Long, hot summer


Conventional wisdom has it that an armed revolt would stand no chance against the US military with its tanks and jet fighters. But is that true?

Civil wars, for starters, are not like conventional conflicts. They are messy affairs with conflicting and disparate groups of combatants. There are multiple avenues of loyalty and power.

There’s also that inconvenient fact that the US military has not won any of the counter-insurgency wars that it has waged since Vietnam. Just look at Afghanistan, where a rag-tag group of Islamic insurgents has fought the vaunted US military to a draw.

Which brings up another important point. An insurgency doesn’t have to win but to simply not lose.

Meanwhile, in the wake of our response to the coronavirus and stay at home orders, the conditions for an armed conflict seems to be gestating. Unfortunately, all roads lead to highly problematic social outcomes as the majority of citizens see government dysfunction and worse indifference to their plight. Neighbors and their families have lost jobs and benefits, while sinking further into debt. Food shortages and hunger have made a startling comeback in the wake of the current pandemic.

What kind of country tells its citizens to make a choice between risking their lives or risking hunger for their families?

It’s like we’re led by fools who can’t see that everyone has a breaking point. Desperate people do desperate things, especially when they’re heavily armed.

And, now with the protests against the lockdown we’re getting a taste of what’s to come.

“Multiple armed gunmen storm Michigan’s State House, State police are protecting @GovWhitmer and blocking the gunmen from gaining access to the house floor.”

But nothing to worry about. Our tech overlords have got this handled.

In 2017, representatives of Facebook, Twitter, and Google were instructed on the US Senate floor that it is their responsibility to “quell information rebellions” and adopt a “mission statement” expressing their commitment to “prevent the fomenting of discord.”

“Civil wars don’t start with gunshots, they start with words,” the representatives were told. “America’s war with itself has already begun. We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America.”

I think maybe we’re past that point and I’m not sure our putative leaders have gamed this out. Having 30 % unemployment and citizens turfed out of their homes and apartments for missing payments, with hungry children is not a great scenario for anyone, even the wealthy elite decamped to their summer homes.

The Hamptons is not a defensible position.

Not to be all negative-Nancy but I’ve come to believe that the default setting will be to some sort of dystopian, cyber-punk outcome where regional and local oligarchs fill the power vacuum left at the Federal level and remain indifferent to the suffering. This outcome is consistent with declining life expectancy never having become a political issue, along with deaths of despair and the opioid epidemic.

Benign or malign neglect, it comes to the same thing.

If violence erupts I think you will quickly see elites barricading themselves into their fortresses, to be protected by unmanned drones and private military contractors. Guard labor would be employed as enforcers and protectors for the rich. In due course these local oligarchs then would develop militias and death squads. A quick glance at history shows this dynamic happens again, and again, and again. It’s guaranteed.

Libertarians, who firmly believe that government is the only source of despotism, would be in for a rude surprise.

In the meantime it’s going to be interesting. What happens when there’s another outbreak? I remain doubtful that a second, government-ordered, lockdown would be accepted by the public. It may be rejected – especially in the U.S., where being ‘anti-lockdown’, and perceiving the pandemic more as a sinister ‘globalist’ plot against American ‘Rights’, is fast becoming a mainstream political movement.

What happens when some states just open up while others try to reopen responsibly? Will those “responsible” states begin limiting access to those from states which have chosen to simply let people die. Will this will mean using State police or calling up the National Guard? Going further, where will the loyalties of the police and National Guard lie?

Just asking.

The problem with insurrections is that all kinds of bad shit happens. Those who are left hopeless, jobless, and without assets could easily turn against those who are better off – and should these people become desperate and angry, our society could begin to disintegrate.

Right now our feral elite are desperate to go back to the hyper-globalized, financialized political/economy that provides their wealth and power but I’m not sure that’s possible. As a famous statesman once said–“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

It looks to be a long, hot summer.

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