I’ve long been an admirer of Ace of Spades HQ and its eponymous proprietor. Ace has a gift for the penetrating phrase, the ultimately concise expression of an important truth. Just yesterday, he fired off one that’s probably his best ever. No, I’m not going to present it baldly; it must be contextualized for best impact.
When it comes to domestic extremists such as those who stormed the Capitol, a longtime CIA officer argues that the U.S. should treat them as an insurgency.
That means using counterinsurgency tactics — similar in some ways to those used in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Robert Grenier served as the CIA’s station chief for Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2001. He went on to become the CIA’s Iraq mission manager and then director of the CIA Counterterrorism Center from 2004 to 2006.
“We may be witnessing the dawn of a sustained wave of violent insurgency within our own country, perpetrated by our own countrymen,” Grenier wrote in The New York Times last week. And without national action, he argues, “extremists who seek a social apocalypse … are capable of producing endemic political violence of a sort not seen in this country since Reconstruction.”
Pretty dramatic, eh? It conjures up visions of FBI / CIA “midnight raids” of the homes of “insurrectionists;” loyalty drives akin to those of the House Unamerican Activities Committee; drone strikes against Americans in America. Could we be facing such developments in the near future?
Ace points out the ground-truth reality that underpins it all:
And it is so.
I’ve yet to move the relevant essays here from the old site, so please excuse the lack of a link. I once wrote:
A class is defined by its legal and social privileges. The aristocrats of medieval times were not distinguished by their lineages or their deeds, but by the things they were allowed to do, without penalty, that commoners were not. There is reason to believe that the majority of medieval aristocrats were fairly responsible stewards of their lands and of public order within them. That does not justify the creation of a class of men who could wield high, middle, and low justice over others, but who would normally escape all consequences for deeds for which a commoner would be severely punished.
The American response to the failings of traditional aristocracies was the Rule of Law: the fundamental principle that the law must treat all men impartially, regardless of their identities or station in life. The old shorthand for this principle was “blind justice,” meaning that the law must not see one’s person, only one’s deeds. In a society that respects the Rule of Law, a king would stand in the same dock as a trash-hauler, were the two accused of the same offense. All that would matter would be the evidence for their guilt or innocence.
In the absence of a scrupulously observed Rule of Law, classes with differing degrees of privilege will emerge. The flourishing of the members of each class will be influenced, often heavily, by the class’s privileges and how effectively they can be exploited. Men being what we are, we will be moved to use those privileges in our own interest, both against competitors within our class and against other classes.
Success breeds emulation. If there are advantages to be had from the ruthless exploitation of a class privilege, over time more and more members of the class will be drawn into doing so. Thus, the coloration given to the class by its privileges will become stronger and more inclusive over time.
This is not an unbounded progression; as in all other things, a tendency toward equilibrium will ultimately assert itself. However, the mechanisms by which equilibrium is restored are always unpleasant. The deterrents that curb full exploitation of a class privilege, if any exist at all, will be applied by other classes, whether through the law, other social institutions, or “informally.” “Informally” usually means lynching: the application of extra-judicial, often unmerited punishment to members of one class by members of another. In the usual case, the lynchers come from a more numerous class than the lynchees, though there are occasional exceptions.
Lynching, if it goes unpunished, is itself a class privilege. There are satisfactions in it that are incomprehensible to moral men who live in ordinary times. As with other activities with innate satisfactions, the popularity of the practice will grow over time. A mob that’s tasted the blood of one aristocrat is seldom satisfied with just that one sip.
Lynching writ large is genocide.
Ponder that for a few moments while I put up another pot of coffee.
Implied, not expressed, in the above citation from my well-known piece “The New Segregationists” is the foundation of privilege: the ability to enforce one’s class privileges. Two conditions are required for this:
- A preponderance of effective force in the hands of the privileged class;
- The tacit approval of whoever controls the State.
Concerning item #1, effective force is force that is actually deployed, as opposed to “potential force:” i.e., weapons and the ability to use them that “stay home.” For example, there are approximately 100 million Americans who possess one or more firearms, which constitutes the largest potential force that has ever existed. However, the 30,000 troops currently garrisoning Washington, D.C. constitute a preponderance of effective force, for no greater body of arms and wielders has arisen to challenge them.
The privileged aristocrats of medieval Europe maintained their privileges through a social system founded on monarchy, nobility, primogeniture, and other concepts that Americans have never respected, much less observed. They lived, in Isabel Paterson’s famous phrase, in Societies of Status, in which one’s personal identity and lineage determined what privileges one possessed. The Constitution’s prohibitions on titles of nobility made explicit that the law is to make no status distinctions in these United States.
But persons who claim special status have always been among us. In America, they’re not born to noble families. Here, they go into politics and government. Those who rise sufficiently high acquire many privileges. Some acquire the power to confer privileges on others as well.
The method of government is coercion. Its expressions are violence and intimidation. Those things require weapons and persons willing to wield them. The aristocrats and knights of medieval Europe were the only persons who could legally own lethal weapons. The privileged ones of contemporary America don’t wield weapons themselves. However, they command “the forces of order:” our military and the police forces that act at the behest of our 88,000 governments.
Without those tools, no degree of privilege could be maintained.
Consider in light of the above the riots that have reduced so many American cities to rubble. The rioters constituted a force of sorts, though they were largely unarmed and usually unorganized. The police of the afflicted cities were instructed to stand aside and let them “act out.” As citizen militias dedicated to preserving life and property did not materialize, there was no effective force to impede the rioters. They got away with immense amounts of violence, vandalism, and theft.
The riots demonstrated with a deadly clarity what privilege means in contemporary America—and who possesses it.
The heavily armed American citizenry is similarly passive at this time. We constitute a potential force that could bring the Usurper Administration crashing to earth, but we lack the will and the organization to do so. Thus, the preponderance of effective force remains with the Usurpers. They will exercise their privileges freely and openly unless and until a larger force arises to confront them…which might mean forevermore.
Should the Usurpers choose to wield their forces against political opponents and dissidents, Americans who believe in the Constitutional compact and the liberty of the individual will face a severe test. That test may already be under way; it’s too soon to tell. Whatever may arise, the hard truth of the matter is this: all privileges are maintained by force and the willingness to use it.
Violence is the root of all privilege.