So “Raging” Rhyd Wildermuth has dropped the second part of his series about “Liberal Democracies” and their apparently inevitable deaths. Now, given that the last one I went over ended up being five fucking posts and I wanted to kill myself after dealing with it, we’re not going to go over the entire thing. We’re just going to hit highlights and try to keep this a lot shorter. So let’s look at: The State of Violence
In the first essay of this series, I discussed the relationship of several recent events (Brexit, the strikes in France against the Loi Travail, and the massacred of Oaxaca) to Liberal Democracy and what appears to be its impending collapse. This essay will discuss the core of Liberal Democracy: violence.
As a reminder, Liberal Democracy is a specific relationship between Capital and The State, and is currently the dominant form of government in the world. With it comes apparent great benefits, like peace, stability, protections of individual rights, and a general trend towards freedom.
And really, I only need to address the second paragraph of this blithering post to utterly disprove everything Rhyd is about to say. Because Rhyd has stated that “Liberal Democracies” are a specific relationship between Capital and the State.
However, if we go to Wikipedia and look up “Liberal Democracy“, we will find that the “Liberal” in liberal democracies refers not to Capital at all, but to the Ideals of Classical Liberalism. Oh, and that the Democracy refers to a Representative Democracy, where in people vote for people to represent them to the “State” as the “State” itself.
Nothing of which really has anything to do with Capital or Capital’s relation to the state. The only place Capital comes in to a Liberal Democracy is the fact that under Capitalism, people have the maximum amount of freedom to spend, save, and create Capital as they please with the absolute least amount of restrictions on an individual basis. Meaning that Capitalism, as an economic system, embraces Liberalism…not that the Liberal Democracy is inherently owned by capitalism.
Unlike Marxism, where the state violently dictates who can make what, when, where, how much, and that they never get to spend anything because everything is taken and divided at the state’s will.
“Nasty, Brutish, and Short”
Thomas Hobbes famously wrote those lines in his manifesto on State power, “The Leviathan.” According to him, life in a ‘state of nature,’ –that is, outside a strong State– was violent, full of retributive justice and vengeance killings, civil disorder, greed, and chaos. Without strong leaders, people remained in a state of violence, unable to live peaceful lives and strive towards more than just subsistence living.
It was a grand work of propaganda, one which most of us have an awful time unraveling. Because we did not live in the past—and because there’s no one around from those times to interview—we can only ever build an understanding of what life was like back then by imagination, informed by ‘history.’
Hmm, let’s see. How do I want to play this one…
Well, I would like to do video footage, but it appears that much of the “fire and flames” stuff of say Ferguson (when there was no strong state to prevent violence) has been fairly scrubbed off youtube. So instead I’ll just put up a picture out of Africa, a place known for not having “strong states” and an continent that in many areas is filled with exactly the kind of reality Hobbes was talking about, full of retributive justice, vengeance killings greed, chaos, and civil disorder.
Hmm, maybe it would help Rhyd understand the nature of the world and history if he spent lest time on “pilgrimages” to Europe and more on studying world events? Of course, one need really only look at so many Marxist/Progressive events lately like #Sacramento, or Toronto Pride (Where BLM held the Gay Pride Event hostage until it caved to their demands for funding, removing all police, etc) to find examples of these things closer to home.
Rhyd then goes on to waffle about how the fact that drawing authority from the people the way a Liberal Democracy does is no different from how Monarchies would draw authority from Divine Mandate.
Liberal Democracies are generally ‘republics’ or constitutional monarchies. In both cases, the government is given the power to rule on behalf of the people. In such an arrangement, the leaders are elected to act as representatives of the entire public, either directly as in France or the United States, or elected as part of a parliamentary party as in the United Kingdom or Germany.
Whatever the government does, then, is considered to be the ‘will of the people,’ done for them and done on their behalf as if the people themselves have done it. Because the government leaders are elected by the people, the decisions of the government then act with what can only be described as a divine mandate.
