Civil War? What Civil War?

By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTryanny!

Boogaloo Boys. Are these people any match for the hegemonic state?

“When the government watches you 24 hours a day, you can’t use the word ‘liberty.’ That’s the relationship between a master and a slave.”
—Chris Hedges, speaking with Juliana Forlano

There’s more in Julianna Forlano’s Act.tv interview with Chris Hedges than I can do justice to in a short piece, but I will say he has all the answers; he’s figured it out.

Forlano’s questions are brilliant and she asks the right ones, from the meaning of the Assange extradition hearing to whether there will be a revolution in the U.S., what it will look like, and what the elite response will look like. His thoughts on the Sanders campaigns (both of them) are more nuanced than you might think based on Hedges’ oft-played soundbites, and they make perfect sense.

Context is everything, and Chris Hedges comes to his analyses from the right set of contexts. If you stand on the earth and look at the planets, their motion makes no sense at all. If you stand on the sun, what the planets are doing is obvious.

The same with Hedges. When you start from his starting point, what you see around you soon becomes perfectly clear.

A New Totalitarian State or the One We Have Already?

But let’s focus briefly on just one of the questions he was asked, about the possible emergence of a new, Trump-led totalitarian state, a possibility liberals and other Biden supporters are making much noise about these days. And like Hedges, let’s start from the right starting point, which is this:

Biden is the candidate of the elites, of almost everyone who counts in America. For them, Trump is an aberration, a mole that must be removed.

If that isn’t obvious, it should be — the evidence is everywhere, from all the non-Fox news sources, to the behavior most of our public figures, even to the behavior of a great many Republican leaders.

Given this as context, let’s look at the possibility of a “descent into Trump-led totalitarianism” during and immediately following the next election. In short, will Trump seize power, dictator-like, to win and rule like Mussolini?

This is the Big Fear in Democratic eyes, the one we’ve been hearing about, week after week after week. It’s possible, of course. But consider:

1. Trump doesn’t have the backing of the military; they’ve made that perfectly clear. Without the military, the only possible coup will have to come from the courts.

2. Trump may have the instincts of a dictator, but he doesn’t have the skills or the desire to put in the work. Frankly, if he really wanted to be a dictator, he’d be one already.

He’s an egocentric, relatively mindless, easily distracted, lazy, unbright narcissist whose monomania is simply himself — the incoming adoration he basks in minute-to-minute; the minute-to-minute state of his pleasure; the joy he takes in disrupting any room he’s in before he leaves it.

Sure he’s a person like the rest of us in many ways — he’s functional, or his kids would put him away — and he has a feral understanding of interpersonal dominance.

But he does wake up each day asking, “How can I be more like Mussolini?” It doesn’t seem so. From all appearances, instead he wakes up asking, “How can I enjoy myself today? Where’s my fun going to come from? Let’s start with a couple hours of Fox, and see where things go from there.”

3. Finally, as noted above, Trump is not the candidate of the oligarchy, of the American hegemonic state and most of its “private” organs like CNN and the mainstream press. Biden is their candidate, and it’s been obvious since forever.

The oligarchy wants Trump gone, and wants it badly. The military wants him gone, the CIA wants him gone, the press wants him gone, the diplomatic service wants him gone, and most of the billionaires want him gone. Yes, some are neutral and a few, like Sheldon Adelson, are rabid supporters, but most of the rest — CEOs of Google, Apple, military and security companies like Raytheon and Boeing, and any business doing business in China — are truly set against him.

Bankers are perhaps agnostic about his election, but if they have pro-Trump preferences they can easily surrender them. After all, the bankers will make bundles either way. Same with the energy giants. Biden is talking a decent climate-change game, but his actions send messages everyone understands: “Fossil fuel profits are safe in my administration.”

The risk that the Democratic Party will disrupt the Establishment game has been dispatched. They kicked Sanders and his people off the Interstate months ago. Let them complain; it’s back roads for all of them now. As an alternative to Trump, the Party now offers a new Ronald Reagan, their sleepy iteration anyway, and they’re begging Reagan voters to vote for him.

Who among those who matter could complain about that?

Battles in the Courts, Not in the Streets

With this new context in mind, let’s look at the terror-porn fantasy, war in the streets with a Nazi Germany outcome, by considering these four cases.

• First, if Trump wins in a landslide, or at least by a comfortable margin, he’s in. Democratic voters will take to the streets (they should), but it won’t change the outcome. There will be hell to pay afterward — the country may well come apart — but that’s a different story. (There will be hell to pay after this election no matter who wins it.)

If Biden wins in a landslide, he’s in and nothing can unseat him. The Boogaloo Boys may take to the streets, and if so, the cops will coddle them. But if protest turns into a battle between Boogaloos and Biden supporters, the state will eventually shut the whole thing down and let it die off, as it did with the left-inspired George Floyd protests.

If Trump wins narrowlyby less than the number of disqualified ballots, for example — there will be disruption for a while, but then it will go to the courts, probably a whole series of them, state and federal. Public life will be messy and uncomfortable for a while and people will take to the streets.

But when the courts decide the outcome, it will be over. Someone, most likely not Trump, will be president, though a Trump win is possible.

Keep in mind, Trump is not the candidate of the oligarchy, of the small clutch of people who actually run the country. Biden is.

So Biden has the edge. If the presidency can be handed to Biden it will be. If it has to be handed to Trump, it will be, but not because the Boogaloos and their fascist cop friends let the streets run red with anger. It will be handed to Trump because Trump’s case is too strong to overturn, even for the oligarchs.

And if you fear a Supreme Court coup like the one in 2000, ask yourself: Who was the candidate of the oligarchy in that election? Clearly it was Bush; even the mainstream press hated Gore, assigning his worst critics to cover his campaign. So of course when the Supreme Court decided in Bush’s favor, there wasn’t much fuss and enough affirmation that even the public stood down.

Yes, the Roberts Court is a right-wing court, but would even John Roberts, who sees as his primary mission “to protect the Court’s legitimacy,” let the Court rule for Trump if Biden’s case was strong enough to go with and all the elites were solidly on his side?

It’s possible, but I don’t think so. Remember, most of the Republican powerful hate Trump as well, and the oligarchy’s candidate is Biden. Republicans can take another shot in 2024, not that far away, and Biden in the meantime could prove useful.

In addition, a narrow Trump win will be questionable at best — it’s already looking a bit rigged — and easy to overturn if one is inclined to. If the Court does decide against Biden, the reasons will have to be solid, since oligarchic thumbs, many on Republican hands, will be tilting scales toward Biden throughout the process.

Bottom line: Roberts is a Republican. Which Republican powers will he listen to?

• Finally, if Biden wins narrowly, he’s in for sure. Again, it will take a bunch of court cases to sort it out, and the nation will look a bit of a mess for a while. But in the end, the candidate of the elites — the people with real power — just won’t be denied, especially if the alternative is four more years of that “moron” Trump’s sobriquet among most of them, including many who serve ostensibly work for him.

Yes, a close Biden win will spark a kind of war in the streets, at least for a while. But do you think the guardians of the state will let street punks, even their own street punks, put “that moron” back in power, when they have Joe Biden teed up and ready to go?

For the reasons noted above, I think even Justice Roberts will go along.

After Biden Wins

Biden was almost created for just this moment, to be the able caretaker of our predatory state at a time when most of the country would elect a stuffed doll just to be rid of Trump. In the short run at least, voters and elites alike just want someone to get the machine rolling again, regardless of what it does. With Biden in charge, the machine can shift back into high and return to course.

After our Trumpian nightmare, Biden looks like a dream. But not for long. Biden could bring his own nightmare. It’s after Biden wins and rules for a while — shows his own destructive inclinations — that a real war could begin.

I’ll make a prediction. After Biden takes power on behalf of the people he really represents — predatory elites who care only about themselves and will gladly let people sicken and die in droves so long as their profits are safe — the battle won’t be oligarchs versus Trump. That day is done; our lazy, incompetent captain of the hegemonic ship will be gone for good.

Instead, the combatants will be Biden and the ruling elite … against almost everyone else whose lives they control, citizens of a nation whose hurt they will never heal.

If you truly fear a modern civil war, fear it after the oligarchs retake control.

(Today’s title, “Civil War? What Civil War?” echoes the title of this Nicole Sandler interview — “Crisis? What Crisis?” — in which Nicole and I discuss many of these same subjects. If you click to listen, the interview starts at the 26-minute mark.)

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202 comments

  1. Ed Lott

    If you truly fear a modern civil war, fear it after the oligarchs retake control.

    So… the oligarchs aren’t in control right now, but they’ll make Biden win. But before, in 2016 they were in control… and let Clinton lose. So they lost control. But they will install Biden with the control they don’t have, now. I’m genuinely confused.

    Reply
    1. greensachs

      Actually the Security State, diplomatic state, Intel state, [con]–formity Dem leadership, not to forget the central bankers rob job, made all the lootocrats whole during the term of the “pleasure me Prez”. …therfore, the orthodox “garchs” can get back to just being their genteel and benevolent SELVES.
      It’s psychologically feels cleansing to hear Jeri Lynn view and relate truth so precisely to what it is.
      Please don’t let accurate depictions go away.

      Reply
    2. greensachs

      Actually the Security State, diplomatic state, Intel state, [con]–formity Dem leadership, not to forget the central bankers rob job, made all the lootocrats whole during the term of the “pleasure me Prez”. …therfore, the orthodox “garchs” can get back to just being their genteel and benevolent SELF.

      It’s psychologically feels cleansing to hear Jeri Lynn view and relate truth so precisely to what it is.
      Please don’t let accurate depictions go away.

      .

      Reply
    3. Jason Ipswitch

      No one is in control. That’s the real horror that anyone selling conspiracy theories doesn’t want to look in the eyes. It’s a vast, inhuman collection of societal machinery churning away to inputs no one really comprehends.

      But insofar as this election is about oligarchs, Donald Trump is the candidate of a different oligarchy than America’s historical one. He’s the front man for resource-extraction tyrants, fossil fuel con artists, the sleaziest bottom-dewllers of the already sleazy FIRE-sector, and uncaught crooks.

      The best oligarchic outcome that can be expect from Donald Trump is dumping the old set of them for a new set that has demonstrated itself to be even worse in most every imaginable way.

      Reply
      1. tegnost

        He’s the front man for resource-extraction tyrants, fossil fuel con artists, the sleaziest bottom-dewllers of the already sleazy FIRE-sector, and uncaught crooks.

        um…This looks to me like a list of americas historical oligarchy
        Do you have a different list?

        Reply
  2. None from Nowheresville

    I’ll make a prediction. I think Trump wins. Can’t wait to be proven wrong.

    Also I don’t think our elites are that anti-Trump. Biden is the candidate of the PMC credentialed class rather than the entire elite and I think these people are the lower tier of the elite. The PMC have given a great hand-wringing public performance. I do believe that there are many true believers within those PMC reality bubble ranks.

