Phases Of Civil Stability

by Colonel Dan


The Cowboy Chronicle

June 2009  

Being a self-appointed student of history and having lived through six decades of the passing scene, I think I’ve identified a few common phases in a nation’s evolutionary cycle of civil stability.  Granted, I’m no degreed sociologist but given this is an editorial page, I don’t need a degree.  All I need is a personal opinion based on my observations of life in order to shoot off at the keyboard.  In fact, Yogi Berra taught me years ago, “You can observe a lot just by watching” and I’ve been indebted to him for this pearl of wisdom ever since I started writing political commentary. 

Pick a nation at some point along its historical timeline, study its events and you can apply this phased cycle of stability rather well.  This isn’t unique to any one country and the United States is certainly not immune.

Those nations whose political leaders are attuned to the mood of the people and react accordingly to their concerns and abide by the supreme law of the land thrive and survive to serve another day.  Those who ignore either and become arrogantly convinced of their own omnipotent invulnerability fall…and sometimes their fall precedes that of the country itself.   As you read this, think about various countries throughout history that have fallen into chaos and see if these stages apply.  Then ask yourself where America stands along its historical timeline.

1.  Ambivalence; the public usually ignores the government on a daily basis; all is generally well; life goes on harmoniously.  The public doesn’t keep up with or pay any real attention to political business since it isn’t adversely impacting them.

2.  Petulance:  isolated issues (tax hikes, new regulations, inflation etc) arise and invoke some temporary periods of grumbling but life is by and large OK here too.

3.  Anger:  The on-going issues that caused petulance such as economic distress, security threats, shortages of goods and services now start disrupting life and causing not only increased concern but slowly evolves into anger.

4.  Resentment:  No effective action is taken by government to resolve the issue(s) and soothe the growing public distress.  The anger starts to turn into real resentment toward those in charge and therefore they’re held responsible for this deteriorating state of affairs.

5.  Outrage:  As unresolved issues continue to grow, private resentment turns into public outrage resulting in protests and marches.  A feeling of isolation and disenfranchisement is becoming more apparent.  Politicians aren’t listening and the people see an agenda driven government that is out of touch with their daily lives. In this phase, politicians are quickly losing the respect of their constituents.

6. Fury:  As outrage leads to fury over the worsening situation, politicians are confronted openly and verbally assaulted publicly.  People see clear signs of arrogance in their political leaders; overt loss of respect is shown without restraint toward those in elected office; protests become more frequent and filled with public anger; the language is getting stronger almost daily.  Opportunists see an opening to fan the flames and start watering the seeds of this growing discontent.

7.  Disobedience:  When there is no perceivable response to the expressed fury and governmental arrogance continues, the public is now being pushed to or over the edge. Opportunists become more open in stirring the people to action in the name of justice.  Normal public restraint is breaking down and the ground is becoming more fertile to displays of civil disobedience with the crowds of those willing to participate growing larger.  The number of incidents increase and people are uniting in a “cause” under the influence of emerging leaders. 

8. Riots:  When politicians either arrogantly ignore public displays of disobedience or confront them with strong armed authority, they are bringing gasoline to a growing fire.  The feeling of despair pervades and the term “tyranny” becomes more common in describing the government.   Incidents of increasingly destructive disorder are becoming more widespread—mainly in urban areas across the country.

9.  Revolution:  If government authority cannot squelch the riots by force or appeasement, opportunists see the door opening ever wider and begin fanning the flames of open revolution.  The level of rage grows and a moral cause is linked to the coming action.  A general breakdown of orderly society ensues.  Some people turn to their perceived group of “revolutionary saviors” while others run back to the seated government for protection. 

10.  Anarchy:  A temporary power vacuum leads to short-term chaos and anarchy until a fresh group of recognized leaders eventually emerge and establish a new government. 

11.  Rebirth:  Whoever emerges will determine the path of that country’s future—a new freer beginning as in 18th century America or a tyrannical dictatorship as in 20th century China , Cuba or Russia .

As of this writing, I think we’re somewhere between a mature Phase 5 and the early stages of Phase 6.  Prayerfully “We the People” can and will soon compel a positive change in direction returning our country to Phase 1.  Only time and commitment will tell the tale.


Just the view from my saddle…

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