07AUG2019 – American Greatness Post of the Day – Igniting Civil War by Anthony Codevilla

Codevilla walks us through the predictable script that bloody civil wars have taken from Corcyra in Ancient Greece all the way up to the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s.  We’ve taken the first steps.  Hopefully we can walk back to sanity.  Very good read.

https://amgreatness.com/2019/08/06/igniting-civil-war/

 

Nothing to Lose

I guess I have to address the shooter in Pittsburgh (Robert Bowers).  What can we say about him?  Ideologically he felt the Jewish people were a threat to him.  In his mind what he did was justified.  That much we know from his statements.  But why did he do it?  I’m guessing that he no longer felt what he had to lose outweighed his desire for vengeance.  And I’m guessing this is the same situation as that other shooter who went after the Republican Congressional Softball Team last year (James T. Hodgkinson).   Another man who was willing to trade his life for a chance to kill his ideological enemies.

Looking at the details of both men’s lives, it appears that neither one would be leaving behind anyone he cared about as much as the cause he was consumed by.  Both men were basically unemployed and neither had a happy home life.  Specifically, Hodgkinson was in a failed marriage and wasn’t making ends meet with a home inspection business.  Bowers is an unemployed truck driver living alone.  Both men were obsessed with political and ideological agendas and both felt that things were going badly and it required them to take violent action to redress the situation.  I think it would be accurate to say they were both consumed with hatred.

People say that what they each did was insane.  When something like this occurs both sides of the political spectrum agree that monstrous evil has occurred and that no sane person could be responsible.  And they would be right.  Only a madman would do something like this.

But here’s the question.  Are there circumstances under which anyone would do the same thing?  Pick the most pacifistic individual, Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Theresa.  Is it conceivable that even these two would find circumstances under which they would commit homicide and think it necessary?  It’s pretty hard to believe.  But if there were innocents being harmed and no other way to save them it’s conceivable that this might be sufficient.  Now look at the other end of the compassion spectrum.  Think of violent sociopaths who basically have as little compunction about murder as we have for swatting a mosquito.  What motivation would they need to snuff out the lives of their neighbors?  Very little, maybe the possibility of stealing some cash or just for the diversion the killing would provide.

In between these two extremes is everyone else.  That includes you and me and Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, the Pope, the Ayatollah Khamenei, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Brett Kavanaugh, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, the Koch Brothers and all the gang-bangers, drug lords and terrorists (IRA, ISIS, al Qaeda, Shining Path, Tamil Tigers, Neo-Nazis, KKK, etc.).  It also includes great aunt Sadie, your priest or minister or rabbi and even the kid playing baseball at the local ball field.

In my estimation it’s a continuum that depends on the nature of the individual and the pressure being brought to bear to extract revenge or prevent an attack on something you value highly.  The equation is when you determine that the value of your life falls below the value of the damage prevented by some act of violence the individual will act.  And for every single human that equation is different.  Police put their lives on the line every day.  In the old days just about any man would have thrown himself in front of a gunman to save his wife (times may have changed for the millennials).  Al Qaeda inspired its members to fly planes into buildings to redress perceived western assaults on Islam.  In each case the agent is doing what he thinks is the right thing and feels logically justified in sacrificing his life.

My whole point is that in the case of the two shooters each decided that his actions and the price he would pay for them was justified under his circumstances.  Right now, we are seeing the mentally unstable with nothing to lose determining that desperate acts make sense.  We don’t want to get to a place where this calculation occurs to more and more people.  A factor that is working for us currently is the robust economy.  Unemployment is receding drastically.  That should help greatly in reducing desperation.  What isn’t helping right now is the political polarization that has engulfed us.  That will have the opposite effect, amping up the irritation felt by ideologues on both sides of the political spectrum.

These shooters are the weak links.  Their personal situations and the fervor with which they feel the ideological strain of day to day circumstances made them the snap first.  But there will be more.  If Professor Codevilla is right then this is the tip of the iceberg.  This is the microscopic effect.  Civil Strife or War is the macroscopic equivalent.  If too many people reach that breaking point then a chain reaction will occur and that will be unstoppable.  Codevilla thinks we’re already there.  Let’s hope he’s wrong.  I’ve got a lot to lose and I’ll bet you do too.

