Mr. Gonzalez did a fine job in your June issue succinctly describing the garrot being slowly twisted around the throat of what remains of traditional America (“American Guerrilleros”).
It is clear the deck is overwhelmingly stacked against those who still desire a constitutional republic and individual freedom. It has been apparent that we have not been able to keep the republic Ben Franklin told us about.
Certainly, sound-bite partisans, Facebook rebels, summer soldiers, and sunshine patriots will not arrest the drift toward what appears to be the nation’s inevitable fate.
Sadly, after outlining the crisis, Mr. Gonzalez calls for some vague types of administrative efforts such as efforts to cut the Pentagon’s budget, ending electronic surveillance of American citizens, redirecting university endowments, and striking out against corporate interests supporting the oligarchy. This sounds very much like “working within the system”, a slogan of the ’70s.
Alternatives? There may not be any. The Jan. 6 kerfuffle at the Capitol has been painted as a terrorist act, undermining the foundation of our government on the scale of Pearl Harbor. Nonsense, though it may have been the high-water mark for today’s Americans.
As Chairman Mao said, “Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed.”
Or as U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater said so controversially 57 years ago, “Extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
The choices are resistance or surrender.
—Jim Panyard
Palmyra, Pa.

Mr. Gonzalez replies:

Let me begin by thanking the reader for engaging with my debut column in the magazine, as this now also marks my first entry into “Polemics & Exchanges.”
First, the events of Jan. 6 show that the right is not disposed toward revolutionary violence like the left. Second, I intended the title of my column, “Theory of a Partisan,” and the subject of my first piece to correspond in a way that Mr. Panyard may have missed.
Recall that almost as soon as the day turned violent at the Capitol Building, Trump supporters began blaming agent provocateurs for any and all trouble. “ANTIFA led the charge into the capitol building dressed as Trump supporters,” tweeted actor Kevin Sorbo. This sentiment was widely shared across social media by pro-Trump observers. There was a general atmosphere of disbelief; Trump supporters, proponents of law and order, simply could not have been responsible for the unfolding disorder. However, that would make Ashli Babbitt, the Trump supporter shot dead by Capitol Police, a member of Antifa—and we know that is not true.
Trump himself disavowed his supporters who went into the Capitol building, and by extension Babbitt, not once but twice. “Trump to Rioters: You Will Pay,” read the chyron accompanying his first official video condemnation. But it’s now clear that Capitol Police allowed protestors to enter the building, that Trump supporters did not kill officer Brian Sicknick, and that those involved are being held in terrible conditions like enemies of the state.
Virtually no one justifies Jan. 6 from the right as having sprung from legitimate grievances. Instead, it is downplayed to a “normal tourist visit,” as Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde put it. Compare Clyde’s framing to how the Democratic Party and the media justified the Black Lives Matter riots last year as legitimate if at times unfortunate forms of political expression. The right attempts to distance itself from violence while the left justifies why violence is sometimes justifiable to effect change. The right is at an attitudinal disadvantage when it comes to rule-breaking, partly and paradoxically because it identifies with the established political order that it views the left as trying to destroy.
That is why I think political philosopher Carl Schmitt’s concept of partisan warfare, which reflects irreconcilable differences, is so useful and relevant. The public sphere itself falls into the crosshairs as a target of the partisan. He does not seek to reform it but destroy it and replace it with his own political order. 
My nonviolent policy recommendations flow from this view of partisan warfare; they aim not at the political order’s reformation but strangulation. If we must work “within the system,” then it is to fundamentally discredit, discard, and ultimately replace that system. Politics can be war by other means; it also “is the art of the possible, the attainable—the art of the next best,” as Bismarck said. Attacking the institutional pillars—including those with which the right has traditionally identified—is a practical place to start. 

Matrimony Monomania, Redux

Prof. Baskerville’s response to my statement that no-fault divorce laws—which he abhors—were democratically enacted in this country is to insist that “Divorce laws are enacted by bar associations…”(“Matrimony Monomania,” Polemics & Exchanges, June 2021 Chronicles) This is simply asinine, and contradicted by his own admission, in the June issue (“The Sexual Left, the Welfare State, and the Divorce Revolution”), that “California Governor Ronald Reagan signed the first no-fault divorce bill in 1969.”
Is rampant divorce good for society? Few people would make this claim; I don’t. But can we repair our damaged culture—polluted by decades of feminist ideology, secularism, Hollywood indoctrination, and higher miseducation—simply by repealing no-fault divorce laws? Or would this merely suppress the already-low rate of marriage and family formation? No-fault divorce laws are not the cause of our cultural free-fall, but a symptom.
I share many of Professor Baskerville’s concerns about the deleterious effects of raising children without two parents, but placing the blame solely on the advent of no-fault divorce 50 years ago is simplistic. Divorces were possible for “cause” under the prior regime, and those rich enough to afford it could travel to Nevada to obtain a no-fault divorce (just as wealthy Catholics could buy annulments).
Returning to this regime would not magically solve our society’s many complex problems, and it is silly to pretend otherwise.
—Mark Pulliam
Lawyer and legal blogger
Maryville, Tenn.

Prof. Baskerville replies:

We can run away from any problem if we blame it on “the culture.” Political scientist James Q. Wilson understood the paralysis and despair when writing about runaway single motherhood: “If you believe, as I do, in the power of culture, you will realize that there is very little one can do.” Abortion laws resulted from the culture, but no one claims we must “repair the culture” before changing them.
No, no-fault divorce laws do not wreak their damage in isolation: the welfare state and leftist pressure preceded their enactment. And yes, divorce courts were already violating parental and other rights before no-fault codified and legitimized the abuses. But divorce laws cross the line from the nebulousness of “culture” (about which we can do little) to concrete constitutional and civil-liberties violations, which can be rectified through simple procedures.
No-fault justice is an oxymoron: Fundamental legal principles are perverted when we pretend that courts can dispense justice without defining what constitutes a legal transgression and assigning degrees of blame. This is already poisoning our larger judiciary. Restoring marriage as an enforceable contract, on the other hand, would certainly increase the marriage rate, when people see that it offers meaningful security. 
If reform is so ineffectual, why do the lawyers, judges, feminists, and even some conservatives fight it tooth-and-nail?