Sources of inspiration to survive the coming bad times

Summary: America’s social cohesion is fracturing. Social conflicts are heating up. Some predict a civil war. If we are to survive this, even win, we need to become tougher. Here are a few sources of inspiration to help us make the coming hard decisions.

“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous.”
— Words from one who knows about these things. From Mao tse-tung’s ”Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan”, March 1927. His words apply to all forms of intense social conflict.

Eye with flames in it.
ID 12139239 © Miramisska | Dreamstime.

While we cannot agree on what the future holds for America, many people believe we will have intense social conflicts. Some fear turmoil like that of the 1960s and the 1970s. Our cities burned in race riots, and each summer the National Guard occupied America’s ghettos. There were giant anti-war riots (e.g., the shootings at Kent State). Militant leftist groups set bombs across the nation, so that the NYT called 1969 a “Year of Bombings” (e.g., by the Weather Underground). Other Leftist terrorists were even more aggressive (e.g., the Symbionese Liberation Group).

Some people fear this could become another Civil War.

The cause of these conflicts is obvious: we are squeezed between two powerful political alliances. Like cats and rats in city alleys, they pursue their agendas and leave each other alone. They chase weaker prey: us. The Right help the 1% amass wealth and power: tax cuts for the rich, deregulation of labor and environmental regulations, crushing unions, and building bigger cartels. The Left pursues their ever-more-ambitious social engineering experiments on us (their white mice). While they vie with each other for supreme power, taking turns slowing each down, their tag-team has no effective opposition.

We get to choose who abuses us next. The conclusion of both programs will destroy the America-that-once-was. The Left seeks open borders, radical education of children so that many are weak or mentally ill, crushing of free expression and association, and use of the government’s punitive machinery to force participation in their experiments. The Right seeks to create levels of economic inequality incompatible with democracy.

Of course, on the fringes there are people with bolder plans. Far-Left and Far-Right websites burn with predictions of coming violence. Begun, of course, by the demons among the Others – against which the Righteous must strike first in self-defense. An escalation of violence is a serious danger if we lose cohesion.

“You change the world with rivers of blood.”
— Saleem Igor Ulma, terrorist leader in “Truth or Consequences“, episode one of NCIS Season 7.

How might this play out in America?

The Roman people responded to the death of the Republic with resignation. The popular philosophies during the Empire were Stoicism, Hedonism (including Epicureanism), and Christianity. But Rome’s 1% just wanted money and power. Our rulers have bigger appetites. How will Americans react as the pressure grows? With reform, rebellion, or resignation?

Watership Down
Available at Amazon.

Today we are fearful and easily bullied.  We are a gift to the powerful forces of the Left and Right. If we resist, it won’t be a contest unless we become tougher. Richard Adams gives an apt metaphor in his wonderful book, Watership Down.

“What he had learned from all his experience of fighting was that nearly always there are those who want to fight and those who do not but feel they cannot avoid it. …He held down a great warren with the help of a handful of devoted officers. It did not occur to him now …that most of his rabbits were still outside; that those who were with him were fewer than those on the other side ….

“This sort of thing does not count among fighting rabbits. Ferocity and aggression are everything. What Woundwort knew was that those beyond the wall were afraid of him and that on this account he had the advantage.

Sources of inspiration and insights

Whatever we do, we must make harsh decisions. Perhaps harsher decisions than we have had to make since the 1930s. Worse, we have not made harsh decisions lately, preferring to see life as a morality play by people for whom money means nothing. We live in a fool’s paradise. It won’t last forever.

As always, we can turn to our myths – books and films – for insights and inspiration to help us adjust to more difficult times. All of these have been criticized for posing harsh choices. It is the mark of a soft delusional society that people believe harsh choices are never necessary.

Making difficult decisions.

The classic story about making harsh decisions is “The Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin in Astounding Science Fiction, August 1954 (open copy here). The plot is best summarized by the Vulcan adage “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.” It becomes harsher advice when it calls not for heroic self-sacrifice, but the death of a young girl.

See Cory Doctorow’s critique: the unstated problem in the story is capitalism! Such things do not happen in frontier societies if they are run by socialists! It is an amazing analysis, bizarre and historically ignorant.

Leadership decisions.

UFO, volume one
UFO Season 1

A thousand films and TV shows describe the burden of command. None do so better than Gerry Anderson’s TV series “UFO” (From Amazon: Season One, Season Two). In it, Earth has built precariously held defenses against mysterious alien invaders, who have superior technology but (fortunately) small numbers. Logistics rules, even in interstellar warfare.

Whatever the cost, every battle must be won. One bad decision by the commander of Earth’s forces might mean total defeat. Earth’s defenders see themselves as winners. The Commander rightly sees this as a “long defeat,” because eventual defeat is certain – unless the odds change.

Many of the episodes show not just how the aliens are beaten, but the cost of these victories. The commander sacrifices his marriage, his child, and (he fears) his humanity. In one episode, they detect a UFO and a civilian aircraft on their radar, but cannot tell which is which. They have only seconds to choose which one to destroy. The commander decides. An officer on the bridge prays that they got the UFO. The commander agrees, because if they destroyed the airliner “we let a UFO through.”

As usual in science fiction, “UFO” has strong female leads. The organization’s cover is a film studio, with the commander as its CEO. Miss Ealand runs the studio while pretending to be his secretary (a secretary you do not piss off). Colonel Lake, one of the senior officers, is brilliant, decisive, and hard as diamonds.

When is it necessary to change leaders?

Armageddon: There Will Be War VIII
Available at Amazon.

The most important decision a people makes is the choice of leaders. Sometimes one person makes that decision for a people, as in “Day of Succession” by Theodore Thomas in Astounding Science Fiction, August 1959. It was in the anthologies A Century of Science Fiction edited by Damon Knight and Armageddon (There Will Be War VIII) edited by J. E. Pournelle.

When a spaceship enters the atmosphere over North America, General Tredway orders that it not be intercepted. It crashes into southeastern Pennsylvania. He surrounds it with armor and artillery units – and waits. The assembled scientists listen for transmissions, in vain. Slowly the ship cools. A hatch opens and a stem rises through it, the rose on top glowing with a violet light. Tredway orders the bombardment to begin, completely destroying the ship.

A second ship crashes 25 miles away. Tredway runs the same plan amidst an uproar from the great and wise at this unnecessary violence, Tredway is called to the White House. He explains to the President, Vice President, and Speaker of the House why he killed the aliens before there was any evidence they were hostile.

“They were the ones who landed on our planet. It was incumbent on them to find a way to convince us of their friendliness. Instead they landed with no warning at all, and with a complete disregard of human life. The first missile shattered a house, killed a man. There is ample evidence of their hostility. {Nor did they transmit a message before opening their ship.}”

Another ship lands, but a different general handles the response. He surrounds it with massive military forces and wait for the aliens to make the first move. Out comes the rose-like object. It emits an energy beam and in seconds destroys all the men and machines around it. As our supreme leaders stare shocked at the screen, news comes that a fourth object has landed near the third one.

The President admits that Tredway was right, and asks him what should be done next. The general explains that the aliens from the third object will move to protect the fourth. Our only hope is saturation bombing of them with nukes, hoping that one gets through. The President says “You are insane. I will do no such thing.” The Vice-President said “I agree with the president.” The Speaker says “You should listen to the general.” The story concludes with this chilling paragraph.

“The moment froze into silence. The general stared at the three men. Then, moving slowly and deliberately, he undid his holster flap and pulled out his pistol. He snapped the slide back and fired once at point blank range, shifted the gun, and fired again. He walked over to the table and carefully placed the gun on it. Then he turned to the Speaker and said, ‘Mr. President, there is very little time. Will you give the necessary orders?'”

As an honorable officer, when the war is over (assuming we win) I assume that Tredway will plead guilty at his court-martial.

Warnings about a coming civil war

Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?” by Robin Wright in the New Yorker.

How Ta-Nehisi Coates Gives Whiteness Power” by Thomas Chatterton Williams, an op-ed in the NYT. It is about “The First White President“, Coates’s blistering jeremiad saying that “White tribalism haunts even more nuanced writers.” A scarier look at this: “Birth of a White Supremacist: Mike Enoch’s transformation from leftist contrarian to nationalist shock jock” by Andrew Marantz in The New Yorker.

William Lind has warned about the Left’s big plans for America. See “The Anti-White Party” (about the Democrats) and “The Left’s Cognitive Dissonance” (about the cultural replacement now taking place). He wrote a shocking book about the coming civil war and what comes after: Victoria: A Novel of 4th Generation War. Another book from the Right’s perspective is Stop the Coming Civil War: My Savage Truth by Michael Savage (2014). Seeing this from the Left’s perspective: American War by Omar El Akkad (2017).

