The most remarkable aspect of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade is the absence of violence, property destruction, rioting, etc. This is the first clear sign that the wave of collective violence of the late 2010s has not only peaked -- in 2020, hard to top that year -- but has entered the fizzling-out phase of the cycle.
That's right -- there is 50-year cycle in mass political violence.
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But first, a necessary overview of how impoverished the online information ecosystem has become after the switch from blogs to social media and podcasts. If you only consumed media, including podcasts, you never heard about the 50-year cycle during all their coverage and takemeistering in reaction to the escalating riots of roughly 2014 onward.
Plenty of content-creators in media / podcasts had read something about it, perhaps, but they can't give contemporary competitors in the takemeister economy credit, without demoting their own status in their petty zero-sum world. And they would get called out for blatantly stealing the idea if they didn't give any credit whatsoever. So they just have to ignore it. This is why they can and do cite dead people -- they're not locked in a zero-sum competition with dead people, or even retired people.
Bloggers acted the opposite way during the blogosphere heyday of the 2000s and early 2010s. We were happy to clue others into some exciting new idea we came across -- and provided a link, a citation, a name, a something, to connect our readers to someone else's ideas. It was not zero-sum, we were all working together toward the same grand project.
And it worked well while the blogosphere was mostly Gen X in its creative and consuming sides, with some hobbyist Boomers to round things out. Once the Millennials started to make up more of the online creators and audiences, though, they ditched blogs in favor of social media and podcasts.
However, unlike their striver ancestors, the Boomers, they weren't doing this as a hobby by people who already had it made in the shade. Nope, the Millennials are way worse off than their Boomer parents, and they have always viewed any form of media labor -- including shitposting on social media, or spitballing takes and reactions on a podcast -- as a career that they ought to be paid a real salary for. At least shitloads of clout online, at most a six-figure or more annual income. "These takes don't write themselves" (yes they do).
So the Gen X blogger was more of a gallery curator, when it came to someone else's stuff -- here's an array of things I find interesting, with an ID tag on each item to give proper credit, and if you like the kinds of things I find and gather in this one place, stop by regularly, the collection on display is never the same. And crucially, if you like some specific item, follow its ID tag to items by that same creator that are outside of my current exhibition.
The Millennial takemeister is more of a pawn-shop operator -- he, or his finders / fencers, collects an array of things in one place, but the browsing audience has no idea where it comes from. This makes it somewhat like the museum exhibit, but without any ID tags, it's impossible for the audience to follow a trail from an item they're currently looking at, to other items by the same creator. I don't mean the original manufacturer -- who may be out of business, who may not have stamped a logo onto their products, etc. -- I mean the source of where this specific item came from.
For the audience, no trails lead outside of the pawn-shop itself. Those sources are highly protected, confidential, etc. Otherwise the customer could cut out the middle-man. The takemeister is not merely a gatekeeper, deciding what goes in vs. what stays out of the collection -- he's *the* connection. You want more? You gotta keep going back to only that shop, since they won't tell you who their suppliers are.
So maybe they're more like drug-dealers for take-junkies, whereas the bloggers were more like the taste-testing / free samples stands for an audience that is a little hungry and curious about different options, but not looking for a fix and a pusher.
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At any rate, Peter Turchin discovered this 50-year cycle in the late 2000s, wrote articles for a popular audience a decade ago (such as this one), and wrote an entire book in 2016 (Ages of Discord). I've been writing about it here for a decade, always trying to get Turchin's name to stick in the reader's memory.
Since this was all very topical during the Trump 2016 campaign year, everyone was familiar with it among the political takes crowd on Twitter and elsewhere, from the edgy NEET shitposters to the wealthy centrist think-tankers.
By 2016, mass political violence was only beginning, so it felt like more of a prediction -- that there would be a SHTF situation around 2020. And right as that happened, everyone pretended not to know Turchin's name, the 50-year cycle, the title of that one book, etc. Someone other than me was proven right, oh no!
Worse, the media-ites rely mostly on emotional appeals to keep their audience hooked and craving stronger doses of The Stuff. So they projected the trend of 2015-2020 indefinitely out into the future.
