anocracy

The CIA (yes, that CIA) sucks in massive amounts of data and information from a whole galaxy of sources. One of those sources, when it comes to assessing the stability of a nation, is the Center for Systemic Peace. You’re probably asking, “Greg, old sock, just what the hell is this Center for Systemic Peace…and is that really it’s actual, no-shit name?”

Yes, that really is its name. The CSP was founded in 1997 to conduct “research and quantitative analysis in many issue areas related to the fundamental problems of violence in both human relations and societal-systemic development processes.” Basically, they evaluate a nation’s stability by looking at stuff–like the spectrum of social conflict, the methods of governance, and the various responses of the population. The CSP does this for just about every nation state that has a population of over half a million. Also, stop calling me ‘old sock’.

One of the CSP’s metrics for national stability is what they call a ‘polity score’. It measures ‘regime authority’ on a 21-pont scale with a zero point at the center: -10 being an hereditary monarchy, +10 is a consolidated democracy. They tend clump nations into three groups: 1) autocracies (-10 to -6), anocracies (-5 to +5), and democracies (+6 to +10).

Now I suspect you’re asking, “Greg, old sock, what the fuck is an anocracy?” Good question. At the high end (+5) an anocracy is a form of government that’s democratic but has autocratic features; at the low end (-5) it’s an autocratic government with some democratic features.

Why am I telling you all this? Two reasons. First, the CIA uses the CSP as a tool for understanding how fucked up nations are. They have their own reasons for doing this, of course, some of which are almost certainly nefarious, but the CSP metrics are universally seen as pretty damned reliable. The second reason I’m telling you this is because the US, for most or our history, has been either a +9 or a +10. For a long time, the US was the world’s longest continuing democracy.

This is insurgency

Now we’re not. According to the CSP, under the Comrade Trump administration the polity score of the US dropped to a +5, which drags us right out of the democracy zone and dumps us in with the anocracies. How’d that happen? You can find the CSP’s abbreviated political history of the US here.

It’s sad that the US is now just a high-functioning, democracy-leaning anocracy. What makes it all very much worse, though, is that anocracies are much more susceptible to insurgencies, and nations that with active insurgencies are more likely to slide into an actual civil war. And we’re seeing overt signs of a growing insurgency movement in the US.

Depending on which poll you look at, somewhere between 17-38% of folks who identify strongly as Republicans believe the use of violence to ‘restore America’ is acceptable or necessary. Every state in the Union has at least one civilian armed militia movement. Some militia groups are national–the Oathkeepers, the III Percenters, the Proud Boys, etc. Members (and supporters) of militia groups have engaged in anti-government ranging from the insurrection on 1/6/20, to a plot to kidnap the Democratic governor of Michigan and put her on ‘trial’, to threatening the lives of local election or school board official. These aren’t just crimes; they’re insurgent actions.

The III Percenters are insurgents

Again, the US is still at the high end of anocracies. We can claw our way back into the realm of full democracies. But there’s no guarantee we will. At this point, the Republican Party is effectively acting as the political wing of an inchoate collective of insurgent groups, all of whom want to install some form of right-wing authoritarian government. Since Senators Sinema and Manchin have given the GOP the power they need to suppress voting, the odds of the US sinking lower on the polity scale have increased.

The Oathkeepers are insurgents

It’s hard for me to even say this–mainly because this should be unthinkable–but we may be witnessing a cascade of events that will be the end of representative democracy in the United States. And because it should be unthinkable, most of the people in the US aren’t thinking about it at all. Most of us are just assuming everything will go on just about as it always has. And maybe it will. But I’m not confident about it. I keep thinking of the closing stanza of T.S. Eliot’s poem The Hollow Men.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

ADDENDUM (1/28): It appears that Uncle Joe’s move to the Oval Office has allowed the US to claw its way up from a 5 on the Polity Scale to an 8. We are now a middling, shaky democracy. Yay?

2 thoughts on “anocracy

  1. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    ANOCRACIES!! This is real, this is true … read on!! … “According to the CSP, under the Comrade Trump administration the polity score of the US dropped to a +5, which drags us right out of the democracy zone and dumps us in with the anocracies. How’d that happen?”

    Like

  2. Scary. To see a once respected democracy sliding like the USA has done in recent years is horrible.

    I see these so called militias, groups of angry white men with a love of camouflage and way too powerful guns and I see mostly brainless idiots no better than the Taliban. These groups have the clever leaders of course, with plans and no care for the foot soldiers, but they are just thugs. It’s a dangerous place for America to be.

    Liked by 1 person

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