The Calm Before the Storm: Forecasting 2020


One year from today, thirty percent of the American population will cast their ballots to select their next president. They will not choose their next president, as that would require meaningful volition, but they will pick among the scarce, unappealing options presented to them. Nobody knows what specifically will happen on that date, just as nobody knows what other political developments will transpire in the twelve months preceding . . . nobody, that is, except for the plutocratic puppeteers who are busily rehearsing the scripted spectacle. We lack their advantage of omniscience, but we anticipate the cavalcade of rabbling, scandal, and bloodshed to which the election will be only an empty climax. We must observe a shameful display of noisome and potentially tragic controversy before the curtain closes on this squalid drama, though only until the start of the next act.

As our neighbors descend to animalistic frenzy, squealing and thrashing against forces they could never understand, our task will be our own preservation. The meaning and means of preservation will differ for each of us, and so will our answer to the question of how we shall help our neighbors, if at all. Do you know these people well enough to intervene without placing yourself at needless or impractical risk? You will have to reach your own conclusion, preferably before the moment of (in)action, but I would make one request: consider whether these people can be protected, even by the most capable among us. If your life has value, then do not squander it on something worthless.

Unpleasant though this subject matter is, we do ourselves a favor by diving into it now, rather than avoiding it in the self-destructive hope that it remains only a theoretical possibility. We are unlikely to witness the complete unraveling of the social fabric in twelve short months, but we will witness degradation, decomposition, and decline—of this, there can be no doubt, and the only uncertainty is the severity of the breakdown. But break we will, down we will slide, and we will be worse off on November 3rd, 2020 than we are on November 3rd, 2019. The good news is that the process will be just gradual enough to be tolerable; imagine how many people would have killed themselves on November 3rd, 2019 if they had been told all of the grisly domestic depravities coming down the pike. The bad news is that the agonies will be much more excruciating individually.

Pain, unavoidable under ideal conditions, will be abundant in 2020. Nevertheless, we cannot allow it to dehumanize us, as it will undoubtedly dehumanize so many of our neighbors. In the toils, it is tempting to become a beast, to indulge savagery’s besotting fury, but if we destroy ourselves, then, well, we have merely facilitated the corrosion that we thought to avoid. Whatever “preservation” means to each of us, our definition must include the antithesis of the dehumanizing process in the midst of which this country finds itself. Very powerful people are making monsters of Americans, and our last act may be to resist the transformation. Resistance will come at a terrible cost, though none so terrible as the price at which we surrender to the awful alembic.

The heaviest toll will be the sight of our loved ones rotting before us. It is horrid enough to witness our neighbors’ spiritual demise, but to watch helplessly as our loved ones succumb is an ineffably harrowing torment. “But, must we be helpless?” In fear of this precisely, we ask this question now: if all our energy cannot keep our loved ones afloat in the weltering to come, then we must prepare for the moment of separation now, lest we allow ourselves to be drowned. Some menacing waves are building in the distance, and while we’ve yet to see their apogees, we know they will inflict incredible damage. Our response is not to swim away and hide, but to defend ourselves diligently against them.

Our defenses will be tested, maybe every day. The sadistic engineers of our national misery will barrage us with volatile agitprop, and when we resist it, our neighbors will scold us for refusing to buy into the madness, for failing to resist on the engineers’ terms. Our resolve, if not our sangfroid, will be unintelligible to our neighbors, and they will blame us for the failure of their methods: such is the nature of a cannibalistic culture. So will our neighbors test our defenses, too, and although it is a sad duality of threat, we have no time to mourn: we will be too busy protecting ourselves to settle petty grudges with those who stand exposed. In being alert, we have more work to do, but it is only through this work that we may survive. Haplessly we live in the calm before the storm, but we are fortunate to know a storm is coming.


One thought on “The Calm Before the Storm: Forecasting 2020”

  1. What if there was a different path we could take? People are hungry for solutions; that’s why Andrew Yang’s campaign is thriving. 2020 is the right time to build a new coalition for change. The coalition’s demands would have to include freedom for Reality Winner, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and a whole bunch of incarcerated people. #PhoenixCongress2020


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