The National Intelligence Bulletin is a weekly look at threats to social, political, economic, and financial stability in the United States, and provides early warnings and indications of America’s volatile future. This report is available each week for Intelligence subscribers.
ADMIN NOTE: I didn’t expect or intend to be out of pocket for this long (due to the North Carolina trip), however, I’m catching up on last week’s reporting. I’ll be back in the office this week (on Wednesday) so normal reporting will soon resume.
In this National Intelligence Bulletin…
- InFocus: Congress tackles far-right extremism
InFocus: Ray Dalio appeared in a 60 Minutes interview last weekend. Dalio runs Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest and most successful hedge fund, and for at least the past two years has been warning of the potential for a future class conflict.
During the interview, Dalio says: “Capitalism needs to be reformed. It doesn’t need to be abandoned… We’re at a juncture. We can do it together or we will do it in conflict. There will be a conflict between the rich and the poor. I play probabilities. And I would say it’s probably 60-40, 65-35 that it will probably be done badly, and it will be a bad path.”
Dalio has joined other financial elites who have warned that inequality will lead to significant civil unrest. Nearly ever study shows that inequality and poverty play a role in driving internal conflicts. But it’s not just socioeconomic factors that will push the United States closer to a civil conflict.
There is undoubtedly a growing level of resentment among many whites over how immigration, multiculturalism, and globalization are changing the country. Rap and hip hop is widely cited as the most dominant music genre in America; hip hop is a significant part of pop culture. Whites are on pace to become a majority-minority in the next 25 years. There’s a small but loud group of agitators who openly celebrate this. The combination of these things has led to a sense of desperation, which has at times led to violence.
A common complaint is that white men, predominantly, built America, but an insurgent culture that emphasizes the importance of immigration and diversity is reshaping what it means to be American. There’s a sense among many whites that the country is being ‘lost’ to these forces. It’s not just racial, although that’s part of it. American identity is also changing with regard to religion, ideology, culture, and politics. As Waleed Shahid of Justice Democrats tweeted out last year, “The Old America is dying. A New America is struggling to be born.” It’s this reshaping of American identity that’s driving much of the cultural conflict.
But there’s an even darker picture forming here. There are two recent developments that portend greater instability in the future.
First, the House Judiciary Committee held a Tuesday hearing on the threat of hate crimes and white nationalism. Committee members urged law enforcement, the media, social media platforms, and other groups to stop ignoring the threat of white nationalism, and to take greater efforts to stop its message.
After reading the transcript, there’s one thing that really stood out to me, and I’ll explain its importance below. Eva Paterson, co-founder and president of the Equal Justice Society, first described her organization’s mission as “transforming the nation’s consciousness on race through law, social science, and the arts.” She later provided some recommendations for the Committee to pursue:
“We would like a national commission to be formed to study all forms of white supremacy. We think there should be a joint law enforcement-civilian task force to study white nationalism and to outline an organized counterinsurgency strategy… We need to develop a clearing house for data collection, reporting, and analysis on white nationalism.”
Counterinsurgency is a military term, but it’s being used here in the context of countering the ideological insurgency of white nationalism and white identitarianism. One of the most important things that counterinsurgents can do is examine the underlying cause of an insurgency. In this case, it’s a national identity that’s being lost, a sense of heritage and history that’s being erased, and a sense that whites will become disenfranchised in the newer, less white America. After all, the grievances among many minorities is that they’re subjected to systemic racism and oppression. Rhetorically, what should stop whites from suffering under that system of oppression once they are the minority? That’s a commonly-cited concern for white identitarians — white nationalism is their solution — and without somehow addressing that central fear, a counterinsurgency effort is more likely to inflame than extinguish, as I’ll explain later.
America may not see movement on Paterson’s recommendations any time soon, but these ideas are wholly supported by the Democratic field of presidential candidates, some of whom (Senators Booker, Harris, Klobuchar, and Sanders) co-sponsored the following bill.
Second, late last month, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) submitted S.894 – Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2019. [source] The Senate bill outlines white nationalists as the “most significant domestic terrorism threat” and would establish “dedicated domestic terrorism offices within the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to analyze and monitor” far-right and ‘white extremist’ activities.
(A quick peek at the numbers show that there were 49 deaths associated with far-right/white extremists over the past 16 years, which is roughly three deaths per year. The bill cites that there were 62 far-right/white extremist incidents resulting in deaths over the course of 17 years, which is about 3.6 incidents per year. To put that into perspective: so far this year, 104 people have been murdered and 422 have been shot and wounded in Chicago alone.)
I do expect Democrats to, once they regain power, take the lead against ‘white supremacy’ at the highest levels of the federal government. But here’s where these plans could backfire.
White identitarians fear that the tides of power are shifting against whites in America (and the West, as a whole). There is nothing more accelerating for those fears than for federal and state governments to home in on this small movement.
A government crack down on white racial identitarianism, especially one led by Democrats, will likely lead to greater fears of government oppression towards whites, which is likely to radicalize more young whites to ‘racial consciousness.’ (For instance, look at how the FBI and other law enforcement agencies began investigating the Black Lives Matter movement and inadvertently caused greater agitation. [source] and [source])
According to a recent Pew study, just five percent of whites say that race is “extremely important” to their identity, while 52 percent of blacks and 31 percent of Hispanics said the same. According to this poll, only 15 percent of whites say that their race is either “extremely” or “very” important to their identity. [source]
The question is, should we expect violence and unrest to rise accordingly if or when a greater number of whites engage in ‘racial consciousness,’ identity politics, and acting in their own racial self-interests? If today’s 15 percent of whites were to grow to 30 or 50 percent who believe that race is central to their identity, should we expect violence and unrest to also grow? I would think, yes.
This reminds me of the civil conflict in Iraq between Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds; the civil war in Ivory Coast, in which the country’s three ethnic groups fought; Yugoslavia, in which ethnic groups waged war on each other; and most other civil conflicts in which ethnicity, representation, and power are central factors.
I’m not predicting that violence in America will near the levels of Iraq or Yugoslavia. Instead, I would just point to the numerous examples of shifting ethnic power in countries around the world, and the high correlation between that and civil conflict. The conflict we experience is likely to be low-level, at least in the beginning, and somewhat sporadic. Yet with the media as a selective watchdog, a single incident could be exploited to create significant social instability; mainly among the radicalized fringes of America’s racial and ethnic identitarian groups. For instance, just recently a five year old white boy was attacked by a black man and thrown from the third-floor balcony of a mall. [source] The white victim remains hospitalized and could still die. There’s been significant outrage among white identitarians, and it quickly spread to even white mainstream conservatives. We should certainly expect two things: interracial violence to be exploited as often as possible (because both benefit from their side’s outrage) and continued racially-associated violence, which is indicative of our low intensity conflict.
Looking ahead, I remain concerned hat ethnic/racial friction combined with high levels of inequality (persistent; both real and perceived); underperforming economic conditions and lack of opportunity (emerging); higher unemployment, especially for younger people and low-skill workers (emerging; will accelerate due to AI and automation); and the likelihood of state and national fiscal insolvency in the future will lead to much higher levels of violence and unrest. – S.C.