I knew that was wrong from the outset -- the point of a cycle is that it waxes and wanes, because there are negative feedback loops in the system, not just positive ones that push in the same direction forever. I figured things would lighten up by 2024 and after, based on the previous waves that Turchin documented -- lots of rioting during the second half of the '60s, the very early '70s, and then quickly petering out to nothing for the rest of the '70s. Lots of agitation around WWI, peaking in the race riots of 1919-'20, and quickly fading out during the '20s. And so on.
But it looks like mass violence is wrapping up a couple years earlier than that.
Imagine if the Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade in 2016, the year of mass assaults on Trump rally-goers. Or in 2017, the year of millions pouring into the streets for the Women's March, and the smaller but hotter Charlottesville showdown. Or as late as 2020, the year Democrat mobs burned down multiple major cities to intimidate voters into showing up to the polls.
And yet, in 2022? Absolutely nothing. A handful of professional activists are not a mass action. No mobs, no protests, no property destruction, no violence, no anything. Crucially -- no counter-mobs, counter-protests, or counter-violence, like there had been a few years earlier. No street battles.
There is no other explanation than that the tank has run out of gas. This is the precise dire outcome that the millions of pink pussyhat wearers were apocalyptically warning about back in 2017. Their side has been given free rein to loot, burn down, murder, whatever. They were encouraged by an activist campaign, Jane's Revenge, to stage a night of rage (or whatever it was supposed to be called) on the day that Roe was officially overturned. A week later, and it's still crickets. It's not an obscure issue that only affects a few people, they should be able to mass-recruit like before.
If anything, there ought to be more of them out in the street than when it was only a hypothetical, and they ought to be wreaking more havoc than when they were just concerned but still had Roe v. Wade in place.
People are simply tired of the practice of mass violence and chaos at this point, even if they agree "in theory". This is no different from the exhaustion of would-be Weathermen and Black Panthers by the mid-'70s. Or would-be race-rioters by the mid-1920s. Or would be Civil Warriors by the mid-1870s. Enough already.
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The slow build-up of mass actions, followed by a fairly quick drop-off, and then a period where it seems impossible to spark another wave, suggests some kind of excitable system model. Akin to exercising, sex / orgasm, eating to satiety, drinking / hangover, and so on. Apparently starting right now, and going through the rest of the decade, we're going to be in an activism hangover, having binged / overdosed on it during the second half of the 2010s and the first couple years of the 2020s.
This will face a clean test in 2024, the next presidential election year. If the late 2010s and 2020 were only just the beginning, then '24 is going to literally blow up the entire country. If would-be mob members are exhausted and can't get it up after so many I'M GONNA LOOOOOOT episodes in the recent past, then '24 will be tamer than '20.
I predict '24 will be like 1976 and 1924 -- pretty uneventful compared to the peak of mass violence just a few years before (1968 and '72, 1916 and '20). We already had two consecutive election years with mass violence -- 2016 and '20 -- and that means people will be too tired to do any more in '24.
Now, this is only for the phenomenon of mass violence, civil unrest, etc. Polarization is going to keep going on for awhile, since the partisan reaction to overturning Roe v. Wade is exactly what you'd expect for a still polarized, and more-and-more polarizing country. It just won't be expressed in mob violence.
Nor does this have to do with the fragmenting of the American empire, something that is going to continue for decades and centuries.
I'm strictly talking about huge crowds of people fucking shit up in public. Or, for that matter, the battle of words on TV, online, etc. Neither side is as fiery about this as they would've been just 2 years ago, let alone 5. Imagine Trump's first year he ends Roe v. Wade -- the endless dunking and victory laps the right would be running online. Now, they're both reacting in the expected directions, but to a far smaller magnitude.
At some point, the hangover will wear off, we'll be back to a baseline level of inclination toward mob violence. And then it'll start to rise again, if Turchin's model continues to be correct, in the mid-2060s, peaking around 2070, and then going into another hangover all over again.
As a final, lesser prediction, I don't think there's going to be any Black Lives Matter crap among Democrats in '24 either, in contrast to 2016 and '20. It would be like signs about "Remember Watergate" or "US out of 'Nam" in 1976. Sorry, those signs belong to '68 and '72, by '76 nobody could keep it going any longer. It was over for radicals then, and it's more or less already over for radicals again (until the lead-up to 2070).