Saturday, November 12, 2011

Are We Headed Toward Another American Revolution? What Would It Look Like?

Doug Casey considers the question and what another American Revolution  might look like, as part of an interview conducted by Louis James.

L: I haven't talked to any of the OWS people either, but, not wanting to rely solely on hearsay, I sent someone to the epicenter in Manhattan. We asked people there: "What does Occupy Wall Street mean to you?" I published the results in the current edition of the International Speculator. Here are some of the more comprehensible quotations:
"The 99% are getting more distribution. Corruption in government. Peaceful overthrow."
"There are people who have a lot of money and then people with nothing. I'm a student, and I don't want my future to be the way it is now. Make the country equal again."
"If something is not right, do something about it! Inspire unity. Everyone knows something is wrong."
"Mad at bailouts. Very little difference between political parties. [Everyone] knows Democrat = Republican! Lockheed Martin makes money from taxpayer-funded wars. Gold standard! Bitcoins! Disenfranchise the 1% plutocracy. Root out corruption."
"I don't have my clear answer for this."
One of the interesting things about this is that there's a clear streak of very strong anti-government sentiment from people who usually can't get enough government. Granted, they don't necessary call for less government, but they do seem to want to throw the bums out. All of them. Except maybe Ron Paul.
Doug: That is interesting, and I think it's also interesting to compare the movement to the Tea Party. Both groups feel powerless, disenfranchised, and betrayed. Both groups are under severe economic pressure – which, I promise, is going to get much worse.

L: I hadn't thought of that, but in spite of the ideological differences, I can see a similarity in that both are angry with the status quo but not clear on what they propose to improve on it.

Doug: Exactly. It's a very inchoate kind of anger. Most of the people involved, in both groups, seem to have zero understanding of real economics and don't understand the way the world works. They just correctly perceive that they're getting screwed. But I see little or no cultural or sociological overlap between the groups.

L: Well, I haven't been to a Tea Party event, nor have I sent an investigator to one, so I'm not in a position to compare them, but it is interesting to me how diverse the OWS people are. There were people there in favor of Ron Paul, as well as for typical New-England Democrats. One fellow even mentioned the gold standard. On the other hand, one photo I didn't publish – because the guy's face is clearly identifiable – is of a young man sitting on a cinder block, smoking marijuana… so the neo-hippie component does seem to be part of the mix.

Doug: In the photos I've seen, a good number of these protesters have taken to wearing Guy Fawkes masks, which I find encouraging. And here we are on the fifth of November: "Remember, remember, the fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot. I know of no reason it should ever be forgot." My avatar on Facebook, Skype, and other such venues is always a Guy Fawkes mask. I'd love to see everyone use one. That's how things ended in the movie

L: But that's just the thing: To you and me, a Guy Fawkes mask is a symbol for anarchy as a better organizing system for society than government – any government. But for many, the mask is just a symbol for resistance to tyranny. To some, it may not represent much at all, besides appropriate attire to wear during a riot.

Doug: Yes, and regrettably, in real life Guy Fawkes was something of a Catholic fanatic who apparently just wanted to replace a Protestant-dominated government with a Catholic-dominated government. That's hardly a solution. It overlooks the real problem, which is government itself, sticking its nose into every aspect of human existence.

L: So, here we have a movement, composed of very different people from different walks of life, that has gone viral, spreading all across the US, even to smaller towns. It has spread overseas as well and has turned violent in some cases, with mass arrests in Oakland being a recent example. This could get pretty ugly. This is how revolutions start – we've seen this sort of pattern in the Arab Spring, as well as in the fall of Eastern European dictators, and more. But starting a revolution with no clearer goal than "eat the rich" is… a dangerous thing to do.

Doug: It may sound rather extreme –

L: Not that that has ever stopped you…

Doug: [Chuckles] – but I don't think it's out of the question that there could be a second American revolution ahead.

L: A third – the war between the states being a failed attempt at a second one.

