Liberalism, philosophically speaking, is proudly unprincipled, insofar as it recognizes no divine law prior to man’s will. The arrogant humanism underpinning liberalism, combined with fallen human nature, makes the temptation to violence irresistible, especially in times of political exile. When safely ensconced in positions of power, liberals demand “civility” and the like (remember the ludicrous “civility” commissions set up during the Clinton era to counter Rush Limbaugh and company). But once out of power, liberals flirt with ends-justify-the-means radicalism.
Many of the heroes of the left are figures of violence — from Fidel Castro and Che Guevera to Bill Ayers and the Black Panthers. The same New York Times that couldn’t bring itself to condemn Trumpicide in the Park ran an article on 9/11 (a grim coincidence) in which Bill Ayers gloated over his unpunished domestic terrorism. “Guilty as hell, free as a bird,” he said.
Obama launched his political career in the living room of this domestic terrorist. Indeed, the new biography on Obama by David Garrow notes the dishonesty of Obama’s attempts to distance himself from Ayers. Garrow confirms that Ayers and Obama were two peas in a pod and much closer friends than Obama ever let on.
Such friendships do not contradict liberalism but reflect it. All of the post-Enlightenment ideologies that inform modern liberalism reject a divinely mandated moral law, which in the end is the only real prohibition on violence. If man’s will is the measure of morality, everything in principle is permitted and politics becomes a game of power that culminates in totalitarianism.
Under liberalism, the central question of politics shifted from goodness to power, from God’s plan for his creatures to man’s unfettered will. Divorced from any God-determined truth (to which politics would have to conform), liberalism became willfulness writ large. The question — What can we get away with? — replaces the question — How do we build a political order that enables man to secure the good God willed for him?
The violent infantilism of the Left flows from the subjectivism and relativism that liberalism takes for granted. To the extent that that egotistical violence is checked, the check comes from outside liberalism, not from the logic or morality of liberalism itself. In other words, basic considerations of raw politics in a semi-Christian nation will force liberals to condemn, say, a Kathy Griffin for holding up a mock-severed head of Donald Trump. But would they condemn such a stunt without a public backlash? No. That’s why whenever a violent left-wing figure becomes sufficiently popular in the public mind — usually thanks to the propaganda of the mainstream media — liberals have no problem lionizing that figure.
The left’s radicals marched through the institutions, stayed long enough to booby-trap the exits, and now find themselves back where they started, out of power and clawing for a return to it. Sitting in Upper West Side cafes dreaming of revolution, they wait for the next analgesic thrill of seeing Julius Trump stabbed to death in Central Park and keep far from their minds that other park where another assassin came close to turning that fiction into fact.