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I get razzed for being a “conspiracy theorist.” It used to bother me.

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But then I noticed the term “conspiracy theory” being applied to any alternate explanation or even question, regardless of the potential for conspiracy.  Wonder about alternate causes for the TWA 800 crash, even ones that have nothing to do with lizard people or secret societies? That makes you a conspiracy theorist. Shut up. The fuel tank exploded. Watch your sitcoms. Keep buying crap.

So it’s come down to this: Either you wholeheartedly and without question accept what “most people” say about anything, or you’re a conspiracy theorist. Realizing this dichotomy made it easy for me. Given the choice between those two, I am most definitely a conspiracy theorist: All day long and twice on Sundays. It puts me in some pretty good company, actually.

So anyway, there’s this Jade Helm thing going on that you might not have heard about. It’s a very large military exercise in the American Southwest scheduled to last through the summer of 2015. American (and some suspect, international) troops will be deployed on exercises throughout the region to simulate an insurgency during a potential foreign engagement. Most people say it’s good practice for keeping America strong. Nothing to worry about, right?

Of course, some people are a bit concerned about it.

Well, just worrying doesn’t do anything. But taking action in this case is pretty difficult to imagine — even if you’re among those conspiracy theorists who believe the worst. The Feds have MRAP’s and choppers and tanks and billions of rounds of ammo and things. They also have the complacency of a few hundred million people who just want to get to yoga class on time and play games on Facebook–or who are working too hard just to survive to notice much else. So if Jade Helm really is the first sign of the rollout of totalitarian martial law in America, there’s really not a hell of a lot we’re going to do about it. Might as well go to yoga.

On the bright side,  some very interesting art came out of the suffering in Soviet gulags. They don’t call them concentration camps for nothin’.

But you know — whenever anyone dismisses talk of marital law as outlandish and as the product of an overheated imagination, I ask them to step back and look at it differently.

Life under martial law isn’t the worst that could happen. Total anarchy is far worse. Can you imagine how quickly our petty hatreds and divisions would turn bloody if there were some massive crisis (natural or otherwise) and authority failed in total? We’ve seen a demonstration of what happens in such a scenario over the last 12 years or so in Iraq: Take a large multicultural and multi-ethnic society, ditch its government, and BINGO! you’ve turned the devil loose. There would be no good guys left at all. Or as one of my favorite professors (who once lived in a military dictatorship in Bolivia) said: “Under totalitarianism, you know who the asshole is. Under anarchy, you have no idea who the asshole is.”

Just to prove talk of martial law and such isn’t so remote, I tell them what I’d do if I were in charge of a vast country of 320 million people or so, where many have had it pretty good in comparison to the rest of the world throughout history, and most people own guns.

I’d have a plan to maintain order no matter what, and in the face of any opponent — even internal ones.
I’d have secret backup locations for all major government agencies.
I’d have the ability to control communications both at the level of the population and the individual.
I’d have vast propaganda support for a point of view that would calm people into complacency, or discourage them from protesting.
I’d cater to the organizations and corporations who make the stuff I need to ensure order.
I’d have agreements with mercenaries and foreign governments to support me should my own army splinter or turn against me.
I’d have plans for mass detention, potentially of millions.
I’d have plans for mass casualty events, with triage sites and mass gravesites mapped out in advance.
I’d have plans to suspend any former promises of individual liberty in the interest of maintaining order and preventing further calamity.
I’d make sure that the rich and powerful on whom I depend know I have their back — or at least continue to assume that I do.

I’d do all these things. I’d need to. It would be part of my job.

Of course, because I’m a philosopher and not just some golfing, narcissistic Harvard attorney who owes his political career to shady multinational corporations, I’d keep first things in mind. My government would be of the people and for the people, and any extreme measures to maintain order would be purely provisional. The goal would be to return to individual liberty and the rule of law following any cataclysmic event, and as soon as possible. The principles of human dignity would always be held highest in under LaBrie administration.

And I don’t even golf.

In fact, that gives me an idea:

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If there’s real nervousness among the public about Jade Helm now, it’s because not many of us really believe our leaders have anything like real principles in mind. I think we’re all pretty sure they’re just narcissist Harvard attorneys who golf together. And they intend to keep doing so.