Martial Law in All But Name

Garwood, NJ April 2020

Yesterday, Governor Phil Murphy of Goldman Sachs and the Democratic Party ordered state and county parks shut down. It can certainly be justified. People weren’t social distancing. Instead, the local bourgeoisie were bringing their huge families into the park and clogging the trails. I’ve been seeing vintage bicycles from the 1990s that have been locked in the basement since the Clinton Administration, and take it from me there’s nothing more terrifying than a gang of 40 year olds (and their kids) on bikes old enough to drink legally coming at you on the local hiking trail. The only people I really feel sorry for are the dogs, who won’t get their daily walks.

The problem is this should have been done weeks ago. We are headed for an inevitable declaration of martial law, but it’s going to come too late to do any good. Had Murphy closed down the trails when he issued the stay at home order, it might have done some good. Had he waited another week or two the novelty about taking the whole goddamned extended Irish/Italian Catholic upper-middle-class family into the park would have worn off and the locals would have settled into their couches with a six pack of beer and a Netflix subscription. Doing it the way Murphy did is the worst of both worlds. There’s plenty of traffic in New Jersey. Now the governor is sending those huge families, their old bikes, and their kids with their training wheels out onto the local highways.

Today, Murphy issued an executive order requiring a mask to enter the grocery stores. It won’t be enforced. Grocery clerks aren’t going to risk their lives arguing with entitled bourgeois toilet paper horders, and there aren’t enough cops (many of them are already sick with Coronavirus). What I’m beginning to notice in the local media is the phenomenon of the frog boiling in slowly heating water. Every day there are new executive orders that should have been issued last week. More and more of the locals are getting into the mindset where they feel its their civic duty to shame people violating what they define as “social distancing.” Like in the month following 9/11 we’re becoming a nation of snitches and conformists. A social order is emerging behind our backs that’s going to last for decades. No local politician will criticize any executive order mandating social distancing, the logic being that “the executive order might not do any good but it can’t do any harm.” Dick Cheney’s 1% doctrine has been made permanent.

In November, 2001, Suskind writes, Vice-President Dick Cheney announced that if there was “a one percent chance” that a threat was real “we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response.”

My guess is next month we’ll see troops in the streets. It would have made sense back in March. But people wouldn’t have been ready for it. They might have rebelled. In May, when all the cops are sick, calling up the National Guard won’t do anything to stop the spread of coronavirus, but it will help maintain social order. Two years from now, in the unlikely event of an American mass uprising, a red white and blue “yellow vests” movement, all it will take is for the corporate media to issue a few rumors that “coronavirus has returned” for the vast majority of the American people to cheer on the crackdown.My guess is that the only people who will rebel against the inevitable declaration of martial law will be the brain dead right, the gun nuts and the conspiracy mongers. We’re already seeing it. Conservative religious communities like the Orthodox Jews in Lakewood and the Evangelical Protestants at Liberty University are getting sick in disproportionate numbers, not only because they’re idiots (which of course they are) but because they have social hierarchies outside the mainstream, their own communities. Mainstream liberal Democrats, on the other hand, will simply go along with whatever the media tells them and convince themselves it’s their civic responsibility.

From my point of view, I’m treating this the way I treat a mass shooting or a terrorist attack. I believe nothing I hear in the media for at least a week, perhaps a month. Social distancing may in fact stop the spread of coronavirus. It may not. Unlike the seasonal flu, people who recover from the Coronavirus don’t seem to be developing any immunity. Considering the number of people who are testing positive, it will be impossible to segregate them from society permanently. My guess is that some people are going to die (maybe even me). Some people are going to live. What determines that is anybody’s guess, but Boris Johnson, while certainly an idiot, wasn’t totally wrong. Coronavirus is going to kill a lot of people. Wrecking society in a fruitless attempt to stop it isn’t going to help. So I actually wish all the right wingers planning to defy the lock down the best of luck. A lot of them are going to die, but then again so are a lot of my fellow secular liberals. Perhaps it’s better to think for yourself and be stupid than to obey orders and be smart.

3 thoughts on “Martial Law in All But Name”

  1. Canada’s CBC news source has dogged politicians to provide predictive numbers and then saying numbers can’t be exact, but then announce that unemployment numbers are “staggering” three weeks after many people were told to stay home – unfortunately, journalists learn “dramatic creative non-fiction” to supply the infotainment to the (deliberately adopted) Grade nine level audiences – competing with other media sources for the best dumbed down version of Western delusions. Let’s bail out the entire air travel industry in Canada, because maybe it just “died” along with oil sands. Oh, yes, “status quo” normality will come again if we just boost credit off into the stratosphere. Austerity, here we come! Shhhhhhh…

  2. We’re in uncharted territory. A lot of the establishment have staked out keeping the virus panic and lockdown going on for at least months more. They will loudly resist any move to wind this mess down. Their eye is on keeping the war drums beating through until the elections and use this to stampeded the population into voting for Biden.

    Two factors threaten this outcome. One is that over time civil disobedience develops. As people become desperate and fed up they will begin to defy the authorities. The prospect of deploying armed force against this will derail every plan. I do not believe Americans will stand for being locked up for much longer especially in material hardship develops.

    The other factor is that the increasing and accumulating damage to the US economy will become so severe that much of the elite will come to fear for their own future. Worse, if it is seen that China and Russia are moving into the economic vacuum this will result in a clamour to say ‘fuck it, everybody back to work’. If the bottom falls out of the stock markets and trillion of paper dollars are destroyed this will aggravate things.

    Whatever develops, this crisis is existential for the US system. Every day that it carries on the power of regime erodes. So, best that it continue for some time. Until truly mortal damage is inflicted. And may the elites divide against themselves.

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