Last Saturday I went on a quest to find the source of rising leftist hatred. I wanted to get behind the facades fronting websites and Facebook posts, as well as the provocative clickbait that covers the edges of browser pages. I needed to get inside the movement — the Petrograd Soviet, so to speak — to hear the Bolsheviki recite Marx, shout slogans, and call for worldwide revolution.
While I consider politics the genesis of coercion and compulsion, I am drawn to the machinations that make up the political process. Since I like to hear from all sources, I subscribe to emails from leftist organizations (and right ones as well), including ProgressOhio, whose website states it is the state’s leading progressive organization. A while back, they sent an email inviting subscribers to a We are Progress training summit hosted by Generation Progress, the youth outreach arm of the Center for American Progress (things get murky when you try to put all the organizations together). The summit included speakers from various other Ohio organizations (most small, flying well under the radar, so to speak). I decided to attend to find the source of hatred, expecting there would be calls for blood in the streets.
After I entered the meeting, sat down, and observed, I found the assumed agitators reserved and reasonable, with no revolution proposed. The hate was, for the most part, nonexistent. In fact, I empathized with many of the speakers. Sure their means were wrong, but their ends made some sense. Let me explain.
The summit was small, close to 50 attendees, with at least half being speakers or other members of the various organizations represented. Most were young and clean cut. A very ordinary crowd for an event held on a community college campus. During one session, local Ohio organizations were allowed 15 minutes to present their current agendas. The first organization to speak was Planned Parenthood, who subdued their vile inclinations and simply called for a national sexual education curriculum, never mentioning what their wicked curriculum would entail.
Next up was a speaker from the Ohio Environmental Council, seeking support for legislation to mandate that entities wanting to frack have sufficient funds for post-fracking cleanup. He also wanted legislation to force farms to reduce runoff to protect lakes and waterways. I did not find his ends to be offensive. Sure, while his means were off, his ends were reasonable (i.e. less pollution). Any disparity between means and ends could be easily rectified, assuming the leaders of the council were willing to read Rothbard’s, “Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution.”1
Then things got a little weird. The speaker for the People’s Justice Project noted that, five times a day, she “centered” herself on her commitment to “independent black power,” leading the audience in a chant of, “We have nothing to lose but our chains.” However, her passion was reducing mass incarceration. To that end, she wanted simple drug possession reduced to a misdemeanor from a felony. I agreed, not with the chant that channeled Assata Shakur and Karl Marx, but with any retreat from the so-called war on drugs.
Finally, the last speaker pleaded for donations to his organization that assists refugees relocating to Cleveland. He took a jab at the Trump administration, but it was only half-hearted. I found him to be a committed advocate for others. No revolutionary here, either.
This is the left of my youth, sincerely committed, yet misguided. It is the left that directed my steps when registering as a conscientious objector back in the 1980s. It is the left that desires change, but mistakenly sees more government as the solution. A left that rejects private property, but only because it doesn’t understand the moral and ethical principles underpinning private ownership, though it generally respects self-ownership (not including Planned Parenthood, of course). A left that challenges authority more than it desires collectivism. It is, to continue the analogy from above, the Russian workers in the soviets, soldiers on the lines or in the garrisons, and the peasants in the fields, seeking an end to the war, yet being driven toward revolution.
So what is inspiring the growing hate from the left?
As I allude to above, the speakers came from various small entities, all tied together by ProgressOhio and its nefarious, associated organizations. If you follow those organizations backwards, you find they are funded by, or associated with, other entities and individuals. As you go back farther and deeper, you begin to encounter the same names over and over again. It is as if a vanguard exists — an elite cadre akin to Lenin’s view of the role of the Bolshevik Party, agitating all toward revolution. A vanguard that guides disparate groups, such as those at the summit, into collective action.
Unlike the Russian soldiers, workers, and peasants, who were united to end the war, there is no obvious unifying theme among the grassroots organizations at the summit. Why does an environmentalist care about the struggles of recent refugees? So a theme must be created, which appears to be, from my observations, a combination of anti-Trumpism and pro LGBTQ slogans. Whatever it is, it seems to be working.
The speakers I heard were not fomenting revolution — individually. Yet, they are unknowingly being directed from above to foment revolution collectively. A powerful alliance is manufacturing hate and manipulating opinions. This cabal, which cares nothing about the environment, mass incarceration, refugees, or even the LGBTQ community, is seducing the sincere, but misguided, perverting their actions from holding rational discussions at summits to manning barricades in the street. It is an insidious force that generates hate through propaganda, converting the interesting and pleasant souls at the summit into vile spectres, seeking the blood of anyone who dares resist the planks of the manifesto. A force that desires power over all.
I did not find the true source of leftist hate — the scheming vanguard, though I found a hint of its trail. But I did learn something important: we either endeavor to spread the truth of liberty and property to all, or I end up plaintively pleading, at the sharp end of a bayonet, to the folks manning the pickets, “Don’t you remember me? I sat next to you at the summit.”
1. This is similar to the plethora of organizations on the right, such as those united in a genuine belief that marijuana is vile and remain illegal.