While the calls of President Donald Trump to arrest seemingly peaceful protesters and enact draconian laws for burning flags and desecration of monuments, with punishments of up to 10 years in prison, should be concerning to anyone who values free speech and the right to peaceably assemble, is there any validity to his claims of an organized terrorist cell infiltrating the protests? The answer is surprisingly yes.
In the wake of the recent protests in the U.S. that started as people reacted to state violence against an individual, a well-established group who have a history of being “professional protestors“, inserted themselves into the movement for police reform and shifted the narrative to one of systemic racism, to a certain extent the argument of systemic racism makes sense, certainly, there wouldn’t be as large of a movement if there hadn’t been thousands of videos shared in the last decade of police brutality, and a white police officer knelt on the neck of an unarmed black man without fear of retribution, ostensibly because he knew he could get away with it because the life of his victim didn’t matter. But with new information leading to a personal history between the two and a possible grudge held by the officer, the safe bet would be to blame police power, and target reforms on holding police accountable for their actions.
Many of the movements top organizers have openly stated that they are Marxists, for the most part, the accusation of belonging to a terror cell doesn’t apply to the vast majority of those engaging in the protests and even some of the Marxists coming out to show solidarity. But since the Occupy Wall St movement and other anti-capitalist movements of the 2000s, there has been a growing core group of “professional protestors” who are paid by donations from various charitable organizations. There has been plenty of investigative journalism into who exactly is paying them and how they operate, but I am personally more interested in the history of collectivists infiltrating and coopting genuine grassroots movements.
The more I thought about it, the core struggle of politics for all of human history has been the individual vs the collective:
- The Tribal Councils vs the Chief
- The Senate vs the Emperor
- The Clergy vs the Church
- The People vs the State
Every pendulum swing towards the “rights of the people” has been met by a counter swing towards “the will of the people”, collectivists always seem to coopt individualist movements to impose a new level of bureaucracy and control.
The tribal history of humanity is somewhat murky, but I think to a certain extent we can all understand the concept of a group coming together to discuss a topic of some kind, working through a problem as a group and finding a solution everyone agrees on is hard work, but having a majority decision or having one person decide for everyone is quick and painless and if the problem is what to get on your pizza, what does it really matter?
The decisions of a tribe of people are more life and death then pizza toppings, so naturally, the decision making process is taken more seriously, perhaps a council of wise people is formed that make decisions on behalf of the tribe, or maybe a single wise person is agreed upon to speed up the decision making process.
But as the saying goes power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, those with the desire to rule over people are exactly the people who should not be given that power. Sometimes it’s not the wisest person of the group who gets put in charge but the strongest, the recent occupation in Seattle Washington U.S.A. was a good example of this, at first, the protestors who took over the Capital Hill neighbourhood struggled to agree on what to do going forward, they made some decisions as a group, but it was tough going. Until a man showed up with guns and people willing to carry them, he then became known as the de facto leader of the occupation, eventually leading to some of his appointed guards murdering a 16-year-old boy for driving a stolen Jeep into the occupation area. In history, though the chief became the king or queen, they would use their power to gain more power over surrounding tribes and try to pass that power onto their kin. For a very large period of history, perhaps the majority, this was the norm.
There were attempts at other forms of decision making and governance in general but I would like to highlight the example of early Rome. They had a line of kings like most of the world until a king abused his power to such a terrifying degree, I won’t go into the details but it involved young girls, the community came together and removed him from power, vowing to never have another king but to, as a group, agree upon a set of leaders who would share power, each checking the other to stop the problems of the past from reoccurring. It was mostly successful and for almost a thousand years this small tribe grew into one of the most powerful states the world had seen up to that point, they took inspiration from the nearby Greek’s philosophy on democracy and the council of 3 leaders was expanded to include a senate and the worlds the first republic was born.
This natural progression of more rights for individuals was eventually corrupted by the power that is achieved, the most powerful leader in the Republic was whoever could claim they represented the “will of the people”, leaders would take advantages of crisis and propose things that would get the common people on their side and then use their support to erode the checks and balances that were meant to limit their power and slowly over time, Rome had a new king, called the Caesar. The Caesar’s would pay lip service to individual rights and freedoms at first, but over time they spoke of the people as an abstract concept, people needed to give up certain rights and freedoms for “the people” as a whole to benefit. They often spoke of the Republic and later the Empire as a representation of the will of the people, subverting early Roman philosophy about a limited government into the will of the majority.
