Regular readers know by now that I am a big fan of the demographic-structural theory (DST) proposed by cliodynamicist historians such as Jack Goldstone and Peter Turchin. The reason I find it so interesting is because of how intellectually satisfying it is. Most theories of history are linear and progressive, and their proponents often struggle to force a progressive narrative onto otherwise cyclical and chaotic series of historical events. Demographic-structural theory, through its explicitly cyclical approach to understanding the rise and fall of empires, not only makes more sense intellectually, but also has the added advantage of having a great deal of explanatory power. The theory closely fits what we actually observe from the empirical evidences we have available and can then be successfully applied to analyses of the histories of other polities as well.
In addition to explanatory power, DST also has predictive power as well. While DST is not deterministic in an absolute sense, it’s quite apparent from the observable cycles of history that pretty much all large states, regardless of cultural, economic, or political vagaries, follow the same general set of paths around very similar strange attractors. Because of that, when you see a large state (such as ours) exhibit certain political, demographic, and social behaviours, you can predict where things are going to go from where they are currently at. While specific incidental and extrinsic events within a cycle may not be predictable, general trends most certainly are.
As I’ve previously pointed out, the United States (as well as most of the rest of the interconnected global system today, including China) is headed towards a terminal collapse. Demographic-structurally speaking, we’ve been in our collapse phase since around 1970 or so and all the current indications suggest that it’s nearing its end. Historically, secular collapse phases are marked by increasing sociopolitical instability, economic disparity, elite overproduction, the loss of social cohesion (asabiyya), and political decentralisation – exactly the kinds of things we see in modern America today. There’s no real reason to think that this collapse won’t continue until it finally reaches some kind of breaking point – its Seneca point. It’s unpredictable what specific event may initiate it, but the fact of its coming and the general direction in which it’ll play itself out may be reasonably inferred.
Of course, there are a number of commentators out there in the broad dissident Right who don’t accept that there is any kind of a collapse coming. Some believe that the current Regime can last for another century, or even indefinitely. Certainly, they believe, collapse is merely an excuse for inactivity instead of “institution building,” a pretext for angry suburbanites trying to play Rambo in the woods with their hillbilly militia buddies. Of course, there’s nothing you can do outside of the Regime’s system about that system, so don’t even bother trying.
To be fair, I’m to the point where if these guys talk about this subject without evincing a firm understanding of demographic-structural theory and how it relates to actual history, then I refuse to take seriously what they have to say. “Why yes, I have this simplistic blackpiller take that doesn’t address actual historical precedents going back 5000 years, doesn’t evince an understanding of chaos-complexity or non-linear feedback systems, and generally just ignores all current trends, but please take me seriously!” The thing about blackpilling is that it’s intellectually lazy, so it’s easy to do. Even if someone doesn’t start out wanting to, it’s easy to fall into the trap. “I want my cozy, predictable world to always stay the way it is, the idea of it changing scares me.” Very few people want to accept that the world will change, and in ways that are broadly predictable from current trends due to path dependence, but which will most certainly not involve the Right “taking institutions over the long haul.”
I see these folks all the time trying to argue against terminal collapse, Seneca point inflection, whatever you want to call it, on the basis essentially that they don’t want it to happen. Well, good for them. I don’t either. But that’s not how this works. You can wish in one hand and spit in the other and see which one gets filled first. Fact is, decentralisation is going to happen. There’s no historical precedent for it not happening, and we Americans are not special enough of snowflakes that we get a magical historical out. And when this decentralisation comes, it’s extremely unlikely that regular people “out in the sticks” far away from the right-wing urbanite theorists and their sinecures are just going to stand around and take whatever the Regime’s dying spasms try to throw at them. “Hurr durr da country folks ain’t gonna fight no gerriler war again the gubmint hurr durr!” Actually, they probably will if you push them far enough, which the idiots in power are in the process of doing. If you try to set urban gang hordes on the countryside or whatever, then yeah, the country folks are probably actually going to shoot back. This isn’t rocket science, after all.
Now, don’t take this to mean that I don’t think institutions aren’t necessary. Institutional capture is definitely important (and likely), but it just won’t be institutions at the federal level. Instead, it would be better to have authority over institutions at the local and state levels which are closer to the actual people we want controlling them (i.e. us). This will especially be the case moving forward as federal institutions become increasingly irrelevant as the present regime bleeds both legitimacy and the capacity to truly enforce its edicts in the face of elements of decentralisation ranging from simple noncompliance to nullification perhaps even to outright secession.
In a very real sense, it would be much better to have someone like DeSantis in control of a large state exercising real power than a neutered Trump filling a slot in DC while being undermined at every turn. Indeed, I suspect that if there is, in fact, a Civil War II it will be due to continually escalated federal violence directed against states and localities that increasingly ignore and/or nullify federal administrative actions. It will come as a result of right-wing control over state and local institutions (the sort of capture that many of the blackpillers themselves would advocate), not because a bunch of “militia hillbillies” start some kind of guerilla war in the back country. I’m not saying such a conflict couldn’t happen, but it will likely be a response to repeated federal provocations, not an initiator of those provocations.
Now certainly, as I’ve taken pains to indicate before, I have no problem with regular citizens organising themselves into militias (or “protective associations” or “neighbourhood watches” or whatever else they choose to call them). Indeed, militias are one of the key foundations of any society that can successfully extend political power to a significant segment of its free population. However, the main problem with the blackpillers is that they get their ideas about what a “militia” is from the Clinton-era militia movement, which was indeed riddled with feds and basically full of morons. They then carry this impression into their thinking about any kind of right wing organising that doesn’t strictly stay within the lanes of urbanite “we’ll win by finding a way to trick the progressives into letting us infiltrate the universities and the State Department.”