    The eventual battle won’t have anything to do with the courts. The courts are about the norms fairy of the elite. If it ends up there, one way or the other, the rabble loses.

    In the end everything will be okay until someone has to shout: Target the Reavers!

    Off to watch the Hedges interview. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. pjay

      “Also I don’t think our elites are that anti-Trump. Biden is the candidate of the PMC credentialed class…”

      I don’t think our “elites” are homogeneous in interest or ideology. But I would agree with Neuburger that most of them oppose Trump. For some, it’s probably just that he is too disruptive and exposes to much. But he is absolutely despised by the foreign policy establishment. Its neolib and neocon factions have pulled together to oppose him. Certainly powerful factions in the military and intelligence communities are out to get him.

      Most of the PMC are not what I’d call “elites.” They work for elites.

      Reply
    2. Skip Intro

      Trump has proven accommodating to the oiligarchs, and even the neocons. I’m not sure the elite distaste for Trump is as deep as the author suggests. I certainly wouldn’t count on Republican support for Biden to be as strong as they want him and the dems to think. Democratic party is splitting, the GOP will stick together and consolidate power, because that’s what they do.

      Reply
    3. Michael Fiorillo

      The dirty secret of the #McResistance TM is that they’ve already won, since Sanders was far more of a threat to their golden rice bowls than Trump ever could be, and he has been neutralized; Orange Man has enriched them, despite/because of their insufferable melodramatics, and will continue to do so.

      Uncle Joe’s election would just be the icing on the gravy, with all the patronage opportunities that executive control provides.

      Reply
    4. John k

      I agree. I saw a billionaire count that had Biden with only a modest lead. Trump has been very, very good for them. Yes, a little embarrassment here or there, but he cut their taxes more than they thought possible. Maybe he’ll do more – why should there be any inheritance tax? I already was taxed on every dime. Etc.
      Plus maybe he picks another supreme right away. I don’t see that court as a Biden court, certainly not if he gets another justice. And it’s more to the right now than in the gore/bush era, especially with Rbg gone… without her, where could Biden get five votes in a close decision?
      Certainly there is /will be massive Rep voter repression, just as the dems did against sanders. Do the dems have 100+ lawyers ready to challenge all that? I doubt it, they don’t do a ground game. Just expensive tv ads plus endless whining.

      Reply
  3. Samuel Conner

    Perhaps one could argue that the “Civil War” has been on-going for a generation, but only one side — the elites — has been aware of it. Instead of marching to the sea, the elites’ “Sherman” marched through the heartland.

    Reply
    1. Michael Fiorillo

      “There’s class warfare all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

      -Warren Buffett, in a 2005 interview with Joe Nocera of the Times

      QED.

      Funny how we don’t see this quote more often in mainstream media…

      Reply
  4. Lou Anton

    I think Biden in a landslide.

    Maybe not landslide, but I think it’ll be a clean Biden victory. Why? Those 65+ are going to come out in force for him. The majority of those 65+ really do fear getting ill and dying from the coronavirus, and they see Trump as okaying their potential death. Will it be 80-20 Biden with this age group? Of course not, but it could go 60-40, which is a massive improvement over 2016 and locks FL for Biden.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      they see Trump as okaying their potential death.

      Who knew he had such god-like powers? Frankly I think older people have enough life experience to know that’s baloney. In the unlikely event that Trump does win it will probably be because of the older group who typically vote in disproportionate numbers but may not this time because of the disease and the lackluster choice. I suspect the only people who are really passionate about this election are the hard core Dems who were never going to vote for him anyway.

      But the above is correct that either way we are probably screwed and given the huge economic disruption of Covid the election loser may be glad to be out of it.

      Reply
      1. d

        course they my not vote Trump this time around he is playing with SS. as it talking of terminating the tax that funds it. doubtful that many will approve of that. and that will be brought up prior to the election

        Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      I think a landslide would be a stretch.

      I was more than a little surprised to see SNL repeat an episode last night from last November parodying a Democrat party debate where they touch on Biden’s racism, lying/plagiarism, tendency for groping, and finish with Woody Harrelson as Biden saying “Nobody in America wants me to be the nominee”. For a show and network that has exhibited so much Trump Derangement Syndrome in recent years, I wouldn’t have thought they’d want to tell the truth about Biden again so close to the election.

      Of course, it could also be that the number of SNL viewers these days is less than Trump’s 2016 margin of victory in WI, so maybe NBC figured they’d roll the dice…

      Reply
    3. Barbara

      I really wish people would distinguish between the various ages over 65. We are not all alike. The Post WWII generation, those who were born after 1950 are the ones who grew up not knowing that their family’s prosperity was due to the New Deal wrought by FDR.

      Working class people born in the 30s and 40s were mostly aware of the changes that raised the conditions of the working class – mostly white unfortunately – brought about by the New Deal.

      The result is quite a difference in attitude.

      Reply
      1. Lou Anton

        The grouping was related to the similar risk of older people to severe illness or death from the pandemic. And while the sub groups have different attitudes, I think you’ll all be voting pretty consistently and for similar reasons this time around.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          On the other hand older people are very familiar with Alzheimers which might discourage them from voting for Biden with his mysterious lapses. Think I agree with the others that a superficial take on the demographic tells us little.

          Reply
    4. Big Tap

      I think Biden will win possibly in a landslide though I’m not voting for him. Trump is running the worse campaign in history even worse than Clinton in 2016. He continues to only make his base happy (socialism bad, corporate taxes too high, too many regulations). Trump’s base is not enough to win the election. He needs independents who may like socialism, think corporations don’t pay enough in taxes, and Trump has gotten rid of regulations already particularly environmental ones independents like.

      Trump should promote what he does that worked: no new wars during his administration first since Jimmy Carter though he has expanded current wars, no more caravans coming up from Central America since he got Mexico to process people not have them enter the U.S. first, signed peace treaties in the Middle East with Arab countries and Israel (but not Palestine), and extended the moratorium on renter evictions & offered $300 additional for unemployment payment (not Pelosi).

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether

        > Trump is running the worse campaign in history even worse than Clinton in 2016.

        An essential component of the 2016 Trump campaign victory was A/B testing, as Trump would try out his messaging before crowds. Covid stopped that. He can still do that — that’s why the the law’n’order schtick got tried and dropped — but now the feedback loop runs through the media and the campaign, which is slower, and also distorts the message sent by the “crowd.” So an essential element Trump’s ferality has been crippled.

        Reply
  5. farragut

    Thank you for this, JLS. It was an interesting read. It saddens and frightens me to believe that widespread and significant class violence–however much needed–is in our very near future.

    Reply
    1. juno mas

      Yes, that is true.

      But if you listen to Trump on the campaign trail, and pay attention to his executive decrees, and do some critical thinking, his “base” is a conglomerate of “anti-vaxxers’s”, bank shysters, Christian anti-abortionists, rascist white folks, Boogalosers, and my well-to-do personal dentist. (Don’t discuss politics with someone who uses sharp objects near your face.)

      Unfortunately, life in the US needs to be more fair, accommodating, responsive and environmentally sustainable than his “base” understands, or will accept.

      The crushing debt soon to arrive will make the future of united states problematic.

      Reply
    2. CitizenSissy

      Gotta disagree. Given Trump’s constant bleating about how rich he is, I really think the reason he doesn’t release any financial information is because he’s totally in hock to the Russians, Deutsche Bank, Saudis, take your pick. Oligarchy is in the eye of the beholder. Bernie probably has a higher net worth.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether

        > he’s totally in hock to the Russians, Deutsche Bank, Saudis, take your pick.

        “If you owe the bank $100 dollars, that’s your problem; if you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem.”

        We’ve been hearing this “Walls are closing in!!!” talking point for four years now. It has never come to anything yet.

        Reply
        1. CitizenSissy

          True, but a whole lotta billable hours and the attention of Bill Barr have been directed to ensure exactly that this information doesn’t see the light of day, if at all.

          My point is voters don’t have the complete picture whether any indebtedness or parlous financial position could be as compromising as pictures of him with a “dead girl or a live boy” in the words of Governor Edwards.

          Given that Trump’s persona in linked to his self-proclaimed financial prowess, I suspect his financial picture is dire indeed.

          Reply
          1. Michael Fiorillo

            Oh, please: do you really think Barr alone could prevent real evidence of a Trump conspiracy with Russia, if there was one, from becoming public? It’s preposterous, and speaks to the delusions and magical thinking that liberals and too many leftists bring to the topic of Russiagate.

            The perpetually moving goalposts of Russiagate as a story and a project notwithstanding, it fundamentally rested on three pillars, only one of which is remotely plausible:

            1. Collusion/Conspiracy: this unusually large pill to swallow was, and incredibly still widely is, taken as a given, despite what five minutes of critical thinking would reveal to be its logical and narrative inconsistencies – i.e. Trump has been been a Soviet/Russian asset since the 1980’s, yet somehow a s*×<heel College Republican campaign volunteer (Papadapoulos) was aware of illicit doings in the 2016 campaign? At a time when the NSA observes everything on the internet and phone lines, and can watch you pick your nose from outer space?

            It was and is a ludicrous belief, and has been discredited. Or are you saying that Mueller found evidence of conspiracy, that Barr is preventing it's release, and that Mueller and his large team of prosecutors and investigators are saying nothing?

            2. Social Media Ads: Again, an overblown story that led to all sorts of unhinged comparisons – Pearl Harbor, 9/11 – whereby idiotic Facebook ads, most of which appeared after the election and most of which were filled with language errors, were said to have tipped the election.

            However, plausible it might be to think that Russia (or any other state) might engage in this type of thing, the inconvenient fact remains that Mueller had to drop the legal case against the Internet Research Agency, when they actually showed up in court and demanded discovery proceedings. Unable or unwilling to provide evidence of the IRAs connection to the Russian state, the charges were dropped, not that #McResistance TM media broadcast that fact… Strike two.

            3. The Email Hacks: always the most plausible of the Russiagate accusations – we hack them; they hack us; everybody hacks everybody, no? – and yet, in 2017 testimony to the House Intellignce Committee (and not released until shortly before the pandemic hit), the head of Crowdstrike, the DNC contractor who made the initial Russigate charges and has always maintained control of the DNC servers, said that they had no actual proof that The Russia had exfiltrated the data. Even the stated “proof” that The Russia had infiltrated the servers was always qualified.

            Years have been squandered on a venal, misdirecting, fundamentally reactionary, dangerous (and Trump-aiding: his highest poll numbers occurred right after impeachment) distraction. If Orange Man is re-elected, we’ll largely be able to thank the years and opportunities wasted by the #McResistance TM in pursuing a dishonest and politically moronic strategy.

            Reply
          2. redleg

            All this empty fulminating about “Russia!!!” while ignoring AIPAC, House of Saud, et al.
            Please put it to pasture with the other lame excuses.

