Political violence

I am caught up with my reposts with this one.

 I observed decades ago, and reported in the first years of my own blog, that there is a fundamental difference between conservative violence and liberal political violence.  This is more apparent when one gets to look at the psychiatric cases, where the usual filters are off. The left goes on offense. The paranoid leftist fantasizes about going out and assassinating someone, or going and destroying some stronghold of what they think is oppressing the people. I have heard them say “I think about skinning George Bush alive,” or being caught in a plan to blow up a federal courthouse.  As things progress, they may have developed a grudge against Ted Kennedy, who they used to work for but the campaign fired them, or against Hillary Clinton, who they just don’t believe is responding properly to the 100 letters they have written her appealing for help. The press uses such dodges to pretend the person who showed up with a bomb-vest at Clinton headquarters was actually some sort of conservative, but this is just a dodge. Yet even those are exceptions.  Most stay true to form and want to set a housing development on fire because it harms the environment or break windows at a drive-by of Republican headquarters or a military recruitment center.

Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to be defensive, and the psychotics show this clearly.  Their method is to hole up at their home, or sometimes with a bunch of associates, amassing a store of weapons and daring the ATF or the FBI or whoever to come and get them.  Sometimes this is strictly local, as in developing the fantasy that the Farmington police and/or Strafford County Sheriffs have covered up not just one murder of your (drug overdosed) nephew, but a whole string of murders. They put up threatening signs, and spout off everywhere, but they don’t go out and try to pick off a bunch of liberals somewhere. 

Liberal projection causes them to overestimate conservative violence. They intuitively know that if they were this angry and talking about violence and collecting weapons, they would be going out and trying to hurt someone. Therefore, they think, the conservatives must be just about to do the same thing. This seems particularly frightening to liberals because the right is quite willing to talk about violence toward individuals.  Liberal violence had a general limiting factor in that it is directed against objects rather than people. Trashing businesses, setting cars on fire, throwing rocks through windows have been until recently the more frequent liberal actions.  Even the bomb vests are often not operative and the waved handguns not loaded.  Just trying to get your attention, see?

I worried years ago that the limiting factors seem to be eroding.  Left-wingers are increasingly shooting people [James Hodgkinson, who does not have a separate Wikipedia entry(!)], and right-wingers are increasingly going to other places to defend them or counter-protest. In the last year or two this seems to have accelerated on both sides, though I think the evidence is solid that the leftist focus on property is eroding much more quickly than the rightist focus on defensiveness.

Qualifiers: There is right-wing aggressiveness, persons going on offense, and this has always been so.  Most of this is misattributed, such as apolitical Dylann Roof, Jared Loughner, James Holmes, Charles Whitman, etc, but sometimes it is real. Secondly, it isn’t always easy to make a clear distinction between being defensive and going on offense.  Is reconnaissance one or the other? Is going downtown to protect your city defensive or aggressive? More likely the former, but it is clearly not the same as staying in your own house or neighborhood. I don’t want to get into the weeds of figuring those things out, as it is the general trend that I am noting. Going downtown to protest and throwing rocks or setting fires is clearly aggressive, though once a group is established in a place their actions might thereafter be defensive. 

There is a lot of worry that there will be more violence after the election, with competing predictions whether it will be worse if Trump wins or Biden wins, and further discussion that it matters how the fairness of the election looks. I think further violence is likely, but I don’t know that this is suddenly explosive.  We have had intermittent urban violence for decades, including when a sports team has won or lost a championship. There is some difference in that young white people are trying to take over the protests for political purposes more related to more thoroughgoing change in the American system, as contrasted to protests of anger with a focus on local changes that have been more common from black communities over the years. Interestingly, the latter has a somewhat defensive quality of protecting our neighborhood, protecting our people, even though the protests are aggressive.  I don’t think you can define the radical white groups as anything but aggressive. 

The limitations are eroding.  The right is “going downtown” more in what they see as essentially defensive acts against protestors. But they aren’t going to officials’ or opponents’ houses in a threatening manner, they aren’t looking for random victims to shoot. The left is targeting human beings more, though much of the increase in danger to individuals comes from the collateral danger of setting fires or being in the way when they want to take over a spot.  More usually, as with Operation Wall Street or Bernie Bros going to Trump rallies, the left has been provocateurs trying to get others to become violent so they can play the victim.  They are very good at it.  Some of them train for it. At those points you will see that what they are saying and doing has nothing to do with any aims of the protest – no shouting disagreements with Trump or Wall Street or city hall – just provocative insult.

