It’s Not 1968

Imagine if you will a certain business. It is founded by prudent men, and because of this, it grows and prospers. One of the effects of this prudence is that, as soon as the business is profitable enough to allow them to do so, the founders make sure that a certain amount of capital is available in reserve should they ever need it. Having been around the block a few times, they understand that any business hits setbacks, recessions come and go, investments sometimes fail for unforeseen reasons, unexpected crises often come up at the worst times, and that having a reserve to dip into when hard times come will allow the business to limp by until things get better.

Years pass, and the business eventually ends up hiring many impressively-educated but less-prudent young men. As they slowly rise through the ranks, some of them begin to question whether capital reserves are necessary at all, or if that’s just old-fashioned thinking that innovators such as themselves have rendered obsolete. They don’t understand why they should leave a pool of perfectly good capital sitting around doing nothing when they could pump up the business’s quarterly earnings numbers by putting it somewhere else that generates short-term profits (and increases their quarterly bonuses along the way).

Just then, a massive crisis hits the business, as a major investment starts to very visibly and publicly go bad. A shareholder revolt begins; they accuse the CEO (not unjustifiably) of having made this investment without having done due diligence, and then having dithered for far too long about what to do when it started to fail. The CEO resigns; a new one seems to bring things under control, but then gets caught in a scandal and ends up having to resign as well. Two more CEOs come and go in quick succession before someone is finally found who brings stability to the business. He begins to rebuild, including doing his best to refill the capital reserves, which were dipped into very deeply during the crisis. Many were sure that the business wouldn’t survive the crisis and, in truth, it was only the fact that the capital reserves were as deep as they were that ended up keeping it out of bankruptcy. Still, the damage done has meant that despite the best efforts of this new CEO, the reserves never quite get refilled to the point they were before the crisis.

A few years later, one of the impressively-educated young men ends up rising to the position of CEO, at an unprecedentedly young age. Like all of his peers, he seems to have learned nothing from the crisis other than the fact that smart, impressively-educated young men like himself should be running things instead of the dumb old fuddy-duddies who were in charge before. He believes himself smart enough that keeping capital reserves around anymore is unnecessary. Slowly, almost unnoticed, he begins to drain it away for use on other, more immediately profitable projects. For a while, this seems like a workable plan. Nothing comes up that would require the business to dip very deeply into the gradually shrinking pool of remaining reserves, and everyone counts on the idea that there will always be plenty left for the rare occasions when they need it. Some more years pass, a few CEOs of the younger generation come and go, and everything seems fine.

And then, over the course of a single horrible year, a succession of disasters hit the business, one right after the next. The last of these involves some underhanded boardroom maneuvering to oust the then-current CEO on a pretext of having put up a weak response to the year’s events (ignoring the obvious fact that none of the Board members could really have done any better). The irony of this is that he rose as a reformer, calling back to the greatness of the prudent founders and even trying to refill the business’s capital reserves. To what extent he ever did, it ends up being too little, too late. The Board installs a figurehead from within their own ranks. This is when they get a very unsettling message, delivered by an angry group of shareholders: according to their reckoning, the business’s capital reserves have just hit zero. If they had been as deep as they were during the first crisis, then perhaps, as happened back then, the business could have ended up barely scraping by to see better times. But this time, those reserves, which were never fully refilled after the first crisis, are gone, and with no credible plan to come back from the current crisis on offer, the shareholders are getting ready for a fight. Some of them go public, and the business’s stock price tanks – no amount of shilling from friendly news outlets is enough to stop it. Creditors start to send curt letters demanding to be paid. A bankruptcy court beckons.

Thanks to Charles Hugh Smith for this simple but effective visual aid.

* * *

As I would expect of you, dear reader, you have of course figured out that this is a metaphor for the current situation in which the nation finds itself. The first crisis is, of course, the 1960s, and the bad investment is the Vietnam War. The CEO who tried to rebuild is Reagan, and the younger CEO who failed to refill the reserves is Clinton. And the single horrible year is without doubt 2020. So far, so good – but here we reach the key to the entire metaphor: the fact that in our world, the “capital reserves” to which I’m referring aren’t of monetary capital, but of social capital, and the profits taken are measured not primarily in money, but in political power.

Well, political power is plain enough to understand, but what is social capital? Put simply, it is the bond that exists between people within a certain society; it is their sense of mutual trust, loyalty, obligation, and responsibility; it is what makes us say “We are one; we are all in this together”. These are the ties that bind a nation; that bind a people together. Once these bonds are severed – once the reserve of social capital reaches zero – then there is nothing that can hold things together but brute force. And this is where conflict begins.

