So what do you get when you cross financial turmoil with political and cultural upheaval, and then sprinkle the whole concoction with military tensions? A very nasty stew, that's what...
The events of the past few days have played out like a slowly unfolding nightmare. A nightmare where you know the next bad thing is about to happen and all you can do is wait for it.
Well, as of press time that "next bad thing" is the carnage we witnessed in Dallas on Thursday night. Hopefully by the time you're reading this there isn't a next next bad thing taking place, but given how quickly these events are escalating we have to wonder if this is really the end of the cycle of violence or just the beginning.
As readers of this column know, I've been talking about 2016 as the year of potential civil war since the very beginning of the year, and sadly that prediction seems like it's becoming more prescient by the day.
So are we really heading toward a summer of rage and the breakdown of society? Economic collapse? War? Let's look at five signs that things are looking bleak for the months ahead.
1) The European banking sector is flashing red
On the big scheme of things, this may not seem like much. But then again, if you told the average Joe Sixpack or Jane Soccermom a decade ago that Bear Sterns and Lehman Bros. were about to collapse they probably would've given you a blank stare and gone back to Dancing With The Stars.
In fact, the parallels between the Lehman crisis and the impending European banking crisis is one that is coming up more and more frequently these days. Post-Brexit the establishment mouthpieces were tripping all over themselves to declare again and again and again that Brexit was "not a Lehman moment" but someone forgot to tell that to Britain's banking sector...and Italy's banking sector...and Deutsche Bank.
As I wrote earlier this week, Italy's banking sector is likely the first domino to fall, but as others have pointed out, it's likely that Brexit is just being used as an excuse to break the EU's new, poorly thought-out and wildly unpopular bank bail-in rules. But the tensions playing out right now between Italy and Germany (via the ECB intermediary) are coming to the surface in interesting ways, with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi directly blaming ECB chief Mario Draghi for Italy's current banking predicament (and not without good cause).
What this really indicates is not just the financial breakdown of the European banking sector; namely...
2) Europe is fracturing politically and societally
Italy and Germany are fighting over the EU's banking bailout rules just as Greece fought with Germany about the terms of their bailouts. The rest of the so-called "PIIGS" are in various stages of tension and discord with the ECB and their German overlords. The UK has voted to Brexit. The entire continent is struggling with the mass influx of refugees from NATO's wars of aggression. And as a result, nationalist movements are on the rise. Did somebody say "European project?"
That's right, the European Union is at this point a "union" in name only (if it ever really was more than that). Eastern Europe is resentful of how the EU is undermining their economic interests and meddling in their internal affairs. Southern Europe feels that they are lesser players at the EU table. Germans feel that they are being asked to shoulder the economic burden of all the unproductive EU states. "Brexit" has sparked fears of "Nexit" and "Frexit" and "Auxit" and "Denxit" and on and on.
And within each country, headlines about the rapes, sexual assaults, and violent crimes committed by the EU's influx of refugees compete with headlines about growing xenophobia and hatred of ethnic minorities for space in outraged Europeans' Twitter timelines. Tensions are bubbling to the surface, and the surprise Brexit vote and hotly contested elections in Austria are just the first political signs of a seismic shift that is taking place not just in European society, but around the world.
Like in America, where...
3) The 2016 Election is Becoming Violent
It was just one month ago that I was writing about how the long hot summer of political violence will not end well. And now here we are with the chaos at Trump rallies being replaced by the chaos of police ambushes. But if all of this seems seems too much, just remember: it's about to get even worse. Huge protests, riots and disruptions are being planned for both the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention.
This is perhaps unsurprising. A recent poll shows that Donald Trump is the most disliked presidential candidate in modern American history. Do you want to take a guess who's second? That's right: Hillary Clinton! We are smack dab in the middle of an election cycle where a growing percentage of the public would rather die in a giant meteor strike than welcome either President Clinton or President Trump to the Oval Office.
Add to that the simmering racial tensions, escalating culture wars, worsening economic conditions and general moral decay and you have the perfect stew for a societal breakdown the likes of which we have never seen in modern history. You think the Great Depression and the dust bowl were bad? What if you had a financial breakdown and/or a disruption to the food supply today? Do you think most communities would be able to band together and help each other out, or would it be a free-for-all with looting, rioting and pillaging? One look at the Black Friday mayhem of recent years should be enough to answer that question.
And what if on top of all of that there was another major global conflict? Well hold on to your hat, because...
4) Military tensions are rising around the globe
Do you think NATO's Anakonda exercise on Russia's doorstep was an ominous development? How about the recently leaked emails showing former NATO Gen. Philip Breedlove's quest to whip up hysteria against the Russkies? Or NATO's pursuit of its Ballistic Missile Defense shield in Eastern Europe? Well, Europe isn't the only place where military tensions are heating up.
Asia is seeing its own share of rising tensions, with the US preparing its THAAD missile defense against "North Korea" (read: China) causing significant concern in the region even as Japan scrambles record amounts of fighters to intercept stray Chinese aircraft. Meanwhile the people of Okinawa are fighting their own battle with the US military while the "silent fight" for control of the South China Sea continues unabated.
Oh, and in case you missed it, tensions are growing in Africa, too, where border clashes between Ethiopia and Eritrea are raising fears of conflict and new armed groups are emerging to terrorize central Mali.
Meanwhile, as I reported last year, military budgets continue to rise around the globe as nations upgrade and modernize their fighting forces with all the latest multi-million dollar drone toys and other googads from the terror-military-industrial complex.
Hmmm...but maybe we're forgetting something here. Oh yes, that's right...
5) The Middle East is still on fire
Did I forget to mention the Middle East? Because last time I looked, Syria is still fighting for its life against the foreign insurgency, Israel's record-breaking $40 billion aid deal from the US is about to get even bigger (even as the country takes an even harder turn to the right politically), Saudi Arabia's war crimes in Yemen continue to be completely ignored by the rest of the world, and chaos in Turkey raises the specter of boots-on-the-ground NATO intervention in Syria.
If all that wasn't enough, OPEC is increasing market share even as the oil pie shrinks, leaving many wondering whether the cartel even matters anymore. Certainly all is not well in the House of Saud, where the sell-off of Aramco has to be seen as a desperation move and the US continues to wield the 28 pages as a continual threat to their existence.
Oh yeah, and let's not forget Iran, which has never really left the crosshairs of the neocons, just been put on the back burner...for now.
Are you dizzy yet?
So what do you get when you cross financial turmoil with political and cultural upheaval, and then sprinkle the whole concoction with military tensions? A very nasty stew, that's what, and if you're not careful it will all boil over into economic collapse, civil war, and global conflict.
There is every reason to believe that we are in for some deeply turbulent, deeply unpleasant times in the coming months and years. But let us, as always, keep our perspective. I warned about a summer of rage in 2009 and I was wrong then. I could be wrong now. I hope I am.
However this summer shapes up, the same fundamental rules apply: the more we use this window of opportunity to make our escape from the systems of control in every way possible (agorism, open source, community building, complementary and alternative currencies, pirate internet, guerrilla gardening, etc., etc. etc...) the better prepared we will be for whenever the doo really does hit the oscillator.
After all, as Corbett Report member bakedinbendobserved in the comments section of yesterday's commentary on Dallas: "We can’t have a civil war if not enough people show up…"