The USDA Farmers Bulletin, an Untapped Resource

Cover of USDA Farm Bulletin # 1

How many folks know that the USDA was not always a vehicle for farm subsidies and welfare administration and to some extent even still does useful things for the American farmer?  Given the current political environment i would guess that the number is low.  However, throughout its history (the Department was created in 1862 by Abe Lincoln), one of the main things it has done is try to assist American farmers in increasing their agricultural output.  One of the ways it has done this is through the issuance of USDA Farm Bulletins on all kinds of topics related to farms and farming starting in 1889.  It was especially active in doing this during the first half of the 20th century, especially during the Depression years.

Because these bulletins are government products they are in the public domain and archive.org and some other groups have led the way in digitizing these bulletins and making them available for free download, they even have a searchable index page with links to digital copies – https://archive.org/details/usda-farmersbulletin. The USDA National Agricultural Library also maintains an index by title, author, number, or subject on their page at – https://pubs.nal.usda.gov/sites/pubs.nal.usda.gov/files/fb.htm#sortnbr.

These are invaluable resources for the prepper who expects societal collapse as many detail long forgotten pre-farm mechanization/industrial farming cultivation methods.  Methods that many modern farmers are no longer proficient with because they are no longer used.  I urge all preppers to at least browse the index, you might be surprised what you find in there.

Civil War/Revolution, Is it a Possibility?

I saw this on Infowars this morning: The United States Is On The Precipice Of Widespread Civil Unrest

Yeah, Yeah, I know this is Infowars and thus to be taken with a very hefty grain of salt but the piece brings up a very valid point. Would a Trump assassination or even an attempt on his life ignite widespread civil disturbance? There is no doubt that his election has been one of the most divisive events in modern history. Just about every action he has taken since his inauguration has brought about protests heck, even the inauguration itself brought on protests.  The only event even remotely similar in US history that I can think of is Lincoln’s 1860 victory.

If you were not serious or only half serious about prepping now is a good time to rethink your prepping priorities.  Don’t forget that anonymous is a left-wing group and the American left is increasingly unhinged and moving to extremes.  When extremes go mainstream we should all be worried.

A Collapse: 8-Civil War/Revolution

I am reposting this now in the face of all the idiocy from the left and the right since the inauguration.  Things have been getting more interesting by the minute since January 20th.

Originally posted on 16 Aug 2016. I initially wrote this piece over a year ago and as I got it ready for posting I was continually struck by how eerily prescient this seems to be.  In many ways, civil unrest is the most likely collapse scenario and even harder to predict.  Given the current state of American politics and the sorry choices presented by both major parties this year I fear that this is a real possibility in the near future unless the politurds in Washington show more leadership ability than they have recently.  This post is also hugely long for a blog post.

Some of the following is an excerpt from one of the books I am working on as a follow up to The Simple Survival Smart Book  and some are additions to that.

This post verges on the political and regardless of how hard I try my conclusions and predictions are inevitably colored by my own political beliefs and convictions.  I just wanted to make that clear up front and encourage those that disagree with me to debate where and why they think I am wrong in the comments section.

Note that I am deliberately excluding from the below discussions what I call the conspiracy theory wackos, these are Truthers, Birthers, the AGW crowd, and the rest of the tinfoil hat brigade who can fall on either side of the political spectrum.  Folks that are only dangerous individually and who I personally think suffer from some sort of mental illness because they obviously cannot accept facts, do not understand logic, and therefore have to conjure up boogiemen to satisfy themselves.  These are the same type of people that were condemning housewives as witches in 17th century Salem, MA or denouncing their neighbors to Torquemada’s henchmen in 15th century Spain; they don’t see demons around every corner anymore, instead they see aliens, government agents, or toadies from the Illuminati, Trilateral, Bilderberg, Global Corporations, The food and/or medical industries, Big Pharma, etc. I personally refuse to debate these people as they have an uncanny ability to ignore and even subvert rational thought.

Between the Occupy Wall Street crowd, BLM, Sovereign Citizen types, illegal immigration advocates, far-left anarchists, eco-terror groups, and ethnic/racial grievance mongers, there are plenty of angry folks walking the streets of America and indeed, the Western World.  Many groups with similar points of view exist throughout the Western world (some examples include the PEGIDA protesters and AfD party in Germany, UKIP in the UK, and the Front National in France) .  Groups that believe the current system is broken and see no real way to effect change from within the system even though some are trying.  I find it ironic that so many people at protests wear the Guy Fawkes masks made famous by the movie V for Vendetta because Guy Fawkes was at best a stooge and potential regicide and at worst an unredeemed anarchist depending upon which history you read.  Fawkes sought to change the order of things through violence, it very well could happen again within our lifetime.

Lots of people like tossing around this line from Thomas Jefferson made during the debate on the ratification of the US Constitution: The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”  That line is pretty striking but it is somewhat out of context.  Better context can be gained from knowing what he said before and after uttering that sentence.  In full it is:

We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a hA.L.F. for each state. What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure. Our Convention has been too much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusets: and in the spur of the moment they are setting up a kite to keep the hen yard in order. I hope in god this article will be rectified before the new Constitution is accepted.”(sic)

The rebellion referenced in the quote is Shay’s Rebellion of 1786-1787, which occurred in Massachusetts.  Shay’s Rebellion was started ostensibly because of elites economically and legally oppressing the yeoman farmers of western Massachusetts.  It was not much of a rebellion as far as rebellions go, with less than 10 dead for no result.  It probably affected how strong the Federal government was made when the Constitution was written but even that is debated. What it did though, was set a precedent.

What that means for today is that a spirit of rebellion persists in America.  That spirit has existed throughout American history from the anti-tax Whiskey rebellion of 1791, the states’ rights and slaveholders of the US Civil War, Bootleggers of Prohibition, Ant-Vietnam War Protesters of the 60’s, to the modern movements of Occupy Wall Street, Sovereign Citizen types, illegal immigrant advocates, and ethnic/racial grievance mongers.  It is one of these four groups that will precipitate any Civil War in the US.  My bet for the instigators would be on Occupy Wall Street/Leftist types or Sovereign Citizen types activists.  In either case it will be people on the fringe of either movement that cause a break that sucks more moderate people in.  To clarify, Personally, I fall into the Sovereign Citizen crowd but don’t think conditions are quite bad enough to warrant armed insurrection at this point although that point may indeed be someday reached.

Since I don’t care if I piss off some lefties we will start with them.  Specifically, we will start with

OWS Logo

OWS Logo

Occupy Wall Street, or just OWS.  OWS started in 2011 with protests in New York City against the supposed excesses of investment banks, bankers, and essentially business in general.  From the occupywallstreet.org website about page OWS is defined as: Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #ows is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to fight back against the richest 1% of people that are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.”  OWS advocates love to claim that they represent the voice of the 99% who don’t have the economic power to effect change.  Ironically enough, most OWS protesters were college kids whose parents were putting them through school.  Even the Huffington Post, not considered a bastion of conservative thought called them out on that lie finding that OWS protesters were “overwhelmingly white, highly educated and employed.”  That finding comes from a report prepared by the Joseph F. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies at the City University of New York.[1]  The report itself can be found at this URL: http://sps.cuny.edu/filestore/1/5/7/1_a05051d2117901d/1571_92f562221b8041e.pdf and makes pretty interesting and at times entertaining reading as it is clear that the report authors are unhappy about the results they found from their survey.  I gathered that they expected different results from the ones they got.

The OWS crowd is not the real danger on the left though, that honor goes to the far left anarchists and ecoterrorists/advocates.  These are groups like Anonymous, Earth First!, and the Animal Liberation Front (A.L.F.).  These are groups that are way out there on a limb but believe in their base ideologies with the fervency and faith of the worst religious fanatics in history.  The hard core of these groups have the same asceticism and intensity of religious zealots as well.  They live lives devoted to righting the wrongs that only they can truly perceive.  These fanatics often exist among more moderate groups and since they are unwilling to compromise they have a tendency to lead more moderate groups inexorably down the path to more and more radical acts.  The core of these types of folks end up in fringe groups like those mentioned above.  These are groups that follow the dictates of whatever it is they think there higher calling is.  The danger in such groups is not that they themselves can start a Civil War, but that their actions cause more moderate people to start drawing line that they will not cross and thus narrowing the room for societal compromise.  On their own, Anonymous, Earth First!, A.L.F., and similar groups are problems for law enforcement, it is only when they influence larger groups as they did during the OWS phenomenon that they become dangerous to society at large.

Let’s look at my big three lefty groups Anonymous, Earth First!, and A.L.F..  Anonymous is a very

Guy Fawkes Mask used by Anonymous supporters

Guy Fawkes Mask used by Anonymous supporters

shadowy hacker group that engages in brazen computer attacks against any groups or individuals that attract their ire.  They seem mostly to go after companies that want to protect copyrighted material but in the past several years have branched out into taking more political type targets such as government agencies they feel infringe on information freedom.  Anonymous was prominent in supporting OWS protests as well as supporting rebels in many Arab nations in the “Arab Spring” of 2011.  For a long time anonymous was active in supporting Wikileaks but withdrew their support in 2012 when WIkileaks erected a paywall to access the information they hosted.[2]

The danger with anonymous is that they will get so upset that they execute a cyberattack on some computer controlled infrastructure that causes real physical damage instead of just shutting down a website or causing financial loss.  Once they demonstrate such a capability they become very dangerous and their generally left-leaning politics makes them attractive to other leftists groups who may seek to coordinate attack with them.  The capabilities anonymous brings to any left inspired insurrection make them a force multiplier in military speak but not necessarily a power in their own right.  It is kind of hard to really control anything when all you have is a computer.  It may reduce capabilities to remove machines from the network, but it will not kill us.  Anonymous and their capabilities are probably with a whole other article that would rapidly get very technical on the ubiquity of data, the risks associated with the increasing networking of aspects of basic services, and why groups such as anonymous are potentially so dangerous.

EF fistEarth First! Is one of those wacky, far out environmentalist groups that get very little play in the media because I suspect that the media or at least most journalists, largely agree with them.  If you want to see their wackiness for yourself Just visit the About page maintained at earthfirst.org.  They engage in random acts of civil disobedience, sabotage, and admittedly terror aimed at attempting to force companies and individuals to respect and treat the earth’s environment as Earth First! thinks it should be treated.  Some of the first actions by Earth First! were tree sit-ins in the Pacific northwest to stop logging, this was followed by tree spiking.  Tree spiking is the act of putting long nails into random trees in logging areas, the hope is that when a logger goes to cut down the spiked tree the chainsaw will catch on the spike  hopefully breaking the saw blade.  Tree spiking has the potential to injure or kill loggers and is a felony in the US.  They have went on committed more acts of sabotage such as vandalism at ski resorts,

One thing about Earth First! is that they are a small group, probably only a few hundred to thousand members in the whole US.  That makes them hard to track and they have also instituted a cell type structure meaning that even if one cell is busted the rest are relatively secure.  Such a structure is a necessity if you are going to go on the kind of crime spree they have.  They have also continued to radicalize since their founding and now spout not just an environmental line but increasingly use anarchist rhetoric about the “man”, corporatism, and the modern system in general.  The continued descent of Earth First! into further radicalism is worrisome because the fit into a wider anarchist subculture that increasingly see humanity itself as a problem and it is not a leap to think they could one day decide to fix the root of the problem, mankind itself.  Even scarier is that most radical environmentalists are not stupid people and they have the skills to cook up some serious stuff if they so desire.   It is entirely conceivable that they could come up with and execute a Daybreak style scenario as John Barnes posits in his Daybreak books that disables modern technology through the use of nano-tech and engineered biologicals.

ALF LogoThe Animal Liberation Front (A.L.F.) is another far left group that engages in illegal, terroristic type activities in pursuit of an agenda.  Their agenda is animal rights and I have often thought of them as the dark side of PETA.  They have an interesting website where all their wackiness is on display for the world to see.  Their mission and objective statements say just about everything anybody needs to know about them:

The ALF Mission Statement: To effectively allocate resources (time and money) to end the “property” status of nonhuman animals.  The Objective of the Mission: To abolish institutionalized animal exploitation because it assumes that animals are property.”

A.L.F. engages in animal rights related terrorist and disruptive activities ranging from vandalizing store windows to releasing animals on farms, breaking into medical research labs, and targeting people working in industries that work with animals in the extreme.  They push the idea that an animal has just as many, if not more rights than does a human being.  These are the meat is murder types who take that position to its logical extreme.  They even have a section on their website where they proudly list all the illegal activities that there members worldwide engage in that they call ALF Actions.  These are not the people who see a pig and think bacon, they see a pig and see a kindred spirit in need of protection and of course they are the only ones who want to provide that protection.

Since the original writing of this post the Black Lives Matter (BLM) crowd has gained increasing visibility. This started as protests against the police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri of a young black man named Michael Brown in August, 2014 in circumstances which were eventually ruled justified by a local grand jury. After Ferguson, the movement gained speed and reach with just about every officer involved shooting involving blacks in the country precipitated at times massive protests. Of note were protests and near riots in NYC and Baltimore in 2015. Most times the shootings have been ruled legitimate uses of force and when they are not the officers are generally charged. That being said, I have been led to wonder at times if the prosecution of policemen for on-duty conduct in the wake of the BLM movement have not been politically motivated. At times the protests have turned violent themselves and police response has been muted due to fears of unfair treatment at the hands of politicians if they use force to quell violent protests.

Personally, I have not managed to wrap my mind around the whole BLM movement. It seems to me that many of the problems in the black community are to a degree self-inflicted. That is not to say that there are not societal and historical reasons for blacks to be underprivileged, there are. It does mean that many, but not all, in the black community have taken the easy way out of their problems by blaming them on others and refusing to take responsibility for fixing it themselves. I particularly blame the so-called leaders of the black community such as Ta-neshi Coates, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton for this. Instead of taking the high road they have traveled down the road of demanding redress instead of fixing problems.

As for the potential for violence, BLM protests have shown again and again that they can and do turn violent. So far, it has been formless violence, rioting, looting, and such, but the potential for organized violence is there. What makes that potential worse are the racial and anti-government elements of the BLM rhetoric. Essentially, the BLM movement is anti-white and anti-government and if it does turn violent in an organized manner there is a potential for large portions of many American cities to become very dangerous places indeed and it is next to impossible to predict an exact even that will set them off.

That does it for the most radical groups on the left, but what about radicals on the right?  They exist as well.  Groups such as the OWS, Earth First!, and ALF are just the radical fringe on the left of the political spectrum.  It is that radical fringe that will drag the moderates into a Civil War though.  Just remember, John Brown was a radical abolitionist who decided the political system was not working fast enough and took matters into his own hands.  The raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 was not the spark that started the civil war, but his actions caused the hardline slave-owners to determine that they would not compromise in the debate about the right to own slaves and it was this hardening of opinion that eventually led to secession and Civil War in 1861.  Just because radical groups are small does not mean they cannot have effects all out of proportion to the size of the group, especially if they pick an issue that many feel can be galvanizing.

That was just a taste of the types of groups on the radical left.  The left has no monopoly on radicalism though, there are plenty of radicals on the right side of the political spectrum as well and in some ways they are potentially even more dangerous.  While plenty of people might get upset about over-logging, CO2 emissions, water pollution, and animal testing, not many are upset enough to go to war over these issues.  That is not the case with some of the issues on the right.  There are plenty of people willing to go to war because they feel their freedoms and liberties are violated on a regular basis and that is a feeling that is just getting stronger as the Government and voting public ignore these concerns.  Some of these concerns even cross political boundaries such as that of the militarization of local police.  The main issues that motivate and galvanize the political right however, are mainly political with a dash of cultural/ethical/moral thrown in. These are issues such as government spending, government infringement on Constitutional liberties and freedoms, welfare spending, religious exclusion, parental rights, gay marriage, and of course the atom bomb of wedge issues; abortion.   There is a smidgen of racism on the right in American politics but it is on the fringe of the right and disowned by the vastly overwhelming majority of conservatives and so should rightly be ignored but commentators on the left never is an opportunity to claim the right is full of racist bigots.

This section is probably going to raise a few people’s hackles if you have gotten this far in reading, but an objective appraisal means that even those of us on the right have to acknowledge there are some strange types on the conservative bench also.  I won’t even pretend that I understand the motivation of some groups, be they left or right so wherever I can I will use their own words as examples.  The radicals on the right, and they are there, although contrary to the media they are not everywhere.  The common target for left-wing media ire is the TEA Party, which is anything but radical.  The TEA Party is all about government accountability and fiscal restraint although to hear the media and left talk they are a bunch of revolutionaries foaming at the mouth to tear the system down and rebuild a pre-civil war slave state while simultaneously deporting or expelling everybody not of European stock in the country.  What the TEA Party really wants is for government to get out of citizens daily lives and let them go about living how they choose so long as they do not hurt others.  It really is that simple.  That means lower taxes, less bureaucracy, and less regulation of everything from business to what flag you fly in front of your house.

the-tea-party-political-party-2There is a fringe of nominal TEA Party adherents that in my opinion use the TEA Party as a convenient label.  These are the Sovereign Citizen types and Ron Paul libertarians that think just about any government is too much and it almost appears as if they manufacture grievance out of thin air.  Some of these guys are just as volatile as any A.L.F. member or Eartfirster! And just as liable to violence.

It is important to note that most rightist extremists generally don’t organize themselves in groups the way the lefty’s do.  Most are just ideological movements or a shared philosophy among individuals that exchange information through newsletters, websites, and magazines.  There are probably not leaders for any of them that everyone listens too although there are some that come close. Some of the right extremist groups are the Sovereign Citizen/Posse Comitatus Movement, Christian Identity,, Oathkeepers/III%, and of course that perennial bugbear of the left, the Militia Movement.

Sovereign_Citizen_Movement_LogoSovereign Citizen/Posse Comitatus Movement first as that ideology probably has the largest number of adherents of any group on the right.  I am sure we all remember the standoff at the Cliven Bundy Ranch in Nevada in the April of 2014.  The facts in the case were ignored by both sides in the media storm that followed the BLM’s admittedly heavy handed tactics to get his cattle off of Federal land.  Here is a succinct summary from the Las Vegas Review-Journal in an article about an accident that occurred 2 days after the stand off ended: “The rancher’s federal grazing permit was canceled 20 years ago after Bundy stopped paying his grazing fees in a dispute over the BLM’s new range restrictions meant to protect the desert tortoise. The land since has been closed to grazing, but Bundy kept his livestock on the range, and the government kept assessing fees and penalties that now exceed $1 million.”  Bundy has espoused some views that fit into both the Sovereign Citizen/Posse Comitatus Movement repertoire.  Of course there was also, and more recently, the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the winter of 2015/2016 in whivh one of Bundy’s sons was onvolved and was resolved for the most part without violence except for the police killing of Robert Finicum, which predictably immediately gave rise to cries of murder although I am not certain even yet that the full facts have come out or will ever come out.

Bundy StandoffWhat is a Sovereign Citizen?  At root, a Sovereign Citizen is someone who rejects the authority of the federal government specifically, and most state governments as well.  A Sovereign Citizen believes they are sovereign in and unto themselves and thus beholden to no earthly law.  Forbes did a really good piece exploring what Sovereign Citizenship is a few years ago.  At root the Sovereign Citizen movement is an anti-authority and especially anti-tax movement.  Sovereign Citizens don’t often get violent, what they do instead is clog up the courts with petty and frivolous lawsuits, engage in tax fraud, money counterfeiting, wacky diplomatic immunity cases, and such.  Most Sovereign Citizens engage in what I like to call lawfare.  That is they attempt to use the laws of the US in ways they were not supposed to be used and often in direct contradiction to the text of the law itself.  They engage in some creative interpretation of the law and case precedent.  You know you have stumbled across a Sovereign Citizen website when they throw in a citation to some obscure precedent from state, local, or federal law just about every other line.  Check out this explanation of Sovereign Citizenship at civil-liberties.com for an example.  While I normally disparage the Southern Policy Law Center as a bunch of liberal hacks, they did put together a very good special issue detailing Sovereign Citizens and the methods and beliefs they hold.

Sovereign Citizens are zealots and they have a tendency to get violent when confronted by police.  Hell, it has happened again recently.  A Sovereign Citizen was shot in Alabama on 30 December, 2014 while struggling with police after refusing to show ID when trying to turn in a stray to an animal shelter.  That being said, there is no one central leader or even group of leaders of the Sovereign Citizen movement.  It is a potpourri of individuals and some groups that share a basic set of beliefs.  The Sovereign Citizen can be scary and dangerous as an individual but they pose no more than an individual threat.  What they could do though is multiply any collapse by seizing the opportunity to make their rants real and contribute to the chaos around them.

Another movement associated with the political right is the Christian Identity movement.  I say they are associated with the right but no true conservative will have anything to do with them.  It is a fringe movement that like other fringe movements attracts the hopeless and helpless in search of meaning who have found it nowhere else.  Christian Identity is one such group.  The movement is essentially a racist perversion of Christian beliefs.  From the Kingdom Identity church of Arkansas’ website they self-describe as “Politically Incorrect Christian Identity outreach ministry to God’s chosen race (true Israel, the White, European peoples.”  How that can be any clearer I don’t have a clue.  The FBI produced an informative fact sheet about the Christian Identity movement in 1999 that is still available on their archives page.conquer1

There have been some Christian Identity attacks or incidents in the past but virtually all were racially motivated.  The Christian Identity movement is more ideological and about its adherents finding salvation than it is apocalyptic.  I can see them taking advantage of a collapse but not acting to begin one.  In fact, the odiousness of their beliefs to the vast majority of people would rapidly make them outcasts in a collapse situation.  When the SHTF what matters is trustworthiness and usefulness to the group, not the color of a person’s skin.  Christian Identity types are out there but are not a threat unless you are the wrong ethnicity and they catch you in a dark alley one night.

I am personally ambiguous about the Oathkeepers/III%. I am not sure whether they are seditious and harmless, misguided, or just plain silly. First off, who and what are the Oathkeepers/III%? They have a website at http://www.Oathkeepers/III%.org. The short version of who they are is: “Military, Veterans, and peace officers who will honor their oaths to defend the Constitution, will NOT “just follow orders,” will stand for liberty, and will save the Republic, so help us God. Our motto is: “Not on Our Watch!”” They further have a list of 10 orders that people who identify as Oathkeepers/III% will refuse to obey. The list is below.

  1. We will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people.
  2. We will NOT obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people
  3. We will NOT obey orders to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to military tribunal.
  4. We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state.
  5. We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty.
  6. We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
  7. We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.
  8. We will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control.”
  9. We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.
  10. We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.

OathKeepersTheir list of illegal orders is actually pretty good and pretty much covers all the bases. Now here is what gets me about the Oathkeepers/III% and why I have problems with them. I am not sure about police but I know that the Oath of Enlistment in the armed forces according to Title 10 U.S. Code § 502 specifically requires only that lawful orders be followed making the Oathkeepers/III% promise at a minimum redundant and at best borderline seditious.

I guess my biggest problem with the Oathkeepers/III% is the tinfoil hat paranoia of its proponents. As if they think LEOs, military, and vets are unthinking sheep that would gladly mow down fellow citizens if ordered to just as easily as SS thugs rounded up and murdered Jews in World War II. As a vet myself I take personal offense at the notion that the groups or type of person the Oathkeepers/III% are targeted at are considered so base and ignorant that they must be reminded their job is to protect civilians, not murder them. Not only are we so stupid, they are encouraging us to take an additional oath affirming what we have already sworn.

My last and biggest problem is the rebellious nature of the whole Oathkeepers/III% project. The whole point of the oath seems to be to incite rebellion amongst the military and police. The entirety of the concept behind the Oathkeepers/III% is that our local and national leaders are deceitful, spiteful, viscous, and vengeful despots just looking for an excuse to really bring the hammer down and enact their tyrannical fantasies on an unsuspecting, compliant, and stupid public. If that is the case then no number of people swearing an oath that there is bridge too far can save the Republic. As to whether Oathkeepers/III% are a potential fifth column or an expression of freedom, I think that is up to the individual.

One thing is clear, people who take Oathkeepers/III% pledge probably violate their oaths of service when they put conditions on that service, many of which are explicit or implicit in the very oath they swore upon their enlistment or commissioning.

militia-movementFinally, we come to the last group/groups, the Militia Movement.  Anyone alive and politically aware in the 90’s remembers the outpouring of angst about the Militia Movement.  This was especially true after the 1995 OKC bombing by Timothy McVeigh.  The rise of the movement was a result of the incidents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco, Texas in the early 90’s.  In neither incident were the Feds entirely at fault for what happened.  The Feds made some stupid decisions but there was plenty of stupidity to go around on both sides.

Simplified, at Ruby Ridge, Idaho Randy Weaver was not a saint, he was wanted for federal firearms violations and his son reacted violently to the US Marshal’s that came to arrest him.  This caused a stand-off that led to a sniper opening fire on the cabin where Weaver and the rest of his family were holed up.  The Feds were too quick to use deadly force, but so were Weaver and his family.

The short version of Waco.  David Koresh was a cult leader, his cult was located in a compound just outside Waco.  The cult was a millennial doomsday cult that broke off from the Seventh Day Adventists known as the Branch Davidians.  The group was involved in both legal and illegal activities to include gunrunning and selling guns t gun shows.  It was the gun running that got the ATF interested in the group.  In February, 1993 the ATF attempted to serve a search warrant the Waco compound, they were fired upon by cult members as they approached the door.  The ATF tried to storm the compound but were driven off.  The fighting on this first day was caught on video by a local news station and broadcast live.  After the firefight at the compound the Feds laid siege to the compound.  The siege ended 50 days later when the whole complex burned to the ground, apparently set afire by smoke grenades used as the feds attempted to assault the compound again.  In the aftermath, 76 cult members including David Koresh, the cult leader and 21 children died in the fire.


Those were two of the defining moments that inspired the militia’s of the 90’s, I could not even begin to tell you what they are today.  Fact is that militias are on the rise again.  Whether you buy the line from the left that a black president, illegal immigration, economic downturn, and a huge racist component are to blame is irrelevant.  What is a militia and what is the general goal of such groups.?

Most, if not all, militia groups claim legitimacy because of colonial and evolutionary war concepts of the militia being every able-bodied male in the population.  They claim further legitimacy based on Title 10 U.S. Code § 311, which is the militia law.  It states that:

 “(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are—

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.”

That is all fine as far as it goes and there is actually nothing wrong with belonging to a militia.

The issue comes when it gets down to ideology.  Nobody gets involved in a militia because they see no threat and need something to do on the weekends.  Many folks feel the country is not going in the right direction and think the Federal Government is out to stomp on their rights and grind them into pieces in the process.  How else do you explain all the talk about FEMA camps, Impending Martial Law, Chemtrails, Truthers, Population Control, Birthers, the North American Union, New World Order, Bilderberg, Trilateral, you name it.  There are plenty of conspiracy theories out there so pick your poison.  Militia ideology comes in many shapes, forms and sizes from constitutional militia, racist based (black & white supremacists), state sovereignty, states’ rights, Christian Patriots, and more.  All share a common belief that something is not right with the USA and the way it is currently run.  The overwhelming majority just get together and train on military tactics and weapons, share books and videos, and generally reinforce each other’s beliefs.

Concept sketch of the Citadel, a militia based community currently being planned for construction in Idaho

Concept sketch of the Citadel, a militia based community currently being planned for construction in Idaho

What do militias do?  They generally meet and engage in military training and plan for contingencies in which they think they will be needed.  This defines most communal prepper groups as well as far as government is concerned.  Some groups even go so far as to build compounds and camps in remote locations to use as secure locations should the need arise.  What is of most concern to law enforcement is that militias also have a tendency to stockpile large caches of weapons and sometimes illegal explosives.  They represent a challenge to government authority, which is their whole purpose after all.  The danger from such groups is that they will start to think change is not happening soon enough and then seek to kick start or implement the change they desire by themselves using the training and skills they have developed in their meetings to instigate something.

Mostly, I consider that the likelihood of Civil War/Revolution hangs on governmental actions and the average person’s reaction to them.  It will take a goodly percentage, likely between 30%-50% of the population being outraged enough to do something to make the prospect of Civil War/Revolution viable.  That will take a lot of pushing in the decadent state of modern American society.  I just don’t see the political class being stupid enough to pass some grand gesture type of infringement on rights to provoke such a reaction.  In all probability, they will continue as they have throughout the history of the Republic and nickel and dime chip away at rights and liberties until we wake up one day and realize we have none and w further do not have the means to fight back and restore our lost liberty.  They might even be slick enough to convince people that such loss of liberty is in their best interest.  That is how the USA Patriot Act got passed in the wake of 9/11 after all.  Good despots convince people that oppression is good for them, just look at history.

Now that I have all of that covered, mostly very briefly, what do I see the likelihood of a new Civil War/Revolution being?  ? I actually do think the chances of Civil War/Revolution have risen in the year since I initially wrote this. I do however; see the various avenues that it could begin multiplying.  Here are my cloudy crystal ball predictions.

Short-term-the next 5 years – roughly 1% chance of a Civil War/Revolution occurring

Medium-term-in 5-15 years – roughly 3% chance of a Civil War/Revolution occurring, this changes greatly depending on who wins the election this fall and how radical they are once they get into office.

Long-term-more than 15 years from now – roughly 10% chance of a Civil War/Revolution occurring

A Collapse: 8-Civil War/Revolution

I initially wrote this piece over a year ago and as I got it ready for posting I was continually struck by how eerily prescient this seems to be.  In many ways, civil unrest is the most likely collapse scenario and even harder to predict.  Given the current state of American politics and the sorry choices presented by both major parties this year I fear that this is a real possibility in the near future unless the politurds in Washington show more leadership ability than they have recently.  This post is also hugely long for a blog post.

Some of the following is an excerpt from one of the books I am working on as a follow up to The Simple Survival Smart Book  and some are additions to that.

This post verges on the political and regardless of how hard I try my conclusions and predictions are inevitably colored by my own political beliefs and convictions.  I just wanted to make that clear up front and encourage those that disagree with me to debate where and why they think I am wrong in the comments section.

Note that I am deliberately excluding from the below discussions what I call the conspiracy theory wackos, these are Truthers, Birthers, the AGW crowd, and the rest of the tinfoil hat brigade who can fall on either side of the political spectrum.  Folks that are only dangerous individually and who I personally think suffer from some sort of mental illness because they obviously cannot accept facts, do not understand logic, and therefore have to conjure up boogiemen to satisfy themselves.  These are the same type of people that were condemning housewives as witches in 17th century Salem, MA or denouncing their neighbors to Torquemada’s henchmen in 15th century Spain; they don’t see demons around every corner anymore, instead they see aliens, government agents, or toadies from the Illuminati, Trilateral, Bilderberg, Global Corporations, The food and/or medical industries, Big Pharma, etc. I personally refuse to debate these people as they have an uncanny ability to ignore and even subvert rational thought.

Between the Occupy Wall Street crowd, BLM, Sovereign Citizen types, illegal immigration advocates, far-left anarchists, eco-terror groups, and ethnic/racial grievance mongers, there are plenty of angry folks walking the streets of America and indeed, the Western World.  Many groups with similar points of view exist throughout the Western world (some examples include the PEGIDA protesters and AfD party in Germany, UKIP in the UK, and the Front National in France) .  Groups that believe the current system is broken and see no real way to effect change from within the system even though some are trying.  I find it ironic that so many people at protests wear the Guy Fawkes masks made famous by the movie V for Vendetta because Guy Fawkes was at best a stooge and potential regicide and at worst an unredeemed anarchist depending upon which history you read.  Fawkes sought to change the order of things through violence, it very well could happen again within our lifetime.

Lots of people like tossing around this line from Thomas Jefferson made during the debate on the ratification of the US Constitution: The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”  That line is pretty striking but it is somewhat out of context.  Better context can be gained from knowing what he said before and after uttering that sentence.  In full it is:

We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a hA.L.F. for each state. What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure. Our Convention has been too much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusets: and in the spur of the moment they are setting up a kite to keep the hen yard in order. I hope in god this article will be rectified before the new Constitution is accepted.”(sic)

The rebellion referenced in the quote is Shay’s Rebellion of 1786-1787, which occurred in Massachusetts.  Shay’s Rebellion was started ostensibly because of elites economically and legally oppressing the yeoman farmers of western Massachusetts.  It was not much of a rebellion as far as rebellions go, with less than 10 dead for no result.  It probably affected how strong the Federal government was made when the Constitution was written but even that is debated. What it did though, was set a precedent.

What that means for today is that a spirit of rebellion persists in America.  That spirit has existed throughout American history from the anti-tax Whiskey rebellion of 1791, the states’ rights and slaveholders of the US Civil War, Bootleggers of Prohibition, Ant-Vietnam War Protesters of the 60’s, to the modern movements of Occupy Wall Street, Sovereign Citizen types, illegal immigrant advocates, and ethnic/racial grievance mongers.  It is one of these four groups that will precipitate any Civil War in the US.  My bet for the instigators would be on Occupy Wall Street/Leftist types or Sovereign Citizen types activists.  In either case it will be people on the fringe of either movement that cause a break that sucks more moderate people in.  To clarify, Personally, I fall into the Sovereign Citizen crowd but don’t think conditions are quite bad enough to warrant armed insurrection at this point although that point may indeed be someday reached.

Since I don’t care if I piss off some lefties we will start with them.  Specifically, we will start with

OWS Logo

OWS Logo

Occupy Wall Street, or just OWS.  OWS started in 2011 with protests in New York City against the supposed excesses of investment bank, bankers, and essentially business in general.  From the occupywallstreet.org website about page OWS is defined as: Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #ows is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to fight back against the richest 1% of people that are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.”  OWS advocates love to claim that they represent the voice of the 99% who don’t have the economic power to effect change.  Ironically enough, most OWS protesters were college kids whose parents were putting them through school.  Even the Huffington Post, not considered a bastion of conservative thought called them out on that lie finding that OWS protesters were “overwhelmingly white, highly educated and employed.”  That finding comes from a report prepared by the Joseph F. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies at the City University of New York.[1]  The report itself can be found at this URL: http://sps.cuny.edu/filestore/1/5/7/1_a05051d2117901d/1571_92f562221b8041e.pdf and makes pretty interesting and at times entertaining reading as it is clear that the report authors are unhappy about the results they found from their survey.  I gathered that they expected different results from the ones they got.

The OWS crowd is not the real danger on the left though, that honor goes to the far left anarchists and ecoterrorists/advocates.  These are groups like Anonymous, Earth First!, and the Animal Liberation Front (A.L.F.).  These are groups that are way out there on a limb but believe in their base ideologies with the fervency and faith of the worst religious fanatics in history.  The hard core of these groups have the same asceticism and intensity of religious zealots as well.  They live lives devoted to righting the wrongs that only they can truly perceive.  These fanatics often exist among more moderate groups and since they are unwilling to compromise they have a tendency to lead more moderate groups inexorably down the path to more and more radical acts.  The core of these types of folks end up in fringe groups like those mentioned above.  These are groups that follow the dictates of whatever it is they think there higher calling is.  The danger in such groups is not that they themselves can start a Civil War, but that their actions cause more moderate people to start drawing line that they will not cross and thus narrowing the room for societal compromise.  On their own, Anonymous, Earth First!, A.L.F., and similar groups are problems for law enforcement, it is only when they influence larger groups as they did during the OWS phenomenon that they become dangerous to society at large.

Let’s look at my big three lefty groups Anonymous, Earth First!, and A.L.F..  Anonymous is a very

Guy Fawkes Mask used by Anonymous supporters

Guy Fawkes Mask used by Anonymous supporters

shadowy hacker group that engages in brazen computer attacks against any groups or individuals that attract their ire.  They seem mostly to go after companies that want to protect copyrighted material but in the past several years have branched out into taking more political type targets such as government agencies they feel infringe on information freedom.  Anonymous was prominent in supporting OWS protests as well as supporting rebels in many Arab nations in the “Arab Spring” of 2011.  For a long time anonymous was active in supporting Wikileaks but withdrew their support in 2012 when WIkileaks erected a paywall to access the information they hosted.[2]

The danger with anonymous is that they will get so upset that they execute a cyberattack on some computer controlled infrastructure that causes real physical damage instead of just shutting down a website or causing financial loss.  Once they demonstrate such a capability they become very dangerous and their generally left-leaning politics makes them attractive to other leftists groups who may seek to coordinate attack with them.  The capabilities anonymous brings to any left inspired insurrection make them a force multiplier in military speak but not necessarily a power in their own right.  It is kind of hard to really control anything when all you have is a computer.  It may reduce capabilities to remove machines from the network, but it will not kill us.  Anonymous and their capabilities are probably with a whole other article that would rapidly get very technical on the ubiquity of data, the risks associated with the increasing networking of aspects of basic services, and why groups such as anonymous are potentially so dangerous.

EF fistEarth First! Is one of those wacky, far out environmentalist groups that get very little play in the media because I suspect that the media or at least most journalists, largely agree with them.  If you want to see their wackiness for yourself Just visit the About page maintained at earthfirst.org.  They engage in random acts of civil disobedience, sabotage, and admittedly terror aimed at attempting to force companies and individuals to respect and treat the earth’s environment as Earth First! thinks it should be treated.  Some of the first actions by Earth First! were tree sit-ins in the Pacific northwest to stop logging, this was followed by tree spiking.  Tree spiking is the act of putting long nails into random trees in logging areas, the hope is that when a logger goes to cut down the spiked tree the chainsaw will catch on the spike  hopefully breaking the saw blade.  Tree spiking has the potential to injure or kill loggers and is a felony in the US.  They have went on committed more acts of sabotage such as vandalism at ski resorts,

One thing about Earth First! is that they are a small group, probably only a few hundred to thousand members in the whole US.  That makes them hard to track and they have also instituted a cell type structure meaning that even if one cell is busted the rest are relatively secure.  Such a structure is a necessity if you are going to go on the kind of crime spree they have.  They have also continued to radicalize since their founding and now spout not just an environmental line but increasingly use anarchist rhetoric about the “man”, corporatism, and the modern system in general.  The continued descent of Earth First! into further radicalism is worrisome because the fit into a wider anarchist subculture that increasingly see humanity itself as a problem and it is not a leap to think they could one day decide to fix the root of the problem, mankind itself.  Even scarier is that most radical environmentalists are not stupid people and they have the skills to cook up some serious stuff if they so desire.   It is entirely conceivable that they could come up with and execute a Daybreak style scenario as John Barnes posits in his Daybreak books that disables modern technology through the use of nano-tech and engineered biologicals.

ALF LogoThe Animal Liberation Front (A.L.F.) is another far left group that engages in illegal, terroristic type activities in pursuit of an agenda.  Their agenda is animal rights and I have often thought of them as the dark side of PETA.  They have an interesting website where all their wackiness is on display for the world to see.  Their mission and objective statements say just about everything anybody needs to know about them:

The ALF Mission Statement: To effectively allocate resources (time and money) to end the “property” status of nonhuman animals.  The Objective of the Mission: To abolish institutionalized animal exploitation because it assumes that animals are property.”

A.L.F. engages in animal rights related terrorist and disruptive activities ranging from vandalizing store windows to releasing animals on farms, breaking into medical research labs, and targeting people working in industries that work with animals in the extreme.  They push the idea that an animal has just as many, if not more rights than does a human being.  These are the meat is murder types who take that position to its logical extreme.  They even have a section on their website where they proudly list all the illegal activities that there members worldwide engage in that they call ALF Actions.  These are not the people who see a pig and think bacon, they see a pig and see a kindred spirit in need of protection and of course they are the only ones who want to provide that protection.

Since the original writing of this post the Black Lives Matter (BLM) crowd has gained increasing visibility. This started as protests against the police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri of a young black man named Michael Brown in August, 2014 in circumstances which were eventually ruled justified by a local grand jury. After Ferguson, the movement gained speed and reach with just about every officer involved shooting involving blacks in the country precipitated at times massive protests. Of note were protests and near riots in NYC and Baltimore in 2015. Most times the shootings have been ruled legitimate uses of force and when they are not the officers are generally charged. That being said, I have been led to wonder at times if the prosecution of policemen for on-duty conduct in the wake of the BLM movement have not been politically motivated. At times the protests have turned violent themselves and police response has been muted due to fears of unfair treatment at the hands of politicians if they use force to quell violent protests.

Personally, I have not managed to wrap my mind around the whole BLM movement. It seems to me that many of the problems in the black community are to a degree self-inflicted. That is not to say that there are not societal and historical reasons for blacks to be underprivileged, there are. It does mean that many, but not all, in the black community have taken the easy way out of their problems by blaming them on others and refusing to take responsibility for fixing it themselves. I particularly blame the so-called leaders of the black community such as Ta-neshi Coates, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton for this. Instead of taking the high road they have traveled down the road of demanding redress instead of fixing problems.

As for the potential for violence, BLM protests have shown again and again that they can and do turn violent. So far, it has been formless violence, rioting, looting, and such, but the potential for organized violence is there. What makes that potential worse are the racial and anti-government elements of the BLM rhetoric. Essentially, the BLM movement is anti-white and anti-government and if it does turn violent in an organized manner there is a potential for large portions of many American cities to become very dangerous places indeed and it is next to impossible to predict an exact even that will set them off.

That does it for the most radical groups on the left, but what about radicals on the right?  They exist as well.  Groups such as the OWS, Earth First!, and ALF are just the radical fringe on the left of the political spectrum.  It is that radical fringe that will drag the moderates into a Civil War though.  Just remember, John Brown was a radical abolitionist who decided the political system was not working fast enough and took matters into his own hands.  The raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 was not the spark that started the civil war, but his actions caused the hardline slave-owners to determine that they would not compromise in the debate about the right to own slaves and it was this hardening of opinion that eventually led to secession and Civil War in 1861.  Just because radical groups are small does not mean they cannot have effects all out of proportion to the size of the group, especially if they pick an issue that many feel can be galvanizing.

That was just a taste of the types of groups on the radical left.  The left has no monopoly on radicalism though, there are plenty of radicals on the right side of the political spectrum as well and in some ways they are potentially even more dangerous.  While plenty of people might get upset about over-logging, CO2 emissions, water pollution, and animal testing, not many are upset enough to go to war over these issues.  That is not the case with some of the issues on the right.  There are plenty of people willing to go to war because they feel their freedoms and liberties are violated on a regular basis and that is a feeling that is just getting stronger as the Government and voting public ignore these concerns.  Some of these concerns even cross political boundaries such as that of the militarization of local police.  The main issues that motivate and galvanize the political right however, are mainly political with a dash of cultural/ethical/moral thrown in. These are issues such as government spending, government infringement on Constitutional liberties and freedoms, welfare spending, religious exclusion, parental rights, gay marriage, and of course the atom bomb of wedge issues; abortion.   There is a smidgen of racism on the right in American politics but it is on the fringe of the right and disowned by the vastly overwhelming majority of conservatives and so should rightly be ignored but commentators on the left never is an opportunity to claim the right is full of racist bigots.

This section is probably going to raise a few people’s hackles if you have gotten this far in reading, but an objective appraisal means that even those of us on the right have to acknowledge there are some strange types on the conservative bench also.  I won’t even pretend that I understand the motivation of some groups, be they left or right so wherever I can I will use their own words as examples.  The radicals on the right, and they are there, although contrary to the media they are not everywhere.  The common target for left-wing media ire is the TEA Party, which is anything but radical.  The TEA Party is all about government accountability and fiscal restraint although to hear the media and left talk they are a bunch of revolutionaries foaming at the mouth to tear the system down and rebuild a pre-civil war slave state while simultaneously deporting or expelling everybody not of European stock in the country.  What the TEA Party really wants is for government to get out of citizens daily lives and let them go about living how they choose so long as they do not hurt others.  It really is that simple.  That means lower taxes, less bureaucracy, and less regulation of everything from business to what flag you fly in front of your house.

the-tea-party-political-party-2There is a fringe of nominal TEA Party adherents that in my opinion use the TEA Party as a convenient label.  These are the Sovereign Citizen types and Ron Paul libertarians that think just about any government is too much and it almost appears as if they manufacture grievance out of thin air.  Some of these guys are just as volatile as any A.L.F. member or Eartfirster! And just as liable to violence.

It is important to note that most rightist extremists generally don’t organize themselves in groups the way the lefty’s do.  Most are just ideological movements or a shared philosophy among individuals that exchange information through newsletters, websites, and magazines.  There are probably not leaders for any of them that everyone listens too although there are some that come close. Some of the right extremist groups are the Sovereign Citizen/Posse Comitatus Movement, Christian Identity,, Oathkeepers/III%, and of course that perennial bugbear of the left, the Militia Movement.

Sovereign_Citizen_Movement_LogoSovereign Citizen/Posse Comitatus Movement first as that ideology probably has the largest number of adherents of any group on the right.  I am sure we all remember the standoff at the Cliven Bundy Ranch in Nevada in the April of 2014.  The facts in the case were ignored by both sides in the media storm that followed the BLM’s admittedly heavy handed tactics to get his cattle off of Federal land.  Here is a succinct summary from the Las Vegas Review-Journal in an article about an accident that occurred 2 days after the stand off ended: “The rancher’s federal grazing permit was canceled 20 years ago after Bundy stopped paying his grazing fees in a dispute over the BLM’s new range restrictions meant to protect the desert tortoise. The land since has been closed to grazing, but Bundy kept his livestock on the range, and the government kept assessing fees and penalties that now exceed $1 million.”  Bundy has espoused some views that fit into both the Sovereign Citizen/Posse Comitatus Movement repertoire.  Of course there was also, and more recently, the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the winter of 2015/2016 in whivh one of Bundy’s sons was onvolved and was resolved for the most part without violence except for the police killing of Robert Finicum, which predictably immediately gave rise to cries of murder although I am not certain even yet that the full facts have come out or will ever come out.

Bundy StandoffWhat is a Sovereign Citizen?  At root, a Sovereign Citizen is someone who rejects the authority of the federal government specifically, and most state governments as well.  A Sovereign Citizen believes they are sovereign in and unto themselves and thus beholden to no earthly law.  Forbes did a really good piece exploring what Sovereign Citizenship is a few years ago.  At root the Sovereign Citizen movement is an anti-authority and especially anti-tax movement.  Sovereign Citizens don’t often get violent, what they do instead is clog up the courts with petty and frivolous lawsuits, engage in tax fraud, money counterfeiting, wacky diplomatic immunity cases, and such.  Most Sovereign Citizens engage in what I like to call lawfare.  That is they attempt to use the laws of the US in ways they were not supposed to be used and often in direct contradiction to the text of the law itself.  They engage in some creative interpretation of the law and case precedent.  You know you have stumbled across a Sovereign Citizen website when they throw in a citation to some obscure precedent from state, local, or federal law just about every other line.  Check out this explanation of Sovereign Citizenship at civil-liberties.com for an example.  While I normally disparage the Southern Policy Law Center as a bunch of liberal hacks, they did put together a very good special issue detailing Sovereign Citizens and the methods and beliefs they hold.

Sovereign Citizens are zealots and they have a tendency to get violent when confronted by police.  Hell, it has happened again recently.  A Sovereign Citizen was shot in Alabama on 30 December, 2014 while struggling with police after refusing to show ID when trying to turn in a stray to an animal shelter.  That being said, there is no one central leader or even group of leaders of the Sovereign Citizen movement.  It is a potpourri of individuals and some groups that share a basic set of beliefs.  The Sovereign Citizen can be scary and dangerous as an individual but they pose no more than an individual threat.  What they could do though is multiply any collapse by seizing the opportunity to make their rants real and contribute to the chaos around them.

Another movement associated with the political right is the Christian Identity movement.  I say they are associated with the right but no true conservative will have anything to do with them.  It is a fringe movement that like other fringe movements attracts the hopeless and helpless in search of meaning who have found it nowhere else.  Christian Identity is one such group.  The movement is essentially a racist perversion of Christian beliefs.  From the Kingdom Identity church of Arkansas’ website they self-describe as “Politically Incorrect Christian Identity outreach ministry to God’s chosen race (true Israel, the White, European peoples.”  How that can be any clearer I don’t have a clue.  The FBI produced an informative fact sheet about the Christian Identity movement in 1999 that is still available on their archives page.conquer1

There have been some Christian Identity attacks or incidents in the past but virtually all were racially motivated.  The Christian Identity movement is more ideological and about its adherents finding salvation than it is apocalyptic.  I can see them taking advantage of a collapse but not acting to begin one.  In fact, the odiousness of their beliefs to the vast majority of people would rapidly make them outcasts in a collapse situation.  When the SHTF what matters is trustworthiness and usefulness to the group, not the color of a person’s skin.  Christian Identity types are out there but are not a threat unless you are the wrong ethnicity and they catch you in a dark alley one night.

I am personally ambiguous about the Oathkeepers/III%. I am not sure whether they are seditious and harmless, misguided, or just plain silly. First off, who and what are the Oathkeepers/III%? They have a website at http://www.Oathkeepers/III%.org. The short version of who they are is: “Military, Veterans, and peace officers who will honor their oaths to defend the Constitution, will NOT “just follow orders,” will stand for liberty, and will save the Republic, so help us God. Our motto is: “Not on Our Watch!”” They further have a list of 10 orders that people who identify as Oathkeepers/III% will refuse to obey. The list is below.

  1. We will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people.
  2. We will NOT obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people
  3. We will NOT obey orders to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to military tribunal.
  4. We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state.
  5. We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty.
  6. We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
  7. We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.
  8. We will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control.”
  9. We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.
  10. We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.

OathKeepersTheir list of illegal orders is actually pretty good and pretty much covers all the bases. Now here is what gets me about the Oathkeepers/III% and why I have problems with them. I am not sure about police but I know that the Oath of Enlistment in the armed forces according to Title 10 U.S. Code § 502 specifically requires only that lawful orders be followed making the Oathkeepers/III% promise at a minimum redundant and at best borderline seditious.

I guess my biggest problem with the Oathkeepers/III% is the tinfoil hat paranoia of its proponents. As if they think LEOs, military, and vets are unthinking sheep that would gladly mow down fellow citizens if ordered to just as easily as SS thugs rounded up and murdered Jews in World War II. As a vet myself I take personal offense at the notion that the groups or type of person the Oathkeepers/III% are targeted at are considered so base and ignorant that they must be reminded their job is to protect civilians, not murder them. Not only are we so stupid, they are encouraging us to take an additional oath affirming what we have already sworn.

My last and biggest problem is the rebellious nature of the whole Oathkeepers/III% project. The whole point of the oath seems to be to incite rebellion amongst the military and police. The entirety of the concept behind the Oathkeepers/III% is that our local and national leaders are deceitful, spiteful, viscous, and vengeful despots just looking for an excuse to really bring the hammer down and enact their tyrannical fantasies on an unsuspecting, compliant, and stupid public. If that is the case then no number of people swearing an oath that there is bridge too far can save the Republic. As to whether Oathkeepers/III% are a potential fifth column or an expression of freedom, I think that is up to the individual.

One thing is clear, people who take Oathkeepers/III% pledge probably violate their oaths of service when they put conditions on that service, many of which are explicit or implicit in the very oath they swore upon their enlistment or commissioning.

militia-movementFinally, we come to the last group/groups, the Militia Movement.  Anyone alive and politically aware in the 90’s remembers the outpouring of angst about the Militia Movement.  This was especially true after the 1995 OKC bombing by Timothy McVeigh.  The rise of the movement was a result of the incidents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco, Texas in the early 90’s.  In neither incident were the Feds entirely at fault for what happened.  The Feds made some stupid decisions but there was plenty of stupidity to go around on both sides.

Simplified, at Ruby Ridge, Idaho Randy Weaver was not a saint, he was wanted for federal firearms violations and his son reacted violently to the US Marshal’s that came to arrest him.  This caused a stand-off that led to a sniper opening fire on the cabin where Weaver and the rest of his family were holed up.  The Feds were too quick to use deadly force, but so were Weaver and his family.

The short version of Waco.  David Koresh was a cult leader, his cult was located in a compound just outside Waco.  The cult was a millennial doomsday cult that broke off from the Seventh Day Adventists known as the Branch Davidians.  The group was involved in both legal and illegal activities to include gunrunning and selling guns t gun shows.  It was the gun running that got the ATF interested in the group.  In February, 1993 the ATF attempted to serve a search warrant the Waco compound, they were fired upon by cult members as they approached the door.  The ATF tried to storm the compound but were driven off.  The fighting on this first day was caught on video by a local news station and broadcast live.  After the firefight at the compound the Feds laid siege to the compound.  The siege ended 50 days later when the whole complex burned to the ground, apparently set afire by smoke grenades used as the feds attempted to assault the compound again.  In the aftermath, 76 cult members including David Koresh, the cult leader and 21 children died in the fire.


Those were two of the defining moments that inspired the militia’s of the 90’s, I could not even begin to tell you what they are today.  Fact is that militias are on the rise again.  Whether you buy the line from the left that a black president, illegal immigration, economic downturn, and a huge racist component are to blame is irrelevant.  What is a militia and what is the general goal of such groups.?

Most, if not all, militia groups claim legitimacy because of colonial and evolutionary war concepts of the militia being every able-bodied male in the population.  They claim further legitimacy based on Title 10 U.S. Code § 311, which is the militia law.  It states that:

 “(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are—

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.”

That is all fine as far as it goes and there is actually nothing wrong with belonging to a militia.

The issue comes when it gets down to ideology.  Nobody gets involved in a militia because they see no threat and need something to do on the weekends.  Many folks feel the country is not going in the right direction and think the Federal Government is out to stomp on their rights and grind them into pieces in the process.  How else do you explain all the talk about FEMA camps, Impending Martial Law, Chemtrails, Truthers, Population Control, Birthers, the North American Union, New World Order, Bilderberg, Trilateral, you name it.  There are plenty of conspiracy theories out there so pick your poison.  Militia ideology comes in many shapes, forms and sizes from constitutional militia, racist based (black & white supremacists), state sovereignty, states’ rights, Christian Patriots, and more.  All share a common belief that something is not right with the USA and the way it is currently run.  The overwhelming majority just get together and train on military tactics and weapons, share books and videos, and generally reinforce each other’s beliefs.

Concept sketch of the Citadel, a militia based community currently being planned for construction in Idaho

Concept sketch of the Citadel, a militia based community currently being planned for construction in Idaho

What do militias do?  They generally meet and engage in military training and plan for contingencies in which they think they will be needed.  This defines most communal prepper groups as well as far as government is concerned.  Some groups even go so far as to build compounds and camps in remote locations to use as secure locations should the need arise.  What is of most concern to law enforcement is that militias also have a tendency to stockpile large caches of weapons and sometimes illegal explosives.  They represent a challenge to government authority, which is their whole purpose after all.  The danger from such groups is that they will start to think change is not happening soon enough and then seek to kick start or implement the change they desire by themselves using the training and skills they have developed in their meetings to instigate something.

Mostly, I consider that the likelihood of Civil War/Revolution hangs on governmental actions and the average person’s reaction to them.  It will take a goodly percentage, likely between 30%-50% of the population being outraged enough to do something to make the prospect of Civil War/Revolution viable.  That will take a lot of pushing in the decadent state of modern American society.  I just don’t see the political class being stupid enough to pass some grand gesture type of infringement on rights to provoke such a reaction.  In all probability, they will continue as they have throughout the history of the Republic and nickel and dime chip away at rights and liberties until we wake up one day and realize we have none and w further do not have the means to fight back and restore our lost liberty.  They might even be slick enough to convince people that such loss of liberty is in their best interest.  That is how the USA Patriot Act got passed in the wake of 9/11 after all.  Good despots convince people that oppression is good for them, just look at history.

Now that I have all of that covered, mostly very briefly, what do I see the likelihood of a new Civil War/Revolution being?  ? I actually do think the chances of Civil War/Revolution have risen in the year since I initially wrote this. I do however; see the various avenues that it could begin multiplying.  Here are my cloudy crystal ball predictions.

Short-term-the next 5 years – roughly 1% chance of a Civil War/Revolution occurring

Medium-term-in 5-15 years – roughly 3% chance of a Civil War/Revolution occurring, this changes greatly depending on who wins the election this fall and how radical they are once they get into office.

Long-term-more than 15 years from now – roughly 10% chance of a Civil War/Revolution occurring

A Collapse: 7. Global War

Some of the following is an excerpt from one of the books I am working on as a follow up to The Simple Survival Smart Book  and some are additions to that.

The last global war fought on earth officially ended on September 2, 1945 with the signing of the Japanese instruments of surrender on the foredeck of the USS Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay.  The Japanese were brought to surrender after the detonation of two low-yield nuclear weapons over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August.  Prior to that, Germany had surrendered after the German army had been defeated, Berlin was captured and 75% of the land area of Germany had been occupied by Allied troops.  There has not been a true global war since.  Depending on how you count, World War II was either the second or the fifth global war.  Being a historian by training, I tend to count it as the fifth with the earlier global wars being The War of the Austrian Succession, The Seven Years War, the Napoleonic Wars, and the The Great War.

Since 1945, what has occurred is confrontation on a global scale.  I am talking here of the Cold War, which was not really a war at all but rather two power blocs staring at each other from either side of a barbed-wire fence and daring the other to try something.  The reason the Cold War never turned hot is intimately related to what brought about the end of World War II, nuclear weapons.  Immediately after World War II, arguably even while the war was being fought, the Western Allies and Soviet Union found that their basic disagreements about how to order the world drove them apart.  The Soviets wanted to initiate world socialism and the Western democracies did not.  That simple fact really is the root of it.

The Western Allies had the reserves of manpower, weapons, and their economies were geared to continue the war with Russia as the new enemy but not the will.  The population in the Western world was war weary and would not have countenanced another 4-5 years of war to defeat Soviet Russia and impose democracy east of the Oder.  What the world has instead seen since 1945 is a series of small wars and proxy conflicts in which the two superpowers have refused to fight each other directly out of fear of escalation.  This makes sense if you consider that neither the US nor Soviet Union would allow themselves to be defeated if they had the means of making their enemy pay, which both did after 1949 and the Soviet explosion of a nuke themselves.  Thus came about the strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), which ensured that superpower conflict would not occur by hanging the sword of nuclear destruction over whoever resorted to the use of nukes first.

From 1989-1994 the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact fell apart, supposedly meaning the West, and particularly the US won the Cold War.  That did not remove the threat of nuclear war however as a diminished Russia kept their nukes and has even continued to upgrade their launch capability.  Conventionally Russia may now only be a regional power but their possession of strategic nukes makes them a Great Power still.  Russia is not the only country with nukes either.  The declared nuclear powers are the US, Britain, France, Russia, and China.  India, Pakistan, and North Korea have all entered the club since 1999 with North Korea being the last to enter after testing a nuke in 2006.  Israel and possibly South Africa are undeclared powers widely assumed to have nukes and Iran has been pursuing nuclear weapons under the guise of developing an indigenous nuclear power capability since at least the late 1990’s.

In fact, the possession of nukes has been a stabilizing factor preventing Great Power confrontation.  The question becomes how do nukes do this?  The answer is simple, the threat of retaliation if nukes are used has stopped anybody from using them.  Take India-Pakistan for instance, both countries have fought three wars over the disputed Kashmir region since independence in 1949 yet since both became declared nuclear powers in 1999 they have reduced tensions in the region and have worked to settle the issue through negotiations.  As discussed in regards to terrorism, the biggest problem with nukes is not that a nation possesses them but the risk that a non-state terror group gets their hands on one.  Regardless of how crazy or unstable one may think the leader of a nation is, why would they jeopardize their own survival by using a nuke in the near certain threat of retaliation?  Every nuclear armed nation has a vested interest in ensuring that they maintain control of their nukes and prevent them from falling into the hands of others.  So far that has occurred but as in picking stocks, past success is not an indicator of future performance.  It is conceivable that at some point a nuke will fall into the hands of a non-state group.  When/if that happens all bets on the use of nukes are off.

Nukes will prevent Great Power conflict but they do not prevent Great Powers from going to war; just from going to war with each other.  There are numerous examples of Great Powers fighting since the end of World War II from Korea, to Algeria, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.  What is significant is that all of these conflicts were in essence regional and the Great Powers expended a lot of effort to keep them that way.  From the way in which UN forces pulled back from invading China in 1950 to the way in which the US has generally refused to send ground troops into the Pakistani Tribal areas post-9/11 are examples of this.

Regional wars such as the current conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, sub-Saharan Africa, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and Ukraine will continue to occur in the future.  What gives reason for concern are the regional conflicts with the potential to get multiple Great Powers involved.  These are mainly conflicts in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.  It is in these areas where all the Great Powers have strategic interests at stake and thus where they are most likely to come into direct conflict.  It is my opinion that Europe and Asia are the two most dangerous flashpoints.  Europe because the memories of Soviet domination are still fresh in Eastern Europe and many former Soviet satellites are now NATO members and Asia because just about nobody in the region or in the West wants to see China get too powerful.  As a matter of fact, it is highly likely that any conflict with China that draws in the US will eventually go nuclear.  That is one of the reasons that so much effort is expended in the region to avoid conflict.

All in all however, I believe that global conflict is a thing of the past.  That does not mean that it cannot occur, just that is highly improbable and unlikely and that all the potential participants have very, very good reasons to avoid such a conflict.  That being said, nobody really wanted a European and globe spanning conflict in July, 1914 either but that is exactly what they got.  History is full of examples of large wars that grew from small, seemingly minor events and provocations.  Global war is a possibility, just a very small one.

Now, what do I see the likelihood of a new global war being?  Here are my cloudy crystal ball predictions.

Short-term-the next 5 years – roughly 0.1% chance of a global war occurring

Medium-term-in 5-15 years – roughly 0.5% chance of a global war occurring

Long-term-more than 15 years from now – roughly 2% chance of a global war occurring (eventually a global war will happen as regional and super regional blocks of the future come into conflict with each other.  I just think the likelihood of this is so far in the future that it is essentially unpredictable.)

 

A Collapse: 6. Terrorist action (not necessarily Islamist)

Terrorist action (not necessarily Islamist)

Post-9/11 just about everybody is aware of the danger and potential consequences of terrorist action.  Make no mistake that the terrorist threat is real and that there are in fact terrorists that will do whatever they can to harm Westerners and the West in whatever way possible.  However, terrorist action alone is not likely to precipitate a collapse absent some quantum leap forward in terrorist capability.  Despite the material and human cost of the attacks on 9/11 more damage was done by the economic aftershock than the actual attacks themselves.

First, let us define terrorism.  Ironically enough, the US department of Homeland Security (DHS) nowhere nails down a specific definition of terrorism, instead they weasel around it but never precisely define it.  If I were inclined to believe in conspiracy theories my NWO detectors would be pinging off the scale at that because the lack of a definition allows DHS to call whatever they want terrorism.  The US Code of Federal Regulations however, does define it.  In 28 CFR 0.85 terrorism is defined as:

The unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.  

 

I would define terrorism as: deliberate action, violent or otherwise, by an individual or group designed to cause destruction, disruption, and/or with the primary purpose being to sow fear into the minds of the target population.

That is a very broad definition, and deliberately so.  The revolutionaries of 1776 could in some respects be considered terrorists under this definition, but then again, so could the British.  Sowing terror among the enemy is in fact a legitimate action by belligerents in war.  Normal run of the mill terrorism does not pose an existential threat to society as a whole in the short-term or probably even in the long-term.  The possibility exists however, that a terrorist actor or group could obtain the means to deliver such an existential blow.

I actually peg the likelihood of terrorist activity causing societal collapse as being fairly low.  Not because I don’t think some terrorist groups don’t want that but because I think the means available to them are not capable of it.  Don’t mistake me, there are terrorists that would love nothing more than to reduce the West to a state of pre-technological savagery.  They are not all Islamic groups that want to impose a caliphate either, some of them walk among us and were born and raised in the West and have no religion that we would recognize.

Terrorists are not just Muslims, think about it for a minute.  Before you can decide who a terrorist is, you have to define terrorism.  The official and my own definitions include many more groups and individuals than just religiously motivated Muslims.  This includes radicals of all stripes be they environmentalists, libertarians, progressives, conservatives, homosexual rights activists, animal rights activists, communists, and yes, just plain freedom lovers.  Terrorism is determined by the goal of the action taken, not the details of the action itself, or even the political/ideological motivation of those committing the action.  The whole raison d’être of terrorism is to make people afraid and induce political leaders and the society as a whole to make concessions.  Think of it as political blackmail taken to its logical extreme.

An argument can even be made that despite the lack of mass casualty acts by terrorists of the progressive/left liberal bent, they are actually even more dangerous from a collapse point of view.  Muslim terrorists may want to destroy the West, but they generally don’t want to kill every human being either.  Killing everybody is a stated goal of some leftist environmental groups.  How else do you explain the voluntarily human extinction movement?  There are also the anti-technology lefty groups of the Gaia type that think modern technology is killing Mother Earth and the worst thing that ever happened was humans crawling out of the trees and learning to walk and make tools.  These types are actually scarier than Islamists because they have the technological know-how to wreak some serious damage.

I can conceive of three types of terrorist attack that could precipitate a societal collapse in the West and one type that would cause massive mayhem:

  1. Economic
  2. Biological
  3. Large-scale unrest
  4. Spectacular attack

Of the three, I consider economic warfare to be the biggest threat, if only because it is the easiest to implement and most widely felt.  A biological threat is potentially the most damaging, with large-scale unrest coming in second.  Both are less easily accomplished than an economic strike though.  A spectacular attack is not likely to cause collapse by itself but could precipitate second and third order effects that make a collapse more likely or easy to facilitate. The biggest worry with this type of action is a terrorist group that manages to combine two or more of these types of attacks thus increasing the potential effects exponentially.

Economic Attack. If you don’t think that an attack on Western economies can be devastating think about the Great Recession caused by the 2008 housing/economic crash and consider for a second that it was caused by risks inherent in the financial system compounded by stupid individuals and companies being greedy and trying to get something for nothing.  Now imagine that the crash had been engineered and was therefore ten to twenty times more severe than it was.  The Crash of 2008 pales in comparison to the Crash of 1929 and there were still financiers that killed themselves in both crashes because they were so sudden and unexpected.

The financial system of today is even more vulnerable to a crash than it was in 1929 mainly because everything happens over computers.  The complexity and speed with which financial movement takes place was the subject of Michael Lewis’s 2014 bestseller Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt.  Flash Boys details how smart geeks figured out that using computers they can set up automated trading systems that make split second decisions on what stocks and other securities to buy and thereby make millions.  Now imagine if those same systems were sued to send massive amounts of sell orders while at the same time the systems of the NYSE, NASDAQ, the FED, major banks and investment houses, Credit Card Clearance agents, and the US Treasury were hacked.  Literally trillions of dollars could go up in smoke in minutes.  Panic buying could set in and force the markets to close, which is almost as devastating as a sell-off.  Losses could force banks to call in loans early to try and recover capital to maintain liquidity, deposits could be frozen, and the average Joe could discover that the ATM no longer works and his credit cards are no longer accepted.

How many people have enough cash to keep them going for a few weeks, even better, how many people have enough food to keep them going because cash is essentially toilet paper, and our electronic payment methods either no longer work or are unreliable.  Think of the panic that could cause.

That is why I think an economic attack is potentially the most devastating.  The modern world sails along on a sea of electronic money and if that sea dries up then panic could and probably would ensue.

Biological Attack. A biological strike has the potential to kill the most people and at the same time cause an almost instant societal collapse if the right disease is engineered to both spread easily and kill a large percentage of those infected.  The saving grace for this scenario is that it is very difficult to weaponize a disease and that most terrorist groups would not use a disease because once released a disease infects and kills victims indiscriminately.

The scary part is that a disease could mutate and become very deadly and contagious on its own without any help from terrorists.  Just look at what is happening with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa right now.  Ebola kills anywhere from 50% to 90% of its victims but generally around 60-70%.  Luckily, for now it can only be transmitted thorough contact with bodily fluids but if it mutates to spread like the flu, welcome to the Black Death Part II and this time society would have a hard time functioning when 60-70% of the general population and a upwards of 90% of the health workers die.

Fortunately, it is difficult to weaponize a disease and it requires both highly specialized knowledge and boat loads of expensive and easily tracked specialized equipment.  Another good thing is that it would be stupid in the extreme for a terrorist to release a bioweapon that the attacker does not have a defense or cure for.  This puts most terror groups off the list of potential bioweapon users except for Islamists and leftist ecoterrorists.

Large-Scale Unrest.  The last and probably easiest scenario to put in place is inciting large-scale unrest.  This is actually easier in the modern world than it was even 20 years ago.  Social media and the internet have made it much easier to connect with people over a large area and thus easier to stir the pot.  The idea here is a terrorist inspired flash mob consisting of actual terrorist or even better from the terrorist point of view, normal people spooked by an elaborate hoax.  The so-called Arab Spring was largely coordinated and instigated over social media such as Facebook, twitter, and other social platforms to include cell phones.  Is it not odd that the cell phones kept working even when the hard lines went down in Libya, Egypt, and Syria?

The August, 2014 riots in Ferguson, Missouri after the Michael Brown shooting were also largely engineered and coordinated by social media.  There was nothing spontaneous about the rioting that occurred in the weeks following the incident. That was all coordinated and organized by leftist activist using social media to stir up existing societal prejudices and fears among the black community both I Ferguson and among the people from around the country that converged on Ferguson to join the party.  The truth of what happened was not as important as the known fact that a white cop killed a black teenager.

All you need to stir-up unrest is a good message that resonates with lots of people.  You get enough folks pissed off about anything and they provoke a reaction from government it is actually not terribly difficult to gradually escalate disturbance into civil war as in Libya and Syria.  If civil war is not a collapse situation then I do not know what is.

Spectacular Attacks.  Last, there is the spectacular attack.  Think 9/11 or the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing here.  I don’t necessarily think that this kind of attack is limited to Islamic terror either.  I think Islamists are the most likely to pull it off just because they have years of experience and won’t stop trying but I can see some of the various lefty groups or even some far right groups trying a spectacular attack to bring notice to their cause or because they are desperate to bring on the calamity they preach is going to happen.

Another thing is that spectacular attacks are difficult to predict.  They take lots of planning and lots of resources.  Even though 9/11 took years to plan and execute and upwards of a million dollars to pull off, it was still executed with only 19 guys who had no trouble keeping a low profile while they used Western freedoms to attack us.  That makes such attacks rare but all the more shocking because of that rarity.  I actually think the lack of a huge attack on the West since 9/11 has less to do with better security in the homeland and more to do with the strategic distraction of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Islamic preparations to one-up 9/11.

I think Islamists would love to get their hands on a nuke and that when they do, they will use it, probably on a minor port city in the US or Western Europe.  My bets would be on the ports of Seattle, WA, Savannah, GA, Plymouth, England, or Bremerhaven, Germany.  The perfect target is not one of the major ports but not one of the smaller ones either and one that is backed by a substantial city.  The damage even a small nuke would cause if detonated on the surface is unreal.  The blast would not be the killer, rather it would be the tons of radioactive fallout from a surface burst that would be devastating.

Eco-terrorists and right wing terrorists are more likely to go the route of poisoning a city’s water supply or conducting a Mumbai style attack than to use a nuke although I could envision an eco-group using an EMP device if they could get their hands on one.

There will be another spectacular attack, the only question is when and where.  The likelihood that such an attack could trigger a collapse is very low as regardless of how devastating such an attack could be, it would still only have immediate local effects.  If 9/11, Katrina, and Sandy did not cause a societal collapse then neither would the vaporization of most American cities.  Spectacular attacks are more likely to bring society together in a quest for vengeance than to tear it apart.

 

 

Given that I think the likelihood of a collapse inducing attack is low here are my probabilities.

Short-term-the next 5 years –

  1. Economic – 20%
  2. Biological – 5%
  3. Large-scale unrest – I put this at a 5% probability in the Western world and 10-25% somewhere in the developing world
  4. Spectacular attack – 15%

Medium-term-in 5-15 years –

  1. Economic – 25%
  2. Biological – 10%
  3. Large-scale unrest – I put this at a 10% probability in the Western world and 30-40% somewhere in the developing world
  4. Spectacular attack – 20%

Long-term-more than 15 years from now –

  1. Economic – 25%
  2. Biological – 15%
  3. Large-scale unrest – I put this at a 15% probability in the Western world and 30-45% in the developing world
  4. Spectacular attack – this approaches 100%. Over a sufficiently long timespan the likelihood of a spectacular attack approaches certainty.  That being said, such attacks are almost black swan events because when and where they will occur is difficult, if not impossible to predict.  The minor spectacular attacks since 9/11 and the diverse means and locations of such attacks shows that even the best intelligence apparatus is essentially unable to stop all attacks and while they have prevented a massive attack thus far, that is no guarantee that they will continue to do so.  Western intelligence has to be right 100% of the time and terrorists only have to succeed once, sounds like a cliché but it is true.

 

I think that eventually terrorists will get their hands on a nuke and when they do they will use it or at least attempt to use it.  Of course, terrorist use of a nuke would possibly be the dumbest thing they could do as the retaliation would be swift and devastating to not only the terrorists but to the population that hides and supports them.

A Collapse: Monetary System Collapse – 2015?

For those of us trying to read the tea leaves of when and how a collapse is coming I would suggest paying special attention to finances this year.  I suspect the next crash happens this year.  What I am not sure of is what will start it.  There are several possibilities that I can see.

  1. Watch the Eurozone – Greece is balking at austerity and is holding snap elections that may see them break their agreements with Brussels. There is no mechanism to eject Greece from the Euro in the Maastricht Treaty.  Interesting things could happen here.
  2. Events in East Asia – China is likely to have lower growth this year and Japan’s economy continues to flounder. I suspect the economy of East Asia will likely enter recession on a regional basis this year.
  3. Price of Oil – While lower prices at the pump are a good thing for the individual, if oil prices fall too far expect that to seriously affect the shale oil boom in the US and thus employment. Shale oil is expensive too extract and a collapse in oil prices will shut it down, at least temporarily which could lead to an economic shock both in the US and around the world.  People aint going to stop driving their cars no matter what gas costs, the past decade has proven that.
  4. Consumer and Student Loan debt – How long can people carry an average of $15,000 of credit card debt and a rapidly approaching unsustainable amount of student loan debt without it affecting the economy? Don’t forget that student loans are hotel California, you have to pay them off.
  5. The Stock market – Does anyone really think the current bull market is sustainable or represents reality? I sure don’t and I play the market myself.  The full results of the end of QE3 and whether the Fed is really going to tighten US monetary policy are unclear.  There is also what is going to happen with the Federal budget with GOP majorities in both Houses of Congress.  I expect 2015 to be interesting in the US economically, to say the least.
  6. For me personally, the indicator to watch is precious metals. Gold has been trending down for two years.  I expect that to stop soon, if it has not already.  When you see Gold start to rise for two months in a row, start to wonder.

Each of these things individually can be bad on their own, but the wider economy does not work in isolation.  I expect that if two or more shocks happen simultaneously, 2008 will look like a blip and you better hope you are not invested heavily in only one type of financial security.  An economic collapse can happen anytime because currencies are not stable, not backed, and lack the confidence of large numbers of people.  People willing to hoard to try and save what is theirs even though such hoarding hurts them economically.  We are still living in interesting times and the final repercussions from 2008 have not yet played out.

Keep informed and keep your eyes open because an economic collapse can and probably will happen at the speed of the internet and high speed trading systems.

A Collapse: 5. Societal Decay

This is a somewhat lengthy post.