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon. Also, see a story about our future: “Ultra Violence: Tales from Venus.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about political violence, about civil disobedience, about reforming America: steps to new politics, and especially these …

Read about a real civil war. It ended badly.

Political Violence in the Weimar Republic, 1918-1933:
Fight for the Streets and Fear of Civil War

By Dirk Schumann.

Dick Schumann: "Political Violence in the Weimar Republic 1918-1933: Battles for the Streets and Fears of Civil War"
Available at Amazon.

It can happen here. The people of Weimar could have avoided it – as we still can avoid it. From the publisher …

“The Prussian province of Saxony – where the Communist uprising of March 1921 took place and two Combat Leagues were founded – is widely recognized as a politically important region in this period of German history. Using a case study of this socially diverse province, this book provides a comprehensive analysis of political violence in Weimar Germany with particular emphasis on the political culture from which it emerged. It refutes both the claim that the Bolshevik revolution was the prime cause of violence, and the argument that the First World War’s all-encompassing “brutalization” doomed post-1918 German political life from the very beginning.

“The study thus contributes to a view of the Weimar Republic as a state in severe crisis but with alternatives to the Nazi takeover.”


18 thoughts on “Sources of inspiration to survive the coming bad times”

  1. Very good Larry. I bought the book: “Political Violence in the Weimar Republic, 1918-1933:
    Fight for the Streets and Fear of Civil War.” By Dirk Schumann.

    It could be a preview and model of coming “attractions”.

  2. I remember reading The Cold Equations in a sci-fi anthology, and liking it, and also finding a snarky comment somewhere that The Cold Equations is used as an example to engineering students, not as a “needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”, but rather “THIS is WHAT HAPPENS when you DON’T ENGINEER ENOUGH FAILSAFES!” Still, I appreciate the sentiment. Sometimes harsh measures must be taken, that require a sacrifice.

  3. My Favorite…

    by William Ernest Henley

    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds and shall find me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate,
    I am the captain of my soul.

  4. Andrew marantz, seriously? He wants censorship and only his approved ideas to make it through his pre-approved gatekeepers since he sees Hitler and Nazis undertones in every comment that doesn’t confirm to his worldview.

    1. Outsider,

      Blah blah blah. I’ve grown disinterested in these rebuttals of the forms “he’s a badddd guy.” As if we’re sixth graders at the playground.

      Try giving a reply to his assumptions, facts or logic.

      1. I could start with how he lets everybody know his religion (ethnicity/nationalty?) drives his quest against fake Nazis, Cossacks, Romans, etc but apparently that is incitement according to the splc or adl. Also, he is a legitimate fan of deplatforming and censorship which only will exacerbate hatred all around.

        Full disclosure, I am married to a member but the neuroses, perpetual suspicion of the European and quest for censorship, especially amongst their leadership and organizations, see the recent Cohen speech, are pretty impressive.

  5. Larry, thanks (I think) for responding to my question yesterday. The Mao quote is not only great but (sadly) true. But I have a problem with your response because your intent is solid but is insufficient for the current need.

    Below is an edited response I posted over at the Milpub to a similar topic:

    Most of the US citizens who live in my area (which shall remain nameless) see the tyranny. The question is how to deal with it:
    1. Submit quietly and wait it out (not a viable strategy in my opinion but my father favors it)
    2. Leave (just hitting people’s radar screens now, I’ve been considering it for 20+ years) Not a viable option, the biggest problem currently is that the leaders of too many English-speaking countries are working very hard to make Trump look like a stable moderate genius by comparison. No sense in fleeing the frying pan when landing in the fire is a high probability. Another major issue is distance, settling in Canada would just make your life worse when the flame goes up in the US. Mexico would be even worse.
    3. Fight (also not a viable strategy yet, not enough consensus on what needs to be done)

    The third point concerns your response. Yes, we can and will fight. The key issue is how do we build a critical mass of people who will go in the right direction in spite of massive walls of advertising and misinformation. Like any 4th Generation War (which is what we will be waging, even if no bullets are fired) the key battleground is the mind of every adult in the country.

    There is an almost infinite amount of will in this country to fight. But that will is currently directed primarily at shadows (created by the two major forces you described), old scores to settle (real and imagined), and an urge towards “taking what’s owed me” (which is mostly monetary in nature and ranges from legislative efforts to swindle to vandalism).

