On Being Revolting in the Modern Age

I was reading something about a battle in the American Revolution and it got me to thinking about what revolution would look like in the modern age. We tend to associate revolutions with mobs in the streets, disobeying lawful orders from whoever happens to be in charge. That’s part of it, for sure, but usually they have more formal elements as well as popular unrest. The American Revolution had a number well organized acts of rebellion like boycotts and peaceful resistance before we got armies in the field.

Revolutions have two forms, at least at the onset. There are the revolts within the ruling class and then there are popular rebellions. The former is more like a civil war played out on the small scale. For instance, a group of soldiers takes over the military and then sacks the civil leadership. The English Civil War is the best example. The latter is when the people get tired of their rulers and rally around a leader or cause (or both) and force out the old rulers. The Bolshevik Revolution is the most obvious example. The American Revolution is unique in that it has both elements.

In the modern west, a military coup is unlikely as the civilian authorities have done a good job over the last few generations of selecting against the sort of ambitious men who tend to lead military coups. In Europe, the military is simply too weak to pull it off. That and the rest of Europe would either send in troops to restore civilian rule or have the US do it. Then you have the fact that there’s not a lot of popular support for the military in much of Europe. A coup would result in massive protests.

The US is a different animal in that we have a big competent military, but it is mostly stationed overseas. That’s not an accident. If the invade the world types are purged from the ruling class, the next step is a great demobilization. There’s simply no way a civilian leadership is going to allow a massive high tech army to be garrisoned at home. Even so, the military culture in the US has long selected against the sort of men that lead military coups. It’s the one thing we have no screwed up yet.

I think if we are going to see a soft civil war or a revolution from within, it will look a lot like what we are seeing with nationalist parties across the Continent. The first wave will be less than professional politicians demonstrating the power of popular discontent, followed by a second wave of real professionals who take control of those new parties and lead a reform movement. This is not so much a revolution or revolt, as a process of internal reform tapping into popular will to overcome internal resistance. It’s not exactly how democracy is supposed to work, but it is not a terrible result if it leads to peaceful change.

There’s good reason to be pessimistic about this possibility. We saw how the Austrians rigged their election and a lot of people suspect this US election could be loaded with shenanigans. Even if Trump overcomes the Clinton crime machine, he will most likely face a ruling class unified against him. In America, we may have crossed the Rubicon in the 1990’s when it became clear that the ruling class could no longer police itself. Their inability to purge their ranks of the Clintons was a sign that the rot had reach a point where reform is no longer possible.

That leaves popular revolt. Certainly voting for Trump sends a message, but messages need a sender and a receiver. If the people on the other end refuse to acknowledge the message being sent, then it’s not really a message. The Olive Branch Petition was the last ditch effort by the Colonist to avoid a breach with the mother country, but the King’s refusal turned it from a message to him into a message from him. That message was clear to the colonials. They could either submit unconditionally or prepare for war. A Trump win followed by a unified refusal by the political class to cooperate would also be clear message.

A few bloggers on our side of the divide have noted that what comes after Trump is, if history is a guide, going to be much worse. Instead of an amateur politician, who still believes in the system, the next guy to rally the troops will be a professional who does not believe in the system. Instead he will be a guy that looks at the system in the same way Turkish strongman Erdoğan looks at democracy. That is, it is useful only as a vehicle for taking the leader to where he wants to go. “If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it,” said Julius Caesar.

That may be true, but it will still require popular support. What we are seeing with nationalist insurgencies in the West is they are running into the massive power that comes from owning the mass media. A little girl skins her knee and there is a news team there to blame Trump in a four hour TV special. Hillary Clinton is caught running a pay-for-play scheme and no one can be bothered to ask her why she went to the trouble of installing an illegal e-mail system in her bathroom. Even the most cynical and savvy insurgent campaign cannot get past this problem.

It may be that the custodial state has reached a point where rebellion is no longer possible. Or, it may simply be that the method of revolt will have to adapt to the modern age. If the rulers no longer have the consent of the governed, then the governed will have no reason to voluntarily cooperate. Perhaps the cord-cutting movement is one of those acts of rebellion that makes sense only in a mass media age. Publishing the private correspondence of rulers, obtained by hackers, is certainly a very modern for of rebellion.

Whether any of it works is open to debate

 

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King George III
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King George III

We’re not at the point where rebellion is no longer possible, but we will be within the next thirty years. It all depends on how quickly certain technologies evolve, specifically the ones which will allow the state to cost-effectively interpret the data collected by a swarm of small surveillance drones, and produce Cylon-esque Boston Dynamics robot soldiers.

I don’t know if you’ve seen the latest Boston Dyanmics video, but if you haven’t, you should. It really isn’t very far from what they have now to an upgraded version with a turret for an arm.

CaptDMO
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CaptDMO

“Or, it may simply be that the method of revolt will have to adapt to the modern age”
SEE: Wikipedia, Wikileaks.

jwm
Guest
jwm

I’ve been thinking this for a while. Forget government. The war needs to be waged against the media giants. Take down Farcebook and Twatter. Destroy the New York and Los Angeles Times. Bust a major TV network. The current ministers of political correction are like garage band musicians with 50,000 watt amplifiers. The Right is sitting on a stool with an acoustic guitar. Who cares if the quality sucks. As long as they can drown out the opposing voices, they’re going to remain on stage

JWM

notsothoreau
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notsothoreau

I’ve been saying this the entire election season. We need someone that can get past the hold the media has. Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has been saying that the right needs to start buying up media companies, even if it’s something like womens’ magazines.

Dr. Mabuse
Guest

Or shut them down through regulation. Pass a law that every media story must be published simultaneously in 10 foreign languages. Make the media so inefficient, so hamstrung by rules, that it collapses or every move violates some law.

Kell
Guest
Kell

Why buy them when they can be shut down at their broadcast towers and computer servers? Shut their shit DOWN!

Member

Probably not necessary or useful. When the the real violence begins, whatever side starts it will simply kill a few journalists, or imprison them, or their families or torture them. Journalists are mostly cowards and most of the survivors will fall into line as quick as they can. Those few brave individuals who do not give up can and will be hunted down.

The communists of all stripes, including the Nazis have done this multiple times. Pravda.

FaCubeItches
Guest
FaCubeItches

Just give out monthly Jake Lingle Memorial Awards for Journalistic Integrity.

alzaebo
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alzaebo

Obama’s first election, at least two female local news anchors were beat to death in their own homes in Detroit and Little Rock.
The journalists in the vulture seats at the victory seats were reported as some bored, some distracted, but most looked scared or anxious. None were cheering. Message sent?

alzaebo
Guest
alzaebo

Victory announcement, oops

Lergnom
Guest
Lergnom

alzaebo, can you provide their names? I’d like to look up their stories.
Thanks

Christopher S. Johns
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Christopher S. Johns

Hypothetically speaking, of course, if I were to launch an effort to destroy the elite class in the US, I would ignore the political class, at least at the beginning. But a campaign of targeted assassinations against say, the top 30-50 figures in the US media (dinosaur and social) would certainly get their attention and sow a great deal of panic. We could argue about the names on that list, but we could all come up with one. Granted, some of these people might be hard to get at, especially after the first few killings had been carried out, but… Read more »

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

We need an army of “Punishers” who work in a coordinated attack. We all know who the major players are. Just make a list of the Top 100. Why stop at 30-50? One shot – One kill.

Kell
Guest
Kell

Or “visit” a handful or two of the talking heads with overwhelming force and extreme violence and watch how quickly the narrative changes. They only lie as they do because they have no blood in the game, change THAT and everything else will follow! Imagine if the top 3 of ALL the major networks got a 3 AM visit from people with the skill and determination to “educate” them in the error of their ways, ALL at the same time, same for print media…that’s a message!

Windy Wilson
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Windy Wilson

like the taking out of the Black and Tans in the Irish rebellion? One morning, every one.

Member

“What we are seeing with nationalist insurgencies in the West is they are running into the massive power that comes from owning the mass media. ” This is the fourth time this morning that the theme of media control has appeared and the fourth time usually silent me has been moved to comment. Here’s some of what I had and have to say: Hilaire Belloc’s 1918 classic The Free Press is prescient in an era when six media conglomerates control mass market information dissemination. These conglomerates are in turn controlled by the controllers of finance who have inflated money to… Read more »

R Daneel
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R Daneel

What Pol Pot recognized. The only way to win this is to kill them all.

Uncola
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Uncola

Whether the enemies be Morlocks or Germans, I tend to favor the Englishman’s way with words when the time comes to rally the troops for neo-warfare: “We shall go onto the Web, we shall fight on the Internets, We shall fight in our basements, dens, and offices and from our kitchen tables, We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength within the ether, we shall defend our desktops and laptops, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the Twitter, we shall fight on the Facebooks, we shall fight in the e-mails and on the blogs, we shall… Read more »

LetsPlay
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LetsPlay

Some levity is always good. 🙂

RustyGunner
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RustyGunner

See William S. Lind and fourth-generation warfare, as well as John Robb on open-source insurgencies. Most analyses of western revolt that I have read are predicated on the traditional goal of replacing the current rulers with a new set, and the very real difficulties inherent in that idea in the modern age. What is not addressed, although I believe it to be more practical and more likely to succeed, is to largely ignore the rulers (while watching carefully what the police and military do) and concentrate on rendering the country ungovernable. This can be accomplished at the local level, without… Read more »

King George III
Guest
King George III

That sounds more or less like what the Amish, Mormons, Moslems in Europe, and so forth are doing.

The establishment of alt-wing communes, perhaps? Solar for power, computerized gardening/farming, local intranets, etc. 3D printing is going to return a *ton* of means of production back to the common person. A divergent culture would be essential, precluding widespread Internet use and public education. So too would control of the food supply, hence the necessity of agriculture.

The pieces are all there just waiting for somebody to pick them up.

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

I think you forget that Obozo has given the keys to the internet over to the Brussels crew. They would shut down the internet in a heartbeat, or at least our connections, if they deemed it necessary for “national security.”

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

I always liked the idea of “Don’t feed the beast.” That would be a great start.

Trimegistus
Guest
Trimegistus

We will know things have gotten serious when media people come under concerted physical attack.

Drake
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Drake

Maybe rebellion just looks different these days. I think of Greece, with the some the highest and most intrusive taxes and regulations in the world. Greeks simply ignore most of them. They pretend to work for the government / corporations all day while napping. Then actually work for cash at night. Do modern rebels just ignore, dodge, and avoid government wherever possible? My blue-collar friends seem very accomplished at maximizing their cash and minimizing their taxable income. Here is the Greek government’s move to counter these acts of rebellion – Greeks will have to declare to tax office even cash… Read more »

Member

An army marches on its stomach and so do revolutions. In the past revolutionaries at least ate well. In agrarian America food was produced literally in people’s backyards. In our modern, division-of-labor society food and the distribution of food is controllable. And he who controls it, controls the population. You want to see how a modern revolution progresses — or doesn’t — look to Venezuela. Starving revolutionaries don’t march against their oppressors. Instead like zoo animals they waste away in endless lines behind government food trucks for hours on end waiting to be fed by their keepers.

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

I think you need to watch the latest version of “Wolverines.” You supply yourself with the enemy’s stuff.

Saml Adams
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Saml Adams

“This isn’t Vietnam, Smoky, this is bowling. There are rules”. The tipping point will be when the middle decides rules no longer apply. I think we are close and Wikileaks-esqe disclosures are reinforcing the belief that the ruling elites truly “rule” and don’t “govern” as intended. While technology may help point the way towards turn-key totalitarianism, the counter will be the example of ISIS, which has learned to operate without the highly organized cell structure that doomed Al-Quaeda. That, plus a better realization that my of our systems may be efficient and effective, but they are not resilient. But once… Read more »

Jak Black
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Jak Black

I’m pretty sure we’re already passed the point of no return, and it’s depressing as hell. If you had asked me in my 20s, if it became known that a president had weaponized the IRS and used it against enemies, and snarked about it on TV, would you rebel – I would have said, “of course there will be widespread rebellion.” Yet here we are. That it became public that a presidential candidate rigged the primaries? “Of course.” Etc. etc. etc.

We have become too desensitized by the constant flow of audacious outrages.

Ofay Cat
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Ofay Cat

I believe there are now too many divergent interests in the USA to have a contiguous force for change. You have the blacks, the Hispanics, the LGBT gang, communists, capitalists, Muslims, and others who all have differing agendas. America is now the land of the fat and the home of the confused.

notsothoreau
Guest
notsothoreau

The one hopeful thing I’ve seen lately is what Mike Cernovich is doing. He took a cell phone with extra batteries, went out and filmed the protests at the DNC and uploaded them using the Periscope app. We have the tools to get around the mainstream media, if we will only use them. Think about the issue of Hillary’s health. That’s not being raised by the mainstream. It’s coming from the Alt-right and we don’t know if it’s true or not. But it has gained traction.

james wilson
Guest
james wilson

It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.

