Friday, April 14, 2017

Brains or Blood? Take Your Pick – The Choice Is Not New But the Threat Is Worse

Allow me to begin this post with a couple of quotations.
The real significance of the Lenin revolution is to be seen in the fact that it was the bursting forth of the principle of unrestricted violence and oppression. It was the negation of all the political ideals that had for three thousand years guided the evolution of Western civilization.

This letter is to inform you that this university has dismissed more than 40 students on this day. . . . [The] university will not be run by threats and intimidation. It will not respond to ultimatums from students, and it will not be intimidated by the pressures of groups who are dedicated to the disruption of institutions of higher learning or seek disorganization to the point where such institutions can be controlled by violence and run under constant threat of disruption.
The first quote is from Planned Chaos (chapter 6) by Ludwig von Mises, referencing the Russian Revolution of 1917. The second is a rare statement of courage by a college administrator; it is from a letter to friends of the University of Denver (my alma mater), dated April 30,1968, by Chancellor Maurice B. Mitchell.*

The connection between the two is the “principle of unrestricted violence and oppression” practiced by the Bolshevists in the early twentieth century, then later by the New Left “revolutionaries” of the 1960s. Today, we see the same unrestricted violence and oppression on college campuses the aim of which is to shut down free speech and its consequent diversity of ideas.

Violence does not require the use of a gun or the laying on of hands. Criminal assault is a threat that does not involve touching. Preventing patrons from voluntarily entering a lecture hall to listen to a speaker, regardless of the nature of the ideas presented, is as much the initiation of the use of physical force as a pistol whip to the head.

In recent months, the violence, in addition to blocking patron entrance, has been quite physical: setting a food cart on fire and breaking windows of the venue (UC Berkeley), grabbing the hair of a sponsoring professor and sending her to the hospital (Middlebury College), and shouting and banging on the venue windows to disrupt the speaker, even when the presentation was being live streamed in an empty auditorium (Claremont McKenna College).

In the past I have referred to college administrators as spineless for their lack of courage to stand up to the belligerents and for their refusal to expel all participants from their universities, as did Chancellor Mitchell.

Subsequent criminal prosecution is the only way to dampen and stop campus violence and oppression.

“Complicit,” however, is the more correct word to describe our present-day college administrators. A brigade of police to protect the patrons and round up all perpetrators of rights violations is all that would be required. Some administrators in the 1960s were complicit, but it seems more common that colleges today order police to stand down when violence erupts.

Brains or blood, college administrators.** It’s your choice and you seem to have made it for the latter. Respect for brains, freedom of speech and expression, and diversity of ideas have disappeared from your citadels of reason.

“Bolshevists set the precedent,” as Mises pointed out in Omnipotent Government (p. 178). “The success of the Lenin clique encouraged the Mussolini gang and the Hitler troops. Both Italian Fascism and German Nazism adopted the political methods of Soviet Russia.”

And no one stood up to Lenin to dampen or stop his violence and oppression. Indeed, he was seen by many as a hero and liberator, but it is a straight line from Lenin to Hitler and Mussolini to the New Left to the violent Progressive (or Post-Modern—call it what you want) Left of the present.

It all comes from the same source. Marx and Engels made no distinction between communism and socialism, except to say that there was a lower and higher phase of communist society. Social democrats called themselves socialists to distinguish themselves from Lenin’s communism, but they shared the same goal (Planned Chaos, chapter 3). Social democracy is what the American Progressives learned in Prussian universities in the late nineteenth century.

British guild socialism of the Fabian Society is what Hitler and Mussolini took as their models of the modern fascist state (Omnipotent Government, p. 178). And Bismarck’s Prussia was modeled on the medieval guilds. Thus, communism, socialism, and social democracy, at root, are all essentially medieval ideas, premised on the illiberal notion of initiating physical force to achieve one’s goals, which is to say based on the premise of unrestricted violence and oppression.

Governments hold the monopoly on the use of physical force and when they use it for anything other than retaliation against aggressors, they themselves become the aggressors. Thus, taxation, regulation, and involuntary anything, whether the military draft or public domain laws, as well as non-objective law—vague and overly broad statutes, many of which we have today, including the deliberate nebulousness of Title IX that terrorizes college campuses—are descendants of the medieval guilds and the Marx-Engels-Lenin axis of violence and oppression.

It is time to choose brains over blood, to check our premises and adopt the true liberalism of freedom of speech, property rights, voluntary trade and association, and most importantly, tolerance for a diversity of ideas.


* The students had presented the university with “non-negotiable demands” and staged a sit-in at the Registrar’s and Chancellor’s offices. By 1960s standards this was mild when compared to the wanton destruction of research and records at other universities, among other criminal activity.

** “Brains or Blood?” was the subtle title of a one-page document co-authored by yours truly and four classmates at the University of Denver, distributed on campus a year after Chancellor Mitchell’s letter. It was a response to and refutation of non-negotiable demands presented to the university by a cabal of New Leftists. Children of the sixties? Yes, we were, but we defended our chancellor!


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