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Modern Violence, Resistance and the Calculus of Revolution

2013 November 4
by Ian Welsh

Let us talk, today, about violence, resistance and revolution.  It has been observed that armed populations often seem to be more free, equally it has been observed that armed populations live in a state of misery and anarchy, as in most failed states, where virtually everyone is armed.

An armed population, alone, means little.  For all of the talk about how important it is to have Americans armed so they can “resist tyranny”, the fact that America is awash in guns has done nothing significant to stop the erosion of civil liberties and the rise of plutocracy.  Indeed many of those screaming loudest for policies which ensure their own poverty, the power of the rich, and thus the decline of effective democracy are the most heavily armed.

Guns alone mean little.

America’s founding fathers wanted Americans to have guns and be in well regulated militias.  In this, as in many things, they were wise.  A militia, properly oriented towards the community it serves, is an organized body of citizens who have military training and are used to fighting as a group.  They have ties to the community, and there is not more than one militia per community, they also have ties to whatever local government exists.  If enough of these militias decide, as groups, to resist the government, they can do so.

Individual violence is not a threat to the state.  The threat of assassination can act as a brake on the activities of politicians (though I, of course, would never suggest it).  It is notable that the concrete barricades and ludicrous overprotection of DC politicians, especially the President, picks up exactly as plutocracy gets underway.  Say what you will about Nixon: he went to meet protesters, at night, with a single aide and no bodyguards. He was not afraid of his own citizens, even those who disagreed with his policies.  It is unimaginable that Clinton, Bush or Obama would do such a thing.

To some extent the right wing gets some of what they want because they are armed, and every once in a while their crazies “go off”.  Rhetoric justifying violence is regularly issued by the right wing, and it works: when a political attack occurs, it’s almost always against someone perceived as a left winger.  The days when there was any chance of being beaten up by a “union thug” as a pol are long gone, let alone having a genuine anarchist blow up your building, but you can still be shot in the head by a right winger.

Moreover people have simply not understood the lessons of Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Mexico.  The modern toolkit of violence is amazing at area denial.  If the US government starts losing control of chunks of the US, what it will look like is Mexico or Iraq: places where they can’t go without police cars or tanks blowing up, sporadic attacks by people who fade away. Terror against the police and their families.  It will not be some great glorious slugging match between armies, because anyone stupid enough to fight the US that way will lose.

The problem with modern insurgency technologies, however, is that you can’t protect anything. So you can deny the writ of the state, you can create places where they can only go in force, you can make it so they control the ground their boots are on and nothing more, but you can’t create a sub-state, because they will find it and destroy it: any facilities you build or staff they’ll bomb; any public leadership they’ll assassinate and they’ll kill as much of the secret leadership as they can.

Modern states, and especially the US state, after Iraq and Afghanistan, are very aware of this.  This is one of the main reasons for the rabid scramble to surveil everything: not just online, but offline.  Put cameras, drones, satellites, listening devices (many cameras now eavesdrop) everywhere they can, add in recognition software and behaviour algos, and scoop everything up.  The first sweep is algos, looking for behaviour that seems consistent with being a threat or even that is just unusual (Fred’s not doing what he usually does, let’s flag that.)

With this surveillance, the hope is to be able to stay on top the new technology of violence and area denial: we know where you go physically, online, what you buy, who your friends and family are.  We know you, we can predict you, and if you get out of hand we know where to find you so we can grab you or kill you.

Historically the more the State needs its citizens to fight, the more power they have.  You get universal male suffrage, generally, when you have the draft, you get selective male suffrage when part of the population fights and is required to fight (is not replaceable. You can replace US soldiers, Greek hoplites came from a class which could not be replaced with someone else.)

Even so human soldiers are a clear point of failure.  They may not shoot their fellow citizens, and the more of them you have, the more likely it is they won’t shoot.  Thus automated warfare: not just aerial drones, but ground robots, which are no more than a couple decades out.  It’s a lot easier to kill someone from remote, when you don’t smell what humans smell like when their guts are ripped open, when you can turn off the sound on the screams.

If there is violence against the state, it will look Iraq or Afghanistan, not like the American Revolution.  Add in other new techs like 3D printing, and you have an insurgency where virtually anyone with a minimum of tech skills and a few parts can make weapons.  Some household chemicals which can’t be banned, and you have bombs.  Drones will not, ultimately, be weapons of the strong, either, but weapons of the weak: they are not hard to make and if technically savvy people get motivated, they will be more than able to make their own air and ground drones.

The… issue, here, is the inability hold ground and protect infrastructure.  What happens in this type of war is that it is difficult to land a knockout punch.  So the country becomes a place where you have low (or high) grade terror, places where no one can go, and constant atrocities on both side as they try and destroy the will of the other side to resist, punish their enemies and cow the local population into obedience.

An armed population gives ruling class pause when it is not fully under their control and is organized by local elites not fully under the control of the central elites.  But if those local elites go too wrong, you get armed militias imposing local shakedowns at best, tyranny at worst (see: Klu Klux Clan.) It gives more pause when they need that armed population to fight external foes who are actually an existential threat (Islam, again, is not an existential threat to the US.)  It gives them pause when they fear assassination and need to maintain close contact with the population and not hide behind guards and walls all the time.

One must also recognize that despite its apparent overwhelming power, the US military is absolutely horrible at anti-insurgency. Take a map of Afghanistan or Iraq and plunk it down on a map of the continental USA.

The US is… big, very, very big.  If the US military could not crush insurgencies in Iraq or Afghanistan, if one ever gets seriously underway here, why do you think it could in America?  Hmmm?

Thus, again, blanket surveillance and remote or (ultimately) automated killing machines.

If anyone wants to defeat a first world State, on its own ground, they will either need the mass active (not passive) support of the population, before the killing machines become active, or they will need to rethink, or more likely, adaptively learn, how to defeat the surveillance state.  The model for this, of course, is Hezbollah, who runs a secret army and in certain respects, almost a secret state.  You must have your own ways of communicating which cannot be tapped.  You must know how to avoid the surveillance of the enemy, or take it out.  You must know how to move without triggering the algorithims, and you must figure out some way to protect the organs of your nascent state, whatever they are, from destruction.

It may come to this, but we should hope it doesn’t, because civilization will be laid waste by it.  The other route is the failure of ideology.  The USSR did not fall in battle, it fell when the decision was made not to use the troops, by men who did no longer believed enough in the USSR to kill or die for it.  A vast ennui had swept the USSR, they simply no longer believed in their form of communism.  Done.