Member

I’m not convinced that’s an entirely fair description of the events surrounding the Olive Branch Petition. I usually like to pick apart the description of history in it and the grievances ultimately listed in the Declaration of Independence [mainly the parts that consider such ‘grievances’ as British provision for the administration of Indian lands or Quebec, territories not part of the 13 colonies], but apart from that: a) the Congress the next day passed their proclamation on the necessity of taking up arms b) even before the Olive Branch Petition, Congress had authorized and launched preparations for the invasion of… Read more »

Member

One quibble: current military posture only has about 1/3 or 1/4 of our troops stationed overseas. This was the “peace dividend” from the 1990’s playing itself out. More accurately, and to your point, we have drawn down our military to under 4 million people (including DoD civilians). http://historyinpieces.com/research/us-military-personnel-1954-2014 To some extent, rightly so. Large, standing, armies are not healthy to a Republic. Where the military is struggling is under the burdens of the Ruling Class where the rapid pace of social change being forced upon it, combined with a real, and growing, entitlement/welfare system that has grown up around the… Read more »

Drake
Guest
Drake

Yep. We have our Soldiers and Marines more concerned with pretending women belong in combat units and learning to “accommodate” trannies – than actually winning battles.

Member

Well, I think their civilian bosses and ladder-climbing senior officers care a lot about that stuff. Those who don’t share that view will be forced out.

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

Correction. They’ve already been forced out. Been going on for seven plus years now!

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

Don’t blame the “soldiers and Marines.” It is Obozo and his hand picked minions pushing the transformation through the military. Commie/Socialist agenda and he told everyone flat out what he intended to do. But everyone was too stupid to listen (those that voted for her, anyway)

Janet
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Janet

Actually, hokkoda, it’s only about 12% of US forces stationed overseas: about 1.2 million active duty in the US, and about 162,000 stationed overseas. I have no idea where you’re getting the number of 4 million– the actual strength, counting everybody (including Coast Guard, DoD civilians, academy cadets, people waiting to go to basic training, etc.) is just over 2.3 million. By comparison, the total “eligible” population (non-criminals, not disqualified medically) would be about 60 million males, 59 million females. I’m always amazed at the odd views that civilians have about the US military. Like talk of a coup– I… Read more »

Member

That’s why I posted the link, wasn’t too interested in precision beyond a total force that is below 4M, and a minority of troops overseas. I figured people would look it up if they wanted more exacting figures. Your numbers just illustrate my point further.

Member

I remember signing up here a while ago under this same handle but don’t recall doing it with Disqus or Google, and social media platforms disturb and frighten me…

fodderwing
Guest
fodderwing

Comfort confuses, calamity clarifies. There will be no clear reason for revolution without, first, calamity.

Member

Many civilizations have collapsed without having a revolution. And each one that has fallen, either by collapse, revolution, or conquest has been more technologically advanced and better organized than the last. No civilization has thus far lasted forever, meaning that collapse, revolution or conquest is inevitable at some point.

Patrick Baker
Guest

“…collapse… inevitable…”
Last week, while attending a Jewish funeral, I heard the Rabbi recite, in Hebrew, a 3,500 year old prayer, which may or may not last forever. Then again, 3,500 years ain’t bad.

Shelby
Guest
Shelby

Tpdoc, what do you think would happen if someone was to steal this election?
If the Trump backers, of which I am one, were to find that the Clinton machine had played fast and loose with ballots do you think riots would turn into revolution?

Aggie
Guest
Aggie

The hacker insurgents who publish the private emails of the power elite – those elites who break the law to seize power, as Caesar taught – are relying on the threat of shame for leverage in the arena of public opinion. What a quaint concept, I’m sure Hillary is feeling chastened. What if, rather than raiding inboxes, the next generation of activist hacker used their skills to shut down – say for example – the grid on the east and west coasts, for a few days? Now that is a modern revolt for you. Talk about mobilizing an enraged, motivated… Read more »

Severian
Guest

I can think of half a dozen ways to stop a rebellion from getting started with no violence whatsoever. Big Pharma (Christian Bale was in an awful movie called Equilibrium that explores this idea, but with shoot em ups. Call it “the first FDA-approved metabolism booster;” we’ll all tranq ourselves). A few “natural” disasters cutting off food from problem areas (as a commenter suggested above. This is also how to stop ghetto riots btw). Caesarism has worked great since WWII — the DemPublicans stage vicious electoral fights; meanwhile stuff that upwards of 75% of Americans want don’t get passed, and… Read more »

Member

Interesting post. The ruling oligarchy is now out of control and the rule of law is dead. There is but one way to right the ship and that is a major purge of the criminal element and strict enforcement beyond that, of the rule of law.

