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The Inherent Violence of Grievance Culture

Of course we have violence in the streets. Left-wing grievance culture is inherently violent. Murder and assault are inevitable. Police officers are among the first targets, because they are obliged to be on the scene during major demonstrations, and because they’re symbols of the oppressive authority deemed illegitimate by grievance-mongers.

This happens everywhere in the world, not just the United States. The Middle East is awash in grievance mongering, mixed with long-standing traditions of “righteous violence” and totalitarian politics.

In contemporary America, the Left is totalitarian to its core: they believe everything is freighted with political significance, and every tiny aspect of life should be subject to control through the use of politicized force, including mob actions.

One of the defining characteristics of totalitarianism is the selective ignorance of rules that would restrain power, from Constitutional limits to congressional procedures. The elites are above the law, able to skate away scot-free from the blatant violation of laws that crush lesser men and women. Laws that would prevent the elite from imposing their agenda on the masses are swept aside, maybe to be haggled over years later, in footnote lawsuits.

Elections and representative government are just too damn slow for the Left, and since their class and racial enemies get to vote too, the results are often unsatisfactory. That’s why mobs swarm through the streets, and boil across social media, demanding immediate compliance with their agendas. A pilot who casually refers to his flight attendants as “pretty young ladies in the aisle” may learn a Twitter flash mob of P.C. enforcers is out for his job by the time he lands the plane.

Mob actions are an exercise of totalitarian power with the form of representative democracy, but not its essence. The Founding Fathers were highly suspicious of “democracy” precisely because they feared it would easily slide into mob rule: four wolves outvoting three sheep to put mutton on the menu for dinner. All of the time-consuming, stalemate-prone procedures that frustrate activist liberals were installed precisely to frustrate people like them.

There is a continuum that stretches from President Obama whining endlessly about “gridlock,” rewriting laws on the fly, and abusing executive power to circumvent Congress, to violent mobs shutting down highways and assaulting police officers. Lessons set at the top of the power structure are absorbed and internalized at the bottom. Obama’s America is an increasingly barbaric place, where raw power counts for much more than the rule of law. Lawlessness in the streets mirrors lawlessness in the White House, where the fix is always in. When today’s Democrat elites profess horror at violence on the streets, they’re like chain-smoking parents who catch their kids with cigarettes, and can’t believe their anti-tobacco lectures weren’t taken to heart.

At every level, from the halls of power in Washington to the streets of Dallas, what separates thugs from revolutionaries is their sense of righteousness. What unites them is their sense of grievance.

Grievance is the organizing principle of modern liberalism, the coin of the realm. As gay Americans discovered from the media and political reaction after an ISIS jihadi committed mass murder in Orlando, there is a hierarchy of victimhood in the liberal mind, and at the moment, Islam ranks higher than homosexuality.

Every aspect of society is subjected to political calculations weighted heavily with grievance variables. The quest for “social justice” is all about treating some people unfairly, to punish them for their “privileges,” and transfer wealth and power to the “deserving.” Vast power and wealth accrue to those who define variables like “privileged” and “deserving,” as they skim billions of dollars off the top of the social justice machine for “administrative costs.”

Grievance has become the only pure source of moral authority in our culture. For the most part, achievement is denigrated, and actively punished. Hard work is for suckers. Religious authority is considered null and void. Traditional morality has been bulldozed. Designated victims, and those who claim to be “fighting” for them, are the new secular saints, and they can get away with almost anything.

Every attempt to hold them accountable is dismissed as an oppressive assault on the righteously aggrieved. Their excesses are excused, because the powerless must get loud and rowdy, in order to combat oppressive society and draw attention to their plight. Often these excesses are blamed on society, portraying the aggrieved as hapless puppets of capitalism, imperialism, racism, or sexism. The filthy-rich capitalist pig is the true perpetrator of his own mugging.

Grievance culture distills a potent, highly addictive brew of righteousness that’s easy to become violently drunk on. Social media mobs are a fascinating case study, as they go comically over the top in their seething outrage at minor transgressions. You can watch them stoke the flames of each other’s righteous fury in real-time. Never has a mob been easier to join. The cost in time and money to sign up for each crusade is nearly zero.

