This is the fourth in this series of articles. The other four may be found at these links:
1 – The challenges facing American readers
2 – Lessons from South African experience
3 – More African lessons, focusing on clan and tribal groups
5 – Putting it all together in practice
In the previous article in this series, we looked at tribalism in Africa, and how (despite its admitted problems), in the absence of law and order, it’s almost the only social arrangement or organization that makes sense. Now let’s look at how some of those clans and tribes actually dealt with the dangers facing them. Not all of their approaches will be appropriate (legally, culturally or in any other way) to the situation in the USA, but some might be adapted in the light of the dangers facing us at this time.
One of the first problems encountered by clans and tribes was to impose internal discipline on their members. In a life-or-death situation, there can be no compromise between individual rights and the needs of the group. The individual can’t survive outside the group, so individual rights and preferences go to the wall. There are no two ways about it. If the group decides on a course of action, all its members have to go along with that, whether they agree or not. If they don’t, and try to back out, they’re effectively branding themselves as traitors to that group, and the consequences might be lethally dangerous for them. Joining the group may not be optional, in a culture where one is born into a clan and tribe; but if there is an element of choice, this harsh reality has to be carefully weighed in the balance before committing to it.
I see many similarities between this and the gangs we find in the cities and prisons of the USA – indeed, during my service as a prison chaplain, I found it easy to understand the gangs if I just treated them as local equivalents of the more violent African tribes. Many of those gangs require that members prove themselves by committing a crime or crimes before they’ll be allowed to join. The severity of the crime usually equates to the status of the gang in criminal society. Some are “blood in, blood out“: prospective members have to kill a designated person before they’re accepted, and once they’ve joined, they can never leave the gang – only die as a member. Any attempt to leave voluntarily means they may be (and often are) savagely beaten, or tortured, or even killed by the other members (i.e. “blood out”) for their “disloyalty” or “betrayal”. We see the same mindset at work in many urban ghettoes in this country. The saying “snitches get stitches” is nothing more than intimidation directed against local residents. In so many words, it means if they talk to the cops about the gangs, they’ll be badly hurt – or worse.
As we’ve noted previously, clans and tribes tend to flourish when normal social structures of law and order have failed, to a greater or lesser extent. They’re an attempt to impose some sort of order upon what would otherwise be chaos. As things get more and more chaotic, clans and tribes frequently become the arbiters of who lives and who dies – the more powerful groups can protect their members, while less powerful ones can’t. This leads to new groupings, as smaller clans abandon a tribe (i.e. a larger group) that’s proved to be ineffectual, and ally themselves with a more potent force for the sake of survival.
Inevitably, of course, this leads to inter-clan and inter-tribal conflict. When everything’s up for grabs, he who doesn’t grab for it goes without. Witness the amount of United Nations food aid that’s stolen as soon as it arrives in African nations, and shortly thereafter is for sale in local markets. The gang controlling that market has somehow got its hands on the food, and rivals can only get some by paying for it, thereby implicitly acknowledging the dominance of the market’s gang bosses. On a larger scale, the same applies to misappropriation of aid funds by bureaucrats and government ministers, who are merely gangsters writ large.
“The common understanding is that the UK ‘helps’ Africa through aid, but in reality this serves as a smokescreen for the billions taken out,” said Martin Drewry, director of Health Poverty Action, one of the NGOs behind the report. “Let’s use more accurate language. It’s sustained looting – the opposite of generous giving.”
We can see the same system developing in many inner-city ghettoes in the USA. City bureaucrats and aid organizations may want to operate there, but unless they have the blessing of the gangs that control them, they’ll find themselves hobbled. People won’t trust them or talk to them unless the gangs approve – and if they try to do so without that approval, the consequences may be drastic. At the same time, local politicians find they can’t win elections without gang support; and they then use city resources to reward the gangs. The situation in Chicago is perhaps best known, but it’s similar in many other cities. What’s more, as gang-bangers spread to other cities (sometimes voluntarily, sometimes through circumstances beyond anyone’s control), they take their violent, criminal tendencies with them, making life worse for everyone in their new surroundings.