On the right , the increase is there but still in defensive mode. It has always been “I’m prepared in case anyone wants to start anything,” which is aggressive if you say it some ways and defensive in others.  But nowadays I am hearing more of “It looks like we are going to have to…” or “I am telling my neighbors they need to be prepared as well.”  Still essentially defensive, but not the same as just waiting for others to make a move.  People have general tactical ideas that position their impression whether they are attacking or defending.

23 thoughts on “Political violence”

  1. This sounds a little like the feet of angels dancing on the head of a pin. Defensive or Aggressive? Think about a bar-room fight — once someone throws the first punch, there is no difference. Attack is the best form of defense, as someone once said.

    The Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, and the US reacts by invading North Africa — Aggressive or Defensive? The words matter only to lawyers. The men in the arena are simply trying to end the violence as quickly as possible on terms favorable to themselves.

    “I don’t think you can define the radical white groups as anything but aggressive.” As a side comment, where are these aggressive “radical white groups”? There certainly are groups of people who want to be left alone, and take a (defensive) “Don’t tread on me” attitude — and those groups can be white, black, and everything in-between. To throw out accusations about vanishingly-rare aggressive radical white groups is to demean one’s own case by kowtowing to Political Correctness.

  2. I agree with AVI. The rare white aggressions can be horrific like Tim McVeigh, although I have wondered for years about “the third man.” Most bombings have been leftists. The Unabomber being a variation of that. He seemed to be a technology freak. I am also curious about the motives of the rich who are funding this anarchy. Some may well be virtue signaling but Soros, for example, has never done a positive thing, at least since the USSR collapsed. He made his money attacking the British Pound. Is he aiming for chaos to make money ? He is too old to expect to see a reward.

  3. I guess it is big or little picture, literal or figurtive – it seems to me there are plenty of eliminationist comments from the left of people – just today Veritas has up a video of an Ossuf campaign worker who is somewhat impatient for the die off of boomers so progressives can have freer reign. There are still so many of us that it is hard to tremble at that comment – but it is there, nonetheless. Wishing Trump (and lest we forget, begore that Bush and Cheney) dead is a common comment, though I’ll agree no one – on either side – takes that very seriously.
    Wasn’t the Unabomber anti-technology and pro-ecology? Though I suspect to make sense of his beliefs is pretty fruitless. And maybe that is what you meant, Mike.

  4. Endorsement of violent actions are a big factor. Islamic terrorists are developed because there is a real endorsement of them at many levels. Sympathy for the Rosenberg’s, Sacco and Vanzetti, the Black Panthers and others was real on the left. I think it helps bolster a mind that is starting to go that path with a feeling it is a brave and correct thing to do. The right still has a lot of at least surface level respect for law and order. They have to be convinced the courts, police and government have all abandoned any level of respect for the law and constitution.

    It takes a lot of common effort to keep a civil society from everyone left and right.

  5. AVI: “I meant Antifa types.”

    OK. Understood. Although it seems a little biased to label the Far Left “Anti-Fascists” as “white”, except to the extent that in a majority European-ancestry country, most of their members are (unsurprisingly) of European ancestry. Politics matters a lot more to those people than skin color.

    The surprising part relates to the [Certain] Black Lives Matter [Not the large numbers of human beings who die in Black-on-Black violence in Democrat-run US cities — Not THOSE Black Lives]. There was a recent photo of the large number of people arrested in a {Certain]BLM riot in Seattle — all of them of European ancestry. [Certain]BLM is just another Far Left front group.

    It seems fairly clear what is happening — it has happened many times before in many countries. The Far Left Big Government types (and their Useful Idiots) riot with the ultimate aim of taking control of the government. Once ensconced in government, their violence does not stop — but it does become “legal”, since they are then writing the laws.

  6. Wasn’t the Unabomber anti-technology and pro-ecology? Though I suspect to make sense of his beliefs is pretty fruitless. And maybe that is what you meant, Mike.

    Yes, ginny, that is what I meant. He was a freak about technology.

    The Black Lives Matter thing is being funded by white progs with lots of money. One is the/a Walton heiress. I think some of this is buying indulgences, like the Middle Ages, and some is guilt over inherited money.

  7. Mike K: Most bombings have been leftists. The Unabomber being a variation of that.

    It’s unclear that he should be categorized that way. From wikipedia’s summary of his manifesto:

    “A significant portion of the document is dedicated to discussing left-wing politics. Kaczynski says that ‘problems of our troubled society are particularly manifest in modern leftism.’ He defines leftists as ‘mainly socialists, collectivists, politically correct types, feminists, gay and disability activists, animal rights activists and the like’, states that leftism is driven primarily by ‘feelings of inferiority’ and ‘oversocialization’, and derides leftism as ‘one of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of our world’. He additionally states that ‘a movement that exalts nature and opposes technology must take a resolutely anti-leftist stance and must avoid all collaboration with leftists’, as in his view ‘leftism is in the long run inconsistent with wild nature, with human freedom and with the elimination of modern technology’.”

