KLAVAN: What Antifa Wants To Tear Down

If they destroy America, they will have nothing to put in its place.

KENOSHA, WI - AUGUST 24: People watch a the American flag flies over a burning building during a riot as demonstrators protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Monday, August 24, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake was shot in the back multiple times by police officers responding to a domestic dispute call yesterday.
Joshua Lott for The Washington Post via Getty Images

The word of the day — of the year, really — is “deconstruction.” Have you noticed this? All our upper-class oligarchs want to “break down barriers,” to “disrupt” the evils of “systemic injustice.” Antifa, the anarcho-Communist organization whose various splinter cells are currently terrorizing cities across America, organizes “disruption events” on websites with names like “It’s Going Down.” The assumption behind all this rhetoric — from the C-suite virtue signaling to the street-level rioting — is that the “system” as currently constituted rests on intolerable injustice and must be “deconstructed” wholesale so we can begin from scratch.

The barriers that need breaking down vary depending on expediency and occasion. Sometimes it’s the barrier between male and female, which must be exploded for the sake of our genderless future. Sometimes it’s the barrier between public and private property, which cannot stand if we are to reach true Communist parity. And sometimes it’s the barrier between America and other countries — an inherently racist, xenophobic border which cannot, the radicals say, be allowed to remain intact.

One wonders what our new Marxist revolutionaries and their corporate backers intend to build or create once all the deconstructing is done. The answer is not forthcoming. And there’s a reason for that: all creation, all building, and all civilization depend upon erecting barriers.

This is an ancient and profound truth, reflected in God’s division of the night from the day in Genesis. When you form an organized society, you make rules about what is what: what’s just and what’s unjust. What’s dark and what’s light. What’s allowed and what’s forbidden.

Postmodernism — the relativist philosophy upon which much identity politics rests — holds that all such boundaries are artificial and can be erased at will. If we just think hard enough about it, a man can be a woman — since neither category is “real” in any objective sense. The divisions between nations can be easily overlooked, since they’re really just lines someone drew on a map anyway.

And it’s true, some divisions in some societies have been unjustly drawn and enforced — the legal and social divisions between blacks and whites in the Jim Crow era spring immediately to mind. Our current revolutionaries feed off of this fact: they use our guilt at mistakenly drawn boundaries to convince us that all boundaries, and indeed our entire civilization, is a mistake.

And of course there’s something appealing about chaos. Because even good and just boundaries come with a cost. The institutions upon which all civilization rests — marriage, law, education — require us to draw lines in the sand against our own unrestrained impulses. To restrict ourselves from having everything we want in the interest of a better, higher way of life. To gain the joys of marriage, you have to give up the pleasures of unbridled sexuality.

Antifa and their supporters are inviting Americans to loosen those chains of civilization — to let their natural impulses run wild in a literally “counter-cultural” revolution.

But of course, that kind of revolution can only move in one direction. It’s a direction vividly illustrated by one of the greatest ancient Greek tragedies, the Bacchae of Euripides.

In the play, Dionysus — god of madness and chaos — comes to the Greek city-state of Thebes with a vindictive plan to destroy its ruler, Pentheus. Dionysus is the God of breaking down boundaries — the male deity with the charms of a woman, the lord of loosened inhibitions and blurred perception. He seduces Pentheus with his strange anarchic charms, until Pentheus himself, dressed as a woman, tries to infiltrate the mad animal revels of Dionysus’ female followers. At the last minute, those followers — his mother among them — discover Pentheus and rip him limb from limb.

This is the ugly truth which lies beyond civilization’s boundaries. There is no Eden on the other side of those walls, no perfect harmony of man and nature to be had if they are broken down. Antifa depends on our yearning for that kind of primitive perfection, that primal longing for a world without rules.

But of course we are not angels, and what we will gain if we give up civilization is not paradise but misery, bestiality, and death. The invitation to “burn it all down” is tempting precisely because all societies — all systems — require that we give up some small part of our animal nature in exchange for order, peace, and justice. But in truth, of course, there is nothing to be gained by “deconstructing” the systems which produce those higher goods. If we follow the road Antifa currently proposes, we will trade away everything that makes us human, and receive nothing but sorrow in return.

More from Spencer Klavan: Why Small Men Hate Churchill

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