- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 5, 2001

VANCOUVER, British Columbia —Eric Hoffer once said, demonstrating the uncanny wisdom of this waterfront philosopher: "It is maintained that a society is free only when dissenting minorities have room to throw their weight around. As a matter of fact, a dissenting minority feels free only when it can impose its will on the majority; what it abominates most is the dissent of the majority."
That was true in the era of Radical Chic when the so-called student revolutions began in the U.S. and Western Europe some three decades ago.
It is even truer today of the anti-globalization minorities who regard the results of democratic elections as illegitimate. In the 1970s, it was noted that the targets of attack, surprisingly, were working-people, representing "the dissent of the majority." Liberal publicists, who should have known better, shared that view.
For example, a noted New York Times journalist wrote at the time that "the typical worker from construction craftsman to shoe clerk has become probably the most reactionary political force in the country." Herbert Marcuse, the then guru of the student revolutionaries, admitted that "liberation would mean subversion against the will and against the prevailing interests of the great majority of the people." The SDS radicals (Students for a Democratic Society) believed that by their actions, including bombing and other forms of violence, they would be able to overthrow the capitalist system and introduce a new utopia, a great era of cultural liberation.
Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx's co-worker, knew better back in 1880 and scoffed at, as he put it, "the fantasy of overturning an entire society through the action of a small conspiracy."
And today we are back again to a new era of Radical Chic, this time with the New Liberators from Seattle, to Quebec City to Genoa and in between, all of them determined to destroy the only economic system of modern times which has brought a measure of happiness to so many people and which could lift disadvantaged societies to a bearable level of existence. The New Liberators dare not offer socialism anymore as the sovereign remedy for the world's ills; wherever socialism has been tried it has been repudiated by, to use Eric Hoffer's phrase, "the dissent of the majority." So they're going to get even with the dissenting majority. The New Liberators say through clenched teeth "if you don't want socialism, if you insist on globalization then you'll get what you deserve violence."
In peaceful, boring Canada, the New Liberators are hard at work, no doubt in preparation for next year's G-8 convocation — June 26-28 — in the remote Alberta mountain resort of Kananaski. According to the National Post, they recently stormed Vancouver's City Council screaming obscenities and chasing the mayor. The meeting had to be adjourned behind closed doors protected by a police guard.
On the same day, another group of New Liberators broke through a police barricade around the British Columbia legislature in Victoria just before the reading of the Throne Speech and occupied the building steps. To avoid a physical confrontation, the newly elected government canceled the lieutenant-governor's traditional motorcade, the customary 19-gun salute and the brass band rendition of the national anthem. Interestingly, the conservative provincial government had just been elected by an unprecedented landslide majority.
Ontario, Canada's biggest and richest province, has had similar problems. Last June, vandals claiming they were acting on behalf of the poor, pillaged the constituency office of Ontario's deputy premier. Even though he had won his riding by a landslide in the last election, the small band of vandals declared him "unfit to govern."
Last week, the Canadian Auto Workers Union executive board voted to suspend funding to the "Ontario Coalition Against Poverty," which had helped to ransack the constituency office of Ontario's deputy premier. The union took this action saying it would "not condone violence or destruction of property," thus proving no doubt what the New York Times had written in 1968 that "the typical worker from construction craftsman to shoe clerk has become probably the most reactionary political force in the country."
The New Liberators are today busily at work. Once they and their wealthy Park Ave. benefactors needed a Mao Tse-tung, a Che Guevara, a Fidel Castro, a Ho Chi Minh or a bunch of killer thugs like the Black Panthers as the organizing symbol of their Radical Chic. No need to see the promised land in capitals like Moscow, Beijing, Havana or Saigon. Today there are no such heroes and shrines.
The Web, fat, dumb and happy — call it the Webintern — does the recruiting and the organizing. The anti-globalizers who claim to be champions of the poor are really their enemies because they would prevent economic growth, investment and education, the sine qua non of economic growth. The anti-globalizers are like V.I. Lenin's precursor, P.N. Tkachev, who wrote a century-and-a-half ago:
"Neither in the present nor in the future can the people, left to their own resources, bring into existence the social revolution. Only we revolutionists can accomplish this … social ideals are alien to the people; they belong to the social philosophy of the revolutionary minority."
And we know what happened when Lenin followed Tkachev's dogma.

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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