If you find yourself on the front porch with a rifle in hand and none of your neighbors are on their porch with a rifle in hand, it’s not time. – Anon
There’s an idea that allows the principled normie to be an edgy revolutionary without the need to actually commit: the idea of the spontaneous revolution.
Spontaneous revolution is a beautiful dream. Something happens, and the frog being slowly boiled is awakened, angry, he grabs a weapon and marches out in open armed rebellion, a million individuals all making the same individual choice to act, and act violently – no one has to tell them to do it, they all know it’s time.
American gun owners definitely have the numbers and the firepower, and due to heavy presence in many police departments and the military those institutions could not always be relied on to stop them – instead, like the Cossacks in the Russian Revolution, they might just give them a wink and let them pass. The march of the Second American Revolution (third if you are a certain sort of southerner) continues, opposed by token forces at best, until they reach the Capitol Building. The congressmen have their mercenaries and remaining police allies, the fight is a bitter and bloody one, but the American Patriots are victorious, and set about establishing a new golden age of libertarianism.
This is almost word for word what you will hear on many American gun boards anytime someone broaches the topic of possible revolution. There is of course a host of possible problems with this scenario, the primary one being the first step: spontaneous revolutions do not happen, ever.
The American Revolution was not spontaneous. You had the Sons of Liberty and many other groups who existed years prior. Lexington and Concord were not just rounding up everyone in the neighborhood with a gun, these militias had drilled and trained with each other for years, they were a community, they knew where each other lived, they knew each other’s wives and children.
There’s a parallel line of thought to that idea of spontaneous revolution: people will be outraged but afraid to do anything. It’s up to the desperate spirits to get the ball rolling with some violence, then the normie-tier people will join in, as violence has been normalized. This has some truth to it, it takes some outliers to turn a protest into an angry protest, and that into a riot – but you must be aware that there is a natural continuum and escalation of force. The typical escalation is words, loud words, harsh words, shoving, hitting, and throwing things. You jump right to killing and you’ve gone many mental and moral steps beyond your fellow travelers, and will find yourself totally alone and destroyed, and your entire movement targeted for destruction before it can mature enough to protect itself.
What follows is the story of Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing. Americans sometimes assume the lack of spontaneous revolution in other countries is due to the fact that – well, the French or British people would like to revolt, but it’s hard to do that with baguettes and butter knives. Americans? We’ve got more guns and people than all the police and military combined, and quite a few of us know how to use them better.
This is a story about the America of less than 30 years ago, an America that was also well-armed, full of gun people with real skills, full of people with a very literal interpretation of the 2nd amendment and near if not actual worship of the constitution.
Some have argued the Oklahoma City Bombing was a false flag. This may or may not be correct, but the core ideology and rhetoric expressed by McVeigh does reflect the views of actual people I have encountered. Whether the stated motive is the true motive for the act is a question for another time.
Timothy McVeigh was a US Army infantryman who received a bronze star during the Gulf War, as part of the 16th Infantry Regiment*, 2nd Battalion – a mechanized infantry unit that distinguished itself during the invasion of Iraq. He ended his four year term soon after failing the first day of Special Forces Aptitude and Selection, and there is every indication he took that failure hard. I am not sure if he failed the physical fitness test or something else, but if you choose to withdraw from SFAS, you are never allowed to come back.
After he left the Army, former coworkers found him a changed man in many ways – no initiative, poor posture, overly thin, despite being fit and fairly confident before – a very unusual thing for someone who had been a very high performing soldier who made sergeant in under 4 years. He moved around a lot after leaving the Army, and was spotted fairly often at various gun shows around the country, often selling copies of the Turner Diaries (a book featuring race war, a truck bomb at FBI headquarters, and more) along with typical gun guy bumper stickers.
*Note: This regiment is nicknamed “Iron Rangers” or just “Rangers” but have no relation to the 75th Ranger Regiment, which is an elite light infantry/special operations unit – McVeigh is sometimes (incorrectly) identified as an Army Ranger because of this confusion.
McVeigh claims to have been radicalized by Ruby Ridge and Waco incidents, Federal raids that involved a lot of dead innocents, and a lot of massive dishonesty by Federal authorities, all justified by nonviolent violations of Federal firearms laws.
