[this article was written for the Unz Review]
I have lived in the United States for a total of 24 years and I have witnessed many crises over this long period, but what is taking place today is truly unique and much more serious than any previous crisis I can recall. And to explain my point, I would like to begin by saying what I believe the riots we are seeing taking place in hundreds of US cities are not about. They are not about:
- Racism or “White privilege”
- Police violence
- Social alienation and despair
- The liberals pouring fuel on social fires
- The infighting of the US elites/deep state
They are not about any of these because they encompass all of these issues, and more.
It is important to always keep in mind the distinction between the concepts of “cause” and “pretext”. And while it is true that all the factors listed above are real (at least to some degree, and without looking at the distinction between cause and effect), none of them are the true cause of what we are witnessing. At most, the above are pretexts, triggers if you want, but the real cause of what is taking place today is the systemic collapse of the US society.
The next thing which we must also keep in mind is that evidence of correlation is not evidence of causality. Take, for example, this article from CNN entitled “US black-white inequality in 6 stark charts” which completely conflates the two concepts and which includes the following sentence (stress added) “Those disparities exist because of a long history of policies that excluded and exploited black Americans, said Valerie Wilson, director of the program on race, ethnicity and the economy at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning group.” The word “because” clearly point to a causality, yet absolutely nothing in the article or data support this. The US media is chock-full of such conflations of correlation and causality, yet it is rarely denounced.
For a society, any society, to function a number of factors that make up the social contract need to be present. The exact list that make up these factors will depend on each individual country, but they would typically include some kind of social consensus, the acceptance by most people of the legitimacy of the government and its institutions, often a unifying ideology or, at least, common values, the presence of a stable middle-class, the reasonable hope for a functioning “social life”, educational institutions etc. Finally, and cynically, it always helps the ruling elites if they can provide enough circuses (TV) and bread (food) to most citizens. This is even true of so-called authoritarian/totalitarian societies which, contrary to the liberal myth, typically do enjoy the support of a large segment of the population (if only because these regimes are often more capable of providing for the basic needs of society).
Right now, I would argue that the US government has almost completely lost its ability to deliver any of those factors, or act to repair the broken social contract. In fact, what we can observe is the exact opposite: the US society is highly divided, as is the US ruling class (which is even more important). Not only that, but ever since the election of Trump, all the vociferous Trump-haters have been undermining the legitimacy not only of Trump himself, but of the political system which made his election possible. I have been saying that for years: by saying “not my President” the Trump-haters have de-legitimized not only Trump personally, but also de-legitimized the Executive branch as such.
[Sidebar: this is an absolutely amazing phenomenon: while for almost four years Trump has been destroying the US Empire externally, Trump-haters spent the same four years destroying the USA from the inside! If we look past the (largely fictional) differences between the Republicrats and the Demolicans we can see that they operate like a demolition tag-team of sorts and while they hate each other with a passion, they both contribute to bringing down both the Empire and the United States. For anybody who has studied dialectics this would be very predictable but, alas, dialectics are not taught anymore, hence the stunned “dear in the headlights” look on the faces of most people today]
Finally, it is pretty clear that for all its disclaimers about supporting only the “peaceful protestors” and its condemnation of the “out of town looters”, most of the US media (as well as the alt media) is completely unable to give a moral/ethical evaluation of what is taking place. What I mean by this is the following:
By repeating mantras about how “Black anger is legitimate” the US liberal media is basically placing a seal of approval on the violence and looting. After all, if Black “anger” is legitimate, and if “White privilege” is real, then it is quite “understandable” that this “anger” “sometimes” “boils over” and leads to “regrettable” “excesses”. Just take a look at this image of Biden kneeling down before a Black demonstrator:
Of course, Biden and his supporters will claim that Biden was only kneeling before a cute little girl and her peacefully protesting father, but when combined with the attacks against Trump’s “law and order” rhetoric by Biden and his supporters (including four former US Presidents!), I believe that these kinds of photo-ops are sending a very different message: keep “protesting” as we are on your side which, coming from a guy like Biden, the ultimate symbol of the 1%er elites and a perfect example of “White privilege”, just goes to show that the hypocrisy of US politicians really knows no bounds or limits.
[Sidebar: I have to note here that these riots also represent a potential danger for both factions of the Uniparty in power: for the Demolicans the riots probably represent the very last chance to prevent a Trump-reelection, but if the Demolicans are too obvious in support of the riots, then it could backfire against them and turn all the frightened “law and order” types against them. But if they do not support the riots, then the Demolicans will alienate their core constituency (a hodgepodge of various “minorities” pushing their narrow identity-politics agenda). Likewise, for Trump this is an opportunity to show his “law and order” credentials and promise the White people and the relatively fewer Blacks of his base that he will protect them. However, if he is too direct about this and if Trump orders what might be seen by many as unfair or excessive force (of which there has been a lot almost everywhere), then he risks pushing many moderate Republicrats over the edge and side with the Demolicans (or, at least, withhold their vote). In other words, both factions of the Uniparty feel that the riots are both an opportunity and a threat and this is why neither faction can come out and speak truthfully about the real causes of the riots.]