Previous governmental forms sought sanction from religious leaders in order to gain this divine mandate. This is why European kings, queens, and emperors were crowned by Popes and Archbishops, and why the state priesthood in the Roman Empire had so much power. Though that mandate now comes from people rather than gods in Liberal Democracy, it still functions the same way.
In this he is not entirely wrong, but he speaks more from bias or perhaps ignorance, than true knowledge.
In any form of Government, there is the fundamental question of “Right To Rule.” Or better put, “By What Right Do You Rule?” And in history, there’s been a number of answers. Some “Rule by Might,” where in through sheer force of will and arms, they subjugate people to their authority. You see this a lot in Marxist societies. Some answer by “Divine Right,” where the Gods dictate that this person acts in their name to see to the governmental needs of their people. And then there is “By Will of the Populace,” where in the people say “We choose to invest this person with the power to make governmental choices for us.”
All three of these methods have pros and cons…but the “Will of the People” is considered the best in Classical Liberalism because, since each man must be at liberty, he must be at liberty to choose his leaders rather than have them forced upon him by either force of arms or divine commandment.
To Rhyd, a state that works by the Will of the People or the Will of the Gods is, apparently, no different from each other. Despite the fact that in the former, the power rises from the bottom of society (the individual citizen). As opposed to the latter, where power rains down from the top of society (the Gods). One allows each person to have a voice in matters, even if their voice is not the deciding one, while the other allows only one person to have a voice in matters, and that voice is always the deciding one.
Rhyd then uses this…simplistic view of his to explain that the “will of the populace” form of authority is nothing more than a way to convince said populace that any violence taken in by the state is legitimized because it is “the will of the people.”
Liberal Democracy (mostly) dispensed with the need to gain support for violence from what we normally think of as the divine. But it still relies on all the same sort of divine blessing that previous governments required. The ‘divine’ is now the people, the Leviathan itself, with the leaders at the head.
That is, we are the ones who grant legitimacy to State violence, even if we never say yes.
But what exactly does “violence” mean, as Rhyd views it. After all, this is a man who thinks that liberal democracies exist solely for the purposes of investment capitalism, with no apparently clue what liberalism, democracies, or even individual liberties and civil rights are…so let’s get to that.
I’ve used the word ‘violence’ quite a few times so far without defining it. In fact, we face a problem whenever we try to define violence if we live in Liberal Democracies—we can rarely agree on what actually counts as violence because of the State’s monopoly on it.
By ‘monopoly on violence,’ I mean simply this: the government is the sole legitimate agent of violence within Liberal Democracy. That is, agents of the state (police, military, etc.) are legally empowered to perform violence on behalf of the people, and all acts of violence not by the State are illegitimate (that is, illegal).
While it is true that the state has a legitimate “right to violence” for it’s agents like the police and military, the State in a liberal democracy is not the sole owner of violence nor the only source of legitimate (legal) violence. How do I know this? Because the literal second amendment is “The Right of Citizens to Bear Arms.” And this is a right enshrined in various forms in all liberal democracies, generally as various forms of rights and laws meant to allow people to use violence to defend themselves.
Admittedly, the 2nd Amendment of the USA is the most blatant one, providing that a citizen or group of citizens have the right to bear such weapons as they need in order to defend themselves from all attackers, up to and including the State itself.
At no point, in a liberal democracy, is the state the sole owner of “legitimate” violence. At every point, a citizen has the right to defend themselves, their families, and their property. Indeed, most of the “legitimate” state violence is for these regards as well. The police are empowered to use force in situations where a person is threatening the safety of other people, their families, or their property. One could argue, that is the sole function of a state, especially in a liberal democracy. Although all states do tend to go beyond that mandate to greater or lesser degrees.
If you kill someone, or assault them, or take their property, or raze their house and burn their fields, you have used violence illegally, regardless of your reasons. The victim in this case may have been someone who slaughtered your family and poisoned your water and raped you: regardless of that, you have used violence illegitimately, and if caught will be subject to state violence. Only the State is allowed to do such things within Liberal Democracy.
