When is politically motivated murder justified? Why are some of us inching closer to the answer, “When I want it”, and how do we stop them from winning others over?
Some would make the point that it is never justified. Murder is murder, and peaceful options always exist to bring about political change. Others would argue that peaceful options are not always available and violence towards those that hold political power is justified in certain circumstances. The latter group splits into several subgroups that are arranged on a spectrum based on the severity of their beliefs.
The popular opinion of the American people, whether they consciously think about it or not, seems to be very much in line with John Lock’s Right of Revolution. For those of you not familiar with it, allow me to explain. The Right of Revolution (a.k.a. Right of Rebellion) is the right of the people of a given nation to overthrow a government that acts against their common interests. This idea, popularized by John Locke, was heavily adopted by the founding fathers (who were very familiar with his work) and remains in the popular set of ideas today.
To put it simply, as long as the power of government is given willingly by the common people, peaceful options for change are available, and violence is an immoral substitute. The second this is no longer the case, actions such as the murder of politicians are perfectly moral because no peaceful option exists to accomplish the task of bringing about political change by the common people.
AN INVASIVE IDEOLOGY IS COMING.
Most sane people can agree with such an idea, or they can at least propose an idea in the same vein as the one described above. However, an ancient class of thought has started reemerging. This course of thought roots itself in ideas of governance by assassination and mob rule. It began its life in the belief of “voting out” representatives by rock, then by knife, then by poison, then by bayonet, and finally by gun. This belief system is favored by those few that cannot win in the court of public opinion despite having the freedom to speak and the information age by which to find their platform to speak on. It is the belief system of the ideologically weak but physically strong enough. It is a type belief as old as the tribal genocide wars of prehistory Africa, and it’s coming to the United States of America in the modern age for another go-around.
On June 14th, 2017 a man by the name of James T. Hodgkinson, 66, shot at Republican congressmen, injuring two, as they were practicing for an upcoming charity baseball game with the Democrats. He succeeded in hurting two congressmen as well as two bodyguards and a congressional staffer. At this time, it is still not entirely clear if the shooter will be the only casualty of this event as at least one congressman is in critical condition after undergoing surgery.
This event is the intellectual equivalent of a referendum. We will now see how the people of America react to such activity directed towards our elected officials. One thing is clear from early reports. Just like the punching of Richard Spencer caused an uproar of approval and agreement in the socio-political extremists of a leftist persuasion, so too has this event. Early reports are indicating celebration and acceptance of these actions by the socio-political extremists of a leftist persuasion, and in several months we will be able to tell if this is the tipping point to the major adoption of violence among these radicals.
If it is, then we will be one giant leap closer to tearing this country apart and having a second civil war. This time, however, there will be no geographic boards dictating the areas of safety.
HANG ON A MINUTE, DON’T PANIC…YET
That isn’t to say that it can’t be stopped. Plenty of times in the past, we can see ugly reality after ugly reality that was one or two events away from turning out much better or being stopped altogether, even after the event that eventually caused it to happen, if only people took appropriate actions to de-escalate. WW1 could have ultimately been avoided if countries had negotiated to calm the political scene and rethink the treaties they made with each other that ultimately led to two large coalitions forming. In the same vein, WW2 as a slaughterhouse could have had less impact if the annexation of Austria had resulted in war instead of giving the better part of two years for Germany to rearm further. This is to say nothing of the countless events that are almost entirely unknown to most because they WERE avoided and thus “of little note” (e.g. all “nuclear incidents” during the cold war).
But just because these incorrect ideas on justified violence can be stopped, doesn’t mean it will be easy or even that obvious how to stop it while it’s happening. They say hindsight is 20-20 (and they’re right). It is hard to get a sense for how to deal with these extremists at the moment. We’ll have to have a discussion and figure it out together.
Your ideas on how to avoid this tragedy are crucial. I beg you; please leave them in the comments section below.