One problem with that is that it happens when it happens, and it may not happen for a long time: plutocrats don’t need any grand belief in anything more than money and passing it on to their heirs, and the people who fight for them don’t need to believe in much more than money either.  Absent a belief to unify them against the ruling class, they’ll kill for their lords and masters.

The second problem was also displayed in Russia: if you don’t have an ideology to replace the old one that’s better than the old one, your society can go downhill fast.  Russians were vastly worse off after communism than during communism. By some metrics they still are.  America failing and accepting, say, Chinese state capitalism might not be a good thing.

The best way of overthrowing a state is to undermine belief in it and replace that belief with belief in something new and something better.  Do those things, and while some violence may be necessary, you will find when push comes to shove that the state is rotten and can hardly fight, because those running it do not believe in it and those fighting against it are fighting for something not just against something.

Absent powerful external enemies, belief is what makes states, and it what destroys them, and even in cases where there are external enemies, great nations tend to rot from within before falling to outside foes, if they do not renew themselves first.


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52 Responses
  1. Celsius 233 permalink
    November 4, 2013

    …Take a map of Afghanistan or Iraq and plunk it down on a map of the continental USA.

    The US is… big, very, very big. If the US military could not crush insurgencies in Iraq or Afghanistan, if one ever gets seriously underway here, why do you think it could in America? Hmmm?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Ian, I think you make a very good overview of the real state of affairs in the U.S. regarding resistance.
    But I do take issue with the above statement of yours; to wit, the Afghans are tough, possibly the toughest population on the planet. To compare us to them is at best, a very far reach.
    We’re soft by comparison and depend on hi-tech. Match that against the foot soldiers of the superb guerrilla fighters and we have witnessed over 20 years of defeat of the two strongest militaries in the world.
    I know you know this; but it must temper today’s realities there in the U.S.
    The U.S. does have some very tough guys, but per capita? I think not…

  2. Celsius 233 permalink
    November 4, 2013

    Addendum: I forgot to include the willingness to sustain casualties. We aren’t but they are and prove it almost every day; their wive’s, children, and elders. May the gods help us.

  3. Sam Adams2 permalink
    November 4, 2013

    “The best way of overthrowing a state is to undermine belief in it … ” is the most profound observation you’ve written.

  4. November 4, 2013

    Organizing and integrating the militia movement with progressive politics is the next obvious move. The language to make it work is a challenge…
    http://cobblehillbilly.blogspot.com/2013/02/make-guns-central-to-politic.html

  5. cahuenga permalink
    November 4, 2013

    In hindsight, reunification with the South may have been a mistake.

  6. November 4, 2013

    On Russia:
    I’m hardly an expert on Russia, but from my reading of accounts of the fall of the Soviet Union from Naomi Klein and Dimitry Orlov, the Russian people did have something to replace state communism with and that was social democracy as practiced by their neighbors in Western Europe and Scandinavia. But Yeltsin with help from “economists” like Jeffrey Sachs and Larry Summers and their ilk, thwarted the people and inflicted instead the economic shock doctrine (which we are now experiencing in the U.S.). The “criminal capitalism” that was put in place looks like it contributed to the loss of over 10% of Russia’s population in the years between 1992 and 2006 when Klein wrote her book. “Economic genocide” is what many Russians use to describe those years.

    So again, Milton Friedman’s words “Only a crisis-actual or perceived- produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.”
    That’s what Rahm meant by not letting a good crisis go to waste. In comments in the previous post about the failure of the netroots, someone was puzzled at why Obama took on “healthcare reform”, something he hadn’t campaigned on and seemed to know or care little about. Well, we had a crisis and the ideas lying around writhing inside the cellars in Washington were still Uncle Miltie’s ideas. So heck, let’s cement the privatization of health and stealthily privatize the schools and everything else we can from parking meters to parks and worse, our water like Bolivia. And as Lambert points out, the ACA may well be a template for privatizing social security i.e. shopping around for the best pension plans on line with fake competitive plans.

    But there are other ideas lying around. There are alternatives. There always have been. Talking about “the commons” instead of “public” institutions is a start. Talking about them with your neighbors, that is, and not just on a blog.

  7. November 4, 2013

    @cahuenga
    I’ve long thought that we would have been better off letting the South have their own nation. The border states were interested in being their own nation and act as a buffer between the North and the South and then the West could have split between a southwestern central state and northwestern central state. Much more manageable in size. (Colin Woodarad’s “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America” is fun read). The Archdruid had a story that I can’t pull up about how the U.S. breaks apart after a military mission in Africa goes wrong and the Chinese whoop our butts.

    As to gun ownership, the gun guys rule here but I’ve found that they are largely defensive. They want to hole up in a bunker with guns, ammo, canned goods and some venison. So I vote for undermining with nifty ideas rather than violence.

  8. Jerome Armstrong permalink
    November 4, 2013

    “It is notable that the concrete barricades and ludicrous overprotection of DC politicians, especially the President, picks up exactly as plutocracy gets underway. ”

    Yea, I walk the streets, knowing how different it felt when I was a kid in the early 70’s, with the accessibility that existed. The symbolic sign of the times. Nothing that happens is an isolated event. And unfortunately, these trends tend to historically take on a culmination that’s catastrophic.

  9. EGrise permalink
    November 4, 2013

    I think Montanamaven is referring to this:

    How It Could Happen, Part One: Hubris

    Looks interesting!

  10. November 4, 2013

    Related: “On the Cusp of Qualitative Strikes” http://geopolicraticus.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/on-the-cusp-of-qualitative-strikes/

    What we are looking at here is the possibility of computer systems sufficiently sophisticated that almost everything on the surface of the earth can the [sic] identified and tracked. To have a total system of identification and tracking is to have a targeting computer. Couple a targeting computer with precision guided munitions that can pick out small targets in a crowd and be assured of destroying these targets with a near-total absence of collateral damage, and you have the possibility of a military strike that does not depend in the least upon quantitative destruction, but rather upon picking out just the right selection of targets to have just the right effect (political or military, keeping in mind Clausewitz’s dictum that war is the pursuit of politics by other means). This is a qualitative strike.

