As the nation erupts in violence, many are concerned. Most have not seen this kind of unrest in their lifetimes. The triple whammy of virus, riots and recession is testing the nerves of even the most seasoned optimist.
However, nothing seems to shake some people who take a moderate position in the face of everything. They dismiss Portland’s nightly street battles as the work of a few extremists. For them, the Black Lives Matters revolution represents a rowdy bunch that kick-starts a much-needed national conversation about race and equality. The economic recession is an occasion for the government to spend untold trillions to help the poor and disadvantaged.
The Constructive Role of the Radicals
David Brooks, in his New York Times article, “This Is Where I Stand,” welcomes the actions of the radicals. Although he does not count himself among them, he assigns to radicals a constructive role for the country’s future: “Radicals are good at opening our eyes to social problems and expanding the realm of what’s sayable,” he posits.
Indeed, Mr. Brooks argues, radicals shake people from their complacency and get things moving. They rock the boat by their exaggerated statements and actions. Of course, there are always a few road bumps to frighten those caught in the middle. There might even be regrettable violence, which is the price of change.
Mr. Brooks reasons that the impractical and cranky radicals are intransigent people. They inevitably get into squabbles among themselves. That is when the adults—the more reasonable and moderate wings of their coalitions—take over the show. These pragmatic spirits know how to take the radical goals that scare and keep everyone awake at night and “work within the democratic framework to achieve them.”
Thus, America’s present troubles would be, in Mr. Brooks’ view, a sign of hope and opportunity.
The Wrong Conclusions
Mr. Brooks is correct in affirming that the radicals represent the rage of those who desire seemingly unattainable goals for society. In history, more often than not, they fail. Others, who are not firebrands, sometimes complete their work.
However, especially when applied to the left, his conclusion calls for a sober dose of nuance. Radical leftist rage does not inevitably lead to the triumph of moderates and commonsense. On the contrary, it frequently yanks society farther left. Often, either the moderates embrace the leftists’ radical goals, or they are swallowed by them.
Never underestimate the left’s double-tier action: Radical and moderate forms. Quicker and slower speeds.
The reaction from the right must be clear-sighted, energetic and uncompromising.
Mainstreaming Radical Ideas
The left’s present double-tier activism could lead to two possible scenarios.
The first scenario is an explosion of leftist radicalism in America that fails to take power. However, its radical ideas percolate down and eventually transform society.
The Brazilian Catholic thinker, Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, explains the role that the radical left often plays in history. In his book, Revolution and Counter-revolution, he notes that radical revolutions often fail, but they are far from useless. He writes: “The explosions of these extremisms raise a standard and create a fixed target whose very radicalism fascinates the moderates, who slowly advance toward it.”
Thus, the left establishes shiny goals that act like magnets planted amidst society. For example, liberal moderates may shun socialist ideas. However, they are often mesmerized by the socialists’ false claims to help the poor. Because both are part of the same process leftward, liberals silently admire and gradually move toward socialist fantasies.
The radicals’ failure is only apparent. Their actions powerfully advance the march of the country leftward by “gradually attracting the countless multitude of the ‘prudent,’ the ‘moderates,’ and the mediocre toward the realization of their culpable and exacerbated chimeras.”
Preparing the Next Violent Step Forward
Today’s radicals rocking American society are mainstreaming their socialist, LGBTQ and ecological fantasies to the general public. Whether they physically grab power at this point is immaterial. Their ideas are being firmly planted in minds, and society is stewing them, and preparing for a new shift leftward.
Just as the sexual revolution of the sixties mainstreamed the self-destructive ideals of promiscuity, free love and vulgarity, so too will the new BLM/Antifa radicals transform society in their image today. If not denounced, shamed and stopped, they will succeed. Moreover, the radicals will achieve this more quickly than sixty years ago since the process of decadence in society is much more advanced today, and they encounter much less resistance.
Thus, both the radicals’ seeming failure and the moderates’ optimistic triumph constitute a real danger for America. Both actions must be resisted since they only represent different speeds toward the same goal.
The Triumph of the Radicals
The second danger radicals present for America consists of a scenario in which they wrest control of the levers of power, torching any hope of the moderates for a gradualist march. Mr. Brooks’ vision of cranky radicals shaking up the nation could go awry. An uncontrolled spiral of events could swallow the “prudent” moderates. America could experience the Jacobin rule of rage that growled threateningly from Seattle’s macabre CHAZ/CHOP enclave and today erupts on Portland’s streets.
The possibility is far from remote. These characters of fury are everywhere, shouting out and calling for the destruction of what America once represented. They are found in the liberal establishment and media decrying America’s past and promoting a socialist future. They are even found in the marbled halls of Congress. Even now, the radicals would suppress American freedoms to impose their vision upon citizens. Leading figures say they will use the state of COVID emergency to fast forward processes to bring about change in America and the world.
Moderates refuse to consider this hypothesis. They are in denial. As proof, they hold up their dogma that things cannot possibly degenerate to this point. They like to cite historical cases, like America’s War of Independence, when reason and commonsense prevailed over the radical French philosophies of the time. They pontificate a similar outcome today for America.
The Lessons of History
However, history has not always been so kind as to guarantee happy endings. The tragic collapse of countries to communist or Nazi regimes usually begins with the optimism of the moderates and “prudent” ones. It happened during the French Revolution.
Like Mr. Brooks, this optimism of moderates refuses to admit that radical leftists will naturally seek the extreme consequences of their bizarre ideologies. They realize only too late that radicals do not play by the rules. Those stuck in the middle are usually the first surprised victims of the savagery of Jacobin, Bolshevik or Islamist mobs.
The lessons of history show that the only effective way to fight against the rage of the radicals is the firm, resolute and uncompromising action by lawful authority to defend the rule of law and order. In tandem, the institutions of family, community, and faith must be boldly affirmed and strengthened. They stand in the breach for civilization against the onset of chaos. Both measures require the nation and its leadership to return to God and His law. Americans must take a stand against the left’s absurd ideologies that will lead the country to ruin, either gradually or directly.
The disastrous optimism of moderates like Mr. Brooks must be avoided. On the contrary, clarity of vision and firm resolve in defense of order, and the rule of law, must be embraced and pursued. Quickly.