    I’ve performed several experiments, some of which you’ve suggested, to see what can be done to help organize people in a useful way. The results are not encouraging:
    a) Political parties above the state level are composed primarily of people who take advantage of other people (politicians) and people who just want to believe in the politicians. Your post yesterday explains why we should be hesitant to blindly trust the politicians but they demand blind trust in order to work.

    b) Most other large non-corporate organizations are either non-political or anti-political. Corporations tend to be soulless entities these days for reasons you’ve already articulated very well.

    At the moment (and I’m seriously dissatisfied with this thought) I’m inclined towards the following plan of action:
    i) Concede the Federal level to the Left and Right, which will grind each other and the Federal government down to complete ineffectiveness. Fighting at this level requires too many resources at this time and is not likely to go our way

    ii) Work at the State and Local levels to get thoughtful people elected and hold them accountable. I’ve had some success in this direction in the last few months and hope to have more success in the future. Share success stories and hold them up as examples of how things should be done.

    iii) When the crisis comes (I estimate that it will occur sometime in the next 3 months to 2 years, but I’d be surprised if I’m accurate), help our State and Local leaders adapt as quickly as possible to maintain faith in their leadership. Again, share success stories and encourage local political, social, and economic investment in the success stories

    iv) Start a trickle-up effort to rebuild regional and eventually federal leadership

    This is a Mao (incremental) plan for success, not a Lenin (big bang) plan for social evolution. I will leave you a quote as well.

    “All true wealth is biological”

    Lois McMasters Bujold

    1. Pluto,

      “Not a viable option, the biggest problem currently is that the leaders of too many English-speaking countries are working very hard to make Trump look …”

      Not just “English-speking” nations. Look at Europe, whose national leaders have put it on a course leading to self-destruction or internal conflict – or both.

      “Yes, we can and will fight.”

      Did you receive the news via stone tablets, words written in the sky with fire, or directly told you by a Dragon?

      “There is an almost infinite amount of will in this country to fight.”

      There is widespread love of big talk. People that can’t be bothered to vote (let alone work the political machinery) are not likely recruits for the pain and sacrifices required for war.

    2. Pluto: “Yes, we can and will fight.”

      Larry: “Did you receive the news via stone tablets, words written in the sky with fire, or directly told you by a Dragon?”

      No, from the crime statistics in the US. As I noted, vassals of the US WILL fight but we won’t necessarily fight for the right reasons or for good effect. Your article urges us to fight but doesn’t really link back to previous articles urging us to fight for the US constitution.

      Another example of what I have to say is this sad story in Iowa.

      It can be (and WILL be) spun in any number of directions, some helpful, some harmful, and some just to make noise and money. If the harmful spin wins, this sort of behavior could become a more common.

      The local authorities seem to be handling it relatively well but if they weren’t it would be the job of our 4GW people to highlight it and seek to make changes. If the local authorities finish the job as well as they seem to have started it, our 4GW people should highlight it as a success story and build social capital for future action.

      1. Pluto,

        “No, from the crime statistics in the US.”

        The crime statistics show that US crime rates have been falling for a generation, and for most categories are back to levels of the 1960s.

        Only a small fraction of Americans commit violent crimes, and those people are not the stuff that revolutions or civil wars are made (the average IQ of violent felons is in the 80s). The crime stats don’t show that “Americans will fight.”

        You are watching too much TV.

      2. You’re right about the crime statistics. The 1970 and 1980’s were much more prone to crime than the 1960’s however it is on the rise again in the last few years.

        Also see point #5 in the report below:

        And this:

        The police are once again losing the respect of the people who suffer from crime. The percentage of retaliation crime (people taking the law into their own hands) is also rising. This has happened repeatedly in our country’s history and it is never a good thing.

        Larry: “You are watching too much TV.”

        This from the guy who quoted NCIS in his article? I usually watch Nature on PBS and that’s about it.


        When I said people would fight, I didn’t mean physically. I meant they will yell and scream at each other and stew about it. That doesn’t mean that they will automatically commit crimes or hit people. But it has an impact on the effectiveness of a 4GW campaign.

        People, especially online, are easily distracted (I can point to myself as a prime example). How can we keep them focused on helping us finish what we start?

        If you cannot answer that question then there is no point in starting a campaign to make people more aware of Tyranny and Despotism in the US.

        Please think about that instead of proving or disproving crime statistics.

  6. I watched UFO when I was a teen and thought it was brilliant. I watched it again as an adult, saw the difficult decisions, the stress, and the stakes of the game, and thought it was still brilliant, but for completely different reasons.

