Press "Enter" to skip to content

Ebbs and flows

Last week, Lawrence Haws wrote me to point out this post, which is — well, it’s what it is. As best I can untangle the logic, Lynxx Pherrett thinks that right wing talk radio isn’t creating a culture of violence because Andrew McCrae was a leftist. There’s also a lot of really flawed rhetoric about how our colleges are producing left-wing assassins by the boatload…

OK, I’m going to digress here for a moment. I experienced Harvard’s General Education program, as it happens, and not only did I not become a brainwashed leftist cop-killer, I remember what General Education courses I took. One of these, which was and is the largest course at Harvard, was Michael Sandel’s Justice. Michael Sandel teaches an unrepentantly communitarianist theory of justice; a large portion of the course is dedicated to refuting the theories of John Rawls, patron saint of modern liberalism. It is difficult, to say the least, to reconcile the popularity of a course which preaches the importance of society with claims that Harvard’s General Education curriculum is a breeding ground for dangerous loners.

Also exceedingly popular: Roderick MacFarquhar’s course on the Cultural Revolution. It was an unstinting look at the horrors of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. I find it very hard to convince myself that MacFarquhar’s stinging condemnations of Mao cause fond affection for Communism.

Digression over. That wasn’t actually the point of the post; I just couldn’t help but point out that the Harvard curriculum of the late 1950s may not actually accurately model today’s Harvard curriculum.

What I did take out of Pherrett’s post is that there are, in this country, left-wing terrorists. But I already knew that. There are fanatics on both sides of the political spectrum, and some percentage of them are inclined to kill. I wrote back to Lawrence with some extended musings on this topic, and let the topic kind of percolate for a bit.

Then, on Monday, I read the latest post on Orcinus. It exposes his personal reasons for his crusade; I found it remarkably open, exposed reading. Worth reading just for the integrity. It also got my thoughts back on this longwinded post I’m constructing here.

One of the things he talks about, after acknowleding that there are fanatics on the left, is the preponderance of violent right wing rhetoric. He knows, as do I, that there are repellent people on the left — “In my view, Stalinist Communism is the epitome of the blinkered, anti-personal ideology of the left, and I’ve always been a fairly severe anti-Communist.” I suspect he would acknowledge that the rhetoric of groups like ANSWER influenced Andrew McCrae. But McCrae is only one person.

A single loner doesn’t mean the left is as dangerous as the right. I’ll see your McCrae and raise you a Carl Drega. Have an Eric Rudolph. Remember the murder of Alan Berg. Look up Buford Furrow. Read about these forty men.

The right doesn’t have a monopoly on hatred in this country. Thirty years ago, our domestic terrorists were the left-wing Weathermen and the Symbionese Liberation Army. Thirty years from now, radical environmentalists may embrace terrorist tactics wholeheartedly.

But that’s then. This is now. I am a minarchist, and I have great sympathy for those who feel the government has too many tendrils in private life. This does not stop me from thinking that violence is the wrong solution for the problem as it exists in America today. And when I look around to see where the violence comes from — today, now — I see the terrorist right.


  1. John Abbe John Abbe

    Minarchist — i like it. Of course the fact that you mention government tendrils and not business shows your right-ist tendencies. Actually i’m surprised to not hear you reject the whole left-right thing more often as i know your views make a botch of it — or do you see sense in it?

  2. Six of one, half dozen of another. I don’t actually see much of a distinction between government and big business, particularly in Bush’s administration. But if I’m writing about right-wing radicals, I don’t want to be mistaken for someone who is pro-government. If I was writing about ecoterrorism I’d be more likely to cite my issues with big business.

    I’m always a little reluctant to self-identify as an anarchist, because I don’t share the same thought space as the “mainstream” anarchist movement. I’m not a socialist and while the anarchist who most influenced my political thought is a Marxist, I’m not that either.

    On the other hand, I’m very reluctant to self-identify as a libertarian. I don’t believe that the almighty free market solves problems all that well.

    So, yeah, “minarchist.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *