At last week's Chicago Trump rally, a mob of Leftist agitators brought collective political violence one step closer toward actual than hypothetical. From there, it can only grow during the rest of the electoral season, with the anti-Leftist side becoming more likely to fight back.
Remember that Trump's bastion of support is blue-collar whites, especially ethnic whites, and they don't feel like they owe anything to blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, etc. They also own guns and practice taking aim with them. At the GOP debate in Detroit, several people reported that there was a biker gang in the audience that was chanting TRUMP TRUMP TRUMP TRUMP! And at a town hall meeting in Cincinnati, Trump was given a lifetime membership card to a motorcycle club by one of the audience members, and he responded by saying how much support he has from the biker crowd. He's been endorsed by Paul Teutel Sr., owner of Orange County Choppers and star of the reality show American Chopper.
With that whackjob who jumped the barrier and rushed the stage at the Dayton rally on Saturday, it makes you wonder how long until Trump gets some serious protection from the Hells Angels? (And unlike Mick Jagger, Trump would actually be grateful rather than whiny toward a biker dude who defused a gun-wielding nut and stabbed him to death just to be safe.)
This isn't meant to sensationalize what's gone on so far. There's simply never been anything like this in recent history. You'd have to go back to the late '60s and early '70s -- the Leftist riots at the Democratic Convention in Chicago 1968, for example.
Peter Turchin has studied the dynamics of organized or collective political violence, and found that in American history they rise and fall in a cycle about 50 years long. The last peak was around 1970, and before that an even worse peak around 1920, and before that the Civil War and Reconstruction. "Collective" violence means there's a group or mob aspect to it and is ideologically motivated, rather than individual-on-individual crime that is opportunistic.
That means we're due for another peak around 2020 -- of course, it could be a few years before or after. It may begin this year.
Although the last peak around 1970 is still within living memory for the Boomers and Silents, and therefore something that could be related second-hand to the X-ers and Millennials, I don't think that's going to be the closest example to guide us through the coming wave.
During the late '60s and early '70s, we were still in the Great Compression, when individuals were more likely to band together into a team or hierarchy rather than pursue their personal ambitions. Maybe that made it slightly easier for agitators to form groups, but that's not the greatest area of change, which is the government. We simply have a much weaker and fractured government today than around 1970, because today every individual is looking out for himself, not the greater good, crucially among the leadership. The ability of state-serving teams -- the police, the National Guard, the Army -- to control mob violence just ain't what it used to be.
In the 1950s, President Eisenhower called in the Army to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock. The Supreme Court had little to do with that -- they had no men with guns to send in. And even if they did, the Governor had called in his own men with guns (the Arkansas National Guard) to prevent black students from entering the school building. But the U.S. Army beats the Arkansas state militia every day of the week, and the school was desegregated.
Eisenhower also used men with guns to round up over a million illegal Mexican immigrants, and deported them on the other side of the border.
FDR rounded up Japanese-American citizens in internment camps during WWII, just to be safe.
And in foreign affairs, the state was strong enough under Truman to drop not one but two atomic bombs on large civilian populations in Japan.
We could never work up the collective will to take such a game-ending approach with respect to the Desert Arabian problem. We couldn't intern the Arabians within our borders, nor deport the illegal Mexicans. And when was the last time the U.S. Army was called in to enforce policy? Up through today, we simply defer acting on all of these important matters, and hope that somehow a miracle of the free market will deport the illegal immigrants or destroy the Saudi menace.
Jesus, we can't even police our own ghettos. That used to be taken for granted -- no matter where you stood in the debate about atomic bombs, surely you accepted something as obvious as "stop and frisk," and even "chase and club," when it came to thugs from the ghetto.
With such a weakened government, ordinary citizens will naturally begin to try restoring order by themselves. This is not "taking the law into their own hands" because that assumes they're stealing that role from the government -- but the government has already proven itself unwilling to play that role. Citizens who organize themselves will not be "taking" but "filling a void".
We therefore won't see so much of a battle between groups of agitators and the police, National Guard, or the Army, but rather between groups of agitators and groups of ordinary citizens. The governmental agencies are too weak and fragmented to step in decisively on either side.
Therefore, we'll probably see something more like the peak circa 1920, when the Great Compression was only beginning, and before the state was so strong.
Labor conflicts were flaring up all over the country, with paramilitary armies hired by the owners of the factories and mines, vs. the unions who took up arms against them. The Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921 involved 10,000 armed strikers against 3,000 paramilitary, and was only ended when the U.S. Army intervened.
Race riots erupted throughout the North and Midwest in the late '10s and early '20s. The KKK was actually an active group back in those days, unlike the '60s or the 21st century -- so far, anyway. If "race relations" get bad enough, and the government is too weak to impose order, then ethnic self-protection groups (gangs) will spring up.
There was also Communist and anarchist agitation, especially from recent immigrants. Italian immigrant anarchists used to lob bombs on Wall Street, and Jewish anarchists organized around opposition to WWI. The government was at least strong enough to raid their buildings (the Palmer Raids) and deport their asses back to Europe (Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman).
Hopefully Trump takes office before the shit really hits the fan, and we can have the government restore order rather than citizens organizing themselves into makeshift order-imposers, resorting necessarily to violence against the other side. If not, we could be in for a rough 5-to-10 years.
When we look back at the internment of Japanese-Americans, deporting of Mexicans, and formations of policemen clubbing the agitators outside the Democratic Convention, we ought to ask ourselves what the alternative would have been if the government hadn't stepped in. People aren't just going to sit there and take all these risks from hostile Other groups. They're going to organize themselves and fill the void left by a weak state. And then we're back to a pre-modern society where it's one violent faction versus another.
The Leftists who got clubbed by coppers in Chicago 1968 should consider themselves lucky that they didn't instead have to face roving posses of armed citizens, who would not have been as restrained against the chaos-spreading hippies.
Sadly, unless we get someone tough into the heads of the executive branch to restore order -- Mayor, Governor, and President -- the Black Lives Matter crowd will find itself facing off against rival ethnic gangs akin to the old-school KKK. And for the first time in a century, it won't be a bogeyman.
Trump cannot take office too soon.