobuchar began today by challenging Republicans to “choose our republic or subvert democracy for Trump.” But what followed in the joint session is the lawful way forward. Our Founders created a system to handle this. Those who act as if challenging an election is un-democratic, even fascistic, are projecting. Challenging an election is what democracy looks like. If only Al Gore has stayed the course, history might very well be different today.
These several contested states need to decertify the election and conduct an open and transparent investigation into it. If they can’t get that work done by inauguration, then the federal government needs to move to a contingent election as per the Constitution. Pence should have thrown this back to the states. He punted and now we are moving straight away into the federal process. At the same time, the states are moving forward in any case. This is not over.
So it’s time for the civics lesson that a lot of folks never received as children. We will see whether the violence derails the opportunity. Whatever the character of the violence now occurring in our Capitol, violence is not the way forward. The Constitutional process was working itself out.
Violence is an unfortunate outcome not only because people are hurt, but because it threatens to obscure an inflection point in our history: challenging the power of corporations and its establishment in government. That’s what “Stop the Steal” is really about: the People versus Wall Street. This moment will be remembered for all of history. It may very well be recorded as the moment that the republic lived or became a corporate oligarchy. Violence obscures the significance of the moment by provides the images the media needs to derail democracy.
Update January 6, 2021, 8:30 PM: The woman shot and killed by DC police inside the US Capitol during the protests was was Ashli Babbit, a 14-year military veteran who served four tours with the US Air Force. She was a high level security official throughout her time in service.
She was climbing through a window and appears to have been shot from some distance. Here is some raw footage of the incident: