Last week I published my most recent thoughts on the potential for a domestic conflict. I just want to point out that thinking locally should come before thinking nationally. There’s the obvious reasons that what happens 1,000 feet from you is more important than what’s happening 1,000 miles from you, and if your area is affected by systems disruption, what’s happening nationally isn’t going to be on your radar. During Hurricane Harvey, for instance, when a deluge of rain pounded on roofs and the flood waters were rising, no one in Houston was concerned about the wildfires in California.
The second reason we should analyze the local effects of domestic conflict before we do the national effects is because the nation is made up of states and regions, states are made of up counties, and counties are made up of cities, towns, and the rural areas in between. If we don’t understand what’s happening in cities and towns, then we won’t have a clear picture of what’s happening across the county. If we don’t understand what happening in counties, then we can’t have an accurate statewide picture. If we don’t understand what’s happening in states and regions, then we can’t have an accurate nationwide picture. Everything starts locally. Your town is a building block informing the national picture.
That said, the nature of conflict is a spectrum. On the near end — the low intensity side — we have interpersonal conflict, followed by gang and tribal conflict, followed by state-sponsored violence and — arriving at the high intensity end — conventional military conflict. Most of what we’re likely to experience is termed “low intensity conflict“; a mixture of insurgent-style violence, state-backed counterinsurgency efforts, and peacekeeping operations marked by civil and social strife. While the military may be involved, their activities are more likely to resemble law enforcement actions than a high intensity, conventional military campaign. Political objectives will be of a higher importance than military objectives, which is to say, the need to enforce law and order will surpass the need for a military victory. In fact, as we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan, an overly aggressive approach is far more likely to make things worse, especially in the day and age of fifth-column news outlets and social media. Were it not for the exploitative 24/7 news coverage of the death of Trayvon Martin, which enabled the community organizing that resulted in mass protests and violence, I’m not sure that the Ferguson riots would have happened. Mainstream media has a say in who gets to be the heroes and villains, and those are the conditions we can expect should the current domestic conflict worsen.
It’s very important for us to understand the underlying cause of the conflict: civil and social strife. The cause of this strife is centered on racial and socioeconomic conditions. On one side is a group of people struggling to maintain tradition in a society swinging towards not just the non-traditional but towards a post-modern system where equal outcome is not just encouraged but enforced by law. Capitalism and white supremacy are often to blame for the country’s ills, yet it was capitalism that pulled Western Civilization out of feudalism that still exists in other parts of the world. And as for white supremacy, whites founded the nation, set up the government influenced by their classical Greek ideological ancestors, invented most of the technologies in use around the world today, and were a large majority of the population for most of this country’s history. Those who desire to erase that heritage are ideological enemies, even if they live in the same country. And it’s this divergence over how Americans see the past and view the future that’s driving the conflict. Multiculturalism encourages groups to maintain differing and sometimes inimical beliefs and attitudes with the expectation that these groups won’t end up competing against each other for cultural and political dominance, and they’re absolutely, 100% incorrect. As has been said before of multiculturalism, a country can be racially diverse and culturally homogeneous and be at peace, it can be culturally diverse and racially homogeneous and be at peace, but it can’t be both culturally and racially diverse. That’s a recipe for internal conflict.
So it stands to reason that areas of America that are culturally and racially homogeneous are less likely to be affected by socially-driven violence — it’s not necessarily unlikely to be affected, but less likely than diverse, multicultural areas of the country. This is where the agitation and friction happen that “rub raw the sores of discontent”, in the words of Saul Alinsky. Where the political violence is likely to worsen is where these sores of discontent exist. The worse they’re rubbed raw by agitators, the more people will be agitated to action and the wider the violence will be. What’s more is that America has a cadre of full-time, professional agitators in colleges and universities, pop culture, and in the mainstream media working tirelessly to rub raw these sores of discontent in order, ostensibly, to produce social change, but in reality to further their movement’s political power, which carries the risk of increased state-backed violence.
There could be any number of tipping points: an attack against someone in your community, a murder or justifiable homicide, a police-involved shooting, an instance of police brutality, an economic recession that puts people out of work, an undesirable outcome of a local, state, or national election, or some other local social, political, or economic factor could induce violence.
Keep in mind that millions of Americans don’t need to be agitated, radicalized, or moved to violence for there to be a domestic conflict. And just because you believe that political violence is irrational doesn’t meant that the ones carrying it out agree. (Suicide bombing in Iraq or Afghanistan never made sense to me, yet it didn’t stop people from killing themselves and others for their religious beliefs.) We probably all agree that murdering someone over flashing a gang sign is irrational, but it’s not for those involved in a gang war. We probably all agree that killing a random police officer is not a justified response for the actions of another, but that doesn’t stop murderers from killing police officers. Just because you don’t see the risk doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Right now, you may not feel a sense of urgency. Maybe that’s because you live in a reasonably safe area, maybe it’s because times are relatively good and many Americans are comfortable, or maybe it’s because you haven’t seen or don’t understand the growth of revolutionary and extremist groups in this country; but the threat is real and so is the risk. Worsening social, political and economic conditions increase the risk of domestic conflict, and in the age where every action is politicized, I see no significant reason why social wounds will heal or political divides will be bridged. And if the next recession is as bad as 2008 and puts as many people out of work, then we could inherit a real mess.
If you’re interested in the potential for these scenarios, or concerned about where we could be headed as a country, then stay up to date with developing conditions with our threat intelligence reports. Each Friday we publish the National Intelligence Bulletin, which covers issues of national security, domestic systems disruption, risk of failing critical infrastructure, and threats to social, political, and economic stability.
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Always Out Front,
P.S. If you’re concerned about where we’re headed as a country, whether on the near-end of the spectrum or the far end of the spectrum (social, political and economic instability; domestic conflict; or collapse of empire), and want to stay informed on what the headlines don’t cover, then I invite you to try us out. If you’re not happy within the first two weeks, I’ll refund your monthly or annual subscription cost – no questions asked. You can get access to our intelligence reporting and training area here.