America is in a pre-revolutionary situation
The United States is in a pre-revolutionary situation. My grounds for this assertion will be stated below, in numbered points, as derived from The Anatomy of Revolution (1938) by Crane Brinton—himself with an impeccably old-stock American name of the Obadiah Knickerbocker variety, a name type now sadly condemned to amateur attempts to pastiche HP Lovecraft.
My enquiry is carried out in a dispassionate way; it is not my intention to militate for the US to fall into a civil war (attendant upon revolution)—nor do I wish it with particular emotional urgency (save that it would great fun to watch and, since I hold the United States as constituted to be Satanic, a “good thing”). Yet I have made every effort to stow away what I want to happen and deal with the framework provided by Brinton—and that may displease commentators, particularly radical right-wing Americans, who like to counter-signal “national divorce” talk by more moderate conservatives (partly because they desire it so much). Well, let them be displeased if they may.
The United States has experienced three revolutions already, two violent and one peaceful: the War of Independence, the Civil War, and the New Deal revolution. Hence America today is not the America of Jefferson and Hamilton, nor even the America of Lincoln—though its racial core remains the same and, as with all revolutions, certain customs and habits have reasserted themselves after each revolution. We have grounds to think that another revolution will break out in around 2025 because that is when, in accord with the cyclical turn of American generations identified by Strauss and Howe, the “fourth turning” will occur—an event similar to the US Civil War or WWII. Anyway, let’s now consider the criteria which lead me to believe America is in a pre-revolutionary situation.
1. Inefficient administration and red tape
It’s not about the man who is hanged, drawn, and quartered or the aristocrat who beats his serf with impunity—that’s the propaganda of revolution. What actually galls people to revolution is inefficient government, petty regulations, and general government idiocy. Hence before the French Revolution an official saw a leaking roof in an office and observed, “If I were a minister, I could have that fixed.” In other words, pre-revolutionary France was so inefficient and bureaucratic that it took a minister to order a simple problem to be fixed. It is this constant low-level irritation that causes the revolution, not cruelty and viciousness as such. This is evident in the Boston Tea Party and the gross inefficiency in Tsarist Russia.
This is why revolutions happen in societies where people have been becoming more affluent, not less affluent. Revolutions are not made by the poor—they are made by the discontented and put-upon middle and upper-middle strata. It’s the society’s very growth that butts up against a government that is not fit for purpose—and the revolution is usually sparked when there is a sudden dip in economic progress where people who had been gaining suddenly lose, and the government seems to be to blame. The man who has lost something is an angry man, whereas the man who never had anything is indifferent—and this is why revolutions are not made from “the scum”.
It’s clear America is in this situation. Her Federal bureaucracy has rightly been characterised as a swamp; just think about all the letter agencies—CIA, NSA, NRO, FBI, DIA and on and on (and that is only in national security where many people notice). These agencies are entangled and work against each other. Above all, the system’s deficiencies were seen during Covid-19, where the public were lied to repeatedly and petty regulations (often seen as cruel and unnecessary) were enforced—the mask mandate is precisely the type of event that causes a revolution, a petty and pointless rule that is strictly enforced. While the mask mandate did not spark an actual revolution, similar policies will come in the future since the American bureaucracy got away with it and thinks in this way—and one of these petty and inefficient moves will spark a revolution.
2. Overtaxation, deficit, favouritism
Pre-revolutionary states are characterised by overtaxation, a budget deficit, and government favouritism to certain economic interests. The government is inefficient and so, despite constant economic growth, it is always broke—France before the revolution experienced a century of constant growth and conditions were better than ever, yet the state was simultaneously broke and yet exacted unreasonable taxes on the populace (the same pertained in America and Russia before their revolutions). America is in this position today—huge budget deficit, high taxes, and a notoriously inefficient system by which to collect said taxes (the IRS).
As regards favouritism, I think it is well known that Washington is filled with lobbyists who rig the rules to favour various corporate interests and squash those without the right “connections”. Covid-19 again provides the paradigm, with the way in which the contracts were awarded for the vaccines and peripheral Covid gear being highly suspect. In Twitter, the state was obviously, until the platform was bought by Musk, intertwined with a private company in a highly suspect way—often ordering certain people removed from the platform. Basically, America is anything but a “free-market economy” and is dominated by cartels who keep their “fingers on the scale”—and this fact is well known to the public.
