What does Ferguson mean, beyond jeering at the bad guys? What does it tell us about America?

Summary:  Let’s skip the good guy – bad guy blather about Ferguson. What does it reveal about America? About us? Much of use to those who rule America, and to those who would change it. The next post discusses what it means to everybody else. First of two posts today.

{Y}ou didn’t come here to make the choice, you’ve already made it. You’re here to try to understand *why* you made it. I thought you’d have figured that out by now.
— The Oracle in “The Matrix Reloaded”

Victory by the 1%
Victory by the 1%


  1. The inevitable Ferguson
  2. The gods grant the 1% a gift: stupid foes
  3. Putting Ferguson in a broader context
  4. The system worked as it’s designed to work
  5. For More Information


(1)  The inevitable Ferguson

Social tensions in America grow as income growth grinds to a halt for the bottom 80% (and drops for the bottom 60%), the middle class slowly erodes away, and the engines of social mobility freeze up. The response of our ruling elites is the typical one of their peers in the past: increase the power of their domestic armed forces: militarization the police and growth the power and numbers of the security services (FBI, NSA, etc).

Their apostle, Rand Paul, advocates more tax cuts for the rich, more benefit cuts for the bottom 80% (including stripping away the access to affordable health care gained from ObamaCare). Police and the security services are silent partners in the program. Think of them as partners in the program. It’s a hidden codicil to Atlas Shrugged.

Ferguson, representative of the rising incidence of police violence (while crime rates drop), is the natural result. Like 2+2=4. Why does this surprise us? What else do you expect from the 1%?  It takes a great people to choose as leader a Solon the Reformer. We instead chose the twins, Bush Jr and Obama (with another Clinton and another Bush on deck).

(2)  The gods grant the 1% a gift: stupid foes

The gods smile on America’s elites, granting them 4GW foes — domestic and foreign — that are dumb as rocks (so far — the Islamic State might be different, though I’ll take the other side of that bet). As we see in Ferguson, he Black community and their allies squander a wonderful opportunity through lack of organization, an absence of leadership (i.e., leaders and followers). The street violence is a gift to the local elites, strengthening their support and discrediting their foes.

Samuel Adams would have popped corks in celebration for such a gift as Ferguson from the British in the 1770’s, and exploited it skillfully and ruthlessly. Mao, with a far better set of tools, would have laughed. We will do nothing, so Ferguson means nothing. Like Snowden’s revelations of government surveillance, it generates a thousand headlines and nothing else.

(2)  Putting Ferguson in a broader context


Schumann: Political Violence in the Weimar Republic
How did that turn out?

(a)  Putting this in a larger context of politics and history: “The Day After In Ferguson“, Charles Pierce, Esquire, 25 November 2014 — A rare assertion of public responsibility in what might be the closing phase of the Republic. Excerpt:

There always have been people in whom we invest the power to take a life. There always has been a tendency among us, or at least among the more privileged among us, to give the benefit of a thousand doubts to those people in whom we invest this awesome power, because we give it to them in order for them to protect us and to keep us safe. They act in our name, always, no matter what they do. That, on the other hand, is often what we refuse to admit to ourselves when that power is misused. That is the way it is in a self-governing Republic. Every act of war is done in our name. Every action by the police is done in our name. Every prosecutor does his job in our name. Every governor who makes a decision does so in our name.

… This is a perilous time for the country, and for many of the citizens living in it. Our police are armed and trained as you would arm and train an occupying army. They are given body armor, and armored vehicles. They have been removed, physically and psychologically, from the people they are paid to serve, the people who invest in them to take the life of another. And there is a reason because there always is a reason, when some citizen winds up dead. … As regards to all the incidents cited above, not one person ever served one day in jail. This because there were reasons, and there are always reasons.

(b)  Looking at the police in terms of public confidence, compared with our other institutions: we respect them more than any of our political institutions. They’re behind only the military (“small business” is not an institution).

Gallup: confidence in institutions
Gallup, Confidence in Institutions, June 2014

No surprise that these results differ by race, as Gallup reports:

The police are among the three highest-rated institutions out of 17 tested in terms of whites’ confidence, behind only the military and small business. Among blacks, police drop to seventh on the list, behind not only the military and small business, but also the presidency, the church or organized religion, the medical system, and television news. This racial gap in confidence in the police has been evident in the data throughout the past decade and a half that Gallup has been measuring these trends on an annual basis.

(2)  The system worked (the way it’s designed to work)

Everybody understands and accepts the system, so it’s safe for journalists to write frankly about it. This shows its strength, that it is impervious to criticism (rather than committing misdeeds that must be concealed). More about this in the next post.

