I’m not quite sure how to deal with this one, so bear with me. It may take a bit.
Background: People ask me what are the acceptable perimeters for writing for Liberal Resistance. I answer that we are open to almost anything and anyone, so long as it is anti-Trump. You can be a liberal, a leftist, a radical, a socialist…or a conservative, a libertarian, a moderate…so long as you oppose Trump, you are welcome.
Well, with one other caveat. We never accept articles that promote violence. Our opposition to the illicit regime currently in power is pacific. We will demonstrate, protest, organize, and vote. But we will not raise a hand in anger.
A good friend of mine recently sent me the link to an extremely interesting, if disturbing article, Time To Make Life Hard For The Rich, by Hamilton Nolan, in the online magazine, Splinter. And by the way, Splinter’s no fringe publication that nobody reads. It is a bona fide big league magazine owned by Univision.
But in the article, Nolan argues that the American elites are, in effect, waging war on everyone else. They are using violence against us. It may be a covert sort of violence— the withdrawal of medical services, the cutbacks on food assistance, the children hungry in the street…but it is violence all the same. And people are dying because of it.
And that being the case, he says, we are perfectly justified in fighting back.
Oh, he doesn’t call for shooting people. He isn’t calling for violent revolution or a guillotine set up on Capital Hill. But he does say that some sort of violence may be required. In particular, he thinks, we need to target the property of the rich and the powerful.
He envisions: “A large-scale online attack against the holdings of the very rich; yachts sunk in harbors; unoccupied vacation homes in the Hamptons mysteriously burned to the ground. Sotheby’s auctions swarmed by vandals, Art Basel attacked by spraypaint-wielding mobs, protests on the doorsteps of right-wing think tanks, venomous words directed at millionaires as they dine in fancy restaurants.”
And as I read this…I began to wonder if, maybe, just maybe, there isn’t something to it. It would be a revolt of people against things…where the elites face not violence against themselves, but the destruction of their goods. No bloodshed. No one is hurt…at least not physically.
There is even historical precedent. A few centuries back, it was not unusual for powerful individuals who had wronged their neighbors to face “house-wrecking.” For example, a corrupt official, or a merchant who had over-charged for food during times of famine, or who had exported it entirely for a slightly higher price, might waken in the night to find his neighbors surrounding his home. He would be politely, but firmly escorted from the house. He would be offered a chair. And then, the crowd would loot his home of contents, and burn the empty shell to the ground.
So, Mr. Nolan’s idea seems…tempting.
We couldn’t really do that, could we? We can’t employ violence, even if it is just against inanimate objects. Because, of course, once it started, it would not stop.
It might begin innocently enough…almost like mischief, just a little monkey-wrenching, and of nothing that really mattered…but then, slowly, but surely, it would become much worse. Property holders would resent the damage of their possessions, and they would hire armed men to shoot…to kill…and then naturally the wounded and the survivors on the other side would arm themselves. And bullet would be traded for bullet.
Until…well, who knows how terrible it would become?
So, no. I guess not. I guess we shouldn’t. I guess we should restrain ourselves. I guess we should keep our faith in non-violent protest, in demonstration, and in the ballot box.
And yet…and yet…I also fear.
I keep coming back to Mr. Nolan’s other important point. To wit, that the war has already begun. It is they…the wealthy and the powerful… In all their murderous and morbid narcissism …who fired the first shot. And the second. And the third.
They are, let us confess, already killing us.
Therefore, I fear…that someday, sometime, somewhere…someone will realize that they are, in fact, in deadly peril.
And in self-defense…