Sunday, November 15, 2020

A Quick Run Around The Web (November 15, 2020)

VIDEO: "How to Shoot Better at 25 Yards"--Lucky Gunner Ammo (21 min.)


    Well-concealed escape tools are often missed during initial searches by captors and the captors will likely initially have less complicated and less secure restraints. They’re an insurance policy when traveling in high risk areas.

    The most common method of restraint by bad guys is duct tape, followed by zip ties and cordage. Handcuffs are also common. There’s no way to know when you may be subjected to unlawful restraint by a criminal, crazy or terrorist.

    Discreet specialized tools and kits designed for escape & evasion (E&E) are available from a number of companies, as is training. There are also numerous YouTube® videos demonstrating various techniques that may be used.

    Many tools and techniques may be employed to facilitate E&E. There are a number of purpose-designed escape tools that may be purchased, The more options that you have, the better off that you’ll be.

    The two most valuable tools that you can have with you to facilitate escape are a handcuff key and a razor blade. With these two tools you can get free of most of the restraints you may be subjected to and they require little or no training to use. Of course check the local laws.

  • "Swampfox Optics' new reflex sights are a big improvement"--Bayou Renaissance Man. Peter Grant reviews the Swampfox Optics' Liberty pistol reflex sight and the Ironsides protective cover you can install. His final words on the subject: "I've used a Trijicon RMR sight, and I find the Swampfox offerings to be just as good.  They're also a lot more affordable.  If you're in the market for a handgun red dot sight, and want something that'll fit a limited budget, I think you could do a lot worse."
  • "AR-15 Magazine Basics – Performance Overview with Duane Liptak of Magpul"--AR Build Junkies. A good article on what it takes to make a good magazine. Like most things in life, it is a series of trade-offs. An excerpt:
    The best place to start in defining magazine performance is understanding what we expect a magazine to “do.” A magazine, to be useful, must:

    Present a supply of cartridges into feeding position, in all compatible platforms, that are in an “acceptable” orientation with respect to the chamber, feed ramps, and bolt face; must provide an acceptable amount of resistance to stripping the top cartridge forward by the bolt; must provide a stack rise time for the top round to be fed upwards into a stable feeding position, resting on the feed lips quickly enough to accommodate the fastest acceptable bolt speed of the host firearm—and must maintain consistency in these variables across the range of atmospheric and contaminant conditions, and after rough handling within variation that is acceptable to the host firearm.

    Easy, right?

    Yes, that’s a mouthful, but still doesn’t get to the “how” and to the practical criteria that we can demonstrate in choosing magazines, cutting through at least some of the “magazine nerd” stuff. So, let’s break down how all that is supposed to work and put it in some practical terms.
    Even as the M1 Garand went into production at Springfield Armory in 1937, the old M1903 remained the standard service rifle of the U.S. military. The design had proven itself in combat during the Moro Rebellion, World War I and the interventions in Siberia and Nicaragua. The M1903s that did all of the work in those combat zones were produced at either Springfield Armory or Rock Island Arsenal but, by the mid-1930s, they were reaching the end of their service lives. 
    While re-barreling could extend that, there was still another big problem. By late 1939, wars were raging in both Europe and Asia, and it was recognized that hundreds of thousands of rifles would be needed if the U.S. was drawn into either conflict. It was also known that the quantity of M1903 rifles on hand was not nearly enough, and that it would take too much time for Springfield Armory to produce the new semi-automatic M1 in sufficient numbers to meet the needs of a full national mobilization. 

    In an effort to address this potential disastrous shortage of service rifles, the U.S. government issued a contract to Remington Arms in September 1941 to put the M1903 back into production, using the old Rock Island manufacturing equipment. At first, the Remington M1903s generally resembled the rifles produced at Rock Island toward the end of World War I, but then Remington began introducing modifications that were designed to reduce production time and decrease production costs.

    Grasping grooves on the stock were eliminated, as well as several unnecessary machining steps, and non-critical tolerances were relaxed. These so-called “Remington-modified” M1903 rifles began entering service shortly after the U.S. went to war, but the model did not last long. As Remington continued to turn out guns, the design was simplified for mass production over and over again until it eventually became an entirely new model.