3. Circulation of elites blockage (“closed to talents”)
Even in the most aristocratic societies, talented people are allowed to rise to the top—or at least to become popular and financially successfully. This is called to be “open to talents”. Contemporary America is closed to talents and actively works to convice its population that this is the case. This is true in two respects: firstly, white Americans with talent are de facto excluded from certain positions and advancements by DEI legislation; secondly, non-white Americans are told by official propaganda that certain advancements are blocked to them by “white supremacy”—the result is that all Americans have grounds to feel they are (or actually are) blocked from advancement. Hence the American system as currently constituted creates maximum dissatisfaction among talented people—who are likely to turn their skills to revolutionary ends if they feel their talents have been blocked.
Notably, economic power and social distinction become separated in a pre-revolutionary period. Hence a white American may make a lot of money at, say, a car dealership and yet he will not be socially high status because he has not been to university and cannot speak with high-status jargon about how he has “addressed his white supremacy”. You can make money in America but if you do you will not be high status—you will actually be looked down upon and condemned by, say, a poorer journalist who can use high-status jargon more fluently. This causes resentment that can lead to revolution.
On the other side, there is an “overproduction of elites”: people with PhDs in humanities subjects constantly moan they can’t get jobs that accord with their education—and this is because the state has created an artificial demand for people trained in these subjects. The people trained in these subjects are intelligent and are aware they are not being rewarded in a way commensurate with their intelligence and education (perceived as high status). These people are like the counterpart to the low-status but rich man with a car dealership. They have high-status “feathers” but little money—something is wrong.
To be trained with a humanities PhD is basically to be trained as priest, in the broadest sense, and discontented priests may begin to preach against the social order to the middle and upper-middle class people who make revolutions. This happened in the 1990s in Algeria where an artificial move to “deFrenchify” Algeria to remove the colonial legacy led the government to subsidise multiple degree courses in Islamic law, Arabic, and Islamic theology—yet the old bureaucracy was still run in French and with French rules. The government’s “post-colonial” generation couldn’t get jobs yet felt high status and superior in their indigenous acculturation to the old French-style government—the result was an Islamist insurgency and a bloody civil war.
4. Loss of self-confidence in the ruling class and the defection of the intellectuals
The American elite is filled with self-recrimination and loves nothing better than to pick itself apart in guilt sessions where, for example, a black woman will be paid to lecture wealthy white elite women at a dinner party about how “evil” they are for being white. This viewpoint is pretty much the official American belief system; it’s their God, literally—it’s “DEI” (Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion). It’s the equivalent to the salons in Paris and St. Petersburg where bitchy men and women sniped at Marie Antoinette and the Tsarina before the revolutions—this petty backbiting world, in America characterised by “wokeness” and catching people out for “wrong speak”, destroys the class solidarity required to govern in an effective way.
Similarly, as with Tolstoy in Russia, members of the ruling class have “turned on their own”—the American elites are filled with people, often with PhDs, who advocate for policies that are suicidal for them (e.g. they militate against “whiteness” and so on). In doing so, they destroy elite cohesion and make it even harder to rule the country effectively. As Brinton puts it, “…[the] conversion of many members of that class to the belief that their privileges are unjust or harmful to society.” Doesn’t that just sum up “white privilege”? Further, as Brinton says, “the ruling class becomes politically inept”—and doesn’t that just sum up the response to Covid-19, the Chinese spy balloons, and the Ukraine War completely?
It seems clear that in America the intellectuals have defected from the system. The people who are meant to teach Americans what it is to be American and to pass on the country’s cultural patrimony are almost uniformly opposed to the old America and have been for decades now—only technical and scientific occupations are untouched, as happened in Soviet Russia. Since these people teach less sophisticated people in schools and train journalists, their influence on society is profound—and they have defected from the American ruling class almost entirely, a group they now conceptualise as “white oppressors” (in a non-biological sense, many such intellectuals are white themselves). This means that America’s ruling class has lost cohesion in a major respect—the defection of the intellectuals is a classic prodromal symptom for revolution.
