The Establishment Is Making a Fool's Bargain with the Violent Mob


In 1977, I was living in Brooklyn while there was an electrical blackout. I remember the street lights, store lights and all residential service going dark. I think the blackout was caused by a lightning strike on some equipment, although I am not positive.

I am sure, however, that it had nothing to do with “racism” or “police brutality.”

There was a tremendous amount of rioting and looting, but the establishment responded with force. The police were sent out on the street and made thousands of arrests. They did not stand down, and they did not give the mob “space to destroy.”

To my memory, the police department’s response was widely supported by upper-class New Yorkers, corporate presidents, university heads and business leaders. In other words, “the establishment.”

My, how things have changed.

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Nowadays “the establishment” in most American cities has lost its backbone. Its members are running scared. They suffer from cowardice and moral weakness. They have enjoyed years of abundance while living a life devoid of struggle. It has made them soft.

And so these weak and shortsighted people have now made a bargain with the street mob.

The bargain is basically this: Leave us alone to enjoy life and we will give you whatever you want. Leave our mansions intact, our cocktail parties undisturbed and our wealth in place, and we will surrender.

After all, if you live in a gated community and your net worth is $20 million (a pittance to some) what do you care if the price of a dozen eggs goes from $2 to $2.10 to cover the cost of the many “diversity directors” and “outreach coordinators” the egg company was forced to hire?

Do you think the establishment has made a fool's bargain?

The answer is: You don’t care. You don’t care if the price of gasoline goes up by a dollar a gallon, and you don’t care if the price of fire insurance rises by 15 percent. You can live with that; it doesn’t scare you.

What scares you is urban violence and chaos. What scares you is the whole system collapsing. What scares you is the thought of half of Portland burning to the ground. And so you are happy to make a deal with the mob.

But there is a problem with this deal. It has a very short lifespan.

The wealth, abundance and security that the establishment is so scared of losing lies on a foundation. That foundation consists of a bedrock we call “law,” and it is reinforced with a type of concrete called a “value system.”

The upper class will not remain “upper” for long once law and values are abandoned. Corporate heads, mayors and university presidents will not live a life of power and ease after the mob realizes they are toothless tigers.

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And they will become toothless tigers if they continue their abandonment of the middle and working classes. Those people are not protected by armed guards, and they don’t live in gated communities. And they care, and are hurt, when the price of gasoline or eggs goes up.

So my message to the establishment is this: Be careful. Don’t make a short-term bargain for a few years of peace.

You need generational stability, and that requires both a legal system and a value system. You surrender these to the mob at your own peril.

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Mike Weinberger is a retired attorney and businessman who served as president of the Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society in New York City in the 1980s. He now lives in Louisiana, where he founded the Home Defense Foundation ( and co-founded the Committee for a Common Sense Judiciary (