Societal Decay

“Nam qui dabat olim imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc se continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat, panem et circenses” ––––––– “The people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions, and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things — bread and circuses!”
Juvenal – The Satires number X, line 80

Societal Decay is already occurring and I don’t think that by itself it is likely to precipitate a sudden collapse. What I do see is the gradual decay of the bonds of society making recovery from any of the other possible collapse causes more difficult.
The above quote is one of the most misunderstood quotes often tossed around in political discussions in the comment sections of political articles, other online forums, and in face to face debates. It needs a little context. The author Decimus Junius Juvenalis called Juvenal today, lived in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries A.D., he lived at a time when the Roman Empire was at its height in power and prestige and his works are mainly a commentary on the decadence of Roman life and how that decadence would lead to Rome’s downfall. The particular satire that this line is taken from, number Ten, decries the loss of manliness among Romans who instead of doing great deeds content themselves with petty amusements and subsisted on handouts from the emperor.

I like the Juvenal quote because I think it applies equally to modern day America. Just 70 short years ago America was called the Arsenal of Democracy and from a standing start built a military of 16 million to fight a global war and restore freedom to the people of Europe and the Pacific suffering 416,800 military deaths in the process. The same country is now incapable of sustaining a regional war that lasts a decade and costs less than 10,000 combat deaths without getting war weary. The average American would rather stay at home and play video games.

I am in 100% agreement with economic historian Niall Ferguson and the points he makes in his 2013 book The Great Degeneration about the things that are causing the decline of the West. These are:

  1. The degeneration of civil, that is to say private non-government, institutions
  2. The failure of the Rule of Law
  3. The distortion of economies by social engineering
  4. The breakdown of trust in civil society

We can address each of these points individually and provide examples of them. If you take a few moments you will realize that they are profound and are indeed happening around us. None of these items individually or even combined will cause a sudden collapse, what they do however, is contribute to a gradual degeneration of the fabric of society. A rot and destruction that is so subtle that we don’t even realize it is happening until we wake up one day, look at the world around us, and wonder what happened.

For a good contrast read Alexis de Tocequeville’s Democracy in America in which he describes the vitality of mid-19th century America.

Civil Institutions. These are private groups, what Alexis de Tocqueville called private associations and that he lauded in his book Democracy, in America they are in decline. These are groups such as the Lions, Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club, American Legion, VFW, Knights of Columbus, etc. that used to be the focus of society as recently as the 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Groups that exist voluntarily and force no one to join. They perform a variety of functions from providing assistance to the needy within a community, helping the disabled, to simply serving as a venue for connections between groups of like-minded people. In the early days of American independence they often served as ways for people to pool their resources and achieve collectively what they could not individually achieve by themselves. An example of this is agricultural Co-ops in which the farmers of a region would pool their resources to buy expensive equipment that they could all use or to collectively sell their produce allowing them to get higher prices as a group than they could get on their own.

Civil institutions and voluntary associations have been a bedrock of America society since colonial times. Membership in such institutions has been declining steadily for the past 30 years however. A good question is why is that so? When did it become unfashionable or uncool to voluntarily associate with other like-minded people whose only interest is in fellowship and helping their community be a better place? Some news stories about declining community participation: From Wichita, KS; Catonsville, MD; The Girl Scouts; The VFW. I will concede that VFW membership is declining because World War II vets are passing away and there are simply fewer people like myself who qualify for membership. When less than 2% of the population serves and an even smaller percentage of that 2% go to combat, then VFW rolls will naturally decline even if you expand membership criteria.Here is an interesting piece about why such membership is declining.

The last civil institution I will discuss is the Church, specifically, the Christian Church.

Despite everything you will read in a Howard Zinn book or any other post-modern, America hating tract that passes for what modern liberals call repositories of knowledge, the Founding Fathers of America were in fact all Christians. Saints, they were not, but men trying to do what they thought best and build a country they could be proud of that allowed men to be free. Judeo-Christian ideals permeate the Constitution and the writings of all of them. There was not a single atheist, Satanist, Buddhist, animist, Wiccan, or Muslim among the lot and they did not draw on the moral traditions of those groups either. (Note: this site lists the Founders and their denominational affiliation)

That church membership is declining is a fact born out by numbers from the US Census bureau and anecdotal evidence of the empty pews seen on Sundays by those of us that still profess a faith and attend church regularly. There are a couple of good papers I can point you to that discuss the reason for church decline: 1. Churchleadership.org paper and 2. A Paper by the Rev. William R. Coats.

Here is why I think church membership is declining. People have simply lost belief or never had it in the first place. They have lost faith that their local churches are concerned for the welfare of their souls because the churches don’t act that way. I have even been asked, “Why would I go to a church that says one thing on Sunday and does something totally different the rest of the week?” That is a question I don’t have an answer to. I have to agree with the sentiment that many of the churches I know say one thing and do another. Churches have gotten more and more involved in politics, which I find disturbing. I certainly don’t need a preacher telling me who to vote for. I want my preacher helping me get closer to God. I also think the increasing moral relativism of some churches drives people away. Faith comes with a set of moral standards and bending those standards to make some happy drives many more away. I want and think God wants, moral standards to be set in stone. Living to those standards is supposed to be difficult and we all fail at some point, which is why God is forgiving. He still expects us to continually strive to reach the moral ideal of perfect and seek his help and guidance when we falter. I think people are leaving churches in droves because they see no point in belonging to an organization that is wishy-washy and appears to not know what its message should be anymore.

Rule of Law. I think it is clear that the rule of law is being replaced by the rule of force in society. I also think that is mainly because for some odd reason, the law breaker has become idealized in the public sphere. Drug dealers, rapists, and murderers are idolized and glorified in music, films, and video games. It is only when the consequences of such behavior becomes personal that people wish it were different. I also think that people expect too much out of the government. They fail to realize that ultimately, government’s power is derived from the end of a gun and its monopoly on legitimate violence. The only real coercive power the state has is violence.

Lastly, the ruling class, and America has one of corrupt businessmen and politicians, feel that they are not really doing anything wrong when they lie, cheat, and steal to get ahead. How else do you explain the KELO decision except that the nation’s highest court feels that the interests of government outweigh the interests of an individual property owner? If the KELO decision does not legalize government theft of private property, I don’t know what does. Hand in hand with that is the process of civil forfeiture in which a person’s property is seized before that person is even, or ever, convicted of a crime and it is extremely difficult to recover property wrongly seized in such a manner.

Another decline in the Rule of Law is the increasing use of no-knock warrants in which a legal process is followed but the whole process is seemingly designed to spread fear of government. I won’t even go into the overkill of having SWAT teams serving warrants where no violence is expected. I hope that everybody was as shocked as I was in the aftermath of the Boston Bombings when the police essentially declared martial law in a section of Boston as they went door to door evicting people from their homes and searching them without warrants. I was not surprised the cops were doing it so much as dismayed at the sheeplike way so many people meekly complied and the lack of an outcry over the cavalier way the Bill of Rights was being ignored and trampled upon. To top it all off, it was a citizen and not a police officer who found the second bomber.

Last is the apparently endemic corruption among the political and affluent class in America. It seems that not a week goes by that we are not told about yet another politician or businessman getting caught lying or cheating. They never seem to get punished either.

Social Engineering. Social engineering is the efforts by government, the media, and other arbiters of culture to change the way we think and act. Government efforts include, but are not limited to, welfare and other entitlement programs. These are not designed to change ways of thinking per se, but they do because they encourage a lack of responsibility among the recipients and discourage productive work. I don’t know how many times I have heard someone say or write “why should I work? The government will pay me not to?”

Efforts by major media to eliminate any stigma from receiving entitlements exacerbate the problem. People on welfare should be ashamed if they are deriving their living long-term from the public purse. There is no shame in receiving assistance until a person gets back on their feet but to live an entire life on the fruit of the labor of others is and should be seen as shameful in the extreme. A culture of shirking responsibility for one’s action is fostered by the entitlement itself and the victimizing of those on entitlements by the media. Hell, even the name entitlement implies that the recipient somehow deserve the largesse they receive simply because of the fact of their existence.

The media also plays a significant role in changing social mores. Sometimes this can be good, as in the case of eliminating racial bias, which despite what Al Sharpton says is all but gone among adult white Americans. Media has played a large role in getting people to accept homosexuality as not just normal but something to be positively admired. The way the media fall all over themselves when someone announces they are gay is both sickening and scary. Just Google “mike sam gay reaction” to see the love fest that went on when a mediocre player was drafted by the NFL who announced he was gay. Does sexuality have anything to do with football and does being gay make him a better player? No, to both questions. Heck, Greg Gutfeld has devoted an entire book Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War on You to discussing the ways in which celebrities and the media engage in social engineering on a grand scale and in the process make America less of a beacon of freedom than it was even 50 years ago.

Political Correctness – need I say more than just utter those two words that describe unfree speech so clearly. PC and its policemen are the worst kind of people. Somewhere along the line people forgot that if they get offended by something I say, they have the problem, not me.

Breakdown of Trust.  How many times have you been outside in an urban area at night and were worried for your safety? How often does the media hype criminal acts and attempt to get everyone to think there is a serial killer around every corner and some kid waiting to shoot up his local school?
If you are older than 40 think back to your childhood and the ways in which you used to play in your neighborhood without fear. The rule when was a kid was in the summer we had to be back home before the streetlights came on. We had no cell phone either, we told our parents where we were going and woe be unto us if we were not there. Of course crime happened, no one thinks it did not. We were just not paralyze by fear as so many people seem to be nowadays if you believe what you hear on the news. We also did not automatically distrust someone who we did not know. Simply put, Americans just don’t trust each other anymore and that distrust has spread into the public sphere and the way we see our government.

Given that I believe societal decay is happening now my probabilities reflect what I think is the likelihood of a reversal of the rot.

Short-term-the next 5 years –roughly 10% chance

Medium-term-in 5-15 years –roughly 10% chance

Long-term-more than 15 years from now – I think this is essentially unknowable because it depends on if the current generation of children get disgusted by society as they see it and try to change it. I actually think there is only a roughly 5% chance of significant change absent a black swan style societal upheaval.

A Collapse: 4-EMP strike/Nuclear detonation

EMP strike/Nuclear detonation

I will cover an electromagnetic pulse device and conventional nuclear weapon detonation separately as they are actually distinct subjects with very different effects.  Both EMP and conventional nuclear weapons are nuclear devices however.

Nukes are not easy to build.  There is a reason that only eight countries are declared nuclear powers: The US, Russia, China, UK, France, Pakistan, India, & North Korea with Israel and South Africa being suspected but undeclared nuclear powers while Iran is being accused of attempting to develop them.  Of those powers, only the US, developed nukes independently.  It has been shown that Russia, China, Pakistan, India, and North Korea gained knowledge of nuclear weapon design through espionage while the UK, France, and possibly Israel were given initial designs by the US.  What follows is of necessity a very simplistic description and explanation.  Number one, I am not a nuclear weapons tech and number two, even if I was I would not put the plans up on the internet.  Everything below is available from an open source.  A great reference is the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) website on the history of nuclear weapons.

A nuclear device is a very complex weapon to build.  It is easy to look at a diagram of Fat Man or Little Boy and say “I could build that” but in fact, you can’t.  The tolerances for critical mass are very fine and the explosives that initiate the reaction are very powerful and must be detonated in a very precise sequence or the bomb fizzles because critical mass is not reached.  Two types of nukes exist, fission and fusion.  A fission bomb gets its explosive force from the energy released when atoms are split and fusion bombs get their explosive force from the energy released when two light atoms are fused to create a heavier atom.

There are essentially two designs for a fission nuke, both developed in World War II and essentially only tweaked since then.  Both require fissionable material, typically enriched uranium; enriched because it is processed to separate the richer isotopes.  You cannot just dig up some uranium and build a bomb that is why everybody is so concerned about the Iranian centrifuge cascades.  The other element used to build a nuke is plutonium which is naturally occurring but is so rare that the plutonium used for nukes is most commonly separated from the nuclear waste generated by what are known as breeder reactors.  The two bomb designs can be simplistically described as the gun-device and implosion.

A fusion bomb is one in which a fission device is used as a booster to induce some lighter element, typically a hydrogen isotope such as deuterium or tritium.  This elemental hydrogen is compressed to the point where it fuses into helium thus releasing exponentially more energy than a fission device.  The first fusion weapon was designed and deployed by the United States and tested in 1952 at Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.  The first test of a deliverable fusion design was the Castle Bravo test at Bikini Atoll in 1954. The Bravo test was also the highest yield weapon ever tested (15 MT) by the US although that was a mistake as the yield was about 2 ½ times what they expected.  The largest fusion weapon ever tested was the Tsar Bomba tested by the USSR in 1961 with an estimated yield of 50 MT.

There has been much speculation about the use of an EMP device in the past few years and there is also a whole lot of misinformation about exactly how an EMP is generated and what its effects would be.  To properly understand what an EMP can do we must understand what an EMP is.  A simple explanation is provided by the FAS in their section on EMP.  It is:

“A high-altitude nuclear detonation produces an immediate flux of gamma rays from the nuclear reactions within the device. These photons in turn produce high energy free electrons by Compton scattering at altitudes between (roughly) 20 and 40 km. These electrons are then trapped in the Earth’s magnetic field, giving rise to an oscillating electric current. This current is asymmetric in general and gives rise to a rapidly rising radiated electromagnetic field called an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). Because the electrons are trapped essentially simultaneously, a very large electromagnetic source radiates coherently.

