Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business and eventually degenerates into a racket.

Thus wrote* social philosopher Eric Hoffer in 1967. Its truth could not be more timely, no matter that it was written half a century ago.

Regular readers know I’ve repeatedly lamented the incredible quickness with which the cultural “moment” that was the aftermath of George Floyd’s death under the knee of Derek Chauvin devolved into cynical opportunism. A singular opportunity to ride a wave of public sentiment onto a beach of much-needed reforms in both policing practices and the politics that direct them was transformed with breathtaking rapidity and unabashed brazenness into an organization that appears far more interested in maintaining and even exacerbating societal divisions than in improving the interactions between minority communities and police departments. Should we be shocked that one of the founders of BLM (the organization) is stepping away after accumulating quite a bit of personal wealth? Is this mere coincidence? Another oft-repeated lament of mine is the reality that, in politics, it’s always about Other People’s Money. Indeed, BLM (the organization) has been pretty unapologetic about the Marxist thinking at its head, and as we’ve seen endlessly, Marxists always seem to position themselves on the receiving end of the redistributions they tell us are necessary.

Running in parallel with the corruption of BLM (the movement) is the broader social justice “cancel” culture. Smarter people than I have observed that there are two types of critics in the world: those who want to help you, and those who simply want to tear you down. Show me a canceler who falls into the former category and I will show you a hundred who fall into the latter. Canceling has indeed become a racket, whose goal is to monopolize the public square. People aren’t “canceled” in order to coax them to a ‘better’ viewpoint, they’re canceled as punishment and as a threat to others.

Consider, next, the green movement. It is immune to question, with anyone who doesn’t embrace the catastrophic version of global warming theory and prediction (not the mere conclusion of some degree of anthropogenic climate change – the the planet is doomed if we don’t act now alarmism and its ever-moving goalposts) being marginalized, vilified, and called a (Holocaust-evoking) “denier.” See my previous comment about critics. Meanwhile, the fact that none of the “powers-that-be” are advocating nuclear power as part of the solution for this declared crisis is a giant red flag, given that it is the cleanest/greenest of all options. It’s not even a secret that the global warming crisis is seen as an opportunity to impose a new economic order on nations and the world, one that (surprise, surprise) invests more power in government and less liberty for individuals and markets.

Want another tell-tale? Consider the infrastructure bill that Biden and the Democrats have been pushing to the tune of $2 trillion. Everyone “knows” that our infrastructure is crumbling, of course. No matter that a significant chunk of monies collected for and dedicated to infrastructure across the decades (see: gasoline taxes) have been repurposed to other uses, suggesting existing revenues might be enough – we have to engage in an obscene amount of new money-printing to fix the roads and bridges.

Or do we? Not only could we use existing revenue streams more appropriately, hundreds of unspent billions authorized by the recently passed American Recovery Act could be re-tasked to infrastructure, as has been advocated by West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito. Capito was at the head of a GOP negotiating team from whom Biden just walked away – apparently because they wouldn’t buy into his demands for massive tax increases on the disfavored. Moreso, as Stephen Moore notes over at RealClearPolitics, Biden’s proposal contains a trillion dollars worth of subsidies for wind, solar and electric vehicle manufacturers. Do you wonder why every car maker is suddenly rushing electric cars onto the market? Repeat after me… “O…” “P…” “M…”

The green movement has indeed become another racket, divorced from the realities of what can be accomplished to slow warming, divorced from the realities of global (non) cooperation/compliance, and divorced from the effectiveness of the one “solution” (brute force carbon reduction via wind and solar power) advanced with total exclusion of other options. Biden’s grand plans, cloaked with a veneer of environmental justice or some such folderol, are classic “winners and losers” big-government politics, with vast sums of OPM going where he and the Democrats want, massive taxation planned on the people they don’t like, and massive grabs of power over everything they can manage. That all this is being done for a marginal benefit that will be overwhelmingly counterweighted by China’s continued increases in carbon emissions, by the balance of the BRICS nations’ concurrent refusal to commit economic suicide, and by the enormous problems in scaling wind and solar power up from niche to “all of it” power production is yet another giveaway. The environment is just a stalking horse for turning America into a command economy.

That’s the gag, and that’s the cleverness of all these rackets. A high-moral goal is asserted, and our attention-span-of-a-two-year-old culture responds. Name something “infrastructure,” and if it’s offered by the right team, it’s bought into on the name alone, no matter how little of it actually qualifies. Call something “Black Lives Matter,” and now anything done under its banner is sacrosanct, as if criticizing it is tantamount to saying that black lives don’t matter. Find an utterance in someone’s history that can be portrayed as insensitive, bigoted, or what-have-you, and no matter how hard you had to twist, how deep you had to dig, and how disingenuous you had to be, that person is now in a “grovel or be destroyed” quandary. Cancelers justify this grotesque behavior by claiming a moral high ground, no matter that theirs is the way of the sociopath.

It’s terribly disconcerting that degenerations from worthy movement to cynical racket are occurring with increasing speed. The global warming movement went corporate around the time Al Gore released his movie, after a couple decades of increasing popularity and awareness (and on the heels of impending ice age predictions – predictions that many have taken great pains to retcon into the fringe). Social justice, an evolution of the civil rights movement, took mere years, rather than decades, to corrupt. It soured when the concepts of equal treatment and “content of character” got shunted aside in favor of a grievance hierarchy that made inequality of the proper sort the desired outcome, with inevitable crab-antics ensuing soon thereafter. The BLM movement got corrupted in just weeks.

Other examples abound, of course. This is the way of human nature, and it’s exacerbated by government’s monopoly on force.

So, what do we do about it?

First, recognize the phenomenon.

Second, divorce, aggressively, the high-moral posture from the cynical reality. Call out the disconnect wherever you see it. It’s good to voice support for causes you consider worthy, but it’s just as good to criticize the corruption of those causes by the self-serving.

Third, realize that this how it always goes, and that the remedy is always less-government (never forget – Jim Crow was government, it was the government setting segregationist rules, and prohibiting good-minded people of different races from interacting with each other). Be as absolutist about it as the woke-folks, and know that you are being far more moral than them.

* Hoffer’s actual words read, “What starts out here as a mass movement ends up as a racket, a cult, or a corporation.” The quote at the open is, I presume, some creative’s rephrasing. That it’s become the widely quoted form is of little practical difference, since the kernel of wisdom therein is the same. I mention this here for the pedants among you.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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