[Rather than strain a tired brain beyond its current capacity, I’ve decided to recycle a piece from 2017, when the urban rioting we’ve “enjoyed” since then was just coming over the horizon. – FWP]
A great deal of one’s ability to feel secure – i.e., prepared for likely developments rather than threatened by them – depends upon the stability of one’s surroundings, both physically and conceptually. You can be the biggest, toughest, meanest SOB in all of Creation, armed to the teeth, ready, willing and able to fight a grizzly barehanded and utterly confident that you’d prevail, and you’ll still value the sense that things around you won’t change too swiftly or too radically. This is especially the case with persons who have loved ones to support, nurture, and protect.
Conservatism in politics arises from the sense that things must not be permitted to change rapidly. The political conservative holds, with the two great Thomases (Aquinas and Jefferson), that stability in the law is valuable in and of itself. Even if some change in the law appears necessary or highly desirable, he’s loath to introduce it in a fashion likely to destabilize the settled arrangements of millions. He recognizes both the tendency of men to adapt to their surroundings and the stress and fatigue that rapid adaptation engenders. He’s probably experienced some of it himself.
The Constitutional design embeds respect for those wisdoms. The bicameral legislature and the requirement for presidential approval of a new law were put in place to slow the rate of change. Even the most dramatic alteration to the legal landscape must pass all three gates. That makes it possible to see a change coming and ready oneself for the eventuality…in theory, at least.
Changes in the social order aren’t nearly as well buffered. In recent decades there have been a huge number of truly radical alterations in our social customs. This especially concerns the poorly defined thing called tolerance and the efforts of various persons, institutions, and agencies of government to compel it. A considerable amount of linguistic legerdemain is involved, most of it originating from the political Left. The phenomenon reeks of the delusion that alterations in language can effect alterations in reality itself.
It would be bad enough were the demands for mandatory “tolerance” to pertain to things that are genuinely tolerable. In fact, we’re being required to tolerate increasing amounts and degrees of the intolerable. The most recent demands for “tolerance” include open invasion, outright madness, and undisguised, rampant violence. It’s supremely difficult to prepare for a world in which such things reign.
Early in the 1980s, Herman Kahn, one of the preeminent geniuses of the Twentieth Century, conducted an offhand survey, of persons in decision-making roles in government and the military, about whether nuclear weapons would be used in the foreseeable future. There emerged a strong consensus that they would be. Kahn proposed that that consensus alone was a sufficient reason to study nuclear weapons: what they can do, how they might be used, whether particular situations could justify their use, and what the consequences of various uses would be. As reasonable as Kahn’s statement was, nevertheless it evoked a hurricane of denunciation, some of it from normally sensible persons.
The typical human mind creates barriers within itself to the consideration of developments it regards as “unthinkable.” (As a riposte to persons who were desperate to define Kahn’s studies as “unthinkable,” he titled one of his most important books Thinking About The Unthinkable.) Yet “unthinkable” has no meaning. Indeed, it’s a one-word contradiction in terms. Its de facto meaning is “I don’t want to think about it.” That response, of course, has no bearing on whether the “unthinkable” will actually occur.
I’m not about to open a discussion about the use of nuclear weapons, the relevance of international arms-control negotiations and treaties, the quests of gangster-states such as Iran and North Korea for nuclear weapons and delivery systems, and whatnot. I do take an interest in those things – I have for a very long time – but most people shy away from them as “unthinkable.” My conjecture is that the prospect of a war, or a terrorist strike, that employs nukes horrifies them too greatly to engage their reason. They’d rather believe that it can’t happen…and therefore that it won’t.
Americans have had that very reaction to other developments that have already taken place:
- The nullification of the Constitutional order.
- The rise of totalitarian rule by unelected bureaucrats.
- The dismissal of the principles that once undergirded the law.
- The emergence of delusions that afflict millions, especially among the young.
- The invasion of the United States by persons openly hostile to its laws and norms.
- Demands for the acceptance of deviances that threaten the basis of American society.
- And of course, demands for legal privileges and “free stuff” by identity-politics groups.
These things have already set the foundation of the nation quivering. Ordinary Americans, accustomed to the norms and arrangements of earlier times and desperate to believe that they’ll resume and continue, are being challenged to prepare for what might come next. So they narrow their focus; they concentrate grimly on only what’s immediately around them. It’s just one more way of saying that “it can’t happen here.”
Persons in the preparationist community – “preppers,” for short – do as they do because they’re aware that “it can happen here” – that America is not divinely protected against disasters, especially disasters its people might bring upon themselves. The degree of dedication and the fraction of his resources any particular prepper puts to his preparations are determined principally by his estimate of the speed of transformation and the ugliness of what it portends. His physical arrangements might be impressive, but his mindset is the really important thing. He has taken responsibility for his own well-being and that of his loved ones. He may be wrong, but he’ll be prepared for his estimate of the (survivable) worst the future might bring.
“The world’s in a bad way, my man,
And bound to be worse before it mends;
Better lie up in the mountain here
Four or five centuries,
While the stars go over the lonely ocean,”
The old father of wild pigs,
Plowing the fallow on Mal Paso Mountain.
It’s impossible to be adequately prepared for everything. The only possible response to some developments is death. Yet the will to prepare, to brace for a foreseeable eventuality, is among the most valuable of human traits. It’s an essential component of the virtue of fortitude.
My friend Remus has invested a large amount of his considerable intellect and energy in preparing, in a generalized fashion, for the terminus of our handbasket’s journey. He’s issued several maxims of great value to just about anyone. The one that comes to mind this fine July morning is quite brief:
Another friend in Virginia, cognizant of the danger of crowds from his years in law enforcement, has built himself – quite literally; he built it himself — a mountain redoubt: a compound well stocked with all the necessities and defensible against anything short of a national army or an airborne assault. He and Remus might not have prepared for every possible eventuality, but they’ve surveyed the visible developments with open eyes, have assessed what they threaten as credible, and have braced themselves for what seems most likely to come. (Yes, they’re among the many who’ve exhorted me to move off Long Island.) They regard their preparations as the responsible things to do – the measures appropriate to the protection of whom and what they love.
Disaster might not come. My friends’ preparations might prove unnecessary. (I certainly hope so.) Ultimately, that doesn’t matter. What’s most important is the demonstration of how responsible persons act when their worries begin to surge.
Not enough Americans would consider them models.
I don’t intend to beat this into the magma. What I want to emphasize is the great value of taking responsibility for your own well-being, and for the well-being of anyone who happens to be under your protection. That virtue has been badly weakened these last few decades. It’s been displaced by the belief that our Big Nanny in Washington, in concert with the lesser nannies in the state capitals, will make sure everything comes out all right.
They won’t. More to the point, they can’t.
What you foresee and fear is yours to deal with.
Your neighbors might assist you; “your government” won’t.
That’s the way things are, regardless of anyone’s contrary opinion.
Plan accordingly. And do please stay away from crowds.
UPDATE: To those who believe that “the police will keep order,” I offer this item of evidence to the contrary. Don’t imagine that the police in your district, if faced with the same sort of situation, would prove any more reliable.