Once again I find myself taking a moment to soak in the fact that Rhyd apparently has a problem that society and “The state” ban the acts of revenge killings, mob violence, and what I supposed could be called “retributive justice” at the hands of individual people.
Which, honestly, tells me that Rhyd has not ever been on the receiving end of these things, only been a person who wishes he could do them. But I’m going to go through these individually.
1) “If you kill someone or assault them.”
Rhyd flat out makes this about beating someone up or murdering them. Now, if you happen to kill or assault someone as they are attempting to kill or assault you…that is an act of self defense and the “State” will not deem your actions illegal. You are within your rights to defend yourself with violence. A person, however, does not have the right to hunt someone down and assault/kill them. We do not have this right because we as a population, long ago, decided that giving up the ability to kill those we wanted to was a sacrifice we were willing to make so that other people did not have the right to just walk up to us and beat us up or kill us as they pleased.
But apparently the completely rational act of saying “I give up the right to kill you so that you give up the right to kill me” is an act that is apparently immoral and oppressive to Rhyd and violates his “Right to Violence” or something.
At which point I say he is perfectly capable of taking up the right to murder as he pleases at any time…but he will find that upon obtaining such a right against others, they too obtain that right against him.
2) “To take their property, or raze their house and burn their fields.”
This really goes back to the first part.
I give up the right to steal from you, so you give up the right to steal from me. I give up the right to raze your fields and burn your house…so you give up the right to raze my fields and burn down my house.
Apparently, this sort of moral compromise is unbearably immoral and oppressive to Rhyd and the fact that humans form “States” to enforce this agreement is a sign that states are illegitimate to their core.
Which I think says more about Rhyd than it does the State…
3) “The victim in this case may have been someone who slaughtered your family and poisoned your water and raped you: regardless of that, you have used violence illegitimately, ”
Yes. Because we agreed “we would not do these things” and we agreed to create a “state” to arbitrate violations of this mutual agreement. If someone has raped, if they have murdered, if they have committed theft or destruction, then all of society comes together as one and says “you have violated the agreements between all men, and thus must be punished before all men.”
And we did this for very important reasons. If we are so busy on an individual basis hunting down and killing those who dun did us wrong, we aren’t going to have much time for doing anything else. So we delegate the labor around to different people. And, by entrusting the “State” to this we also entrust ourselves to the hope of an impartial judgement based on facts. If someone accuses us of murder, we let the State decide the facts, rather than let the “wrong party” simply go out and kill whoever they “Think” did the crime. A person blinded by vengeance is not a person who will have their eyes opened with Truth.
Something many a person in Ferguson learned as their neighbors burned down their shops and lives, all while said neighbors chanted on about their “right to claim justice.” In the end, a great many innocent people were hurt.
But just because the innocent were hurt doesn’t mean we shouldn’t allow such random, chaotic, and destructive violence to ever be checked. Why, that would be immoral and oppressive and go against the rights of people to seek revenge for wrongs done to them. By engaging in violence against the innocent. And how dare you want to stop that, you fascists.
While all Liberal Democracies enshrine some concept of equality in their founding documents, none actually deliver that equality. In the United States, for example, though everyone (except felons and those who cannot afford identification documents, usually poor and people of color) have the right to vote (assuming their ballots are counted, assuming they can take time off work), it hasn’t always been the case. Originally, only white men were allowed to vote, and it took more than a century for women to be given that right.
Right, so Rhyd is glossing over a shit ton of historically relevant facts to spread his buttery narrative on what he hopes is a toasted society.
Liberal Democracies are about providing two things. 1) Liberty for its citizens. 2) Equality before the Law.
Rhyd, being a Marxist, tends to see the word equality and think of the term equality in Marxist terms. I.e. everyone has an equal share of wealth, privileges, opportunities, and outcomes. However, in classical liberalism the focus wasn’t about equality of people as it was about their individual liberty. As a general rule, any considerations for equality were about legal equality. That everyone have the same legal rights (freedom of speech, right to arms, protection from unlawful arrest, search, detainment, a speedy trial, etc).