    @Jerome Armstrong:

    Yea, I walk the streets, knowing how different it felt when I was a kid in the early 70′s, with the accessibility that existed. The symbolic sign of the times. Nothing that happens is an isolated event. And unfortunately, these trends tend to historically take on a culmination that’s catastrophic.

    I’m a child of the 80s and 90s myself, but I’ve seen this in movies from the 60s and 70s. A lot of them play on over the air stations like This and Antenna TV. The way people travel and relate to each other is just foreign enough to stick out to me. You can’t do those things today. People wouldn’t act that way today. Etc. I’ve heard that you used to be able to just walk into the Pentagon–which sounds like a Bizarro world to me.

    Do you live in DC now? I’ve been here for 3 years and am up for grabbing lunch or whatever. Always looking to meet new people. My email address is rjmeyers (at) hotmail (dot) com.

  11. Ian Welsh permalink
    November 4, 2013

    There is no coherent alternative ideology people are willing to kill and die for — or even really live for, other than Islamism.

    Things didn’t really start to change in Canada till the early 90s. I remember, well, as a bike courier in the late eighties, being able to walk into virtually any building in Canada, including the department of defense (though you couldn’t go upstairs, you could walk though the ground floor. Other than that only a few other buildings had security that would stop you from just walking around.)

    The 70s were even more open.

    Among other things, all this security represents people and money that could be doing other, actually productive, things.

  12. S Brennan permalink
    November 4, 2013

    Montanamaven, I enjoy your well thought out comments even when I disagree….but

    “in the previous post about the failure of the netroots, someone was puzzled at why Obama took on “healthcare reform”, something he hadn’t campaigned on and seemed to know or care little about. ”

    -That’d be me…but I did describe it as a “carefully wrapped red herring” meant to distract people…that does, as you say, “cement[s] the privatization of health[care]” while continuing/increasing the level of entitlement that Pharma become accustomed to.

    However, I agree with your general thrust that Milton Friedman’s endless paeans to greed, must be viewed as satanic verse and his person as the devil incarnate.

    Unfortunately, the black arachnid laid millions of eggs intertwined into the web of wealth and privilege before subsuming into the darkness of it’s subterranean origin. Friedman’s demons are everywhere, offering poisonous prescriptions and dotting the landscape with the living dead. Outwardly, these ghouls appear as beautiful people, but their souls have been ripped out and left to rot in some dark hidden hole. These vampires are incapable, of compassion and empathy, they destroy all that’s before them.

    Too dark?..meh…the time change always does this to me.

  13. November 4, 2013

    Sorry S Brennan. That was terribly lazy of me not to go back and reread your remarks. It was “odd” of Obama to take up healthcare, as you say. The results of his doing so are now obvious. The crisis was a whole lot bigger than any of his Milton Friedman loving advisers could have dreamed of so why not go for it all and give to the insurance and big pharma a gift and at the same time keep activists and Americans in general distracted over the idea of health care reform. Very cunning. Very evil.

    And keep the dark zombie/vampire/deadly spider images for the evil Uncle Miltie and his hatchlings coming. They deserve more than just our contempt. But it’s a start.

  14. Bruce Wilder permalink
    November 4, 2013

    It seems to me that the “normal” state of politics for long periods of time is a near-stalemate of opposed powers or interests, which operate under some (partially-)shared understanding, embodying complementary ideologies and norms. The society has an idea of what its own design is, and is reproducing itself according to that design idea, with variations and extensions that move it incrementally.

    Crises are moments when some element of the architecture fails, disempowering one or more of the interests or powers, and empowering some other interest, allowing the pace of change to accelerate and the direction of change to shift.

    The loss of faith in the Communist architectural design for society combined with the operational failures of the Soviet political economy, but waited on generational change for a catalyst. The Soviet political structure failed, literally, to reproduce itself at the top, the Politburo aging into senescence.

  15. Bruce Wilder permalink
    November 4, 2013

    I’ve been impressed, of late, by the way Progress, a central liberal idea since the Enlighenment, is being challenged by the accelerating effects of Peak Oil, Climate Change, Ecological Collapse, Overpopulation. There really is something like the stages of grief, going on among those most invested in wilful optimism, across the political spectrum. Making sense of decline is a huge opportunity for new ideologies, as decline challenges all of the reproductive strategies, Western societies have been habituated to, including, most especially, the safety valves Western nation-states have used to resolve internal stalemates between opposed interests.

    The attempt to create a Panopticon political economy looks to me like an attempt to shut-off the traditional escape valves, safety-valves which allowed societies to maintain conflicts. It just costs too much to have those conflicts and safety valves. The demands of the lower classes on resources are being dialed down, quite effectively. The Euro in the PIIGS cut off the safety valve of inflation, which had been essential to allowing those countries to keep up a politics of conflicting interests; cutting off the safety valve is putting enormous pressure on the politics of those countries, fusing their politics into a rigid consensus politics.

    One contradiction I’d like to see addressed is the way in which the Panopticon seems to be on track to both eliminate black/grey markets, and, at the same time, throw more people into a grey market, where they are forced to make a living, in ways that make them more vulnerable to arbitrary sanctions. The ability of some people to drop out into a grey-market of tax-dodging self-employment has always been a safety valve in society, but cutting that off, while simultaneously ramping up the punitive measures in regular wage employment — drug tests, credit checks, temp and low-hours contracts with irregular scheduling, seems like a design for a much higher pressure cooker.

    IP is another area, where the ramped up demands for rents is running up against the safety valve of piracy, and resulting in (to me) strange warping of economic relations. A friend pointed out to me that the way porn has become a two-tier market, of subscription websites that sell original productions, and subscription websites that, in effect, sell pirated versions of the first tier productions. A whole bunch of shadowy people are employed to move and promote the pirated content in a way that gives the second-tier subscription sites plausible legal cover. It’s a remarkable example of monetizing the entropy of the rule of law, and makes a lot of people outlaws of a sort. Of course, that was always true in sex trades, but it used to be about maintaining shame and taboos — porn, etc had to be, literally, dirty, and the violence of law was selectively applied to keep it that way. Now, it’s just price discrimination and extraction — and I suspect no one doing much of the extraction is actually producing anything of value: the first-tier producers of new porn are just as screwed as the poor schlubs doing the pirating for the file storage sites, raking in the big bucks. Porn is never going to be a good example, for public consumption, but it was a startling insight to me, about the changing industry structure, and made me see the evolution of other, more conventionally legitimate sectors, differently. They really are going to try to put a lot of people into grey areas, even as they make it harder to hide in grey areas, and it will undermine the popular legitimacy of the whole system.

