Dans l’émission de Paul Arcand cette semaine, Marie-France Bazzo était tout émoustillée parce que la lutte des classes étaient de retour. Tout le monde a besoin d’une bonne guerre… même la gauche !
In 1920, U.S. saw the carnage of class warfare
By Paul G. Kengor
What will history books say about « Occupy Wall Street »?
For starters, it began on Sept. 17, a quite ironic date. Here is a New York Times headline from nearly a century ago, Sept. 17, 1920: « WALL STREET EXPLOSION KILLS 30, INJURES 300; MORGAN OFFICE HIT; BOMB PIECES FOUND. »
At noon the previous day, a horse-drawn wagon carrying hundreds of pounds of explosives and deadly shrapnel exploded in front of the headquarters of J.P. Morgan at 23 Wall St., the heart of America’s financial district. The final death toll was 38, with more than 400 injured.
The suspects were surprisingly similar to the spectrum of leftist protesters Wall Street now. They ranged from radical progressives to socialists to communists to anarchists, from homegrown Bolsheviks to Italian Galleanists to Communist Party USA. All were anti-capitalist, anti-Wall Street, anti-banker and generally despised the « millionaires and billionaires » who do not « pay their fair share, » as President Obama puts it today. They saw banks, loan makers, investors, Wall Street and the wealthy as sinister forces. They, too, shouted « down with capitalism! »
Wealthy bankers and investors, like J. P. Morgan, braced themselves for a march on their homes by anti-capitalist mobs — a prelude to what happened in New York this time around. The Sept. 17, 1920, New York Times, in a lengthy page-one article titled, « RED PLOT SEEN IN BLAST, » noted not only that Morgan’s home was being guarded but that « many cities » around America were preparing their financial districts « against similar disaster. » Mayors nationwide worried about the Wall Street chaos metastasizing to their cities. Sound familiar?
Today’s Occupiers, as they go national, have become increasingly belligerent and violent. Reports abound of widespread theft, destruction of property, drug use, sexual assaults, clashes with police and blatant anti-Semitism. Incidents have occurred across the country, from New York to Boston to Baltimore to Cleveland to Denver to Oakland.
Democrats have responded to the protests in varying ways, from Nancy Pelosi’s strange « God bless them for their spontaneity, » to President Obama expressing empathy with their « frustrations. » « I think people feel separated from their government, » Obama told ABC’s Jake Tapper. « They feel that their institutions aren’t looking out for them. » Likewise, Vice President Biden has framed the protests as a sort of leftist version of the Tea Party movement.
But the Occupy behavior provides a cautionary tale to those politicians tempted to adopt the cause: Class-based rhetoric and demagoguery is poisonous and destructive. Once the enraged masses spill into the streets in more cities, the chances for violence grow exponentially. Class envy and hatred engender an unhealthy rage, and the desperation of the times amplifies the danger.
This isn’t to say that all protesters are hooligans, or that every politician who weighs in on Occupy is sending us on that path toward carnage. This is simply a call to pause and reflect.
Remember all that angst about gun-toting Tea Party members who were depicted as fringe elements just itching for a fight? The town hall outrage over the coming health care law?
Anger, it seems, has no party affiliation.
We’re clearly at a moment in American politics where angst and frustration are boiling over. What we do need is for political leaders to govern, behave and speak responsibly.
On Sept. 17, 1920, Americans saw the horrors of class warfare. Let’s not go down that path again.
Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. He is author of Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.