Streetwise Professor

January 9, 2021

The Tyrannical Reaction to the Blundering “Insurrection” at the Capitol Means That Worse Is to Come

Filed under: Civil War,Politics — cpirrong @ 5:25 pm

My main reaction to Wednesday’s debacle at the Capitol is the same as Fouché’s to the murder of the Duc d’Enghien: It was worse than a crime: it was a blunder. As “insurrections” go, it was rather farcical, with limited instances of real violence the exception, and theater of the absurd the rule. As a result it was utterly ineffectual in achieving any object. And I use the passive tense deliberately, because it is rather hard to identify any actual person with an objective.

But that is a major reason why this was such a colossal blunder. It was utterly aimless and pointless and ineffectual and barren of any result–except for giving the governing class a reason to begin a ruthless purge of anyone in opposition to it. Anyone who is opposed to the governing class (which extends far beyond government, and includes large swathes of corporate America) is equated to those very few who rampaged through Nancy Pelosi’s office, even if they were nowhere near DC at the time. They are deemed seditious insurrectionists and “domestic terrorists” who must be excised from public life–including in particular participation in social media–and whose private employment is at risk.

This is affirming the consequent on steroids, but that fallacy is one of the most useful tools of political propaganda. And the governing class is using that tool with utter ruthlessness. Those who do not express complete fealty are at risk of being destroyed. And to be honest, expressing fealty today is likely to be insufficient, if one is deemed to have committed some sin against orthodoxy in the past.

This has been a judo move that turned Trump’s biggest strength–his ability to engage the passions of millions of people–into his greatest liability. He should have understood the risk, but so consumed was he by his increasingly Quixotic efforts to overturn his election loss that he failed to see it, and in fact fell right into the trap–that is his blunder. And in so doing he has inflicted a grievous harm on his most fervent supporters, and those not so fervent yet broadly aligned with him in their opposition to the governing class.

This is a blunder from which recovery will be nearly impossible, at least for some years–or until the governing class commits a similarly egregious blunder.

The governing class is not going to miss this opportunity to bludgeon its adversaries–and indeed, the campaign to do so ramped into high gear after the Capitol was cleared. It continues to intensify, led by the governing class’s Praetorian Guard: the social media and tech companies.

The most striking–and revealing–phenomenon is the stark contrast between the governing class’s reaction to this spasm of mob violence, even as highly limited in duration and extent as it was, to the epidemic of mob violence that lasted for months from sea to shining sea starting in May. I’m so old that I can remember when public protest–including protest that descended into destruction and death far more extensive than what occurred in DC on 6 January–was the highest expression of patriotism, and the most authentic expression of the discontent of the dispossessed, oppressed, and disenfranchised.

But that’s because those protestors were advancing the interests of the most ruthless part of the governing class, whereas these protestors are expressing their contempt for the governing class.

Who, whom, you know. It’s not the fact or protest or the intensity or violence thereof that matters: it’s who is protesting against whom, and why. The attempted assault on the White House in June, let alone the consummated assault on a Minneapolis police station or the nightly attacks on Federal buildings in Portland, were far more intense and angry and destructive than what happened on Wednesday. But to the governing class, those are legitimate targets. They are not, and since the rampage at the Capitol targeted the governing class, it is beyond the pale.

The reaction is what one would expect from tyrants, and indeed the entire episode is symptomatic of tyranny. Not the tyranny of Trump, but the tyranny of the governing class. As I’ve written for years, Trump is a symptom, not a cause. His victory, and his popularity among a massive number of Americans, stems directly from his opposition to the governing class. Trump cannily recognized the widespread discontent, and tapped into it. His populism reflected the undeniable fact that a large fraction of the people were–and are–mad as hell at those who presume to rule us–with very good reason. Populism is almost always a consequence of government failure–which is why governing classes hate it so much.

This discontent has been stoked to a fever pitch by the unrelenting campaign against covid, which has saved pitifully few (if any) lives, but destroyed many livelihoods and deprived most of us the things that make life worth living. Further, the highly dubious outcome of the election–and perhaps more importantly, the phalanx-like opposition of the governing class (including notably the Republican establishment) to any investigation of this dubiousness–has fueled the fires further.

In sum, there are a large number of desperate and angry people who believe the governing class despises them, and is indeed at war with them. So why should anyone be surprised that this desperation and anger has resulted in mob action? No one–least of all those who rationalized the Floyd protests (and riots) as a natural response to desperation and anger.

And to be frank, I am pretty sure that the ruling class is not surprised. They would never acknowledge it, but they know they hate these people, and are hated back in return. Which is precisely why they are using this opportunity to try and crush those that they hate, both out of a self-defense reflex, and for the pure pleasure of vanquishing one’s foes.

This is what tyrants do. They believe that their power and legitimacy is non-negotiable and indisputable, and that anyone who challenges the one and questions the other is seditious and deserves to be crushed. The left makes a big deal about demonizing “The Other.” Well, to the left and the governing class which is largely left, The Other is, well, probably you. And you are being demonized, and that demonization is used to justify the imposition of coercion on you.

Their expectation, like that of all tyrants, is that if they exert enough force, their opponents will be crushed or cowed into abject submission. Sometimes that is correct. But often it has the exact opposite effect, and exacerbates tension and hostility to such a degree that there is a revolutionary convulsion.

In other words, we are living in pre-revolutionary times, and the reflex of the governing class to double down on coercion when challenged is greatly increasing the odds that soon the prefix “pre-” will be obsolete. So convinced of its righteousness, rectitude, and right to rule, the governing class is failing to ask why so many hate them so much–they just dismiss them as rubes and rednecks and racists and religious freaks. And by failing to ask the question, they greatly increase the odds of getting an unsolicited, and very violent, answer to the question they should ask but haven’t.

In the covid months I’ve let my beard grow out, mainly as a statement about how the restrictions on normal life in 2020 rendered irrelevant certain social conventions. When someone commented rather snarkily about that, I responded “well, if we are headed for a civil war, I thought I should look the part.” If that sardonic response was comprehensible when I made it a few months ago, it is all the more so after the events of the past weeks, and last week in particular.

There are other things about the Capitol catastrophe (catastrophic much less in its direct effects than its fallout) that deserve attention. Such as: why was it even possible that a rather inchoate and spontaneous mob was able to get access to the Capitol? But all that must be based on speculation colored by one’s pre-existing beliefs. The fact is that it did happen, and it will have consequences. It is those consequences that we must focus on, as I’ve tried to do here. And I am increasingly convinced that the most important consequence will be a grave escalation in internecine conflict as the governing class attempts to suppress those millions who already feel oppressed by their rule, with the possible (and indeed, likely) results being frightful to contemplate.

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  1. Last try:

    Comment by ETat — January 12, 2021 @ 5:44 pm

  2. @47 Tatyana, I didn’t mean to interpose myself. Merely to participate. Sometimes, translation helps communication. Did I get it wrong?

    I read your manifesto at ETat and fully share your view. If you like, a published essay on the power-mad dishonesty that is Progressivism.

    My epiphany about Progressives came with detailed assessment of Noam Chomsky’s writings, about 20 years ago. I discovered that he is a systematic liar.

    That led me to a deep dive and the further discovery that Chomsky’s lies represent the standard of Progressive practice — all directed to acquisition of police power.

    Lifting my opened eyes, I saw that every single leftist war of national liberation was in fact a war of national enslavement.

    The towering genius of the American founders in dividing and checking political power became clear to me. One could go on, but you know the story already.

    Comment by Pat Frank — January 12, 2021 @ 8:24 pm

  3. @Pat: Well, that’s a new one, we are mostly in agreement 🙂 Thanks for the time and analysis you contributed to the discussion, and for what it’s worth, you have significantly changed my opinion of the events in the Capitol – specifically that the event itself was not quite as dangerous as it first appeared, I’m now more worried about the precedent it sets (or more directly, what might somebody do next time…), the potential risks that could have come up (speculation or not…) and the increase in US polarisation that it demonstrates – something that worries many of us out here in the rest of the world…
    My wife also lived under communism (though she was quite young when it fell, but she remembers the economic hardship that followed) and she does not go around dismissing EVERYBODY who disagrees with her. That’s an attitude that leads nowhere productive (Ref: Antifa, for example). Dismissing me on here is fine, I’m nobody, but dismissing everybody… hmmm…

    @dcardno: Stop! Stop! He’s already dead… 🙂 Ok, some good counter-points, but to paraphrase Ted Cruz (I think…): What does it say when a significant number of Americans believe Ms Hill’s version? (I don’t have an answer, nor do I seek one, I just despair at what I’m seeing).

    @Both: As much as you guys see the reaction to the event at the Capitol as an over-reaction, the left sees claims of vote-rigging just as much as an over-reaction. As a devout centerist, I feel like there must be a way forward in between those two. It’s either that, or follow people like Tatyana into a pointless war…

    Comment by HibernoFrog — January 13, 2021 @ 4:19 am

  4. @Prof: The rest of the comments have disappeared again, just as soon as we hit #51…

    Comment by HibernoFrog — January 13, 2021 @ 4:21 am

  5. Yep, “dismissing” everybody on the left as traitors, foul commie bootlickers, amoral backstabbers of democracy – as they (you) proved themselves to be time and again – how they not, that’s the essence of their nature – how uncivilized! I should, like the Reps, bow to your superiority I guess.

    you wife remembers hardships AFTER communism fell? yeah, right. tell her ask her parents about the hardhsips DURING commie’s rule.

    unless her family is part of nomeklatura, of course. then they’d remember those times as heaven – just like bidens now.

    Comment by Tatyana — January 13, 2021 @ 6:41 am

  6. Hiberno 51
    Oh, I despair at what I am seeing, as well. Any time you have 35-ish percent of the population believing that a vote was rigged is a huge problem in a democracy. The difference between the vote-rigging allegation (election cheating, call it what you will) and the ‘insurrection on Capitol Hill’ is that the “insurrection” is being used to justify (inter alia) harassment up to job loss, restriction of civil liberties (no-fly lists, etc), arbitrary suspension of what should be ‘common carrier’ services, and will be cited repeatedly over the next four years as justification for all that and worse. Election shenanigans weren’t even looked at. Some weren’t even allegations: various election officials do not have the legal right to adopt new election procedure – but they did anyway, “because covid.” Again, not even a sniff.
    If (supposedly impartial) officials had done their jobs, and at least had a look at the alleged election improprieties, the “insurrection” never would’ve happened.

