Undermining democracy with chaos

America will fall not to an external enemy, but to internal subversion that will collapse the body politic.  The method was advanced decades ago by two sociologists, Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven.  They sought to create a guaranteed income by throwing the welfare rolls into chaos.  They never succeeded, and their obsession with it was not widely shared, but their emphasis on chaos to bring about dramatic social change found a receptive audience among Marxists and leftists.

Cloward's and Piven's emphasis on chaos had a vast appeal to Marxists because they found it impossible to organize a working class more concerned with immediate material benefits than revolution.  Instead of organizing for revolution, the Marxist ideology moved to undermining democracy by creating chaos.

Not deterred by the failure of the street violence of the sixties to bring about the Marxist revolution, Piven, in 2012, was still clinging to her fantasies of violence and chaos as mechanisms for social change.  As she noted, "[p]rotest, even violent protest, is thus inextricably linked to the progress of democracy, whether in challenging dictatorships or in keeping democratic regimes from neglecting the needs of their own people.  The existential aspect of protest seems also to apply to some cases of violent protests in autocracies, and sometimes in democracies as well."

This strain of sophistry that violence can create democratic progress, as absurd as it is, explains the tolerance of our institutions for the violence we have seen in Portland, Seattle, and Minneapolis.  This tolerance of violence stimulates the revolutionary fantasies of Black Lives Matter and Antifa.

It is not simply in the streets that chaos is to bring about leftist socio-political change.  It is also true of the embrace of chaos in our institutions.  Nowhere has the institutional threat been greater than in the activities of the so-called congressional "Squad" who have cleverly branded themselves as social justice warriors while seeking to produce chaos by defunding the police, leaning on the Biden administration to insert leftists in positions of power, and seeking to deluge the economy with obscene sums of money.  The Squad knows that if printing money led to prosperity, Zimbabwe and Venezuela would boast the world's two strongest economies.

The chaos seen currently in the streets with young black men smashing and grabbing high-end merchandise is part and parcel of this Marxist ideology.  It was incentivized with the so-called restorative justice movement heralded with the election of Chesa Boudin as San Francisco's district attorney.  Boudin promised healing instead of incarceration.  He provided for shoplifting under $950.00 to be a misdemeanor and not a felony.  The upshot has been a plague of shoplifting on such a massive scale that Walgreens is closing 22 stores in San Francisco.  Boudin's shoplifting policy is the precursor to the current smash-and-grab plague.

Restorative justice meant not charging two black men who beat an elderly Chinese man in the Bayview district in 2020.  As the old man was beaten, others gathered to film it and yell ethnic slurs at him.  The video was posted on social media.  Boudin dropped all charges against the two, raising the question: if the victim were black and the perpetrators white, what would be the restorative justice?

And no discussion of chaos for social change would be complete without a look at our institutions of post-secondary education that have promulgated a tribal mentality where white people are seen as oppressors and all others as oppressed.  Their antisocial and criminal behavior is justified from a sense of victimhood.  The most ludicrous of these theories is that of black rage that justifies everything from property crimes to murder as a consequence of victimhood.

Chaos is here.  It is smashing through retail stores and seizing luxury goods.  It is beating elderly Chinese people in the streets of San Francisco.  It is attacking Hasids in New York.  It is printing vast sums of money to destroy the economy and providing institutional forums for those who hate the system.  It is the creation of tribalism in our education system, with Critical Race Theory — a variant of Marxist Critical Theory — to underscore hatred for our democracy.

But most of all, the threat is from those who cheer this ideology on, our friends and neighbors who think wokeness enhances their status as sophisticates, not realizing that in the scheme of chaos, they are the next victims.

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

Image: Montecruz foto.

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