By Keith Preston
The State exists for the purpose of maintaining a monopoly over the legitimate use of violence within a particular geographical territory in order to more effectively control resources, exploit subjects, protect an artificially privileged ruling class, and expand its own power both internally and externally. The State does this while maintaining a self-legitimating ideological superstructure, and buying the loyalty of the middle class by suppressing the lower/underclass. The State is what you would get if the Mafia managed to eliminate all of its competitors, including the State itself, and consequently become a state of its own.
At times, the State will seek to maintain total control over every aspect of social life (e.g. the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, present day North Korea or Islamist regimes like ISIS, the Taliban, and Saudi Arabia, or Israel’s conduct in the occupied territories). However, most modern states allow for a fairly robust civil society to exist that may actually have the effect of affording the average person a fair amount of comfort. States of these kinds, so-called “liberal democracies,” may even encourage intense political debate within certain narrow parameters (or even fairly broad parameters). Some states will allow or even encourage a fair amount crime and disorder in order to legitimize the expansion of state power to an even greater degree (what the late paleconservative writer Samuel Francis called “anarcho-tyranny’‘). For example, isn’t it interesting that in spite of the massive police and prison systems that now exist in the United States, one third of all murders go unsolved?
However, no state can allow disorder to spiral too far out of control, or it will lose its legitimacy in the process. A state of this kind is a protection racket that continues to engage in extortion and exploitation, but can no longer offer actual protection. Hence, states tend to be very sensitive to perceived threats to their own legitimacy. At present, the violence that is taking place between the Antifa, Alt-Right, and their various allies certainly poses no threat to the state. America in 2017 is light years away from Weimar Germany in 1932. But the important question involves the issue of to what degree the State will continue allow such violence to persist, if indeed it does persist, which it may not. That remains to be seen.
The “Battle of Charlottesville” on August 12, 2017 was significant because it was the first conflagration of this kind that involved a fatality. One fatality is hardly a big deal in a society where homicides number in the five figures on an annual basis. However, the death of Heather Heyer has certainly escalated the Left/Right conflict to a new level. Previously, such battles had resulted only in injuries and one non-lethal shooting. It could be that Charlottesville will have a restraining effect on future violence. However, that is unlikely. The effect of Charlottesville will likely be to drive more moderately tempered people away from future activities of these kinds, but violent extremists on both sides will likely be emboldened at this point. Both the Left and the Right have demonstrated their capacity for lethal violence whether it involves running someone down with a car in Charlottesville, assassinating police officers in Dallas, or attempting to murder Congressmen in Washington, D.C.
Politically-motivated violence of this kind is far more significant from the point of view of the State’s interests than ordinary criminal violence such as drive-by shootings carried out by rival gangs. The latter form of violence actually serves the State’s interests to a great degree because of its effect of rendering the most oppressed communities in society even more dysfunctional than they already are, which in turn makes political resistance even more unlikely. The State wants members of these communities to kill each other in rivalries between various illegal enterprises, and not staging insurrections against the State itself. Additionally, ordinary criminal violence serves the State’s interests by generating public outcries for “law and order,” thereby legitimizing the construction of an ever larger police state. Of course, the State cannot allow criminal violence to spiral so far out of control that the middle class feels threatened to the point that the State begins to lose its legitimacy. But generally high crime rates serve a certainly political utility from the point of view of the State.
However, politically-motivated violence is an entirely different matter from the perspective of the State’s interests. The State’s legitimacy ultimate rests on the myth that it is the State itself that is the final arbiter of social conflict rather than actions take by non-state actors. Indeed, as the “fourth generation warfare” theorist William S. Lind has pointed out, the principal conflict in the world today is not between states, but between states that are losing their legitimacy and non-state actors. A rise in violence by non-state political actors, whether against the State itself or against other non-state actors, is always an indication that the State’s legitimacy is being challenged. For example, at no point in American history did the State ever hold a more solid grip on its claim to legitimacy than it did in the 1950s, when rates of violence between ordinary criminals and non-state political actors was at an all-time low.
When attempting to formulate a response to the present rise in violence between non-state actors in the United States, a principal challenge that the State currently faces is the fact that the State itself is presently suffering from a great deal of internal division. Indeed, the growth of violence by domestic non-state actors is even more threatening to the State that terrorism sponsored by foreign non-state actors such as Al-Qaeda or ISIS. The latter kind of violence by foreign terrorist organizations actually has the effect of rallying the general public behind the State, thereby allowing the State more leeway with which to carry out its own aggression. For example, after the September 11, 2001 debacle, a pretext was created for the invasion of Afghanistan (which about 85% of the US public supported), the invasion of Iraq (which about 50% of the US public supported), and the expansion of the domestic police and surveillance state under the cover of anti-terrorism laws.
