“This is WHAT democracy looks like,” chanted about 1,000 protesters as they plotted their Occupy Philadelphia strategy a couple of weeks ago.
Not sure if they meant the mindless chanting, the threats of violence and intimidation, or the raucous anarchy of the street, but in any case, they are correct. This IS what democracy looks like, whether it is the democracy of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the democracy of Cairo during the Arab Spring, the democracy of the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 or the democracy of 1789 during the French Revolution.
For those who are history challenged, let’s look beyond the slogans of these “democratic movements” and see what the result of such “popular” uprisings has been.
Since former comedian and now social activist Roseanne Barr has been promoting her faux presidential campaign recently by suggesting that bankers and other wealthy bastards should be beheaded, we should probably begin our historical survey with the granddaddy of all democracy movements — the French Revolution — which delivered the people’s judgment at the end of the sharp blade of a guillotine.
Supposedly inspired by the American Revolution, the French Revolution of 1789 led directly to the Reign of Terror of 1793-94 during which as many as 40,000 people were killed. Reflecting the Orwellian nature of language during revolutionary periods, these murders of French citizens were accomplished by the deceptively named Committee of Public Safety.
Speaking of the power of words to lull you to your death, there can be few examples more misleading than the slogan of the French Revolution. The failure of Robespierre and his fellow Jacobins to deliver either “liberty, equality or brotherhood” — as promised — should be all the proof you need that slogans can’t be trusted to protect human rights. What slogans do achieve is mobilizing the people on the street into a political force, and then manipulating that political force into a tool that can be used to agitate for social change. But the change that comes is never liberty; it is never equality; and it is certainly never brotherhood. Instead it is rage.
You can see the face of that rage on the streets in America now. The Occupy Wall Street movement is supposed to be about economic “justice” and fairness for the little guy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really have anything to do with justice — it is just another case of the “have nots” taking what they “have not” earned from those who have.
The “justice” of that process is accomplished, by the way, not through courts or laws, but through brute force. Perhaps Ron Bloom — the Obama administration’s manufacturing czar — was thinking of street justice for Wall Street in 2009 when he said, “We know that the free market is nonsense. We know that the whole point is to game the system... [and] we kind of agree with Mao that political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun.”
Guns are sometimes needed in revolutions, and sometimes not, but in either case, the revolution usually starts with slogans, followed by protests, and then may or may not advance to the gun stage depending on how much fear the protests can create through the power of intimidation.
The Russian Revolution (which coincidentally was another October Revolution) started out with slogans and protests, too, just like “Occupy Wall Street.” Of course, life in 1917 Petrograd was a lot harder and a lot more desperate than it is today in Philadelphia or New York — but the ruffians on the streets don’t care about that because they don’t study history. If they did, they might be more apt to follow the Russian example and overthrow Obama’s czars who have imposed absurd and unwieldy regulations on banking and business instead of trying to destroy the capitalists who actually have the capacity to create wealth — and jobs.
But the protesters don’t know anything they didn’t learn on Twitter. Revolutionary slogans fit nicely into the 140-character format of Twitter, and with the Internet they can spread just like the “prairie fire” that both Mao and 1960s revolutionary Bill Ayers used as their metaphor for grass-roots revolution.
But is there really anything “grass roots” about what is happening on Wall Street or in other urban areas across the country where thousands of protesters are gathering for their own version of the Greek riots? Heck no. Not unless you think “flash mobs” are really spontaneous outbreaks of crime and violence. They are not. They are the result of planning and networking. Social media and the Internet have made it possible for revolution to spread like “prairie fire” across the urban landscape, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people and groups wielding matches who are directing the mob.
Which brings us to Egypt, Tunisia and Libya in 2011. The Arab Spring is more accurately called “Days of Rage” because its purpose was to channel anger into a weapon. Another word for this is rioting, and in case you wondered, yes rioting IS what democracy looks like.
That’s because democracy or “rule of the people” is not only heir to the flaw of “tyranny of the majority,” but also — and less frequently noted — “tyranny of the loud minority.” Democracy is about scaring other people off the street. One way to do that is to “occupy” the street with smelly, loud violent people who are willing to call other people names, shout them down and if necessary throw a punch at them or even behead them. That’s why our Founding Fathers rejected democracy, and instead instituted a constitutional republic where minorities are protected by the rule of law.
That’s also why it was always dangerous for Americans to wholeheartedly endorse the street movements in Cairo and Tunisia. Yes, we support the rights of people to govern themselves, but we need to recognize the extraordinary difference between the rule of the people through law and the rule of the mob through force.
The rule of law is the last thing that “democratic” movements are interested in; they want change, and they want it now. Ayers and his gang of radicals tried to use violent street protests in 1968 and 1969 to disrupt the rule of law in Chicago, and there is no reason to think the same tactic won’t be tried again in 2011 or 2012.
Listen for instance to the rhetoric of an unidentified Occupy L.A. speaker who discounts suggestions that “nonviolence” can bring about change.
“No, my friend. I’ll give you two examples: French Revolution, and Indian so-called Revolution. Gandhi, Gandhi today is, with respect to all of you, Gandhi today is a tumor that the ruling class is using constantly to mislead us. French Revolution made fundamental transformation. But it was bloody. India, the result of Gandhi, is 600 million people living in maximum poverty. So, ultimately, the bourgeoisie won’t go without violent means. Revolution! Yes, revolution that is led by the working class. Long live revolution! Long live socialism!”
At this point in the speech, the crowd breaks out into cheers. (See it for yourself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlPY9AfQFqI). It is those cheers which should scare you, along with the fact that the national media and Nancy Pelosi are among those cheering.
Here’s the bottom line: Anyone who supports the America of the Founding Fathers and Martin Luther King cannot with good conscience also support a movement that advocates the violent overthrow of capitalism. If you cannot worship both God and Mammon, by the same token you cannot overthrow capitalism and leave liberty standing.
Yet there are literally hundreds of examples on the Internet of protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement confirming that they are socialists and that they are violent. Anyone who supports them and is not also a socialist or pro-violence has lost the right to be taken seriously.