    It’s difficult to choose between this and Captain Scarlet as my favourite Anderson.

    Scarlet still has one foot firmly planted in the children’s entertainment camp, but there are the signs of stress, and hard decisions being made as well as ‘body snatcher’ levels of paranoia about the enemy within. The opening premise of Scarlet makes an interesting contrast both with UFO and “Day Of Succession”.

    1. Steve,

      Nicely said.

      Interesting to see the reviews of UFO. People see only the CGI, not the plot or the issues it raises. That tells us why films are so shallow today, but with fantastic CGI.

      Also, contrast the original “Captain Scarlet” with the 2005 animated version. The latter had a more adult tone (e.g., romance, which the British audience hated). The former was much darker. Remember the opening, showing Scarlet’s horrified agonized face in a score of scenes facing violent death – chained underwater with a shark circling, seeing a bomb about to explode, etc? None of that in the animated version, where there is no evidence that he suffers. SO his decisions to face death are easier – no pain, certainty of resurrection.

      This fits in my larger point that as a society we have pretty much lost the concept of hard choices.

      1. There’s that bit in (mostly) Hollywood movies where someone says something like “This can’t be happening, we’ve gotta do something, there has to be a way to fix this” and there is, and they do…

        It appears to have changed the way people think about serious problems to the extent that many quite perversely think that the more urgent or extreme a situation is, the more likely it is that a solution will be available.

        Going back to Scarlet (the original) there are episodes where it’s made plain that for Scarlet each death is real and with lasting consequences. But he volunteers to ‘die’ anyway, Blue knows he’s suffering and has to watch, White knows it too and has to order it. And it’s all done with a very understated British stiff upper lip, though that might just be the puppets…

        There’s a man who has made models of most of the Anderson’s vehicles…

        Also, I remember reading somewhere that for Scarlet, they made an SPV that was about 2 feet long, and ran it long a scenery track and filmed at high speed so they could slow it down for a more realistic effect. But they had to make things very bright to get the exposures and the heat from the halogen lamps would make the wooden model smoulder if they tried to film for too long…

  7. “Some fear turmoil like that of the 1960s and the 1970s.”
    Apparently not. That turmoil has already been exceeded. Count the mass shootings…

    1. LT,

      “That turmoil has already been exceeded.”

      Totally absurd. Please read the post. We are experiencing nothing remotely like the levels of riots, armed insurgencies, and other social disorders of the 19665 – 1975 period.

      “Count the mass shootings”

      First, despite the hysteria, mass shootings are a tiny (tiny!) fraction of the violent crime in America. Second, it is not clear that their numbers are increasing. Just because a phenomenon is now named and tracked, that does not mean that it did not exist before. Most of the studies start in 2000.

      The news media have a long history of discovering that something makes headlines, then declaring it an epidemic. Such as the fake surge of Black church burnings in the mid-1990s. Or the endless roster of “cancer clusters.”

  8. Mao: “A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay or painting a picture or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous.”

    “The specific political distinction to which political actions and motives can be reduced is that between friend and enemy. …The distinction between friend and enemy denotes the utmost degree of intensity of a union or separation, of an association or dissociation.”
    — Carl Schmitt, prominent Nazi legal/political theorist, from his book The Concept of the Political (1932).

    Schmitt’s legal-political theory on the nature of the political appears, to a large degree, to be based on the horrors he experienced in World War I, the struggles of the Weimar Republic and the failure of democracy in Germany.

    It seems today that a similar type of political enmity (polarization) may be growing in our own country. We are tending to view each other more and more as either friend of enemy rather then as fellow citizen with a different point of view. Schmitt, however, defines such enmity as the essence of the political and endorses it as an argument against liberalism, which he sees as a set of ideas responsible for trying to create a State that has a neutral sphere where common agreement can be reached through an exchange of opinions. Schmitt sees this liberal trajectory as a deliberate depoliticization of reality and a repression of the conflictual essence of the political.

    Is Schmitt on to something?

    How is Schmitt or Mao wrong or mistaken?

    Is Schmitt’s definition of the political somehow inherent in human nature, and is it a psychological dynamic now being unleashed in our own country?

    1. James,

      Thank you for posting that quote. Well worth pondering!

      “How is Schmitt or Mao wrong or mistaken?”

      I have to think about Schmitt’s statement. But Mao is just stating a historical fact. A dark fact, but proven to be true. Even the most glorious revolutions, like Britain’s in 1699, had violence – immense risks – and dark aspects.

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