Violent conflict between domestic political groups is far more problematic because while unrest of this kind may indeed lead to cries for “law and order” among much of the general public, the State will also find itself in a unique bind that it doesn’t face when responding to violence by ordinary criminals or foreign terrorists. In the latter two situations, the State can rally the public behind itself by appealing to a popular sense of “Us” (good, hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens) and “Them” (criminals and foreign terrorists). However, in a politically polarized society where violence between non-state actors is on the rise, there is no clearly identifiable line between the internal “Us” and the external “Them.” Instead, those who count as “Us” and those who count as “Them” will be defined by one’s political, cultural, and ideological affiliations.
The kind of political violence that is now escalating in the United States is far more threatening to the State’s interests than the violence that occurred in the 1960s, even though the violence from that time period was more pervasive and extreme (as of August, 2017 at least). Contrary to many myths about the 1960s, the violence of that era was perpetrated largely by fringe far-left groups to which the Democratic and Republican establishments were united in their opposition with the support of a vast majority of Americans. That is not the case in the present day. Instead, contemporary political violence of the kind witnessed in Charlottesville is merely an indication of the ongoing fragmentation of the wider society, including the elites that control the apparatus of the State itself. This is indicated by the responses to such violence by members of the elite.
What I have noticed about these situations is that these brawls seem to occur on a more intense level in left-leaning college towns like Berkeley and Charlottesville. These events are usually more restrained in other places when extremist groups demonstrate. It could be that in localities that are havens for the Left these events simply get larger crowds of counterprotestors, or more militant protestors, and that leads to more problems. But in both Berkeley and Charlottesville there were policemen claiming they had been ordered to stand down. If that is true, the question is why? Is it so the left-wingers can have free reign to attack the right-wingers? Is it because the local government is trying to protect the left-wingers from police brutality? Is it because ideologically ultra-liberal local politicians just do not take law and order seriously (for instance, notice that the Antifa never rioted in Joe Arpaio’s Phoenix in spite of the fact that there is no other figure in recent American mainstream politics that more closely resembles a “fascist”). Is it because the city government or police department do not have the manpower to control such situations? Is it out of fear the police will be injured?It seems like something is going on.
Having tried to look at Charlottesville from as many different angles as possible, I have come to the tentative view that the city administration of Charlottesville, in collusion with the state administration of Gov. McAuliffe, ordered the police to stand down in order to ensure that a riot would take place. Their likely hope was that this would give the press the opportunity to obtain all kinds of photo ops that could be splattered across the media with the intention of ultimately blaming the riot on Donald Trump: “Neo-Nazis terrorize innocent civil rights protestors in Charlottesville! This what Donald Trump’s America looks like!” In other words, the state and local government, both controlled by Democrats, allowed a full blown riot with lethal consequences to happen simply for the purpose of scoring some partisan points. The same thing likely happened in Berkeley. I’m not a fan of Trump or the Republicans. Just saying. As Conrad Black aptly describes the situation in Charlottesville:
These original local groups did not wish or seek the attention of the Ku Klux Klan, or the American Nazis or the violent hooligans who appeared in strength flaunting vivid racist symbolism, who were the most remarkable feature in Saturday’s tragic events. As the day approached, it became clear that the other side of the issue, whose core was reasonable townspeople who put the ultimate fact that the Civil War was fought to suppress an insurrection and to promote at least the gradual elimination of slavery above the gallantry of the Confederate Army, was being reinforced by more militant leftist organizations. Antifa, which purports to find fascists at every position of authority in the United States, Black Lives Matter (whose name suggests that any sane person had ever said otherwise), and other far-left groups with a propensity to violence, made no secret that they too would be there.
As the day unfolded, it was clear that orders had been given to the local police to ensure that a serious fracas occurred. The police did nothing to disperse the armed groups on each side, on several occasions herded them toward each other to encourage combat, and then withdrew at times to facilitate the violence. It must be assumed that orders for an insufficient law enforcement and ineffectual rules of engagement emanated ultimately from the governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, the ne plus ultra of Clintonian zeal and cynicism, and former Democratic Party chairman.
The debacle ensued; the peaceful majorities on both sides were shouldered aside by the violent thugs on the extremes, with the Klansmen and neo-nazis being more vocal and recognizable by their signs and costumes. Since one of their number appears to have been responsible for the (mercifully) sole fatality, the white supremacists and neo-nazis seem to have been the more violent group. But the entire incident had almost nothing to do with the issue of what should happen to Charlottesville’s statue of General Lee..
