While grief counselors are once again being rushed to congressional offices, the left is throwing a full blown temper tantrum. After spending two years warning about the threat of right wing extremism, MSNBC featured Ted Rall calling for a violent takeover of America. It's easy enough to write off MSNBC as a collection of television losers who exist only to cater to their own class of angry disenfranchised liberals with six figure salaries, but it doesn't end there.
The issue isn't really Rall, the Alan Grayson of cartoonists, an angry clown rehashing tired sixties tropes to senior citizen hippies who regret missing out on the Weathermen. Like much of the far left, Rall views America as an evil empire, rather than his country. And his prescription for terror comes down to promoting violence by other people in order to secure an expanded version of Lenin's "Land, Peace and Bread", or rights such as free health care, internet access, clothes (Gucci or Armani?), college and transportation. Rall himself can't decide how the revolution should happen, or even if the Tea Party is a racist protofascist movement, or a potential ally in overthrowing the system. Instead he fixates on arguing that the end is near, so it's time to step into the power vacuum.
The real issue is how quickly and easily the left abandons even the pretense of democracy, when things don't go their way. Rall taps into the left's cynicism toward democracy, justifying violence because the system is already rigged by a small group of rich white men who are "all corporationy", elections are useless and so we might as well just start blowing up police cars. But all it takes is a minor setback, an inevitable defeat in midterm elections, for their inner Bill Ayers to start whispering in the liberal ear. "Yes Billy, blow up the banks. Levitate the Pentagon. Forget Obama, he's a tool of the corporations. It's time for a populist movement led by underappreciated alternative weekly cartoonists to finally rise up against 'The Man'. The Age of Aquarius is only five minutes and five sticks of dynamite away."
But does the left want power because it's angry-- or it is angry because it wants power. The middle and upper class roots of its leaders, from Lenin to Castro to Rall, suggest that it all comes down to power. It's not the working class that wants the uprising, so much as the people who have just enough status to be close to the centers of power, but not close enough to actually control them. That is the real revolutionary paradigm. Revolutions aren't led by people who have nothing to lose, but by those who have something to gain. By the second tier that has a taste of wealth and power, but feels unappreciated and marginalized at the top.
The open collar shirt, the khaki outfits, the keffiyah, the red bandanna and the rest of the revolutionary chic gear is about the sons of the upper and upper middle class, posing as something they're not. The working class oppressed. On one level, it's camouflage meant to guile middle and upper class youth, or more optimistically, potential working class recruits that they're one of them. On another, it justifies their furious entitlement, turning their narcissistic vendettas over slights and grievances within their own class into outsized fantasies of oppression. Lenin and Castro were motivated by personal grievances, more than anything else. Rall's latest book which calls for violently nationalizing corporations seems timed with his own firing by the United Media group.
For the left, the perfect is always the enemy of the good. Let alone the mediocre. Because the goal of perfection justifies radicalism and terror. Since democracy is naturally mediocre, the left always always has cause to call for an armed takeover. At its best, democracy maintains a balance between factions and ideologies. But the left despises balance. Balance is mediocre. It requires compromise. It's just another way to marginalize talented Ivy League graduates who know what needs to be done, but aren't given the carte blanche they want to do it their way, with no restrictions or public oversight.
In the shattered worldview of the left, any limitation of their power is oppression. Losing an election is proof that the American Empire, run out of Wall Street and overseen by Rockefellers and Waltons, is keeping the little guy down. The little guy, somehow being them. The poor little guys who just want to take over, shoot everyone in their way and establish a totalitarian state that promises free internet and clothes for everybody, and only ends up offering dead end misery to everyone but the "little guys", the Vladimirs, Maos, Fidels and Kims at the top.
As Rall puts it, his side or "Us" consists of the "Hard-working underpaid put upon thoughtful freedom-loving disenfranchised ordinary people". And his others, the feared, "Thems" consist of "Reactionary, stupid, overpaid, greedy, shortsighted, power-mad, abusive politicians and corporate executives." With nothing in between. No middle ground. Just Us and Them. With that kind of polarized narrative, the left's angry old/young men have full and free license to turn their personal anger into political outrage. To create a polarized snapshot of America that is wholly rotten and evil, and call for its elimination.
Most of the left has not yet gone the way of Rall, but he has been working that side of the street long enough to know what's marketable. Had the Democrats held their own in the 2010 election, it's unlikely that Rall would have gotten a forum on MSNBC. But now, talking armed revolution channels liberal anger into fantasies of recreating the Battle of Algiers.
The ridiculously optimistic emotional excess accompanying Obama's coronation as Messiah-in-Chief is now flowing another way, like the Hudson River it is reversing itself, into anger and venom. In egotists and narcissists, there is always a thin line between love and hate. And all it takes is a little frustration, an unmet need, to turn one into the other. Their prescription for change is to spill rivers of blood in order to create a perfect system that will meet all their needs. Free internet, free clothes, guaranteed job security... hell, free everything.
Like violent children, the left is always directing its anger outward. Always on the verge of another genocidal tantrum. And always disguising it with collectivist rhetoric. We're doing it for "Us". Us being the kindly, decent, reasonable people who want to kill everyone who disagrees with us in order to get our way. That is why the left is incapable of democracy. Freedom is not in its DNA. Because freedom means tolerating what disgusts you. The left is constitutionally incapable of doing that. Its tolerance is reserved for those things that meet its approval. The rest has to go. And if it doesn't go on its schedule, then it's time to start field stripping assault rifles and building bombs.
The same left which cheers Rall shows that it can't manage to do what most five year olds on soccer teams have already learned to do. Admit that they lost. Not because the game was rigged or because the evil American Empire stole their soccer nets, or because Pee Wee soccer is controlled by Wall Street bankers-- but they lost by the rules. They lost because most Americans don't want the same things, that they want. Rather than using Al Qaeda as a role model, perhaps Rall and his readers should pause to consider whether enforcing their social system on people who don't want it can ever lead to anything other than tyranny and death?