This lack of cohesion is important because at a certain moment—usually a protest over tax or some petty regulation—there is a flashpoint. The old regime attempts to enforce its will and finds it cannot: the police run away, the soldiers desert—and the revolution begins. The weakness comes about because life is very much about “front”—if you lose self-confidence and assumed right to rule then you can be easily overthrown, often without much violence (and there are organised revolutionists who have prepared for just this moment).
Life is theatre—if you are caught without your make-up on then nobody can believe in your authority anymore; and what elite dissension—“white privilege”, Tolstoyian beliefs—does is to take the make-up off. At a critical moment, the officers are not obeyed and the whole performance is revealed as a charade—to be obeyed and to rule you better have a very confident act, or else nobody will do their jobs at the critical moment.
America is obviously very close to such a moment, since we have seen in recent years an increase in political violence in the country and moments when the security forces have wavered as to whom they support. Notably, senior military officials denounced Donald Trump in open letters and it seems they actually may have refused to carry out his orders—this is all a build up to some crucial moment when, confronted by violence from the left or the right, the security forces fail to act decisively or act independently from legitimate authority; and at that moment the whole edifice of the current American system will crumble—just as the French king and the Tsar didn’t really “try” to put down the riots against them and were swept away before they knew what had happened.
5. Hopeful revolutionaries
Revolutionaries are not stupid, resentful, or incompetent. They are hopeful and well-educated people who feel frustrated by the cramped pettiness of the system they live under and believe they cannot advance under it. There are always nutballs involved in revolutions—the Levellers and Diggers in England, for example—but these groups never exercise power and are often liquidated by the actual revolutionaries. Revolutions are born of hope—of a golden tomorrow and heaven on earth. Obama’s message of “hope and change” was purely revolutionary—and, in its way, so too was Trump’s “Make America Great Again”. Indeed, both men instantiated two revolutionary tendencies in the United States, from the left and the right. It’s not the crushed or the untouchables who revolt—it’s the prosperous middle and upper middle (though they usually incite the mob); and America has many such people who feel thwarted today.
You may object that America has experienced political violence before, in the 1960s, and that the intellectuals have always been against the American ruling class. However, I would riposte that in the 1960s the malaise was never so general—both conservative Americans and liberal Americans feel the system to be fundamentally illegitimate today. It is widely held that the 2020 election was rigged—I think it was—and that never pertained before to the right. Further, since the acquisition of Twitter by Musk, it has been revealed that leftist politicians collaborated with the domestic security services to suppress right-wing voices. At the same time, the left perceives the whole system to be beset by “white supremacy” and beyond redemption.
There has already been sustained political violence during Trump’s administration, over the George Floyd killing, that was essentially excused by the state. At the same time, compared to the 1960s, the American government is beset by a gargantuan deficit and spiralling inflation—while all the time being exposed for incompetence and corruption (in the 1960s it oversaw the Moon landings while simultaneously fighting a war in Vietnam and superintending an improvement in the economic situation of all Americans—today, it just ignores the fact the Chinese fly spy balloons over American territory and pretends rampant inflation is “no biggy”).
Americans are geographically segregating themselves along the lines of belief (e.g. by moving to Florida) and Americans across the political spectrum, not just “the usual suspects” on the left, are deeply disillusioned with the system as constituted—the system is stagnant and petty, the corruption flagrant and belief in the traditional American virtues low. America’s problems are now chronic and she is at the point identified by Glubb Pashsa—the 250-year point—where empires collapse. Everything points to an imminent American revolution which will turn, as revolutions usually do, into a civil war. The 2024 election could well prove to be a flashpoint, either due to an act of political violence where the state bungles its response or because the election will be fixed in some transparent way and wide-spread protests develop into violence.
It should be remembered that revolutions are carried out by minorities—most Americans don’t want a revolution, they are sunk in malaise. Yet the conditions are ripe and when the spark flares the masses will be carried by the small determined minorities that have been forged in the savage “pamphleteering”, of the sort which preceded the English Revolution, that has developed on social media over the past fifteen years.