  1. Seven Reasons Police Brutality Is Systemic, Not Anecdotal“, Bonnie Kristian, The American Conservative, 2 July 2014
  2. Why police are rarely indicted for misconduct“, Al Jazerra, 24 November 2014 — “Grand jury decision in Ferguson illustrates the legal and social barriers to prosecuting officers”
  3. It’s Incredibly Rare For A Grand Jury To Do What Ferguson’s Just Did“, 538, 24 November 2014 — Incorrectly framed headline. Grand juries almost always do what the District Attorney wants them to do. As the Ferguson jury did.
  4. Why It’s Impossible to Indict a Cop“, Chase Madar, The Nation, 24 November 2014 — “It’s not just Ferguson—here’s how the system protects police.”
  5. Justifying Homicide“, Jamelle Bouie, Slate, 25 November 2014 — “Why Darren Wilson was never going to be indicted for killing Michael Brown.”
  6. The American Justice System Is Not Broken“, Albert Burneko, The Conversation, 3 December 2014
Using 4GW, little fish can defeat big fish
Using 4GW, the little fish can win


(4)  For More Information

(a)  Posts about the events in Ferguson, MO:

  1. Our elites smile at events in Ferguson, MO. They’ll cry if it pushes Blacks to try 4GW., 14 August 2014
  2. Will the Ferguson protest force development of African-American leaders?, 15 August 2014
  3. Why America has militarized its police and crushes protests, 16 August 2014
  4. The protesters at Ferguson might have won, but choose to lose, 18 August 2014
  5. Events from Ferguson explain why we are weak, 19 August 2014
  6. Events in Ferguson show why we read the news: for entertainment, 23 August 2014

(b)  Posts in this series about 4GW, reflecting on 25 years of 4GW defeats

  1. Chuck Spinney asks why we choose to lose at 4GW, 23 September 2014
  2. William Lind: thoughts about 4GW, why we lose, and how we can win in the future, 21 November 2014
  3. “SAS kill up to 8 jihadis each day, as allies prepare to wipe IS off the map.” Bold words we’ve heard before., 24 November 2014
  4. What is a fourth generation war, the wars of the 21st century? Who fights them, and why?, 25 November 2014



9 thoughts on “What does Ferguson mean, beyond jeering at the bad guys? What does it tell us about America?”

  1. Reblogged this on Centinel2012 and commented:
    Decent analytical work here although i would not agree with all of it, it is work reading.

    The hard part in any analysis is sorting out the facts and fictions which is harder today with the web in many aspects. If you understand that there are no good governments and all governments serve themselves and that if the cross over into a large enough body occurs then they control the information flow; after that you can only sometimes get to the truth.

    I come from a science engineering background where facts matter and found it difficult to understand politics, at first, since facts become a variable depending on only the motives of the politicians. This forced be to go back to the beginnings of Western civilization and read a lot of books on political philosophy and economics. It took a dozen years to get through it all so that what I was seeing made sense.

    The beginnings of all that is wrong day stem from only two events one the assassination of president Kennedy and the rise of President Johnson; and two the Rio de Janeiro conference on the environment in 1972 which lead to the adoption of UN Agenda 21. Once the ramifications of those two events are fully understood and only then can what is going on today be fully appreciated. The manipulation of history is part of this such that the old saying of if you don’t understand history you are doomed to repeat it is very very true!

    1. Centinel,

      “f you understand that there are no good governments”

      That depends on your definition of “good”. If your standard of comparison is Heaven, yes. If your standard of comparison is Nature (Hobbs in Leviathan: “the life of {solitary man is} poor, nasty, brutish, and short”), than most governments are “good”. The simple answer is that governments are just people in action, collectively (as are all groups) — and can be no better than the people themselves.

      “since facts become a variable depending on only the motives of the politicians.”

      That way lies madness. Social scientists distinguish between facts and values. Suggestion: read the political science literature. No need to re-invent it for yourself. In it you will find answers to many of your questions, and learn intellectual tools useful for your own analysis.

  2. Revolutions are more fight between elites. All links below about/by Peter Turchin


    The maths that saw the US shutdown coming


    People worth reading: Peter Turchin and modeling the cycles of history

    Return of the oppressed
    From the Roman Empire to our own Gilded Age, inequality moves in cycles. The future looks like a rough ride

    Blame Rich, Overeducated Elites as Our Society Frays

    1. Winston,

      Revolutions are rare phenomena in history, and difficult to pin into simple boxes like “Revolutions are more fight between elites.” Esp if considering global history.

      If one considers the broad category of revolts — including unsuccessful revolutions – my guess is that most are some form of peasants’ uprising. Thought not all such are revolutionary; many were protests with the goal of limited reforms.

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