In the first two parts, we talked about how the insurgency laid the groundwork: protests, propaganda, and initial recruitment. The second part covers how, now that the groundwork has been laid, mild violence begins.
Mao called this the “crisis” phase. The crisis state distinguishes resistance movements from social movements more generally. The essential characteristic defining an insurgency that has entered the crisis state is a decisive moment of escalated confrontation between opponents, however long or short. I think the recent nationwide riots fulfilled that characteristic.
Moving from an incipient to crisis state occurs when the movement grows powerful enough to pose a serious threat to its opponent. How we can determine when the threat has become serious is when the opponent of the resistance, the government, escalates its approach because previous methods of countering the resistance failed.
Scholars have identified signals of this crisis state to include a decisive loss of legitimacy by the government, financial collapse, breakdown in authority, strong symbolic actions, and perception of dual sovereignty or provisional authority, among others. (I think that this is why the movement is trying so hard to establish an autonomous zone.)
A great example of this would be Northern Ireland in 1972 was in the crisis state. The maintenance of barricaded “no-go” and “free” zones in Derry/Londonderry and Belfast during this period contributed to perceptions of provisional authority and separation of resistance from opponents. Heightened contention and escalation of resistance action occurred after British troops killed thirteen demonstrators at the civil rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday.”
The insurgency gains power if the group or movement either persists through, or gains strength from, the crisis state. Surviving the crisis state deepens its organizational into an established opposition player. In other words, the essential characteristic of a resistance in the institutional state is an established role in society.
Once the last phase begins, totalitarian elites let loose their inclination to brutally eliminate their perceived enemies. Once this phase begins, things happen very quickly. The entire country will collapse in a matter of weeks.
Violence is considered a means to achieving the goal of centralized power. There is not even a pretense of due process or respect for free speech. Yes, there are pretexts given for eliminating perceived enemies, excuses that have the perpetrators projecting their own intentions upon their victims, but the accusations are merely for show.
America is still a free nation with laws on the books that protect individuals from abuses by the state. That appears to be changing. Criminals being released from jails to make room for business owners who are violating COVID closure orders. Rioters walking away with no charges. Rioters attack cars and motorists, the motorist tries to escape, and then the motorist is charged with a crime for injuring one of their attackers while escaping.
It even seems as if there are police and prosecutors who are actively assisting the insurgents. That is typical, and there will be much more of that as time goes on. Expect to see military units who side with the insurgents. In a country armed with thousands of nuclear weapons, anything can happen.
There is no doubt in my mind that we are currently in the early part of phase 2. Violent action has begun, and the crisis phase has begun. There are two ways forward from here. Either this insurgency will survive the crisis phase and things will get worse, or the insurgency will wither and die.