16 March 2016 – Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed the word Revolution come up over and over again. In this post, I’ll explore the typical causes of revolution, why the system is ripe for it, and how one may already be underway.
Causes of Revolution
What is Revolution?
When most people think of revolution, they think of big bloody wars where a government in power is overthrown by mobs of angry people. Although these revolutions get all the glory in history books, it does not always happen this way. One definition is even simply “a dramatic and wide-reaching change in conditions, attitudes, or operation.”  For purposes of this discussion, we’ll assume that revolution means to forcibly exchange one power structure for another, either violently or through political or economic means.
The Pathway to Revolution
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the greater the concentration of power, the lower the social mobility, the greater the odds that the system will collapse when faced with crisis. 
As I wrote about in my article Held at Gunpoint by Income Inequality, the principle driving force behind a fracturing of society is when the wealth of a nation gets too highly concentrated into the elite upper class. All other “reasons” for civil unrest are usually just sparks that set the fire, not the actual root cause. This pattern of wealth concentration followed by revolution is seen repeated constantly throughout history, but perhaps the best example is the Roman Empire. During the early days of the Republic, the richest 1% of Romans were only 10 to 20 times as wealthy as the average citizen. However, by the final days of the Empire, that same 1% held 10,000 times as much. 
In a great essay regarding the seeds of revolution, Charles Hugh-Smith adds the suppression of social mobility as a contributing factor to the fragility of social order. In other words, “how easy is it for a working class family to rise up to the middle class, and how easy is it for a middle class family to enter the political and financial aristocracy?”  Really, this is an extension of income inequality since starving the average citizen of the economic freedom to earn an honest living deprives them the means of being able to rise.
Eventually, once people reach a breaking point and the benefits of revolution outweigh the risks, the rest becomes inevitable.
Suppression of Social Mobility in Action
When I really peek into what is at stake and where people really are with this right now, it is really clear that the American dream is over…You look at the engine of true growth and productivity in this country, it has always been small and medium sized businesses. The system can no longer figure how to operate without absolutely killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. It is just astonishing. 
I was listening to a podcast discussion between Chris Martenson and Mish Shedlock about how the American Dream is dead, the primary reason being that the ruling elite have made it near impossible for the middle class to open businesses, thrive, and move up. A great real-world example illustrated in the discussion is the story of a small business in California with nine employees running a tiny meat selling operation. The bill for this tiny company’s legally required workman’s compensation insurance is $40,000 – just to cover nine low-paid employees butchering, packing, and delivering meat. Meanwhile, editorials in the Wall Street Journal are openly talking about how the Justice Department wasn’t going to bring any charges against Hillary Clinton even though they probably should. 
Stories like this happen all over the country every day, and it breeds resentment among the citizenry who are just trying to make an honest living. They feel the intense squeeze of bureaucracy that makes it near impossible to earn an honest living all while the upper 1% get to break the rules at no consequence.
When Imagined Realities Change
Once the masses wake up to the reality that the entire system is rigged against them and that they actually have the ability to challenge that system, then revolution is knocking at the door. I listened to an interview of John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman, and he illustrated the way in which revolution can happen suddenly and unexpectedly so well that I’m simply going to quote his words:
I think it is fascinating that we humans are probably the only living creatures as far as we know who live in two realities. There is the objective reality. There is the telephone or the computer screen, or the computer that we are talking on right now. Then there is the imagined reality, which is really in a way the most important reality to human societies. The imagined reality are the things that we are discussing right now.
Country borders are imagined. There is no such thing as the United States, or Canada, or Russia, or China. The borders are something that we have created out of imagination and then codified into law so they actually become very important. You can say the same for culture, or for religion, for so many things including economics and money.
Money is an imagined reality that we have codified on an economic level; and in fact, on a legal level. Therefore, it has tremendous power. That also gives us the hope—as I mentioned just a few minutes ago, people are waking up around the world, understanding that we live on a fragile space station without any shuttles. We are creating a new imagined reality. But we understand that the old one does not work.
Revolutions always happen—and they can happen pretty quickly—because people drop one imagined reality for one that is more appealing to them. As an example, back in the 1700s, there was a believed and imagined reality that American hunters, and farmers, and fisherman could never possibly beat the British military, the most powerful in the world at the time. But George Washington saw something different during the French and Indian War.