The pulse can easily span continent-sized areas, and this radiation can affect systems on land, sea, and air. The first recorded EMP incident accompanied a high-altitude nuclear test over the South Pacific and resulted in power system failures as far away as Hawaii. A large device detonated at 400-500 km over Kansas would affect all of CONUS. The signal from such an event extends to the visual horizon as seen from the burst point.

The EMP produced by the Compton electrons typically lasts for about 1 microsecond, and this signal is called HEMP. In addition to the prompt EMP, scattered gammas and inelastic gammas produced by weapon neutrons produce an intermediate time signal from about 1 microsecond to 1 second. The energetic debris entering the ionosphere produces ionization and heating of the E-region. In turn, this causes the geomagnetic field to heave, producing a late-time magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) EMP generally called a heave signal.”

The physics of an EMP are important and difficult to grasp.  To break it down even more, essentially what an EMP does is to induce a very brief, very high-intensity electric current surge in conductive metal. The surge strength depends on a variety of factors but if the EMP is close enough and thus strong enough it will disable or burn out pretty much everything electrical.  This is particularly bad in the case of solid-state or transistorized electronics because solid-state electronic cannot be repaired they must be replaced.  Traditional pre-transistor electronics fare better than solid-state but are still affected, they are just easier to repair.  Additionally, it is possible to induce local EMP effects with conventional weapons.  Generating an EMP does not require nukes, just very powerful and wide area EMP effects do.

There are a few ways to defend against EMP and the most effective are shielding and grounding.  Shielding is expensive and not completely effective.  It is easier to raise the EMP level than it is to shield against them, this is especially so because EMP effects are logarithmic and shielding is not.  Grounding is effective but makes equipment immobile.  It is conceivable that a powerful enough EMP burst could weld a hammer to an anvil if neither were grounded.

In the case of an actual EMP event you can pretty much expect that just about everything that uses electricity will be useless and lots of conductive objects that are not electronics will be affected to a greater or lesser degree as well.  Think about it somewhat like this.  If an EMP event were to happen today, the US would instantly be plunged into the late 19th century in terms of technology without all the infrastructure that we have replaced over the last century.  Some electronics would survive but the vast majority would not.  Just about every car made since about 1965 would not run and could not be made to run without completely replacing the electronics.  Electronics which could not be replaced because the factories that make them are crippled and further, the digital memory that stores the designs was probably destroyed in the EMP as well.

That is what an EMP would do.  A conventional nuke does something different entirely.  A conventional nuke generates an EMP but that is not what causes the most destruction.  A conventional nuke destroys things through radiation, thermal, and blast effects.  Thermal and blast are pretty bad but it is the radiation that kills people.  The radius of effect for thermal and blast from a nuclear weapon are constrained by the size of the weapon, the distance from the explosion, and the intervening terrain.  Radiation is also attenuated by distance but its effects are not limited to blast radius as fallout travels with the wind and can kill people hundreds, even thousands of miles away from the blast.

Let’s talk thermal effects first.  Thermal effects come from two sources,  the heat generated by the nuclear explosion itself and also heat generated by the blast wave as it shock heats the atmosphere.  Thermal effects are actually secondary because if you are close enough to get killed by the heat the blast wave is going to catch you and kill you even if the heat doesn’t.  The biggest thermal danger from a nuke explosion are the secondary fires started by destroyed infrastructure.  An exception is Mt yield weapons in which the thermal radius is much larger than the blast radius and thus can start fires that the blast wave does not immediately snuff out as it destroys the structures and people that are on fire.

Blast effects are what cause the most immediate structural damage from a nuclear detonation.  This blast is caused by the overpressure generated as the air is superheated by the detonation itself and propagates outward.  The blast actually has two phases the initial outward blast phase followed by a reverse wave as the blast wave recedes and air rushes back towards ground zero as the high pressure bubble created by the detonation collapses.  The blast radius attenuates with distance from ground zero.  But essentially anything trapped inside the blast radius will be either destroyed or so damaged as to be unusable.  Blast is not the killer though, the real killer from a nuke detonation is radioactive fallout.

Video of a nuclear test on typical structures (probably the MET test from 15 April, 1955).  The blast itself is at 10:24

Radiation is the big killer from a nuke and its effects are both fast and slow depending on where you are at in relation to the blast and what your level of radioactive exposure is both immediately and also long-term.  The radiation produced by a nuke comes in two waves, short-term and long-term.  Short-term radiation is the initial pulse of ionizing radiation produced by the blast itself and can kill you fast or slow depending on the dose you receive.  Long-term or residual radiation comes mainly from fallout.  Fallout is created in two ways, inert material combining with irradiated fission byproducts and neutron induced irradiation.  All this fallout will have different half-lives depending on which isotope it is.  Some will have half-lives of 1 second or less while other isotopes have half-lives of years, decades, and even millennia.  I am not going to attempt to explain the physics involved in how material gets radiated suffice it to say that for my purposes it does.  More info on fallout production and creation can be found here at: off the grid news.

Fallout is essentially the material from the ground or water tossed into the air and irradiated by the byproducts of the nuclear detonation.  Thus the higher a nuclear detonation occurs the lower the fallout.  The lower a detonation the more fallout until it reaches a point where it is buried deep enough that the earth itself tamps and traps the explosion releasing nothing.  Most terrorist bombs would probably detonate at or very near ground level and thus produce lots and lots of fallout.  Most state delivered weapons would probably detonate anywhere from 500-1,000 feet above the ground to maximize thermal and blast effects while still producing significant fallout.  High-altitude EMP detonations produce practically no fallout because the blast wave never reaches the ground.

Either a pure EMP strike or a nuclear strike would be devastating.  The EMP would have wider effects but a nuke strike on a major city such as New York, London, Berlin, or Tokyo would not only kill tens of thousands immediately but the repercussions would reverberate around the world economy and could start a monetary collapse.  Luckily, nukes are hard to build and even harder to get ahold of.  That does not mean they are not available, just that they are difficult to get and it is well known that several terrorist organizations are actively seeking to acquire one.  Let us not forget such unstable regimes as North Korea and Pakistan who already have them.  Reportedly, several nuclear weapons went missing during the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 90s and have never been accounted for although I do not know for certain that this is true.

Now that we know what the different nuke types are and what they do, how likely is an EMP or nuke detonation.  I actually peg this as fairly unlikely.  An EMP would be most likely state delivered because of the difficulty in a non-state actor both acquiring and delivering a weapon to high altitude and thus achieving significant EMP effects. While unlikely, such an attack is not impossible. I can envision several scenarios in which a state actor might use nukes, especially given the Obama aadministration’s apparent rush to get rid of the US nuclear deterrent force.  While it may be flawed, Mutual Assured Destruction is a strategy that has worked.  Nobody will attack us if they are guaranteed to be destroyed immediately thereafter.

The real worry is a terrorist attack with a nuclear device.  I say worry because I don’t think that terrorists would hesitate to use a nuke if they get their hands on one.  They will also try to hit the most unlikely but highest value target they can find.  I simply don’t see terrorists nuking a large city such as New York, London, Paris, Los Angeles, or Washington D.C.  Instead I think they would hit a mid-sized city that no one thinks of as a target.  Such cities include Nuremberg Germany; Reims, France; Manchester, England; Omaha, Nebraska; or Tulsa, Oklahoma.  These are cities that are large but do not pop up as expected terrorist targets and thus I don’t think that national governments are guarding these as closely.  Everybody thinks New York or London when they think of terrorist strikes.  But the destruction of a city of 400,000-500,000 people would be devastating as well, and they are relatively soft-targets compared to the huge cities.  The saving grace is the difficulty in terrorist acquisition of a nuke or nukes.

Given that I think the likelihood of state-sponsored attack is low here are my probabilities.

  1. Short-term-the next 5 years – State-sponsored-roughly .05% chance; terrorist-roughly 2% chance
  2. Medium-term-in 5-15 years – State-sponsored-roughly .05% chance; terrorist-roughly 10% chance
  3. Long-term-more than 15 years from now – State-sponsored-roughly 5% chance; terrorist-roughly 50% chance

I think that eventually terrorists will get their hands on a nuke and when they do they will use it or at least attempt to use it.  Of course terrorist use of a nuke would be the dumbest thing they could do as the retaliation would be swift and devastating to not only the terrorists but to the population that hides and supports them.

 

A Collapse: 3. Epidemic Disease

Epidemic Disease

A deadly epidemic is a trope that has been used again and again in both movies and books.  The frightening aspect is that it could really happen and there is very little that can be done to stop it.  Think about the almost panic during the H1N1 Swine Flu epidemic of 2009 and that strain of Swine Flu killed roughly 280,000 people worldwide and infected 1 in 5 people for a death rate of 0.02%.  That was a mild pandemic.  Imagine for a moment that the Ebola virus that has been affecting Guinea and the MERS virus in the Middle East suddenly became much more easily transmitted.

Ebola kills up to 90% of those infected.  Luckily it is not easily transmitted because it is a blood infection and contact with an infected person is required.  To make matter worse in the case of Ebola, there is no vaccine.  Vaccines are being developed but none have been proven effective.  If Ebola were to mutate or be engineered such that it could spread through airborne transmission that is a recipe for worldwide disaster given the mobility of people today.

MERS is a new disease that was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia.  It is a respiratory disease that kills approximately 30% of the people that contract it.  Nobody really knows how MERS is transmitted although the limited spread of the disease so far seems to suggest that it also requires fluid contact with an exposed person.

These two diseases are not the only diseases to be worried about.  The list (with death rates) is fairly extensive and includes:

  1. Smallpox – 30%
  2. MERS – 30%
  3. Ebola – up to 90%
  4. Typhoid Fever – up to 30%
  5. Cholera – up to 5%
  6. Anthrax – cutaneous 20% and gastrointestinal 25%-60%
  7. Yellow Fever – normal 5%-10% and toxic phase patients up to 50%
  8. Rabies – 80%
  9. Bird Flu (H5N1) – roughly 30%
  10. Swine Flu (HN1) – roughly 2%-5% although it kills young, healthy people more than the old or immunocompromised like the seasonal flu

All have very high death rates among the infected and several were previously common but thought to have been eradicated.  Smallpox, Typhoid Fever, Yellow Fever, and Cholera have been largely eradicated and many people are no longer vaccinated against them so a large portion of the population is vulnerable to these diseases if a more virulent strain were to reappear.

The danger of a naturally occurring epidemic is essentially impossible to predict.  We cannot know when or even if a virulent, deadly new disease will appear or when an existing disease will make the leap to being capable of transmission to human hosts or even worse be capable of airborne transmission.  This one is essentially a head scratcher and we roll the dice every day that such a disease will not appear and that if it does the disease agent will be identified quickly and a vaccine produced fast enough and in sufficient quantities to protect most people.

The scariest thing about disease is that some government or organization will weaponize a disease that kills most people and release it.  For their purposes they would preferably release a disease with an extremely high death rate such as a naturally occurring disease like Ebola or Rabies or make a less deadly disease such as flu or smallpox more virulent and deadly.  We know this can be done because both the Russians and Americans did this during the Cold War and presumably the Chinese did too.

There are some issues with the deliberate release of an engineered disease.  The biggest is that once released a disease does not care who it infects so you need a vaccine for your own people before it is released.  The second is that actually developing and weaponizing a disease take a lot of knowledge, expertise, and money.  That outs he release of such an engineered disease only within reach of a nation-state.  The costs of weaponizing a disease are dropping though so it is conceivable that a disease could be engineered in the future by a terrorist group or even an individual that hates the world.  I actually think that radical environmentalists of the Gaia stripe are more likely to develop and release such a disease because it will erase the human stain is the most likely probability for such an engineered disease to appear.  Only people that want to see humanity eliminated would actually do such a thing.

I actually think that the deliberate release of a deadly disease is a rather slim probability because diseases are so unpredictable.  The appearance of a natural disease that would kill millions is possible but the likelihood is impossible to predict.  Given those caveats, what do I see the likelihood of an epidemic disease being?  Here are my cloudy crystal ball predictions.

  1. Short-term-the next 5 years – roughly 5% chance of a virulent disease outbreak occurring
  2. Medium-term-in 5-15 years – roughly 5% chance of a collapse occurring because I just don’t think there are enough people full of hatred for mankind around yet
  3. Long-term-more than 15 years from now – roughly 15% chance of a collapse occurring.  As technology advances the chances that some group could develop a disease and the vaccine for it increases and if a vaccine is available the possibility of its use goes up
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