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America’s Dangerous Descent into Violence

The increasingly frequent and alarming incidence of violence in America is no accident. As the history of fascist movements shows, the rise of private militias and self-reinforcing cycles of bloodshed are instrumental in efforts to undermine the sovereign authority of the prevailing state.

NEW YORK – The mass shootings that regularly disrupt American life should not be viewed simply as random acts. They reflect a steady unraveling of the sovereign authority of the state. Sovereignty, as the ultimate claim to authority, insists on at least two precepts: indivisibility and a monopoly on the legitimate exercise of force. Only the state, through its police power, is permitted to use violence in the state’s defense (whether from foreign attack or from domestic terror and criminality).

A loss of faith in state police power is dangerous, not least because it invites self-reliance in response to perceived insecurity or injustice. When the state is no longer trusted to provide security and justice – to preserve the fabric of society – self-reliance represents a potential rival to the state’s sovereignty.

Historically, the emergence of fascist political movements has been associated with a parallel rise of private militias: Mussolini’s Blackshirts, Hitler’s Brownshirts, the Brazilian Greenshirts, and Irish fascist leader Eoin O’Duffy’s Blueshirts.