The thing is, there is a whole range of organising that can be done at the local level merely by getting all your local power brokers onto the same page and being ready to step in whenever higher-level authority begins to break down. States are already beginning to do this. The trend toward decentralisation and local stabilisation are already in play, as I’ve noted before. This isn’t something that we have to “figure out how to make happen,” it’s already beginning and many of the necessary local elites are actually already on board and on our side. But derpderpderping about “larping as Rambooooo” or whatever is just stupid, unhelpful blackpilling, which is itself a larp since it gives the performer the chance to look like they’re making a cogent point while really doing nothing at all. It’s just a dumb strawman argument. Frankly, if your thinking on this is based on the simple either/or dichotomy of Dark Elf vs. full on guerilla war in hillbilly country, then you’ve lost the plot and have nothing useful to contribute at present.
Much of the conceptual problem that one finds in the social media “urbanite versus ruralite” war revolves around the unwillingness of many on the broad “urbanite” Right Wing to accept that collapse is coming and that they won’t be able to wiggle their way out of it using Dark Elf magick. For some reason, they seem to believe that The Powers That Be are going to forget their own institution-subversion and institution-infiltration playbooks and somehow be snookered into allowing the Right to do its own “long march through the institutions.” As a result, they naysay the idea of other kinds of more robust right-wing organisation that would be more useful for maintaining order during a collapse and decentralisation type of event sequence.
Indeed, whenever someone mentions trying to find effective ways to mitigate the damaging effects of collapse, there always has to be that one reply guy who busts out the old standby, “You can’t do right-wing organisation because they’ll nail you for conspiracy!” As it turns out, TPTB also don’t like people building alternative institutions or trying to infiltrate the ones they’ve already infiltrated, so they’ll just try to nail YOU for conspiracy too, when it comes to that. Wait a second, you’re trying to build a “community bank” outside our system? Maybe we better bust you for money laundering. You created a digital currency we can’t control? Sorry, the only reason we can possibly conceive that you’d do that is to facilitate criminal transactions. Nice alternative media site you created there. Too bad we’re gonna have to fine and arrest you for it under our new disinformation laws. You’re encouraging young guys in your movement to join law enforcement? I think we’ve got ourselves a white supremacist criminal conspiracy here.
See how this works? But see, we can’t just go through life constantly worrying about what TPTB might possibly do in every situation. Maybe it’s time to grow a spine and just do what you need to do with locals in your area? Honestly, if people just want to constantly blackpill about maybes/might bes/could bes, then they should just sit down, shut up, sit in their pods, watch Netflix, and eat their bugs.
Now, at least within the Christian realm, I suspect that one’s position on eschatology (the end times, etc. etc.) plays a large role in whether they can intellectually accept the coming collapse or not. Personally, I hold to premillennial futurism, which was basically the eschatology of the early church for its first three centuries or so and has seen resurgence in the past few centuries (though I’d reject a lot of the sensationalism surrounding the Left Behind approach). This essentially posits that the return of Christ to take His kingdom is going to occur at an as-yet unknown (to us) point in the future, and that His return is imminent (which doesn’t necessarily mean soon, but only that there is no “prerequisite” for it, it could happen at literally any time).
There are a host of somewhat related eschatologies that disagree with this, e.g. preterism, historicism, postmillennialism, which all suggest instead that either Christ has already come (and thus spiritualises His return, presumably in 70 AD, as an interior one within each believer, who then act to gradually actuate this externally), or that He is yet to come, but that we are tasked with bringing in the kingdom to deliver to Him by making the world better and better until it’s ready to hand off to Him, so to speak. Both are functionally very similar in their outcomes in that they necessitate a “conquest of the world for Christ” in some form or fashion.
As a premillennial futurist, I have no problem accepting the concepts of DST, secular cycles, coming collapse, and so forth because my beliefs are not tied to any notion of the world having to be a certain way before they can be fulfilled, other than just the general scriptural understanding that the moral condition of the world will get worse and worse as the day approaches (which seems to be observable, and indeed inarguable, based on what we see around us). But there are no political conditions that have to be met. Jesus might come back when we’re in a collapse phase or a depression phase or a growth phase. Politics doesn’t predetermine anything here. Thus, there is the headspace room for the observable cyclic historical macrotrends we’ve always seen.
But if your eschatology either explicitly or at least functionally involves the notion of requiring continual worldly improvement to prepare for Christ’s return – and if you’re a Christian then this is something you obviously want – then yeah, you’re going to want to “recapture the institutions” because it’s almost inconceivable to you that collapse would happen (despite it having happened in pretty much every major polity throughout history). You’re going to be resistant to accepting collapse even as it takes place in real time around you. It will be foreign to your headspace.
Nevertheless, collapse is, and will continue to be, an ongoing reality.
Whatever the cause, whatever the reason, trying to ignore this reality is only going to result in being unprepared for the eventualities that may arise depending on how bad our collapse ends up being. We might luck out and it end up being like the Soviet collapse – minimal violence, a lot of provinces breaking off, etc. It might (but probably won’t) end up being like the first American civil war with well-defined successor polities fighting an “official” state level war. More likely, there’ll be secessions, intracommunal conflict, and finally shake out in a number of post-American successor states who end up reaching a new equilibrium before one succeeds in reconquesting all the others, as often happened during the collapses of ancient Near Eastern empires. The American union may end up staying together completely but returning to the type of states’ rights regimen that existed prior to 1865. Or it may be something else entirely. Collapse will come – we can pretty safely predict that – but the specifics are always going to be a little fuzzy until they happen. So it’s probably best to be ready for any eventuality.