The exact same message of weakness and even submissive impotence is, I believe, sent every time a cop kneels when confronting even peaceful demonstrators like on this photo. While this might be intended as a message of compassion, and maybe even an apology, the only thing the rioters will see here is a powerful sign of surrender of the local authorities and I find that extremely dangerous.
Yes, there are plenty of racist, violent and otherwise incompetent cops in the USA. And yes, many of my Black friends reported feeling singled out and treated rudely by cops. But having extensively traveled the world, I want to assure you that the US most definitely does not have the worst cops out there. In fact, I believe that most US cops are decent people. Much more importantly, these cops are the “thin blue line” which protects society against criminals. And while I do believe that US policemen ought to be better educated, better trained, better led and better supervised, I also realize that there is also no short term alternative to them. It is all very fine to dream about educated, peaceful and non-racist cops, but if you remove the existing police force from the equation, there are no other alternatives (the national guard or the regular armed forces do not qualify and don’t have the correct training to deal with civilians anyway), especially in those states which have successfully killed the 2nd Amendment by means of what I call “death by a thousand regulatory cuts” (including NY and NJ).
Then there is what Solzhenitsyn called the “decline of courage” in the West: the vast majority US politicians have basically lost the ability to criticize Blacks, even when it is quite obvious that many of the current problems of the Black population of the USA are created by Blacks themselves: I think of the truly vulgar, obscene and overall disgusting “rap culture” with which most Black youth are now “educated” in since early childhood or how many Black youth have been brainwashed into considering gang members and street prostitutes as the measure of what “looking cool” looks like in terms of clothes, language and overall behavior. I believe that it is pretty obvious to any person who lived in the USA that Blacks are very often (mostly?) the cause of their own misery: I can tell you that my Jamaican and Sub-Saharan African friends (who live in the USA) have told me many times that a) they think that US Blacks have opportunities which they would never have in Africa or Jamaica and that b) local Blacks often resent Africans and Jamaican Blacks because the latter do so much better in the US society. I can also testify to the fact that I have seen a lot of anti-Latino feelings from US Blacks. As for how Blacks often feel about Asians, all we need to do is remember the LA riots in 1992. Finally, I do believe that many (most?) people in the USA know that the strongest and most frequent form of racism in the USA will be anti-White, especially from politically engaged Blacks.
I can personally attest that there is plenty of anti-White racism in the USA. Not only did I experience it myself (I lived in Washington, DC from 1986-1991), but it has been amply documented by people like Colin Flaherty whose books “White Girl Bleed A Lot: The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore It” and “Knockout Game a Lie?: Awww, Hell No!” are excellent primers on Black on White violence and racism. Yet, anybody daring to suggest that US Blacks themselves are at least partially responsible for their own plight will immediately be labeled a “racist”.
To those of you who live outside the USA, I would recommend this simple thought experiment: just take 20-30 minutes and watch the footage of BOTH the “peaceful protests” AND “the violent riots” and look carefully not only at what the folks you see in the footage are wearing, but also how they speak, how they act, what they say and how they say it and ask yourself a simple question: would you want to hire any of these guys and pay them a decent salary? I very much doubt that many of you would. Frankly, most of these rioters are unhirable, and “racism” has nothing to do with this.
The fact is that what is sometimes called the “MTV culture” is, in reality, nothing else than a systematic glorification of criminal mayhem. Forget about rap hits like the famous “Fuk Da Police” or “Kill d’White People“, I would argue that 99% of rap is a glorification of all the worst problems of Black communities in the USA (drugs, violence, promiscuous sex, objectification of women, alcoholism, glorification of criminal behavior in the streets and in prisons, etc.). Yet most US politicians seem to be paralyzed and feel the need to pretend like they are absolutely charmed by this so-called “Black culture”. But it is even worse than that.
Combine an emasculated ruling polity which does not dare to call a stone and stone and which promotes a (pretend) “culture” which glorifies violence and hatred against all non-criminals, including law abiding Black who are called “Toms” and who are also singled out as in this “beautiful” rap which includes the following “verses”: “Then you got niggas that’s blacker then the night, Running around town saying their best friends are white, Niggas like that are gonna hang up from a tree, And burn them up alive and let everybody see” (check out this “beautiful” rap here and for the full lyrics, a truly fascinating read, here). Next, throw in a completely dysfunctional state which is owned and operated by a tiny gang of obscenely rich narcissistic bastards (of all races, very much including Blacks), add to it a total absence of any real social opportunities, then toss in the COVID pandemic and the worst recession in US history with record high levels of unemployment even among those who would be employable (folks with dropped down pants, excessive tattoos, past felony convictions and a comprehensively non-professional attitude would not even get a job even if the economy was booming). Then, you get a relatively localized “spark” (like the murder of George Floyd by a gang of arrogant imbeciles in uniform) to start a fire which will instantly spread throughout the entire country, especially since there are so many other groups besides Blacks who want to “piggyback” their personal agenda on top of the one of Black Lives Matter or Antifa (I am, of course, referring to the real cornucopia of Trump-haters which never accepted his election).
