Some years back, I wrote about Bill Buckley and National Review’s successful efforts to purge the Birchers from the Conservative movement. The problem Buckley and others perceived what the JBS’ penchant for conspiracy theories – the kooky idea that there was a genuine global Communist conspiracy to undermine America and that this conspiracy had agents all through the US government and other institutions. The breaking point came when Welch – the founder of JBS – implied that Eisenhower might be some sort of Communist agent. That was, of course, ridiculous and Welch, himself, later distanced himself from it. But the crucial thing was that the Communists, at the time entirely subservient to Moscow and now just operating on their own, really were trying to undermine the USA any way they could. There really were Communist agents all through the government and other American institutions. And the primary failure of Conservatism was in not rooting these elements out – which, in my mind, was really Welch’s primary complaint about Ike. Part of the reason Truman didn’t seek re-election in 1952 was because the penetration of the US Government by Communists had been exposed and it was a horrible scandal especially as American troops were fighting Communist forces in Korea.
Ike could have cleared out the infiltrators. He didn’t; for normal GOPe reasons, he let them go…some to retire, others to be transferred to some other agency. For all the Progressive talk of a anti-Communist witch hunt in the 1950’s, the reality is that there wasn’t a witch hunt. Had there been one, we’d be a lot better off today. Had we gone on a truly forceful anti-Communist crusade in the USA, purging them from all positions and jailing those who were de-facto Soviet agents (very many of the leaders were), think of all the societal decay which wouldn’t have occurred…a huge amount of our social and economic disintegration over the past 50-60 years was caused by people who hate us being left in positions of power and influence.
So, why bring this up? Water over the dam, right? Can’t undo the past. Nope; we can’t. But we can work on the future. And over at National Review they are informing us that we Conservatives had better not like Nayib Bukele.
I know: your first question is, who the heck is that?
I, too, had never heard of him before NRO told me he’s bad. Turns out, he’s the President of El Salvador and he’s gotten a bit infamous of late for his massive crackdown on the horrifically violent gang MS-13. It had gotten really bad in El Salvador, guys; with some sources claiming the murder rate a few years back was 40 for every 100,000 people (most recent stat for us is 7 per 100,000…which, BTW, is a huge spike from just a few years ago). The gangs pretty much did whatever they wanted in El Salvador (as they do in so many Latin American countries) and, remember, these gangs aren’t like the US Mafia or even things like the Crips and the Bloods…for whatever reasons, Latin American gangs are simply inhuman brutes in their violence. Not just killing (via unbelievably savage means) rivals and witnesses (the normal run of gangland killings) but seeming to go out of their way to cruelly kill people who pose little or no threat, just to keep people terrified of the gangs, as such. Bukele did mass arrests and the murder rate in El Salvador has dropped precipitously.
Naturally, the Ruling Class is upset with this. You know the real reason why: a lot of them are owned by the criminals via bribery. But they are officially upset that, to put it mildly, Bukele didn’t ensure that the legal i’s were dotted and t’s crossed on the arrests…and it looks like arrested gangsters who were defiant…didn’t end so well.
Cry me a river.
Bukele is fighting for his country. He’s a bit of an odd duck having risen out of the Marxist FLMN and then dumping them for a more populist/nationalist ideology (which is another likely reason the Ruling Class hates him: can’t abandon the Commies!). He’s also clearly an opportunist (as a young, ambitious pol often is); there are claims he made some side deals with elements of MS-13 from time to time (which is logical to do; hold off one band while dealing with another of more immediate concern). But the thing is you can’t have a civilized nation if crime is running rampant. Your right to free speech and to vote is worthless if at any time you can be robbed or murdered by criminals acting with near-impunity (especially while your Ruling Class is safe and dry behind well-guarded walls and secret deals with the criminals). Before anything else, we must be secure in our lives and property. It isn’t just the bedrock of civilization, it is the bedrock of any functioning society no matter how primitive or advanced. Bukele is simply reacting to reality – unless his people are safe, they can’t build anything.
In a civilization we have carefully constructed rules, written and unwritten, about how things work. And when everything is functioning, these rules are sufficient. Most of the time, we simply obey the unwritten rules: going to work, paying our bills, keeping our houses tidy, being polite to others. In those rare instances where something slipped, we then refer to the written rules and, being civilized people, we go to court and let lawyers, judges and the law figure out the best possible result. But at the back of it all, the thing which made it and ultimately must sustain it, is force. Brutal force. A force which can kill everyone who won’t obey the written and unwritten rules. Bukele is just demonstrating this – and it is causing some alarm among those who are continuing to live well as the current system globally collapses into lawlessness.
It is coming here, folks. When you see those videos of people looting stores and beating others and such, that shows you the problem – a complete rejection of the unwritten rules and utter contempt for the written. And that contempt is well-earned as those in charge of enforcing the written rules have simply allowed crime to slide almost entirely for ideological reasons. But people can’t live like that. We can’t live forever in a society where people can rob and kill with impunity. The robbers and killers must be stopped by any means necessary.
We may already be past the point where the normal system are capable of handling this – that is, our system may be so weak and corrupted that even if it tried to address the issue, it can’t. If we are past the time of working with the rules, then we will find that the people will turn to an American version of Bukele. Someone who says they’ll get rid of the criminals and then just does so – and law be damned. Just get rid of them will be the cry and nobody is going to care what a Court which couldn’t stop the cime is going to say.
Bukele is further accused of using the emergency to gather power to himself which Constitutionally the President doesn’t have. And that is likely true, at least to some degree. He pretty much feels he has to: his people want to be saved from crime and he’s going to save them from it. This does bear the risk of the end of freedom in El Salvador – strongmen who save nations have historically been unwilling to surrender power after the rescue is complete. They come to see themselves as indispensable. They are fearful if they surrender power, their successors will come after them. Ego! We’ll see how El Salvador works this out – but however it comes out, Bukele is saving civilization. And if we let crime get out of hand here – and we are – then the American people will also turn to someone like Bukele…some who will just bust heads until the criminal element is gone. And then we’ll see if that person gives up the power.
It all stems from the fact that civilization is thin: it is a veneer over the human savage. In just a generation or two it can be lost – and if lost, that is when you’ll start seeing a disintegration among the people. I think we can already see that disintegration. We wait now to see if those committed to civilization will step up and save it…or if they’ll weakly allow the collapse to accelerate until the people forth a Caesar.