Ruby Ridge was an incident in 1992 originally spawned by a Federal agent convincing Randy Weaver to cut down a shotgun barrel below Federal minimums, in order to force him to be their informant on the Aryan Nations. He refused, and was charged with the offense, the charges also claiming he was a convicted criminal and former bank robber (he had no criminal record). He was given a court date, which was later changed – and Weaver was sent notice to appear in court a month later than the changed date.
The ATF did not present this errant letter to the grand jury, who indicted Weaver on failure to appear. Weaver already had some justified paranoia, and these mixed messages made him certain he would be railroaded. He refused to leave his home. There were negotiations to get him to surrender, but the US attorney quashed those, and it became a matter of going in and grabbing him by force.
A reconnaissance team in the area was spotted by a dog, and Weaver’s friend Kevin Harris and Weaver’s 14 year old son followed the dog with guns, hoping it was wild game of some kind. Naturally, the US Marshals shot the dog and the 14 year old, and only after that mentioned they were US Marshals. Kevin Harris returned fire, and hit and killed one of the agents, then fled to the cabin.
This of course was not enough insanity. While waiting for negotiators to arrive on the scene, FBI snipers set up, and the infamous Lon Horiuchi shot at Randy as he went out back to view his son’s body. The shot wasn’t fatal, so he ran back to the cabin, Horiuchi sending a second shot that missed Randy altogether and killed his wife Vicki while she held the door open with a baby in her arms. After a few days Weaver surrendered, and served a few months in prison for breaking the federal firearms law and for failure to appear. Kevin Harris, who shot the US Marshal, was found not guilty of any crimes. Years later, after constant court appearances, Weaver was awarded $380,000 in damages.
To prove that Federal agents had learned absolutely nothing from the Ruby Ridge fallout, the next year was the Waco Siege. There were suspected weapons violations (illegal machine guns), BATF decided not to arrest David Koresh when he was out and about like his steady Walmart shopping trips, but to storm a compound full of odd apocalyptic cult members (Branch Davidians) with tons of guns. Koresh had offered to let ATF inspect the guns, but they declined. They had to do a raid, to prove all the money spent on cool-guy gear was really worth it.
Koresh was tipped off about the raid, and readied the place for defense, allowing the undercover ATF agent (who he knew was an agent) to leave. They also claimed a likely meth lab was on the premises so as to get DEA and National Guard assets (helicopters, armored personnel carriers, and actual tanks). The ATF started the shooting by 1) either an accidental discharge with a submachine gun (as this is the ATF, this wasn’t a single shot, but a fully-automatic burst) or 2) shooting dogs (the “cops shoot dogs” meme is an old one). Panicked ATF agents all opened fire, thinking they were being shot at, prompting return fire before the raid team was in position. They attempted the raid anyway, sustaining 4 dead and 16 wounded. The shooting went on almost two hours, until the ATF ran out of ammunition and called a ceasefire to remove their dead and wounded.
An American Federal law enforcement agency asked the doomsday cult they had just been shooting at, killing some of their members, for a ceasefire. And got it. Soon after the ATF were superseded by the FBI who took charge of the situation, and everybody’s favorite gunman from Ruby Ridge, Lon Horiuchi, showed up again (he may or may not have shot anyone, casings were found at his position but nobody knew if they were from the first shootout or the final alleged shooting). The FBI decided Noriega-style harassment was the best course, cut water and power, and played loud music, screams of animals being slaughtered, and jet engine noises towards the compound for weeks.
A few Davidians left, most remained, so the FBI eventually decided to gas them with tear gas and force them out (nobody had the stomach for another raid). Despite explicit orders to the contrary, the FBI used some pyrotechnic gas grenades – these expel gas by burning material, and can start fires. The FBI steadfastly denied this for six years.
At some point, fires broke out and burned the place down. The FBI claim it was the Davidians, some Davidians support this claim, other people suggest the pyrotechnic gas grenades started the fire. Nine people escaped the blaze, everyone else died – killed earlier by the gun battle, by rubble, by smoke inhalation, or suicide. A total of 74 Branch Davidians died at Waco, including a dozen children under 5 years old.