Now, certain rights have been restricted to certain groups at periods of time. For example, Rhyd says that only “white men” were allowed to vote, and that say, women were not. However, the “Right to Vote” was a right because all those “white men” were under contract of the Draft. At any time, every “white” man (and some other men too) could be drafted to serve in the military. Since every man was at risk should we go to war, each man had the right to vote for a representative who would speak for or against a war in accordance with that voter’s views. Women, who were not subject to the Draft, therefore did not fulfill the requirements at the time in order to obtain that right. Decades later, however, women were given the right to vote…but they were still not required to sign up for the Draft.
At which point, women had a Privilege that Men did not. The right to vote for their representative without having to pay a direct price for their actions in the form of being sent to war.*
The situation was different for each group, and there were many a shenanigan that did go on which violated both the letter and spirit of the Constitution, but those go beyond this post, and have been/are being addressed to restore those rights to people who may not have had them previously. However, the example I gave shows at least a fraction of what Rhyd has erased for the sake of his narrative.
Rhyd then goes on what can…really just easily be described as a racist rant about white people and their liberal democracies. It’s pretty cringe, I’ll be honest. And then he gets to this statement:
That’s not to say that criminals are all making conscious choices to reject the ruling class, or that criminal behaviour doesn’t have other causes too, like abject poverty. In fact, Liberal Democracies actually create the conditions which lead to criminal behaviour, including defining criminal behaviour in the first place.
I mean, does Rhyd honestly believe that the USSR never had any crime in it at all…and that they never defined certain behaviors as criminal? Or is he going to say that the USSR was in fact a Liberal Democracy. What about North Korea? ISIS? I mean, Saudi Arabia is a Monarchy, and I don’t think they’re even a constitutional monarchy, does he think they do not have laws and do not define any behaviors as criminal?
Cause I know for a Fact that Saudi Arabia considers homosexuality a crime and they punish it with death. I supposed they’re a liberal democracy now too?
That violence takes many forms, and here’s where we can finally start to define violence. Police employed by the State are empowered to physically detain, assault, subdue, imprison, and even kill ‘criminals’ on behalf of the State. Of course, this is all before a trial has occurred to determine if the victim of state violence was actually ‘deserving’ of these actions (that is, was ‘guilty’ of a ‘crime’).
Of course, if the victim is dead, there is no way to determine their guilt or innocence, so in many places (especially the United States), killing a ‘suspect’ is actually a wiser choice than arrest for many police officers worried about civil rights lawsuits for wrongful arrest.
I would ask if Rhyd was retarded, but I already know the answer. The answer is no. Because I have met a lot of retarded people who are smarter than Rhyd at this point.
Let’s just assume, for a moment, that Rhyd is correct. The cops would literally be gunning everyone down in the street. There would never be an arrest made, at all. Hell, domestic abuse situations would be answered with frag grenades. Traffic stops would be solved with bazookas. And no paperwork would ever be filed. The fact that all these things are not, in fact, happening tells me that Rhyd doesn’t know jack shit about cops, how they work, or the laws by which they operate. At least not in a Liberal Democracy.
And has he never heard of forensic science and deductive practices? By his logic, no murder could be solved because the primary witness is dead! Good grief!
Though his description does sound an awful lot like how cops act in a Communist State…
He continues on, basically trying to make anyone who has ever been happy there are police officers feel like a bad person, gripping on and on about how we cheer for the cops putting away murderers and stopping criminals the same way we cheer for sports teams, when he gets to this utter gem:
Did any of the recent unarmed Black men in the United States ‘deserve’ to be killed by police? The answer, unfortunately, depends on whether or not any of us have done the work to see beyond our identifications with State violence. It also depends on whether or not we identify more with the interests the State is trying to protect by such murders, or with the victims. A white Capitalist who relies on the police to prevent theft from his business in a Black neighborhood is likely to identify with the police, rather than victim.