    On May 21, 1942, more than 8 months after the original contract with the company had been signed, the M1903A3 rifle was standardized. The M1903A3’s design made use of stamped sheet-metal construction for the upper band assembly, the lower barrel band, the front sling swivel, buttplate and trigger housing along with the floorplate. A fully adjustable rear-peep sight assembly was added to the rear receiver band, increasing the rifle’s sight radius by 5”.
    The Omnivore is a polymer universal holster that’s all about the rail your gun has. It comes in two varieties, light-bearing and non-light-bearing. The non-light-bearing utilizes a small block that attaches to the rail of your weapon. This small block locks into the Omnivore’s active retention system and carries your gun without issue. The light-bearing model predictably wraps around the light itself. Light bearing models are available for Streamlight TLR-1 and Surefire X300U. 

    The active retention device is a thumb driven design. All you have to do is press the thumb release down, and the gun is released. This device is much safer than the SERPA, and really I don’t get why the SERPA hasn’t been replaced entirely by a thumb driven release. Anyway, Blackhawk includes some interchangeable thumb pieces that allow you to adjust the length of the device for individual shooter’s hands. 
    Today’s crop of defensive-pistol shooters may not fully understand the influence that Col. Jeff Cooper had on fighting with a handgun. He not only helped usher in the era of the semi-automatic pistol as a defensive tool, but he also focused his training on pistol fighting as opposed to target shooting. This was mainly because he was continually looking for a better way instead of doing it “Like we’ve always done it.”

    Cooper and his compadres were among the first to realize that the shooter’s stance could affect their ability to better manage recoil. While he is best known for utilizing the Weaver Stance, Cooper’s work also encouraged advocates of the Isosceles Stance to change it from the early, 90-degree-erect form to a more balanced, forward-leaning style of fighting stance.

    In South America, possession of a gun equals violence, rather than the hand of a violent criminal who holds the gun.

    This statement is just one of the many efforts made to minimize civilians owning guns. Law-abiding South American citizens are deterred from possessing a firearm for defense, hunting, or even practice target shooting.

    Regular, non-violent citizens now generally associate guns with gangs, drugs, crime, and violence. Add to the general perception, media, movies, and lack of responsible education makes keeping these people unarmed that much easier. 

    ... Someone who is deliberately mobile is in a yet different situation.

    There are many different ways to live a nomadic lifestyle, but the basic idea is that you don’t have one fixed primary location.

    For example, lots of folks living the van life or who are full-time RV-ers are also preppers. Having all of your things in a giant rolling bug-out bag gives you many of the advantages of a primary location and bug-out location, while keeping you mobile at the same time. It means you can more easily evacuate ALL your possessions in the event your current location is starting to look sketchy.

    Not only that, you’ve probably heard of “digital nomads,” a term used in the online business world for folks who have an occupation that allows them to work from any place with an internet connection and who choose to frequently relocate as a way to see the world. That’s what I do these days. I have a bit of essential gear, my clothing, and I rent furnished places for a few months at a time in different locations.

    Here’s an example of how this extreme mobility can apply to the survival world. Shortly before COVID erupted, I was in Europe and had been living the digital nomad lifestyle with great enjoyment. I had to return to North America for a funeral that January and then ended up canceling my return flight and settling in the United States during the first lockdown.

If the nomadic lifestyle--particularly living in an RV, truck driving, or similar--appeals to you, then I highly recommend that you read Locusts on the Horizon which is specifically about this type of lifestyle and prepping.

  • We often hear the saying that you will fight as you train. I came across a humorous anecdote that illustrates this perfectly:

Our boatswain's mate was a smoker who would toss his matches overboard. Then one day, he surprised us all when he popped a cigarette in his mouth and produced an expensive lighter from his pocket. With great fanfare, he flipped open the top, flicked the spark wheel, lit his cigarette ... then chucked the lighter overboard. —Bob McCord


VIDEO: "Top 5 Tips for Training in the Ammo Shortage"--Paul Harrell (31 min.)