            Reply
  6. Amfortas the hippie

    i’ve thought from the get-go that trump was a stalking horse for the clintons, to make her look good…but that there was just enough democracy still functioning, especially in the gop primary(!), that he managed to squeak in the door.
    I saved the youtube vid of his “acceptance” speech at 3am…the look on his face and that of melanoma’s was instructive.
    he caught the car, so now what?!
    all that said, i have no idea how all this(the election) will turn out*….does the Machine still have blind spots?
    has their control over the election machinery increased since 2016?
    how real and deep and broad is the Q cohort?
    How real and deep and broad is the “antifa”…or antifa-adjacent…cohort?
    looking at the history of the various Color Revolutions, how does what we’re seeing track?
    are there similar things moving under the carpet?
    10 years ago, i would have known immediately under which internet rocks to look to find out.
    Today?
    all is in flux, and it’s very difficult to discern what’s really going on in this country.
    Unmentioned in this, as in so many other, prediction exercises, is the millions of newly Precaritised and destitute and hopeless and maybe even homeless….
    what about them?
    even if they don’t vote, they still have a say of some kind, if they want to use it….and speaking of newly homeless folks voting, how does that work?
    don’t ya need an address to get registered?
    if you’re already registered, but get tossed out of your place in October, does your registration still count?
    the more i scratch at the patina, the more Fear , Uncertainty and Doubt i find.

    –*– post election,i think collapse…at least for those of us closer to the bottom…is still on the menu.
    what that looks like…the Tone of it…is what will be decided by this election.
    corpsedems are better gaslighters than the trumpian wing of the gop.
    i can easily see a biden/harris regime falling right back into the “everything’s fine” rut…it’s a comfortable place for such people.
    will that still fly when there’s so much ruin all around us…ruin that we haven’t even begun to fully experience?

    Reply
    1. flora

      Turns out T was and is hell’a good for cable news profits. Both pro- and anti -T stories boost ratings. All this news talk about a brewing civ war probably serves the same business model. ;)

      Cable news profits have soared since the summer of 2015, as “companies figured out that all they had to do to secure high ratings was wave Trump at people all day long.”

      https://twitter.com/mtaibbi/status/1307396803252416513

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        Wasn’t it the guy at CBS who said, in 2016 IIRC, “It’s bad for the country, but it’s great for CBS.” It’s just continued, and they know it’s bad for the country, but the owners like the profits.

        Reply
    2. None from Nowheresville

      When does Ferguson get pushed out to the rest of the country on a more massive scale?

      I do agree with Jeri-Lynn that if it goes to the courts then it will slow things down. But I also agree with Hedges that it will be something seemingly insignificant which ignites the powder. I see the election as mid-season antics unless someone or something in power purposely strikes the match to burn off some of the undergrowth.

      I’m currently in a toss-up state in the middle of nowhere. The yard signs in little nowherevilles surrounding me are 80% Trump. These people are working class people, not so called rednecks. This used to be one of the most progressive states in the country. Hell, the biggest city had a socialist mayor once upon a time. Hollowed out on purpose. Get the biggest domino to fall and the rest will fall in line.

      As far as the homeless are concerned, I guess it depends on the state and how diligent they are about knowing whether or not you’re address on something like your drivers license is valid. Which given all the extra voting material they are sending out could be used to filter the now homeless out if they haven’t dotted their i(s) and crossed their t(s).

      Yep, I’m very cynical of The Machine and how long (or whether or not) they can keep up the farce before The Jackpot hits. I’d hate to think this level of showmanship is our future for the next couple of decades.

      Reply
      1. Discouraged in WI

        A friend who is in charge of a food program is using their office address as the voting address for the homeless who come to the program, and registering them to vote. No idea if this will be challenged.

        Reply
        1. lordkoos

          It may well be challenged if someone notices a few hundred people claiming the same address. It could do more harm than good if someone gets hold of the story to portray it as “voter fraud”.

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether

            > It may well be challenged if someone notices a few hundred people claiming the same address. It could do more harm than good if someone gets hold of the story to portray it as “voter fraud”.

            This only needs to happen once in a swing state to throw the entire election into the house of representatives, if it’s close.

            Reply
    3. Lambert Strether

      > all is in flux, and it’s very difficult to discern what’s really going on in this country.

      Yep. Frank speaks of the “airtight consensus” among elites that Trump (the right-wing populist) must be gotten rid of. There’s very little reporting that goes against that consensus, and less aggregation.

      Reply
  7. pjay

    “Biden is the candidate of the elites, of almost everyone who counts in America. For them, Trump is an aberration, a mole that must be removed…. If that isn’t obvious, it should be.”

    Thank you for posting this. It’s one of the best analyses of our current miserable political situation I’ve seen. I also think Neuburger is mostly correct in his predictions about possible outcomes. As he says, there will be hell to pay no matter what.

    I also like the caption under the picture.

    Reply
    1. d

      well it not like Trump isnt also, since he is the GOP, and a claimed billionaire, that does tend to make an elite even if he claims to not be. he did also cut their taxes by 10%, while cutting the rest of us by what again?

      Reply
      1. pjay

        He is a “billionaire”, yes, and his tax cut mainly transferred wealth upwards (as has pretty much all the tax cuts since the 1970s). I’m sure most wealthy people liked that. But he is *not* part of the real “elite” that controls this country. He is an outsider. He is unpredictable. He threatens to disrupt the global economic and geopolitical order. That’s why they want to get rid of him. That doesn’t make him good. But he is not the most likely source of fascism, if it comes.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Of course the Trump tax cut was really the Mnuchin tax cut . . . if we were to name it after its real designer. And the only reason Mnuchin was free to circulate among the general population instead of perhaps being in prison is because Atty.General of California Kamala Harris immunised and impunified him for his allegable and certainly indictable financial crimes.

          So Mnuchin and his tax cut is Kamala Harris’s gift to the nation. We should really call it the Kamalanuchin tax cut.

          Reply
  8. LowellHighlander

    So, most of the country “would elect a stuffed doll” just to be rid of Trump? Yet, time and again, the vast majority of the American public refuses to vote outside the duopoly, or to work (through citizens’ initiatives and pressure on state legislatures) to open up space for more options come election time. Why should we believe that most of the American public has not brought, at least in some meaningful part, this situtation down upon themselves?

    Reply
    1. Oh

      The vast majority of the public living in their own fool’s world – eating, drink, watching sports and fake news and buying things they don’t need. They have no time to stop and think about what’s really happening to them and their country.

      Reply
    2. Briny

      That’s an exact description for where my head is at and have said so quite often. We desperately need a fracture in at least one of the parties.

      Reply
  9. Christopher Herbert

    I don’t know who Chris Hedges is and given the conclusions in this piece, I’m pretty sure it’s not necessary to know who he is. The Trumpians voted for him in order to give the ‘libtards’ the finger. It’s that shallow. Do not give it any intellectual, or even energetic, heft. Biden will talk himself into whatever the Democrats want. And therein does lie the battle. What the Dems will fight over is important. And that Biden has a long, long history of compromise should not be dismissed. It takes some spine to compromise, by the way. Just saying ‘yes’ to everyone is easy as Hell. Do not confuse the oligarchs with leadership. They have lots of money, but no one likes them and there simply isn’t that many of them when it comes to ballots. The Democrat party as currently composed, will not be loyal to the hegemons. So get beyond the assumption they are somehow all comfortable and comforting folks. My prediction is Biden will usher in a new populism.

    Reply
    1. chris

      Oh boy, it is absolutely worth knowing who Mr. Hedges is if you care about this topic. He’s done a fabulous job of documenting aspects of American life that the main stream media has ignored. He’s also done some deep thinking about our problems. From this post in NC, I can recommend his books “American Fascism” and America – The Farewell Tour”.

      As for Biden ushering in a new anything, whats your basis for that opinion? It appears to me that Biden is more of a desperate grasping for the status quo ante and if he is elected all bets are off on what the state will do to suppress popular movements in the US.

      Reply
      1. ohsu

        “American Fascism” is a book every American should read! Mr. Hedges is a treasure for all humanity in the fight for justice and equality! He is a Presbyterian minister not some Antifa dude. Personally, I don’t believe in a god of any type at all, except maybe a computer but I digress. My views like the deity one widely differ from his on a number of issues, yet I find his reasoning and logic on the American political system moving and powerful. The man is honest and has great integrity. He is not a partisan hack.

        Chris Hedges, is the type of person who deserves to be on MSM every day and night talking about our system! But you never will see him or anyone like him there doing so, why? That is the larger question you should ask yourselves.

        As per Biden having a “spine to compromise” and “ushering in a new era of populism”, please tell me where has his spine for compromise been for 50 years on the USA imperial war machine , or the drug war, or the classroom to prison pipeline, or the well there I go again. Biden isn’t going to “usher” anything that will begin to embody equal justice for all.

        Reply
      2. John

        The democratic party is loyal and responsive to its big donors. Biden has been their poodle for his entire career. Nothing will change except the rhetorical temperature and better vocabulary and grammar. Defenestrating Trump is the sole purpose of this election.

        Reply
    2. Acacia

      Au contraire, mon ami. Since the Democrat party has now thrown 90% of USians under the bus (that’s what “basket of deplorables” means, after all), it will be very loyal to the oligarch class. Sure, there are quite a few kool aid drinkers out in blue cities who think the Dems can still be reformed, but of course huffing the dregs of Obama-era hopium doesn’t mean anything will actually change for them. Meanwhile, the wealth gap will continue to grow and the empire will continue to collapse, while more and more formerly middle class people join the ranks of the working poor.

      Reply
    3. Donald

      I like Chris Hedges, but I think this piece is flawed. It attributes too much unity to the ruling classes.

      I agree that Biden is in the pocket of the elites, but I don’t agree that everyone in the Establishment ( or elites or ruling class or whatever you want to call them) is united. Republican politicians might secretly despise Trump— in many cases I am sure they do. But Trump is popular with the Republican base— Trump wouldn’t be in the WH if the Republican establishment had control of their own party. And anyway, Trump gives them virtually everything they want in terms of policy. Even in foreign policy, while the brain dead Resistance screeches about Putin, Trump is sanctioning Russian allies and restarting the arms race, which means lots of money for the military industrial complex.

      Perhaps sensible Republican politicians would privately prefer that Biden win, but publicly most don’t think they can afford to be seen as never Trumpers. They are going to stick by him unless he loses in a landslide.

      Reply
      1. chris

        The unity thing is a good point. Just like there are people who see things like climate change as an great financial opportunity, I have no doubt that are people who see our society coming apart as a good time to buy choice real estate. I’m sure that some among our would be elite ruling class are salivating at what they might be able to buy.

        Reply
      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I don’t believe this post makes claims of unity in the Establishment. Predators can be “united” by no more than their predation. They may fight over the pieces but they all hunger for a piece of their prey.

        Reply
    4. Person

      “I don’t know who [insert well-known leftist] is but…”

      You gave the game away right there.

      Why is this such a common tactic among the fake Left? And who on earth ever thought it was a good idea?

      Reply
      1. chris

        It is a popular concern trolling sort of technique, isn’t it. “I was an X supporter until they did this…what they need to do to get me back is violate all their principles RIGHT NOW!”

