If shooting is one of your hobbies, you will have noticed that there is precious little ammunition, and guns are pretty thin on the ground, too. The panic-buyers, convinced that the United States will imminently go full-Zimbabwe, have picked store shelves clean. Enterprising hustlers have started buying up the remainder to flip to the Chicken-Littles at vastly inflated prices, ensuring that the supply chain will stay barren for at least a few more months. Needless to say, the specter of a renewed assault weapons ban has not dampened the irrationally exuberant buying of black rifles.
If shooting is not one of your hobbies, stick around, because this post is not just about Mr. Minuteman above: it’s a discussion of how we got to the point where millions of Americans are somewhat seriously preparing for a second civil war, albeit not seriously enough to get in shape.
If one holds that “he who governs least, governs best,” then William Henry Harrison was a truly exemplary statesman. Jefferson, the most eloquently anti-federalist President, expanded the power of the Presidency with the Louisiana Purchase despite worrying that his actions were unconstitutional; subsequent enablers of executive power-grabbing have largely abandoned such concerns, to the point that it took a thirteen-hour filibuster to confirm that drone strikes targeting American citizens on American soil were not, in fact, legally permissible.
The Bill of Rights may still be paid lip service, but most of its protections are long gone. Property can be seized before a trial has adjudicated guilt, protestors are pepper-sprayed and teargassed by police, and Congress is now seriously considering banning private sales of firearms. Sitting Senators have been detained at airports by the TSA, and the rest of us are allowed to choose between assault by radiation via the whole-body scanner, or groping at the hands of the boys in blue.
The house-to-house searches in Boston, conducted on the pretext of “exigent circumstances,” are the new nadir of the Land of the Free. When men and women cheer for police who, hours before, dragged them from their homes at gunpoint, the government can only grow bolder.
Some twenty-nine percent of Americans, it is reported, expect that armed revolution will become necessary within the next few years. The Department of Homeland Security has deemed people who keep more than a week’s worth of food possible domestic terrorists, bitter clingers to the ideal of rugged individualism.
The logic of empire, like the systemic manipulation of financial markets, is hostile to the rule of law, and thus to the long-term survival of the American Republic. It is in such a capricious political climate that fascism has its greatest appeal. At least the Dear Leader will make the trains run on time, and keep the banks from absconding with your money, but that will be cold comfort to those unfortunates deemed enemies of the state.
In the meantime, most of the American nation will slumber on, hypnotized by the wan blue glow of their television screens, gorged on cheap food, and sated by a torrent of Internet porn. Some will wake up, and realize that Columbia is dying on her feet. It is time for last rites, but the priest is nowhere to be found.
People are all too eager to leverage the government against their political foes, until Leviathan is invited to peer into every bedroom, and eavesdrop on every conversation. Where the power of the State does not yet reach, the wicked are crucified by narrative and public opinion. Woe betide the enemies of the clerisy of progress, at least for now; thoughtcrime will lose a man his livelihood and friends.
In Cyprus, depositors (petty creditors, really) saw their assets seized to keep troubled banks afloat. Similar plans have been floated in Italy, Spain, Canada, and New York. Wealth confiscations look to be the order of the day for some time to come, spiking a sharp increase in the price of physical gold. The drop in the gold futures market also seems to have precipitated a reassessment of Bitcoin’s viability.
Poor, desperate, childless young men are the backbone of upheaval, and there will soon be many more of them. While termagants continue to shriek about equal pay, the average dual-income household of today has less purchasing power than the average single-income household of the 1950s. While women throw themselves at rapists and mass murderers both foreign and domestic, half of those men who endeavor to start a family will have it ripped from them by divorce.
Depite all the thunderheads on the horizon, nothing will happen, at least for a while. But the center cannot hold, and ours are certainly interesting times.