BlindPirate.com is primarily a political commentary blog. I am certainly no fan of our current administration or the outrageous things I see happening in America every day from new assaults on our Second Amendment rights to our ballooning national debt. While I believe that ultimately our slide toward Socialism and the erosion of our Constitutional rights will be bad, perhaps bad enough to bring about a revolution of some sort, I believe that there is a more likely, more immediate concern – the sudden and unexpected (at least to most Americans) loss of the “rule of law” in America. When that happens it won’t make much difference which side of the political spectrum you’re on.
What is the Rule of Law?
It’s a system of accepted “rights” (such as our Constitutional rights) and “privileges” (such as our privilege to drive a car on public streets) and the laws which support the implementation of those “rights” and “privileges.” It includes the written, publically and legally accepted versions of those “rights” and “privileges”, a well-trained Police force to ensure that there is no undue prevention of the exercise of them, nor abuse of the exercise of them, a judicial system to protect citizens who exercise them and adjudicate the actions of the Police with respect to them, and some accepted system of fines, penalties and/or incarceration as a final action to enforce them.
Rule of law is the basis for all fair and functioning democracies, but more directly it is the means by which a government coerces its citizens to behave in a manner deemed generally acceptable to all within a given society, through the threat of a graduated response of violence from the government ranging from the imposition of fines, to arrest and incarceration, and ultimately, in extreme cases (in nearly all societies) to execution.
One source – the World Justice Project (http://worldjusticeproject.org/what-rule-law) – further proposes that Rule of Law is a system in which the following four “universal principles” are upheld:
1. The government and its officials and agents as well as individuals and private entities are accountable under the law.
2. The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property.
3. The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair and efficient.
4. Justice is delivered in a timely manner by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.
These four principles seem like reasonable guidelines to me.
Basically it’s just about any place in America on any normal day with well-trained, disciplined, honest, hard-working cops supported by a fair judicial system with competent defense and prosecuting attorneys, and compassionate judges and/or juries exercising an established, fair set of local and Federal laws.
Ya, I can hear many of you out there groaning and saying “gimme a break Pirate! If you think that’s America you’re dreamin!” Look, no country’s legal system is perfect and America is no exception, but having travelled the world for more than 40 years with the Army I can tell you that I’d rather be caught up in the American justice system than any other, but that’s an argument for another time.
I will continue while acknowledging the flaws in the American legal system and ask what would America be like if the Police weren’t there any longer, or if they were present but simply so overwhelmed by widespread general lawlessness that they could no longer keep up? What would our streets and neighborhoods be like with no EMTs or Firemen? What if armed gangs of thugs were roaming our cities looting, beating, raping, robbing and murdering?
In other words, what would America be like “without rule of law” – or during a “WROL” event?
It can’t happen here?
Think it can’t happen in America? Take a look at the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina where looters ran wild and Police were instructed to violate civil rights by shooting looters on sight and confiscated personal firearms.
Granted without some large-scale catastrophic national disaster like an Electromagnetic Pulse or something more global like the sudden interruption of the flow of oil out of the Straits of Hormuz a WROL scenario will probably be limited to a particular region (city or county area) and hopefully of short duration, but are you prepared? Have you even visualized the sorts of things you might have to endure for days, weeks… perhaps even months or years?
A WROL situation can begin very quickly with looting and gang activity starting almost immediately after something like an earthquake when power is out, storefront windows are broken, alarm systems and surveillance cameras are not functioning and when Police and Fire Fighters are stretched too thin to cover all of the vulnerable locations.
If any of you believe that our nation is not chock full of common thugs, dangerous gangs and psychopathic individuals then you are deluded. YouTube.com is full of shocking videos of riots, looting, and mobs. Anytime you begin to doubt the depths to which America will quickly sink I recommend that you watch a few of these. These monsters are held in check only by the presence of the Rule of Law.
A thin veneer:
We live in a thin veneer of ‘civilization’ that is entirely dependent on the free and unobstructed exchange of goods, transported from points of production or ports of entry, to warehouse locations, to local stores by a network of delivery trucks… that run on diesel fuel. No diesel fuel – no deliveries – no food on the shelves in grocery stores.
Most of the US supply chain has less than 72 hours of ‘back room’ or locally warehoused supply for critical retail outlets such as grocery stores and drug stores. After that the shelves are bare, and people will panic. Basically any community in America is only nine meals away from anarchy.
Of course the very first thing people do when they expect anything from a big snow storm to a hurricane is head to the grocery store, drug store and hardware store to stock up, so if there’s any advance notice at all the three-day rule goes out the window.
In a disaster situation affecting a large area – perhaps an entire State – for a period of weeks or months caused by something like the loss of a major portion of the power grid (say, a major hydroelectric dam rendered inoperative by an act of terror), things will go from bad to worse very quickly as otherwise law-abiding citizens begin to think that relief may not be close at hand. They will take up arms first to defend themselves, their homes and their possessions, and then to facilitate their own foraging and looting for food to stay alive.
Watch “After Armageddon: a SHTF Scenario” by The History Channel, aired in January of 2010 which presents a fictional account of a global flu pandemic which kills 2/3rds of the world’s population. This is a very real possibility.