Eventually, the Romans would meet the Hebrews, a fiercely independent tribe who gave the Romans far more trouble than any other group they had encountered up until that point, every time they would pacify the region now known as Isreal, the Hebrews would wait until they left and start a fresh revolt against Roman rule, refusing to be integrated no matter how much force or cultural pressure was applied to them. Whether Jesus actually lived or not is still debated, but some event took place that to a certain extent resembled the events recorded in the New Testament in the bible, and religion mostly focussed on individual responsibility began to spread through the Roman Empire like wildfire, the bible told people who read it to kneel before no man and the followers it attracted were culturally roman but had the same zeal as the Hebrew. Not long after It was made the official religion of the Empire.
I won’t go too deeply into Christianity but, the main thing I want to point out is that the religion itself is very individualistic but Christian rulers used the religion to justify their power, very similar to the Caesars before them, they coopted a fairly organic cultural movement and used it to bolster their own power by portraying themselves as the representative of not only each individual person, but of God.
Eventually, the power of kings came into question again. Whether the enlightenment was a product of Christianity or a reaction to it, it’s philosophy was in large part focused on individual sovereignty, and the age of revolution followed, from France to Russia and over the ocean to America, the world rejected the concept of monarchy and replaced it with nation-states that respected the rights of the individual and limited the power of the state. The best example of this being America, which took a lot of inspiration from Roman Republican tradition and Greek Democratic philosophy.
As with all my previous examples eventually, a small group of people coopted this organic individualist movement and twisted it to justify their goals of gaining power, there was a group that referred to themselves as the Hegelians, based off the Philosophy of Friedrich Hegel, some notable followers of Hegel came up with radically individualistic philosophies like Max Stirner’s Anarchism, while others like Karl Marx and Giovanni Gentile used Hegels work as the basis for extremely collectivist philosophy, Marxism leads to communism and Gentile created fascism. I won’t go into what those philosophies lead to, as I hope anyone reading this today already knows.
But there was another philosopher who was a follower of Hegel’s that is lesser-known but very relevant to the question of whether or not there is an organized insurgency in the U.S. today, and that philosopher is Mikhail Bakunin. Most schools of anarchist thought are radically individualistic in nature, one could almost take for granted that they would be since collectivism requires some amount of centralization and anarchism is decentralized by nature. But Bakunin is the most popular philosopher in the movement known today as ANTIFA, which originally was formed as a response to fascism in Germany, in the U.S. today, ANTIFA is the followers of Bakunin’s “collectivist anarchism”, evidenced by the fact that they fly the black and red flag of associated with it.
Not only is the philosophy itself a perversion of anarchism, the most individualistic political system to date, but they also practise as a mass strategy, coopting organic protest movements. It doesn’t matter what the goal of the movement if they can infiltrate it, stoke it and guide it, they will. Most anarchists want to be left alone, but not ANTIFA, they see themselves as the wrecking ball that will bring down the current system and lay the groundwork for a type of communism that requires society to crumble before it can take root, traditional marxism seeks to live off the fruit of capitalism, like a spaceship that can continue to move through a vacuum, once capitalism gets rid of scarcity, marxism is supposed to organically take over the political sphere and ride the wave into utopia.
Collectivist anarchism, on the other hand, is whack-a-mole, it can only survive in 1984 like dystopia where there are no powers strong enough to rebuild society, anyone, that shows any ability must be dealt with, or else they may drag society back to prosperity and the warm midden heap ANTIFA would like to inhabit will be abandoned and they will lose their passive-aggressive autocracy, where the least able have the most say over the ablest, simply based off their need. You don’t have to look too hard to find these groups, they have grown very bold in the last few decades and their philosophy is too convoluted for most people to even begin to understand, without a background in Hegelian Dialectics and most of those people are predisposed to support ANTIFA. But like the bat signal, anywhere there is a protest, ANTIFA will be there, like a bad friend egging you on to do dangerous stunts, for their own amusement.
Also by the Author: Is the U.S. on the verge of a Civil War?