        But I don’t automatically assume the people making the statements like the above one are trolling. That’s because our media is so awful that figures like Adolph Reed, Chris Hedges, Chris Arnade, Aaron Mate, etc. Have been effectively vanished. It wouldn’t surprise me if a number of people who might agree with the commentary and experts who are popular on NC are unknown in the wider world.

        Reply
        1. Person

          That’s fair, and I maybe should be less ready to jump on people for it. But I often find that explicitly pointing out your ignorance of a public figure (without showing any interest in correcting said ignorance by reading a Wikipedia page, for instance) is often a sign of low-effort trolling.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            but people are harried and harassed and busy as hell just keeping food on their families.
            i try to give the benefit of the doubt with new names piping up in my usual environs.
            almost the entire rest of the internet encourages thoughtlessness, after all.
            once Trollhood is more or less confirmed, however, loose the hounds.

            Reply
    5. Cat burglar

      Biden is certainly a skilled legislator in a tactical sense, but in substance his compromises all seem to run one way: to the right. The Crime Bill, Welfare Reform, Thomas on the Supreme court, the bankruptcy bill, the Iraq War.

      Where are his compromises on the left? I see no record to suggest he will govern as anything other than a lip-service populist.

      The oligarchy are not the leadership — those people, they hire. Biden’s record suggests he is their factotum.

      Reply
    6. Lambert Strether

      > I don’t know who Chris Hedges is and given the conclusions in this piece, I’m pretty sure it’s not necessary to know who he is. The Trumpians voted for him in order to give the ‘libtards’ the finger. It’s that shallow.

      Um, speaking of “shallow”… It often helps to do the reading.

      Reply
    7. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well . . . we have ourselves a conditional if . . . then . . . prediction.

      If the Democrats get their Biden elected, the Biden will usher in a new populism.

      I find that prediction laughable, myself. But we may find out.

      Reply
  10. Christopher Herbert

    If you want to understand what the Democrats are going to fight over, read Stephanie Kelton’s book ‘The Deficit Myth–Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy.’ MMT basically destroys the dominant macroeconomics. And it’s that dominance that created the oligarchs. Once ‘the people’ comprehend how the oligarchic class rose to power, they will revolt. And Biden will be more than happy to help them along. No more ‘wink, wink.’ Biden’s legacy will be one of historic importance. Can’t wait for it, myself.

    Reply
    1. farragut

      The oligarchs thrive under the current system, as it’s designed to benefit them. And, all evidence points to the fact Biden is not a man of the people, but rather a ‘man of the oligarchs’, based on his ~40 years in public office. Biden’s legacy is already written and it is not one of which to be proud. Thus, I’m having trouble grappling with the idea that Biden will do *anything* to harm the oligarchy. What do you see that makes you believe this?

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “What do you see that makes you believe this?”

        yes…by all means..do tell.
        it appears the Koolaid has been spiked with ketamine.
        Biden=FDR, and Kamala in rugged boots, and all is well with the world?
        the for sale signs and closed businesses on the square say otherwise…as does the fluttering absurdity of all those trump flags.
        Biden was, after all, instrumental in facilitating the oligarch’s rise to dominance…but i keep forgetting that we’re not supposed to remember anything past yesterday.

        Reply
    2. Kurtismayfield

      Biden has been a tool for oligarchy all of his career.. he is MBNA’s senator, will pass anything they wish for. I can’t believe that anyone else would think otherwise considering his legislative history.

      Reply
    3. tegnost

      Biden?
      Peruse the replies to tis mosler tweet…
      for example.

      “Kamala Harris Democrat Yellow heartHoneybee
      @GregHowardJr1
      ·
      17h
      I will not be lectured about what’s at stake or what Dems “need to do now” by anyone who couldn’t be bothered to vote for Hillary Clinton.”

      Expect the poors to be punished by biden
      MMT? You’re dreaming.

      Reply
      1. Michael Fiorillo

        We already have MMT in practice, it’s just reserved for the military-industrial complex and Big Finance; the goal is to bring it to the social economy and the rest of us, no?

        Reply
        1. Mel

          I agree with you. But if there’s any doubt, then we get the question:

          If we’re borrowing money to fund this huge imperial blow-out then who is lending, and how did they get that much money?

          Reply
        2. tegnost

          Sure that’s a goal worth achieving, but the socialists on top are more interested in keeping the warped power dynamic intact. A more equal society means less for them.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            With all this talk of MMT for you and me, the country can’t even commit to giving its citizenry enough moolah to keep them keeping on, and we’re talking piddly amounts.

            Reply
    4. Donald

      Wait, what? What in Biden’s record suggests he is a closet Bernie Sanders, or did you mean he would inadvertently cause a revolt?

      Anything is possible. Maybe Biden is going to swing hard left. But there’s not much evidence of this.

      Reply
    5. Skip Intro

      You say Biden, but do you believe he will be in office beyond March, were he to win? Harris will usher in a new rerun of Obama, this time as farce. Biden’s promise that nothing would change seems to fly in the face of your bizarre prognostications. Meanwhile, the Dems are already warming up their deficit scolding and belt-tightening memes. You think they will use MMT for anything other than foreign wars? I begin to doubt your sincerity/sanity.

      Reply
      1. Samuel Conner

        I have the impression that there are Ds in the House, beyond the core of the progressive mini-caucus, who have expressed a measure of interest in MMT. Prof Wray was invited to testify at hearings this year on debt sustainability, for example. I’m less confident that the interest is motivated by a desire to use Federal fiscal freedom for pro-social purposes. It may be that some of the interest is rooted in a desire to resist pro-social policy — “know you enemy”, so to speak.

        Reply
    6. Lambert Strether

      > MMT basically destroys the dominant macroeconomics. And it’s that dominance that created the oligarchs.

      I think you have the causality reversed. The oligarchs created macro. Macro did not create the oligarchs. [gestures vaguely at decades-long discussion on the left about the relationship between base and superstructure, hegemony, etc.]

      I agree that MMT is revolutionary in its implications. But, as with can-openers: “Imagine a revolutionary party….”

      Reply
  11. Wally

    It seems to me to be quite a contradictory set of arguments made in that piece. You can’t say “most of the country would elect a stuffed doll just to be rid of Trump” and then imply that it is somehow the ‘oligarchy’ vs. populism. “Most of the country’ means exactly: most people. The populace. If the populace does not want Trump in office, he is not a populist and it is the country, not some ‘oligarchy’ that does not want him. Nor, then, is the ‘oligarchy’ at odd with the populace. Nor is the case made that the organization listed as opposing Trump are doing so for anything other than open, obvious reasons such as patriotism or love of country or concern for government outcomes… it is simply somehow implied.
    I think the general spirit of that article is much like its accusation against Trump: that he takes delight in disrupting a room before he leaves it.

    Reply
    1. Donald

      I think he is saying the elites all secretly favor Biden and will dump Trump given the chance. The general public doesn’t count, in his analysis.

      I don’t think that is entirely correct, The Republican elite might not like Trump personally, but he gives them most of what they want and he is still popular with most Republican voters.

      Reply
  12. Henry Moon Pie

    The Hedges interview was worth the listen, and your musings re: our near future are all quite plausible.

    We’re living in a society where the glue has been dissolving for 50 years. Traditional groupings gathered around political parties or religions are held together by fear these days, not glue, and that becomes a disaster for the society if it confronts a serious challenge like the virus or the already present consequences of climate change. This problem is especially acute among the young because they’ve never been presented with anything worth believing in beyond consumerism and IdPol, but the old are at sea as well.

    There are a plethora of problems confronting us, but I believe the most critical is this absence of societal glue because it makes it impossible for us to pull together to tackle any of these other issues. What we need is a Moon Shot mentality about finding some new glue, and this would be less about spending money than expanding our consciousness by any and all means available. The main contributors to such an effort are likely to be poets, musicians, visual artists, filmmakers, philosophers, seers and shamans. Deep explorations of the subconscious through dreams, meditation and hallucinogens need to be conducted with the hope of retrieving desperately needed myths and metaphors from the collective unconscious from which the needed glue can be “synthesized.”

    Even if we can find such a glue, it will have to be “distributed” in spite of opposition from our existing institutions, in other words, person to person by word of mouth.

    One way or another, this will have to be done because it is the sine qua non not only of moving forward but even of preventing further social dissolution.

    Reply
    1. Tom Bradford

      Unhappily the most effective and frequently used ‘glue’ to hold societies together is a war against somebody else – it’s the core weapon of ‘Big Brother’ in Orwell’s ‘1984’.

      And we’ve already seen using Trump using it – his MAGA carries implications that ‘outsiders’ are lesser humans, while his hostility to immigrants, illegal or otherwise, carries a nasty flavour of ‘ubermensch.’

      Reply
  13. DanP66

    One way or another…..there will be blood.

    My neighbor told me yesterday that his wife wants a gun, maybe a couple. She is a white, middle class, middle of the road, middle aged, voter.

    We live in a relatively wealthy exurb of DC in VA.

    My guess is that she has good reason to think she needs a gun. On the other hand, if she needs it it wont matter because the other side is going to have more and the backing of the surveillance state.

    The ONLY real question; Will the military allow itself and its intelligence apparatus to turn on the people and if so, which people?

    I will say this however, I have a feeling that these left wing nutcases that have been rioting for months could well soon realize that a Biden or a Harris administration could or would just as easily turn on them. Have to wonder if at some point the far left and the far right decide that they dislike the government enough to overlook their dislike for each other and turn together against the government. They can fight out their differences later.

    Reply
    1. jefemt

      Contemplation and/or act of , ‘buying a gun and ammo’. Literal example and act showing of how reactive and not -too-deep thinking we can fall into.

      Who do you shoot? Are you prepared to take a life, deal with remorse? Prepared to be shot? To what end-goal, what ‘brighter future’?

      We need to take to the streets with pots and pans, and demand climate / species justice, social justice, de-escalation of militarization, a complete re-tooling of the systems that are undeniably Utility functions (power, transportation, banking, health care, water supplies, solid waste and recycling, education, defense department, police/fire. By, of and for us all. And the noblest notions and ideals need to be fostered and shared throughout the world. Sell fewer guns, sell more solar and wind powered water systems, sustainable agricultural technologies and ideas, energy systems, books.

      Anyone else notice how little we hear about what is happening around the world, how universal the present negative experiences are? The world is literally burning up right now.

      Quash global thinking: WE can’t have humanity rise up everywhere!? Davosman is getting cornered and her reaction may not be pretty.

      I doubt very many who go to arms will be fighting for any set of specific ideals.

      A flag. Freedom. What the heck does that mean?

      Some boys have a gun, have a bullets, and simply like the cause and effect. Add a few dabs of poisonous thinking… wowsers. The middle aged northern Vuhgineeya suburban mom is a gonner.

