The same people who supported political violence, and opposed any police action are now taking a political position that contradicts their original stance. The condemnation of last night’s storming was universal from the Left and Right. But the condemnation of the yearlong violence that preceded that came only from the Right, not from the Left, which spent months trying to justify Black Lives Matter and Antifa. This is not mere hypocrisy, but an establishment of a new hierarchy.
State authority in the United States appears to have crumbled, and its institutions seem helpless in face of yearlong chaos. While a majority of the protesters in any protest Left and Right are peaceful, it is also irrelevant as they are also mostly swayed by criminals acting in their name, and most people do not seem to know that choices and actions have consequences. The violence in the Capitol didn’t just emerge ex nihilo. Quite the contrary.
For four years violence and counterviolence were normalized. Op-eds were written about how protests reform society. Books were written in justification of looting and arson. And now the republic itself is in danger of insurrection.
Just last month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) wanted to have a federal inquiry into what they term the “racial inequalities” of the pandemic. The concept behind idea is that the pandemic is racist. And due to “systemic racism” Black, Latino, and “people of color,” an amorphous phrasing without any clear meaning, which can mean anyone from Turkey to Japan, Mongolia to Vanuatu and Peru, have been failed by the federal government.
How is that possible? It takes a massive suspension of disbelief, to even contemplate that anyone in the United States is doing worse than Asia and Africa. Flawed statistics notwithstanding, this is clear evidence, that it is the United States and its ally, the UK, which developed the vaccines. If this was the nineteenth century, then there would be newspaper headlines about how Anglo-Americans (with help from India) saved the world. And the headlines would be true. But that was then and now there is no question that the standard of living for minorities in the West is better than anywhere else. If that were not true, then there would be massive mass migration from the West to the rest of the world, which is almost never the case. The only reason that there might be more fatality in communities of color might be biological, i.e. obesity in some communities. But even then, the phrase “people of color” doesn’t make sense to me. The fatality rates and percentage of Japanese or Indians from the coronavirus, even post-infection, are minimal when compared to the West.
If any “systemic” discrimination is impacting the West, then it is the thousands of small businesses, which are losing everything due to a hideous mix of uncontrolled government power and corporate pressure. While Amazon rakes in profits, it is also supporting and funding the Black Lives Matter movement, which has directly contributed to the closing down and destruction of thousands of businesses and livelihood via destructive protests and riots. Other than that, it appears to me that racism has declined while “racial politics” has increased in the West, which is partly due to pure propaganda and activist subversive disciplines, media bias, and the feminization of academia.
The fundamental causes behind the last four years of incessant protests, and violence, were the massive attempted transformation of society, which was not just due to a few rabid ideologues. There’s a greater idea at play here, and one can slowly observe patterns. What we are observing, for lack of a better word, is a return to a sort of “feudalism.” Everything, from agitation about “defunding police,” to an unlimited technology and liberal government power mix, to the mainstream news organizations dividing into two efficient propaganda machines, are part of the same idea. Of course, there’s no smoke-filled room or massive conspiracy. In fact, like most of human history, these movements are usually organic. But, just because there’s no conspiracy, doesn’t mean there are not powerful forces trying to take advantage of the chaos.
And Americans share their part of the blame too. People are emotional creatures and sometimes swayed by hysteria, which is the fundamental character of mass politics and, therefore, timeless. What that majority of people rioting in support of “defunding police” fail to understand, is that mass movements that are political in origin are often led and funded by the extremely affluent. It might appear counterintuitive, but it is not. The modern police system that originated in eighteenth-century Britain was created to ensure the spread of a protective state and stop the extreme rot of feudalism, where only the affluent can ensure security and the masses were at the mercy of the strong.
The reversal of that is slowly evident where the affluent will continue to afford their private security, and those agitating the police will be the victims in the changed neo-feudal world when they realize what they have lost. Mental health workers and anti-racist librarians will not stop thuggery, domestic abuse, and violence on the streets. Those are usually stopped by stern men with weapons. In a way, the fate of Seattle, Minneapolis, and Portland are being decided by the people of those cities, and their choices will soon start having consequences.
A bipartisan crackdown on all forms of insurrectionary forces within is of paramount importance because historically more than any foreign enemy, domestic propaganda and insurrectionary forces can result in state collapse. No foreign adversary is a bigger threat than that.
Sumantra Maitra is a doctoral researcher at the University of Nottingham.