As the George Floyd protests continue to be overshadowed by the looters, rioters, and the simply violent, people who are used to splitting everything into the standard left-right divide are cherry-picking their culprits. Progressives are blaming white supremacists, the boogaloo bois, and Trump-racists. Conservatives are blaming Antifa, George Soros, and the Alinskyite social disruptors. Both sides are blaming the other side’s accelerationists (a good word for people you may not know of, but who certainly exist).

Both sides are desperate to pretend that there aren’t any bad actors waving their standard, when they should be the loudest in rejecting those bad actors and ejecting them from their ranks. Both sides fail to recognize that accelerationists exist on their side as well as on the other. And, both sides miss the reality that this matter has mutated from the decades-long cops-vs-blacks discord. Mutated, deliberately, that is, by opportunists with aims both high and low.

It’s best characterized, now, as a conflict between order and chaos. A deliberate chaos, meant to hasten the (to them, perceived, desired, and inevitable) social breakdown from which they could build a new and “just” social order. Saul Alinsky is smiling:

The organizer dedicated to changing the life of a particular community must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression.

The collateral damage from this “rubbing raw” is, to the accelerationists, a feature, not a problem. The enablers and excuse-makers, in government, on social media, and in the pundit-o-sphere are serving as their useful idiots, not realizing that their conflation of the peaceful protestors (they are many, and they aren’t breaking, stealing, pillaging, burning, or beating) and the rioters/looters (they are few, but they are organized and are serving their own agendas) feeds the acceleration. When NY City Mayor Bill De Blasio’s fecklessness has NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo, a man who’s worked overtime to polish his progressive bona fides ahead of a future presidential run, talking law and order, National Guard, and possibly even shoving De Blasio aside entirely, you know that there’s fear on the Left that the violence is going to turn public opinion the wrong way.

And, it speaks of the cross-aisle commonality of order in the minds of sober leaders.

As for liberty and the libertarian philosophy? Again, order vs chaos. Most of a liberty mindset, whether they go by “libertarian,” “minarchist,” “Constitutionalist,” or even “conservative,” understand that liberty is best served by order. Police and courts’ proper roles are the protection of individual and property rights, and free markets produce the best results when they operate in an orderly and reliably boring framework. The anarchists within the liberty movement, on the other hand, may purport to believe that a lack of such structure could be supplanted by individual behaviors and a hodgepodge of non-governmental actors and groups, but we have ample evidence of what happens when the aforementioned government role is abandoned.

We can and should decry what happened to George Floyd. We can and should punish the bad actors. We can and should change the laws and legal precedents that enabled those bad actors. And we can and should challenge the broader culture within law enforcement that shields bad actors.

We can do all of that within a context of order, not chaos. Order accommodates peaceful protest. Gandhi’s Salt March, the Flint, MI sit-in in 1935, the Montgomery bus boycott, Martin Luther King Jr’s March on Washington, many anti-Vietnam-War protests, Tiananmen Square’s Tank Man, Estonia’s Singing Revolution, the Suffrage movement, and other nonviolent protests involved voices and actions united against injustice and oppression, and often the breaking of unjust laws, but they fit within a framework of order. They sought and achieved change without causing or descending into chaos.

Breaking stuff (and people) to get people to listen, on the other hand, shifts focus away from the issue. Apologists (and pretend-apologists) will claim that breaking stuff (and people) is now necessary, because change hasn’t happened yet, but ask yourself – what’s more likely to lead to a lasting peace and permanent positive change, loud but peaceful and orderly outrage, or looting the local big-box store? Hundreds of thousands of protestors can (and have) march without engaging in wanton destruction, and are more likely to be heard because of their orderliness. The Boston Tea Party protestors only destroyed quasi-government property (tea owned by the East India Company, granted preferential and near-monopoly status), and took great care to destroy nothing else (they even replaced a padlock they broke). They didn’t seize on the opportunity to loot the ship that carried the tea, simply because they could.

No matter which side of the aisle you’re on, choose order. Chaos may seem a quicker path to change, but the change you get will almost certainly not be the change you want.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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