The media is easily bamboozled into thinking these Twitter warriors are a mighty host of committed activists, when in reality most of them are banging out “Is So-and-So Fired Yet?” tweets while simultaneously playing online games, downvoting music they dislike, and crabbing about lousy episodes of popular TV shows on blog forums.   

On the streets, grievance culture sours easily into violence, because violence is justified by the messages of powerlessness, oppression, and unfair privilege pumped into the heads of demonstrators. They’ve been quite literally told they were robbed. It’s no crime to steal back their entitlements and birthrights from thieves.

This mindset is commonly found among actual thieves, who have a habit of justifying their crimes by saying they felt entitled to take money or goods from targets who had wronged them somehow. Many perpetrators insist their victims personally transgressed against them. Others say society itself has exploited them. Sometimes they reassure themselves that the victims are rich, probably unfairly rich, and won’t miss a little of their lucre. Even crimes as minor as office workers stealing desk supplies from their corporate employers follow this basic grievance formula – “I deserve a little extra something because of the way this lousy company treats me!”

This is not to say that all grievances are completely illegitimate. What matters is how the aggrieved handle their complaints. There’s nothing wrong with organizing a demonstration and agitating for new policies, while following the existing protocols for winning elections and securing representation.

Grievance culture grows inevitably nasty because the aggrieved are persuaded that following those rules is pointless, since the deck is hopelessly stacked against them. Instead of holding a rally, they block traffic or “occupy” public spaces, to compel attention. Such confrontations can all too easily escalate to violence.

Meanwhile, social engineers assure large swathes of the American population that they don’t have any legitimate grievances at all, which naturally makes those Americans angry and bitter. The media doesn’t seem interested in interviewing the many people who are put out when Black Lives Matter shuts down major thoroughfares, or even the roads leading to hospitals. The implicit message is that designated losers in these social clashes need to shut up and take their lumps. The designated losers look upon chaos in the streets and wonder why they’re paying exorbitant taxes for infrastructure and order.

Contemporary culture indulges, and even encourages, rule-breaking by designated victims. Those who sit atop the Left’s hierarchy of grievance are accountable for nothing, because they’re helpless pawns of social and economic forces they cannot control. It’s the kind of thinking that leads Administration officials to suggest ISIS can be defeated with a good jobs program.

It’s also one of the principles driving the liberal fetish for gun control. They speak of guns as mystic totems that drive innocent people to violence, rather than holding the perpetrators fully accountable for their own actions. The Left is incapable of drawing a bright, clear line between law-abiding citizens and criminals. They look at urban crime and see guns floating in midair, firing themselves, because ideology prevents them from seeing the perpetrators clearly.

Domestically, the standards of behavior for designated victim groups have been relaxed or erased – what right do the “privileged” have to tell the aggrieved how they should act or speak?

The people supposedly favored by these relaxed standards are, in fact, horribly damaged by them, in encounters with everyone from prospective employers to the police. Grievance culture portrays polite conduct as submission to the oppressor. Good manners are scarce when people have been taught to assume the worst about each other, before the first words between strangers are exchanged. That’s especially true of interactions between citizens and law enforcement officers.

In truth, the spirit of goodwill is essential to all forms of cooperation, including the cooperation necessary to fulfill constructive ambitions. Ambition is the healthy alternative to grievance.

That’s a truth the Left has a multi-billion-dollar vested interest in keeping secret from its captive constituencies. They will invariably push their narratives of victimhood and restitution until the aggrieved take violent revenge against the “privileged,” or seek to claim their “entitlements” by force.

It’s no surprise this has all gotten worse under President Obama. He swept into office promising miracles, which were not delivered. He blames his failures on the same political, class, and racial enemies his constituents have been taught to despise for much of their lives. The message sent to those constituents is that their greedy, racist enemies are more powerful than ever, and the System is rigged worse than it’s ever been before – why, not even the genius miracle-working First Black President can prevail against those forces of oppression!

As most recently seen in his remarks at the Dallas memorial, Obama always tips his hat to liberal-approved grievances. He always takes pains to let the Democrat faithful know their feelings of resentment and entitlement are legitimate, no matter what vile acts are carried out in their name. Nothing is ever his fault, and nothing is ever their fault, so the quest to administer rough “justice” to the real villains continues.

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