Here it is worth noting that revolutions, uprisings, and civil wars basically never happen because of a single event or provocation from the government. It’s always decades worth of a slow build-up of resentments and grievances, some well-meaning attempts at reconciliation, compromises that worked for a while and then fell apart, disastrous misjudgments that seemed like a good idea at the time, false starts, heat-ups, cool-offs, points at which it looked like it would all blow over and everything would be okay, and many, many voices who were convinced that it was all unthinkable and could never happen. At each point of failure along the way, reserves of social capital were depleted a little more.

Again, this is a gradual process, and it is easy to believe that because a nation has made it through one crisis – or two, or five – by the skin of its teeth, that means it can make it through an infinite number of crises. In fact, many take exactly the wrong lesson away from making it through a brush with bankruptcy – either of monetary capital or of social capital. My dad once told me, “It’s not people’s failures that kill them; it’s their successes”. For example: someone might drive drunk once, wreck their car but survive, and decide then and there that drunk driving is a terrible idea and never do it again. But another person may drive drunk once, make it home safely, and convince themselves that means they can handle it just fine. So they’ll do it over and over again, each time a little drunker, and each time increasing the odds that they’ll end up dead a little more. Eventually, inevitably, the odds will catch up with them.

This is an essential part of the spirit of permanent revolution that drives the left. They understand that they made it through the first crisis with essentially no pushback at all – in fact, the crisis of the 60s only ended with appeasement. From abortion to Affirmative Action to mass Third World immigration to the abandonment of our allies in Vietnam, the Boomers and their parents bought 50 years of peace by giving the left essentially everything they wanted. If we had been wise and farsighted, we would have drawn the line early. But as typical, especially of those two generations, the nation went for short-term benefit and thought nothing of leaving their grandchildren stuck with the consequences.

But fanatics can never be appeased, and this only served to convince the left that their inclination toward permanent revolution – ever-more outrageous and insane demands – was an infinitely winning strategy. And so they pushed harder and harder, eventually demanding such once-unthinkable things as the extinction of the White race, the abolishment of all borders*, the de facto criminalization of traditional Christian teaching, and the persecution of anyone who speaks out against them. They have done so convinced that the reserves of social capital which prevented the rise of any effective resistance to them and the civic institutions that they had captured would never run dry. For a long time, it looked like they were right.

And then came the Great Crisis of 2020 – the lockdowns, the riots, and the stolen presidential election. To say that it has drained our reserves of social capital dangerously low would be an understatement. Finally now it is the right that is saying once-unthinkable things, as words like “nullification”, “revolution”, and “secession” ring through the air for the first time in living memory. And of course, in the face of this, the left has only intensified its drive for permanent revolution. At this point, nothing foreseeable could replenish a supply of social capital this low, and the only thing remaining in our elites’ bag of tricks – a foreign war – would only make things worse. We are very, very close to hitting zero.

Which brings us to perhaps the most important question in terms of your own individual readiness for what’s to come: Just how close are we? How long do we have until we reach the point of social capital bankruptcy, and the next step – be that war, balkanization, tyranny, or the rise of a Caesar – begins? The truth is that I don’t know exactly. Depending on your point of view, it may take more time than you’re expecting, or less. A year ago, I would have said it would take 20 or 30 years; now I fear it come much more immediately – anytime from literally tomorrow to perhaps, at most, ten years hence. But it will happen; what I can say for sure is that the events of this year have made what is coming inevitable, and sooner rather than later. We aren’t the country we were in 1968, and the 2020s just don’t have the social capital reserves necessary to leverage the kind of Great Cooling-Off that we had in the 1970s**. There won’t be any buying of two generations’ worth of peace this time – that trick worked once, but it won’t work again.

Prepare yourselves accordingly.

(*I do, of course, understand that mass immigration of immiscible people from alien cultures has had a terrible effect on our social capital as well. But is that a cause, or an effect of the depletion of social capital brought on by permanent revolution? Perhaps it is both. Either way, it is not the cause of our current situation, and only accelerates a process that has been underway for a long time now.)

(**Here I want to emphasize that I don’t expect a perfectly even, linear progression toward the inevitable. We will see flareups and cooldowns along the way, including some points at which things may even seem for a while be headed back to “normal” [whatever that might mean to you]. But these will be relatively brief – we’re not getting another half-century of calm, as our parents and grandparents managed to. The can will not be kicked very much farther down the road.)