How does this carry over to defending ourselves in an environment where law enforcement and the prosecutorial authorities are biased in favor of progressive, left-wing causes, and effectively abandon the impartial rule of law? It means that our equivalent of clans and tribes have to take up that burden themselves, just as they did – and still do – in Africa. If nobody else will stand in the gap on our behalf, we have to do so ourselves. If we don’t, we’re choosing to be victims.
In Africa, this took on many forms and functions. A typical local clan would divide up necessary functions among themselves. Some would act as lookouts, keeping an eye on the neighborhood, alerting others to any potential problems as soon as they became evident. Others would form a small armed force, standing by in case of need. They might be on permanent standby in a dangerous area, ready to act at a moment’s notice; in less troubled areas, they might go about their normal business, but keep weapons close at hand, ready to assemble and go into action when called. Still others would spread the intelligence net wider, keeping an eye on other towns and villages in the area, listening for news of gangs and groups that might grow powerful enough to pose a threat locally or regionally. All would report to, and receive orders from, designated coordinators for their areas of responsibility.
If trouble arose (for example, a dangerous group was reported to be heading for their area), the clan would have to make rapid decisions. Were they strong enough to hold off the aggressors themselves? If so, that’s what they would do. If not, could they ask other clans, or the “tribe” – the wider group to which they were more or less closely bonded – for assistance? If not, where could they escape to? Escape was always the least favored option, as it meant abandoning property, crops, and stability in favor of an uncertain existence as nomadic refugees. Once deprived of the stability of being able to make a living or feed themselves, they were at the mercy of almost everybody else. That could, quite literally, be a fate worse than death in Africa.
The clan might also adopt a more aggressive and pre-emptive policy. It might seek to install its members in local power positions (mayor, village chief, chief of police, and so on). They would then exercise their authority in favor of the clan and its members, and also mobilize external resources where possible. If they could offer a politician the guaranteed votes of their town, he might in turn be willing to use his political influence to send troops or police to support them against other clans or tribes, or whatever the threat might be. Areas that could not (or would not) offer the same support to politicians might find themselves in a very parlous situation indeed.
I have little doubt that we’ll see similar situations develop in the USA. We can already see them on the progressive left-wing side of the fence. How many activist prosecutors have secured election, funded by millions of dollars from progressive sources, only to abandon the prosecution of many crimes? How many police forces have been ordered to stand aside, and let a rioting mob have its way? How many have abandoned their own precincts to mob violence? How many have refused to assist law-abiding citizens being victimized by the mob – and even arrested those same citizens, rather than those illegally attacking them? How many jurisdictions won’t prosecute rioters, even when they’re caught red-handed, because the local District Attorney or equivalent is “on their side”? Well, as the old saying goes, “what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”. If that’s how one side wants to play this, I daresay the other side won’t be slow to do the same.
That kind of pressure need not only extend to elected officials. One way in which I saw it being done in Africa was to make it clear to cops and soldiers that they had to weigh up the cost of their actions. If they were more or less impartial, and tried to do their job even-handedly, they’d get a lot more cooperation and assistance from the community. If they didn’t, they got very little; and if they proved partisan and one-sided, they might face actual attack. The same applied to their families, which might become victims if the cops chose sides. In an attempt to forestall the latter, some cops moved their families into protected compounds: but residence in such a compound automatically marked them as suspect. Those living there were shunned, and many shops refused to serve them. Some were deliberately targeted for attack, with Molotov cocktails lobbed over fences to start fires, or threatening letters sent to them. I haven’t yet seen that happening in the USA, but I have little doubt that if similar conditions develop here, such responses will become more common. It’s human nature.
I think that defensive measures by US “clans” and “tribes” will be more technological. Instead of relying primarily on word of mouth for intelligence, we’ll see news and social media combed for clues as to who’s doing what, with which, to whom. Contacts in police forces and sheriffs’ offices will be “milked” for information. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some locals deploy small unmanned aerial vehicles, which can be bought over the counter or online, to keep an eye on their areas, particularly at night. Equipped with suitable sensors (also freely available at relatively low cost), they can help a neighborhood to keep watch on any threatening groups that approach, and deploy its neighborhood guard forces to intercept and interdict them if necessary. The same can be done (and is already being done by cops in many cities) by tying local security cameras into a network, and having central operators keep watch through them. I expect some agencies will help “good” neighborhoods obtain a feed from such surveillance for their own use. (In at least three cases of which I’m aware, this is already happening.)