    Sorry for the randomness.

  16. Ian Welsh permalink
    November 4, 2013

    Smart comments Bruce, and I agree, especially about the pressure cooker – forcing people out of the regular employment market into the gray market, while cracking down on the gray market.

  17. November 4, 2013

    1) The well-regulated militias were there to keep the slaves in line. Sure, guns are sometimes necessary — this is what the FSLN learned in order to make the Nicaraguan Revolution of 1979 possible. But be careful!

    2) The USSR was doomed even before the army refused to fire on Yeltsin. Boris Kagarlitsky tells us in “The Disintegration of the Monolith” that the Soviet elites switched sides, and that the failed coup of late 1991 and the resultant disintegration of the central government was a result of Gorbachev’s botched attempt to “balance out” the central government with hardliners. Very few people believed in the hardliners, definitely not the army.

    3) When did plutocracy “get underway”? Plutocracy was always there. How much of the National Paranoid State is a byproduct of George W.’s infantile megalomania?

    4) The future will not be like the past because there will come a point soon when there will be nowhere for capitalism to go but down. None of the old solutions will work and disintegration will be the order of the day.

  18. Jerome Armstrong permalink
    November 4, 2013

    Much of the future debate in this country is aligned around the populist axis of squeezed people vs a government that is too aligned with meeting corporate goals and profits. It’s not an ideological debate or an ideological alliance. It’s a structural and systematic schism.

    To buttress the government, we have the massive US military surveillance structure that’s going global more than ever and plutocrats.

    Article in the NYTimes this weekend, discussing the whole emerging populism vs the stabilizing force of plutocracy:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/opinion/sunday/plutocrats-vs-populists.html?pagewanted=print

    I think the author (“Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else” ) is right on about the Tea Party having broken out of the hold of the plutocrats early funding. In fact, the TP brand means next to nothing now, it’s pretty much over except as a degenerate straw man to detract from. It becomes only useful as a way for the establishment to scatter the opposition.

    Anyway, as long as the trend continues, things will just slide down. Politicians get to enact technocratic steps, like austerity and ACA, which turn a squeezed middle-class into a non-entity. The plutocrats will provide outlets for political exhaust to blow. But the moment the populists (Everyone Else) actually start organizing together, politically on an issue or electorally against the establishment, or just massing together, is when things get a bit hazy. That’s when shit hits the fan, for example, and the police come in and stomp on Occupy.

  19. Timothy Y. Fong permalink
    November 5, 2013

    Jerome,
    My difference with you on this point is that I think it’s practically impossible to make common cause with the libertarian right in many cases. Individually, yes. But overall no, because _as a movement_ the preferred economic endstate for the libertarian right is neofeudalism. They can say all they want about wanting to protect small businesses from encroachment. But we know that in effect, deregulation serves to consolidate power among a few players, whether they be the regional, national, or international. There was a pretty good article on Salon the other day about the hard right and regionalism– the local elites on the right think that they can prosper if they split from the central government in places like Mississippi etc. Those are the gentry supporting , if not participating in the Tea Party.

    The crux of this, as Ian says above, is what kind of coherent oppositional ideas are in play. Only when the left has a clear political and economic program do we stand a chance.

  20. November 5, 2013

    I concur with Timothy Y. Fong. I don’t see the libertarian Right raising the least objection to the Tea Party — and a recent post in the blog “Lenin’s Tomb” had some interesting things to show about the fraction of capital which aligns itself with the Tea Party.

    http://www.leninology.com/2013/10/tea-party-reptiles.html

  21. zot23 permalink
    November 5, 2013

    Good post Ian, a lot to think about on the site lately.

    I would add one extra dimension to the America insurgency scenario that helps tilt things to the people’s side: finances. Plutocrats and oligarchs operate out of a pyramidal power structure, they require a large, firm base population to feed them resources and money to do what they do. Insurgencies tend to be circular in structure (or at least not as top heavy as the oligarchies), the resource is in the people and the “elbow grease”, not the capital.

    Why would this be an important point? Because if the USA was split in half in some sort of civil war, where would the plutocrats get their money? When you are bombing people, they surely are not going to be paying taxes, it’s doubtful they would work in factories that make your bombs/drones/whatever to kill them. So you lose twice: once on direct taxes and again on lost productivity. The USA (and our “leadership”) was able to do what they did in Iraq and Afghan because they had a large, stable, and safe base of resources back home to fuel the effort. Without it, who would pay the soldiers and the contractors that are the backbone of a modern occupation? They paid it with taxes and reserve currency status last time. Those things would be gone in a civil unrest America. They would have to pay for the army and the mercs themselves, out of corporate profits. How long could they or would they be willing to do this? Once you can’t pay mercs, well then – you don’t have any more mercs.

    We have banks that cannot exist without fraud being accepted as lawful (just to make 1+1=2 on their balance sheets), a farming structure that depends on big ag subsidies to produce a surplus, a police system that increasingly cannot connect with the people they are meant to serve, and an overall empire that must be the world’s defacto currency to continue surviving. If we had a massive civil uprising, all that would unravel in a heartbeat. What I am saying is where would the plutocrats get the base they would need to continue to exist without a docile general population?

    They are in a much more fragile position than you credit them.

  22. markfromireland permalink
    November 5, 2013

    Ian,

    Good article. You and I have both written on Hizballah and they’re the way things are going. One of the interesting things about the civil war is that Hizballah are training both the Syrian regular army and local militias. This includes militias in the regions contiguous to the Golan. Something I pointed out a few months to an Israeli officer with whom I used to have dealings. Do you know he actually went pale? From suntanned and fit looking to pale, sallow, and horrified looking in about two seconds as the implications of that sank in.

    However I digress.

    Your point about an armed population is an important one. One of the (many) reasons why America is such a very right-wing place is because ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’ despise and refuse to serve in the American armed forces (or indeed the American law enforcement agencies).

    They’ve abandoned these professions to their political enemies – the white, southern, right-wing, evangelical, male.

    American soldiers will when it comes to it have little problems with firing on people they already regard as inimical to what it means to be American. American officers will have few if any problems obeying orders to do in America what they’ve been doing elsewhere so long as the order has the smallest fig leaf of an appearance of legality they’ll obey it.