  8. Watching the news, it feels like American cities are in a 3rd world country, and the news is coming from a totalitarian state (that isn’t actually the current government, of course) where you have to read between the lines to get the truth.
    In the LA riots of 92, the police abandoned their jobs, under orders, but still, they have abandoned their posts, as they are now in most cities. The difference is few cities have rooftop Koreans. Small businesses are gone, and DAs are actively on the site of the rioters.
    For all the comment box talk about civil war after the election, we’re already in one, it’s just being fought inside various government organizations.

  9. He additionally states that ‘a movement that exalts nature and opposes technology must take a resolutely anti-leftist stance and must avoid all collaboration with leftists’, as in his view ‘leftism is in the long run inconsistent with wild nature,

    Well, you have a point but, to me, environmentalism has gone full left. I was once a member of the Sierra Club because I liked hiking and camping in the Sierras. I’ve read all of John Muir’s books. Then David Browder took over and turned that club into a lobby, which has gone so far left that Muir is now a “White Supremacist.”

    I agree that the Unabomber’s stuff is confused but he is a paranoid psychotic.

  10. Interesting side conversation on Kaczynski here. I ultimately think he is is schizophrenic and that is the best way to start understanding him. However, he is a late-onset schizophrenic with no apparent affective component. That is not quite rare, but it is unusual. The late-onset part means that his personality was forming along relatively normal lines for much longer than many others with the condition. To call PhD mathematicians as people on a “normal” path is a bit humorous even among those who go on to have a house with a picket fence and 2.4 children, because their IQ makes them extreme outliers. But still, many quite reasonable folks go that route. So, normal.

    As an aside, “schizophrenia” as a category is not going to hold much longer. There is just too much variation, too many different stories. Some categories will remain, as there are baskets that hold a lot of people in them. But genetic knowledge is going to break off pieces into smaller groups, as autistic children are now not considered the same as “mentally retarded,” where they were classified for decades.

    So Kaczynski eventually belongs there, but it’s not a slam dunk. And he had lots of years of eccentric but rational thinking leading up to it, so that when it went psychotic it was on an odd but rational foundation. People do not develop their paranoia from their deep psychological states such as relationships with their parents, but from whatever is in the air when they are losing it. Just from experience, I can sometimes estimate the time of first break by the content of the delusions. CIA in the 60s, Mafia when the Godfather movies came out, implanted chips when they first became speculations. For Kaczynski, this seemed to be more like 25 and a slow fall rather than age 20 and a drug-speeded psychosis. What was “in the air” for him was unusual ideas that had a lot of sense in them, and he built his psychosis off that. He was anti-tech insofar as he thought that technology perpetuated “the system,” which he saw as the real problem. He thought the new technology made “the system” ever more powerful and difficult to bring down, so he hit upon the idea of destroying it while there was still time. Grandiose, but understandable in its way.

    He saw socialism/communism as more part of the system than the free market and thus more dangerous, but eventually concluded that technology had overwhelmed market freedoms and the remaining capitalists were no longer free marketers and even more dangerous. He supported Hillary Clinton, then Obama in 2008, and his environmentalism remained extreme. Not the let’s-clean-things-up environmentalism many of us grew up with and loved, but the tear-down-everything-but local-farming-brand of environmentalism. You might say he was a disillusioned anti-leftist who came to hate everything connected with technology even more.

    Thanks for the opportunity to write that.

  11. Watching the news, it feels like American cities are in a 3rd world country, and the news is coming from a totalitarian state (that isn’t actually the current government, of course) where you have to read between the lines to get the truth.

    It’s parts of some cities, not everywhere. It’s where the Left can get away with it. They probe for weakness, and make progress where local authorities are weak or sympathetic and mass-media are sympathetic. They are organized and tactically clever. But they are fighting the culture, and possibly a growing cultural and political countermovement as well.

  12. I tend to agree with AVI on Kaczynski. I spent a summer working in a VA psych hospital in 1961. The TV was the fixation of many psychotics then. There was a day room on the second locked floor. There would be about twenty guys intent on the TV. They were getting instructions from it.

    Very interesting time. I was thinking about Psychiatry by the end but then I met academic psychiatrists.

