Note: I will be on with Joseph Cotto and Paul Gottfried this evening to discuss big-brained stuff. The show is scheduled for 7:00 PM. This is a link to their YouTube page, but I’ll add a direct link when it is available. One topic will be my post about America and Athens, but there will be other topics as well.
One thing that seems to be true of all civilizations that are in crisis is they have a period in which the laws are no longer respected by the people in power. It is not exactly a period of lawlessness, as in chaos. That certainly does happen when the crisis reaches the point when the official authority can no longer project power. Before that, there is a time when the people charged with enforcing the laws simply stop doing it on a consistent basis. The law becomes arbitrary and selective.
A good example of this is what we see with the civil unrest. Mobs of people go into the streets looting and rioting, with very little push-back from the police. The politicians carry on as if they are in support of the rioting. It’s not as if these mobs are that large or all that fearsome. The police, if given the chance, could end the riots in a few hours with a minimum of trouble. The people pulling down statues could be arrested, charged with lots of crimes and sent to a prison. Yet, it does not happen.
Part of it, for sure, is that the local politicians are taking some weird pleasure in seeing their cities destroyed. They would like to join in on the mayhem. That is obvious with the child mayor of Minneapolis. In other cases, the local politicians hate the police and refuse to let them do their jobs. Still, in many cases, the local government is paralyzed by fear and incompetence. In Atlanta, the police are in open revolt against the local authorities over the corruption of the law by the politicians.
Lost in all struggles to advance a preferred narratives is what is happening on the ground in these cities. If you are a shop owner in these areas or a resident, you now live in a lawless age. Again, it is not entirely lawless, but the law is no longer clear and predictable for you. If you, as a shop owner, shoot someone looting your store, maybe you get arrested. Maybe the looter gets arrested, if things fall the right way, but you can’t know. The law is no longer clear.
A more ominous example is what we see happening with the Silicon Valley oligopolies now controlling the public square. Recently, Google threatened to end the advertising revenue of the Federalist and Zero Hedge. They did this at the behest of NBC, who called them up and asked them to do it, because NBC did not like that they allowed users to post comments on the stories. Google does not like people expressing their opinions either, so they happily agreed to threaten both sites.
There is a term for this. It is called extortion. Using the threat of force or property damage to obtain something from another is illegal in every state. What Google and NBC did to these sites is no different than what the Mafia used to do with local business. NBC said, “that’s a nice business you have there. Shame if something were to happen to it.” Then Google came in and smashed a few things to make sure both of them knew they were serious about it.
What’s even more amazing about this story is both NBC and Google have publicly bragged about what they did. They don’t dispute that they essentially muscled these two sites like gangsters. Their public utterances are enough for the FBI to arrest the people involved and charge them with multiple counts of extortion. They could probably even begin a racketeering case against Google. There are laws on the books for exactly this situation, yet the government is silent on the matter.
A less egregious example is what we see with the tech companies de-platforming people accused of impiety. In a better time, one-way contracts were strongly discouraged and highly scrutinized by the courts. It was assumed there was an unequal relationship between the company and their customer. The court tried to balance that relationship by heavily scrutinizing the contracts involved and the actions of the company issuing the contracts. The court defended the customer.
The reverse is now true. In every area of life, people are confronted by terms of service that run contrary to our legal traditions. Domain registrars, for example, willy-nilly break their contract with users like VDare. There is no remedy, as the courts simply no longer enforce large swaths of contract law. In fact, as we see with the Supreme Court, they invent new laws and re-imagine history to justify it. The courts are now something less predictable than a flip of a coin. It’s chaos in the law.
It is tempting to explain all of this as part of some highly orchestrated plot by the usual suspects, but in reality, we are in a period of lawlessness. The people charged with enforcing the rules either refuse for factional reasons or they simply can no longer project the power they theoretically possess. In the case of the courts, it very well may be fear from people with real power. John Roberts, for example, is most likely being extorted or intimidated by powerful people.
In response to legitimate power failing to act, illegitimate power is starting to step into the void and enforce its own rules. We see this with so-called private companies trying to impose the new religion on people. The NCAA, for example, is trying to force the state of Mississippi to change its flag. Again, it is resorting to extortion and doing so without regard for the law. A big part of what they are doing is displaying their power level by brazenly threatening the duly elected government.
What we are witnessing is not a revolution. The Left would love for people to believe that, which is why they have instructed conservative media to sell that idea. Instead, we are seeing the breakdown of order. Government, either because of corruption or ineptitude, is no longer able to enforce the laws. Private power centers, no longer respecting the spirit of the laws or the legitimate power centers, are beginning to fill this void, like gangs trying to impose order when the cops are gone.
The public sees this only from the outsider point of view. The legitimate power centers like state and local government, appear to be functioning, but for some reason they are randomly failing in their basic duties. Corporations and newly minted religious authorities are suddenly able to push people around without consequence. To the average citizen it does look like a revolution, and maybe that will come, but for now it is the slow breakdown of order. The system is collapsing.
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