I have watched a man surrounded by a baying crowd, attacked and dragged towards the ground, rescued from broken bones or murder only by a policewoman’s arm, on the streets of London. His whole offence was differ from an opinion shared by the crowd that wished him dead.
“To speak impartially, both sayings are very true; That Man to Man is a kind of God; and that Man to Man is an arrant Wolfe. The first is true, if we compare Citizens amongst themselves; and the second, if we compare Cities. … Good men must defend themselves by taking to them for a Sanctuary the two daughters of War, Deceipt and Violence.”Hobbes: De Cive
Watch the video and ask where we are. In the political mobile vulgus we are no longer citizens together but factions, bound together and as against others we have no ties, as in a state of nature:
“the state of men without civill society (which state we may properly call the state of nature) is nothing else but a meere warre of all against all”Hobbes: De Cive
The events shown in the YouTube clip took place in the heart of the most civilised city on Earth, beside the very places where the laws of the kingdom are made and administered and apparently completely outside those laws. The victim had expressed disagreement with the crowd’s chosen hatred, in this case a hatred of Donald Trump, and this was enough for them to turn on him in murderous fury.
Man is a pack animal, like the wolf. Stand in any street or park and see a dog bounding happily beside its owner like a gentle puppy – but when dogs get in a pack they act like wolves and they are deadly. Young men too behave like a wolfpack, and now, it seems, so does a politicised mob.
The creation of a wolfpack is the creation of a society, bound together with instinctive ties, breaking all ties outside the pack, and that is what we saw on the street. There is no need for moderation, no “what if” nor “to a certain extent”, no subtle thought – just inclusion or exclusion, and there is no duty to the excluded, only hatred in order to validate to social tie of the pack.
The chant that came louder and louder was without moderation either; “Nazi scum”, as if with no knowledge or care for what those words actually mean. Those words should make the blood run cold and not be used loosely: it an insult to the memory of the millions of victims of the real Nazis, and to those who still today after 74 years wake every morning in cold terror at the memory from their youth.
The apparent ring-leader apparently says she is an NHS worker – I hope she never looks after me.
The self-supporting crowd is a liberation from the constraints of civil society in which all morality of the wider society is irrelevant and only the immediate crowd and the need to sustain its coherence have any relevance. An outsider intruding therefore is outside any duties and may be a casualty of the “warre of all against all”.