I know that it’s difficult to look beyond the day-to-day controversies paraded in front of us by the 24-hour news cycle. Every day they offer up some new sideshow, accented with fancy graphics, and dripping with the nauseating faux-sincerity of the talking heads. It can be easy to lose sight of the overarching patterns, and take into account the broader trends of society as a whole.
Yes, there has always been violence in human history for as long as we can remember. Unfortunately, violence seems to be an irrefutable human trait, as natural to the animal impulse of human beings as seeking shelter or food. These are evolutionary traits which have been with us from time unknown. The question is whether the violence is territorial, rooted in self-defense, or gratuitous because, while violence may be common to humanity, the nature of it determines what kind of era of civilization we find ourselves in.
I say all this, because the disturbing truth is that you and I find ourselves in an era of the decline of Western civilization and all the prosperity it has offered those who have inhabited it. The rise of populist, Donald Trump, who is a self-styled reformer, is reminiscent of the rise of many politicians in the latter part of the Roman Empire, who merely perpetuated the social ills plaguing the floundering empire. His rhetoric, rooted in nationalistic fervor, plays well with a largely demoralized populace who have suffered under the utterly failed presidencies of Bush and Obama.
These sentiments, however, are largely opposed by other sentiments which wish to, as Obama succinctly put it, “fundamentally transforming the United States of America”. These interests are the “progressive” elements of society, who wish to use an expansive regulatory state as an arbiter of moral justice (aka, punishing those they dislike), and they don’t take kindly to their fellow countrymen who are being crushed by said regulatory state, electing a politician who supposedly wishes to release these controls.
We find ourselves now hurtling toward a precarious precipice.
Trump has campaigned as the “Law & Order President”. He has shown, in the short time he’s been in office, an eagerness to use the pen that so many conservative voices lambasted President Obama for using. Conservative voices who have been conspicuously absent in their critique of Trump due to their lauding of praise for his initiative.
We have seen the utter deterioration of political discourse between opposing viewpoints in this country, and its replacement with factional rhetoric. Whether it be Black Lives Matter activists, social justice warriors freshly indoctrinated from Marxist leaning academia who have joined Black Blocs to incite riots at otherwise peaceful protests, or the MAGA fanboys who are getting fed up and starting to swing back. I’ve stated before that no country can survive (at least as a free country) when the ability to freely exchange controversial ideas is inhibited. I stand by this now. With the spectacle that was the Trump presidential campaign, we witnessed a foreshadowing of the gladiatorial nature of the future of American politics. Some groups tried to silence Trump in their respective cities, not even allowing those who wished to see him the opportunity to do so, and to make up their own minds. At the rallies he was able to speak at, we witnessed those who tried to disrupt the rallies have abuse and scorn heaped on them by the masses. In some cases people being ejected from these rallies began to scuffle with their ideological opponents, to the cheers and jeers of the crowd, and punctuated by Trump’s snide rhetorical flourishes designed to further whip up and divide the crowds in their absence.
The entertainment element to this is eerie. Like looking at massive traffic pileup on the freeway. The colosseum-esque environment to these rallies is palpable in all elements, except for actual, physical bloodshed. It marks a significant change in the American political psyche. Those who disagree with us are no longer our fellow countrymen, but our enemies who need to be silenced rather than engaged through persuasion and negotiation.
Which brings me to the present…
In the wake of Donald Trump’s election there were massive protests. Largely peaceful (the Women’s March), but also tainted by Antifa violence and destruction. Many on the Left are so hysterical, and whipped up by their political and social leaders that they don’t understand that they are giving Trump the ammunition he needs to strip civil liberties from them. The more violence that’s perpetrated against those who don’t ideologically align with the Left, or even those who happen to be caught in the violence who don’t align with the Left or Right, garners sympathy for strong-arm tactics on behalf of the government which, otherwise, wouldn’t have been palatable for the vast majority of Americans.
The Left needs to stop this hysteria and combat Trump in a much more strategic way if they wish to succeed in gaining acceptance from the mainstream American population.
Likewise, the Right needs to resist reactionary tendencies. Admittedly this has been made very difficult by the tactics embraced by many on the Left, but it’s something that needs to be striven for. Reactionary tendencies, such as those that gave rise to Trump’s successful bid for the White House, only serve to exacerbate this tempestuous political climate we find ourselves in now. Reactionary tendencies allow abuses against our fellow countrymen that would never have been imaginable in an environment of rational, civil discourse.
The Right and the Left are both at fault for playing into the hands of the political classes, who seek to exploit division of the populace at large for personal political gain, but it doesn’t have to be this way. We can still change our trajectory if we choose to step back, and engage with those we disagree with in a constructive manner.
This is the way we can retain our civil society. This is the way we can retain individual freedom, and begin to reclaim foundational American principles which are the bedrock of this country.
If we don’t, well…
I think that the character of Inspector Finch, from the Wachowski Brothers’ film V for Vendetta, adequately sums up the consequences of accepting things the way they are currently by saying:
“With so much chaos, someone will do something stupid. And when they do, things will turn nasty.”