  13. On the local radio today (not NPR) they ran a brief story about Walmart pulling guns off the shelves. Didn’t mention it’s because they’re top targets for looters, of course. Made it sound like it was a follow-on to their move to remove handguns from stores last year.
    World’s gone insane.

  14. Kurt Schlichter has noted that for leftists violence is a dial to be turned up or down as required, but for conservatives it’s an on/off switch.

    I note that because it seems to me that if the left was getting what they wanted there would be no violence from them. But they aren’t, so there is.

    I also note that the political left has been dominant in the US since the 1930s. Of course there has been violence in the country before- e.g., the 1960s- but previously it hasn’t been sustained for months because the local political establishment refuses to enforce the law and incarcerate the law-breaking rioters.

    What changed? My take is that the left is losing its grip. Failing extreme measures, a ruinous portion of their political base would simply walk away and join team Trump. Obviously, they can’t just let that happen.

    Hence, the endless rioting. And also the permanent rolling covid lockdowns- but that’s a bit off topic.

    Anyway, I’ve got a 2-cent theory about why violence from the left is offensive and from the right it’s defensive. As I wrote, the left has been politically dominant in the US since the 1930s. Thus, the American nation-state- with its presumed monopoly on the legitimate use of violence within its territory- has been governed for decades by people friendly to the left. Hence, leftist partisans can pretty much assume that their political violence will take place in an environment where the legal authorities will be sympathetic to their aims. If you’re not a leftist, you get the opposite.

    As evidence, I contrast the treatment of swarms of leftist rioters in a myriad of blue cities with the treatment of- for example- the couple in Missouri who simply went out to their doorstop to display inoperable firearms to the mob trespassing in their neighborhood. This goes back decades, encompassing such events as cheerful toleration of union violence during the last century, contrasted with the treatment of Randy Weaver in the 1990s, who was hunted down even though he left civilization to live in the wilderness in Idaho.

    Which brings me to the on/off switch. It seems to me that if our present regime is going to prosecute you for simply stepping outside your door and merely threatening a mob of lawbreakers- a mob that the regime refuses to prosecute for its violations of the law- then we have reached the point where the written law is meaningless.

    To quote Janis Joplin, freedom’s just another word for nothing left left to lose- and if the sort of people who have been allowing leftist rioters to burn cities take control of the US government on November 3rd- well- need I say more?

  15. The left is antagonistic to the rule of law, conventions, the canons of literature and music and art, the family, human nature and natural law, traditional science and math, gender roles, human nature and biology. Of course it is “aggressive”. However, the left for the last 150 years has been the politics of totalitarians and forcible obedience (see above goals, which are difficult to enforce without force). The American tradition, heavily influenced by Puritan beliefs and the Scottish Enlightenment despite its roots in that romantic period, remains a respecter of our history and our historical heritage. How can the right, and our form of nationalism, not be “defensive” to some degree despite the fact that we have also, with that beginning, always had considerable affection for rebels, for those who flout anything pretentious or hierarchical.

    Its Kristofferson: “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose / Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’, but it’s free
    Feelin’ good was easy, Lord, when Bobby sang the blues / Feelin’ good was good enough for me / Good enough for me and Bobby McGee.” His politics are bizarre but some of his lyrics are lovely.

  16. One wonders if the stories of big city businesses boarding up already will tip anyone away from abstaining and to voting affirmatively for Trump? This isn’t the world anyone wants.

  17. Mentioning the St Louis couple reminds me that the black Los Angeles DA had demonstrators at her house a couple of weeks ago. Her equally black husband opened the door with a gun in his hand and told them to get off his porch. I believe he has been charged with something.

  18. “The left is antagonistic to the rule of law, conventions, the canons of literature and music and art, the family, human nature and natural law, traditional science and math, gender roles, human nature and biology.”

    A sweeping condemnation. This is very funny indeed. ;)

  19. Well I’m not sure that those who think property rights should be ignored as mayors do who condone the destruction of swaths of their towns, who choose not to prosecute theft below a certain amount, who object to works in the traditional canon because they are by men or whites or westerners, who say (in platforms such as BLM’s) that the destruction of the family is a goal, who teach that human nature doesn’t exist, who judge science and math not by their ability to explain reality but by the categories to which the scientist or mathematician belongs, who believe “science” is determined by political consensus rather than experiential proofs, who believe gender is determined by often fleeting “feelings” and biological sex by the fact-less criteria of feelings are those who see this as condemnation. These certainly seem by some to be unalloyed goods. I’m sure much of this would be put with a different vocabulary than the one I used but at this point we can still choose our own words if we want.

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