Conclusion 1: this is not the US version of the Gilets Jaunes!
Some might be tempted to say that what we are seeing in the USA is a US version of the French Gilets Jaunes. I assure you that it is not. For one thing, the Gilets Jaunes had a pretty clear political program. US rioters do not. Next, the Gilets Jaunes were mostly peaceful and much of the violence was instigated by the French police forces (including the use of fake rioters). While there are definitely peaceful protesters in the USA, neither BLM or AntiFa have truly denounced the riots (and why should they when the USA media and politicians don’t have the courage to do that either?). Finally, the French ruling classes and media did not show the kind of “understanding” of the riots which did take place although Macron did pose with two “gangstas” in an effort to look “cool” (which failed):
Conclusion 2: this is not a revolution or a civil war
Some are now fantasizing that what we are witnessing today is either a revolution or a civil war. I believe that this is neither.
For a revolution to take place there must be a force capable of changing not the person(s) in power, but fundamentally change the regime, the polity, itself and replacing it with another one. Declaring that “Black lives matter” or looting stores or even demanding that the police be defunded, does not have this kind of potential capability.
For a civil war to take place you need a least two sides, each with a clearly identifiable political agenda. Since the see real power in the USA is hidden from the public awareness, there is no potential for a “the people vs the rulers” kind of civil war in the US. A “Right/Conservative vs Left/Liberal” civil war is also not possible, because both the US Right and the US Left are, in reality controlled by a deep state which is neither liberal nor conservative. Finally, a “rematch” between North and South is not possible either because the modern USA is not really split along North/South lines anymore. In terms of geography, there is somewhat of a “Big cities vs rural USA” split, but it takes place in both the north and the south of the country. Instead, what we do observe is a social breakup of the USA into “zones” some of which will be doing much better than others (big cities with a strong Black population fare the worst, mostly White small towns fare best; that is even true within the same state). In some of these zones, we will see more of this kind of acts of self-protection:
This kind of confrontations, even if they are not violent, are yet another illustration of the state being simply unable to take charge and protect the people.
Conclusion 3: this is an insurrection which has initiated the systemic collapse of the US society
I call what is happening today an insurrection: a violent revolt or rebellion against the authorities as such. When you burn a police precinct you do not “protest” against the actions of a few cops, no, what you are doing is expelling the cops from your neighborhood (I know that personally. In Argentina I lived in a suburb of Buenos-Aires in which the police station was attacked so often that it closed and was never rebuilt). And since in a civilized society the state should have the monopoly on the (legal) use of force, you are basically rejecting the authority and legitimacy of the state which operates the police force. This insurrection is most unlikely to remove Trump from office (hence it is not a coup or a revolution), but the anti-Trump faction of the ruling elites have now clearly adopted the strategy of “worse is better” simply because they realize that these riots are probably their last chance to blame it all on Trump (and Russia, why not?!) and maybe, just maybe, defeat him in November.
Right now all we see can only be called a mob-rule (technically referred to as an “ochlocracy“). But mobs, no matter how violent, rarely succeed in achieving tangible political results as they act ‘against something’ and not ‘for something’. This is why the real (behind-the-scenes) ruling classes need to instrumentalize this mob-induced insurrection to their political advantage. So far, I would say that neither the Demolicans nor the Republicrats have succeeded in this. But there is a very long and potentially extremely dangerous summer ahead and this might well change.
Irrespective of whether either faction will succeed in instrumentalizing the riots, what we are seeing today is a systemic collapse of the US society. That is not to say that the USA will disappear, not at all. But just like it took the Soviet Union a decade or more to fully collapse (roughly from 1983-1993), it will take the US many years to fully crash. And just like a New Russia eventually began taking form in 1999, there will be a New USA coming out of the current collapse. Total and final collapses are very rare, mostly they just initiate a lengthy and potentially very dangerous transformation process, the outcome of which is almost impossible to predict.
However, just as the Russian people had to stop kidding themselves with silly dreams about “democracy” and had to tackle the real problems of Russia, so will the people of the USA have to find the courage to deal with their real problems, frontally and deliberately. If they fail to do that, the country will most likely simple further disintegrate into numerous and mutually hostile entities.
Time will tell.