When a crowd in Bristol in Great Britain pulled down a statue of slave trader and local patron Edward Colston, it was obvious that a protest movement that had engulfed the entire West and, to a lesser extent, the Czech Republic, had entered a new phase. The movement does not have a clearly defined identity. Its members might be called the supporters of social justice, Black Lives Matter, political correctness, or #MeToo. According to essayist Wesley Yang, none of these names provide a comprehensive description. He calls the movement a “successor ideology” which has the ambition, like Marxism, to replace ruling liberalism with something new. It is the destruction of the statues that best demonstrates the revolutionary nature of the activists. They look at history through the lens of a Twitter mob. Virtual lynching on the Internet often takes place based on the worst interpretation of statements dredged up from the past. The crowd is not interested in the context a statement was made or the fact that people change. The victim must be “canceled”.
Unfortunately, this often means that it is not enough to suffer a few days of cyberbullying, but people also lose their jobs as well. Similarly, in the case of statues of historical figures, activists are only interested in the worst aspects of a historical figure’s life, regardless of their other actions or contributions to society. Activists also ignore the historical context for the placement of statues. Some statues of Confederate officials certainly deserve removal. However, many of the statues, such as those located in the United States Capitol, are a symbol of reconciliation and serve as a memento of the history of the South. The London statue of Oliver Cromwell, who undoubtedly committed genocide on the Irish, is a reminder of the strength and independence of the British Parliament. The crowd is not interested in these nuances, though. Activists want to destroy all of these memorials and create a kind of “year zero” where everything that happened in the past will be perceived as problematic and our society will be divided into groups of those who still benefit from their historical privileges and those who have been oppressed. Therefore, for these activists, the beginning of US history is not the year 1776, when the colonies declared independence, but the year 1619, when the first slaves were transported to US shores. The year 1776 promises equal opportunities for all while the year 1619 outlines racism as an irreparable part of US history that influences society to this day. This view does not look at people as individuals with their own successes, failures, and problems, but as part of a group that is either oppressed or privileged. So, suddenly a lot of events from the past year start to make sense. In order to atone for historical sins, everything problematic must be forbidden. According to this theory, the police are an authoritarian part of the state, so they must be dissolved. When Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, despite sympathizing with the protesters, tried to explain to activists that it was not wise to dissolve police, protesters booed and screamed, “Shame, shame,” as in some kind of medieval repentance scene. Elsewhere, White people knelt before Black ones and begged them for forgiveness. In Cary, North Carolina, police even biblically washed the feet of local Black leaders. That such scenes are reminiscent of church rituals is probably no coincidence. Activists basically believe that man is the result of societal pressures, and if a perfect society is created, these problems would disappear. They want to create a paradise on earth.
In fact, they resemble communists, with the difference that the communists saw the main problem in society, whereas their modern followers see race as the main problem. In the US media, the struggle is also raging between the old liberals, who believe in independent reporting and providing space for the other party, and the bearers of the “successor ideology” for whom the newspaper is only a weapon to be wielded in the cultural struggle. One may wonder how important it is for the broader society what a few mad leftists think and what they argue about in US newsrooms. But when the Bolsheviks took control of Russia, it was also a small group. Progressives already control universities, Hollywood, dominate the media, and large corporations fear them, which means the most influential parts of society is already in their grasp. Currently, there is certainly a framework for another revolution. It does not have to be violent, but rather, there can be a change in thinking, just like in the 1960s. But the current madness will not just go away, on the contrary, it will probably get worse. Title image: Protesters throw a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol harbour, during a Black Lives Matter protest rally, in Bristol, England, Sunday June 7, 2020, in response to the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)