There are countless alarmist articles from the past rotting away on the forgotten side of the internet, warning us that “this time it’ll be different” and that the given crisis of the moment was “the one” that would lead to big change. Flawed humans are often too eager to over inflate information that suits them to build the exciting revolutionary narrative of their fantasies. We should always be wary of falling into the trap of this alarmism, but as 2020 comes to an end there are some truly unique events happening in the West, especially America that cannot be ignored.
The Covid-19 Pandemic, or should I say governments’ strange measures to fight it, have eroded one of the major pillars of Western stability, that is rarely acknowledged. Life in the West is finally becoming uncomfortable and whether this is “good news” is up for debate, but it is certainly good for creating major political change.
The most unseen form of repression is perhaps the most effective
If we look at the late 20th and now the 21st century it is critical to acknowledge that the main means of coercion of the population of a given nation is comfort. Throughout all of human history from the point when we first started to slap together farm implements there has had to be some form of repression/coercion to keep the system, that we call society, on its feet. The serfs needed to toil, the knights needed to defend, the traders to trade and the elite to oversee it all. This is one of the paradoxes of Democracy, we created a system that tells us the people are in charge and free to do whatever they want when in reality society exists as it does, exactly because people cannot do what they want and do not have the power to topple the system.
Fancy textbooks call the willingness of individuals to submit to society “coercion”. Traditionally we, not surprisingly, think of this coercion in the most blunt and obvious form that is easy to understand – the police. In most nations there is an army for external threats, but the police have the same hierarchy of ranks, fancy uniforms and weapons only their enemy is you. The good news is they don’t want to kill you, just coerce you into enough obedience for society to function. After the truncheon club, many point the finger at religion or media as the great repressor. Many of our views and opinions are formed for us by these two factors and it cannot be denied that they shape our way of thinking, which can and does create coercion. Comfort though is usually not mentioned anywhere despite it being probably the most powerful form of repression we have ever seen, but this is not surprising.
Again, this isn’t to say that coercion/repression is a great evil. Without it, the complex societies that give us many benefits, could not stand and none of us wants to go live in a cave. And it is exactly this fact, that very few people are willing to go “live off the land”, that gives comfort so much power as a means of control. The overall global migration trend is for those with less to try to force themselves into countries with more, thus increasing their level of comfort. The migrants may not put it in these terms, but humans like all of God’s creatures tend to take the easy way out. Racoons prefer to attack the dumpster behind McDonald’s for food because it can’t fight back and is always available. This probably has a horrible effect on the racoons’ health but it is the most comfortable option. They become very dependent on the dumpster and would probably shriek in terror if the fast food “restaurant” was ever to be closed down forcing them to go back to dealing with food that can run/squirm away. And this sort of situation is what has happened in the decadent West.
We have watched the glorious triumphant pith-helmeted European transform from heroic and rock solid at the beginning of the 20th century into a pathetic rotting farce of himself by the dawn of the new millennium. The West is dying out demographically, the ethics and morals of Christianity are gone, the amount of debt has gone beyond the event horizon, and it would seem the average person of European descent has nothing left to look forward to other than pills, booze, marijuana and saving up for a PS5. This is not a shocking revelation, millions of people see this happening, but why is nothing done about it? Again we have to look back to comfort – the West has lived too well for too long after the final shots of WWII.
When you have a lot to lose like a comfortable home, stable income, and the lower two tiers of Maslow’s Pyramid, plus a lifestyle that the kings of old could only dream of, it is only natural to not want to risk losing it all.
The fear of national debt, migrant crisis, degradation of morals, etc. seem just far enough in the future that it is never worth risking the comfortable present. But now the Covid-19 pandemic has eaten away at the West’s level of comfort so much that we can only now expect to see big changes happening in the Enlightenment nations. Once the pleasant mainstream bourgeois lifestyle becomes impossible to live anything could be on the table.
Covid-19 Measures have trounced on comfort levels
The Pandemic has caused “major economic shock” to small businesses in America as various shutdowns and quarantines brought the most havoc “on the little guy” while leaving big Walmart, Amazon and other major players open for business. This advantage for certain international giants has really boosted their profits during a crisis. This is not due to their brilliant efforts but the squeeze put on all the smaller competitors.
This “transfer of wealth” may have finally tipped the scales enough for the amount of Westerners who “have little/nothing to lose” to reach critical mass. Protests against Covid-19 measures, which the Mainstream Media seems unable to manipulate at present, are becoming ever more frequent, and most notably, ever more populist. The protests also have a lot of overlap with the #StopTheSteal and Yellow Vest movements. With Americans frustrated and impoverished by Covid-19 measures, while at the same time there is a battle for power over a blatantly rigged 2020 U.S. presidential election, it looks as though the powder keg is dry, primed and awaiting a final spark.
The main issue is for recent history is that, as stated above, comfort has worked as a means of keeping people the world over but most specifically in the West coerced into going along with the status quo. Now, however, in the face of “The Great Reset” it seems like the elite have lost their playbook. Comfort is decreasing and promises of a “fourth industrial revolution” that doesn’t seem too promising for the common man, is not exactly going to woo the masses.
Comfort and Communism
We saw that the role of comfort in coercion was very powerful when the Supreme Court gave Bush the Presidency over Gore. Many people at the time felt that this was criminal, the end of Democracy, and cause for revolution. Some people carried some signs around and went home. When the government just outright slaughtered the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas there were similar feelings that this crime against the people would be punished by revolution. The same goes for the various riots in L.A. and Ferguson. But ultimately no one did anything. Fundamental injustices will always be tolerated because for most people comfort is vastly more important than justice or other moral ideals. Part of the reason the Soviet Union lost the Cold War is that simply the Communist elite wanted the West’s level of comfort. “Blue jeans and sausage” proved much more powerful than righteous Marxist positions. Outside of the Soviet Higherups, the masses in Communist nations could see on TV screens that elsewhere there is more stuff and people live “better”. In America historians delude themselves that the Warsaw Pact wanted American freedom, when they actually wanted American stuff. The real race in the Cold War could have been for the highest level of comfort for the masses.
But now we are in a unique moment in history where there is not only a blatantly stolen American election, populist movements rising in the West, public outrage over Covid-19 measures and government incompetence. But more importantly life is becoming finally uncomfortable. So uncomfortable that for many they are starting to have nothing to lose which is exactly what populist politicians need to make the change necessary to keep the West alive.
One of the main reasons the Silent Majority sits at home while radicals mutant Western society is comfort. Now that things are not very cozy the Silent Majority is very likely to get much louder in 2021.
A highly functional society needs enough comfort to create stability, but enough discomfort to keep the population a bit agitated and able to take risks.
Tim Kirby is an independent journalist, TV and radio host.