Though the notion that a single falling rock can and will cause an avalanche is at least somewhat exaggerated, it can happen on a slope that’s sufficiently “loose.” The probability that it will happen increases with the number of falling rocks.
What we call an avalanche in the world of surface geophysics, we call in social theory a preference cascade. Here too, a single “falling rock” – any disturbing phenomenon that diverges sharply from general social and political norms – has a low probability of triggering a convulsive change, but as the number of such increases, the likelihood of a social or political upheaval increases as well.
America’s social “slope” has grown ever “looser” since the Reagan Interregnum. The general degree of binding to a common set of American norms is at a low point for the past century. The numbers of separatist and particularist groups increase, the general regard for the traditional forces of order decreases, and suspicion and enmity grows between them. In the midst of this, the state governments strain to disarm us, while the federal government decrees massively unpopular laws and regulations that guarantee further decreases in Americans’ prosperity and security. You’d almost swear that dark forces were trying to bring about widespread civil disorder and disaffiliation from what’s charmingly called the “rule of law.”
With that, let’s have a look at some recent events that might qualify as “falling rocks.”
First and most conspicuous on the national radar is the circus that surrounds the presidential nominations of the two major parties. Seldom have so many clowns packed themselves into so small a car. Not that the candidates are utterly devoid of merit, of course; Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, and Bobby Jindal all have something to say for themselves and records that lend substantial support to their contentions. But what are we to make of the public antics we’ve already seen, and the plain promise that there’s more and worse to come? What are we to make of the primacy of Donald Trump, whose claim to public attention rests entirely on a large fortune and an unbridled mouth?
The vaudeville act on the Democrat side is equally disturbing despite being superficially more restrained. There we have a social-fascist front-runner, an openly socialist second-placer, and a couple of nonentities who really ought to know better. The media are too terrified of the front-runner even to demand an accounting of her positions, let alone her more flagrant misdeeds. The socialist has been harassed by racial activists. The nonentities get little to no air time, despite their objectively more substantial records of achievement. Yet virtually no one with a national voice dares to comment on any of it.
Second we have the insanities – considerably more than one – swirling about the “deal with Iran.” While Iran’s political masters crow about having gotten everything they wanted while they whip ever larger crowds into chanting “Death to America,” Barack Hussein Obama, never happy about being opposed, can’t resist claiming that Congressional Republicans, Israel’s political leadership, and members of his own party are making “common cause” with the Iranian hard-liners. Why he omitted to castigate the potentates of Saudi Arabia, who are also harshly critical of the “deal,” should be obvious.
As for the “deal” itself, how could anyone respect an agreement with a terror sponsoring state that demands 24 days’ notice of any inspection of any Iranian nuclear facility, and which claims that its military facilities will be forever barred to the inspectors? Yet Obama and Kerry expect Israel to stake its national survival on this supposed guarantee of Iran’s good behavior. Indeed, Obama is enraged at his co-partisans’ reluctance to sign on the dotted line, to the point of implying consequences for those who won’t comply.
Meanwhile, we have several verified reports of Middle Eastern men harassing and threatening the families of American military men. The tendency of Muslim immigrants to form tight enclaves, resistant to outside observation, has been well known for decades. With the exception of the Murragh building bombing, every terrorist act committed against Americans or American property for the past twenty years was perpetrated by Muslims. Yet immigrants from Africa and the Muslim Middle East continue to pour into the U.S—indeed, in many cases facilitated by the federal government under the guise of “refugee assistance.”
It doesn’t matter that it’s been forensically proved that Officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown in self-defense. There are persons and organizations determined to keep the notion of a racist execution alive...and they don’t care what it might cost anyone else.
Racial agitation is rampant in America as it hasn’t been since the Communists of the 1930s invaded Harlem. As it was with Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and any other Negro who dies at a white man’s hands, Michael Brown has been elevated as a martyr to their cause. Just as with Trayvon Martin’s attempt to kill George Zimmerman, facts that run counter to the black racialists’ cause are effaced, and those who dare to bring them up are intimidated into silence.
On a smaller scale, instances of individual and community resistance to overweening “authority” are increasing in number and frequency. Not all of them are as dramatic as these neighbors protecting a veteran’s right to his firearms, nor as violent as this Vermont mother’s execution of a “child welfare” myrmidon, but like the Cliven Bundy affair of recent memory, they’re out there and visible to those who care to notice.
Word gets around. The Obama Administration’s happy rhetoric about a “recovery” collides with the realities of steadily increasing unemployment and under-employment, declines in Americans’ family incomes, climbing dollar prices for all the necessities except fossil fuels, and a torrent of anti-business regulations that might have been explicitly devised to throttle our economy. The Federal Reserve maintains an effective interest rate of zero, yet the dollar slowly loses its status as the world’s preferred “reserve currency.” While the prices of the precious metals hover at seemingly low levels compared to a few years before, the delivery delays for physical gold and silver stretch toward the horizon. Survivalists and “preppers” multiply. Ever more communities create “watch committees” to do “jobs Americans won’t do” – American police, that is. Urban and suburban crime, including the scandalous “knockout game” variety, rises sharply, yet authorities won’t speak of it publicly. Laws passed in a frenzy to limit private citizens’ gun rights are widely ignored.
It’s hard not to see dire portents in the tea leaves.
There is no Last Graf. If there are general solutions, even to particular aspects of our accelerating maladies, I have no idea what they are. I don’t claim predictive powers, but I fear what I see, albeit through a glass darkly, when I peer into the future.
I’m preparing for worse to come, with only my immediate neighbors to depend on for mutual defense. I’ve put in a generator. I continue to acquire physical gold and silver. I keep the pantry full and the ammo stocks fresh. And of course I quarrel regularly with the C.S.O. about the desirability of moving to some much less populated area, perhaps a mountaintop or an unexploited cave system.
Do you hear a rumble in the distance, Gentle Reader? For the moment it’s just a few falling rocks. Just a few...but their number has been increasing. As with the outbreak of a serious disease, where the central question is whether it will die out before it reaches the threshold that causes an epidemic, the central question is whether the rocks in motion will come to rest before they can nudge enough others into motion to bring about an avalanche. Like the classical “three-body problem” in mechanics, the course of this one cannot be analytically determined. All we can do is watch and wait.