    Comment by dcardno — January 13, 2021 @ 11:00 am

  7. @51 HibernoFrog — the reason I believe the vote was rigged is because the evidence says it was rigged.

    The reason I am pessimistic about the future is that Progressives have taken over the Democratic Party and I have studied Progressives. They are, in short, totalitarians without police power. Now that they have acquired police power, they will do everything possible to bring about their police state.

    If they’re allowed to succeed in the fraud, there will be no honest election in our future. Progressives will win every critical spot, including both Houses and the Presidency. They’ll pack the courts with partisan judges. Adjudications will serve the rulers.

    If they open the borders, the inflood of people will be settled in swing states. With their vote and the uncontested ability to defraud the vote, the Democrats will never lose another major election.

    The next immediate step they will take is to destroy all opposition. Look for people to be first defamed, then accused, and finally imprisoned. Political prisoners.

    Look for new and ever more draconian restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly for whatever emergency reason. Covid. Climate Change. Hate speech. Anything will be invoked, but they’ll all point to the same effect: restraint.

    The First and Second Amendments will be regulated into non-existence. The First is already gone on college campuses across the country.

    Antifa and BLM people will be recruited into police, the FBI, and the DHS, which will become a national police force. At that point, there will be no rule of law. Merely the rule of police whim, supported by tendentious courts. All that is likely to be in place by 2050.

    After that, the America we know will be a fading memory.

    All that, iif the current assault on the vote is allowed to stand. Legal argument will not reform the process when one side is fully committed to the dishonest result.

    Despite your diagnosis, HibernoFrog, I’m not a conservative. I’m a free thinker, to the extent I’m able. I’ve come to those conclusions by reading history and looking at the evidence.

    Here in the US, we appear due for mortal turmoil. I doubt the Progressives will yield without force. The choice we face is their police state or the Constitution. Time will tell which prevails.

    Comment by Pat Frank — January 13, 2021 @ 11:29 am

  8. @Pat: Not to say it couldn’t happen (I think that people who say such things need to study history a bit more…) BUT I think that’s a very pessimistic view. Even if they don’t react the way you want right now, I don’t think that the US population is willing to do the boiled frog routine while all that happens. But I guess it’s like our argument over masks: Like it or not, the experiment is already in progress…

    Also @Pat: In related news, a favourite Youtuber of mine, Legal Eagle, has taken up your challenge to find evidence of incitement in the video. Short version, he doesn’t find anything concrete (and this is a person who has previously expressed a strong dislike of Trump). It’s quite an interesting piece, actually, going through the law and the precedent before coming to a conclusion. He says it could go either way, but I think he’s just trying to be fair – from his description it is hard to imagine a court agreeing to “incitement”. Given that Twitter, Facebook, et al presumably have access to much better legal advice than free videos on Youtube, I think it is doubly-worrying that their suspension of Trump hasn’t been lifted…

    Comment by HibernoFrog — January 14, 2021 @ 4:17 am

  9. Spam filter dined again. Let’s try this.

    A video showing Antifa types organizing to attack the capitol:

    Comment by Pat Frank — January 14, 2021 @ 2:36 pm

  10. Pat – that video shows nothing of the sort. Once again you’re grasping at straws in an attempt to deflect blame.

    I see some alarming charges have been levelled by various prosecutors at some of the protesters so far identified e.g. the intention to assassinate elected representatives etc. Let’s see how they fare in your courts, shall we?

    Comment by David Mercer — January 15, 2021 @ 6:43 am

  11. Antifa with window dressing, David. No surprise you’d not see the obvious.

    Trump has had rally after rally with thousands upon thousands of people, each. None of them featured people like those we see in that video.

    Notice the woman in the pink hat shouting instructions through a megaphone. We see more of her.

    In the second video on this page likely the same pink-hatted woman is using a battering ram to force her way into the Capitol. The people around her are dressed like Antifa with patriotic window dressing.

    In this video, a guy tries pounding through a window, while people around yell “Antifa!, Antifa!” Then the Antifa guy is taken down by a Trump supporter.

    Agents provocateur, David. Just as we saw when Trump was campaigning in 2015. The DNC inserted people into his rallies to provoke violent incidents. Same people, same tactics.

    Another indicator of the foul wind blowing is that one can find many Twitter URLS of videos showing Antifa activity at the rally. But far more often than not, the Twitter account is suspended. Surprise, surprise! How could that possibly happen?

    Comment by Pat Frank — January 15, 2021 @ 10:23 am

  12. More evidence of planned Antifa incitement at the DC rally.

    The interview with eyewitness reporter Misako Ganaha is especially worth watching.

    Comment by Pat Frank — January 15, 2021 @ 12:07 pm

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