    American ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’ haven’t got the faintest idea of what the lesson the US Officer Corps learnt from their defeat in Vietnam was. Worse than that their abject ignorance of even the basics of the military art means that they consistently lose debates with their opponents who do know what they’re talking about.**

    The end of Vietnam US army was a defeated rabble barely worthy of the name ‘army’. That Army’s officer corps had lost control of their troops and knew it. The lesson was learned and the New Model Army** is the one in existence now. They’re well-armed, and well-trained, and they are fully under the control of their white, southern, right-wing, evangelical, male officers whose outlook and attitudes they share.

    mfi

    * I use that term advisedly. For those not familiar with military history – look it up.

    ** There was a chilling example of just that ignorance here recently when one of your commenters utterly missed the significance of the fact that they were equating the civilian and military legal systems. There’s a very good and obvious reason why until now American military tribunals may not set legal precedents.

    mfi

  23. markfromireland permalink
    November 5, 2013

    While I think of it:

    There is no coherent alternative ideology people are willing to kill and die for — or even really live for, other than Islamism.

    The ‘live for’ part of that is really important. The reason why Hizballah in Lebanon and to a lesser extent the central cadre of the Jaish al-Mahdi in Irak are as successful as they are is because they do exactly that. They live for and by their beliefs people look around them and then look again at the Hizb and think ‘I want to be like that’ and join up. Dawah by doing, very effective. Life as a seamless whole and with security in an insecure world is a very attractive proposition and when that’s offered by people who are admirable in and of themselves it becomes well-nigh irresistible.

    mfi

  24. someofparts permalink
    November 5, 2013

    Yes. More than anything else, I despair of fighting against the great machine of disinformation that dominates the U.S. While my friends and I may persuade a handful of people here and there, the media plutocrats sway millions with a single program that reaches the multitudes. Also because our overlords don’t stop with mere lies, but weave them into an impenetrable web of disinformation, beginning with the big lie that only their ‘authoritative’ voices can be trusted. I can’t tell you how many fine, generous, salt-of-the-earth friends of mine believe this.

    At the same time, lately, nearly everyone I speak with is increasingly in agreement with exactly the sort of things you speak of here. Even so, how to shape that diffuse, incohate sensibility into something with the coherence and resilience of Hezbollah …

    Well, I was going to say it feels impossible but then I realized that actually, trying to create a U.S. parallel to Hezbollah does suggest a human-scale, achievable goal.

    Gee Ian, you’re like one of those ‘outside agitators’ the gentry hereabouts used to rail against. Giving people like me ideas that my lizard overlords don’t want me having. Ha – probably one of the reasons you maintain this blog in the first place.

  25. Timothy Y. Fong permalink
    November 5, 2013

    Thanks to Ian for facilitating this discussion with his blog. These are conversations that I have been having privately with people since the mid ’00s. Unfortunately, that got little traction outside a small group of people. Usually, people would write us off as “crazy.” Am very glad to see that other people are thinking along similar lines. Because we’re going to need it if we plan on surviving.

    Cassiodorus,
    Yes. My view is that there are significant local elite factions that would like to see a federal government failure because they believe that they will emerge as dominant in their new nations.
    On the right, how that will go is pretty clear. As markfromireland points out, the right has systematically penetrated the security services, complete with various cell style organizations that probably (likely) are connected with white nationalist organized crime as well as local gentry militia organizations. Obviously those militia folks have access to capital because firearms and ammunition aren’t cheap. In any Soviet style collapse we’d probably see some hardline christianist (I use that term intentionally) people rise up in the red states, who are undoubtedly prepared for such a rupture. How well the left can survive in those areas depends, as it does everywhere, on common ideological basis, and of course, the day to day tactical issues. It will probably be tough going because those are the same states where right wing religious terrorism has systematically eliminated access to abortion. Clearly, if leftist organizations as they exist today could not protect a woman’s right to choose in those states, then they certainly cannot survive in a post-federal government scenario.

    It is in the blue states on the coasts though, that present a more interesting and difficult problem. I can tell you that I have sat in thinktank facilitated discussions dating back to the mid ’00’s where Silicon Valley elites kicked around the idea of secession. The recent public Y-Combinator speech by Balaji Srinvasaran shows me that idea has gotten a lot more traction.

    In the San Francisco Bay Area, I think that one faction of the local elites would try to turn us into Singapore with weed, more gender equality and gay marriage. Considering the neoliberal consensus among the MBA-school tech folks, as well as real estate developers, they would probably try to peg the currency to the Euro or other outside currency. You’d see the Democrats in the Feinstein/Boxer vertical go for this hard; they’d probably ask their friends with Harvard MBAs what to do and get that as an answer. A lot of the nice lifestyle progressives who don’t understand jack shit about economics would go for that bargain. There is definitely a section of law enforcement and security services that depends on the establishment Democratic Party machine, and the local elite would lean hard on them to establish “order.” It’s a play that may work for them because of past ties and loyalties to the existing machine, which would turn the former national elite in the Democrats into the new rulers of the California Republic.

    You can also expect that the local elites pushing for Singapore would enact a total gun ban and confiscation, led by whichever opportunistic local law enforcement administrator (or former National Guard general) hitches his star to their wagon. That has other implications which I will get into in a moment.

    The Peter Thiel/Srinivasaran folks are a little different in that they love the gold standard, and by extension Bitcoin. They’re not so happy with the neoliberal Democrats, because they want their libertarian paradise. The minimum government regulation involved in the status quo is still too much for them. This is actually a little more dangerous for them because they only way to enforce their writ is going to be by mercenaries, ex-organized crime, and the lower tier security service folks not in the Feinstein/Boxer vertical. Without those older loyalty ties, then it’s basically the profit motive keeping the shooters in line. Someone ambitious will eventually realize that he doesn’t need the tech titans– they need him– and will make moves accordingly.

    There is another complication here, which is the rank and file of the security services. Under the Singapore model, our local elites have to go hard for a gun ban and confiscation. The security service bosses will say yes, because that’s how they got there. A section of the rank and file probably won’t comply; these people have problems already with what they view as the corruption, moral bankruptcy and fecklessness of the Democratic machine in the Bay Area. It’s not clear what the percentage is , but if it’s more than 10% it’s going to be a big problem for the bosses. I suspect that it will be the best trained and most capable of the force that will have the biggest problem with confiscation. That could play out very badly for the folks that want Singapore, if the security services move on them in a post-collapse scenario. It’s not unknown, as that’s basically how things went down in E. Europe after the fall of Communism.

