Fat Steve's Blatherings

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Predictions on the French Intifada

        Note: I was rather tired when I posted this.  After rereading later, I've corrected a few mistakes (such as misspellings, duplicate lines, and ambiguities).

        Second Update: Welcome, fellow Vodkapundit readers.  Hope you enjoy the place, the main page is here.


        What we in the U.S. went through in the 1960s is what France is going through now.  The results will be similar.

  • The existing Establishment will try to appease its way out of the crisis.

  • It will fail, and be replaced by a New Establishment.

  • At least some members of the New Establishment will almost certainly be protest leaders who emerged during the French Intifada.

  • The Old Establishment will be tossed out as weak and ineffectual, 'leaders' who wouldn't lead, rulers who felt morally illegitimate in their hearts.

  • The New Establishment, whomever they are, will not be weak.

At Length:

        I happen to be a boomer, so I lived through the '60s.  Much of what I read about the riots in France sounds eerily familiar.

        It starts in one place.  It builds, slowly at first.  The 'demonstrators' challenge not just the policies of their target, the Establishment, but their moral legitimacy, their very right to exist, much less rule.  The Establishment's reply is weak, hesitant, fearful.  That is not chance.  The 'demonstrators' are young, and they sense the old bulls have gotten weak.  Time to drive them out of the herd, and take the desirable females for yourself.

        The first, relatively non-violent demonstrations succeed.  More take place.  Things get uglier.  Finally, all out rioting ensues.

        The first rioting is the Establishment's last chance to keep control.  They muff it completely.  Instead of the all-out counterattack that's willing to do anything, including especially firing on rioters without warning, the Establishment uses half-measures.  Above all, the Establishment concedes the legitimacy of the rioters excuses for their actions, and promises to make amends.

        What started in one area now spreads nationwide, continentwide, even worldwide.  For years, the summers are marked by violence.  The original reasons put forth as cause are mostly forgotten by now.  There is an escalation of demands, put forth to make sure the Establishment can't make amends.  Efforts by the Establishment to negotiate are rejected with contempt.  As for the riots, they're now dominated by thugs.  Gangs are formed, turf wars ensue, people are murdered, property is burned and smashed, women are raped.  This kind of stuff is fun, after all.  Their pattern of behavior is familiar to anyone who knows of teenage gangs, or hunter-gatherer tribes whose word for themselves is 'people,' and whose name for their neighbors is 'enemy.'

        And they get away with it, because the Establishment is morally illegitimate.  The Establishment's refusal to defend itself, its constant concessions to its attackers, proves it believes it has no right to rule.

        In the end, the violence dies out, and there's a New Establishment.  Some people in it were formerly 'demonstrators,' 'protestors,' rioters.  Others were junior members of the Old Establishment, who pushed the weak-kneed incumbents out.  Others are outsiders, who won support denouncing the old non-leading 'leadership.'  But none of the people in the New Establishment is weak.

        In the U.S., it started in 1964-65, with the "Free Speech Movement" at UC Berkeley.  In 1966 came the Watts riots.  In the years after that, major rioting all over the country.

        1968 was violent throughout the Western world.  Students rose in the U.S., Mexico, Japan, Germany, Spain, Warsaw, and most notably, Paris, where DeGaulle was forced from power.  In the U.S., the Democratic Presidential Convention was held in Chicago.  'Demonstrators' gathered in the parks, and practiced how they'd rumble with the cops (I saw this on television at the time).  During the Convention, massive rioting took place, designed to disrupt the convention and show opposition to the war.  Liberal reporter Teddy White, seeing the riots on live TV, wrote in his notebook "The anti-war movement is finished!" — OOPS!  Pardon me!  White wrote that the Democrats were finished, not the rioters.  As a matter of fact, the complaints of police brutality did alienate many potential Democratic voters, but by November, so many had returned to the fold that, as a fellow high school student and I joked the next day, "It all depends on how many votes Mayor Daley manages to steal."  (And one of us was a Nixon supporter, the other a Humphrey man).  Humphrey would almost certainly have won, if George Wallace hadn't taken away votes from him, and Wallace was known for saying that if 'demonstrators' lay down in front of his car to block it (a popular tactic of the time since the Berkeley confrontation), he, Wallace, would just drive over them.

        The New Establishment was being born.

        Also in November 1968, at San Francisco State College, a "Third World Revolt" took place.  When the college President showed signs of pre-emptively surrendering, the demands of the demonstrators escalated, the demands were labeled "non-negotiable," and the details included things the President was forbidden to do by state law.  In 1969, the President of San Francisco State resigned in despair.  The new President, S. I. Hayakawa, didn't even pretend to try to reason with those 'in revolt'.  He just called in the cops.  When a sound truck was driven onto campus, in defiance of his orders, the 62 year old college President pushed through the crowd, climbed on top of the truck, knocked a student off the top of the truck, and ripped out the speaker's wiring.  The 'revolt' soon fizzled out.

