Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sanders Should Look to His Socialism for Answer to Hodgkinson's Political Violence

A lot of analysis about the Alexandria shooting of Republican congressmen involves trying to decipher some connection between rhetoric and violence. But we should look to a deeper, more fundamental level than rhetoric. I’m talking about the ideas behind the rhetoric.

Bernie Sanders is said to be 'Sickened' That the Alexandria Shooter Was a Volunteer on His Presidential Campaign. As Bridget Johnson reports for PJ Media,

"We’ve got to stop the violence," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) after a shooter whose social media showed he was apparently a fan of the former presidential candidate opened fire on Republicans practicing for Thursday's congressional baseball game.

Sanders undoubtedly doesn’t condone the shooting. But, given his hateful rhetoric against “the 1%” and assertions that healthcare is a right that should be guaranteed by the government, it shouldn’t be surprising that the man who committed the Alexandria shooting was a Sanders acolyte.

Government is the only institution that, via its law-making powers, can compel obedience. This is as it should and must be. A civil society cannot exist without the rule of law. The rule of law cannot exist if the government cannot enforce the law—that is, back it up with police power, the power of physical force; i.e. the threat of violence. Law is political force. Political force is deferred violence.

A proper government is restrained in the use of its lawmaking power to the protection of individual rights; that is, to the retaliatory use of force against those who initiate its use. It can send armed government agents to arrest you for robbing someone at gunpoint. But it cannot become the armed robber. It can arrest you if you force someone to act against her will, as with extortion. But it cannot become the assailant, as with economic regulation. A proper government can only use political force against criminals, who are those who commit acts of aggressive force against others. It cannot become the criminal; i.e., use its lawmaking powers in an aggressive way against citizens who have not violated others rights through the violation of criminal laws.

What social system is based on a government constitutionally limited to retaliatory force? Capitalism. What social system is based on a government that is free to initiate aggressive force? Socialism. Socialism starts with criminal aggressive force—that is, violence. Violence, camouflaged as law, is built into the DNA of socialism. Name one socialist policy that doesn’t begin with armed aggression—the taking of private wealth or the compelling of innocent citizens to act against their own judgement. It doesn’t exist.

Capitalism forbids government from infringing on the rights of individuals to work, trade, freely associate, and to keep and dispose of earned property. Communist-minded individuals can start their own commune, pool their money, and distribute it “to each according to his need.” A capitalist government can not and will not stop such free and voluntary associations. Nor can it force anyone to join. Socialism, on the other hand, can force the unwilling into such communist-minded associations. Try not paying your Social Security taxes, and instead use those dollars you earned for your own purposes. You’ll be arrested and thrown into a cage. Under socialism, you are considered to have a “right” to material goods you did not earn—which means those who did earn them have no right to them, and are compelled by political force, by deferred violence, to turn them over to you. Those unearned goods are yours by “right.” America is a mixture of capitalism and socialism, with socialism gaining and capitalism retreating.

Now imagine a right wing politician proposing to cut back or eliminate one of America’s socialist programs, like Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare, that takes those earnings of others to satisfy your “right” to health care. Hell hath no fury like a parasite scorned. By the inverted morality implied in “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” the collector of government subsidies is a victim of Republican attempts to reduce what is rightfully his subsidies. The Republicans are not returning money to its rightful owners, those who earned it. In reducing the subsidies, they are taking from needy people what is rightfully theirs. Given Bernie Sanders’s explicit assertion that health care is a right, Republicans’ proposal to cut back on Medicaid is aggression. It is not the forced redistribution of wealth of Medicaid subsidies that is violent. It is the Medicaid reduction itself. It is not those who are taxed of their earnings to support Medicaid recipients who are victims. The victims are the profiteers on the taxed—those who lose their unearned Medicaid handouts.

Is it any wonder that James T. Hodgkinson, the thug who shot up a GOP baseball practice session in Alexandria, Virginia, was a Sanders presidential campaign volunteer? Sanders explicitly considers himself a socialist; that is, a believer in using the deferred violence of political power to force people into socialist programs based on a “right” to material benefits that others must be forced to provide. By the logic of socialism, Hodgkinson's violent act was an act of retaliation in defense of that right, not a wanton act of aggression. Anyone advocating free markets, restoration of more freedom in healthcare, etc. is going to be the target.

This is not to say that overt violence is precisely the same as socialist government policies. Violence is worse, in that a law can be repealed, a lost life (or the lost recovery time of those wounded) cannot be brought back. It is to say that Hodgkinson's violence and Sanders’s support for ObamaCare and eventually single-payer healthcare spring from the same source: They are both manifestations of aggressive force, the bane of mankind. Sanders doesn’t oppose what Hodgkinson did. He opposes Hodgkinson’s method. Sanders prefers the legislative method of criminality, because he can’t be arrested for that—the government is on his, not his victims’, side. Sanders shouldn’t be surprised that Hodgkinson worked on his campaign. Hodgkinson’s violence is a logical extension of Sanders’s socialism, which is built on aggressive force.

Sanders said he is “sickened by this despicable act” by “someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign.” Sanders went on to say,

Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values.

It’s true that violence has no place in bringing about change—not in America; not as long as we have a First Amendment, and we can fight with words and with ballots. I am not suggesting that Sanders is somehow personally responsible for the shooting. He is not. It is all on Hodgkinson. But our most deeply held American values are the inalienable rights to life, liberty, property earned through our own individual work and efforts, and the pursuit of happiness. Sanders seeks to invert those values. Socialism is at all times, in every instance, in its essence, aggressively violent and totalitarian. I would venture to guess that many Sanders supporters secretly “understand,” sympathize with, if not outright condone what Hodgkinson did.

If Bernie Sanders really believes "We’ve got to stop the violence,” he’d look to the implied violence of socialist political power that he advocates to understand its logical derivative, politically motivated violence of the Hodgkinsons of the nation. That won’t happen, because that would require him to apply the same principle to his socialist worldviews—and abandon them to the only social system that banishes violence, implied or overt, from all human relationships, including relationships involving individuals in their capacity as government officials. That system is constitutional republican government and its logical derivative, capitalism.

Related Reading:

Bernie Sanders Links Political Rhetoric to Violence When 'Right-Wing,' Not When Perpetrated by His Own Volunteer—Matt Welsh

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