What the government can do:
It is important to note that the US Government has recently reviewed its national strategy for handling emergency situations of all kinds through the series of National Defense Authorization Acts which have been updated and republished nearly every year for more than 50 years – the last having been signed 02 Jan 2013. This Act clarifies and strengthens the supporting legal position for our government as well.
There are also a bewildering, complex and interconnected series of Executive Orders which President Obama – and nearly every President before him back at least that same aforementioned 50 years – has used to codify and allow the federal government to do just about anything you might think they can do in the event of a national emergency. (See “Obama’s 923 Executive Orders (Not)”)
It is also important to note that the Department of Homeland Security and a great many federal organizations have recently expanded their ability to field paramilitary forces under their direct control thereby bypassing the sensibilities of more localized organizations such as the National Guard for example. (See “America Militarizes Its Police” and “The Guns of DHS”)
In the event of a significant emergency it is my belief that the government can do just about anything. If the law doesn’t currently support some action they feel is necessary they can and will rapidly push through ‘emergency provisions’ of some sort. If that doesn’t do the trick the President can and will simply publish an Executive Order.
What the government might do:
What the government might do is another story entirely. That will depend mostly on who’s in the White House; who controls the Houses of Congress is a distant second to Presidential influence in a crisis. It will also depend greatly on what sort of events have led up to the crisis de jour, what the media thinks of this or that proposed government action, and of course the nature, scope and expected duration of the crisis at hand.
In line with what many Americans – whether Liberal, Conservative or Libertarian – already believe the government to be capable of things like “relocation camps” and wide-spread Martial Law are quite possible under existing law. However they are not (in my humble opinion) very likely.
Our nation is literally huge and there are more than 350 million people living here. Americans are well armed with easily more than one firearm for every man, woman and child either already in homes or on the shelves of stores everywhere, and the ammunition to boot.
It is true that the further removed a given authority is from the people it intends to use that authority against the more impersonal its actions may be against a given population, but in the instance of a national emergency the State and local governments will have much more presence than any federal force.
Americans still distrust authority and especially the federal government and military, but anyone who has served in our federal armed forces knows we are well-educated in things like posse comitatus and the subordination of the military to civilian leadership and authority. While there may be some isolated instances of federal armed forces taking action against civilians I do not believe that will be widespread. I think the same goes for the vast majority of our federal Police forces and ‘Police-like’ units.
States still have direct control over their National Guard forces for example, and the further down the chain you go through county and city governments the more authority is really a function of the community itself – or at least select members of that community who live amongst the people they police.
Another thing to consider is the scope and duration of responding effectively to a significant nationwide crisis. Our government is not an efficient entity. The most likely scenario is that the federal government will utterly fail in the face of the sheer scale of adequately responding. Their response to Hurricane Katrina was a recent example of this.
I believe that the national response to a nation-wide crisis – anything from an EMP, to a high-lethality pandemic (here’s a list of 10 of the most likely candidates) – will probably not be the birth of a Police state, but quite the opposite… widespread WROL and the near total cessation of public services. Police, Firemen, EMTs, our federal military and National Guard and all other “first responders” will first be completely overwhelmed and then they too will fall victim to their own need to survive and tend to the survival of their families. At that point the very worst will come out in America and the vast majority of us will be left to fend for ourselves.
On YouTube there’s a fella goes by the handle of “Nutnfancy” and he runs “The Nutnfancy Project” or TNP. He’s a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, combat pilot and experienced outdoorsman. His videos cover a wide range of topics from guns to motorcycles to outdoor cooking to politics. Over the past couple of years he’s posted several videos about potential “without rule of law” scenarios and offers his advice on how to deal with them.
I’ve listed links to his WROL videos here. They’re well worth your time to watch… and take notes, because he goes into a fair amount of detail. Even if you’re a “prepper”, if you’ve not already watched these videos they’re great for helping you organize your thoughts about how you and your family would deal with such a situation.
“Nutnfancy” also has a number of great political videos as well. You can see all of his videos at his YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/nutnfancy.
1. “Mob Rules” (35 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9TvtpydzjI
2. “Without Rule of Law: Don’t Hasten the Day” (24 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPVSE5jg_LY
3. “Without Rule of Law: Rules of Engagement” (52 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPwQMp5kjRw
4. “Without Rule of Law: Resurgence of Community” (47 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCM3eb3ypkk
5. “WROL: Many Will Die for Want of Water” (49 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcE5x3X6TQ4
6. “How I Would Be Dead in WROL” (37 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtJXtp6OK68
And to make sure you’re ready when the unthinkable happens Nutnfancy has provided this three-part video review of his own emergency preparedness system…
1. Urban Survival Kit: Surviving Urban Disaster Pt 1 (45 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVkntkChnnM
2. Urban Survival Kit: Surviving Urban Disaster Pt 2 (46 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOC901gcLng
3. Urban Survival Kit: Surviving Urban Disaster Pt 3 (51 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeNVsc3vvi4
And last, but not least, check out his video review of the items he carries with him on a daily basis to be ready any time…
Every Day Carry (EDC) (46 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1eAQQ5VByc