        The New Establishment was coming to the fore.

        In May, 1970, violent demonstrations rocked Ohio's Kent State University, and Mississippi's Jackson State.  The R.O.T.C. building was burned down at Kent.  The National Guard was mobilized, and Ohio Governor James Rhodes showed up, called the demonstrators "brownshirts," said he'd use "every force possible" to maintain order, and that he'd keep the Guard in Kent till "we get rid of" the protestors.  New demonstrations were forbidden.  The next day, another demonstration took place anyway.  As the students looked at the Guardsmen, they weren't worried.  Half thought the rifles were empty, the others that they were loaded with blanks.  Then the Guardsmen opened fire, killing four, wounding nine.  On the night of May 14-15th, the police opened fire at Jackson State, and when it was over, one college student and a rubbernecking bystander were dead, while twelve other students had been shot non-fatally.

        When General Leslie Groves was asked how many atomic bombs would be required to end WWII, he said three.  The first to test and make sure it worked, the second to drop on Japan to show we'd produced it, and the third to drop on Japan to show that we could and would repeat the process till Japan was defeated.  After the Jackson State Shootings, the violent rioting quickly stopped, nationwide.  It was one thing to deal with police that didn't respond, or who only used fire hoses, dogs and billy clubs.  It was another thing to face gunfire.

        The aftermaths were also interesting.  In the 1960s, the police had dealt with demonstrators against the House Committee on Unamerican Activities by washing them out of a building and down the steps with fire hoses.  The cops in the South had used fire hoses, dogs, and billy clubs against civil rights marchers.  Both times, the public was outraged, and both HCUA and segregation were morally delegitimized.  But after the shootings, no action was ever taken against the cops at Jackson State.  The state of Ohio never prosecuted its Guardsmen, but did indict 25 students.  The Federal government at first refused to do anything.  Finally it indicted eight of the Ohio Guardsmen, as a result of intense political pressure.  The trial judge dismissed the criminal charges.  Two civil trials against Ohio took place.  The first (later invalidated by an appeals court), led to a complete victory for Ohio.  The second was settled.  The state paid the surviving students and their families $675,000.00, and made a statement that the State of Ohio regretted the shootings, but didn't apologize.

        Electoral consequences?  William Saxby, a former Colonel in the Ohio Guard, became Attorney General of the United States.  James Rhodes was reelected Governor of Ohio.  S. I. Hayakawa became a U.S. Senator.  Disgust at the pardon of Nixon enabled an allegedly moderate, highly religious, naval academy graduate Southern Governor to be elected President as a Democrat, by a margin of a few thousand votes in one state, but he was part of the old, weak establishment, and quickly became a national joke.  The 'Peanut,' who had boldly defended himself against a rabbit, was thrown out of office in 1980.  A Republican member of the Old Establishment was also elected President, in 1988, and also by posing as one of the New Establishment.  He was also tossed after one term.  But leaders of the 1960s protests put on suits, ran for office, and were in many cases elected, usually as Democrats.  Many are still respected political leaders.

        Note that before 1970, the Democrats had been the party holding the Presidency at the start of each U.S. war, and the South, always the most bellicose part of the nation, had always been solidly Democratic.  Since 1970, the South has become progressively more Republican, and only gone Democratic in Presidential elections when one of their own was on the ticket.  Large numbers of blue-collar Democrats also moved to the Republican Party.  Through the '60s, the Democrats were the party of New Deal liberalism, and the Republicans were the party of 'Me, too.'  Since 1970, the Dems are the party where the 'progressives' and the liberals struggle for control, and the GOP is the 'Conservative' party.  The first Presidential nominee of the new Democratic Party, George McGovern, was once a delegate to Henry Wallace's Soviet appeasing Progressive Party, while the first Presidential nominee of the new Republican Party was once a Roosevelt Democrat.  The Republican party is now as free-spending as the Democrats ever were, but it is also the party of national confidence and self-assertion on the world stage, just as the Democrats once were.  The only Democrats elected President since 1970 took office at a time when foreign affairs weren't considered critical.  The only incumbent Republican Presidents to win their campaigns for another term since 1970 were those known for a tough foreign policy.

        We now can project the French situation.  Appeasement is already being tried.  The French government hopes the weather will turn cold and end the disturbances.  That may happen, but next year, we'll see more riots.  Eventually, the present French and European appeasing Establishments will be tossed out.

        The uncertainty lies in the question "What will replace them?"  I have no idea.  The Moslems may take over, the French may install a Fascist regime that promises order, or the center of the Fifth Republic may hold, installing new faces at the top.  No matter who it turns out, some of the New Establishment will probably be Muslim radicals who went mainstream respectable.

        But whoever the eventual new leaders of Europe are, they won't be weak.  They won't cringe and equivocate.  They won't have morally repudiated the foundations of their own society and national culture.  The present Establishment has done just that.  "Mene, mene, tekel uparsin."

        Europeans, welcome to interesting times.

        Remember, you heard it here first.

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