Historical parallels vindicate Euclid by never converging. Yet sometimes they run so close to each other that they almost touch.
The first parallel line runs through Cable Street in London’s East End, the site of the eponymous battle. The conflict was triggered by Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists (BUF) that staged a march on 4 October, 1936.
The march broke no law, emphasising the difference between what’s legal and what’s good. That difference was blindingly obvious to the opposing groups, some of which, such as communists, anarchists and socialists, had equally dubious claims to goodness.
They employed extra-legal means to stop the objectionable procession by building barricades and coming out in large numbers to man them. Some 20,000 turned up to confront about 3,000 fascists.
Now, the Metropolitan Police are in the business of enforcing the law, not any group’s understanding of virtue. Since the fascists weren’t breaking the law and their opponents were, the police tried to protect the marchers.
The crowd charged, attacking the police with all sorts of objects not manifestly designed as weapons: full chamber pots, rocks and rotten vegetables used as projectiles, sticks and items of furniture swung as improvised clubs.
Seeing that the police were about to be overrun, Mosley was forced to move the march to Central London, which didn’t stop the Battle of Cable Street immediately. The riot continued, eventually claiming 175 wounded on both sides and some 150 arrests – on one side.
That was a serious, but by no means an isolated event. Mass brawls between international and national socialists raged throughout the 1930s, with the second group represented by the BUF and its splinter group, the National Socialist League led by William Joyce, better known later as Lord Haw-Haw.
The police were doing their best to maintain a semblance of order, but, their hands tied by constitutional niceties, it was disintegrating fast. Social cohesion only recovered when the War started, giving the police the power to treat the fascists as enemy agents. Mosley was imprisoned for the duration, while Joyce escaped to Germany and embarked on a fruitful career as Nazi propagandist that eventually led him to the British gallows.
History is screaming parallels. Is anyone listening? So I thought, reading today’s accounts of the clashes between opposing militias in American cities.
The latest battleground was kindly provided by Louisville, Kentucky, the birthplace of Muhammad Ali and the famous Derby. This time the initiative was taken by a predominantly black group elegantly calling itself Not Fucking Around Coalition (NFAC). I find this name objectionable – the first three words should be separated by hyphens.
Playing on the same team were BLM rioters, while the opposition came from a white militia, largely made up of people who build secret caches of weapons and food in preparation for any number of cataclysms from a long list.
Such militias include between 40,000 and 100,000 members, but they are spread thin all over the country. The Battle of Louisville involved more modest numbers, some 250 from each side, a far cry from Cable Street.
However, what they lacked in numbers they amply made up for in firepower. Both sides were armed with assault rifles, shotguns and pistols, which were all brandished but miraculously not fired.
Similar events have been going on for several months in other American cities as well, Portland, Oregon, being especially affected, and Rochester, NY, not far behind. Clashes involving BLM, NFAC, various militias and police are becoming routine events in America, with a match never farther than an inch away from the tinderbox.
A bloodbath can ensue at any moment, and such outbursts tend to escalate like brushfire. Add to this some training and organisation generously provided by foreign powers with a vested interest in inflicting paralysis on the US, and the dangers can’t be overstated.
I don’t have, mostly for aesthetic reasons, much sympathy for either side as such. But I do have endless sympathy for the militias, however unsavoury, trying to protect their homes and businesses from rioting mobs.
The clashes are teaching us all a lesson we’d better heed: if the law is remiss in its duty to protect its citizens, the citizens will take the law in their own hands. When they do, it won’t be gentlemanly types coming to the fore. It will be thugs egged on by demagogues.
But why is the law so remiss? Because the state has hoisted itself with its own petard by making progressively greater concessions to rotten ideas begetting subversive demands.
Revolutions are fought by people, but they are won by ideologies, as distinct from ideas. The former are all evil by definition, and it takes the latter to stop them.
The intellectual discourse in America, and throughout the West, is dominated by ‘liberals’ endlessly gravitating to ‘democratic’ socialism and then unalloyed Marxism. Class conflict, real or more typically bogus, is its food and drink.
Class may or may not mean race, this is just a detail. The principle is portraying large swathes of the population as victims of historical and on-going injustice, correctable by revolutionary means. Since Marx didn’t have a wide choice of candidate groups, he had to focus on workers detached from the means of production by greedy capitalists.
Today’s subversives have a longer menu of victims to choose from. In addition to the downtrodden social classes, they include any number of ethnic, racial and religious minorities, all women (even those who reject victimhood indignantly) and actually the entire mankind about to be made extinct by warm weather.
Inciting any or all such groups to riots and even armed rebellion is a matter of some organisation, much propaganda and perhaps some fortuitous happenstance, such as fatal shots fired at a crowd, if only accidentally.
The problem is that the West has run out of ideas that can put evil ideologies into their place. Promises of prosperity, preferential treatment and restitution don’t qualify as such. Fevered masses brandishing weapons will only regard those as signs of weakness.
Should social order and national unity collapse, it’s unlikely that this time a world war would interfere to restore them. In any case, any such future event will only make things irretrievably worse.
We may shrug and say well, that’s America for you. Because of their Second Amendment, the Yanks are all armed to the teeth. British rioters have to resort to the kind of projectiles used in Cable Street all those years ago because firearms are harder to get here.
True. But harder doesn’t mean impossible, as both the IRA and Prod gangs have proved. It takes a bit more organisation and outside help, but things can eventually come to a head here as well.
Thanks to globalisation, John Donne’s words about the bell that tolls for thee have never been more apposite than now. Only truly conservative governments, proceeding from truly conservative ideas, can stop it ringing, governments that wouldn’t hide their cowardice behind fake principles, non-ideas and babble about misconstrued human rights.
Such a government would have the intelligence to realise we’re already at war – and the guts to win it. You know the kind of government I’m talking about? The kind that simply doesn’t exist any longer.