Okay, well this is actually easy. Let’s start with Michael Brown, the guy who got the ball rolling.
His last moments went like this: Rob an Indian dude’s store, block traffic, be asked by a cop to please walk on the sidewalk, proceed to beat up the cop in his own car, attempt to take the cop’s gun, get shot in the hand, retreat, and then charge the cop after said cop got out to see about providing medical attention, at which point he was fatally shot.
Hmmm, well, let’s see. commit assault, commit theft, commit another assault, attempt to commit another theft in order to gain the means to lethally assault, and then attempt to further assault the guy who was legally required to give you medical attention after you beat him up.
Well shit, this might make me a white supremacist nazi, who hasn’t worked past his identification with “the state,” but fuck. I’m gonna go with deserved it. I mean, he was literally trying to kill that cop when he was killed. Regardless of how you might feel about cops, a person has the right to defend themselves from being murdered.
And yeah, it’s much the same story for every single “unarmed” black man that has gotten killed by cops. I used to look them all up until BLM and co stopped listing the names. And time and again, it was the same story. Black person commits crime, often a violent crime, police attempt to stop them. They turn violent on the police, and it ends only when the cops have had to use lethal force. The only two examples I know of where that is not the literal chain of events were the guy in NYC, who resisted arrest with such force it took literally Six Cops hanging off of him to arrest him and he died of a medical condition brought on by how hard he fought and the stress he put on his own body. And some kid who had modified his toy gun and taken off the orange safety cap so that it looked like a real firearm, and then whipped it out at a couple cops like he was going to shoot them. At which point the cops, not knowing it was a toy (that’s why these toys have that orange cap to start with), promptly opened fire on someone they thought was about to murder them after a string of cop murders spurred on by BLM’s demands that cops be killed in the streets.
So we have a long list of violent criminals who were hurting people or trying to, one dude who worked himself in to an asma attack that killed himself, and a kid who apparently wasn’t smart enough to realize you do not point realistic weapons at people who get shot at all the damn time.
Do anti-capitalist protesters deserve to be beaten, pepper-sprayed, and arrested? That depends on how much we identify with the State and its protection of Capital and Property, or with the concerns and actions of the protesters.
I heard about what happened in Sacramento and other anti-fascist protests.
Yeah, pretty sure they deserved that. If you’re going to be someone who starts an ass kicking you deserve it if your ass gets kicked.
Rhyd finishes up by talking about how terrorism has allowed governments in Liberal Democracies to start curtailing liberties in favor of state centralized power. And this is perhaps the only part where he is not making up bullshit whole cloth.
The reason is simple: while Left-wing or Right-wing political movements can at any time take over the government, they never actually threaten the existence of the government. Communists on the Left and Fascists on the Right only want to claim the State for their own to enact their political goals. “Terrorists,”on the other hand, destabilize the State, forcing it either to abdicate its monopolistic claim on violence (which they’ll never do) or to further solidify its monopoly on violence.
That, unfortunately, is where we are now. Every Liberal Democracy has enacted anti-terrorist legislation and claimed new powers in order to combat the threat of non-state violence. To do so, they have necessarily had to curtail the freedoms granted to the people they rule over, and no longer bother much even with the appearance of law and constitutional guarantees.
This does, of course, put Rhyd in a rather interesting position based on all his other writings.
A) part of an ideology that seeks to take over the state and create the totalitarian authority needed to enact a marxist existence.
B) A terrorist seeking to destroy the government entirely.
Now, based on reading his writings and the writings he’s authorized to go up on G&R as managing editor…I really couldn’t tell you. But by his own words in the past, he’s one of these options.
*In what can only be a bit of divine irony, Women have legally been made to sign up for the draft as of this year I believe. At which point a sudden out flowing of salty female tears appeared calling for an end of the draft all together. Somehow, suddenly being asked to do the same thing men had been having to do for centuries in order to have the ability to vote was going too far in the name of equality.