Waiting for the Counterrevolution
Victor Davis Hanson
July 28, 2020
As the rioting continues, Democrats and the media attempt to blame it all on Trump, and most Americans watch and worry, in silence.
We are in the midst of a revolution, a cultural and racial one, that seeks to refute the past, damn the present, and hijack the future. So far, however, we have only heard from one side, the revolutionaries and their enablers themselves.
Those trying to reject and then reboot America are small as a percentage of the population, but their tactics are diverse, and their frightened abettors and closet appeasers numerous. The result for now is that, as with most cultural revolutions, a tiny percentage of the population seems to be ascending, given that there is no real organized resistance other than isolated and disgusted individuals.
The cultural revolutionaries are a tripartite group.
On the front lines are the shock troops. For the most part, middle-class urban and suburban white kids, many of them in college, graduated, or dropped out, make up Antifa and its affiliates. They seem to organize the statue toppling, graffiti, and vandalism, as well as the violence at the demonstrations. They show up in ridiculous black-clad Road Warrior outfits, fitted out with cobbled-together hoodies, bicycle helmets, knee pads, and various sports-equipment armor, and occasionally with testudo-like umbrellas and assorted fireworks, rocks, bottle, and bats. All that is a psychodrama far more interesting than showing up at Starbucks at 5 a.m. to start the day’s machinery.
They are the new superfluous elite, in that their college investments brought them neither prestige nor money, but only debt and sloganeering memorized from the sermons of their tenured and comfortable lounge professors. History shows that when would-be, self-important elites have are in surfeit and extraneous, they grow volatile. They wake up to learn that their vaunted education and training were not appreciated and properly compensated by society.
And so they often can turn to violence and indeed revolution if it comes their way. In the profiles of the Jacobin, Bolshevik, and Arab Spring second-stage revolutions, the common denominators are frustration and the feeling that the agitators deserved honor, money, and influence that either never was forthcoming or went to undeserving others.
Antifa’s aim is to cause chaos and anarchy, in hopes of eliciting a police response that will fuel nonstop street brawling, akin to Germany’s in the 1920s, and a general sense of pandemonium that will leave the democratic capitalist state weak, directionless, and without a reply.
Then the more unhinged among them believe that they can carve out “autonomous” zones of “resistance” in places such as Portland and Seattle and gradually spread their revolution through threats and intimidation — and perhaps more formally hijack the Democratic Party and come to power. Cellphones, selfies, networking, and childish coloring-book graffiti make the whole thing a sort of carnival where the like-minded frustrated agitators can vent about the unfairness of the world.
Many of these self-righteous are indeed racist, as we see from the sheer joy they show at yelling in the face of black policemen and orchestrating the demonstrations while avoiding the televised looting. The more they scream “Racism!” the more one concludes that in their own lives they were pretty sheltered and separate by design. They show special venom for any blacks who wave American flags or resist their groupthink, as if to say, “You ingrate! Don’t you appreciate what I’m doing for you?”
Nonetheless, in their effort to achieve medieval exemption and penance, they partner with or more often even seek to hijack the Black Lives Matter movement. BLM leaders are self-avowed Marxists, but their real agenda is racist: to reduce the U.S. into two camps, one of victimized noble nonwhites and the other of victimizing white people who should accept their proper reparatory role given the sins of their ancestors and the racist and evil country they maintain and perpetuate.
BLM offers amnesties to the victimizing white people if they kneel and apologize, or join their ranks, or hit the street. BLMers encourage looting, arson, takeovers of stores and streets, and they generally send the message that life will be too intolerable to continue as usual for the proverbial average American citizen, unless he grants all sorts of demands: restructuring the government, the media, entertainment, and the university to focus mostly on black issues, hiring “diversity” staff on the basis of race, and recalibrating promotions, admissions, grading, and graduation by race. Asymmetry is their religion. Random urban violence against whites is contextualized; substitute the noun “black” for “white” in most of the sloganeering, and the speaker would be ostracized for racist drivel.
One immediate goal is ending meritocracy as racist and replacing it with quotas that inflate proportional black representation as reparations. Defunding some police, the emptying of many jails and prisons, and releasing the arrested without bail are already proof of BLM’s success.
So BLM seeks to exercise a veto power over America’s past, present, and future, from the manner in which national sports are conducted, universities are run, and corporations merchandise and advertise, to how government functions.
They reject the MLK doctrine of assimilation and integration and seek instead a Balkan-like separatism, with BLM representing a supposed agenda that 30 percent of the population endorses and that, if not implemented, will supposedly entail constant hectoring and perpetual violent reactions to persuade the rest. So far, BLM has set the Democratic Party trajectory of defunding the police, shifting all attention away from epidemic black-on-black violence, and strong-arming corporations for lavish support. Note well that lots of BLM functionaries are now becoming rich.