    The role of the left in this, I think is to articulate a new narrative of how we’d like things to be. If that is attractive and plausible enough, then I believe we have a chance to organize an opposition. There’s also the issue of teaching solidarity, which, I believe has been systematically destroyed by modern professional-class values that prioritize every person for themselves, to the diminishment of intergroup loyalty. I’m not talking about intergroup loyalty that manifests on message boards and flame threads. Even that is pretty fucking illusory, considering the lack of support I see women getting in the tech community who are sexually harassed online.

    Solidarity is built on personal relationships of obligation, and mutual respect that comes from facing tough circumstances together. It means knowing that people around you have your back and if one person has to go, we all go. As it turns out, that’s an idea too. Unfortunately the only institutions that teach that in current American society are the military and various deeply subcultural groups. The left is going to have to pick that up, and it’s not something we can do on the internet.

    As John Boyd said, people, ideas, and hardware, in that order. We can’t build solidarity on the internet, but we sure can build ideas. Time’s short, let’s get going.

  26. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    November 5, 2013

    Timothy Y. Fong

    The role of the left in this, …

    To be the targets.

  27. November 5, 2013

    @Bruce Wilder: “I’ve been impressed, of late, by the way Progress, a central liberal idea since the Enlighenment, is being challenged by the accelerating effects of Peak Oil, Climate Change, Ecological Collapse, Overpopulation. There really is something like the stages of grief, going on among those most invested in wilful optimism, across the political spectrum. Making sense of decline is a huge opportunity for new ideologies, as decline challenges all of the reproductive strategies, Western societies have been habituated to, including, most especially, the safety valves Western nation-states have used to resolve internal stalemates between opposed interests.”

    My reply: Progress is a word humans invented to whistle through the darkness of an immense and incomprehensible eternity. It’s all cyclical.

  28. VietnamVet permalink
    November 6, 2013

    Hollywood has gotten the message in this post. From “Walking Dead” to “Revolution”, our world is disintegrating. Canada will turn into a 3rd world Mexico but with more Asian emigrants. Local militias will pop up to keep the neighborhoods safe.

    But, there is a paradox. Corporate globalization; disintegration of the Western middle class; and corruption of the State are possible because there never was WWIII. The Plutocrats are free to feed their greed without the fear that that their neighbors will invade their estates thanks to atomic weapons and Mutually Assured Destruction. But, as the State withers nuclear weapon control becomes questionable. Top Generals in charge of nuclear weapons in the USA were recently removed. We need an effective State and the rule of law to survive, but the rich are too shortsighted to see this.

    The other strange thing is that there is enough wealth and materials on earth to provide food, shelter, education and health care for everyone if we could extinguish the neo-liberal zombie ideology that greed is good.

  29. November 6, 2013

    Excellent post. Insights into the armed mania of 2nd amendment zealots that everyone should be aware of. Thus, I have reblogged this on my site.

  30. November 6, 2013

    Out if curiosity, are all the nukes in the hands of the Christianists?

  31. someofparts permalink
    November 6, 2013

    “Your point about an armed population is an important one. One of the (many) reasons why America is such a very right-wing place is because ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’ despise and refuse to serve in the American armed forces (or indeed the American law enforcement agencies). ”

    I was surprised to learn recently how small the American military was before WWII, less than a quarter million actual personnel I think. In my lifetime though, the military has always been the massive thing it is today. It doesn’t seem plausible to me that progressives could have changed the culture of the thing by enlisting, given the scale it had ballooned into by the time I was born.

    The idea of an effective militia with deep ties to the community arising in the U.S. raises interesting questions. It’s not as if sporadic, and ultimately doomed, moments of localized armed insurgence haven’t happened. What I saw the Panthers doing in the 70s is the main example that comes to mind. I remember delivering copies of our local alternative newsletter to their houses when I was young, when it was clear from the boarded up windows that they were doing more than sending irate letters to their legislators. In fact, I seem to recall that community outreach was always part of their program as well.

    I think I’m going to google Hezbollah and see what I can learn. Any reading/study recommendations would be welcome.

  32. Peter permalink
    November 6, 2013

    No matter how erudite a blogger’s view, as this one is, the preponderance of grammatical (and often spelling) errors weakens the strength of the argument. I begin reading a well composed thought only to be jarred away from the point by a missing pronoun. Blogger’s around the world all seem to be in a hurry to publish their thoughts without proofing them.

  33. November 6, 2013

    In fact, I seem to recall that community outreach was always part of their program as well.

    You do realize that’s why “The Establishment” crushed them, right?

  34. Ian Welsh permalink
    November 6, 2013

    someofparts:

    http://www.ianwelsh.net/the-hidden-army-hezbollah-teaches-the-world-how-to-fight/

    I imagine MFI will chime in with better sources. I have a couple books on my shelf, but I don’t know that they’re the best.

    Peter: check the word count. I have worked as a professional editor, but it is hard to proof one’s own work. I find I usually need a week to two weeks before I can read my own pieces without seeing what I intended to write, rather than what I wrote. If you can’t see past a few errors, well, the NYTimes publishes well edited pieces, so does USA Today, you’ll probably find them more congenial.

  35. John Merryman permalink
    November 6, 2013

    Ian,
    I think the conversation gets a little too subjective to be effectively big picture. We tend to want what keeps us our own safe, but nature doesn’t always follow the same agenda. We are mortal and expendable and the only real goal is some stable form of existence on this planet. At some point, we need to just sit back and examine the physics of what is going on and see what it means to us. This is an essay I wrote after the Occupy movement started to fade, as a way to try and put some things in perspective;

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/17/1075305/–What-is-Your-Occupation?detail=hide#

    Some main points:

    ” Over eons life has evolved increasingly complex structures. While we think of modern society and its technical advances as unprecedented, biology evolved equal, if not far greater levels of complexity many millions of years ago. Much of our social and many of our technical structures naturally mimic these biological processes, yet the biology is far more evolved.
    The essence of human civilization is the creation, organization and storage of information. The problem is that information tends to be static. It holds and binds the energy required to maintain it. This sets up a conflict between the dynamic energy and the static information, so the system develops methods of reseting and erasing excess information. Biology does this by individual organisms dying, as the species regenerates. Bodies are processes in themselves, as generations of cells are formed and shed. As our social institutions build up legacy costs, they also find themselves losing ground to less burdened, more dynamic entities. So there is a constant churn of structures building up and breaking down.”