      Reply
    2. tegnost

      What is your evidence that the surveillance state is in favor of trump? Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Big Pharma, Insurance, the telcos, …you know the people who are getting/giving all the data to/from the surveillance state are all led by people who are democrats. I have no doubt and neither does any other “disappointed millionaires” otherwise known as average americans that biden and kamala the cop have gotten their new timberlands so they can put the boot on our necks in comfort.
      We live in a relatively wealthy exurb of DC in VA.
      This makes it a possibility that you don’t have any idea what’s going on in America.

      Reply
      1. Acacia

        Indeed. Look no further than Eric Schmidt, ex-CEO of Google, who serves on the board of directors for a company selling big data to the Biden campaign, with the aim to “broaden its appeal with younger voters and small donors”. Schmidt backed Obama, too.

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether

        > What is your evidence that the surveillance state is in favor of trump?

        The surveillance state opposes Trump. Hence four years of anonymous leaks from the intelligence community on RussiaGate, etc.

        Reply
    3. John steinbach

      I also live in a wealthy exurb of DC. Guns are prevalent. Black gun ownership & gun clubs are growing. Most gun owners I know are not “right” or “left”.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether

        > Can you provide proof that the rioters are left wing

        I think identifying “rioters” with the Portland anarchists who devised the “shield wall” is more than a little facile. Though, give credit, they are the ones out there taking the hits to the body.

        Reply
    4. Wukchumni

      All these Americans that went out and got armed & dangerous on account of the fear of missing out initially-and now merely fear, are going to want to use their investment, even though the majority of them probably have never fired them, and if so only @ stationary targets, not living human beings.

      I expect an updated version of the Marianas Turkey Shoot by Thanksgiving, watch out for the ricochets though.

      Reply
    5. Lambert Strether

      > My neighbor told me yesterday that his wife wants a gun, maybe a couple. She is a white, middle class, middle of the road, middle aged, voter.

      Those litigious loons with the mansion in St Louis had guns, but didn’t even know how to handle them, let alone shoot them. And shooting at a target during training is one thing; shooting at live humans, another.

      So I would anticipate an enormous debacle of armed suburbanites decided to give battle (to whom? Each other?). Then again, neither side knew how to shoot at the Battle of Bull run, either, but there was plenty of killing done.

      As Abraham Lincoln told Gen. Irvin McDowell: “You are green, it is true, but they are green also. You are all green alike.” A year’s worth of shooting should solve the competence problem.

      Reply
  14. The Rev Kev

    My own prediction here. If Trump loses, then you will see a radical re-ordering of the political structure in America. And by that I mean that the elite will make sure that never, ever again will there be another loose cannon like Trump. So you will see an effort to kick off as many people off the voting rolls as possible. And by that I mean flyover country and black, white, brown – it will all be the same. It will be done by Republicans and Democrats will look the other way and pretend that nothing is happening. The ‘wokerati’ will cheer this development as they literally hate anybody unlike themselves and consider them to be unworthy of having a vote. if you don’t believe me, read Jill Filipovic’s tweets which appear in today’s links -and she is a lawyer!

    https://twitter.com/JillFilipovic/status/1307128620343799808

    Reply
    1. None from Nowheresville

      Trump has a public & a private face just like Clinton. I’ll agree that he’s a huge can’t take your eyes away from him distraction and a camp / tribe loyalty diviner.

      But take away the public face of Trump and the shiny shiny look over there Resistance for a moment, how has his administration and the legislature strayed from the well-established policy path of US class war / global exploitation / etc. sent by his predecessors?

      If he’s on the path and he’s accomplished many of the wishlist items his predecessors weren’t able to do / even attempt, then why would the elite consider his public face a bad thing? What does loose cannon mean here?

      Or are we talking about the people from his rallies who might get the wrong idea, go off on their own and burn the whole place down without permission?

      Playing with the “votes” pre-dates Trump. Goes back to the beginning of our country. The uniparty wants a small electorate so both private faces work hard to ensure it.

      Reply
  15. jadan

    The oligarchy is more diverse than this commentary would seem to imply and Trump has the support of Robert Mercer & the Kochs, for example, the far right contingent of oligarchs who would like to shrink government to a size that can be drowned in a bath tub. Trump put his wrecking crew to work and the demolition is coming right along.

    Another factor the writer ignores is the fact that the electoral system doesn’t reflect the majority voice of American voters. Nearly half the electorate doesn’t vote because they are aware their votes aren’t counted and don’t matter and the half that does vote are manipulated to achieve the result desired by the most determined oligarchs. Rigging elections is a complex process requiring lots of money. Trump’s election, like that of Bush in 2000, was fraudulent. But the electoral system can defeat the indefatigable election riggers in the event of a groundswell of the popular vote and express majority choice. This election will demonstrate that Trump is the loser he so despises. It will also highlight the need for electoral reform. There is a relatively easy means to defeat all types of election rigging called block chain voting.

    The chance of “civil war” is nil. Trump does not represent a significant part of the electorate. Trump didn’t win in 2016, Hillary lost. Trump can’t win in 2020 because he’s so grossly incompetent and voters have seen through his facade of lies. The sad fact is we do not know what the true disposition of the American electorate is because the electoral system is essentially fraudulent. It is faith-based because you must have faith to believe your vote is counted as cast. You cannot prove that is is. Our electoral system is a toy for the oligarchs. Like the stock market numbers electoral outcomes do not represent reality.

    Reply
  16. David

    It might be useful to think a little bit about what some of the words used here mean.
    “Civil war” means a war for control of the state (the Latin “civis”), either in the sense of control of the territory, or in the sense of control of the administrative state and its organs, particularly those of security. Neither, unless I’m missing something, is really thought to be likely here.
    What we’re seeing is much closer to something rather different – mass popular discontent, possibly turning violent. When this dissent is properly organised with a coherent ideology (Iran in 1979) it can actually overthrow an apparently strong state. If not, it tends to be almost purely negative, and to deteriorate into simple inter-communal violence. I suspect that’s what we are going to see here. It may be exacerbated by the “outcome” (if that’s the word) of the election, but I suspect it’s inevitable anyway. And who will the protagonists be? I can’t see the PMC coming out with guns and body armour to defend their homes. And the Police (assuming they still exist) won’t be able to cope with violence beyond a certain point. If we’re talking about militias taking control of territory, then experience elsewhere suggests that even the military will be pushed to contain them. The most likely scenario, I suggest, is the progressive Balkanisation of the country.

    Reply
    1. farragut

      Interesting view, David. Do you see the coming (is it already inevitable?) violence and dissolution primarily based on class, ethnicity, or region?

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “…class, ethnicity, or region?”
        all three and more mashed up together in an inchoate mass.
        cowboys vs packers.
        shirts and skins.
        red haired vs blondes
        we don’t really have the collective mental wherewithal to do this with any skill or consistent style.
        post katrina NOLA is most likely, unless the helicopter money arrives with a quickness.

        Reply
      2. David

        I think it’ll be based on Identity in the traditional sense (ie not IdPol) because history suggests that, when faith in government and authority breaks down, people group themselves together with those they believe share their interests and those who – critically – they believe will protect them. Conversely, those about whom they are less sure will be driven out. As we’ve seen in many other cases, this will mean that neighbourhoods, towns etc will be increasingly independent and self-regulating in a rather crude fashion. That doesn’t have to be an apocalyptic scenario, though it certainly won’t be pleasant. What we’ve seen elsewhere is the rise of local politico-military-criminal entities, controlling exit and entry, “taxing” trade that comes in and providing “protection” for the inhabitants, and not for free, of course. Such entities are effectively outside central control, but don’t necessarily fight among themselves. They can only be dismantled if the state can bring enough force to bear, but also if it can convince the locals that it is able to protect them.
        This, incidentally, is why I think all the violence and looting recently is so dangerous. When it comes to the crunch, the looters don’t have the guns and the organisation that opposing forces will be able to field. Likewise, between a protest march organised by Twitter and a barricade manned by blokes with semi-automatic weapons, there’s no real contest.

        Reply
        1. farragut

          Thanks for this. Two thoughts occurred to me while reading your reply:

          They can only be dismantled if the state can bring enough force to bear, but also if it can convince the locals that it is able to protect them.” A concise summary of one of the reasons for so many of America’s failed military adventures from Vietnam to Afghanistan.

          And, I’m not gonna lie…’Farragut, Warlord of Blacksburg’ has a nice ring to it. Going to have to think about what currency I want my subjects to use…. :-)

          Reply
      3. Michael Fiorillo

        Didn’t Trump’s election represent, at least to some degree, a geographic/regional and industrial split within the ruling class? Potent culture war issues aside, a glance at the 2016 electoral map suggests a contest among factions and attendant populations, with finance, tech and communications in large cities going D, and energy, agriculture and other extractive industries choosing R.

        Not to be too deterministic, but I used to tell my high school students that Geography Is Destiny – ask the Poles, and Afghanis if it seems overstated. To the extent that’s the case, things may not look so good for Wokistan

        Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks for this – terms like ‘Civil War’ get tossed around without people thinking too much about what it means – as you say, there are many kinds of civil war. I was reminded of this watching the very depressing RTE documentary recently (Unquiet Graves*) on the murder triangle in northern Ireland, and how much of the acts there had an element of tacit encouragement from London. I do think that if a civil war in the US broke out it would not be a classic war for control of the state like the last one, but would look much more like the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, which was a different type of civil war – one localised and regionalised, with a complex mix of motivations behind the various parties. I could well see that in the event of a contested election some parts of the US becoming only nominally governable, much in the way that places like South Armagh were. But lets not forget that life pretty much kept on as before, even when the conflict was at its worse.

      *https://www.rte.ie/player/movie/unquiet-graves/147130920020

      (for some reason I can’t post links today on NC).

      Reply
      1. Yik Wong

        The large elephant in the room is the amount of information now available to “Washington/London” on who to arrange to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, union organizers, budding activist, etc. “The game in North Ireland” was played in a dark room irregularly blinded by lightening. Those at the top of the resistance will mostly be safe, but they will be suspended in a vacuum.

        Reply
      2. David

        Indeed, it seems to me that the Troubles is a good model for what might happen. (A colleague originally from the Northern Ireland Office commented to me when we were both working on the Former Yugoslavia that ethnic cleansing had been under way in the Province since the 1970s – it just wasn’t talked about).
        I think the difference (and thanks for the link, I’ll watch it) is precisely that there were outside forces involved, of which the British were by some distance the most important. That massively complicated things because, seen from London, the three main tasks – fight the IRA, keep the Protestant extremists under some sort of control, and bring an end to the conflict which was costing so much time, effort, money and lives – were to some extent at odds with each other.

        Reply
      3. Tom Bradford

        A possible parallel here might be Britain for a generation or so after the withdrawal of Rome’s legions in the period 383 – 406, and in 410 the ‘British’ expelled the remaining Roman administration, reverting to a rough approximation of the pre-Roman Celtic Kingdoms under local warlords who re-imagined themselves as Kings. Apart from the East, which was already experiencing raids from the Anglo-Saxons, it was by all accounts – not that there are very many – a golden age of self-rule on Roman lines but without the imposition of an administration from abroad and taxation going to fund Rome’s wars.