Member

It’s obvious to me that the rule of law, that is, the concept that the laws apply to everyone, including the government and the so-called elite, no longer exists.. This is what I believe Z means when he says we turned a corner in the 90s when the ruling class stopped policing itself. The problem I believe is that not enough people either recognize or care about this loss. Our college kids are a, joke who think that Karl Marx is running for president. They are our future. Only a calamity of massive proportions will be a catalyst for change.… Read more »

Al from da Nort
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Al from da Nort

Don’t forget ‘events’. as in unanticipated disasters incompetently dealt with. The two biggies preceding most historically recent revolutions are losing a war and economic debauchery, particularly of the currency. Usually these have been related. We are well on our way towards both, particularly with the Fed’s ongoing Wall St. Welfare. The preference cascade for revolt always begins with protests under ripe conditions of repeatedly demonstrated elite incompetence plus economic hardship. Once the cascade hits the military the fun really begins. The scenario has usually gone along the lines of the Romanian Revolution of 1989: Ordered to fire on the crowd,… Read more »

Zorost
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Zorost

“Even the most cynical and savvy insurgent campaign cannot get past this problem.”

Incorrect.
Alternate media, including twitter and the comments section of mainstream media reaches a vast audience. For twitter, especially check out : @Ricky_Vaughn99
Reading his tweets will lead to many others who hate what our nation has become, and are looking for ways to address it.

cali
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cali

@Z Man: You never cease to amaze me with your subjects and spot on analysis including possible outcomes and solutions! I wish you could join Sundance at the Treehouse – another person who is similar in his opinion and likeminded honest analysis. Thanks for another great post! Having said that I think the majority of citizens have finally caught on that something is really amiss while having also discovered how truly corrupt our political class in DC is. There are no longer two parties because all we have is the Uni-Party. It is that reason that most citizens want a… Read more »

Great Again
Guest
Great Again

I think the big X factor is the economy. 60% of the citizenry is currently pacified by welfare checks, social security, and government jobs. They have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. But if there’s a 1929-style stock market crash followed by a Great Depression and the transformation of the dollar to toilet paper, then all bets are off. I think this is why Ron Paul focused on auditing (and hopefully ending) the Fed. If the Regime loses the ability to bribe citizens with money created out of thin air, things go south quickly. Taxes would skyrocket just… Read more »

The Exile
Guest

There will be no revolution. If there were going to be one, it would have started by now. Our biggest problem now is that the politicians (from “both” sides) and the media have watched the shenanigans of the Clintons and Obamas and said to themselves, “My God! Look at what these people have gotten away with! And not only has no one been shot, most people don’t even care! We can get away with ANYTHING!” And they’re right: many people actually support the criminality of the political elite, but most don’t care and aren’t even aware that it’s happening. Idiocracy… Read more »

Karl Horst (Germany)
Guest
Karl Horst (Germany)

The minute we all go to a fully cashless society, it’s over. Even barter has its limits and if you think being “off the grid” is going to protect you, guess again. I challenge any of you to not file your taxes for a year or two and you’ll find out just how quickly you show up on the government radar regardless of how far “off the grid” you think you really are. If you want more proof of what’s around the corner go back and watch a few videos on the Branch Davidians and how quickly they were put… Read more »

Sam
Guest
Sam

Yes Karl, you are most definitely right. In the US the most heinous, liberty theiving, freedom stomping event that occurred was the individual income tax- the 16th amendment. And then later(1943)we were given the final nail in the Coffin O’ dissent —> “income tax withholding”. The people were left defenseless with NO way to say NO. That is no way to peacefully say no. The only recourse left —> is violence.

Member

I came across that Caesar quote a while ago and it didn’t sound right to me, so I tried to track it down. It’s all over the internet without any specific citation. I had no great luck then, but I’ve figured out what’s up. This evening I first found that it’s earliest attestation (so far as I could discover) was in a book from 2003 by William. B. Whitman entitled The Quotable Politician. Then I tracked down the origin from which this garbled quote comes. It’s from a passage in Cicero’s De Officiis Book Three, in which he argues that… Read more »

Member

“The American Revolution is unique in that it has both elements.”

The “American Exceptionalism” bullshit never ends, does it?

The recent Egyptian Spring revolution had both elements, as did many others.