    ” Human nature is such that we will always be looking for a way to grow and progress and will do so with whatever resources are at hand, whether it be scratching two sticks together to make a fire, or building vast structures and societies. In order to do so, we need two things; Organization and energy. Within the biological body, there are two systems to enable these functions. The central nervous system processes information and organizes responses, while the circulatory system enables energy collected by the respiratory and digestive systems to be effectively transmitted to where it is most necessary. Within society, these systems are mimicked by government and finance.”

    “As monarchial hierarchies transitioned into various forms and degrees of public governance, finance naturally became part of the market system which it enabled. A market needs a medium of exchange, i.e. a common currency and a system to enable the efficient transfer of this currency. If those managing this system do not understand their role as facilitators of the market to serve the larger community and simply use their positions to enrich themselves, then they are no longer efficient. Much as monarchies lost sight of their roles as serving the larger society and became inefficient managers of government.”

    “This isn’t just the fault of those controlling and profiting from it, but is the current financial model being carried to its logical extremes. Money is commodified trust and it has been both the vehicle for powering human civilization to its current heights and what is now driving it over the edge. If we collectively make more promises to ourselves then we are willing and able to keep and hire the politicians and financial managers opportunistic enough to voice those promises, we will eventually be quite disappointed.”

    “If people understand that money is a form of public utility and not actually private property, then they will naturally be far more careful what value they take out of social relations and environmental resources to put in a bank account. This would serve to make people’s own self interest a mechanism to put value back into the community and the environment and allow more organic systems of economic connectivity and reciprocity to grow, as well as reduce the power of large financial and governmental systems over our lives.”

    Regards,

    John B. Merryman Jr.
    Sparks, Maryland

  36. someofparts permalink
    November 6, 2013

    Ian and MFI perhaps as well, thanks for the reading suggestions. Military history, the history/practices of Hezbollah – I’ll get ’em and read ’em if you will point me toward them.

    Ian, MFI, Bruce Wilder, Timothy Fong … I’m not worthy. I have just enough sense to realize how very outclassed I am here intellectually. Just enough sense to appreciate what a chance it is for me to listen in on such thinking. I’m pushing myself to have the mother of all learning curves catching up with what each of you understand. Meanwhile I’ll try to keep my own comments to a seemly and appropriate minimum. Any links/books you would recommend, please do.

  37. November 6, 2013

    Thanks, Ian, for this very insightful article. Your most important insight, I agree, is that, “The best way of overthrowing a state is to undermine belief in it and replace that belief with belief in something new and something better.”

    In 2011 a friend and I published an article, “Thinking About Revolution,” which outlines “something better” and shows that it is possible. The article is available online at newdemocracyworld.org.

    Some years earlier I published a book, “We CAN Change the World: The Real Meaning of Everyday Life,” which explores the reason for the failure of Marxist-led revolutions and shows why democratic revolution is possible. The book is available for free on the newdemocracyworld.org site.

  38. Howard Beale IV permalink
    November 6, 2013

    “The threat of assassination can act as a brake on the activities of politicians (though I, of course, would never suggest it).”

    Never forget: The death of one (or orders of magnitude) individual(s) can set into motion events that have worldwide impact-history has always been a cruel teacher when such events occur.

    The issue (as perverse as it may sound) has always been: does the individual’s death bring about a positive-or-negative-change. In ambiguous situations, only decades or centuries will be able to answer that.

  39. Ian Welsh permalink
    November 6, 2013

    The problem is, you don’t know. As best we can tell, for example, assassinating Lincoln was bad for the South, not good.

  40. zot23 permalink
    November 7, 2013

    “No matter how erudite a blogger’s view, as this one is, the preponderance of grammatical (and often spelling) errors weakens the strength of the argument. I begin reading a well composed thought only to be jarred away from the point by a missing pronoun. Blogger’s around the world all seem to be in a hurry to publish their thoughts without proofing them.”
    -Peter

    I think you meant to write Bloggers (the plural) and not Blogger’s (the possessive) in that last sentence. Maybe you were just in a hurry to publish your thoughts, didn’t have time to proofread your criticism of people not proofreading their posts. Not to worry, despite the way it weakened the argument and jarred me away from the central idea (do bloggers really own the “around the world”, what are the implications?) I somehow held to the end.

    It’s OK, you’re only human just like Ian (and everyone else posting in this thread.)

    Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.

  41. markfromireland permalink
    November 8, 2013

    @ someofparts November 6, 2013

    The problem with a reading list is – as I think Ian will agree, that most of what’s available is written by Westerners with a distinctly anti-Hizballah axe to grind. I did a series of lectures back in 2006 links to transcripts:

    Gorilla’s Guides: Getting Inside Their Heads (Part 1)

    Gorilla’s Guides: Getting Inside Their Heads (Part 2)

    These two give brief history and set Hizballah in context.

    Gorilla’s Guides: Getting Inside Their Heads (Part 3)

    Why the Hizb aren’t going to go away.

    I mention these because they’re short and will hopefully raise all sorts of questions in your mind which you can then research and come up with your own answers. All of that being said, much of the best material is in German. If you’ve got reasonably good German let me know and I’ll cheerfully post links in the meantime as it’s the military history aspect you’re interested in:

    The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College: Hamas and Hizbollah: The Radical Challenge to Israel in the Occupied Territories

    The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College: The 2006 Lebanon Campaign and the Future of Warfare: Implications for Army and Defense Policy

    Augustus Norton: Hezbollah: A Short History (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics). Reasonably good introduction.

    Nicholas Blandford: Warriors of God: Inside Hezbollah’s Thirty-Year Struggle Against Israel Nick Blandford’s is very good.

    Eitan Azani: Hezbollah: The Story of the Party of God From Revolution to Institutionalization – . So long as you bear in mind that Colonel Azani is an IDF Officer and thus is grinding a very large axe indeed you’ll find very useful material here. (Try googling for it you might be able to get it as a PDF rather than buying it from Amazon)

    Let me know if I can do more.

    mfi

  42. markfromireland permalink
    November 8, 2013

    While I think of it Ian

    Hizballah have said that they’re going to retaliate against Israeli attacks on Syria. They’ve been saying it for a while in private then to Lebanese journalists now they’re escalating the warnings using their good relationship with Kuwait’s al-Rai to issue the same warning. Any time they’ve done that it’s been the final warning and has usually been followed by them inflicting pain on Israel or its assets.

    mfi

  43. someofparts permalink
    November 8, 2013

    Thanks mfi!

