Will Civil Unrest Come to the U.S.?

We’ve all seen the recent news reports of civil unrest and violent protests spreading to many nations in the Arab/Muslim world: the Middle East, northern Africa, Afghanistan. Less prominent in the news are the violent protests in China, resulting from a controversy with Japan over disputed islands. And last year, in summer of 2011, there were a series of riots in the U.K. caused, at least in part, by serious economic problems. But here at Prep-Blog, we avoid getting too political; we mainly write about emergency preparedness, not international relations or socio-political controversies. So this prepping and survival post will focus on one question: Will civil unrest come to the U.S.?

The U.S. is not immune to the problem of civil unrest. Despite a culture that promotes freedom of speech, accepts pluralism, and is tolerant of controversy, we are subject to many of the same problems as the rest of the world. But I suggest that the most likely cause for any possible civil unrest in the U.S. is not religion or politics, but economics. Unemployment has been above 8% for many months. The U.S. deficit has skyrocketed to over 16 trillion dollars. The federal budget continues to exceed revenue by over a trillion dollars per year. But even if we get our financial house in order, our economy is tightly interwoven with the world economy, more so than ever before. Economic failure in another nation or region of the world could quickly have harmful effects on our economy, effects that would be largely out of our control.

Then there is the summer of 2012 drought. Our food economy has not yet seen the results of that disaster. Usually, when disaster strikes, everyone notices right away: earthquakes, hurricanes, snow storms, power outages. But the worst effects of economic and agricultural disasters are often delayed by many months. The USDA Economic Research Service says this in their Farm and Food Impacts report:

“The most severe and extensive drought in at least 25 years is seriously affecting U.S. agriculture, with impacts on the crop and livestock sectors and with the potential to affect food prices at the retail level…. We will likely see impacts within two months for beef, pork, poultry and dairy (especially fluid milk). The full effects of the increase in corn prices for packaged and processed foods (cereal, corn flour, etc.) will likely take 10-12 months to move through to retail food prices. The drought has the potential to increase retail prices for beef, pork, poultry, and dairy products first and foremost – later this year and into 2013.”

Commodity prices for corn (maize) have doubled in less than 2 years, and prices could go even higher.

Soybean prices have increased 95% (almost double) what they were less than 2 years ago. How does this affect prices for other foods? Corn and soy are the main sources of cattle feed in the U.S. So food prices for meat and poultry will likely be adversely affected in the coming months.

But the drought is also affecting other nations. The food economy is a world economy, just as the financial economy is. Higher corn and soy prices in the U.S. will affect food prices in other nations, including nations with far greater economic problems than we have. A drought has been going on in Russia, parts of the EU, and some other areas of the world since 2010. As a result, grain supplies for wheat are low. Corn, wheat, rice, and soybeans represent over 70% of the food calories produced by the world agricultural system. With production quantities of corn, wheat, and soy substantially reduced by the drought, the world food supply is under severe pressure. Some nations could see food rationing. Most nations will see higher food prices.

If civil unrest were to come to the U.S., my opinion is that economics would be the most likely cause. High unemployment and high food prices might not be enough, but these factors put us ever closer to the brink of civil unrest. An outbreak of war in the Middle East, such as an eventual U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program, could cause oil prices to skyrocket. Higher oil prices means higher prices, not only for fuel and home heating oil, but also for products transported by truck, in other words, nearly all retail goods. Inflation would then spike, interest rates for credit cards and mortgages would increase. Businesses might start laying off employees en masse. It would not take much for economic disaster, and subsequently civil unrest, to strike the U.S.

What can we do to prepare for possible civil unrest? That is the subject of a future post. But I’m open to your suggestions.

– Thoreau

6 Responses to Will Civil Unrest Come to the U.S.?

  1. I think you are spot on. Our unrest will be economically driven. You mentioned drought and oil, a bigger concern is the Fed’s decision to start QE3. This will greatly enhance the prices of everything due to the introduction of more dollars into the system. The weakened US Dollar will magnify the food production and oil pricing issue.

  2. I think if ( when) civil unrest starts it won’t just be folks protesting. Katrina and LA were perfect examples of what we are in for. As a nation we lack the moral fiber to deal with a TEOTWAWKI situation in a civil manor. I am truly thankful I live in a very rural area. :-)

  3. It’s hard to predict the behavior of groups of people…people, especially in groups aren’t rational…but they will rationalize!

  4. Rome did not die with a bang but a whimper.
    The collapse of modern society will look much like the fall of Rome (and it is important to study that event and the mechanics involved for every prepper).
    WE (modern society) can no longer survive a 1930′s style depression for a number of reasons but first and foremost involves the supply of resources to unsupportable populations.
    There were bread riots in the streets of Rome and that will occur in all major cities because there is no local resource that can cart food in from local farms like in the 1930′s.
    When the food is gone in New York City… Chicago… L.A… the people there have the choice of stay and starve or leave and raid.
    Thanks to Executive Orders (another thing that every prepper must look up and read) there will be three or four extremely powerful and tyrannic military groups spread across the US that will be driving tanks into peoples houses and taking everything because they believe they have the legal right to. They use the Internet to see who has stashes and who does not and have vast collections of names from gun registration requirements (hence the Ceasaur Augustus handle and my rule of never registering a firearm I possess).
    Mini kingdoms will rapidly be established and in between will be raped for resources.
    Many with ham radios and citizen band will make the mistake of talking to these groups instead of monitoring traffic and will be attacked for it.
    Life will become extremely cheap and children will not be considered an asset.
    It has happened many times and will eventually happen again.

  5. Aristotle said no regime can withstand the corrision of time. Out here in the hinterland we see, feel, taste and touch the drought everyday. It is BAD, BAD, BAD! The food will not be coming to a town near you soon. Do some research on water shortages on the planet. We see the shadows of resource war looming along with a people in the U.S. that are spoiled rotten. When it all unravels they are going to kill each other off over a Hostess Cupcake man. Learn to garden, learn what to forage, learn how to live lean. We have wild game out here but that will disappear as well, a lot of hunters will kill off the deer and turkeys in a hurry. The living will envy the dead. And civilization turns another page to another age. Enjoy the show.

  6. sdflatlander2 – The living will envy the dead.

    Ceasaur- This is one of my favorite modern sayings not because it is true but because it is an example of how far we have come from our natural life.
    A single human being is the ultimate predator so far produced be nature yet few embrace the reality of that and claim that one man alone is somehow weak and without hope of survival. Read about Hugh Glass and realize that if you decide to survive… if you promise yourself you will not die easily… then you will develop the skills and knowledge needed to survive.
    But remember that man is a pack hunting predator… there is a biological reason that the dog is mans best friend.
    A few humans banded together who have all decided not to die easily can not only survive but thrive in any environment of Earth.
    They (WE) will not envy the dead, they will ensure that they are not listed among them and rebuild.