The Current Unrest:
    A man in his 20s, believed to be a Black Lives Matter protester, was left with serious injuries and rushed to the hospital after being stabbed in the back during the altercation and two police officers were also injured. 

    The ugly scenes lasted for several minutes as the two groups wielded batons and pushed and shoved each other until cops intervened. 

    Another female Black Lives Matter protester was knocked the ground where she was left lying with blood covering her face as the pro-Trump group filmed her and screamed 'F*** Antifa'. 
The Tesla boss and fifth-richest man in the world had initially tweeted Thursday night that “Something extremely bogus is going on” regarding COVID-19 testing. “Two tests came back negative, two came back positive. Same machine, same test, same nurse.”

 (H/t Behind the Black).

    How curious that, as Baris notes, “Trump won the largest non-white vote share for a Republican presidential candidate in 60 years. Biden underperformed Hillary Clinton in every major metro area around the country, save for Milwaukee, Detroit, Atlanta and Philadelphia.”

    Robert Barnes, the foremost election analyst, observes in these “big cities in swing states run by Democrats…the vote even exceeded the number of registered voters.” 

    Trump’s victories in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin were on target until, in the middle of the night, counting was arbitrarily halted. Miraculously, several hundred thousand votes – all for Biden – were mysteriously ‘found’; Trump’s real leads subsequently vanished.

    The protracted, eventual outcome will determine the contemporary relevance of Stalin’s observation. No matter who wins, most pollsters already have lost their credibility and influence.
    One quick question, only answer if you have worked in auditing/stats/fraud/investigations/or other data analysis type fields. In your entire career, have you ever seen a case that threw up this many flags that DID NOT turn out to be fraud?

    Again, flags are not proof. They are merely anomalies which would cause an auditor to check. Nor am I claiming this is a scientific poll (though I’d bet I’m still more accurate than Nate Silver!). There is of course a sampling bias as I know many of these people in meat space (and their resumes on this topic are killer) but it was also open to the public so anyone could comment and it got shared a hundred times.

    The consensus thus far is overwhelming. No. Not only no but hell no. There have been a few hedging their bets (but they are still suspicious) and zero saying that there is nothing wrong (like in every single other thread, where I get screamed at by Dunning-Krugerands). I’m not claiming this is an accurate sampling of every professional of this type in America, but it is pretty telling.
    So Joe Biden has won the highest popular vote in the history of the US. At the time of writing, more than 73million people have voted for him. He has beaten the record set by Barack Obama who was swept to power on that famous wave of ‘HOPE’ and 69.5million votes in 2008. But here’s the thing: so has Donald Trump. Trump might be trailing Biden in the popular vote of 2020, but he, too, has beaten Obama’s 2008 record. Trump, at the time of writing, has 69.7million votes. So he has won the second-highest popular vote in the history of the American republic. That is remarkable. Far more remarkable than Biden’s very impressive count.

    Why? For one simple reason. Trump is the man we’re all meant to hate. He has been raged against ceaselessly by the cultural elites for the past four years. Hardly any of the American media backed him in 2020. Globalist institutions loathe him. Academia, the media elites, the social-media oligarchies, the celebrity set and other hugely influential sectors have branded him a 21st-century Hitler and insisted that only a ‘white supremacist’ could countenance voting for him. He’s the butt of every sniffy East Coast joke and the target of every fiery street protest. He’s the worst thing to happen to Western politics in decades, we’re told, by clever people, constantly.

    And yet around 70million Americans voted for him. The second-highest electoral bloc in the history of the US put their cross next to the name of a man who over the past four years has been turned by the political clerisy into the embodiment of evil.

    That is what makes the vote for Trump so striking, and so important. Because what it speaks to is the existence of vast numbers of people who are outside of the purview of the cultural elites. People who have developed some kind of immunity to the cultural supremacy of the ‘woke’ worldview so intensely mainstreamed by the political and media sets in recent years. People who are more than content to defy the diktats of the supposedly right-thinking elites and cast their ballots in a way that they think best tallies with their political, social and class interests. People who, no doubt to varying degrees, are at least sceptical towards the narratives of identitarianism, racial doom-mongering, climate-change hysteria and all the pronouns nonsense that have become dominant among political and cultural influencers, and which are essentially the new ideology of the ruling class.
    Black Lives Matter has defaced the road with gang markings in front of the White House. I am right here right now but about 50 meters away from that top photo.

