I see the political elites and their oligarch puppet-masters becoming endangered species in the United States before too long as the populace, including their own bodyguards, turns against them.
As usual, I made no attempt to specify what I mean by “before too long” because making predictions as to timing is a fool's game. And, as usual, I got a flurry of emails expressing a wide range of rationalizations but all adding up to the same sentiment: “not any time soon.”
Some people thought that the populace, consisting as it does of zombified overfed clowns addicted to Facebook and internet porn is unlikely to stage the revolution. Others thought that the oligarchy will manage to manipulate financial markets, destroy one country after another in order to drain all remaining wealth out of the world and consume it, and by so doing manage to placate the populace with bread and circuses, well into the future. The bodyguards are unlikely to rebel, some said, because they are so well paid.
Getting back to basics, it is a fairly obvious and increasingly well-recognized fact that the American empire, the empire of military bases, the Federal Reserve, the IMF and the World Bank, is on its way out. And it is a well-known fact about empires that when they fail those who held positions of power and privilege within them are quickly recycled into punching bags and pincushions. Oddly, nobody mentioned any of the mechanisms by which this transformation tends to take place, so I thought I'd mention them briefly.
First, when empires start falling apart, this is manifested in a few ways. One is loss of control over the periphery, as a shrinking pool of resources is used to shore up the center. Another is loss of control over the use of violence, as a wide variety of violent entrepreneurs enter the scene and the center is forced to play them against each other and make deals with them. And as the unraveling progresses, the violent entrepreneurs develop agendas of their own, which, inevitably, involve having the cooperation flow the other way: instead of cooperating with those formerly in charge, they demand that those formerly in charge start cooperating with them. And it is here that the scene turns bloody.
The violent entrepreneurs tend to follow certain general outlines as well. They form war bands by recruiting angry young men—a demographic which is in ever more plentiful supply in a failing empire. The war band is a totalitarian structure, in which the recruits pledge absolute allegiance to the organization and pass an initiation ritual that involves an arbitrary act of murder. In the case of groups as radical as ISIS, this may involve mass murder. There tends to be a clean break with the old, collapsing society, which is motivated by money and prestige within society at large, because these entrepreneurial groups are motivated by honor and prestige within the in-group only. Another feature is the extent of radicalization that happens within these groups, which influences the type of warfare these groups tend to wage. Whereas official military forces follow certain rules of engagement, such as trying to spare civilians, and especially women and children, and have as their goal the enemy's surrender, followed by negotiations, these groups aim for simple extermination, and, as any exterminator will tell you, exterminating the adult males of a population is not as effective as exterminating their young. This level of radicalization can be observed right now among the neo-Nazis in the Ukraine, whose death squads have been specifically targeting schools and maternity clinics in the east of the country; burials of some of the schoolchildren recently murdered by Ukrainian artillery were held just week. If you think that Ukraine is too extreme an example to apply to the US, think again: Uncle Sam and his Ukrainian mail-order bride happen to have a lot in common.
Of course, such practices are repugnant to the populace at large, but here we encounter the other key aspect of such developments: terrorized by the war bands, the populace becomes powerless to act. What's more, the level of cognitive dissonance between the public messages they hear and the daily reality to which they are subjected causes a large percentage of the population to become psychotic; this is also clearly the case in today's Ukraine, where many of the returning enlisted men are found to be too psychologically damaged to serve in any capacity whatsoever. For now, the Ukrainian oligarchs and their CIA puppet-masters are holding it together by throwing the radicalized groups at a phantom enemy—the so-called “Russian separatists,” while most of the country is being controlled by mercenaries hired by the oligarchs, to whom the American-installed junta handed out regional governorships after the February coup. But that campaign is going very badly, with extraordinarily high casualty rates and no victories to report, and it is a matter of time before the radicalized groups turn on those who sent them into battle: the junta and the oligarchs.
The oligarchs are protected by their various bodyguards and security services which go by a variety of names, but there is one name that fits particularly well: mercenaries. These people are paid to fight, and money, it turns out, is far less effective as a motivating factor than the honor and allegiance of a war band. In his chapter on mercenaries, Niccolò Macchiavelli points out a constant about them: they prefer to run away rather than die. This is true even today: in Ukraine, the American and Polish mercenaries fighting on the side of the junta saw very little action and were mostly kept away from areas where casualty rates were high. Some Polish mercenaries did get to see the front lines (and died there). Some said that this was because their life insurance is cheaper. But the general principle still holds: don't expect mercenaries to die for you; they work for money, and working for money involves staying alive long enough to spend it.
And so it stands to reason that the battle between the war bands and the oligarchs will be a short and uneven one: the oligarchs' body guards and mercenaries run away and the war bands take over. Some of the action is bound to be quite shocking; for instance, while the elites and the oligarchs themselves are rather well defended, at least initially, their children, ensconced in various elite schools, academies and universities, comprise a soft target, setting the stage for school take-overs, mass kidnappings and shootings of a very different sort from the ones seen to date. The general populace will jump of its skin to pledge support to whatever war band intimidates them the most. And the old political elites and their oligarch puppet-masters will fade from view.