After what happened on January 6th, I don’t think anyone can question that there’s a possibility Trump supporters will try for civil war; they’ve essentially provided the inciting incident. Whether they do or not, it’s clear that they will commit more acts of violence and terror in the future. Do I think they’ll succeed in overthrowing the republic? No. Can irreparable, mortal harm be caused in the attempt? Yes.
Ardent Trump supporters think they are taking the first steps toward a holy war. That’s a powerful place for them to be, from a rhetorical perspective. If they are holy, it means that we are unholy, and QAnon theories have been doing the work of demonizing the left for years. Historically, an inhuman enemy is an enemy that you can treat inhumanely. The violence that has been and will be perpetrated against the left can be expected to worsen as this movement continues.
Despite the largely symbolic, intangible chaos of the 6th, and the sometimes laughable appearance of these zealots, there is real danger here, and that danger extends beyond any simple blast radius or federal building.
While this campaign of Trump Terror had its most public display on the 6th, ironically, this forced the federal government to concede the legitimacy of President-elect Biden. Up until the attack on the Capitol, Republicans were poised to metaphorically fight tooth and nail over what they saw as a fraudulent election. This gave the TT (yes, I’m using this shorthand) hope for restoration from the inside. With that gone, there is no faith remaining in the government. They are all against Trump, and even the police are now Antifa.
With no legitimate recourse left to them, and a holy war to fight, the TT will be more inclined towards terror than rallies or marches, and some parts of this seditious movement already have a history of plotting and attempting violence on public officials and others. The fact that they aren't a unified body will make them harder to track and predict—there are numerous “militias” that have similar principles but different heads, and some are violent while others are, for variety, extremely violent. There’s no discounting individuals, either, radicalized by conspiracy theories on their own.
Despite the largely symbolic, intangible chaos of the 6th, and the sometimes laughable appearance of these zealots, there is real danger here, and that danger extends beyond any simple blast radius or federal building. The FBI already foiled one plot to take out the electrical grid a few months back, and the people behind it were intent on “creating a fascist society.” A white terrorist suicide bomber blew up a block of downtown Nashville. His motives remain nebulous, but it's thought he had concerns about 5G towers and was an alien and 9/11 conspiracy theorist. And no motive changes the size of the explosion, nor the fact that a single bomb knocked out emergency communications for a large portion of the south. In Colorado, someone tampered with natural gas lines and cut off heating for thousands of residents. A pipe was found with “Earth first!” scrawled in Sharpie, which, yeah, sounds legit. The TT know to hit public utilities, and that won't stop just because they struck a flashy blow by bringing a Confederate flag into the Capitol.
Combine the possibility of a TT attack on a communication network or utility with the increasing burden of COVID-19, and you create an extremely dangerous situation. COVID-19 is not retreating just because we have a vaccine. Trump has already seen to it that the rollout was partly bungled, and we won't reach anything like herd immunity until summer if things go well. Couple that with the variants that are popping up across the globe, holidays that are spiking cases, and you've got a really volatile mix. It’s likely that this 3rd wave won't end until we've all been vaccinated. That means a death toll probably near 750,000 or higher. With restrictions staying as they are, The University of Washington predicts over 550,000 deaths by April in the US. Some estimates don't factor in any volatility and still predict a death toll over a million by the end of the pandemic.
With a death toll that high—almost triple what we're at now—you can expect continued stress on medical personnel and emergency services. In LA County, paramedics have been rationing oxygen and were instructed not to bring patients with low survival potential to hospitals for further care. Once this stress is met with another stressor, such as a power outage due to a terrorist bombing, or even an attack from a foreign nation such as the December 8th SolarWinds hack, a threadbare system fails, and you have a high mortality event.
Perhaps the most worrisome thing about all these extremely worrisome events is that they are an excellent representation of a system-wide turmoil that does not abate—the sort of thing that we'll see, possibly for most of our lives, with climate change. Stressors come from multiple fronts: a pandemic; fascists; lack of available supplies; a faltering economy and unresponsive government. And that doesn't touch on what climate change itself will bring us in 2021 (my money's on more fires and floods). If today is a crash course on the world to come, the thing to do is learn today's lessons.
Going Back to the Well
What have you struggled with since the pandemic began? What has been hard to do, to find? These are the training wheels for scarcities we could face in the future, whether pinned down by a pandemic, or instability due to the fourth or fifth attempted coup of the year. Expect that you can't buy flour for weeks, that toilet paper and cleaning products are nowhere to be found. Stock up on them now.
I go back to the food and water well with almost every newsletter because food and water security mean safety, no matter what the disaster. You are less exposed at home or otherwise sheltered, and if you’ve got food at home, you have less of a reason to be exposed. Having a good supply can mean you ride out a long, dangerous situation with relatively little risk. It’s not the coolest prep by any stretch, but it’s the most practical.