    Buildings around Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Portland, and many other cities are pasted with “BLACK LIVES MATTER.” Businesses are boarded up to ward off the Flat Screen Rioters (FSRs) encouraged by team-Biden.

    Some readers will say, “But Michael! You’re getting political!” Reality check: Osama bin Laden made the attacks on America for religiopolitical reasons. Historical fact. Politics to war.

    It is also historical fact that I stood at 0430 this morning in front of the White House on “Black Lives Matter Plaza,” so-named this year, officially. And scrawled the graffiti of racial superiority and violence down the road.

    They have murdered people and caused billions of dollars in losses due to theft, arson, and loss of business. Just here last week numerous people were stabbed and beaten. Right here. In front of the White House.

    When terrorist groups did this in Iraq, do you know what we did? We hunted them down. I was there as witness. General Petraeus warned not to fly sectarian or other flags, or else.

    And do you know what we did in Iraq and Afghanistan when people interfered with elections? I was there for both. We shot them.

* * *

    Fact: Democrats formed the First Ku Klux Klan after the First Civil War. (More accurately, the 1861-65 Civil War. There were other U.S. Civil Wars such as during Revolutionary War.)

    And now, Black Lives Matter is the Black Ku Klux Klan, who has allied itself with ANTIFA and other terrorists. I have been out with ANTIFA and terrorists on many occasions since my return. They are terrorists by any rational definition. Already, ANTIFA in Portland is turning against Biden.
I keep seeing this meme going around that’s like, “I’ll still be your friend if you voted for Trump, I’ll still be your friend if you voted for Biden…” and it’s making me ragey. Because contrary to what people believe, the two are not the same. Joe Biden is by no means perfect or ideal, but he’s a hell of a lot better. Donald Trump is a racist, misogynist, xenophobic monster. If you still support him after the last four years of his bullshit, then guess what? I don’t want to be your friend. Because if you support that monster, you can’t possibly also care about me. Some people may not care who their friends vote for. I’m not one of those people.

This is called irreconcilable differences. 

    In the eighth century, Muslims from Africa invaded and brutally conquered the Iberian Peninsula.  Christians were massacred and subjugated; churches were destroyed and/or converted to mosques.  By the late fifteenth century, however—after centuries of wars to liberate Spain from Islam (AKA, the Reconquista)—Christian rule finally extended to every corner of the peninsula.

    Muslims, however, remained, mostly centered in Granada.  Originally, they were given lenient terms: Muslims could continue practicing their religion, enforce sharia in their own communities, and even travel freely.

    Even so, whenever the opportunity arose, Muslims rebelled and launched many hard-to-quell uprisings, some “involving the stoning, dismembering, beheading, impaling, and burning alive of Christians.”  Muslims also regularly colluded with foreign Muslim powers (e.g., North Africans, Ottoman Turks) in an effort to subvert Spain back to Islam.

    Fed up with this “enemy within,” the Spanish crown finally decreed in 1501 that all Muslims had two choices: convert to Christianity or leave Spain. The motivation was less religious and more political; it was less about making Muslims “good Christians” and more about making them “good citizens.” So long as they remained Muslim—thereby operating under the highly divisive doctrine of “loyalty and enmity”—they would remain hostile and disloyal to Christian Spain; and because secularism, atheism, multiculturalism, or just general “wokeness,” were not options then, the only practical way Muslims could slough off their tribalism and be loyal to a Christian kingdom was by embracing its faith.

    Spain’s entire Muslim population—hundreds of thousands of Muslims—responded by openly embracing Christianity while remaining crypto-Muslims, in keeping with the Muslim doctrine of taqiyya.  It teaches that, whenever Muslims find themselves under infidel authority, they may say and do almost anything—denounce Muhammad, receive baptism and communion, venerate the cross—as long as their hearts remain true to Islam.  So, in public, these newly converted “Christians” went to church and baptized their children; at home, they recited the Koran, preached undying hate for the infidel, and plotted how to destroy Christian Spain.