        This was, after all, the period that gave rise to the Arthurian legends.

        If the federal ‘sovereignity’ breaks down it’s possible to see the individual States assuming that sovereignty simply to provide an administration as against chaos, with ‘strong’ men (or women) taking control of that administration much as Mao-Tse Tung did in China. Most people will support any bulwark against chaos if order breaks down.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          yes. post roman britain looks like a good model to work with, to me.
          i often think that the biggest problem will be(is and has been) the denial that anything weird is happening.
          like the expectation, fervently asserted, that everything will soon be back to normal.
          it’s cassandra’s lament…and something i’ve been worrying about for a long time.
          can’t prepare if you’re sitting there waiting for normal.

          Reply
    3. Lambert Strether

      > If not, it tends to be almost purely negative, and to deteriorate into simple inter-communal violence. I suspect that’s what we are going to see here.

      You can have a Civil War when there’s a Mason-Dixon line. You can’t have a Civil War between gated communities. (Pause here to recall the “White Columns” and “Rainbow Heights” burbclaves in Snow Crash).

      Reply
  17. voteforno6

    I don’t know…people seem to think of “the elites” as some monolithic, omnipotent force. I don’t think either is the case. Clearly they have their interests, and clearly they have the power to maintain those interests, most of the time. The most powerful thing they have going for them is inertia. They don’t always get what they want. The trick, I think, is to keep building on each small victory, until they start becoming big victories. That has happened before, and it can happen again. But, first we have to disrupt the inertia.

    So many institutions in this country want Trump gone. To be fair, he is clearly unfit to be President. Just because they’re in favor of something doesn’t always make it wrong.

    Reply
  18. ptb

    I don’t think the ruling class is nearly as bothered by Trump as the pundit class. Oh sure, he is an embarrassment and a nuisance, but the bailouts and tax cuts make up for it. No figurehead can substitute for money in the bank. Therefore, I expect the Supreme court would find, after careful examination of the Constitution, that the counting of votes is up to the states.

    The prolonged messy situation, I think, is if Trump gets re-elected, Democrats take the Senate, and they go after him some more. Still without the 67 votes actually needed, but with more legislative firepower, able to pass legislation at will, and forcing lots of veto’s.

    For the record, I think it’s a 60-40 for Biden at this point, but dependent on the Covid situation in PA/FL continuing to look threatening (and thanks to k-12 schools, probably will be).

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      that’s a fine piece, and on an almost wholly overlooked topic.
      while reading through it, i had a line of faces parading before my inner eye, of the local elite around here.in many ways, our obsessional focus on super elite far away, prevents our knowing anything at all about the slumlord who owns half the barrio because he sits on the review board that adjudicates disputes about property taxes.
      where i live, the Lion’s Club is the de facto front group for the Backroom where important local matters get decided.

      Reply
      1. furies

        I also enjoyed the piece (and could picture those folks in my area).

        I used to attend water board meetings. The blatant corruption and shilling for developers lining up to siphon off ever dwindling amounts of water from the Eel River was nauseating. It struck me then this was a microcosm of the macro.

        And yep, those water board meetings were not well attended. I get it that people are working 2 jobs, long commutes etc. but those same folks are paying the price of development that’s lining the local royalty’s pockets.

        Frustrating.

        Reply
      2. Procopius

        Some of the Travis McGee books make mention of the local elite, the people who control issuing building permits, zoning exceptions, bank loans, etc. The ones in his books tend not to be known as powerful because they don’t want to be. The most important people know who they are; that’s enough.

        Reply
  19. benign

    Trump is the first president this century not to trash a Middle Eastern country, clearly not in the interests of the MIC/elites. Just sayin’. Not to mention those unmentionable peace deals.

    Reply
    1. The Historian

      And yet the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen go on and on, don’t they? Yes, I know. Trump is talking about removing troops from Afghanistan – finally – after four years and just before an election. And apparently you didn’t notice the tensions Trump fanned with North Korea, either, did you? It took Moon of South Korea to tamp those down. And for all his palsy-walsyness with Kim Jong-un, North Korea still has its nukes and its rockets – nothing has changed there. And then there is his constant harassment of Iran and his machinations to isolate the Shia in the Middle East with these alliances with Israel, Saudi Arabia and UAE, which will no doubt someday lead to war. If there hasn’t been a a war, it isn’t for Trump’s lack of trying, is it? If Trump were a little bit more competent, there is no doubt we would be in a war and Trump would be parading around like the little general.

      Reply
      1. Acacia

        “No doubt”? Well, no.

        If the POTUS really wants a new war, he has plenty of options and there are plenty of hawks to help him get it running.

        Reply
      2. diptherio

        Exactly this. The urge to defend Trump because the Dems are also terrible is just…ugh. Not starting any new wars is a pretty low bar, especially as he inherited an abundance to begin with, none of which he’s ended. And assassinating Iran’s Solemani and his rhetoric about Venezuela sure make it look like he’d be just peachy with a war against either of those countries. And remember how Obomber’s administration engaged in so many more drone strikes than the Shrub administration? Well guess who’s administration has engaged in more drone strikes than Obomber’s? Go on, guess.

        Reply
        1. Sailor Bud

          Yep. I believe it was on the latest ‘Roaming Charges’ from counterpunch, but I saw just this week that in only 3.5 years Trump has bombed Somalia more than Bush & Obama combined did with 8 years apiece. Such a peacenik. This country is ruled by monsters all around.

          Reply
        2. furies

          When weighing candidates why wouldn’t one recognize that Trump hasn’t ‘started’ a war?

          You know Joe Bidonville will.

          Reply
      3. Lambert Strether

        > And yet the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen go on and on, don’t they?

        They do. After all, there are careers and a lot of money at stake. Nevertheless, as I keep saying, Trump has not started a war on the scale of Bush, with Iraq and Afghanistan, or Obama, with Libya (and by proxy in Yemen?). So, the imperial cancer continues to slowly grow, but at least we haven’t had any ginormous metastasis — especially into Ukraine, for which liberal Democrats and The Blob clearly have a thirst. I mean, it wasn’t Trump who engaged in four solid years of hysterical fever in the form of RussiaGate.

        Reply
        1. troublemecca

          I think we all persist in this delusion that democrats and republicans (trump included) are somehow antithetical to one another. Trump fanned the flames of Russiagate willingly by meeting the Russian ambassador at the White House post-election, and we all bought the idea that he was merely bumbling; but he is a skilled manipulator, and was serving their unified purpose as weapons of mass distraction.

          Reply
    2. Lou Anton

      Did blow that Iranian general to pink mist though. We moved on to COVID soon after, but there was a lot of worry about blowback at the time (and maybe still is).

      Reply
      1. Michael

        A very interesting point! I read yesterday’s installment of Indian Punchline, where the former Indian Ambassador turned journalist, M. K. BHADRAKUMAR, warns of an attempt by Pompeo to start a war with Iran as an October surprise. See below.

        On one level such a surprise is possible and logical as it would reinvigorate our deceased fracking industry with higher prices, and due to the October 18th deadline when UN sanctions come off Iran.

        On the other hand I do not think foreign intervention is a winning campaign tactic due to the short time frame to the election and people’s preoccupation with the bug, social unrest, and the economy. Additionally, as pointed out by the original article the military does not support the Dumpster, and war games played out do not work well for the US.

        Time will tell.

        https://indianpunchline.com/pompeo-threatens-to-light-the-fuse-in-persian-gulf/

        Reply
      2. Skip Intro

        Was trump actually in on that? Military action in that region sometimes happens spontaneously, if negotiations are about to break out. Recall Deir es Ezzor (sp??) where the military ‘accidentally’ sabotaged Obama’s attempt at rapprochement with Russia. I think these are indications that operations are run from somewhere other than the White House.

        Reply
    3. marym

      Trump has increased drone strikes, civilian casualties, arms trafficking, and the defense budget. He has a MIC lobbyist as defense secretary, started a new branch of the military, ended an Obama-era ban on landmines outside Korea, and is “taking the oil” in Syria.

      He’s also sent armed federal forces to US cities, and neglected or obstructed key public health measures to confront the pandemic that’s killed 200,000 people.

      What kind of “peace” will result from a US-Arab-Israel alliance against Iran and the Palestinians remains to be seen.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether

        You keep saying this, and I keep saying, correctly, that Trump has done absolutely nothing on the scale of starting the Iraq War, starting the Afghanistan War, or starting the Libyan War.

        You’re gonna get the chronic stuff with drones as long as we have an empire, and therefore you’re gonna get it with any administration (barring the force majeure of imperial collapse or a ginoromous EMP pulse or the Chinese inventing a loogie gun so big it can take out a carrier). It’s a wash. Why harp on it?

        To put this another way, when the War Machine is in neutral, it does what it is doing now: It rumbles, emits fumes, does some casual slaughter, and so on. That’s not the same as putting in gear and driving it somewhere (as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya). Trump has not done that.

        So on this issue it’s the classic case of Trump being half a bucket of shit and Biden being a full one. On issues like war in countries next door to nuclear powers, I think the amount of shit in the bucket matters (as it does not, always).

        NOTE Adding, obviously, the pandemic and domestic policing are different issues entirely. On the latter, we seem to have forgotten Obama’s seventeen-city paramilitary crackdown on Occupy. Granted, Trump is cruder.

        Reply
        1. marym

          Why harp on it?

          In this case it was a response to a claim that Trump didn’t trash a Middle Eastern country, while trashing, and supplying arms for trashing, continue; and to a reference to a peace deal the outcome of which (to me) doesn’t seem clearly in the direction of peace.

          I didn’t support and haven’t forgotten all the bad things Obama did. I agree that not starting a big war is important and won’t harp further on this particular aspect of the Trump evaluation.

          Reply
    4. Oh

      I wonder why he asked for and got more than what he asked for the Pentagon? He’s another war monger. Look at how he helped (thru the CIA) overthrow legitimately elected Presidents in Brazil, Bolivia and is still trying to overthrow the government in Venuzuela. Why did he tighten travel restrictions to Cuba?

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether

        We can all wonder about a lot of stuff. If we look at what actually happened, we see that Trump did not start a war in Afghanistan, did not start a war in Iraq, and did not start a war in Libya. The working class parents in flyover whose kids aren’t coming home in boxes because the next best thing to the military was Walmart — and the next best thing to Walmart was opioids — may appreciate that, even if the DMV liberals do not.

        I don’t love Trump ffs, but this should be very easy to see.

        Reply
  20. Sutter Cane

    Whether Trump or Biden wins, nothing will get better for the non-rich citizen. It will get worse either way, just with slight variation between different kinds of “worse”, depending on the victor.

    I don’t think a civil war is the right framing. A civil war implies two groups fighting for power. The elites already have all the power, no matter if Trump or Biden wins.

