Over the last year we have watched violent protests in Greece and the United Kingdom over cuts to public benefits, as those nations are being forced to come to grips with the reality of gross over-spending and over-promising by their governments. Whether this reactive violence will spread to our shores is not yet clear, but the danger signs already are appearing.
Earlier this year, for example, union activists in Wisconsin staged protests that, while not overtly violent, bordered on deteriorating into such. These protests centered around measures proposed by the Badger State’s new governor to reduce benefits and collective bargaining rights enjoyed by public-sector workers, to help close a multi-billion dollar budget gap.
The reactions by beneficiaries of Wisconsin voters’ largesse were typical of people who have become dependent on government in one manner or another, and who view such benefits as “entitlements” to which they enjoy a fundamental and irrevocable right. When any person or institution then threatens those entitlements – whether a president, a prime minister, or federal or state legislators – the reactions become very personal and potentially violent.
In England, a country which has long viewed itself as far more “civilized” than to engage in domestic violence, was shocked last December when mobs of young people protesting cuts to education, attacked a limousine carrying Prince Charles and his wife to a charity event. More recently, protests sparked ostensibly by a police shooting, has morphed into widespread violence and looting by mobs of young people, many not even in their teens..
Some observers, including former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, suggest that the continuing violence stems from cuts in social programs advocated by Prime Minister David Cameron and his coalition government.
Livingstone, a self-described socialist, seems to be impliedly condoning the violence, even as he coyly chastises those who participate. He has said that, “[a] lot of these young people, they are criminals, yes, but there’s a disengagement – they feel no-one at the top of society, in government or City Hall, cares about them or speaks for them.”
In reality, sentiments such as those espoused by Livingstone are nothing more than petty excuses. These youth know exactly what they are doing. As one female protester explained to a reporter, “It’s the rich people. It’s the people who have all got businesses. That’s why all this is happening, because of the rich people.”
This is class warfare taken to the next level; from political rhetoric to street-level violence. It is Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals resurrected for the 21st Century.
Sadly, such madness is not limited to England; and is fueled by political rhetoric heard from Athens to Washington. The results are eerily similar. So-called “flash mobs,” coordinated via social media communications, are taking to streets and attacking innocent people in the U.S. just as in countries from Europe to the Middle East. Within our country, the attacks are not isolated to any specific region, and have been reported in several cities across the country, from the Midwest to the East Coast.
Racial animosities as well as economic hardships serve seemingly as catalysts for these violent incidents – further fueled by political rhetoric designed to subtly inflame resentment by those who do not share in economic rewards to the same degree as others. Endless news loops of talking heads stressing negative economic news and concomitant blame add more fuel to the philosophical fires.
Perhaps, as some observers opine hopefully, these acts of violence are but random and transient phenomena. To others, they portend a dark and frightening denouement to the Nanny State gone bankrupt. In either event, we ignore the danger signs at our own deep peril.
By Bob Barr — The Barr Code