They're already joking about guillotines in CHAZ/CHOP

It is all too easy to laugh off the insurrectionists who have grabbed a few blocks of Seattle's Capitol Hill, built border walls, and declared it an "Autonomous Zone" (CHAZ), now re-branded by at least some there as an "Organized Protest" (CHOP).  Such coverage as the MSM have offered picked up on Seattle's Mayor Jenny Durkan's view, who likened it to a "block party" and predicted "a summer of love."  A cottage industry of progressive media outlets targets Fox News, the only major national outlet that offers extensive coverage, for scorn, and scoffs at the notion that there is anything to worry about.  Eric Scigliano in Politico, for instance:

Over the course of two evenings and an afternoon in the zone (plus a night observing a police/protest showdown there the week before), it seemed by turns like a commune (as in Paris 1871), an anarcho-syndicalist and small-L libertarian dream, a '60s-style teach-in, a street fair and street market, a campout and weekend party, a poetry slam and pilgrimage, a school service day, a mass healing circle, a humbler urban version of Burning Man, and of course a protest rally.

You'd hardly guess all that from the breathless attention Fox has lavished from Day One on this tiny strip of Seattle[.]

For now, aside from reports of shakedowns of merchants and sporadic violence, the atmosphere seems mostly calm, even festive.  Requests for donations of supplies demonstrate that this enclave is far from autonomous and depends on handouts from the society against which it rebels.

But it's worth taking seriously the revolutionary dynamic that operates when radicals declare the old laws and norms inoperative and proceed to implement their ad hoc version of utopia.  Guy Benson yesterday pointed to a sign that I take very seriously:

They're chanting about beheading people who don't get with the ideological program, in the tradition of the blood-drenched French revolution? This "festive block party" is pretty dark, man:

Until our regime is toppled (and don't kid yourself: that is the goal of not only some of the demonstrators, but more importantly the people who have been plotting for decades), the people on Capitol Hill are unlikely to be executed for insufficient revolutionary purity, especially considering that President Trump threatens intervention if local authorities do nothing.

But what about isolated compounds that may or may not exist where radicals who believe in armed struggle, as the Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club seems to embrace?  We have a vivid example of the revolutionary dynamic among Marxist rebels that took place almost half a century ago in Japan, a period in which I lived there and followed these events closely.

The United Red Army (URA, or Rengo Sekigunha in Japanese), a revolutionary faction that formed out of a merger between two earlier mostly campus-based groups, attempted to bring about a communist revolution through airliner hijacking and hostage-taking, armed violence (obtaining firearms by robbery), and launching violent attacks on the police (sound familiar?) and other symbols of the establishment.  Their fantasy was that capitalist oppression was so severe in Japan that the populace would rise up in support once the powerlessness of the state was demonstrated.

It was poppycock, but it garnered considerable sympathy from academic and media circles, who were then nearly as left-leaning as our own media and academia are today.  (A major contributing factor was that the sole force that resisted the military takeover of Japan and resulting fascism was the Japan Communist Party, whose leaders were jailed and killed during the war.  This lent enormous prestige and credibility to Marxists in postwar Japan, as the nation dealt with its excursion into totalitarianism and subsequent catastrophic defeat.)

In late 1971, the URA operated out of rural training camps, where they practiced their violent tactics and began the process of what they called "self-criticism."  Eventually, the URA abandoned the rural camps  and ended chased and holed up in a mountainside inn.  It led to the execution of those insufficiently radical.  Noah Ostrow writes of the process:

They found the bodies in the snowy foothills of the Japanese Alps.

The police had already been tracking the revolutionaries for some time. After the radical leftist group now known as the United Red Army had hijacked Japan Airlines Flight 351 and with an important government hostage in stow had managed to divert the plane to North Korea, they had emerged as Japan's public enemy number 1. Internationally embarrassed by their inability to stop the hijacking, the national police had redoubled their focus on the the [sic] underground group.

Months of hard work had finally led the police here, deep into the snowy mountains of Gunma Prefecture. Days spent trudging through the snow drifts after rumor and speculation had proved fruitful; they'd managed to discover the URA's remote and recently-abandoned hideouts. All clues indicated some 30 people had lived here very recently.

But they also pointed to something far darker.

As other police continued tracking the fleeing revolutionaries — eventually catching up with them in the mountains near Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, for what would become one of Japan's most shocking hostage situations — the detectives examining the scene at the abandoned inn began to recognize the telltale signs of acts of violence. They found shreds of clothing that had been cut off of various people — a common method for removing the garb of those for whom rigor mortis has set in, making the usual removal of clothing nearly impossible. Staining on the ripped garments also demonstrated that these garments had likely been worn in the last moments of their wearers' lives. Lastly, a large quantity of personal items and baggage mysteriously remained, including the sorts of hiking backpacks that those fleeing the inn would have likely taken with them.

To the detectives, it seemed more than clear. Murder had taken place amongst the revolutionaries of the United Red Army. And yet, where were the bodies?

It all came to light in the days that followed, as the police ensnared and captured the various fleeing URA soldiers. While the leadership remained tight-lipped, some of the rank-and-file among the arrested began to tell of the horrors that had occurred at that inn — horrors that they themselves had participated in. The location of the 12 bodies, the former comrades and now victims of the surviving URA members, was revealed.

The final siege of the mountainside inn was televised live in Japan, and I was watching, as transfixed as the Japanese public by the spectacle and the ultimate horror of the orgy of violence that gripped the radicals in their version of an autonomous zone.

Think it can't happen here?  Don't be so sure.

On the upside: In the end, the spectacle dealt a severe setback to radicalism in Japan, discrediting it in the public's eyes, and perhaps causing some reflection on the part of those who and sympathized with them, including those in the media.