    Rather than a civil war, it’s just going to be largely powerless groups of citizens blaming each other for their misery and continuing their petty squabbles. We might have some “troubles” which will keep the rabble busy but that won’t threaten our oligarchs particularly. Maybe some low-level representatives get threatened, but nobody in the billionaire class.

    Reply
    1. Kate

      I’ve been reading Gary Snyder today. If money equals power we are certainly all doomed. But what if we found a way to escape their stultifying frame? There are other ways of claiming power, and maybe the blessing of this nightmarish time is that some of us will be exercised to investigate those alternative ways?

      Reply
  21. farmboy

    Will republicans change their primary and caucus format to prevent another Trump? that will tell us if there is any chance of regime change, as it were.

    Reply
  22. everydayjoe

    We need to define what “media”, “elites”, “right” and “left” means. This is much different in today’s America than it was 50 years ago. The propagandists have misused these words and made well meaning citizens turn against their own interests.

    Reply
  23. Martine

    In the last paragraph of the second numbered point, it reads “he does” where, from the context, I believe it should read “does he.”

    Reply
  24. chris

    I find the reference to the courts interesting in the above analysis. What makes anyone think that after years of jury nullification, and the courts having been closed for so long due to Covid-19, and potentially with multiple rulings that the police implicated in the use of force related killings from this summer will nit be convicted of anything, that anyone will listen to the courts and their application of the rule of law?

    We have a lot of disenfranchised people with guns. We have a lot of PMC type people who have never had to think about protecting their property. I feel like this isn’t going to end anywhere near like what was described above. But who knows? It seems like the only way to be wrong about 2020 is to make a prediction!

    Reply
  25. Billy

    “The oligarchy wants Trump gone, and wants it badly. The military wants him gone, the CIA wants him gone, the press wants him gone, the diplomatic service wants him gone, and most of the billionaires want him gone…”

    What are you trying to do?

    Get even more people to vote for him?

    Reply
  26. Barbara

    Thank you for this excellent segment of the interview. There are few journalist/commentators with such a clear thinking mind, like a laser, than Chris Hedges.

    I would like to “hear” more of this interview, but I am severely hearing impaired and I have 80 year old vision hampered by advanced macular degeneration.

    Do you know if there is a full transcript to be found?

    I wish the current generation didn’t think that videos and podcasts were the be all and end all. A few outlets, like Democracy Now, make it a habit to post transcripts. But many do not and without realizing it exclude citizens who happen to be hearing-impaired or deaf or – in the case of videos – blind from using these resources.

    My one exception on the videos is the citizen video that captures the deaths of people from George Floyd all the way back to Eric Garner. They have done a vital public service.

    If anyone knows of a transcript for the rest of this interview with Christ Hedges, please let me know.
    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Acacia

      @Barbara, you can click on the “…” under the lower right-hand corner of the YT video (linked above), and pick “Open Transcript” from the dropdown menu. This will show a transcript of the video on the right side. It’s automatically generated and thus not without hiccups, but it might be helpful.

      Reply
      1. Barbara

        I was able to change from the timestamp mode to script mode and have copied it to my word processor – which automatically changes the type to 18pt.

        Thank you so much!

        Reply
  27. tongorad

    The virus will be Trump’s undoing -if not for that, he would have won easily. Biden and Harris might be as loathsome a ticket as Hillary, there’s no way they would have a chance without Covid.

    Biden and Harris are the saviors of Democracy, huh? Liberal hysterics posit Trump as an existential-threat tyrant – if he were even slightly so inclined, Covid would be THE dream opportunity for Trump to widen and consolidate his power as well as win over the masses with bread and circuses.

    Trump appears not to have the support of the military brass, intelligence community and media – has there ever been a historical case for a dictator not having these power bases?

    Rather, it is the democrats who have consolidated the military, intelligence and media.
    It is the democrats who are asking that we vote on racial/gender lines (which is about as undemocratic an idea as one could imagine)
    It is the democrats who are positing themselves as the saviors of democracy.
    It is the democrats who are fighting harder against the left than Trump is – the democrats canceled the left in their own party!
    We should therefore be more afraid of a Biden presidency than 4 more years of a feckless Trump.

    Reply
    1. lordkoos

      Trump’s assault on environmental regulations alone is enough for me to vote for Biden, even though it will be make me throw up a little.

      Reply
    2. John k

      Yes to all the above. The dems are more dangerous to any change, Biden said so himself, no fundamental change. Roll back trump tax cuts? Don’t be silly, that was trumps best part. Didn’t you listen? No fundamental change from right now. And Following Obama’s excellent example, Kamala and I will look forward, not back.
      Fossil fuels? You really weren’t listening. You know how much I defend fracking, and I like oily pipelines just as much as Obama.
      It comes down to six very close states polling 4% for Biden or less. If 2% really are shy trump voters, it’s way too close to call. I don’t at all buy the idea the court is anti trump now that Rbg is gone. A female hispanic catholic supreme nominee might do the trick (he elevated one such Floridian from Cuba last year), if he gets desperate m4a until Arrives vaccine would certainly get it done. How much does he want to win?

      Reply
  28. Michael

    Great article!

    Also it was was a real treat to listen to Chris Hedges, who IMHO is one of the great writers of our time. His prose is like reading poetry.

    I completely agree with his assessment, and am not optimistic, but then I am an old man and have seen way too much to be hopeful. I’ll leave that to our younger generation. The last three minutes of his interview were especially inspiring and instructive.

    Thanks for posting. Also, please share this interview with as many people as possible.

    Reply
    1. Oh

      I too never cease to be impressed with Chris Hedges. His linguistic ability so much superior to most others and he’s very direct and is correct in his assessment.

      A small quibble about the video that was linked. While was interesting to get Chris’ views, I felt that the interviewer interrupted too many times when Chris was talking. Moreover, I don’t want to see the interviewer’s face when she’s not talking.

      Reply
  29. KFritz

    Sorry, but the cursory analysis of the power dynamics of any post-election conflict in this article isn’t adequate–as it relates to boots on the ground and armed conflict. Policing in the US is a function of local, county, and state governments. How our police forces react to any conflict will be a key to any outcome. Many of these people are acolytes of Trump and his “ideas.” This isn’t a uniform pattern, so the reaction will be chaotic, local, and unpredictable as part of a “big picture.” The military in the US is concentrated in and around bases, and has little contact with civilians outside of these locales. Further, I’ve read nothing about the attitudes of upper middle management of the military–are their ideas the same as the high command which opaposes Trump? My anecdotal recall of the coups during my lifetime is littered with captains and colonels leading them, not generals, so the deployment of troops may also be unpredictable.

    Expect surprises.

    Reply
    1. KFritz

      Talk about incomplete analysis, how about leaving out the National Guard? The Guard will probably vary from state to state, and unit to unit, according to the attitude of each unit. It can be activated by the POTUS, or a state’s governor, so all sorts of permutations are possible. As above–expect randomness and surprieses.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether

      > the reaction will be chaotic, local, and unpredictable as part of a “big picture.”

      Lack of organization is the difference between a revolt and a revolution. The Democrats have brilliantly performed their social function of decapitating any organizations that might make that difference. If the Czar had only given Lenin a podcast, the Romanovs would be running Russia today.

      Reply
      1. KFritz

        Curious how you would classify the Mexican Revolution, which was multi-vectored and chaotic (at least according to my limited information and memory)?

        Reply
  30. Pookah Harvey

    Wow, I think I get to to claim Godwin’s rule rights.
    A bit of history:

    Hindenburg and his advisors were all conservatives who represented wealthy landowners, industrialists, and other powerful people. As the depression persisted, their popular support was shrinking. So in January of 1933, they decided to make a deal with Hitler. He had the popularity they lacked, and they had the power he needed. They also agreed on a number of points, including a fierce opposition to communism, hostility to democracy, and eagerness for Lebensraum—additional land for the German Volk.(Does Greenland count?)

    I would also like to point out that Trump is a known germaphobe. He has made clear that he knows the dangers of Covid-19 thru the Woodward interviews. Yet he is out doing rallies that he must understand is somewhat dangerous to himself. Does this sound like someone who has the ” instincts of a dictator, but he doesn’t have the skills or the desire to put in the work.”?

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether

      > I would also like to point out that Trump is a known germaphobe. He has made clear that he knows the dangers of Covid-19 thru the Woodward interviews. Yet he is out doing rallies that he must understand is somewhat dangerous to himself.

      That’s an interesting point. I’m not sure what it “sounds like,” but it’s interesting.

      Reply
  31. Cat Burglar

    I question the whole Civil War meme. Living out in the deserts of Oregon and California, I know plenty of conservative religious people, farmworkers, cowboys, loggers, and every kind of small town person. Yes, many, maybe most, people own guns, many are fervent Trump supporters. Some even talk about revolution.

    They may be armed, but almost none are organized. There is no strategy behind them, and nothing to integrate them into a usable tool for action. My guess is that it is a case of what the old New Left used to call “organizing with mirrors.” People might show up at a protest because they saw it on Facebook. They get automatic weapons and cool clothing — but these are more like lifestyle choices than anything else. If they did try anything, it would end up a lot like the CHOP did in Seattle — they would be unable to administer it.

    If they try anything, my guess is that they may be deployed if elite interests find them a usable tool — the way Al Qaeda was used in Syria, or the way Antifa is being used by the Dems — and when they become an annoyance they will be discarded used political toilet paper.

    We can likely expect more unrest from popular forces as things go further downhill. One question is whether the popular forces will be subdued, or not. That will be the “historic” part of a Biden presidency.

    Reply
    1. Michael

      I totally agree!

      I live in a semi rural area, have roots in the state culture, and have always found that the primary motivation from locals is to be left alone and free from Washington. Here, there are very few Trump signs, but many that declare support for the local police.

      When people disagree here, they almost always never talk about it with those with opposing views, as it is considered impolite. In fact many wonder why those with signs are being so rude to express a public opinion and sew local discord.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “…as it is considered impolite…”

        Yes!
        in my strange little isolated place, this avoidance of conflict is just an automatic method of living together. here, everyone is related, and historical memory is long…and branches of a family who split and changed the spelling of their family names due to the Hoodoo War, still won’t speak to each other, 150 years later.
        I’ve often said that you could go down to the square, strip naked and yell about Marxism, and nobody would “see” you. The deputies would come, of course…and people’s eyes would register your anomalous presence…and it would be whispered about in the corners where the rumor mill lives…but it would never be acknowledged publicly as having happened at all.

        Reply
    2. diptherio

      I was with you all the way till “Antifa is being used by the Dems.” Got some evidence for that? Because my social media feeds are filled to the brim with red and black flags, and I don’t see any evidence that any of them are being used by anybody. They are, by and large, radical anarchists and don’t have any use for politicians of either party. It’s like saying Occupy was being used by the Dems. Just utter nonsense. The rest of what you write though, seems about right.

      Reply
      1. Pat

        I don’t know. You and Cat Burglar may be talking about two different entities. Not that I think either real Antifa or the bogeyman Antifa is being used by Democrats per se, but one of the problems is the propaganda that is so much of our public discourse is so often done on the fly.

