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Revolution Underground relies on three cases to develop an argument that the national state has become surreptitious, revolutionary, and above all weak:

  • Torture and other mistreatment of prisoners, here and overseas.
  • Illegal surveillance and secret operations.
  • Development of a police state, from the FBI to local police departments.

This pattern of weakness means that when this government falls, it will fall fast. It will disintegrate faster than anyone thought possible. For a decade and a half, I have written, “Be ready.” I say that in the same sense that Jesus advised his followers. “Be ready.” The end of the state as we know it is momentous, but not the end of everything. We saw this process occur in Russia and the Soviet Union only thirty years ago.

“If you are so sure,” people will say, “tell us when.” The conviction – confidence in the prediction – does not however entail knowledge of when. All I can say is that the predictions I made shortly after the Iraq war in 2003 have developed far faster than I thought. If fifteen years ago, you had told me that by 2020 our country would be in its current state, I would have replied, “No, no, that won’t happen until 2050 at the earliest. That kind of change occurs pretty slowly.”

Yet here we are, in 2020 and thirty years or more ahead of “schedule”. Of course, history does not unfold according to a schedule. History does not consult a calendar and say, “Let’s see, we’re due for a pandemic now, a hundred years after the last one. Also, we need to pencil in a police killing so infamous that most of the country erupts in anger and dismay.” Looking over the calendar, history thinks, “If you thought impeachment was a big deal, just wait.”

I see I have set these tasks for myself: 1) first, describe our current state with enough specificity to indicate what I mean by reached this point; 2) second, indicate why our current state prefigures disintegration; 3) third, explain how to prepare for these events. More preparation means less pain.

I plan to spend a good share of the book on the foundation in task one: a description of where we have arrived. It is more than a description, though, as you can guess. Done well, the second part or superstructure, follows readily enough. The first part contains evidence for the second. The last part is relatively short. Since events are unpredictable, one does not want to be pedantic or even thorough about how to prepare. Several general principles will do.

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Revolution on the Ground