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The Wrong Narrative In Charlottesville
08-14-2017, 11:11 AM,
The Wrong Narrative In Charlottesville
The Wrong Narrative In Charlottesville

<p><a href=""><em>Authored by Jeff Deist via The Mises Institute,</em></a></p>
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<p><strong>The political violence in Charlottesville yesterday was as predictable as it was futile.</strong> One person was killed and dozens badly injured, marking a new low in the political and cultural wars that are as heated as any time since in America since the 1960s.</p>
<p><a href=""><img height="328" src="" width="600" /></a></p>
<p><strong>This relentless politicization of American culture has eroded goodwill and inflamed the worst impulses in society. </strong>Antifa and the alt-right may represent simple-minded expressions of hatred and fear, but both groups are animated entirely by politics: the perception that others can impose their will on us politically. The only lasting solution to political violence is to make politics matter less.</p>
<p>We&rsquo;ve allowed politics to invade every aspect of American life, from religion and family life to sex and sexuality, from bathrooms to ball fields to the workplace. <strong>But what has it gotten us besides identity politics on steroids?</strong> The &ldquo;personal is political&rdquo; is hardly the rallying cry of a free and confident nation. Even as we enjoy historically unparalleled material prosperity, we are dispirited by the 2016 election hangover and looking for scapegoats to explain the American malaise.</p>
<p>It&rsquo;s easy to decry Antifa and its violent leftwing rhetoric. It&rsquo;s easy to decry the alt-Right, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and fascists. It&rsquo;s more important to understand them as exemplars of a new political age. <strong>Progressives demanded permanent revolution; conservatives responded by becoming permanent reactionaries. </strong>And the media bias (overwhelmingly anti-right) makes things worse: one &ldquo;side&rdquo; becomes convinced of its moral superiority, while the other becomes convinced the fix is in.</p>
<p><em><strong>We suspect, without knowing, that a Hillary voter is just a step or two removed from a bandanna-clad Antifa, while a Mitt Romney voter is but a few degrees removed from an alt-Right nationalist marching in the streets. </strong></em>This may seem farcical, but the political society promoted by Clinton and Romney encourages it. Everyone must take a side, and live with the excesses.</p>
<p><u><em><strong>What we saw this weekend was a demonstration of the horseshoe effect, where both groups begin to sound and act like the other-- both illiberal, both demanding omnipotent state solutions to problems mostly created by government in the first place.</strong></em></u></p>
<p>To be sure, Antifa and the alt-right represent only a tiny fraction of the population and have little economic, social, or political power. But<strong> they serve as perfect fodder for a media narrative that benefits from a sky-is-falling narrative to ratchet up viewership</strong>. The narrative is fed by our vanity and desire to imagine easy solutions to complex problems (e.g. more &ldquo;education,&rdquo; hate speech laws, welfarism, etc.) And we play along, assuming the worst of others and issuing smug affirmations of our own superiority on Facebook and Twitter.</p>
<p><strong>In 2018 we will suffer through a round of mid-term congressional elections which will only intensify the political and cultural divide.</strong> Both political parties will use events like Charlottesville to serve their shameful partisan goals. The need for each side to vanquish the other, to punish and repudiate the other&rsquo;s existence, demonstrates why politics is termed war by other means. It&rsquo;s not a peaceable process. Yet underneath it all the &ldquo;policy&rdquo; differences between Democrats and Republicans are laughably small. Theirs is a turf battle, nothing more.</p>
<p><u><strong>In a winner takes all political world, elections are weapons.</strong></u> Unless and until we learn to reject politics as the overarching method for organizing society, hatred and fear of &ldquo;the other&rdquo; will remain pervasive. <strong>Americans understand viscerally that government has far too much power over who wins and loses in our society, but haven&rsquo;t fully grasped the degree to which the political class benefits from division. </strong>We still want to believe in grade-school notions of democracy and voting.</p>
<p>People of goodwill don&rsquo;t impose themselves on others politically any more than they do militarily. Libertarianism, with its goal of radically diminishing the scope of government and politics in our lives, offers a path to a more peaceful future. Only libertarians can claim the mantle of anti-authoritarianism, because only libertarians would deny government the power and size to become authoritarian. <em><u><strong>The political world isn&rsquo;t working, so why do we insist on more politics to fix it?</strong></u></em></p>

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