        Think how many ‘groups’ were used to shape our public positions regarding Syria. It wasn’t just Al Qaeda, it was ISIS, It was Assad, it was the heroism of the White Helmuts, and even Erdogan and Turkey. They kept throwing everything they could at the story.

        I could be reading this wrong, but much of the current BLM movement seems directed to me. Less organic than what we saw in the first years after Eric Garner. Maybe it is just the celebrity embrace and Obama’s calming waters. But the media coverage feels like so much more propaganda, both pro and con regarding the demostrations. It feels used.

        And the same can be done with a conservative driven protest no matter how organic it might have been at its beginnings.

        Reply
      2. Cat Burglar

        I’m not saying Antifa is controlled by the Dems, or is some kind of party front. I can’t think of any evidence for that.

        But the Dems appear to me to have leveraged Antifa politically. While Antifa overlaps with the anarchist left, and would obviously despise the Dems, the choice of the Trump-Is-A-Fascist meme means their anti-Trump actions redound to the credit of the Dems in this election, like it or not.

        So I am describing a functional, not an institutional, connection. It works in a lot of ways: Antifa helps bring a youth demographic closer to voting against Trump; they represent an anti-Trump force that the Dems can generate support from, without having to take responsibility for Antifa’s actions; Antifa’s militancy enables the Dems to portray themselves as the safe and stable face of opposition to Trump.

        Antifascism seems like a sales gimmick to me, not a serious analysis — the bipartisan-constructed form of authoritarianism created since WW2 is just as vicious as fascism, but quite different (where are the mass compulsory organizations that gave the fascist movement its name?), but one thing it has proven good at is recuperating its opposition. My hunch is, that is exactly what is being done to the anarchist left right now.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether

          > Antifascism seems like a sales gimmick to me, not a serious analysis — the bipartisan-constructed form of authoritarianism created since WW2 is just as vicious as fascism, but quite different (where are the mass compulsory organizations that gave the fascist movement its name?), but one thing it has proven good at is recuperating its opposition. My hunch is, that is exactly what is being done to the anarchist left right now.

          It was entirely reasonable to think of Bush as a fascist, or at least an authoritarian; his warrantless surveillance program consolidated legislative, executive, and judical power (as did Obama’s “disposition matrix”). That, according to Madison, is “the very definition of tyranny,” as the same individuals get to make the law, interpret the law, and enforce the law.

          But the analysis never “took” in the way that the trope that Trump is a fascist has.* I suggest that one difference is, indeed, antifa. Antifa as an image of courageous and photogenic young persons opposing Trump is easy for liberal Democrats to co-opt and leverage; and anarchist ideology doesn’t come through the images (and, if the right wing field report on black bloc security is correct, there’s more authoritarianism in the anarchist demonstrations than we would like to think).

          NOTE * And Pelosi never impeached Bush, as she should have.

          Reply
    3. troublemecca

      Why (ostensibly white) people never identify the Klan as organized is beyond me. There’s a reason the state targets black people and incites them to revolt. Racism is just a method to encourage such organization and unity amongst the grassroots majority, and direct their attention away from the elite.

      Reply
  32. The Historian

    “He’s an egocentric, relatively mindless, easily distracted, lazy, unbright narcissist whose monomania is simply himself — the incoming adoration he basks in minute-to-minute; the minute-to-minute state of his pleasure; the joy he takes in disrupting any room he’s in before he leaves it.”

    And more proof of this from last night where Trump claimed he would sign an executive order banning Biden from becoming president.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/tommybeer/2020/09/20/trump-threatens-to-issue-executive-order-preventing-biden-from-being-elected-president/#473f848c76f6

    I don’t know what will happen if Biden wins, but I do know Trump will cause plenty of disruption if he loses.

    Reply
    1. John Wright

      I see Trump going quietly into the night if he loses.

      In some ways, this is an election where Trump can see advantages in both winning or losing.

      If he wins the election he stays in power, which might assuage his ego.

      If Trump loses the election, Biden has all the problems to flail at (Covid-19, Climate Change, income inequality, existing and future military adventures, student loans, healthcare) while Trump golfs, tends to business and maybe finds a new wife.

      But then I view Al Gore as a personal winner of the 2000 election as he gained respect for his environmental efforts and accumulated a personal fortune of $200 million, per some accounts, while the election “winner” GWB remains despised by many for his military adventures and mis-leadership

      I don’t see Trump causing plenty of disruption if he loses, but then I’m not an historian.
      ,

      Reply
      1. Phil in KC

        I would hope Trump would cede power without dispute in the event of a Biden win. However, I don’t think he will go silent. Attention hog that he is, he will be tweeting from the sidelines and stirring the pot, which is something he does well. He will cite Obama’s involvement in this election as precedent. Don’t expect him to retreat to his golf clubs.

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether

        > I don’t see Trump causing plenty of disruption if he loses, but then I’m not an historian.

        If Trump loses the election, he goes the Obama route. He gets a book deal, a movie deal, and a TV show. (Melania, same.) He’ll make a metric fuck-ton of money with virtually no stress. If he wins, he gets to own the libs on a world-historic scale. He wins either way!

        Reply
  33. Cat Burglar

    I question the whole Civil War meme. Living out in the deserts of Oregon and California, I know plenty of conservative religious people, farmworkers, cowboys, loggers, and every kind of small town person. Yes, many, maybe most, people own guns, many are fervent Trump supporters. Some even talk about revolution.

    They may be armed, but almost none are organized. There is no strategy behind them, and nothing to integrate them into a usable tool for action. My guess is that it is a case of what the old New Left used to call “organizing with mirrors.” People might show up at a protest because they saw it on Facebook. They get automatic weapons and cool clothing — but these are more like lifestyle choices than anything else. If they did try anything, it would end up a lot like the CHOP did in Seattle — they would be unable to administer it.

    If they try anything, my guess is that they may be deployed if elite interests find them a usable tool — the way Al Qaeda was used in Syria, or the way Antifa is being used by the Dems — and when they become an annoyance they will be discarded as used political toilet paper.

    We can likely expect more unrest from popular forces as things go further downhill, but not a civil war. One question is whether the popular forces will allow themselves to be subdued, or not. That will be the “historic” part of a Biden presidency.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Agree totally. If the US were to have any kind of right wing revolution it would be led by Wall Street brokers. In fact it almost happened in the 1930s. Gun nuts have fantasies of defense, not offense. Of course the lone gunman types (and they are always men) are a different category.

      Reply
  34. Susan the other

    I really appreciate having an editor for Chris Hedges. For some reason beyond my ken I just can’t stand the guy. But this translation by Neuburger is sufficiently ego-washed to be readable and sensible. I think the analysis is good; nothing to really argue. What is missing is some fork in the mindset that takes a tangent. A tangent, politically, that states what we actually want. The old empire wants to keep its cake and eat it too; the new empire, the one being born, only knows what it doesn’t want, for the most part. Like most of existence, imo, the solutions will be “emergent,” as they say. The logical path appears as you walk it. So let’s all be Zen about this election and begin to walk the path. Now, if somebody would only tell me where it is…

    Reply
  35. KC

    Quote: “If you stand on the earth and look at the planets, their motion makes no sense at all. If you stand on the sun, what the planets are doing is obvious.”

    Not necessarily.

    Reply
  36. Wukchumni

    One thing about the Boogaloo Boys, is they wouldn’t be hard to discern who’s who. They kind of remind me of the gallant French troops early in WW1 dressed in red pants, so as to make a better target.

    Reply
      1. Aumua

        Smoke and mirrors. Having spent enough time among their mindset, I would say that they are one facet of crytpo-fascism. That is a form of fascism that hides, in plain sight often, behind various other fronts including ‘humor’, ‘liberty’, and ‘reason’. If confronted it will just retreat behind these masks, calling into question the accuser’s sanity in attacking such an innocuous and/or positive thing. The hawaiian shirts are a good example of what I’m talking about. Much of the alt-right uses these tactics. Many of the individuals involved may only be dimly aware themselves of what they represent, but plenty of them know exactly what they are doing. Make no mistake, the Boogaloo and associated movements are far right movements.

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      2. furies

        That was one interesting thread. It supports my fantasy of the two ‘sides’ finding common ground.

        kinda wish there weren’t guns involved:(

        Reply
  37. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    Sensible as always. “Boogaloo” is as much a psy-op as ‘Antifa’. Each meant to frighten different sectors of the electorate.

    Reply
  38. VietnamVet

    This is a good article and great comments. “Civil War” is a misnomer since in America it rings of the two battles at Bull Run in the 1860s with mass armies. There will not be a third battle outside of Washington DC. Instead the USA is being overwhelmed by chaos like Libya or Somalia. Already a Pandemic, an Economic Depression, Forever Wars, Hurricanes, and Firestorms have impacted America in 2020, including, the November Presidential Election between two Losers. It is obvious that the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the oligarchs and polluting the earth, making it unlivable, at the same time are not successful long-term strategies.

    The US federal government is dysfunctional. The hijacked Western System in the 1980s is now spinning apart. There is no way out except the restoration of democracy, the redistribution of wealth, and the remaking of civilization to be sustainable.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Expecting an easy Union victory, the wealthy elite of nearby Washington, including congressmen and their families, had come to picnic and watch the battle. When the Union army was driven back in a running disorder, the roads back to Washington were blocked by panicked civilians attempting to flee in their carriages. The pell-mell retreat became known in the Southern press as “The Great Skedaddle.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Battle_of_Bull_Run

      Reply
  39. Aumua

    As has been pointed out, the ‘elites’ are far from a unified front behind either Trump or Biden. One thing they are united on though is being dead set against any candidate promoting genuine (especially economic) left wing ideas. The Republicans well their hatred for Bernie and everything he stood for is palpable, but also the Democratic establishment and the wealthy donors they represent had one main goal in this election: to stop Sanders, which they accomplished. Beating Trump is just an afterthought.

    What bugs me is using (legitimate) criticism of Democrats to poo-poo the possibility of some form of far right takeover. Whether it’s under Trump or someone else, it’s not so distant as a lot of people still think. The signs are all over the place.

    Reply
  40. Phil in KC

    I would hope Trump would cede power without dispute in the event of a Biden win. However, I don’t think he will go silent. Attention hog that he is, he will be tweeting from the sidelines and stirring the pot, which is something he does well. He will cite Obama’s involvement in this election as precedent. Don’t expect him to retreat to his golf clubs.

    Reply
  41. greensachs

    Actually the Security State, diplomatic state, Intel state, [con]–formity Dem leadership, not to forget the central bankers rob job, made all the lootocrats whole during the term of the “pleasure me Prez”. …therfore, the orthodox “garchs” can get back to just being their genteel and benevolent SELVES.
    It’s psychologically feels cleansing to hear Jeri Lynn view and relate truth so precisely to what it is.
    Please don’t let accurate depictions go away.

    Reply

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