    That these “Moriscos”—that is, self-professed Muslim converts to Christianity who were still “Moorish,” or Islamic, as they came to be known—went to great lengths to foist their deception cannot be doubted, as explained by one historian:

For a Morisco to pass as a good Christian took more than a simple statement to that effect. It required a sustained performance involving hundreds of individual statements and actions of different types, many of which might have little to do with expressions of belief or ritual per se. Dissimulation [taqiyya] was an institutionalized practice in Morisco communities that involved regular patterns of behaviour passed on from one generation to the next.

    Despite this elaborate masquerade, Christians increasingly caught on: “With the permission and license that their accursed sect accorded them,” a frustrated Spaniard remarked, “they could feign any religion outwardly and without sinning, as long as they kept their hearts nevertheless devoted to their false impostor of a prophet. We saw so many of them who died while worshipping the Cross and speaking well of our Catholic Religion yet who were inwardly excellent Muslims.”

    Christians initially tried to reason with the Moriscos; they reminded them how they became Muslim in the first place: “Your ancestor was a Christian, although he made himself a Muslim” to avoid persecution or elevate his social status; so now “you also must become a Christian.” When that failed, Korans were confiscated and burned; then Arabic, the language of Islam, was banned. When that too failed, more extreme measures were taken; it reached the point that a Morisco could “not even possess a pocketknife for eating with that did not have a rounded point, lest he savage a Christian with it.”

    A Muslim chronicler summarizes these times: “Such of the Muslims as still remained in Andalus, although Christians in appearance, were not so in their hearts; for they worshipped Allah in secret. . . . The Christians watched over them with the greatest vigilance, and many were discovered and burnt.”

    Such are the origins of the Spanish Inquisition (which, contrary to popular belief, targeted more Muslims than Jews). For no matter how much the Moriscos “might present the appearance of a most peaceful submission,” a nineteenth century historian wrote, “they remained nevertheless fundamental Musulmans, watching for a favourable opportunity and patiently awaiting the hour of revenge, promised by their prophecies.”

    Thus, when a rumor arose in 1568 that the Ottoman Turks had finally arrived, Spain’s crypto-Muslim fifth column, “believing that the days under Christian rule were over, went berserk. Priests all over the countryside were attacked, mutilated, or murdered; some were burned alive; one was sewed inside a pig and barbequed; the pretty Christian girls were assiduously raped, some sent off to join the harems of Moroccan and Algerian potentates.”

    In the end, if Muslims could never be loyal to infidel authority—constantly colluding and subverting, including with foreign Muslims—and if conversion to Christianity was no solution, then only one solution remained: between 1609 and 1614, all Moriscos were expelled from the Peninsula to Africa, whence Islam had first invaded Spain nearly a millennium earlier.

    This decision was not taken lightly.  Many Christians in Spain—and the pope in Rome—deemed it too harsh; some suggested the castration of all Morisco males as an alternative.  Yet, in the end, the monarchy concluded that there was no other guarantee against the constant subversions and sporadic bouts of terrorism than the complete elimination of Islam from Spain.

My LDS readers should be aware of a similar problem faced by the Nephite nation as set out in The Book of Mormon. The Nephite nation was repeatedly beset with civil and criminal insurrections, the most destructive of which were from a group referred to in the text as the Gadianton Robbers. Time and again, these groups and conspiracies would rebel and be defeated. Yet, frustratingly to me, survivors that promised to give up their wicked ways would escape expulsion or execution. "Why would you believe them," I would ask myself. Because, inevitably, these groups would reappear to wreak havoc. It is the classic problem of the scorpion and the frog--these types of people, with only a few exceptions, are not going to change their personality and nature.

The white working-class “is the ‘forgotten man’ demographic,” A Republican close to the campaign told American Greatness. “The focus on left-wing identity politics has already robbed these people of a home in the Democratic Party, but now also the GOP,” the source reported, referring to the campaign’s pandering. “In the final critical week, instead of holding events focusing on mobilizing cops, miners, steel workers, the campaign focused on PRIDE events in blue-collar areas under Richard Grenell and Jared Kushner, which actually alienates many of these people.” 
 I have a long standing interest in specialized selection programs. I’ve been very fortunate over my polymathic career to work with the designers of many high level selection programs. This book is a milestone as it details for the non-military audience the specific processes that produce elite military special operators. The authors do a fantastic job in making that information accessible to the lay audience, business leaders, and human resource professionals.