A second group of revolutionaries are found in the new neo-socialist Democratic Party itself and its elite enablers. This cadre treats Antifa and BLM as useful pawns and has refused to criticize either. Violence in our cities is deemed a “hoax.” In truth, it is now hard to find any issue on which the Democratic establishment has been at odds with BLM and even Antifa. The latter are critical to providing 30 percent or so of the hard-Democratic base without which the party cannot fulfill its agenda.
The media, the universities, Hollywood, most foundations, the entertainment industry, professional sports, the Never Trump hump Right, and perhaps a few of the retired and active four-star military see the protests, even the violent kind, as necessary goads that will reveal the true dangers of Donald Trump to the nation. In that regard, anything that might prompt Trump to use federal troops to quell the violence, or split him off from the vestigial Republican establishment, or remind the permanent administrative state of his evil, is encouraged and exempt from criticism. This second tier of politicos believes that the revolution is useful in ridding the country of Trump. Then once things return to normal, they also will revert to their positions of influence prior to 2017, as Antifa and BLM are coopted or bought off.
A final group of revolutionaries consists of the finger-in-the-wind bystanders — the corporate appeasers and the suburban upper-middle-class liberal establishment. They are bothered by the street violence of Antifa, the apparent drumbeat hatred of whites, and they fear what has been wrought by chaos, plague, lockdown, and depression. But they have, they wager, the money and influence to win exemption from the shock troops of Antifa and BLM.
In the short term, they just wish that all the bad stuff would go away. In a collective fetal position, CEOs and various liberal-mainstay groups are happy to write checks to the revolutionaries, grant their demands, and voice their platitudes — on the theory that when the rough stuff really starts, they will be left alone to run the country as they think they always do. They are in a sense playing the role of the anti-czarist aristocrats who believed that the motley crew of Bolsheviks would be honored to have their money and support — and their own controlling influence.
Add it all up, and so far, the revolution is well funded, proving useful for the Biden campaign, and airbrushed by the media as a necessary humanitarian effort to address “systematic” and “endemic” racism. But the main goal is to destroy Trump, by weaponizing plague, lockdown, recession, and riot to pave the way for a Biden bridge to hard-core socialism.
And last, there is the quiet majority of Americans of all races and classes. They have watched all this for months — but kept mysteriously still.
At first, they shrugged that a plague, a national quarantine, and a recession can make people do crazy things, and so they stayed mum.
Then some felt that Trump’s braggadocio needlessly goaded the protests, so he might need a comeuppance for a few weeks.
Then they told themselves that the riots and revolutionary rebooting of America would die out with the virus, sort of like #MeToo finally hitting the Joe Biden wall of “Tara Reade is lying. End of story.”
For a while, some liked the idea of cultural carnivores devouring their own at the haughty New York Times or Planned Parenthood. Others sighed that blue-state governors and mayors were reaping what they had sowed.
But now, the public is getting worried.
Many Americans may not like Trump, but they know now that Trump is all that stands between themselves and chaos, anarchy, depression, and the end of America as we know it.
Still, most remain quiet. They avoid talking to friends, pollsters, and the media about their anger. Many will tune out the NBA and the NFL this late summer and fall, once the kneeling and in-your-face accusations of racism hit their TV screens. Most accept that Joe Biden is tragically non compos mentis, and that he is the Left’s only hope to accomplish a radical agenda, through his selection of vice president/president.
So what will the majority ultimately do?
It is slowly steaming but for the moment still holds on to a shred of hope that the madness will die out as the revolution cannibalizes its own — even though many know that it will not. Maybe the Democratic Party will tack back to the respectable Left, or so many dream.
Yet at some point, if the rioting and revolution and overt socialism continue, the majority will weigh in, likely from mid September to mid October.
The Democratic Party knows this. So its functionaries are now frantically trying to portray Trump as the instigator of the violence — or claim there is no violence at all. They permanently script and seclude the cognitively challenged Biden, and redefine Antifa and BLM as our own sons and daughters who, if a little rowdy and zealous at times, have their hearts in the right place and soon will calm down and join the victorious Democratic war wagon.
All that assumes that Trump cannot refocus on the plague, lockdown, and recession; that Biden will miraculously reboot as Old Joe from Scranton still in his Senate heyday; and that the revolutionaries, drunk on power and success, will obey the septuagenarian apparatchiks Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and the old, steadily shrinking guard at the New York Times, NPR, PBS, and the Washington Post, and thus behave until November.
Yet it’s more likely that we’ll see more fireworks after Labor Day — and a pushback like we haven’t seen since the early Seventies.