Thucydides, Again!

When someone is looking for an example he usually goes to his favorite source. So, a religious man goes to the Bible. A patriot might consult the Founding Fathers. I suppose a Hip-Hopper would quote Jay-Z. Me, I’m a classics nerd, so I go back to Athens and Rome.

Thucydides’ history is mostly very dry but there are a few passages that resonate even down to our time. Corcyra was the name of an island now known as Corfu in the Ionian Sea. When the Athenians and the Spartans were dueling for the supremacy of Fifth Century Hellas, Corcyra became a proxy in the battle between democracy and aristocracy. The two parties alternated in escalating the violence and ruthlessness when either had the upper hand. The description of the revolution in Corcyra concludes with a discussion of how partisanship became completely radicalized.

“Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them. Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal supporter; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of a question incapacity to act on any. Frantic violence became the attribute of manliness; cautious plotting a justifiable means of self-defense. The advocate of extreme measures was always trustworthy; his opponent a man to be suspected. To succeed in a plot was to have a shrewd head, to divine a plot a still shrewder; but to try to provide against having to do either was to break up your party and to be afraid of your adversaries. In short, to forestall an intending criminal, or to suggest the idea of a crime where it was lacking was equally commended, until even blood became a weaker tie than party, from the superior readiness of those united by the latter to dare everything without reserve; for such associations sought not the blessings derivable from established institutions but were formed by ambition to overthrow them; and the confidence of their members in each other rested less on any religious sanction than upon complicity in crime.”

When I first read this many years ago I immediately thought, he’s talking about propaganda. A party line to rouse the true believers. But recently I started thinking about how this relates to our world. These people were living through bloody revolution. The recent version (well, relatively) would be the French Revolution. Here two factions of countrymen devolve into fratricidal foes. By the end, all humanity is stripped away and any atrocity can be rationalized into a necessary and in fact patriotic act.

The point is once you have decided that the genie is out of the bottle it becomes a matter of existential necessity to neutralize your enemy without possibility of recovery. Because after each side gets the upper hand the level of violence is increased by an order of magnitude. At some point it is decided, by one side or both, that it’s reached the point of no return and the only recourse is annihilation. That is the nature of civil wars. Rwanda and Yugoslavia are multicultural versions and therefore even worse.

The terms Thucydides used above are surprisingly familiar. They sound a great deal like the pundits on both sides. Hell, sometimes I sound like that. The good news is we are nowhere near Corcyra’s state of affairs. But we are already working our way down the path. The first salvos have been fired. First came Occupy Wall Street, then BLM. Now we are seeing the Antifa grow into a threat. Some on the right are attempting to answer this challenge. Clashes have already cost lives. If this is allowed to escalate it will. When the government’s control of violence weakens partisans will appear to fill the vacuum. This is extraordinarily dangerous. And it is where I see the slippery slope to serious unrest. An America, where ordinary citizens feel threatened by partisan mobs, will no longer enjoy the inherent stability it has for the last hundred years.

Now some say that open strife is inevitable. I currently don’t believe that. I fear it but I am not convinced of its inevitability. I think our current problems stem from an anti-American bias adopted by large swaths of the population that displays itself in anti-white policies. I include in this category affirmative action laws, attacks on traditional cultural institutions like religion, tolerance and even encouragement of illegal immigration and the promulgation of outrageous practices such as recognizing aberrant behaviors as normal and the encouragement by schools and media of speech codes targeting traditional cultural mores and beliefs.

I believe if these practices were ended it would go a long way toward stabilizing and improving the situation in this country. That is my belief and my hope. I would far prefer to believe that, than to think we are fated to follow Corcyra’s fate. Just to finish the story, when the Corcyran democratic faction finally achieved total control, they massacred their enemies to the last man and sold the women as slaves. The only ones who survived were the ones who had fled the island and never looked back. Not such a happy ending. Let’s see if we can sidestep that.