By Claire Wolfe
Look up "preparations for civil unrest" on Google and...What's that echo I hear?—you'll find nothing that's going to help you. In fact, you won't even easily turn up a good definition of what civil unrest is.
Like "indecency," the definition seems to be in the eye of the beholder.
I wouldn't consider a peaceful anti-war march to be civil unrest, for instance, but a police chief might. Similarly, I wouldn't consider acts of localized non-violent lawbreaking (like environmental activists chaining themselves to a tree) to be civil unrest; but a timber company official probably believes otherwise.
Civil unrest occurs when anger, frustration, or fear turn disruptive on a mass scale. Or when government officials crack down because they anticipate such disruptions. Crackdowns can lead to further frustration, leading to further crackdowns and so on—especially when the crackdowns look unwarranted and tyrannical.
In other words, civil unrest can arise from the anger of people or the folly of government or both together.
Anger over an unpopular policy, a new war, a collapse of the currency, panic over a pandemic, a food shortage, a bank run—anything like that could cause civil unrest, especially in a population that's already on edge and no longer trusts its authority figures.
Another thing you won't find via Google is how various types or levels of unrest are likely to affect us and how we should respond, if we're affected. Again, although the men and women at the top are quite concerned for their own sakes, they (and their media mouthpieces) would rather not talk about what we should do in event of civil panic.
But that's not good enough for we independent-minded people, is it?
Here are my definitions of levels of civil unrest and a little bit about how they might affect us:
LEVEL ONE: The lowest level of civil unrest is when people turn on their own neighbourhoods—as happened during the race riots of the 1960s and the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. Level One civil unrest can be deadly and destructive, but primarily to people who live, work, or must travel in the immediate area. Level One unrest is spontaneous, Dionysian, is confined to a narrow geographical zone where the protesters live. Police response may be harsh, but it's localized. Unless you're in the middle of it, you're unaffected.
LEVEL TWO: Level Two civil unrest may also be focused on a single area. But in this case, rioters or protesters have deliberately targeted a business district, a facility, a transportation system, or an organization to impose maximum disruption. One example: the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle in 1999; young people with violence in mind and rage in their hearts attacked an entire down-town, affecting hundreds of businesses and tens of thousands of workers who hardly knew what hit them. Another example: This spring, protesters in Thailand shut down the Bangkok airport, affecting who knows how many individuals and businesses. Level Two unrest is usually planned or semi-planned. The target is chosen deliberately. Although still focused in one area, Level Two can disrupt normal life and business in a whole region or country.
LEVEL THREE: Level Three comes when mass unrest or authoritarian crackdown causes disruption at state or regional level. Then, no matter what the original cause or location of the trouble, everyone in the region is affected. Effects might include travel restrictions, random ID checks, mass arrests, food and fuel rationing, controls on money and banking, roadblocks, and other harsh "emergency" restrictions.
LEVEL FOUR: Level Four is Level Three—but on a national or even international scale. It's martial law. If things ever get this bad, it's likely that the government itself will be a far bigger threat to everyone's well being than whatever the original cause of the clampdown was.
And of course, any level of civil unrest can lead to laws, regulations, and harsher police policies that end up affecting everybody in the long run.
The above was copied from "Preparing for Civil Unrest" by Claire Wolfe