After the fires had gone out, in a show of great respect and empathy, the ATF flag was raised above the charred ruin that still held the bodies of dead women and children, and extremely PR-savvy Feds posed there for pictures. A month later the site was bulldozed, and no further forensic testing could be done. This is a wonderful way of creating conspiracy theories even if the rest of the operation is entirely above board.
Ruby Ridge and Waco are the reason why American gun owners, who tend to be very patriotic, very nationalistic, enthusiastically supporting soldiers and local cops, distrust Federal law enforcement in general and have seething hatred for the ATF in particular. The way 9/11 is the defining trauma of Gen X’ers and Millenials, Ruby Ridge and Waco are the defining traumas of gun owners, it shapes their entire worldview.
McVeigh was on site during the Waco siege (there was a crowd of media and onlookers watching proceedings after the siege began). The gun culture explanation then as now was that the Feds had started the fires and burned those people to death, on purpose or through incompetence. Whether this is true or not, this is something gun people took to heart then and now – perception is reality.
After this event, McVeigh was known to give out cards with the address of Horiuchi at gun shows, with the hope someone would take him out*. McVeigh considered doing this himself, but opted instead for bombing the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City as a more spectacular act.
*Note: Despite this, and the hatred of Horiuchi and his Ruby Ridge spotter that continues to this very day, the massive US gun community has never done so. He retired in 2006, and in 2008 a precision rifle company thought it was a good idea to have him write a testimonial for their rifles. The resulting uproar proved them wrong.
Two years to the day of the final fires at Waco, a massive truck bomb (similar to the WTC ’93 bomb) went off in Oklahoma City, at a building primarily used by the Federal government for 14 agencies – HUD, Secret Service, FBI, ATF, DEA and more. McVeigh apparently scouted out buildings in multiple states to find one that suited him. He decided not to bomb a 40-story government building in Little Rock because there was a florist shop on the ground floor… yet had no problem with the daycare center in the Murrah Building, saying he didn’t notice it during his recon.
The bomb killed 168 people, including 19 children. Just over 90 minutes later, McVeigh was pulled over for driving without a license plate, then arrested for illegally carrying a concealed weapon. Later reports from the rental agency tied him to the truck bomb.
McVeigh was unrepentant to the end. While he seemed to have some regret for the dead children, his overall attitude was that it was simply collateral damage, which had been fine when the US bombed Iraq before. What was good for the Iraqi government was good enough for the American government, to his mind.
His political views aren’t entirely clear. Though he’s been reported as a big fan of the Turner Diaries with its prominent race war narrative, he doesn’t seem to be motivated by significant racial animus. Like the typical right-libertarian, he boils down all the evil in the world to the government alone.
All government employees (elected and otherwise) swear an oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Some people still hold these oaths sacred – McVeigh was one, many Americans today feel likewise, many Americans then felt the same. All enemies, foreign and domestic – the phrase has been the title of several revolution-themed novels by Matt Bracken, another oath-swearing military man who finds domestic enemies to be the greatest threat to the country today. For a lot of men, this oath is sacred, this is a real duty, and you do not get to shrink from that duty.
Despite that common feeling, there was no revolution. When Ruby Ridge and Waco happened, American gun owners were outraged and registered their protests far and wide, but they did not march to war. After the bombing, there was no revolution, there was universal revulsion at the idea that someone who claimed to be on their side would blow up a building, killing children, and that lasts to this day. You would think some like-minded people might try to spring him from prison – but no. He went entirely too far for anyone to support him.
His actions caused a massive backlash at the militia movements of the time, and the hard right-wing voices like G. Gordon Liddy were forced to curb their tongues or be de-platformed. To this day the militia movement have never recovered, and it is a running joke these days that the membership is an even mix of Feds and inbreds (though militia infiltration began earlier with PATCON).
Even in the turmoil of the ’90s, when the wounds and injustice of Ruby Ridge and Waco were strongest, there was no spontaneous revolution. In response to McVeigh’s bombing, there was no spontaneous revolution. Revolutions are not born of a dissident groups’ escalation, but the oppressive groups’ escalation. Whoever escalates first loses the all-important PR battle, and any possibility of moral superiority.
