One of the loudest voices against NATO’s war with Russia is a Bronx man named Jose Vega. He and fellow activists have disrupted events with high-profile liberal Democrats like AOC and Jamal Bowman. On April 25th, Vega broke protocol to challenge the illustrious media panel invited to speak at Columbia Journalism School.
Some of the audience broke silence to shout-down Vega. Police eventually dragged him from the room. Reuter’s Alessandra Galloni, the panel moderator, thanked Vega and moved along without addressing his questions about the bombing of the Nordstream 2 pipeline and the US’s nuclear provocation. This contrived civility is supposed to give the impression that moral superiority lies with the panel. Under the current liberal rules of engagement, some people might never hear an argument for peace or their representatives outright rejecting it.
Liberals like Galloni and AOC use civility politics as a sabotage technique. In their role as de-escalators of conflict and preservers of the status quo, this sect of the ruling class must defang working-class movements. This liberal subclass has less influence and power than the highest members of the ruling class who dictate legislation and run corporations. Being in the middle, these liberals are gatekeepers who learned enough about the struggles of regular people to mimic their language, but their interest lies in the stability of a political and economic system that finds them with above average incomes and quality of life. Being the closest representation of the left, liberals can set the parameters for acceptable leftist opinions and conduct. Liberal gatekeepers call for civility when they might lose control over working-class movements. Breaks from civility can include unsanctioned demonstrations, wildcat strikes, disrupting business or government, and subversive thought.
It was vital for the liberal media to control the way the left thought about the Capitol protest because it had potential to inspire direct action, targeting the ruling elite. Liberals will occasionally support a march to a park, but a protest with permits is only a parade. The media and government described January 6th as an existential threat to democracy. Liberal outrage was extreme. Kamala Harris compared January 6th to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor during a ceremonial anniverary speech. This sentiment was not uncommon, as evidenced by this tweet from a Whitehouse correspondent at Huffington post.
This messaging requires the working class to set aside their differences as if class war is a frivolous disagreement. We are expected to offer sympathy to the governing elite, but the systematic violence legislated into our lives has less gravity.
The working class must have an adversarial attitude toward the ruling class as a prerequisite to having correct analysis and defense. Even in their more mundane policy choices our politicians meet the premeditation criteria for murder. Our government knowingly inflicts hunger pangs on children and shortens lives of the poor. The Child Tax Credit was praised for cutting a third of childhood poverty, but it turned out to be only an advance on an existing tax credit that would be deducted from unwitting filers when they submitted tax returns. Then, the 2022 Child Tax Credit was reduced back to 2019 levels. This revocation demonstrates a deliberate policy-choice to return America’s children to a higher degree of poverty and food insecurity. In light of this, what responsibility should a victim have to their abuser? Protection, reverence, sympathy?
US warmongers have upstaged domestic class-antagonism, endangering the world by provoking other nuclear powers. In NYC, Ukrainian flags are displayed in windows, lobby TVs, and on some dogs. These flags cosign sending unlimited money and weapons so every Ukrainian can die fighting an empire that has shown willingness to negotiate peace. The discourse in the US is relegated to pro-war voices. In places where dissent might spur productive conversation, peace advocates are met with hostility and their manners are impugned.
The liberal disseminates the message of reform only through caution and proceduralism. Liberals protect their middling status by criticizing unsanctioned actions and grassroots movements. Cynicism regarding activism sounds smart because cynicism always does. If you choose not to participate in revolution, you have the privilege of other options, not necessarily the better analysis. With no democratic avenues for the working class to have their demands met, government oppression is the catalyst for violence. Suggesting our government could have launched a terrorist attack on an allied-nation’s energy-infrastructure will alienate you, but this war is not a thought experiment for academic debate. Calm, agreeable discourse only dampens the severity of antiwar concerns. The decorum of town halls and seminars feature a lack of urgency that can only exist thousands of miles from the war front. In this case, civility is the most luxurious of privileges.
Incivility threatens the liberal because it can work. Howard Zinn catalogued a history of successes achieved by rejecting the rules of engagement. He wrote about the hundreds of thousands of workers who left the American Federation of Labor (AFL) unions in 1934 and 1935. Similarly today, union workers are finding their leadership inadequately responsive to the needs of the rank and file. In 1936, Firestone had a sitdown strike that inspired labor nationwide. Courts ruled these activities illegal and the National Guard was deployed. There were forty-eight sitdown strikes that year. Employers gained more control over labor institutions, so rank and file members organized these strikes without approval from union leadership. Taking control of their plants meant they could keep scabs from crossing the picket line. Staying on the shop floor throughout a strike built solidarity as the rank and file organized their own decision-making committees. Employers concluded it was easier to deal with top-down controlled unions than wildcat strikers, so employers made concessions. In 1938 child labor was outlawed and the forty-hour work week was established. History will credit FDR and forget wildcat strikers, some of whom were murdered by police.
Class war has become a fight for self-preservation. Malcolm X’s rallying cry, “by any means necessary,” remains popular. In the decades of white-washing, this line has become purely symbolic when it should be read as instruction. The liberal’s aversion to violence is not moral and universal. They support state-sanctioned violence, propagating war and police brutality. Liberals call for civility to create a buffer between natural enemies, the working and ruling class. They hamper outrage and promote endless petition. For the working class to accept this feckless process, they must see no connection between governance and the violence of poverty.