The response to Charlottesville by virtually the entire range of elite opinion involved taking the safe route, i.e. simply engaging in ritualistic denunciations of racism, bigotry, and racial violence, as if all sensible people don’t already oppose these things, and with special outrage expressed at the neo-Nazis present in the melee, as if neo-Nazis are not already universally reviled. The one exception was President Donald Trump himself who, in his usual oafish manner and speaking in the style of a mafia don ordering a hit, tried to point out that the truth of the situation was closer to the scenario described above by Conrad Black, after which the right-wing media ran to the defense of “their guy,” and after the left-leaning media had already used the events in Charlottesville to get in their shots at their partisan opposition.
No doubt one of the most (sometimes literally) painful lessons adherents of the Alt-Right have had to learn during the course of these events is that neither Donald Trump nor the police are their friends. I was one of the few people from the Left to participate in the Alt-Right milieu when it began to develop seven or eight years ago for reasons that have been described by myself and others elsewhere. At the time, it was a haven for right-libertarians, paleconservatives, “human biodiversity” enthusiasts, Catholic traditionalists, European-style conservatives, adherent of the European New Right, and occasional heterodox folks from the Left like myself. Over time, the movement degenerated into 1920s style white nationalism (think Madison Grant and Lothrup Stoddard), and then to (pathetically) Trumpism combined with a circus-like atmosphere involving green frog memes. I predicted the quality of the Alt-Right would deteriorate in an article I wrote about Alex Jones six years ago. Finally, it seems that in more recent times much of the Alt-Right has begun to (even more pathetically) embrace neo-Nazism. It goes without saying that the Alt-Right is finished as a political movement of any seriousness or quality, even if some serious people remain and continue to do quality work of their own. The Alt-Right is now forever stamped with the label of Kluxers and Sieg Heilers.
One of the most pathetic spectacles that occurred on August 12 were the live streams of Alt-Right leaders chastising the police for shutting down their rally saying, “We’re the ones who will support you guys!” as if the police give a flying fuck about “support” from fringe groups of right-wing radicals. During the anti-police riots during 2014, following a wave of police killings of civilians with allegations of police brutality, I generally supported the insurgents with certain qualifications. I was frequently called out by Alt-Rightists as a coddler of black criminals. In fact, I was at an Alt-Right conference in 2015 when one individual attendee, a longstanding veteran of the conservative, libertarian, and alt-right subcultures asked me, in all seriousness, “Keith, why are you against the police?” At the time, I didn’t know whether to snicker or mourn.
It has been reported that the Department of Justice has begun an investigation into the car ramming incident that occurred in Charlottesville. The stated purpose of this investigation to determine if there were other individuals involved in the facilitation of the incident, or if there are any grounds for bringing charges of civil rights violations (the same kinds of charges that were brought against the LA cops that beat the hell out of Rodney King in the early 1990s). My suspicion is that the Trump administration has come to regard the Alt-Right and its representatives as a serious liability. Not surprisingly, Steve Bannon has apparently been shown the door in the aftermath of Charlottesville. I fully expect Trump and Jeff Sessions to use the Justice Department to bring civil rights and/or conspiracy charges against at least some Alt-Right leaders as a “Look! We’re not racist!” prop for public and media consumption, as a means of eliminating an unwanted liability that their opponents have used to their advantage in the propaganda wars, and as a means of nipping growing violence between rival political factions in the bud. Such charges may well not be “fair” if they are indeed brought, but as Machiavelli told us 500 years ago, politics is about power, not virtue.
If indeed such charges were brought, no doubt the entire range of left-wing opinion would be howling in ecstasy. This attitude would be assumed by the Left even as the same Trump/Sessions DOJ is trying to railroad 200 protestors from Trump’s inauguration, another event where I was generally pro-insurgent with qualifications, on “felony rioting” charges in a way that is reminiscent of the conspiracy trials inflicted on the Left during the Nixon era. State repression is escalating on a more general level as Congress moves to criminalize the movement to boycott Israel (an occurrence that neither our left-wing “anti-imperialists” and “anti-racists” or our right-wing “anti-Zionists” and “anti-globalists” have hardly paid any attention to). Why are not both the Left and the Right protesting outside the headquarters of AIPAC, the Israeli embassy, or Congress itself?
Look for more “J20” like prosecutions to take place with charges being brought against both the Left and Right in the future, most likely with the assent of most of the general public who regard these incidents as nothing more than roving bands of lunatics wreaking havoc. Already, Antifa leader Yvette Felarca has been arrested on felony charges and warrants have been issued for Alt-Right leader Christopher Cantwell. There will likely be more such warrants issued in the future. Not that this would necessarily stop the violence between the two sides. If anything, the most extreme people on the far right and the far left, particularly the neo-Nazis and the Antifa, may be emboldened by the events in Charlottesville. In the future, there may well be some full-blown massacres of the kind similar to the one that occurred in Greensboro in 1979, or bombings such as those carried out by the Weather Underground in 1960-70, or even on the scale as the bombing that occurred Oklahoma City in 1995.
