The problem with police states
The 1% have squeezed the turnip that is the 99% so thoroughly to extract wealth that it is taking exponentially greater amounts of state-supported violence to extract each additional increment. Think about it. When you’re wringing water out of a wet rag, it’s easy to get plenty of water out with the first few twists. But to get additional water out, you have to wring it tighter and tighter. And with 6 million people — 2% of the population of the USA — currently in prison, and another 3% out on parole or probation, the amount of wringing that is being done to squeeze those last bits of juice out of the turnips, err, the 99%, is getting pretty dire indeed.
So what’s the end game? The first possibility, and the one that I give an 80% chance of happening, is a police state. It’s simple: Once you require so much violence on your behalf against such a large percentage of the population, once keeping down the inevitable riots and demonstrations and disorder takes so much power that the police are basically omnipresent, the police end up with so much power that eventually they look at each other and ask, “Why are we doing this on behalf of *those* schlubs?!” and simply take power themselves. They might do so openly, or they might do so quietly by suggesting to the departing power brokers that it’d be a good idea to anoint the secret policeman as their successor, but take power they do, and then work the levers to make sure they *stay* in power. Just ask yourself who the wealthiest and most powerful man in Europe is right now. Hint: he’s a secret policeman.
The second possibility, and the one to work toward, is peaceful revolution. Luckily our founding fathers wrote a peaceful revolution into our Constitution. It happens every two to four years, and it’s called the vote. Every single one of the bastards in Congress or any other elected office got there because the majority of voters in his or her district or state voted for him. If the majority of people vote for the candidate with the best attack ads rather than the best candidate, if the majority of people vote for the candidate they’d like to have a beer with rather than the smartest candidate, they get what they want — and deserve. But if things got dire enough that people were willing to engage in the political process rather than dismiss it as something irrelevant to their lives, the mechanisms are there for a peaceful revolution *without* the sort of risks that people in Egypt and Tunisia had to take to bring a peaceful revolution to their nations.
One thing I will warn you about, however, is violent revolution. Violent revolution almost 100% leads to a police state. The reason is that violence scares the majority of people. Sociopaths love violence, but it makes ordinary people queasy to their stomachs. And police states are very good at promising safety from violence — and delivering. All it costs you is your freedom.
One outcome that is *not* going to happen, however, is that the current oligarchy manages to persist for another generation. The amount of government force needed to even maintain their current positions on top of the heap are of a nature that one of the prior two events — a police state or a peaceful revolution – are going to happen because the current level of violence simply isn’t sustainable in the long term. Our oligarchs are generally pretty dim, the majority having “earned” their wealth by being members of the lucky sperm club rather than via any effort or intelligence on their own behalf (the Walton family members, for example, “earn” more income from their inheritance than the bottom 25% of American *combined*), but the fact that they’ve overreached is starting to slowly sink in, and they’re panicking. To calm down the tornado and extend their rule another generation would require letting loose the screws a bit, letting some of that wealth they’ve forcibly extracted from the 99% trickle back down into the hands of the 99%. Yet this goes against everything they believe in, which is a toddler’s version of the universe, “mine, mine, mine!” My prediction is that they will *not* be able to overcome this conditioning and loosen up the reins. I don’t see any FDR’s among the current crop of oligarchs, I don’t see any of them under the age of 50 (FDR was elected at age 50) with enough sense to walk and chew gum at the same time.
But could it happen? Well, cows could fly, I suppose. Don’t count on it. Just plan for one thing: That at some point in time, the discussion will likely change from how to bring about peaceful change in America, to how to maintain an underground pro-freedom resistance movement in the face of a police state that is awe-inspiring in its ability to monitor our every movement. I hope that it never comes to that. But looking at the possibilities, that seems all too probable.