Wednesday, December 21, 2011

- When The Vandals Arrive...

As a gun guy, one of the very few in my well to do greater NYC sewing circle, people ask me often if I intend to run away to a ‘bolt hole’ in the country if things hit the fan. I always tell them no. I’d rather be in semi-rural NJ where I can be one of the very few armed people in an area where guns have been all but illegal for a generation, than cope with shooting my way into (and potentially out of) a country bolt hole.

Stories from post collapse Argentina have filtered up to me of people in the country trying to cope with thieves. It paints a very different picture than the hit and run – ‘never stop at the red light unless traffic demands it’ image of crime in the more populated areas. The thieves are in no hurry out there in the wilderness. They know that no one will be along to help. So they take their time and consume everything available like locusts, before raping and killing their hosts.

That’s the thing I’ve tried to get across for ages. When you’re out in the wilderness you MUST protect yourself, because there won’t be anyone else to do it. In the suburbs you only have to hold out until help arrives - and it usually will eventually. But in the wilderness, you have to stay awake forever and pick off strangers at a distance, even if the stranger turns out to just be the neighbor’s boy trying to ask for help fixing their well pump. Oh, and don’t go asking the neighbors for help with your well pump, because they may be feeling the same way about you.

But between the fair trade non-fat Carmel mocchiato of a university campus where coping with reality is a remote and almost irrelevant thing, and being forced to fight ‘blaster’ in the thunderdome for the planet's last gallon of gasoline, is a very long, bumpy, garbage strewn road where institutions fail a little at a time.

Crime is the first thing to arrive; lots and lots of crime. And I’ve invested a lot of energy into trying to figure out what that crime will look like when it arrives for me. Will it be gangs settimg up toll booths on I95, or carpet installers selling maps to the inside of my house to their criminal buddies? Now Victor Davis Hanson has saved me wondering about all those questions, because it’s already happening around his home in California’s once prosperous central valley.

His is an essay which I fear will be one looked back upon decades from now as describing ‘the moment when’. for me it conjures that imagined image of the sailing ship tipping off the edge of the world. I can’t tell if that’s what he meant or if it’s just a product of his writing sounding like what he’s been reading. But if you translated his essay into Latin (with appropriate backdating… references to cars transformed into horses, power lines to aqueducts etc etc), scratched it onto Velum and told people that you dug it up in some 5th century cisalpine settlement, you’d get people to believe it. His is a story of a once prosperous society in the midst of a tragic bureaucratic decline:

The city of Fresno is now under siege. Hundreds of street lights are out, their copper wire stripped away. In desperation, workers are now cementing the bases of all the poles — as if the original steel access doors were not necessary to service the wiring. How sad the synergy! Since darkness begets crime, the thieves achieve a twofer: The more copper they steal, the easier under cover of spreading night it is to steal more. Yet do thieves themselves at home with their wives and children not sometimes appreciate light in the darkness? Do they vandalize the street lights in front of their own homes?

The soft spoken classicist cum farmer has lived on his family farm for all but small parts of his life. And as graphic as his description is (it was a real challenge for me in figuring out which paragraph to excerpt) I have even more trouble wondering what this must feel like to him. I have never lived more than 30 miles from an oil refinery. Even as my personal prosperity has increased, being around the bombed out urban blight and the human scavengers that pick at it has always been more comfortable for me than many. To be honest I usually feel better when I see the human vultures overhead because I don’t have to wonder where they’re hiding – or what they may be plotting.

But for him it really must feel like the end. What’s more, since his knowledge of history is substantial, he must know that the chance of reversing this decline and returning to former prosperity is somewhere between slim and none.

I’ve been a great admirer of Augustine of Hippo (St. Augustine to we papists) all my life. VDH must feel a tragic commonality to the great man. Augustine penned his two monumentally important works ‘Confessions” and “City of God”, between 397 and 410 AD. In the year 410, the Visigoths sacked the city of Rome, and the empire’s decline went into high gear. This I think tells you as much about how professor Hanson feels watching civilization crumble around him, as anything else.

Don't miss this essay. It's depressing, but I think it blows away a little of the mist of the future.


I've been reading the comments on Dr. Hanson's post over at NR and I've got to tell you, the only conclusion I can come to from reading them is that very few people seem interested in the reality of the situation as much as they are some political mythology.

By far the most delusional post was the one by one of NR's resident liberal trolls who wrote an eloquent apologists creed (which even cited the federalist papers) explaining that all this was as a result of the failure of California to be liberal enough. Personally I think he should lay off the ganga.

To be fully honest, the rest are almost as bad - conservatives too. There are dozens of people advocating various forms of individual violence from posse formation to trap laying and homicide. California may be broken, but it's not that broken, not yet anyway. And if Dr. Hanson and his neighbors start shooting up the San Joaquin criminal element, the police will only discover that there are some felons worth prosecuting after all. Oh what glee the LA times and the network news people would spout for the chance to see someone like Victor Davis Hanson charged with the murder of a minority criminal. What nobility they would find in the that particular dead guy.

Those commenters don't seen to realize that this is a Napoleonic issue. It's a question of the vulnerability of the fixed fortifications. So long as you're in one place and your enemy is mobile, you lose. It won't be possible to keep the criminals from looting the central valley until until the system changes or completely falls apart.