Tom Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and others wrote that we could defeat them by simply hiding behind trees like Indians and firing out at these lines – rigid lines of red coated targets. The imagined reality very quickly changed. It rallied everyone to say “yeah, well, let us take on the British.” This is true throughout history. Right now, we are at one of those pivotal times where people are understanding that the imagined reality of this economic system that has failed us, this death economy, needs to be replaced by a new reality of a life economy that is based on cleaning up pollution, regenerating destroyed environments, and alleviating the causes of terrorism.
— John Perkins 
This concept of “imagined realities” really struck home for me on how important the psychology of the masses are towards considering or not considering revolution as an option.
If one thing is for certain, those in power will do all they can to prevent the masses from realizing the ugly truths of the system they live under. Speaking of imagined realities, I read an article talking about a company called Crowds on Demand, which literally hires struggling actors and pays them to be fake protesters, entourages, and even supporters for unpopular corporate activities.  The company’s CEO, Adam Swart, openly admits all this to NBC News and is on record saying his customers even include 2016 candidates (with an S!) for the American Presidency:
Swart says he has employed actors to sway city officials in meetings across the country. “I have worked with dozens of campaigns for state officials, and 2016 presidential candidates,” Swart told NBC4, adding that he won’t name any names. “I can’t go in to detail… if I did, nobody would hire us.” 
Talk about not being able to trust what you see in the news. This is a blatant manipulation of public opinion by those in power in order to keep people believing that continuing to elect criminals is a good idea. What happens when people realize they’re living the Truman Show? What happens when their imagined reality changes?
But of course the deception runs much deeper than just low-grade paid actors promoting the interests of companies and politicians. Perhaps the oldest tried-and-true method of keeping the people in line are the proverbial bread and circuses. The Romans used free bread and endless games put on as distractions. In modern times we have more sophisticated tools like mindless TV entertainment, 90% of which is controlled by only 6 companies , and of course endless entitlement programs where the government taxes productive members of society and redistributes those earnings to the unproductive members of society.
Faced with rising dissatisfaction in the critical middle class, the state attempts to lessen the social unrest with Bread and Circuses—increased social spending, guaranteed basic income for all, etc. In effect, the state seeks to portray itself as the Savior State: as the system limits social mobility, the state’s solution is to reduce the middle class to easily controlled state dependents. 
What better way to stop social mobility than to make people dependent on the State for their very existence? As lovely as free food or free income for everyone sounds, it serves only to create dependency on the State. Eventually, when so many people are dependent on the system that the system no longer has enough means to support them, people begin awakening from one imagined reality into another.
Signs of Revolution
Is it possible that a revolution happens in our lifetime? Is it possible that the seeds for revolution have already been sown and that it’s already a forgone conclusion? Remember, revolutions don’t need to be bloody. Here are some examples of mini-revolutions that have flashed across my news feed recently. All of these are actual events unfolding that illustrate people actively challenging the system.
Voter Revolt: The Donald Trump Phenomenon
There were, in retrospect, clear signs of what was to come—signs that if Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders did not appear on the scene, someone else like them would have. 
Over a year ago I read on Martin Armstrong’s blog that the coming presidential election cycle would probably result in a non-establishment candidate winning because, based on his models of confidence in government, people were approaching a tipping point in their acceptance of the existing political power structure. Ever since then, I have firmly believed that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have done so well not because either of them is particularly qualified for the job, but that the masses are desperate for somebody who isn’t an “insider.” An excellent article by Rolling Stones Magazine I came across talks about this exact topic.
It turns out we let our electoral process devolve into something so fake and dysfunctional that any half-bright con man with the stones to try it could walk right through the front door and tear it to shreds on the first go.
And Trump is no half-bright con man, either. He’s way better than average. 
Indeed our electoral process is fake and dysfunctional. I learned this first hand when I went as a delegate to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa. The miles of barbed wire fencing guarded by military were carefully hidden from cameras, vote results were teleprompted before being taken, and news reporters spent more time powdering their faces in between shots than asking hard questions of politicians.
The triumvirate of big media, big donors and big political parties has until now successfully excluded every challenge to its authority. But like every aristocracy, it eventually got lazy and profligate, too sure it was loved by the people. 
