Santa Cruz Vandals, Drums, and Left-Wing Authoritarianism

I live in wonderful times in a wonderful place. Important history is re-playing itself before my eyes. This a sequel to my recent previous blogs (“Freedom Fighters…” and, “The Leftist Municipality….”)

The story has to do with the fact that a few fast-moving people dressed in black caused about $100,000 worth of damage in six or seven storefronts withing three blocks of each other. (The damage cost estimate comes from the local paper. I cannot verify it.) That was in Santa Cruz, California.

The vandals came out of a demonstration of a few hundred young people with no particular agenda, except the usual vague left-wing slogans and a few more about the new Arizona law on illegal immigration . (See my posting on that too: “Illegal Immigration…,” “The Arizona Immigration Law…,” and, “Immigration: More on Conservative….”) It was supposed to be a “May Day” celebration, but May Day is the first of May and the demonstration was on the second. Well, nobody is perfect and this is a beach town.

I did not learn much from the videos on YouTube except that one demonstrator was wearing a tie. There seems to be a consensus that the window breakers were few and well prepared and that they had kept their intentions secret. I believe there were fewer than ten actively involved in the vandalism.

There were no police present at the scene for a long time. I pointed out in previous postings: 1 That the police had other priorities, and, 2 That it was not surprising that they did, given the nature of the city government. Here is more, more blatant evidence. Again, this is contemporary political history in a small capsule.

Every Wednesday, there is Farmers’ Market downtown Santa Cruz. (I am burning with desire to write on this too,but, one thing at a time, I suppose.) The market is held on a large parking lot. For several months, or years, I don’t know because I was not paying attention, drummers have met on the edge of the market. The drummers’ circle is spontaneous, unorganized. More or less the same people meet at about 1 or 2 PM just because it’s Wednesday, each bringing his own kind of hand-drum. Sometimes, the numbers reach fifty. Counting the spectators, that’s a lot of people having a good time, for free. What comes out is not Bach but, it’s pleasant enough to my ears. It puts a spring in my step. And, of course, I am charmed by the spectacle of a band without a band leader, without a conductor, without a maestro.

A few weeks ago, the city police began interfering with the drummers’ circle, trying to disperse it and then, moving it to another location. The police intervened again yesterday. That’s only three days after the riot to which they did not attend (because they were too short-handed, they said.) The police allege that “businesses” are complaining about the noise. I count nine businesses within easy hearing distance. Even if half of them complain, that’s only eight or ten people maximum. And, yes, you are right to ask: Some joints change hands during the performance. Yet, this is Santa Cruz where joints also change hands when a dentist, an optometrist, and an insurance broker have dinner together.

Why should a handful of shopkeepers’ displeasure take precedence over the pleasure of fifty drummers, the pleasure of hundreds of spectators, of my pleasure?

Of course, I think I know the answer because I am versed in political history. When fighting their adversaries, leftists often manage to appear united, to others, and even to themselves. Whenever the Left captures anything, however, a country (Russia, China), a city (numerous municipalities in France and even more in Italy), or a stamp club, the same schism appears. There are leftists who dislike all established order and there are leftists who hate that established order only. The tragic false marriage of the two kinds soon dissolves because the second hates disorder. They are little second-grade school teachers at heart. They want the Principal to put an end to the mess, and quickly.

The authoritarians always win in the end because the lovers of liberty, the libertarians of the Left, the anarchists (same thing) forget to file on time to run for office, because they lead dissipated lives, because they enjoy themselves too much to run or, if elected, to govern. The second category of leftists are totalitarian at heart and that’s the main reason they are leftists at all. They are the ones running Santa Cruz, together with a congeries of weak-kneed, vague-minded liberals.

In Russia, the small, Bolshevik (Communist Party) liquidated or imprisoned its anarchist allies as soon as the fight against the counter-revolution gave it a little breathing space. (Reading assignment: Victor Serge. Memoirs of a Revolutionary.) The Communists in Spain fought on two fronts, one against the Franquists (Fascists), one against the very numerous Spanish anarchist movement, their ally. They lost the former war but won the latter because of their superior organization, their ruthlessness, and Soviet money. (Reading assignment: Georges Orwell. Homage to Catalonia.)

The miniature Stalinists in the Santa Cruz city council belong to the same family, and they have the same instincts. They don’t devote scarce police resources to controlling an episode of vandalism because they are betting, in my opinion correctly, that it’s a one-time occurrence. The drummers, on the other hand, get under their skin because they might be here forever if you don’t repress them. And, who knows, they might begin drumming on Mondays, and even on Thursdays. And then, where would we be? The drummers constitute an intolerable permanent threat to orderliness, to neatness.

Now, I am reasonable. I am not predicting that the city council will start executing drummers with a bullet in the head in the basement of City Hall, Cheka-style. (Cheka= the early Soviet secret police, ancestor of the KGB.) It seems probable though that some leftists bureaucrats are fantasizing about it.

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