Wynne briefly outlines some of the work he has done for Delta, SAS, Israeli units, and even NASA. He also observes:

Look for character, train for skills. Start with the human and what they are like at their core, rather than what skills they bring to the table. They make an excellent point about the SOF model — no one comes into SOF selection as a SOF operator with the skill set. They learn that in training and with their unit AFTER they’ve demonstrated what KIND of human they are. 

A GREAT list of attributes that make up desired character:

    • Drive
    • Resiliency
    • Adaptability
    • Humility
    • Integrity
    • Effective Intelligence
    • Team-ability
    • Curiosity
    • Emotional Strength

Read the whole thing.

  • Although writing about Latin American revolutions, these excerpts from Eric Hoffer's book The Ordeal of Change is very relevant now (h/t Chicago Boyz):

Nothing is so unsettling to a social order as the presence of a mass of scribes without suitable employment and an acknowledged status…The explosive component in the contemporary scene is not the clamor of the masses but the self-righteous claims of a multitude of graduates from schools and universities. This army of scribes is clamoring for a society in which planning, regulation, and supervision are paramount and the prerogative of the educated. They hanker for the scribe’s golden age, for a return to something like the scribe-dominated societies of ancient Egypt, China, and the Europe of the Middle Ages. There is little doubt that the present trend in the new and renovated countries toward social regimentation stems partly from the need to create adequate employment for a large number of scribes…Obviously, a high ratio between the supervisory and the productive force spells economic inefficiency. Yet where social stability is an overriding need the economic waste involved in providing suitable positions for the educated might be an element of social efficiency.


It has often been stated that a social order is likely to be stable so long as it gives scope to talent. Actually, it is the ability to give scope to the untalented that is most vital in maintaining social stability…For there is a tendency in the untalented to divert their energies from their own development into the management, manipulation, and probably frustration of others. They want to police, instruct, guide, and meddle. In an adequate society, the untalented should be able to acquire a sense of usefulness and of growth without interfering with the development of talent around them. This requires, first, an abundance of opportunities for purposeful action and self-advancement. Secondly, a wide diffusion of technical and social skills so that people will be able to work and manage their affairs with a minimum of tutelage. The scribe mentality is best neutralized by canalizing energies into purposeful and useful pursuits, and by raising the cultural level of the whole population so as to blur the dividing line between the educated and the uneducated…We do not know enough to suit a social pattern to the realization of all the creative potentialities inherent in a population. But we do know that a scribe-dominated society is not optimal for the full unfolding of the creative mind.

If this sounds familiar, it is because it is one of the underlying elements to Peter Turchin's theory of cyclical phases or order and disorder in a nation or civilization. 

    I've written about Peter Turchin before, see here and here, and even reviewed his book Ages of Discord. His theory is that civilizations go through "cycles of alternating integrative and disintegrative phases. Long period of relative equality, prosperity, and internal peace are succeeded by periods of inequality, immiseration, and political instability, frequently ending in state collapses, revolutions, and civil wars." He published his theory ten years ago and it seemed to predict the chaos facing us right now. 

    Turchin was interviewed recently by Graeme Wood of The Atlantic for a piece with the title, "The Next Decade Could Be Even Worse."

    The year 2020 has been kind to Turchin, for many of the same reasons it has been hell for the rest of us. Cities on fire, elected leaders endorsing violence, homicides surging—­­to a normal American, these are apocalyptic signs. To Turchin, they indicate that his models, which incorporate thousands of years of data about human history, are working. (“Not all of human history,” he corrected me once. “Just the last 10,000 years.”) He has been warning for a decade that a few key social and political trends portend an “age of discord,” civil unrest and carnage worse than most Americans have experienced. In 2010, he predicted that the unrest would get serious around 2020, and that it wouldn’t let up until those social and political trends reversed. Havoc at the level of the late 1960s and early ’70s is the best-case scenario; all-out civil war is the worst.

