I have a hypothetical question, but it requires a little worldbuilding before it makes sense.
You are in command of a great army assembled for conquest. Three months ago, you beat your enemies decisively. The day after this victory, you began the long and difficult siege of the first major city, the battle having been but an hour’s march away. Today, the gates of the city open in surrender. The city has no food.
What do you do?
Bubbles are Forming
Hillary Clinton’s election in 2016 was going to be the end of a dangerous challenge to corrupt institutional power, so Trump’s victory spurred a lot of powerful people to actions they had never before so openly endorsed. Censorship has always existed in America, but the sort of extreme and ubiquitous political censorship of 2017 and on is new.
However, since the start of the The Great Hysteria in March of 2020, censorship and political threats have escalated to levels unseen in the West since the world war era. Americans are largely complacent and comfortable, and so unlike previous generations (including those who were adults in the aforementioned world war era), there has not been a swift rebellion to overthrow tyrants. There are some slow rebellions, though. The heat has been rising for a while, and the bubbles are forming right before the boil.
So what do you do when the city surrenders? The Emperor Aurelian, as he rebuilt the Roman Empire after the crisis years, spared cities that opened their gates, and even many that didn’t. The good will engendered kept the conquered people happy, and encouraged defiant cities to lay down their arms. Many, many lives were spared on both sides. When you believe your victory is inevitable, and if you are wise, you don’t destroy your enemies; you let them willingly join you.
What we are watching in media, in Washington, in academia, in local school boards and county governments, and in health departments is not the behavior of a savvy conquering hero who knows his victory is assured. Just like the general, these organizations possess vast power, but they are not on the cusp of total victory – they already have all the power they’ll likely ever get. Censorship, threats, and lies are not the weapons of someone confident in their inevitable increase in power; these are people about to lose power, and they are desperate to keep it.
Importantly, the people employing these defensive tactics have no limiting factor on their behavior. A local health department mandating masks for the third school year in a row does not have any sort of control on its actions, for example. This means they can’t help themselves to employing their censorship, their threats, their fear-mongering, and their tyranny in ever more grotesque and obviously desperate ways.
This should be encouraging news. The death spiral has begun.
What Happens Next?
If you have powerful, defensive people using ever more extreme tactics to try and hold power, and if those people have no limits to their behavior, then the result is inevitable; they’re going to stop when they can’t employ their weapons any longer. There are different ways for this to happen, but they all end with the powerful losing power.
I think the next century will see a total replacement of the decayed post-enlightenment corpse of an aristocracy we have now with a new, Christian replacement. Douglas Wilson calls it “mere Christendom”, and I like the sound of that. But that doesn’t answer the question of what happens next. I’m not very good at making such predictions, but I suspect the odds are in my favor to say that it depends on where you are, and you and I have real influence in all of it. It will be local, not national or even statewide, though the leadership of a state can certainly have an effect.
I believe God is bringing America an opportunity to repent and for a revival to take place here. He’s punishing us for our sins of abortion, arrogance, pride, lust, greed, and sloth through a combination of sexual depravity – which is its own form of punishment -, hysteria, and humiliation. We will repent, but how much destruction comes first is, in part, up to us.