A friend messages to say:

The next Robespierre is currently 17 years old and trying to decide between Harvard and Yale.

Yep. Earlier today, I received the e-mail below from a reader, which I publish with his permission. I have edited it slightly to protect his privacy and the privacy of someone he mentions below. I looked him up online, and he is who he says he is:

I currently identify very strongly with Conservatism, and read TAC and your blog daily. That’s me now, anyway. Before now, I spent almost ten years as a radical Leftist, participating in the anarchist movement, Earth First, Occupy. In other words I’ve been in the heart of the “Social Justice” campus radicalism that you’ve been writing about on your blog.

I said a moment ago that I identify with Conservatism and I meant it. As of right now I’m planning on voting for Ben Carson. Over the past two years as I’ve lost my faith in Leftism I’ve read and greatly enjoyed C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Russell Kirk, Roger Scruton and David Bentley Hart, in addition to reading TAC, First Things, and other online right-leaning media. However I doubt very much you would identify with me. You would probably consider me a “SWPL,” and maybe I am. That’s a conversation for another time, though.

In connection with that, there are 3 things I’d like to tell you.

1. Thank you. My journey away from the radical Left actually began almost 3 years ago, when I found myself 30 years old living in a tent in a friend’s back yard. I’ve realized that it’s around that age where true Leftists have only two options available: They become full time criminals or they become college professors. (I suppose “journalist” is also an option but I roll that in under number two.) Neither appealed to me, so I began withdrawing myself from my former comrades.

But it wasn’t until a year ago a major breaking point came. At that time my girlfriend and I were renting a room in a house here in [West Coast city]. It had been okay for a little while, but then something changed. Several residents moved out, and the people who replaced them were college students in their early 20s.

The following sequence of events happened about a year ago. My young roommates and their friends all saw the movie “Dear White People.” Many of them were people of color. One is a girl who is half black. She comes from a very wealthy [East Coast] family, had been to 100 countries by age 22, and studies at [the local university]. She’s very pretty and I can’t imagine has ever been told “No” in her life. In fact, her second week here she walked into a store and was randomly offered a job by the owner. Not the sort of thing that has never happened to me. I was raised by a single mother in rural Pennsylvania. We lived with her parents who were still raising three kids of their own. I refused then and refuse now to accept that my young friend is “oppressed” or that I have “privilege” with respect to her.

The thing is, I didn’t, initially, respond with anger to this suggestion, although it makes me angry. I argued my case, which I think is pretty airtight. (My logic goes like this: Wealthy North American college students are not only not oppressed, they are the prime beneficiaries of America’s imperial power in the world. Period.) For this I was called racist and all other manner of terrible names. My girlfriend and I had to move out of the place we had lived in longer than anyone. I lost friends.

Now, as of this time, I am immensely grateful for all of that. I needed a final break from campus radicalism. Where you come into this, and why I am thanking you, is that during this time your blog was one of my only sources of comfort. It really felt– and still feels– like going insane sometimes. Knowing that there were other people out there who were willing to speak up against the Social Justice nightmare helped me more than I can say.

2. It is every bit as bad as you’ve heard. But not only this, it’s getting worse. Every incoming crop of college freshmen makes it worse. They simply cannot hear anything that they disagree with, and they form up into an hysterical mob to destroy anything that challenges their views. I can say this from having been a victim, but also having been a perpetrator.

You have to understand that within radical Left circles it’s rather like the Communist Party under Stalin. Communism itself is entirely passé, though. I think at least one reason for this is that Communism at least pretends to concern itself with class, and Social Justice Warriors are almost universally wealthy. (If you ever point this out to them, you are told “Yes I’ve heard many white male activists insist that ‘only class matters.'”) But it’s like the Communist Party in that the closer you are to the Inner Ring (deliberate Lewis reference) the more you stand at risk for purging. In every radical set I was ever a part of purges were a constant factor.

Now, the person purged is almost always a young man on the outer edge of the inner circle. In other words, a socially vulnerable individual. And what this points out, and this is a big deal, is that nature of these movements. They are organized like wolf packs. They will often tell you that “We don’t have leaders” or “We govern ourselves by consensus.” They are lying, both to you and to themselves. They organize themselves as a primate social hierarchy.

3. I don’t know what will stop these people. It might be that nothing will, until they have blood on their hands. Even then that might not stop them. In “the movement,” we used to constantly joke about killing people, especially policemen. Here’s an example, a “joke” which you heard often: “Q: What’s the difference between a cop and an onion? A: I cry when I cut open an onion.” The people involved in these movements have no self awareness. They have no self-consciousness. They have no sense of shame or any notion that there might be any reason to restrain oneself.

I am more than a little convinced that the nature of our contemporary society is part of the problem. Isolated suburbs, helicopter parents, internet from age three. It’s telling that the younger kids are worse than the older ones. The younger generation has never been without smartphones. In other words, they have never been without permanent, constant distractions. They have, therefore, never had the opportunity to develop an inner life or anything like self-awareness, and social media trains them to follow the crowd and jump on every bandwagon. They are in a very real sense not human. There’s this great line from Epictetus where he talks about how easy it is for human beings to act like beasts, by becoming slave to their instincts and passions, by not cultivating the life of the mind (soul, spirit). That is exactly what is going on here. Exactly.

He adds in a follow-up:

One thing I’d like to make clear– this probably isn’t a big deal, but I feel like I need to say it– is that I’m not holding myself up as a paragon of virtue. I did bad things when I was part of that movement and I still do bad things now. But part of getting free of radicalism, for me, has been getting sober through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, which forces me to examine myself daily and take responsibility for my actions and the flaws in my character. One of the things that frightens me most about the radical left is that they show absolutely no willingness to even consider that they may have acted incorrectly, let alone immorally.

I’ll say it again:

The next Robespierre is currently 17 years old and trying to decide between Harvard and Yale.

Social Justice Warriors are the product of a culture that trains its young to think that their every desire is self-justifying. If they feel it, it must be true.

Robespierre once wrote:

If the spring of popular government in time of peace is virtue, the springs of popular government in revolution are at once virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country’s most urgent needs.

It has been said that terror is the principle of despotic government. Does your government therefore resemble despotism? Yes, as the sword that gleams in the hands of the heroes of liberty resembles that with which the henchmen of tyranny are armed. Let the despot govern by terror his brutalized subjects; he is right, as a despot. Subdue by terror the enemies of liberty, and you will be right, as founders of the Republic. The government of the revolution is liberty’s despotism against tyranny. Is force made only to protect crime? And is the thunderbolt not destined to strike the heads of the proud?

He, too, was a Social Justice Warrior, slicing through everything that stood between himself and Perfect Justice — even the necks of his enemies.