    I just emailed a colleague at my office that has an interest in military history, asking for his recommendations. This was his answer –

    “Go to PJMedia.com. On it, Victor Davis Hanson lists about 40. He is a professor, so most will be in detail about something, rather than an overview.”

    Guess how relieved I am that I can ask you instead.

  44. someofparts permalink
    November 8, 2013

    Me again. Alas, if only I did speak German, but I don’t.

    I did think to ask someone else in the office who might be a better source. She’s a Colonel in the reserves. Says she will check the website for the reserves and send me any promising links. Daresay it will have the expected biases you mentioned, but will perhaps be a bit less ludicrously clueless than the response I got from the fellow I quoted in my last post.

    I keep wondering (being as I’m female) how big a role women could play in the kind of resistance organization we’re talking about. We are very effectively conditioned out of being as aggressive as we might be (at least in this nation) but, OTOH, we are the original invisible people in daddy-god patriarchal cultures, so the idea keeps lingering in my thinking.

  45. markfromireland permalink
    November 8, 2013

    Being as they’re female Hizballah have female auxiliaries who do the sort of thing – logistics, comms, and support that women do in other armys. (And they have used women suicide bombers to great effect). But female combat troops? Bad idea not because they can’t fight but because of what will be done to them if captured.

    mfi

  46. markfromireland permalink
    November 8, 2013

    And for the record in my experience women are very very very far from being invisible in Hizballah. Or in Middle-Eastern politics particularly social reform movements such as Hizballah or the Sadrists.

    mfi

  47. Ian Welsh permalink
    November 9, 2013

    I spent some time looking into female combat troops a while back. The best source of data is probably the USSR WWII experience.

    1) just as good marksmen as men. The record of female snipers in the USSR was exemplary and in the Olympics, though they compete separately, the data indicates just as good.

    2) better long term endurance in harsh circumstances.

    3) better fire control.

    4) less upper body strength, easier stress fractures, can’t run as fast.

    The problem, as the Israelis came to decide, is men. Both the way they react to female combat troops on their own side, and the way they treat female combat troops who are captured. If you’re going to do that, you’d best not be captured, as bad as it is for me, its far worse for women, as MFI indicates.

    That said, I do believe in giving women the same combat training as men.

    The historical record is simple enough: in real wars of conquest, all the men get killed, the children mostly get killed, and all the women get raped. We’re a very unpleasant species of Ape.

  48. Celsius 233 permalink
    November 9, 2013

    @ someofparts
    November 8, 2013
    Me again. Alas, if only I did speak German, but I don’t.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~
    If you can access the information/pdf’s via google; their language translator does a credible job most of the time.

  49. markfromireland permalink
    November 9, 2013

    Oh no argument whatsoever from me about teaching women how to fight, it’s a very good idea for precisely the reasons you give – we’re a downright vicious species whenever we think we can get away with it.

    mfi

  50. someofparts permalink
    November 12, 2013

    MFI – Thanks for the reading list. I copied and printed out the transcripts from your speaking events and read them this weekend. Also ordered a couple of the books you noted.

    I hadn’t actually been thinking of women literally being front line combat forces, for many of the reasons you noted. I just like the idea of women being armed and combat-trained generally for our own immediate safety and the safety of children we protect. The scene in Dances with Wolves comes to mind, when the advantage of firearms made it possible for the old men and women of the tribe to protect themselves against a rear-guard attack from fighters dispatched from the main fighting to surprise them by stealth. Also just for reasons of general attitude, to give women training, and weapons, that help us unlearn learned helplessness.

    Also, Celsius, thanks for the advice about Google translator. I thought of that, but have found that it doesn’t even do well at translating articles from current newspapers. So I felt that it just would not do the job for the sort of links MFI would provide, which would probably be somewhat complex even for someone able to read them without translation.

  51. markfromireland permalink
    November 13, 2013

    @ someofparts November 12, 2013

    I like the idea of women being armed and trained in their use and in how to fight for the same reasons you do.

    I hope you’ll find the books useful and as I said above if questions occur just ask, if I can answer I will.

    mfi

  52. Joe Katzman permalink
    November 17, 2013

    Celsius 233:
    **”But I do take issue with the above statement of yours; to wit, the Afghans are tough, possibly the toughest population on the planet. To compare us to them is at best, a very far reach.
    We’re soft by comparison and depend on hi-tech. Match that against the foot soldiers of the superb guerrilla fighters and we have witnessed over 20 years of defeat of the two strongest militaries in the world.
    I know you know this; but it must temper today’s realities there in the U.S.
    The U.S. does have some very tough guys, but per capita? I think not…”**

    Talk to some people who have been there. Tough != effective. In this culture, it’s a source of shame to fight badly. In theirs, you’re tough if you fight, and how you fight is irrelevant. The effects on things like discipline, tactics under fire, and marksmanship are not minor.

    The average Gaul was a lot tougher than the average Roman centurion. Who won?

    Don’t get me wrong. Facing Gauls is scary. But which war in American history had a level of casualties that was seriously ruinous? Note who they were fighting. And yeah, it was all set piece, the birth of modern war really. Now… imagine a guerilla resistance staffed by people who are far more effective in a fight, think strategically according to the western way of war, and have an intimate understanding of the society they live in. THAT is scary.

    Oh, and t-bear, timothy… you can relax a little bit. The kind of people who are in the military split in a way that doesn’t really give a damn if you’re in the Occupy movement. They either believe “follow orders given by a deemed legitimate authority,” or “I am a protector of Americans and anyone who wants me to murder them is my enemy.” Either group are likely to have about the same reaction between being told to shoot Tea Party demonstrators vs. being told to shoot Occupy demonstrators. It just doesn’t really split according to the target.

    Which is not to say it’s guaranteed to stay that way. Wise planning will look to cultivate friendly links with serving individuals and veteran’s organizations, and reinforce the “protector, never a murderer” meme in a number of ways. It doesn’t always work (*cough* Mexico), but sometimes it does, and has (Philippines, Egypt).

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