Friday, July 3, 2020

Public Spaces And The Current Crisis

     The ongoing violence and disruption in Democrat-controlled cities has evoked an optimistic piece from Bookworm, who deposeth and sayeth:

     The media are lying to us: Outside of the media’s Democrat-run communities, Americans are getting along fine and are well aware of what’s really going on.

     Believe it or not, things in America are better than you think. In a way, America is the equivalent of a fundamentally healthy plant under attack from hard-left aphids. If we can rid ourselves of that parasite, we will be fine.

     I’m not entirely in agreement with that assessment, on the grounds of the presence of the first (and most important) word in the last sentence: if. Getting rid of a parasite without simply uprooting all the affected plants is no small nor simple undertaking. In this case, the parasite has a support system comprising the educational system, the entertainment industry, and the journalism and communications giants. Those supports can sustain it for quite a long time – possibly long enough to compel the use of violent purgative measures from which the country would emerge in a quite different form.

     Atop that, there’s been a transformation of the way we see public spaces, including where we see them and what rules apply to conduct in them.

     For a society to maintain public spaces of any sort, there must be rules about how they can be used, and what individuals are allowed to do in them. Moreover, those rules must command the willing compliance of 98% (or more) of the populace, as a rule that would lack that degree of popular consent could not be enforced by measures a peaceful society would tolerate. When a significant fraction of those who use a public space disregard the rules or blatantly flout them, the space becomes chaotic. A chaotic space cannot serve any reasonable interest.

     I trust I needn’t present a detailed argument about why this is so. Experience alone provides ample confirmation. It’s one of the reasons libertarians argue for the minimization of public spaces, but that’s a subject for another time.

     Just now, we have the following happening as we watch:

  • A radical group has seized public spaces in many urban districts.
  • That group aims at inflicting as much disruption on normal American life as possible.
  • Within the spaces it has seized, enforcement efforts have been inadequate – in some cases, nonexistent.
  • As the group has fattened on its gains, it has encroached on the surrounding private spaces in an attempt to add them to its demesne.
  • In some cases those private spaces have been defended; however, the media, which has decided to support the radical group, has done its best to vilify the defenders.
  • The “authorities” with nominal responsibility for the afflicted spaces have almost unanimously thrown up their hands and said something to the effect that “It’s their right to protest.” In one ironic example, the mayor of Seattle decided to act against the radicals only after they threatened her own home.

     The genesis of this goes back several decades. We’ve seen precursor elements in the Watts and Detroit riots, the 1968 street disturbances in Chicago, the Weatherman incidents, violence aimed at such gatherings as the G20 conferences, and most recently before the BLM / AntiFa obscenities, the Occupy “movement” that first manifested itself in lower Manhattan. In each case, a group flouted the rules for conduct in public spaces, sometimes with violence and destruction of property. In each case, by refusing to enforce those rules, local “authorities” gave the disruptors de facto sanction for their deeds. They whose aim is to create chaos that would eventuate in the collapse of the American order have built on each such cession of legitimate authority.

     Do the disruptors constitute a sufficiently large fraction of the populace to make public-conduct laws unenforceable? I can’t say definitely, though I incline to doubt it. But remember always that people naturally emulate the successful. To the extent that the disruptors succeed in attaining their goals, they will inspire emulators. There will be a further decline in respect for public-conduct laws, and therefore in persons with an ugly agenda who will defy those laws when it suits their purposes.

     It might be too late to apply sufficient enforcement power to the problem. I hope it isn’t; travel and routine commerce are tough enough under normal circumstances. But unless the “forces of order,” which have been doing very little to promote and maintain order up to now, assert themselves in defense of public-conduct rules, the phenomenon will metastasize and spill into semi-urban, suburban, and ever more rural districts. And that’s to say nothing of the importance of the laws that “should” protect individuals and their legitimate property.


Linda Fox said...

I suspect that some playful little person might just decide to send the addresses of the high & mighty to those who might be inclined to 'peaceably protest' - suggesting that they will find much publicity, and perhaps even some easily liberated goodies there.

Problem solved. Part of that whole "make the enemy live up to their own principles" thingy.

SWVAguy said...

Have you seen the pics of CHAZ/CHOMP? It's a disaster. Where'd they get all that spray paint? And what about the porto-potties? Seems they had to get those, among other things, from capitalists, whom they loathe and want to do away with. Let's assume, Heaven help us, they manage to get control of the whole country, not just Capitol Hill in Seattle? Their 10 best couldn't run a lemonade stand. Good luck to them all supplying the country's food supply, running utilities efficiently and reliably, and maintaining the peace with neighborhood social workers, among numerous other necessities. Gee, I can't wait!

paul scott said...

From overseas [ Bangkok here ] it seems that the entire Nation is standing by allowing mob rule. A lot of people are concerned about Ol' Remus > Woodpile Report <. He has vanished. I tried to find out about him in letters last year, but the wiley coot could easily outmanoeuvre me. Paul Scott

Linda Fox said...

One goad to eliminating the parasites is that Trump has tossed the problem back at those cities that permitted them to run wild.

He is not rushing in to impose Federal authority on unwilling cities. He's driving them NUTS (well, nuttier) by keeping his hand off the problem.

He's also not rushing in to bail them out financially. Not for riot damage, not for extended shutdown money shortfalls.