Doug: Right. Formal or informal, there could easily be a secession movement as things come further and further unraveled. And yes, it could turn into a shooting war. These things happen. A lot of Americans are getting to the point where they feel they have little to lose. And things are just starting to get bad; the Greater Depression is still very young.

You know, the Obama administration is making noises about a rising threat in Iran. They might just be tempted to attack them, either as a great distraction from troubles at home or in the hope it might unite America – which, incidentally, I think would be a bad thing at this point. It would be like uniting lemmings as they plunge over a cliff together. Being united amounts to groupthink; it caters to the lowest common denominator. Uniting around a political leader is a symptom of moral bankruptcy. What made America great was individuals thinking and acting as individuals.

L: On the plus side, there was also an anti-war streak in the people we surveyed occupying Wall Street.

Doug: That's true in the Tea Party too, although to a lesser degree. But on the minus side, we have large numbers of people in uniform in the US – lots of police and soldiers – who have been trained to obey orders without hesitation. Just like everywhere else in the world, men in uniform are extremely dangerous. They're loyal above all to their peers in uniform, secondarily to the government that pays them, and last to the people their supposed to "protect and serve." If Americans in uniform are ordered to beat and imprison American citizens petitioning their government for redress of grievances, they will obey. It could get very, very ugly.

L: If there's an insurrection with no goal other than to overthrow those in charge now, it seems like an invitation to "the man on the white horse" to come in and lead everyone boldly into a new slavery. This bubbling cauldron of anger is like a lit stick of dynamite. Who knows who's going to pick it up and where they're going to throw it?

Doug: It has to end badly. Every revolution I'm aware of, including the American revolution, leads to a period of things getting worse before they get better – if they get better. The French revolution is a classic case, in which it was good they got rid of Louis XVI, but then they got Robespierre, and then they got Napoleon, who was even worse. This is the standard pattern; revolutions unleash the most violent and fanatical people to rise to the top. So, if the trend continues, I don't expect it to have a happy ending.
L: And do you expect it to continue?

Doug: Unfortunately, yes. The economy is going to continue getting worse. People are going to become much more unhappy, and they are going to feel like they have much less to lose. Trends in motion tend to stay in motion until they reach a genuine crisis.

L: Whether OWS is the beginning of the violent end to this saga, or whether this calms down and its something else in the future, is there no way out for the US?

Doug: No. Partially because it's really no longer the US. The country has already changed in character from being a unique beacon of individual liberty to just another of 200 degraded nation-states. It's hopeless to wish for an easy out, not just for the US, but for America, the West, and the current economic order in general. Even though I'm an unabashed optimist about the long-term future, I just don't see how things can avoid getting much, much worse over the next decade or so. This is barely a beginning – we're just at the leading edge of the storm, as we exit the eye of the global crisis hurricane.

Read the full interview here.


  1. I was a libertarian minarchist for about 20 years, until I read Doug Casey...then Rockwell, then Rothbard, then Molyneux. There is no going back to the falsehood of mythology once exposed to truth.

  2. Another revolution?

    God, let's hope so. If we can spread the beliefs and ideals of Austro-libertarianism maybe we can minimize the bloodshed and maximize the level of liberty in the world!

  3. Tom Woods and I just released my interview with Doug, which will be used in the upcoming documentary based on Tom's book Meltdown. Check it out:

  4. Your counterfeiting masters and their political terrorists will never allow you to be free anywhere on Earth...They own you and will kill you if you try to escape them. We all live on one giant slave plantation and there is no way off the plantation planet. This is the New World Order Borg Collective.

    -Adam Weishaupt

  5. These ah-so brilliant observer/know nothings have not investigated the TParty?!? Still ignoring the actual results from the Tea Party movement, the 2010 midterm mashup of the collectivist borg, removal of Piglosi from the House Leadership and enormous increase of R/Con Governors. Fools and tools I'd say ignore them.

  6. I believe Casey nails it pretty well, especially in the last paragraph.

    So long as the checks keep getting sent to their respective recipients, whomever they are, I don't expect much substantive change to occur.