Well, here we are, transfixed at the spectacle of a slow-motion riot by a benighted mob, beneath whose thin patina of concern for justice is the base metal of Maoist ideology. Their obsession with desecrating statues reveals not an interest in the fate of particular human beings but a symbolical cast of mind. The fact that they moved quickly from Confederate generals to the Founding Fathers and thence to Abraham Lincoln (“The Great Emancipator”) and even the black former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass leads many observers to decry the abject ignorance of this mob.
Au contraire! These people know exactly what they are doing and who their enemies are.
For Lincoln and Douglass, emancipation was emancipation into citizenship within a free society, encapsulated in Douglass’s “three boxes”: the ballot box (the right to vote), the jury box (the right to trial by a jury of one’s peers), and the cartridge box (the right to keep and bear arms) – often supplemented with the soap box (the right to freedom of speech, which Douglass exercised as eloquently as any American ever has).
For modern-day Maoists, universal human rights such as these are noxious impediments to the true liberation of a socialist society.
Consider, for example, this statement from the Maoist Shining Path movement in Peru:
For us, human rights are contradictory to the rights of the people, because we base rights in man as a social product, not man as an abstract with innate rights. “Human rights” do not exist except for the bourgeois man, a position that was at the forefront of feudalism, like liberty, equality, and fraternity were advanced for the bourgeoisie of the past. But today, since the appearance of the proletariat as an organized class in the Communist Party, with the experience of triumphant revolutions, with the construction of socialism, new democracy and the dictatorship of the proletariat, it has been proven that human rights serve the oppressor class and the exploiters who run the imperialist and landowner-bureaucratic states.
This radical undermining of the European and Anglo-American traditions of individual rights is opposed not merely to the Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries but to the very foundations of the modern world, stretching all the way back to Ancient Greece and continually rejuvenated over the course of millennia (often in fits and starts and with many detours along the way, as anyone who has studied history knows all too well).
These traditions are a special object of hatred among true socialists, communists, Marxists, Leninists, and Maoists to the present day (see for instance Tanner Greer’s summary of Chinese President Xi’s vision for a new world order). In an American context, that hatred was an animating principle of the New Left of the 1960s, exemplified by Students for a Democratic Society and its successor the Weather Underground. The Weathermen (and women) were especially inspired by the Maoist Cultural Revolution in China and combined forces with the Black Liberation Army not only to foment violence with the intent of overthrowing the U.S. government but also to formulate a revolutionary ideology of anti-racism. Years later, Naomi Jaffe, one of the founders of the Weather Underground, justified their thoughts and actions as follows:
We felt that doing nothing in a period of repressive violence is itself a form of violence. That’s really the part that I think is the hardest for people to understand. If you sit in your house, live your white life and go to your white job, and allow the country that you live in to murder people and to commit genocide, and you sit there and you don’t do anything about it, that’s violence.
Silence is violence, 1960s style!
Black Lives Matter is a direct spiritual descendent of the anti-racist ideology of the Black Liberation Army and the Maoist radicalism of the Weather Underground. For these movements (as for the Chinese Communist Party), human rights and human freedoms are the problem, to be discarded in favor of a triumphant revolution, the construction of a socialist society, and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
This fight is not over a few statues; it is for the very soul and survival of a free society in America and throughout the world.