It had to happen at some point.
Self-described “engaged citizen” Jesse Benn, writing for The Huffington Post, defended the violence of anti-Trump protesters. In Sorry Liberals, A Violent Response To Trump Is As Logical As Any, Benn calls the violence a “perfectly logical reaction” to what he considers Donald Trump’s incitement of violence.
Benn apparently sees no difference between words and actions. Benn spends the entire article defending violent protest. But I’m glad he brought it up because, in fact, the violence is a logical extension—of the Left’s political agenda.
Law, by its nature, is backed by physical compulsion—i.e., the power of the gun. Law is, in effect, deferred violence. This is necessary. A civil, free society cannot be sustained without law. Law cannot be enforced without the backing of the gun. Without proper law—that is, law based on the principle of protecting individual rights—you can’t have a civil, free society. How else can a government protect against, arrest, prosecute, and penalize murderers, rapists, child abusers, fraudsters and the like?
Law is an act of physical force. It follows that, if the goal is a free society, the law-making powers of the state must be limited to protecting individual rights. Individual rights protect individual freedom in a social context. A free society without individual freedom is a contradiction in terms. In a free society, therefor, government’s vital law-making powers must be retaliatory and defensive; i.e., used only against those who initiate the use of force by threat, violence, or fraud.
In a free society, a government may never use its law-making powers aggressively; i.e., must be constitutionally forbidden to initiate force against its citizens. Statism violates this principle. Statism defines the Left. (What today passes for the “Right” also embraces statism, just not as virulently as the Left, which is the focus of this post.) The entire regulatory welfare state/socialist agenda of the Left (labeled as so-called “progressives” or “liberals”) represents aggressive force—deferred violence—by government against the citizenry. As A. Barton Hinkle observes for Reason.com, “[Bernie] Sanders' entire campaign is premised on the idea of violent change—lots of it.” Sanders is the new face of the contemporary Left, and so is a good proxy for the Leftist agenda. Hinkle writes:
Sanders proposes hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which is another way of saying he wants to make it illegal for employers to pay workers less than $15 an hour—even when there are workers who are willing to take less. He also proposes to make employers provide 12 weeks paid family and medical leave, two weeks of paid vacation, and seven paid sick days.
How is he going to achieve all that? By changing the law and then enforcing it. Note the root of the word "enforce." If a company chooses not to comply the consequences will, eventually, entail the use of armed officers of the law.
Sanders proposes to restrict individual freedom by imposing his values through the deferred violence of the law. Hinkle lists other parts of the Sanders/Left agenda—such as the several-front attack on the First Amendment, anti-free trade policies, the broad-based attack on fossil fuel producers, the massive federal spending programs—making the same point. All of it is designed to violate people’s rights to voluntarily act on their own judgement in regard to free expression, their earned money/property, production, and trade.
Likewise, Matthew McCaffrey, writing for The Foundation for Economic Education (Seeing the State for What It Is, observes :
[M]ost people don’t realize what it means for government to “solve” a problem to. . . . The realities of government intervention are a mystery to most voters. And there’s one ugly fact in particular from which they are safely insulated: public policy always rests on violence or the threat thereof.
I made the same point six years ago in my post The "Violence" of the Dems' Health Care Reform. At that time, with the Democrats advancing toward passage of the rights-violating ObamaCare, several Democrat lawmakers received threats of physical violence. I wrote:
The common root shared by ObamaCare and the violence aimed at lawmakers is that they both represent the exercise of aggressive/initiatory force. . . . The threat of physical violence lies behind the entire edifice of the welfare state and is its hallmark. But the statists don't acknowledge the threat as equivalent to the actual. But the threat of force entails its logical end result - actual physical force. Ultimately, those who break the law will face the physical confiscation of their property and/or physical arrest and incarceration.
Trump, of course, is as authoritarian as the Left. In fact, properly defining Left and Right, Trump is a Leftist. But lest one thinks that Benn’s advocacy of violence against Trump is only about Trump, consider that Benn advocates a much broader violent goal: “Defeating the . . . underlying apparatuses—think tanks, conservative radio, Fox News, the Tea Party, etc.” The fight “is a much longer-term and more demanding task than assuring Trump isn’t elected. Taking on the attitudes [free markets, individual rights, limited government?] that drive them is even more difficult. Assuming anti-Trump protests should be strictly focused on electoral politics and not these broader goals would be a detrimental oversight.”
Note that litany; think tanks, conservative radio, Fox News, the Tea Party, etc.” What unites that list? They all represent, on some level, individual rights, limited government, free markets—not always, not consistently, sometimes not even predominantly, certainly not in unison. But they all stand somewhere on the Right on the political spectrum. In other words, capitalism. That’s Benn’s real target. By throwing Trump in with that group, Benn wants to discredit capitalism as racist, authoritarian, demagogic, xenophobic by association. Benn equates Trump with capitalism by implication, which Trump is certainly not representative of.
Benn says violence in opposition to tyranny is valid. Sometimes it is, as an absolute last resort. But the shoe is on the other foot. But Benn attempts to pull off a moral bait-and-switch: He equates violence against tyranny (European fascism) with violence in support of tyranny (the Left’s own American fascist agenda). Benn is advocating violence against capitalism; which means, against liberty and live-and-let-live—against the only social system that explicitly bans physical force in all its forms, overt and covert, from human relationships. Trump is a straw man—a catalyst for the violent overthrow of civil society and its foundations. When welfare statists/socialists advance their agenda by law, they are violating individual rights by aggressive/initiatory force waged against innocent people who have committed no rights-violating aggressive force or violence against anyone.
Benn is completely disingenuous. If Trump stands for violence, then he is the Left’s kindred spirit. Since law consists of deferred violence, there is no essential moral or practical difference between the anti-Trump violence and the “democratic socialist” political agenda of the Left.
Seeing the State for What It Is—Matthew McCaffrey
Collectivized Rights—Ayn Rand