One commenter did get it exactly right when he said that this is PRECISELY what the liberal policies of California have been aiming for. No rule of law, no private property protection, punish the productive to subsidize the unproductive, throw open the borders, and ignore all crime. They shouldn't be surprised it's worked out this way, they should be high five-ing each other and celebrating a job well done. These consequences may be unintended on the whole, but in each of it's small parts it's exactly what they intended.

The situation in California is tragic, but at this point inevitable. And unfortunately the future is already certain. People like Dr. Hanson will be able to preserve their their family farms, but only at a cost. Very soon, it will no longer be profitable for anyone. Meanwhile, the lifestyle he remembers of a free people in a free land can no longer be saved at all. It's already gone. Because the people of California are no longer a moral enough people to be fit for self rule. No liberal anywhere is.


ikaika said...

I was informd by a devout liberal with the equivilant history background of a North Korean that Rome Fell in conjunction with the State syndication of Christianity.

He went on to tell me that Christianity, more so than any other organized religion, was by far the beacon of pending catastrophe.

I reminded him of my MA in history and that while Gibbon wrote a popular and serialized chronicle of the Decline, it was Perrine (who?!?!!?) that really got down to the rheumatic degenerative disease of Roman Civilization:

The Vandals and some of the "conquered peoples" may have Converged upon Rome seeking government welfare.

it's a bit more complicated but out in the frontier of the empire, there was a pervasive rumor of an all protecting powerful governemnt.

When these unwashed tribal people arrived at Rome only to find an empty well, they were forced to fend for themselves.

The mythology of Vandals and Vikings behavig like Detroit Pistons fans needs to be scrutinized.

Tom said...

I totally get your point and I don't mean to over mix your metaphor. But how tragic it is that this time it is actually is Detroit piston fans showing up.

frithguild said...

There was a 1,500% inflation due to currence debasement in the Third Century A.D. Thereafter Diocletian collected taxes in the form of goods needed to provision a soldier because there was no currency. The currency was somewhat restored under Constantine, but in following years when it was debased, they blamed inflation on "speculators." The tax burden got so bad that Emperor Valens declared it illegal in 368 A.D. to renounce your liberty by placing yourself into tenancy or slavery under the protection of a great landlord - slaves didn't pay taxes. The slaves simply opened the gates to let Alaric in in 410.

So, ilaika, maybe your liberal friend was right. The Roman government made things so bad through exesive regulation, currency debasement and excessive taxation, that letting the Barbarians in to rule was the Christian thing to do.

ikaika said...

What VDH sees in Fresno California - (and the rest of the USA) is the result of decades Political and Social Engineering.

The Well ran Dry but the promises continued and the gates remain open.

Hell_Is_Like_Newark said...

Regarding your Update:

Ferfal's book "Surviving The Economic Collapse" made a similar point: You are not going to start killing off the looters and other perps. The authorities will not hesitate to prosecute you.

In my area, we have had an increase in crime. Muggings by gangs of 'youths' that are normally safe and an increase in breaking and entering.

I am doing what I can for the latter which involves improved deadbolts (the thieves figured a way of cutting around the deadbolt and pulling the bolt back).

As for the former.. well, unless NJ via divine intervention becomes a 'shall issue' and 'stand-your-ground' state, that situation is dicey. Do you allow yourself to be strong armed by underage muggers? Or do you fight back, causing injury to someone under 18, and find yourself arrested for assault on a minor?

I look at the deteriorating situation with a degree of trepidation.

Tom said...

That anxiety is a sign of your cogency.

In NJ the only real protection I can see is the oldest form of protection... political connections. Get people with juice on your side and have them be prepared to defend you off the radar and behind the scenes when your situation hits the fan. Then do your best to stay off of the news and out of the papers.

I was in a gun shop in the midwest recently where the clerk recommended a revolver since it won't leave shells behind for forensic analysis.

I'm just saying.

ikaika said...

I bolted from NJ and NYC 5 months ago for Miami. Better Job and no snow.

That trepedation you are feeling is palpable.

My FiL told me and wife that Miami was Dangerous because Fl "was a Gun State!"

He didn't own a gun. I owned several. He went to the range with me twice.

People raised in the North East - city folk - are indoctrinated, and there ain't no changing that.

You learn real fast which neighborhoods in Miami you need to avoid.

The first thing you do is get your CnC for FL and take advanced Firearms training with it.

Miami cops assume everyone is packing. They are not there to prevent crime, but to respond to crime.

Liberals need a wake-up call.

My friends back in midtown manhattan call me and say "how is it? is it safe? any trouble?"

They say this because on the outskirts of Manhattan in the less observed 'hoods, they see the start of SHTF...

I can walk down Calle Ocho and not be afraid because FL enables me to carry. I am entitltled to Open Carry when I fish. No questions asked.

I do fear the whole ball of wax is pulling apart, and political/monetary magic won't save us from the monsters it created.

I trade Europe. I have a ringside seat witnessing the fall of civilization.

The copper and metal theft, the abandoned homes are a mere prelude.

My wife reminds me that NJ has yet to experience mass forclosure like Florida.

This Euro crisis is bigger than anyone wants to admit.

get those S&G ammo coupons ready, you'll need em.