It is interesting to observe the degree to which both the Left and Right are apparently clueless about the degree to which they are being used as patsies and pawns by different factions of the state/ruling class/power elite. I’m not one who buys into the usual claims about how the Koch brothers or George Soros or whomever are directly pulling the strings of the various factions on the ground. As a Darwinist, I tend to believe things happen more by means of natural selection than intelligent design (or unintelligent design). However, both the Left and Right claim to be fighting “the establishment,” but this is only a half truth in both their cases. The Left regards “the establishment” as the “old, rich, white, male, Christian capitalist, imperialist empire” (i.e. the right-wing of the ruling class), and the Right regards “the establishment” as what one Alt-Rightist crudely but not wholly inaccurately describes as the “globo-corpo-homo-judeo-industrial complex” (i.e. the left-wing of the ruling class). Both sides are correct in the sense that their animosity is reserved primarily for only one of the major ruling class coalitions. In other words, the two sides amount to little more that “Republicans with a swastika or fasces” or “Democrats with a circle A or hammer and sickle.”
Far be it from know-it-all me to suggest more constructive approaches, but here goes anyway.
- The “statue wars” seem to be a primary area of contention. Given the recent outbreak of what in all seriousness could be called “statuephobia,” it could said that in the “Who’s most oppressed?” pissing contest between Left and Right, the most oppressed minority of all is statues. With that in mind, maybe some “statue liberation” is in order in terms of creating “safe spaces” for statues. Polls show that a majority of Americans of all races other than African-Americans, and almost half of African-Americans, favor the preservation of the Confederate statues. Believe it or not, most of the brown folks are actually on your side, Alt-Rightists! The problems seem to be happening in left-leaning lily-white liberal college towns and majority African-American communities. Has it ever occurred to anyone that maybe local people in local jurisdictions should have final say over what kinds of public monuments they have in their communities? And if people in a particular community don’t want a specific monument in their communities, maybe these monuments can be moved somewhere they will be more welcome (like deep red zones and redneck towns and counties). Subsequently, the blue zones can put up all the statues of Lenin, Mao, Emma Goldman, or, for the more moderately inclined, Martin Luther King. they want. Meanwhile, these two gentlemen have demonstrated how to debate these kinds of issues without acting like total morons.
- For those who claim an “ethnostate” as their ideal, it might be helpful to clarify what this term means, where the “ethnostate” will be located, and how it will be achieved. No reasonable person is going to give a second thought to a movement that conjures up images of ethnic cleansing and interracial massacres. Years ago, an organization known Americans for Self-Determination actually advanced a proposal for the non-violent, non-coercive creation of ethnostates of these kinds. A similar plan has long been advanced by Dr. Michael Hart. I have circulated both of these documents in far right and far left circles for years and received little apparent interest, leading me to the conclusion that proponents of an “ethnostate” are not serious, which is probably a good thing.
- For whose who claim some kind of anarchic utopia as their ideal, I have written about ideas of this kind for years, including possible methods of achieving such, with little apparent interest on the part of self-proclaimed “anarchists,” leading me to the conclusion that there is little actual seriousness in the anarchist milieu as well. Perhaps that is also a good thing.
- Given the fact that the Left and Right hate each other’s guts, one would think they would be making the effort to stay as far away from each other as possible. Regional secessionist movements have existed in the US for years. The most recent of these to emerge is “Calexit,” a California secessionist movement. Given the hatred of the Right for the “Left Coast” and the hatred of the Left for “flyover country,” it is a wonder that both Left and Right are not rushing to make California secession a reality.
- Given fact that almost no one on the far right and very few on the far left have paid any attention to the impending criminalization of the BDS movement, it would appear that neither the Left nor the Right has any interest in resisting any actual state repression, even thought they’re both in the on-deck circle to be victimized by politically motivated prosecutions.
- Given that the primary threats to political freedom, academic freedom, and free speech right now on a general level come less from the state itself, and more from the corporations and universities, perhaps Left and Right could agree that we need to amend federal and state laws, established jurisprudence, and perhaps even the Constitution and the state constitutions to extend the Bill of Rights to corporations and universities, just as these legal protections have previously been extended to state and local governments. This should provide protection to both Left and Right alike against politically motivated termination, denials of tenure, expulsions, and activities such as “doxxing,” but the two sides won’t agree on even this because “THOSE PEOPLE OVER THERE…!
Meanwhile, the Enemy continues to do what it does.