Wednesday, March 9, 2016

SHTF Self-Education Series: The Coming Anarchy: A book review by Partyzantski

I am reviewing a book today that has been on my shelf for quite some time.  It bears a copyright of 2000, the edition I am covering here is the 2001 edition by First Vintage Books.  To put this book in some historical context, the aftermath of the Cold War was still being processed and the rotting timbers of the post Soviet state were still actively falling asunder.

The key takeaway from this book is a vision of what the future looks like, because we have been living amongst it and not noticed.  The future is the hollow state, with sharply defined haves and have nots... it is a hypersegregated world not unlike Brazil.  Why is this important for the readership here?  It is important as it provides an alternate set of planning assumptions for the crowd generally known as "preppers".  While it is a relief to consider that the world will probably not be rendered a moonscape through limited nuclear war (if such a thing exists), the proposed grinding, chaotic fallen nation states that will carry on are not exactly comforting.

There are a number of points that suggest that the world will not go "Tango Uniform" as considered.  The main point is power.  If the political system is shattered, there is no way to maintain wealth or make more of it.  Control becomes a very local issue - a very brutal and local issue.  Those in power will not relinquish this, no matter how much they disregard the "flyover bumpkins".  The ruling elite are well on the road to being revealed as the charlatans and frauds that they are.

Back to the book.  Consider it a collection of Kaplan's articles, thoughtfully organized into this book.  There is some deep content on West Africa and its future arc, which while intriguing and horrifying, cannot be ignored.

     The 2nd chapter is perhaps the most important.  Titled "Was Democracy just a moment?", it reflects upon the misapplication of "democracy" as a panchreston to make the world a better place.  One may consider if the Puritanical zeal that American history has largely and falsely been based upon has transmogrified into a tool of permanent Revolution - the ultimate manifestation of a Communist, Totalitarian vanguard that sits astride the world, "ground and pound" style.

     I take issue with the author's suggestion in Chapter 3 "Idealism Won't Stop Mass Murder", that bigger spy agencies are important in stopping genocides.  If that were the case, how did all those Yazidis die?  Would idealism have helped the Armenians?  The Cambodians?  I think not.  Idealism has revealed itself in the early stages of this century to be a mere husk that signals some social virtue.  This issue of words with no supporting deeds where real risk is taken is anathema to Western Civilization.  Millions of wan hipsters and Millenials, whining for "#FreeWhatever" are not going to stand in the way of a committed enemy, an enemy like ISIS, like the WW2 era Imperial Japanese Army, the SS or even the Maoists or Stalinists.  Weak, smarmy sentiment does not do well against disciplined men with steel and lead.  Never has, never will.  Americans need to stop curating their beards and living single and childless and get to the tasks at hand - ensuring the survival of their people.

     In Chapter IV, "Special Intelligence", Kaplan was ahead of his time.  His prognostication that the military and the CIA would eventually merge functions has not happened completely, but the support both derive from this is tremendous.  Consider the Intelligence Budget in 2000, compared to now..  It is clear that the budget has more than doubled (depending how you count it).  Now, are we twice as safe?  Interesting point to consider.

     Chapter V, "And Now For the News:  The Disturbing Freshness of Gibbon's Decline and Fall" covers the adage that what was old is new again.  The patterns of history are unmistakable and clear, we ignore the parallels at our own peril.  To those who downplay this, consider the strength of those parallels and put the organic fallacy in context.

     Chapter VI, "Proportionalism" is directly opposed to the Puritanical, Progressive permanent revolution.  The tasks across the globe... are they really necessary?  If so, why?  Any American government must articulate exactly why the average, long suffering American must pay for this in blood and treasure.  If they do not, they autodelegitimize.

     Chapter VIII is titled "Conrad's Nostromo and the Third World" examines the 3rd world through the lens of Conrad's novel.

     Kaplan ties it all up with a bow in Chapter IX, "The Dangers of Peace". Opening with a quote from political theorist Gaetano Mosca's classic, "The Ruling Class (1939)":

"universal peace is something to be feared, because it could come about "only if all the civilized world were to belong to a single social type, to a single religion, and if there were to be an end to disagreements as to the ways in which social betterment can be attained..."

Kaplan then comments:

"a truism that bears repeating is that peace, as a primary goal, is dangerous because it implies you will sacrifice any principle for the sake of it"

Read the above quote with current events, here in America, and abroad, in mind.

Kaplan's reflections on the value of the war as a tool of progress, and the Cold War in particular, are an excellent re-read with the benefit of hindsight and introspection.  It is prescient in its description of the "educated" class that has arisen through the ranks of the Social Justice Institutions and what that portends for the future.

The Coming Anarchy by Robert D. Kaplan, Vintage Books, 2001
ISBN# 978-0375-707599

The Coming Anarchy by Robert Kaplan

You may also enjoy reading some of Partyzantski's previously published book reviews:

The Starfish and The Spider

Message to Garcia

Coup D'Etat (Now back in stock)

Special Forces Guerilla Warfare Manual

Phantom Soldier

Total Resistance

Simple Sabotage Field Manual #3

Prepper's Home Defense

"The Coming Anarchy" is part of our Tuesday Book Review series ~ Written by StopShoutingBlog contributor and #FAB50 Blog Award Winner Partyzantski, coolest cat on teh inner webs, retired Mustang, former FID embedded military Advisor, SASO trainer and scenario developer, Electronic Warfare Aviator, PME instructor, certified Force Protection and Anti-terrorism officer and combat seasoned USMC (0202) field grade intelligence officer. When not blogging or maintaining weapons proficiency at the range, he enjoys cat herding and travel to off-the-beaten-track locales. You can follow him on Twitter @Partyzantski  

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