The late Allan Bloom in his seminal work, The Closing of the American Mind, released 28 years ago, described the two revolutions that have divided the world for over two centuries now: the American Revolution and the French Revolution. Both occurred within a few years of each other. American support for the French Revolution was divided and America had to display a cautious neutrality as the French Revolution became ever more radical and spread conflict throughout Europe. While America’s revolution gave rise to a republic that encouraged individual endeavor and a constitution that respected local government and individual liberties, the French revolution led to the world’s first truly radical government with the Jacobian terror and a few years later the world’s first proto-fascist government with the diminutive Corsican inspiring many 20th century tyrants. And Central State Planning, with capital letters, is nothing if not French in its origin.

Radicalism, like in late 18th century France, like in the Soviet Union, like in Cuba, like in marxist guerilla movements, or radical Islamic terrorism, inevitably feeds on itself. Radicalism to justify itself, must be ever more radical, or else it’s raison d’etre (it’s fitting to use French) c’est finit. Because the American republic has such a solid constitutional foundation, radicalism in America diffused out into social progressive movements based on gender, sexual orientation, and race of course. The Weathermen became academics and mentors to a future president, and the Black Panthers eventually dispersed as well. And a rainbow, if you will, of social activists took up the language of liberation theory without the guns and bombs.

It is not at all ironic then, that it was precisely Bernie Sanders who radical Black Lives Matter activists targeted in Seattle. The revolution always devours its own; even if in Seattle it was more a case of a shouting match between self-proclaimed standard bearers and aging left-wing activists. There is clearly a problem with police forces being overly militarized, but to say it is merely a white versus black problem is a falsehood. In Baltimore the six cops charged with the brutal detaining of Freddie Gray were evenly split in terms of race. And precisely in Baltimore, a sanctioned and subdued police force have been unable or unwilling to control a rising tide of violent crime.

Black Lives Matter have to shout down and silence Bernie Sanders precisely because he is an aging fellow radical, and to be relevant they need to out-radical everyone else. At least on a theatrical, symbolic level. For now, organized armed rebellion – God forbid – has not been a part of the Ferguson protests, even as they continue to be marred by violent behavior. So shouting down Bernie is an old story – much older than Bernie himself – and one that never has happy or productive endings.

And finally, if attempts to construct and equivalency between the sparring, or twittering, in the GOP race to the theatrics in Seattle, one would mistaken. BLM wanted silent obedience in Seattle, while GOP conservatives want to be heard, and the constitution to be respected. By their elected representatives. That’s the difference between the two revolutions.

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