My 83 years have seen a number of major uprisings in the U.S.A. I've participated in some, studied others. I observe that they look similar on the surface but digging a bit reveals vast difference. Here are a few named and later, explored. On the left, Anti-McCarthy political expression, civil rights movement, feminist movement, anti-Vietnam war, anti-war protest spying termination, LGBTQ oppression, Iraq/Afg.anti-war protest, BLM/police brutality protest. On the right, anti-Communist movement, Hard Hat cultural uprising, Silent Majority movement, Sex,drugs & Rock and Roll Hippie movement,Anti-government uprising, Tea Party Rebellion, anti-masker uprising. Let's explore their roots, apparent similarities and vast differences. The point? Maybe to better understand legitimate vs. contrived, manipulated protest. After all, America is rooted in rebellion from our very beginning, including a healthy distrust of government overreach.
On the left, the anti-government protests listed above were all initiated by a few or a few dozen initiators who met at a kitchen table, church or bar somewhere and aired their grievances and began organizing protest, such as Hollywood writers/creatives being called out for leftist politics, Black religious leaders tiring of discrimination, a group of female intellectuals who grew weary of institutional miscegeny, college students being subjected to a military draft for a war in a land unknown to anyone here, anti-war organizers being illegally spied upon, LBBTQ persons infuriated by public scorn/ridicule, anti-war activists seeing a repeat of U.S. foreign intervention. Black reformers joined by allies expressing outrage of government brutality in their communities and racism encouraged by a President.
Having participated in several of these left uprisings and read extensively about their origins, creators and results, I am compelled to observe that they all had a common characteristic. They were born from grassroots communities and amateur, unpaid organizers. In a number of instances, these movements later acquired funding, in some cases substantial, from sympathetic contributors of financial means and even sustaining support from private institutions supportive of their missions. But their latter support came years after the movement's legitimacy and success was a near certainty. Like the Colonial rebellion, their roots were of the people and by the people, not initiated by a special interest organization with an agenda served by that movement. Later, these movements became in many cases, formalized organizations with mission statements and experienced leaders to take them further into the public sphere. But also significantly these left movements were driven by a value system of common good....addressing making life better for all in the community. A communal value.
In contrast, a close look at the right rebellions yields the conclusion that they were rooted in the value of rugged individualism and libertarian principles of individual fulfillment. Further, a close look yields the observation that these movements were initiated by organized groups with an agenda rooted in protecting capitalism and the existing social order incorporating racism, miscegeny and individualism in their core values. Organized groups behind these movements on the right include the Chamber of Commerce, the John Birch Society, Heritage Society, American Enterprise Institute, the Federalist Society, NRA, Koch Brothers foundations and the many right wing lobbyist/advocacy groups dedicated to shaping government policy. You may find the Hippie movement strangely catalogued here on the right as it is often characterized as a movement born of liberalism. A closer look reveals nihilism, narcissism and "do your thing" libertarianism in its roots. During this era, left leaning people were engaged in the civil rights or anti-war movements.
I have tried to find common ground between these movements of rebellion on the left and right. For example, the anti-maskers rhetoric seems rooted in civil libertarian ideology. But a closer look suggests a much stronger influence from libertarian ideology putting one's individual rights above social responsibility.
So, my search for similarities in various American rebellion movements lead me to a dead end. So, I continue my fruitless search for common ground for left and right America.