Truly, the conditions were ripe for somebody to break up the game. This is why not-so-coincidentally both major parties have had to deal with outsiders raining on their usual parade.
…many of [Trump’s] critiques of the process are the same ones being made by Bernie Sanders. The two men, of course, are polar opposites in just about every way – Sanders worries about the poor, while Trump would eat a child in a lifeboat – but both are laser-focused on the corrupting role of money in politics.
Both propose “revolutions” to solve the problem, the difference being that Trump’s is an authoritarian revolt, while Sanders proposes a democratic one. If it comes down to a Sanders-Trump general election, the matter will probably be decided by which candidate the national press turns on first: the flatulent narcissist with cattle-car fantasies or the Democrat who gently admires Scandinavia. Would you bet your children on that process playing out sensibly? 
Whether or not a Trump or Sanders is the right person for the job is beside the point. After all, Karl Marx, Lenin, and Mao Zedong were all born into wealthy families who used social/economic/political injustice as a platform to trigger revolutions that later lead to human atrocities committed under those new governments.  The point is that the average citizen has reached a point where they are ready to vote for anybody that isn’t status quo.
What’s worse is that this even has the potential to move from a simple voter revolution to a more violent revolution. Trump is now encouraging his followers to get violent, saying “Knock the hell out of them. I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise.” And they’re listening. 
State Revolt: A New Constitutional Convention
Voters aren’t the only people showing some revolutionary initiative. Some state legislatures are so fed up (no pun intended) with the federal government that they are starting to break ranks as well. Indiana just became the sixth US state to call for a constitutional convention invoked under Article V of the Constitution. 
“Article V is the tool given to the state legislatures by the Founders to use in the event the Federal government exceeded its authority and put the nation in jeopardy,” the resolution’s sponsor, State Rep. Eric A. Koch (R-Bedford) said. “They were wise in their foresight. Washington will not fix itself, and we have the obligation to act.” 
Basically, if two-thirds of the state legislatures call for a constitutional convention, that convention can then pass amendments to the Constitution. Although three-fourths of the state legislatures (38 states) would have to approve the amendments at the convention, this was a tool clearly put into the Constitution by the Founding Fathers to allow the individual states to challenge an overbearing central government.  Perhaps one form of revolution could be one where the states assert their power over the central national government.
Sovereign Revolt: The UK Moves to Leave the European Union
In a similar vote of no-confidence, there is a growing movement within the United Kingdom to break away from the European Union.
It is those who love Europe, its diversity, its history and its humanity who should be the most enthusiastic about Brexit. A paradox? Not at all. The European Union, as currently constituted, has run out of road. It is doomed to fail, sooner or later, with catastrophic consequences for our part of the world, and the only way forward is for one major country to break ranks and show that there can be a better alternative consistent with Europe’s core enlightenment values. 
Here you have a major world power threatening to break up the current power structure in Europe and replace it with something else.
Bank Revolt: Hoarding Cash
We often think of banks as being a part of the establishment system, which is true, but eventually central planners (government and central banks) will institute policies that are harmful to the banking sector. One example is negative interest rate policy (NIRP), which I wrote about in Financial Precipice à la 1929?. Central banks (the banks where banks keep their money) all around the world have started charging banks to keep their money on deposit. Well the German newspaper Der Spiegel just reported that the Bavarian Banking Association has recommended that its member banks start stockpiling physical cash instead of keeping it on deposit electronically at the central bank. 
This is officially an all-out revolution of the financial system where banks are now actively rebelling against the central bank.
(What’s even more amazing is that this concept of traditional banking– holding physical cash in a bank vault– is now considered revolutionary and radical.) 
Revolutions take many forms, but this is without a doubt a revolt by bankers against the central planners. As central banker policies get more and more desperate to save themselves, expect an increasing number of banks to start breaking ranks.
Corporate Revolt: Defying Authorities
Banks aren’t the only entities in the private sector openly defying authorities. Much press has been given recently to Apple’s defiance of the FBI’s insistence that they provide a backdoor entrance to their iPhone operating system. Like banks, often times business is in cahoots with lawmakers. However, once their interests no longer align, big business can be a powerful weapon against government. In this case, Apple risks giving up the iPhone’s reputation as a very secure smartphone, which would no doubt hurt their businesses tremendously. Suddenly their motives are directly contradictory to those of government. At first, other technology companies were slow to support Apple but Microsoft has since filed an amicus brief backing Apple.  This could be the start of a big rallying cry against the overreaching powers of the central government.
