Chaos and the Threat to Democracy

Among politics’ strangest alliances are those between the elite and the mob. They don’t happen often. The few times they have occurred produced devastating effects. The most notable of them was the rise of the Nazi party, which recruited its original and most loyal adherents from the outcasts of society.

When the Nazis became mainstream, Hitler himself remarked how he missed the passionate street fighters of old who had been replaced by political opportunists and office seekers.

There is a method to this odd partnership. It is built on mobilizing the periphery, creating chaos, and enhancing chaos where it already exists.

The Nazi example finds its parallel much earlier in the coup of Louis Bonaparte, the nephew and pretender, who overthrew the French Republic in 1852 and became the last emperor of France. Bonaparte created, from the dregs of the socio-economic system, the foundation of a mass movement. He called it the Society of December the 10th. He just as well could have called it the Brownshirts. Hitler would have easily recognized it.

Revolutionary mobilization of the periphery does not occur in a day. And, in a legitimate democratic society, it will most likely bring chaos, dislocation, and division, but it will not bring about major political change. Nonetheless, for those committed to an ideological view of the world where chaos is the paving stone to revolution, means are significant.

The political nihilists who wrought chaos on Western Europe in the 1980s believed they were the foundation of a revolutionary movement that would take a hundred years.

No revolution takes place without elites. The men and women running through the streets with guns are only instruments. Somewhere an out elite provided the ideological justification and weapons for revolt, and before that they sowed chaos in various ways.

And this, oddly enough, brings us to a shootout in broad daylight in Chicago between two gangs. When the shooting stopped, one person was dead and two were wounded. Five gang members allegedly involved in the shootout were arrested. Yet Chicago’s controversial states attorney, Kim Foxx, refused to prosecute them. “Mutual combatants was cited as the reason for the rejection,” according to a Chicago Police Department report.

As long as both sides willingly participated in combat on Chicago’s streets, no crime was committed, was the CPD’s interpretation of Foxx’s decision.  Seeing this as a promotion of violence in a city already deluged with violence, Chicago’s mayor Lori Lightfoot spoke of the city falling into chaos and sought intervention by federal prosecutors. So far, that hasn’t happened.

Foxx was one of several high-profile and controversial prosecutors funded by organizations related to George Soros. The refusal to prosecute the alleged gang shooters is only one of several similar decisions. Soros’ organization also donated to PACs that support Los Angeles district attorney George Gascón and Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner, both known for their liberal views on crime.

Apart from Kim Foxx, the most controversial district attorney to receive aid from a Soros’ operation is San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin. Boudin is a big supporter of redistributive justice, which calls for behavioral changes rather than punishment. He pushed for shoplifting below 950 dollars to be treated as a misdemeanor, which set off a tidal wave of organized shoplifting. One Safeway store had to limit its hours in response and set up obstacles for exit. Walgreens closed some 22 stores for both economic and loss control reasons. Most controversial was a brutal attack on an elderly Asian man where the attacker was released on probation. Boudin’s office argued that the victim agreed to the decision. But the victim, who speaks no English, said he never agreed, and various community leaders have taken to the streets to make their opposition known.  Boudin is facing a recall election.

There is an alliance between prosecutors who have embraced redistributive justice and criminals who have found crime to be a revolving door. Redistributive justice, however, is part of a larger system that views criminal activity as a result of social forces and not individual decision making. It is part of a system that calls the very legitimacy of the polity into question.

Crime rates in these cities has risen. Chicago is seeing one of the highest crime rates in decades. Mayor Lightfoot is correct when she says the city is descending into chaos. But that is the plan.

For a strong, vibrant, economically sound democracy, such events are problematic but not a threat to the system. But change the equation, question the legitimacy, and such perturbations become a threat to the viability of the political system. Chaos is the name of the game.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the Hyam Salomon Center.

Image: Montecruz foto

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