Have things gotten so bad in the U. S. that our collective political frustrations could actually lead some people to commit acts of political violence? Could some people’s words actually incite some people to commit acts of political violence? These are questions many Americans seem to be asking themselves these days.
The U.S. has a very long history of civil unrest and political violence, so it should come as no surprise to us, especially during politically frustrating times, that politically violent acts (of various types) will likely be committed by some people. Well chosen words can incite powerful emotions, and well chosen words concerning genuine political issues and the frustrations which accompany them, can certainly incite some people to act violently. To think that words can have no effect upon people whatsoever—either toward their pursuing good actions or for ill—is simply ridiculous. Words are very powerful; “more powerful”, it is said, “than the sword”.
We live in a violent world. And when it comes to political violence, terrorism is the latest threat to the established (government) order(s). Terrorism is really not a major concern here in the U. S., although the established governmental order would like for us to believe that it is, but it is a major concern in many other countries (e.g., Israel, Columbia, India). The U. S. Government acts as if terrorism was a very real threat here, especially after 9/11, but it doesn’t believe that terrorism is a threat to the established government order itself.
The party members of all well established political/governmental orders, such as the U. S., Russia, and China, don’t fear their subjects rising up against them and demanding real political/governmental change, but they do fear the destabilization and disorder which can be caused by acts of political violence and terrorism. What the ruling party members of the well established orders fear most is a successful political takeover of the government (a coup d’état), which is orchestrated by their political rivals and removes them from power.
Here in the U. S., we are witnesses to a lot of political wrangling but we never see any real change in the way the federal government operates: it continues on, unimpeded, growing ever larger and ever more powerful. It doesn’t seem to matter which political party happens to be in power, whether conservative or liberal, because the established federal governmental order continues to raises taxes, continues to spend those tax revenues exorbitantly, and continues to pass more and more laws and regulations that further infringe upon the personal properties, liberties, and freedoms of the ordinary U. S. citizen who is (supposedly) protected from these sorts of federal government intrusions by the first Ten Amendments, the Bill of Rights, to the U. S. Constitution.
We’ve seen what these well established political/governmental orders will do to their enemies. We know that people who are accused of committing or of planning to commit acts of political violence in these nations will face imprisonment and torture. If convicted of committing or of planning to commit acts of political violence, they will also face the possibility or probability of execution.
There will never be any change in the way in which these well established political/government orders ultimately maintain control over their subjects: the threat of violence and the use of violence. Governments want a monopoly on violence. And it’s unlikely that the ruling regimes of the U. S., Russia, and China, all of which were founded upon revolutions, will ever be overthrown by an armed revolutionary/political movement. These nations have become so powerful militarily and so efficient at controlling their populations that their overthrow would be impossible.
The majority of those who desire to see major political change are not in positions of political power within the ruling regime (upper party members) and they do not benefit from being part of the political/governmental regime (i.e., as government employees/lower party members) and, in order to effect political changes, there’s really very little they can do besides vote. I think this is what’s giving rise to the recent concern about the possibility of political violence occurring in the U. S.: many citizens feel they are being oppressed by government over-taxation and infringements upon their personal liberties but they are powerless to change things. Political powerlessness leads to political frustration, and political frustration leads to political violence.
In our modern world, this political frustration reaches its logical conclusion in acts of political violence; especially suicide bombings. The modern (or postmodern) tactic of suicide bombings sprung from the fertile soil of the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people. Virtually powerless against the nation of Israel, the Palestinian people, out of political desperation, sought to inflict casualties upon the people of Israel by any means necessary, which included a willingness to sacrifice its own people.
A seventeen year old young women doesn’t strap a bomb to herself—with the express intention of killing herself and as many Israelis as she possibly can—without feeling political desperation in the extreme. There is no other explanation. And all the suicide bombings that have occurred in the nation of Israel have originated from Israel’s tyrannical oppression of the Palestinian people.
The Palestinians know they can’t defeat Israel in a conventional war, but they believe they can cause Israel enough trouble to make it not worth their while to continue their occupation of Palestine. Like the Zionist terrorists who made life so miserable for the British that they eventually abandoned their occupation of Palestine (leaving it to the Zionists, to whom it later became the modern nation of Israel).