Today’s first prep is to finally extend your emergency rations beyond the two-week stock I’ve harped on, up to a full month. Double up your water, double your food, your meds, and look into an emergency method of cooking—I’ve recommended sterno before, but if you’ve got room outdoors, propane may be more practical. Anticipate the scarcities you ran into through the previous year, and incorporate them into this prep as well. Here are the bullet points again.
- Water: 1 gallon/person/day. That means 30 gallons on hand per person in your household—yes, that is a lot of water. It's a lot of space. If you don't have it, max out what you can. Here is a sturdy, large container you can fill at your tap rather than buying 30 gallons of water at the store. Here is the link to a good, friend-recommended rain barrel.
Food: For a whole month of food, I recommend that you stop simply buying canned goods for an easy two-week fix and do two things, in addition: Either find containers around your house that will provide an airtight seal, or buy food-grade buckets and stock up on dried beans, lentils, flour, etc. For ease of use, buckets with gamma lids are said to be less of a hassle. Oxygen absorbers packed with the food will extend their shelf life, but be sure to set aside a mason jar or other airtight container for the absorbers themselves once the bag is opened, or their usefulness will be quite limited (I found this out the hard way a few days ago).
- If you have the space, I highly recommend that you invest in gardening. A 4x8 raised bed and dirt will run you about $200, but the joy of growing your own food is really special. My wife and I haven't bought tomatoes in almost a year. If you don't have much more space than a windowsill, you can still grow herbs and green onions on the cheap. I will definitely write a whole big gardening newsletter soon.
- Medical/cleaning supplies: Hopefully you're already looking nearly prepped for a month when it comes to medicine. Be sure that you are, and maybe pad that out a little. Cold and flu meds, ibuprofen, aspirin, allergy meds. Include bleach wipes, peroxide, iodine, and rubbing alcohol/prep pads. If you’ve been dipping into your first aid supplies for nicks and cuts like I do sometimes, be sure to replenish.
It’s Time for the Talk
The second prep is not a simple shelf-stocking one. It's time to seriously consider keeping a firearm in your home. If you don't like this idea, I can tell you that it took a long time and a lot of staring at all the shit going on in this country for me to accept it, and I was raised around guns. I worked with law enforcement (I was young and stupid, forgive me). I don't like guns. I accept that we need them. If you can't, try and come back to this idea later. If you have to skip this prep, the exit is to the right.
We're not going to get into specifics today. I'm not going to recommend that you go out and buy a gun right this second. What I want you to do is recognize first that a lot of the rhetoric surrounding guns in our popular discourse is liberal/centrist, and does not account for the need to defend yourself and others against far-right and racist movements. If you’re like me, you grew up liberal and had to grow left from there. You were raised to think that the only good gun was meant for your papaw to hunt deer, and everything else was meant to kill people, and a tool meant for killing people isn’t a good tool to have.
But, unfortunately, that's too idealistic. Fascists and racists are arming themselves, training, making and enacting violent plans. They think that we're about to steal their country, take their guns, and eat their children. That dehumanization makes us easy targets for violence. We cannot fight them with witty signs and solidarity alone. The liberal notion of tolerance is what let fascism creep in the door in the first place.
I'm not suggesting that everyone reading this become a soldier, or even a CCW permit holder. I'm suggesting that if things get so bad that conflict occurs, we'll be better off if everyone reading this is prepared for the eventuality. Being alive means you're able to help other people, and we'll win because of that cooperative spirit.
In untrained hands, a gun may be worse than no gun, so don't think that you can simply buy a pistol and rest easy—you need range time, maybe a course or two. You need to know how to clean your weapon, and clear a jam. See if you can find a liberal or leftist gun rights group in your area through the links below. Firearm education and training is paramount, and it can be difficult just going into a gun shop, range, or taking a CCW course as a leftist, POC, or LGBTQ person. Finding a group can help you overcome that barrier.
- The Socialist Rifle Association: “Inclusive, left-oriented firearm use and mutual aid activities.”
- Operation Blazing Sword: “An organization that teaches firearm safety and operation to queer people who want to learn how to defend themselves.”
- The Pink Pistols: “We are a shooting group that honors diversity and is open to all shooters.”
- The National African American Gun Association: “A 2nd Amendment Organization that educates and trains our community on the rich legacy of gun ownership of African Americans.”
- The Liberal Gun Club: “A 2nd amendment voice for those left-of-center.”
One of these organizations will hopefully have a chapter or instructor near you. It’s also a good way to branch out for mutual aid.
I'll trust you've taken last week's prep to heart, and have begun talking to friends about creating a pod or community of mutual assistance that will help each other in hard times. Having difficulty with weapons or self-defense in your community can be a liability that is compensated for, but on your own it can be lethal. If buying a gun is too much for you, this is a reason to redouble your efforts in creating a community, and bringing other skills to the table for their benefit.
This is the world that we've got to live with. It's not your fault that we are where we are, but inaction and ignorance will not save you or anyone else from the problems that are here, and those that are coming. Face these disasters. Reckon with them. Prepare for them, so that what you've worked for isn't lost, and so you can help others along the way.