Prepper Revolt: Going Off the Grid
It’s easy to talk about the big news stories, but what about the actions of every day citizens? People may joke about preppers being overly paranoid people hiding on the fringes of society, but the fact is that there is a growing trend of people giving up on the traditional American Dream. Not just “hardcore preppers” but a growing number of people are quitting the 9 to 5, hitting the reset button on life, and shifting priorities away from feeling like slaves to debt, Corporate America, frozen pizza, and Netflix, and instead focusing on low-cost lifestyles that value freedom, experience, and family. 
While vandwelling—living out of vans, cars, or motorhomes, as a lifestyle—was popularized by free-spirited hippies in the 60s, it’s seeing a resurgence among millennials. Some, like Rachel Bujalski, who has wandered around California living out of her Corolla and runs a blog for young people unburdened by permanent housing, have even called it the “new American dream.” 
Vandwelling is one escape. Another is the infamous tiny home movement, and yet another is the off-grid homesteading lifestyle. In a great video I watched entitled Living Off the Grid is Harder Than You Think, a mother who together with her husband and two children gave up the suburban house, corporate life, and mortgage payments to live off-grid in the woods. Although many view her as an outlier of society, she believes they are the new trend.  I think she may be right – big shifts always start on the outside of society and work their way inwards. Regardless, this is a clear example of a movement within the country of people giving up one imagined reality for one they prefer much more.
Expat Revolt: Handing in the Passports
There are those that rebel against the system by changing their lifestyles, and there are those that rebel against the system by giving up their citizenship. This has been a growing trend over the past decade, particularly as the US government has drastically increased its taxation and capital control over Americans living overseas. To try and stop this exodus, the government has increased its fee to abandon citizenship from $450 to $2,350. However, people are still paying despite the 5-fold increase. The latest statistic is that $12.6 million is spent annually on Americans giving up their citizenship.  These former Americans no longer felt the benefits of being an American were supported by the cost that comes along with that status.
Revolutions throughout history come in all shapes and sizes. They generally spring up because of large gaps in income whereby the upper 1% of society hoards a hugely disproportionate share of the wealth, not just starving average citizens of wealth but – more importantly – starving them of the ability to work hard and move up in life. Conditions in America and around the world are exhibiting all the classic signs of a society ripe for some form of revolution. The small businessman in America can no longer survive in a system that is rigged to favor those in power. Politicians say they want to help but really it’s just grand theater, smoke and mirrors to hide the ugly truth, and they keep the people believing in the system through the bread and circuses of manipulated press and grandiose entitlement programs.
However, the signs of people’s malcontent with this system are becoming more and more apparent the bigger the beast grows. Voters are turning to non-establishment candidates in a desperate cry out for anything but the same old career politicians. State legislatures are feeling so burdened by the federal government that some are even calling for a new constitutional convention. Private banks and companies alike are both starting to openly defy the central planners. Average Americans are giving up on the Old American Dream for a New American Dream in greater and greater numbers each year. Some are even giving up on being American entirely.
The seeds have been sown. Imagined realities are changing. If history and present trends are any guide, our society is ripe for a revolution. The only question will be what type.
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- Hugh-Smith, Charles. “How The Seeds Of Revolution Take Root: the Middle Class Loses Upward Mobility.” Of Two Minds, 26 Feb 2016. (Source)
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- Heath, Allister. “How a Brexit Could Save Europe from Itself.” The Telegraph, 9 March 2016. (Source)
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- “Snowden: FBI’s claim it can’t unlock the San Bernardino iPhone is ‘bullshit’.” The Guardian, 9 March 2016. (Source)
- Jagneaux, David. “Living Out of a Van is the New American Dream.” Vice, 5 Feb 2016. (Source)
- “Living Off the Grid is Harder Than You Think.” Seeker Stories, 12 March 2015. (Source)
- Armstrong, Martin. “Total U.S. Fees to Resign Citizenship Exceed $12 million.” Armstrong Economics, 8 March 2016. (Source)