In dealing with modern, powerful, and well established political and governmental orders/regimes, political dissenters resort to political violence because—knowing that the established order cannot be overthrown by a revolutionary military force—they want to cause the established order as much trouble as they can. And because it allows the dissidents to present their grievances to the established order in a form that is both powerful and symbolic.
Well established orders understand power, as well as the power of symbolism; their own political/governmental power having been established long ago and enshrined in enduring symbolic forms (e.g., flags, seals, monuments, songs, myths). And these orders will cover their own acts of political violence with a cloak of political symbolism.
A revolutionary movement within a well established order should be built upon the established order’s own political power and political symbolism whenever possible. If, for example, the established order has overstepped its bounds of authority and become corrupt but has a long history and a solid philosophical/political basis, what is needed is a revolution that can restore the order to it former historical and philosophical principles.
Here in the U. S., any revolutionary movement that hopes for success would be wise to cloak both their speech and their actions with the political symbolism which represents that which grounds the established order both historically and philosophically because it is the established order’s traditional and historical political philosophy which the revolutionary movement desires to see restored.
The Left has never had success with its revolutionary political speech and acts here in the U. S. because its political philosophy has no ties to traditional, historical U. S. political philosophy. The right to private property, for example, is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence; but revolutionary Leftists believe the notion of private property should be abolished; a belief which is, in fact, central to the Left’s communist/socialist political philosophy.
Any successful restorative revolution or reformation of American government must be based upon a return to America’s politically violent beginnings, its early political symbolism, and the political philosophy upon which it was based. Many Americans are politically frustrated today because they are fed up with the modern incarnation of the U. S. federal government, which grows ever larger by feeding upon it ever increasing tax revenues. What these Americans desire is to see their federal government restored by having its reach restricted by returning it, at least to some degree, to the limits that were imposed upon it by the Tenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution.
The real question is: How likely is it that any revolutionary/reformist movement, which chooses to set itself over against the powerful and well established political/governmental order to which the citizens involved in these movements are subject, could have even the slightest chance of success?
With the efficiency of today’s science and technology, along with the motivating drive for greater efficiency that resides within any large centralized government, any politically dissident movement will certainly be infiltrated, monitored, and controlled. The established orders fear the disorder and chaos caused by political violence, anarchy, and terrorism aroused by anti-establishment/anti-government rhetoric.
I doubt that any politically violent act or series of acts could ever have much of an effect upon the currently established political/governmental order here in the U. S. Such acts would only strengthen, not diminish, the government’s hold upon its citizens.
That having been said, factionalism is certainly becoming more evident in the U. S. As I mentioned above, the real fear established orders have come not from the order’s citizens but from factions within the established orders themselves. A political philosophy which rivals the reigning political philosophy of the established order and which also has many politically powerful adherents is a very real threat to the established order. And in the U. S., which, traditionally, is a very conservative nation, and I think the rival political philosophy the established order is most afraid of, now, is called: libertarianism.
Only one of the two political parties, the Republicans, could be considered receptive to the libertarian political philosophy. For example, Republicans say they are for reducing the size of the federal government whereas the Democrats believe that a further expansion of federal government power and control is the only possible solution to all of our socioeconomic problems. But neither party really represents anything except the status quo; each party representing only a particular faction that exists within the one established political/governmental order which, over time, has truly become a leviathan; in Hobbes sense of the term, meaning: it’s become the kind of all-powerful state Hobbes thought necessary to solve the problem of social order.
Any reformation coming from within the established political/governmental order will likely be from right, rather than from the left. And any politically violent agitations from either the left or the right wings of these political factions will only increase the right’s hold. Leftist anarchy will breed increasingly totalitarian tactics of surveillance and control, and there’s enough of that already. The crackdown on individual liberties that took place after 9/11 and the ongoing militarization of police powers are already out of hand and any future political violence will only worsen the current situation, which is already quite bleak.
The liberties and freedoms we enjoy here in the U. S. are being infringed upon, but at least we had the liberties and freedoms to be infringed upon to begin with. All citizens who are controlled by large and powerful centralized governments will find their liberties and freedoms increasingly infringed upon by their governments in the name of security. And as bad as things may be getting here in the U. S., imagine how much worse things could be. For example, the governments of China, Iran, and North Korea are today—right now— engaged in the most brutal and totalitarian forms of repression, which is a most egregious infringement of the rights, liberties, and freedoms of the citizens of these nations.