While watching the video of efforts by left-wing thugs to disrupt Richard Spencer’s recent talk on affirmative action at Providence College, I was reminded of a conversation I had sometime in the late 1980s with a former member of the 1960s radical group Students for a Democratic Society who had been involved with the movement to oppose the Vietnam War since its inception circa 1962. He recalled how in the early days of the antiwar movement, protest organizers were thrilled if they could get fifty people to show up for a rally. To publicly oppose the war at the time was physically dangerous, and such rallies were always at risk of being physically attacked by vigilantes shouting epithets like “communist” at the protestors. If organizers of the rallies could get police protection at all, they were happy to have it. Not only were public demonstrations in danger of such assaults, but so were quiet and peaceful meetings of those who opposed the war held in church basements or on university campuses. Of course, we all know that the anti-Vietnam War movement morphed into a mass movement just a few years later.
So it is indeed ironic that half a century later it is those who challenge the established dogmas purveyed by the Left who similarly experience the disruption of their efforts to peacefully speak and organize, who become the targets of epithets like “racist,” “sexist,” or “classist,” and who are threatened with physical violence. Incidents of this type are exceedingly common. It is now widely known that conservative speakers on university campuses, even entirely mainstream neocon-friendly “movement conservative” types, are routinely shouted down and threatened by leftists. As most readers are probably aware, right-wing organizations outside the mainstream, such as American Renaissance, have endured even worse attacks. At times, simply attending an anti-illegal immigration rally can be all that it takes for one to become the victim of a physical assault.
A number of observations could be made concerning the demeanor and behavior of the disrupters of Richard’s presentation at Providence. One is the obvious fact that they are so certain of their own moral superiority and the nobility of their crusade that they feel ordinary rules of civilized discourse or common courtesy no longer apply to them. Another is that far from their image of themselves as enlightened, free-thinking rebels, they come across more like brainwashed zombies similar to members of the LaRouche cult or the Moonies I used to encounter selling flowers on the streets of Washington, D.C. years ago. Their level of intellectual prowess seems to amount to little more than thinking that merely throwing labels at people and ideas they find disagreeable counts as a valid refutation of the opposing viewpoints.
Judging from the hysteria of their reaction, one would think that Richard was advocating genocide rather than arguing for the fairly standard right-of –center position that affirmative action is a bad idea, a position that even some minority scholars and analysts hold. It is also rather difficult to see how Richard was arguing for “white supremacy” given that the data he was presenting actually showed Asians to be the top performers with regards to SAT scores. As Richard pointed out in his talk, it was he who was the moderate and the protestors who were the extremist nutjobs.
For the diversitarians, affirmative action is not merely a policy preference, but a sacred article of faith, like the Holy Trinity or the Immaculate Conception. Affirmative action is a political tool the liberal establishment utilizes to maintain the loyalty of one of its core allies and constituent groups, the black elite and the middle class professional sectors of the black population. Affirmative action is an entitlement used as a reward for political loyalty from these sectors. It is doubtful that AA is of much benefit to genuinely impoverished or disadvantaged blacks, many of whom do not even finish high school, much less attend college or obtain professional-level occupations. And as Richard pointed out, if the goal of AA was to help the poor and disadvantaged in the first place, AA would be class-based rather than race-based.
Indeed, “black conservatives” like Thomas Sowell and Elizabeth Wright have documented a myriad of ways in which policies implemented by the welfare state and civil rights bureaucracy that has meta-morphed in recent decades have severely undermined the organic economic, cultural, and family life of urban black communities, and contributed exponentially to the social pathologies often found in those communities. Likewise, the black libertarian economist Walter Williams has produced rather extensive evidence indicating the contribution of efforts at intrusive economic micromanagement to high unemployment rates among urban blacks.
Additionally, there is some evidence that black children who are educated in culturally specific Afro-centric schools perform much better than black children who receive conventional public schooling. The reasons as to why this is so are inconclusive but what is interesting is that the efforts of either conservative and libertarian black scholars like Sowell, Wright, or Williams, or of Afro-centrists with a nationalist or separatist outlook, are routinely attacked or dismissed by white liberals and the captains of the civil rights industry alike. Indeed, such people are often reviled by the Left. The obvious reason for this is the fanatical egalitarian-universalist ideology that has come to dominate the Left, an ideology that just happens to coincide with the political and economic self-interest of those who push it. It is an ideology that seeks a society where all resources are controlled and managed by the state and administered according to a spoils system the ostensible purpose of which is the imposition of bureaucratically-managed “equality.” The ultimate outcome of totalitarian humanism taken to its logical conclusion would be a totalitarian state organized as a kind of caste system whereby individual rights are assigned on the basis of group identity and group rights are assigned on the basis of the position of the group in the pantheon of the oppressed or on the victimological family tree.
Given these considerations, it might be apt to compare our present day lefto-fascist, stormtroopers-on-granola with the Red Guards of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. The Red Guards were, of course, bands of youthful vigilantes who scurried about China during the 1960s smashing up cultural artifacts deemed “old” (e.g. conservative, traditional) and engaging in vigilante violence against persons deemed “reactionary” (mostly dissident intellectuals and those labeled “bourgeois” or originating from politically incorrect cultural or class backgrounds.) We see a similar though milder version of this today in the West today with attacks on expressions of traditional culture (like Christmas celebrations), historical artifacts considered to be reactionary (like Confederate Civil War monuments or streets named after Confederate generals), and vigilante actions against people given labels like “racist,” “fascist,” “sexist,” or “classist.”
I suspect that these “antifa” types, these Red Guards-on-tofu, would be every bit as murderous and destructive if the authorities would sanction it, as Chairman Mao did during the Cultural Revolution. We’ve seen hints at this already with the nonchalant attitude of the authorities towards threats of murder and arson against innocent people made by the Antifa in response to American Renaissance’s planned gathering in 2010. Plenty of other incidents have occurred where destructive or violent behavior by those claiming to act in the name of noble causes like “anti-racism” and “anti-fascism” have been overlooked or dealt with leniently by authorities convinced of the purity of their motives or restrained by political pressure.
The great irony presented by the Antifa is that despite all of their posturing as radicals and revolutionaries, they’re essentially doing the establishment’s bidding. The attitudes they subscribe to are not fundamentally different from those of the liberal elite overlords of the wider society. The Red Guards-on-tofu are simply a smellier, more ill-mannered, undisciplined, more in-a-hurry version of the liberal establishment itself. Wouldn’t it be an even greater irony if indeed the growing counterculture of the alternative right were to grow into a large influential movement as the leftist counterculture and antiwar movements did in the 1960s, with the Antifa and their ilk assuming the role of the “hardhats”?