Join us on a wondrous journey through whatever’s on our minds this week. We have no idea what we’re doing. But we’re trying.
Show the curve.
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‘Organized’ Retail Crime Follow-Up
Neither Fab nor Fit nor Fun
Oh No, Noah Smith QT’ing Will Stancil
Speaking of Noah Smith…
And yet more from him
Show The Curve
Christian Night Club
Tulsi Gabbard has her finger on the pulse…
Big, if true
North Idaho has long been home to those seeking to escape the looming collapse of America. … It is here, on rugged fringes stalked by mountain lions, bears and wolves, that the American Redoubt was born.
The Redoubt is both a prophecy and a movement: a pre-emptive response to the anarchy on the horizon. Economic meltdown, nuclear war, the lawlessness that will follow the total defunding of the police — all, its followers warn, could bring an end to American civilisation. And so they have started to prepare. First, by relocating to easily defensible ranches in the wilderness; and second, by stocking up on food, firearms and fuel. While their country teeters on the brink of bedlam, they are building a fortress.
- Society is going to collapse, so we better flee all society
If the Redoubt has a Messiah, it is James Wesley, Rawles. (The comma is an affectation.) A former US Army intelligence officer, Rawles has spent decades preaching about America’s imminent implosion to thousands of Christian conservatives, and the importance of them retreating to the mountains. They first flocked to him in 1998, after his book Patriots, both a survivalist manifesto and a novel about the country’s descent into disorder, became a surprise bestseller. The Daily Beast called it “the most dangerous novel in America”; others claimed it “could one day mean the difference between life and death”. Such hyperbole only widened his appeal.
Every Redoubter has read Rawles — yet few have ever seen him in person. He disguises himself when he needs to emerge from his secret ranch to get supplies. Otherwise, he communicates through his blog to 320,000 readers a week. It’s a peculiar assortment of survivalist tips and Christian precepts: recent posts consider the benefits of stun guns, the southern border crisis, and a recipe for potato soup. It was in 2011 that Rawles issued his definitive call to arms, informing his readers that America’s death spiral had reached its climax. Following a news report about a couple in Florida who were unable to pay for a road toll using cash, he decided the time had come for “good men to take action”— to “move to the mountains” and join the Redoubt.
- A revolution for the type of guy who loves telling people, “it says on money it’s legal tender for all debts so companies HAVE to accept cash!”
Brian, a devout Christian, describes himself as “a Redoubter before the Redoubt even started”, having escaped California with his family in 1993. He’s a God-fearing man whose life is centred on his ranch and family. “I’ve been married to the same woman for 40 years,” he says without me asking.
His journey to Idaho started in the high desert above Los Angeles. “I used to have to drive across the San Andreas fault line every day,” he says, describing his commute to work. “If another earthquake happened [as one did the following year], I could have been cut off from my family completely.” Los Angeles, he explains, was already a tinderbox. When the Rodney King riots erupted, Brian was caught in the city and surrounded by a gang of looters who only backed off after he pulled out his gun. He put his house for sale and waited for a sign from God — it came six days later, when someone bought it straightaway.
- To feel like you were in danger in the High Desert in 1993 is so funny to me. Also the riot story absolutely did not happen.
And what of the Redoubt’s political and religious criteria? The flags and signs I saw on rural ranch paths — “Fuck Biden”; “Trump 2024: Fuck your feelings” — suggest it is little more than a sanctuary for disillusioned Christian nationalists, or a case of “Donald Trump voters building a new state”. Lily fiercely corrects me. While she voted for him in 2020, “Trump is now part of the whole system… Then there was the vaccine. He used to be against them, but now he’s not. He lied.”… But many Redoubters clearly are embittered Trump supporters. Twenty miles up the road, a giant sign — “Welcome to Trump County” — watches over the highway, while Radio Free Redoubt dedicates its show on Tuesdays to praising America’s true “commander-in-chief”. And then there are those such as Matt Shea, who called for people to prepare for “total war” after the 2020 election was “stolen”.
But it’s impossible to shake it off completely: the oppressive sense of doom, and the pessimism that underscores his movement. On one level, the Redoubt appears to be little more than “political alienation with more forest and guns”. But its tragedy also runs deeper.
Let’s go through the 2024 Instagram Trend Talk
Aaron, can I get your take on the Pantone Color of the Year 2024?