Events like this are often called out as false flag attacks due to the results: they have no benefit for the attacker or their group, in fact causing major trouble for both well out of proportion to harm inflicted on the purported enemy. It doesn’t really matter if these attacks are false flags full of Fed instigators and brainwashed narcissistic patsies or simply depressed true believers going on a rampage, the results are identical: total disaster.
This is not South Africa, where whites are a tiny minority. Whites as an ethnic group represent a majority of the country – a majority which is eroding, but one that still exists. Doom is not inevitable, there is hope, there is opportunity.
Don’t fall for myths of general uprising if the right people just commit this one insane act: it has never happened, it will never happen, it is always counterproductive. Look instead at the example of the LGBT community – a tiny, very unusual minority that went from barely tolerated freaks to “stunning and brave” in a few decades, with massive pride parades funded by international banks – all that with no real increase in numbers and no bombing of Federal buildings. Look at the Mormons, who were a weird heretical sect in the 1800s, and thanks to careful community building are now a major respected powerhouse, with an incredible percentage of the government top secret clearances due to their anti-drug stance.
Your enemy knows psychological warfare very well, and has practiced it on you for some time now – quite honestly many media articles and headlines exist explicitly to demoralize you. They want you to be suicidal, admit defeat and assimilate, or lash out violently due to hopelessness, allowing the organs of the state to crush you and yours in direct fashion. They do not want you to plan and organize with like-minded people in your own area, creating community and a real bond. They do not want you going into institutions of power, they do not want you creating your own institutions. They do not want you to unite. It’s up to you to decide if they win or you do.
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Best article here in a while. Everyone in the movement needs to read this.
Community-building is also important if/when it comes to violence. You made this point early with the example of the early American secessionists (improperly, in my opinion, named ‘revolutionaries’, as the Revolutionary War was equal parts British civil war and national liberation struggle, not a revolution per se). The Bundy Ranch is another example: the Bundys’ family and community ties enabled them to defeat the Feds at their own game. Isolation is death.
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Great article, the only thing I would add is we need to stop thinking of the potential population for action as one mass. There are those that can see the awful future coming down the tracks, and those that cannot. The first group is very small and the second much larger. Historically the only thing that seems to get the second in gear to act is deprivation. If people are not as hungry as the Parisians in 1789 don’t expect the barricades to go up. The yellow vests still have not attacked army depots for weapons. Everything must get worst to get better.
Not everyone sees a reason to act, not everyone who sees the reason will do anything about it. This is about the long game. Noah’s Ark didn’t save everyone, but it saved enough.
Excellent article – however, it’s not clear that McVeigh was characterizable as a “revolutionary”, and to the extent he intended to deter future incidents, he was successful.
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There have been way too many instances of snakes being tread on since McVeigh for him to have actually succeeded in deterring future incidents.
To be fair, there weren’t any Waco or Ruby Ridge incidents for a good long time after McVeigh bombed the Murtha building. It looks like he got the federal government to back off a lot of their movements – and I say that pretty grudgingly, since i disagree with “the McVeigh strategy.”
Good overview of those two terrible incidents. Interested to hear more on your ideas and thoughts on institution building and community building.
One thing I find interesting is in the year since Waco and Ruby Ridge we have had 9/11 and the explosion of AR15s is directly related to GWOTs perpetual war. An entire generation of veterans and former PMCs now provide training to civilians, those training civilians have spent time fighting real 4gw gun battles. What was theory before now has lots and lots of people who know exactly how things go down and play out. Gun culture has pulled some elements of the industry along with them (California LEO you can’t have Barrett rifles) and in some ways pulled segments of gun culture closer to the military whilst maintaining a healthy distrust of Feds.
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Other people can cover institution and community building much better than me. I’m mostly a history guy, looking for solutions to current problems by looking at what was tried vs what worked in other times.
The gun culture has definitely grown stronger, smarter, and more capable. Just look at the spread of concealed carry, look at the outrage over the gun company with the testimonial by Horiuchi, etc. The gun culture has gotten its act together pretty decently, but it’s got a long way to go to really make serious impacts. There’s a ton of potential for growth there.
Gun culture is where I think most men can invest themselves smartly and gain knowledge and allies quickly. It’s a good initial filter.
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