Image credit: Musée de la Révolution française.

It is all too easy to laugh off the insurrectionists who have grabbed a few blocks of Seattle's Capitol Hill, built border walls, and declared it an "Autonomous Zone" (CHAZ), now re-branded by at least some there as an "Organized Protest" (CHOP).  Such coverage as the MSM have offered picked up on Seattle's Mayor Jenny Durkan's view, who likened it to a "block party" and predicted "a summer of love."  A cottage industry of progressive media outlets targets Fox News, the only major national outlet that offers extensive coverage, for scorn, and scoffs at the notion that there is anything to worry about.  Eric Scigliano in Politico, for instance:

Over the course of two evenings and an afternoon in the zone (plus a night observing a police/protest showdown there the week before), it seemed by turns like a commune (as in Paris 1871), an anarcho-syndicalist and small-L libertarian dream, a '60s-style teach-in, a street fair and street market, a campout and weekend party, a poetry slam and pilgrimage, a school service day, a mass healing circle, a humbler urban version of Burning Man, and of course a protest rally.

You'd hardly guess all that from the breathless attention Fox has lavished from Day One on this tiny strip of Seattle[.]

For now, aside from reports of shakedowns of merchants and sporadic violence, the atmosphere seems mostly calm, even festive.  Requests for donations of supplies demonstrate that this enclave is far from autonomous and depends on handouts from the society against which it rebels.

But it's worth taking seriously the revolutionary dynamic that operates when radicals declare the old laws and norms inoperative and proceed to implement their ad hoc version of utopia.  Guy Benson yesterday pointed to a sign that I take very seriously:

They're chanting about beheading people who don't get with the ideological program, in the tradition of the blood-drenched French revolution? This "festive block party" is pretty dark, man:

Until our regime is toppled (and don't kid yourself: that is the goal of not only some of the demonstrators, but more importantly the people who have been plotting for decades), the people on Capitol Hill are unlikely to be executed for insufficient revolutionary purity, especially considering that President Trump threatens intervention if local authorities do nothing.

But what about isolated compounds that may or may not exist where radicals who believe in armed struggle, as the Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club seems to embrace?  We have a vivid example of the revolutionary dynamic among Marxist rebels that took place almost half a century ago in Japan, a period in which I lived there and followed these events closely.

The United Red Army (URA, or Rengo Sekigunha in Japanese), a revolutionary faction that formed out of a merger between two earlier mostly campus-based groups, attempted to bring about a communist revolution through airliner hijacking and hostage-taking, armed violence (obtaining firearms by robbery), and launching violent attacks on the police (sound familiar?) and other symbols of the establishment.  Their fantasy was that capitalist oppression was so severe in Japan that the populace would rise up in support once the powerlessness of the state was demonstrated.

It was poppycock, but it garnered considerable sympathy from academic and media circles, who were then nearly as left-leaning as our own media and academia are today.  (A major contributing factor was that the sole force that resisted the military takeover of Japan and resulting fascism was the Japan Communist Party, whose leaders were jailed and killed during the war.  This lent enormous prestige and credibility to Marxists in postwar Japan, as the nation dealt with its excursion into totalitarianism and subsequent catastrophic defeat.)

In late 1971, the URA operated out of rural training camps, where they practiced their violent tactics and began the process of what they called "self-criticism."  Eventually, the URA abandoned the rural camps  and ended chased and holed up in a mountainside inn.  It led to the execution of those insufficiently radical.  Noah Ostrow writes of the process:

They found the bodies in the snowy foothills of the Japanese Alps.

The police had already been tracking the revolutionaries for some time. After the radical leftist group now known as the United Red Army had hijacked Japan Airlines Flight 351 and with an important government hostage in stow had managed to divert the plane to North Korea, they had emerged as Japan's public enemy number 1. Internationally embarrassed by their inability to stop the hijacking, the national police had redoubled their focus on the the [sic] underground group.

Months of hard work had finally led the police here, deep into the snowy mountains of Gunma Prefecture. Days spent trudging through the snow drifts after rumor and speculation had proved fruitful; they'd managed to discover the URA's remote and recently-abandoned hideouts. All clues indicated some 30 people had lived here very recently.

But they also pointed to something far darker.

As other police continued tracking the fleeing revolutionaries — eventually catching up with them in the mountains near Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, for what would become one of Japan's most shocking hostage situations — the detectives examining the scene at the abandoned inn began to recognize the telltale signs of acts of violence. They found shreds of clothing that had been cut off of various people — a common method for removing the garb of those for whom rigor mortis has set in, making the usual removal of clothing nearly impossible. Staining on the ripped garments also demonstrated that these garments had likely been worn in the last moments of their wearers' lives. Lastly, a large quantity of personal items and baggage mysteriously remained, including the sorts of hiking backpacks that those fleeing the inn would have likely taken with them.

To the detectives, it seemed more than clear. Murder had taken place amongst the revolutionaries of the United Red Army. And yet, where were the bodies?

It all came to light in the days that followed, as the police ensnared and captured the various fleeing URA soldiers. While the leadership remained tight-lipped, some of the rank-and-file among the arrested began to tell of the horrors that had occurred at that inn — horrors that they themselves had participated in. The location of the 12 bodies, the former comrades and now victims of the surviving URA members, was revealed.

The final siege of the mountainside inn was televised live in Japan, and I was watching, as transfixed as the Japanese public by the spectacle and the ultimate horror of the orgy of violence that gripped the radicals in their version of an autonomous zone.

Think it can't happen here?  Don't be so sure.

On the upside: In the end, the spectacle dealt a severe setback to radicalism in Japan, discrediting it in the public's eyes, and perhaps causing some reflection on the part of those who and sympathized with them, including those in the media.

Image credit: Musée de la Révolution française.