    The fundamental problems, he says, are a dark triad of social maladies: a bloated elite class, with too few elite jobs to go around; declining living standards among the general population; and a government that can’t cover its financial positions. ...

* * *

    The fate of our own society, he says, is not going to be pretty, at least in the near term. “It’s too late,” he told me as we passed Mirror Lake, which UConn’s website describes as a favorite place for students to “read, relax, or ride on the wooden swing.” The problems are deep and structural—not the type that the tedious process of demo­cratic change can fix in time to forestall mayhem. Turchin likens America to a huge ship headed directly for an iceberg: “If you have a discussion among the crew about which way to turn, you will not turn in time, and you hit the iceberg directly.” The past 10 years or so have been discussion. That sickening crunch you now hear—steel twisting, rivets popping—­­is the sound of the ship hitting the iceberg.

    “We are almost guaranteed” five hellish years, Turchin predicts, and likely a decade or more. The problem, he says, is that there are too many people like me. “You are ruling class,” he said, with no more rancor than if he had informed me that I had brown hair, or a slightly newer iPhone than his. Of the three factors driving social violence, Turchin stresses most heavily “elite overproduction”—­the tendency of a society’s ruling classes to grow faster than the number of positions for their members to fill. One way for a ruling class to grow is biologically—think of Saudi Arabia, where princes and princesses are born faster than royal roles can be created for them. In the United States, elites over­produce themselves through economic and educational upward mobility: More and more people get rich, and more and more get educated. Neither of these sounds bad on its own. Don’t we want everyone to be rich and educated? The problems begin when money and Harvard degrees become like royal titles in Saudi Arabia. If lots of people have them, but only some have real power, the ones who don’t have power eventually turn on the ones who do.

    In the United States, Turchin told me, you can see more and more aspirants fighting for a single job at, say, a prestigious law firm, or in an influential government sinecure, or (here it got personal) at a national magazine. Perhaps seeing the holes in my T-shirt, Turchin noted that a person can be part of an ideological elite rather than an economic one. (He doesn’t view himself as a member of either. A professor reaches at most a few hundred students, he told me. “You reach hundreds of thousands.”) Elite jobs do not multiply as fast as elites do. There are still only 100 Senate seats, but more people than ever have enough money or degrees to think they should be running the country. “You have a situation now where there are many more elites fighting for the same position, and some portion of them will convert to counter-elites,” Turchin said.

    Donald Trump, for example, may appear elite (rich father, Wharton degree, gilded commodes), but Trumpism is a counter-elite movement. His government is packed with credentialed nobodies who were shut out of previous administrations, sometimes for good reasons and sometimes because the Groton-­Yale establishment simply didn’t have any vacancies. Trump’s former adviser and chief strategist Steve Bannon, Turchin said, is a “paradigmatic example” of a counter-elite. He grew up working-class, went to Harvard Business School, and got rich as an investment banker and by owning a small stake in the syndication rights to Seinfeld. None of that translated to political power until he allied himself with the common people. “He was a counter-elite who used Trump to break through, to put the white working males back in charge,” Turchin said.

    Elite overproduction creates counter-elites, and counter-elites look for allies among the commoners. If commoners’ living standards slip—not relative to the elites, but relative to what they had before—they accept the overtures of the counter-elites and start oiling the axles of their tumbrels. Commoners’ lives grow worse, and the few who try to pull themselves onto the elite lifeboat are pushed back into the water by those already aboard. The final trigger of impending collapse, Turchin says, tends to be state insolvency. At some point rising in­security becomes expensive. The elites have to pacify unhappy citizens with handouts and freebies—and when these run out, they have to police dissent and oppress people. Eventually the state exhausts all short-term solutions, and what was heretofore a coherent civilization disintegrates.


  1. "I think that the problem may have been that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf. That tended to understate the hugeness of the object." - David St. Hubbins

    Turchin is right.

    1. The funniest part of the whole movie, in my opinion.


Latest Bombs & Bants (streamed 5/18/2022)

  VIDEO: " Bombs and Bants Live! Ep 36 " (43 min.)