It’ll be important for local groups to standardize their training and equipment wherever possible.
- If everyone is trained to a common minimum standard of firearms safety and accuracy, it’ll be safer for all concerned.
- If firearms use the same ammunition as far as possible, resupply and future purchases will be simplified.
- Communications systems (walkie-talkies, CB radio, FRS and GMRS radios, etc.) can be standardized on common frequencies, and common codes can be agreed (for example, “Code Blue, First Street and Second Avenue” might indicate a police presence at that intersection, or “Code Red, Third Road and Fourth Drive” might indicate the approach of a threatening group, currently at that location.
- Groups can be organized, so that if an alarm is sounded, everyone knows where to go, what to bring with them, and who to expect when they get to their assigned station. Coordination between groups can also be prearranged, so that developments can be anticipated and groups moved around to take care of problems as quickly as possible.
- Move discreetly, using cover and concealment whenever possible;
- Dress in a manner that doesn’t stand out from their surroundings and can’t be easily identified;
- Carry their weapons discreetly, so as not to forewarn opponents that their attacks are about to meet resistance;
- Act quickly, decisively and firmly when necessary, but avoid exposure to cameras and witnesses as far as possible (sunglasses and/or mirrored safety glasses, and medical face masks – common at present as a COVID-19 precaution – are very useful in this regard);
- Immediately disengage and vacate the area as soon as the threat has been neutralized;
- Change clothes and take whatever other measures are useful to prevent subsequent identification by partisan authorities.
In the judgment of this combat veteran (and veteran of many urban unrest scenarios in other countries), those scenarios are not far from what we might see on our streets in the not too distant future. They’re certainly well within the capabilities of many small, well-organized groups who may come together to defend their suburbs, homes and families. You’ll notice, too, how small, well-organized groups can represent “clans” or “tribes”, and will probably have the support of those wider groups in maintaining the safety and security of their environment.
I think we’ll also see a more widespread adoption of a “snitches get stitches” policy. If it works for one side, it’ll work for the other, too. I think local “clans” and “tribes” will make it clear to those around them that if they cooperate with their enemies – including biased authorities and agencies – in any way, they must expect to pay a price for that. I’m afraid some examples will be made the hard way, to drive the point home. Again, I saw this done in several other countries, and I have little doubt that it’ll happen here too.
I’ll try to wrap up this series in a final article within the next week to ten days. It’s been a struggle to write them, particularly because I have to weigh my words carefully. It’s a sad state of affairs when I can’t assume that the right of free speech will offer me any protection from the “woke” . . .
FB really doesn't like your article to be shared
The danger of a sentence being taken out of context and weaponized by our latter day red guard is huge.
Thank-you for writing this.
As social creatures, we can learn from other's experiences. Many chose to not learn that way but that is a very expensive way to gain knowledge.
It is great to have a crib-sheet. Point about refugees with no-place-to-go is spot-on. Many people think they will go Mad Max and become nomadic, modern-day Vikings. A bad plan in my judgement.
Bullies will be bullies until it stops being fun. Generally, that is about one second after they get punched in the nose. Threats of retribution change the profit/loss calculations from a one-sided equation to a two-sided equation. I am making an observation, not recommending action.
Again, thanks for putting the time and effort into documenting your experiences in a way that is accessible to those of us who lived much more mundane lives.
This is a powerful outline of what’s to come: the success of the urban Far Left means the spread of state sponsored gangsterism. Have any of the many novels depicting a post-United States America gone into developing this socio-political dynamic? Does anyone know?
One also remembers that Obamunists got enormous tax payer support, channeling regulation state tax monies to LawFare to finance further political activism, to pay Left organisations (Son of ACORN), as well as corrupting once worthy nongovernmental orgs into becoming statist today’s. Not just through controlling federal agencies but through the now routine omnibus spending bills Congress authorises, beginning with the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession (ARRA or the February 2009 Recovery Act, spending $831 billion).
The Bigger the State, the smaller the People we are. Social declension outlines our coming decline. A Roaring ‘20s of violent urban and suburban gangsterism is only the best possible future for this decade.