Sunday, 21 February 2010

Edging Toward Another Princip?

"...anyway, if it's a non-violent future we're looking forward to perhaps we should bring it about non-violently. I look forward to the day when McDonald's refuses to serve state employees."
- Patrick Crozier
"The building he attacked, although it did house a small IRS office (and, apparently, a few other government offices as well), was primarily a garden-variety commercial office building. Most of the inhabitants were not IRS agents, or even government employees at all, but simple "civilian noncombatants". The building itself was not owned by the government, but by private investors. Attacking it was wrong. Conversely, a similar attack on the IRS's headquarters in DC would not have been."
- "Laird"

Comments over on the Samizdata thread on the story of one Joe Stack flying his airplane into a building in Austin, Texas last thursday.

My own thoughts later: responsibilities first...

Was Gavrilo Princip's assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand the spark that ignited the compressed forces across Europe into the First World War? Is today's pressurization of political forces in the United States similarly in danger of being ignited by another Gavrilo? I don't honestly know, but I do have two thoughts about this:

The first, and most obvious one, is that neither Timothy McVeigh nor Joe Stack were Gavrilos in that, unlike him, they targeted buildings that were peripheral to their enemy in both a physical and institutional sense. Gavrilo Princip targeted a single man at the very centre of Serbian Nationalist objections. I don't even know whether a comparable event is even possible in the U.S.

*My second thought is that the so-called "Tea-Party" movement in the U.S. will eventually be bought off, if not by this administration, then quite easily the next one; Nixon offers some historical precedent for this with his placating of the civil rights movement - strip away the healthcare reform, offer larger Federal tax-cuts and make some larger concessions to reducing the fiscal deficit and most likely they will go home and shut up. I haven't seen anything from the Tea Party lot to suggest that they are capable of opposition to government on principle rather than merely opposition to the size of the government. So given that, I think the forces are perhaps not as pressurized as those in Europe were in the years leading up to 1914. But I could be wrong about this - the intensity of the conflict in the U.S. now is perhaps edging beyond the point at which the dynamics of democratic politics can contain it. Are the Timothy McVeighs and Joe Stacks just the first drops of the broth beginning to boil over? Whatever the real case will prove to be, it doesn't look good.

*Edit: Actually, why would the "progressive movement" in the U.S. even have to bother buying the Tea Partiers off with crumby concessions on the size of government when they can just smear them? Smear the "Tea-Baggers" as a lunatic fringe - after all incidents like Joe Stack's ineffectual use of suicide bombing against a peripheral IRS office provide the perfect palette from which to paint that picture of a lunatic fringe shouting about taxes. Surely there will be further incidents like this one and that of McVeigh to follow? I'd be willing to take a bet that the time-frame for using reason to resolve this conflict is diminishing. The "Tea Party" movement is not going to accomplish anything as it is currently constituted. I am going to have more to say about this in another post when I get time...

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