Small Wars Journal

The Crisis State: A Critical Juncture in American History

Mon, 01/28/2019 - 1:04am

The Crisis State: A Critical Juncture in American History

Jeremy D. Lawhorn

“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

--Winston Churchill


What Ronald Reagan once spoke of as a “shining city” upon a hill, and others have hailed as a beacon of hope for the world; a gateway to humanity’s future where the choices that will determine mankind’s future will be made, is currently experiencing a crisis that threatens all of those who believe in the dream that is America.[i] America is on a collision course with a bleak future marked by massive social upheaval and potentially large-scale revolution. What America is experiencing today is a perfect storm: the convergence of a domestic political environment that is motivated by self-interest, revenge, and sabotage; a national media that is more concerned with sensationalizing crises than reporting facts or helping solve problems; the awakening and empowerment of underrepresented and otherwise traditionally marginalized peoples; and the interference of adversarial agents who aim to not only discredit democracy, but ultimately destroy America. It is becoming increasingly apparent that American policy makers are either unaware of this crisis or more concerned with their own political agendas, either way, this political and social division represents a fundamental crisis that threatens to rip the country apart. If recent failures to identify problems and generate bi-partisan solutions are indicative of the future, this crisis will continue unimpeded.

This social and political divide has created a population that is finding it increasingly difficult to effectively interact with people who hold opposing views, while at the same time the divide is crippling the country’s representatives’ ability to make important policy decisions that should cut across the political aisle. The United States is currently unable to look at a single issue through the lens of national interest; issues are only viewed through politically-motivated lenses. This level of political polarization has reached a dangerous extreme that threatens to destabilize the nation by making it impossible to create policies and solutions to the complex problems that the country faces. In December 2018, the government shutdown for the third time during President Trump’s term over yet another political stalemate. Unable to pass a national budget, several important federal departments were shuttered and hundreds of thousands of federal employees furloughed.

This division is not new, but it is increasing at an alarming rate. Divisions on fundamental political and social issues reached record levels during President Obama’s term in office and the gaps have continued to increase even further during President Trump’s first year.[ii] The divisions today are so wide-spread that they extend far beyond the traditional political and social agendas. While pursuing political and social agendas has been an important aspect of the nation’s history, leading to fundamental developments and reforms that moved the nation forward, today things are different. Instead of debating important issues using analysis, logic, and sound judgement, today’s political parties as well as the general population, have become entrenched in not necessarily opposing the position on a policy as much as opposing the political party that takes a position either way. A recent example is President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria. In November 2015, a Gallup Poll found that only 37% of democrats favored sending ground forces to Syria, but today President Trump is being criticized by liberal pundits for his decision to withdraw.[iii] Likewise when President Obama decided to withdraw forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, he was chastised by conservatives. Those same conservatives however are virtually silent in terms of criticizing President Trump’s decision to withdraw forces from Syria. While these are overly simplified examples of complex policy decisions, the inability to formulate rational bi-partisan solutions without considering a political agenda has become a dangerous norm that is leading the country down a perilous path. In fact, a recent study by Pew Research Center finds that the current partisan divide is at its highest level since the Civil War.[iv] This can easily be observed in the way policy makers, pundits, the media and average Americans interact via traditional media platforms, social media, and public demonstrations. For example, from January 21, 2017 through August 30, 2018, the Crowd Counting Consortium tracked more than 10,634 protests across America with over 9,424,616 attendees.[v]

Much like the divide during the late 19th Century, the contemporary polarization is caused by both political and social entrenchment that threatens the future of the country. This polarization is generating fractures along almost every cross-section of American society, creating weak points that threaten the structural integrity of the “united” states. Characteristics like freedom, openness, and diversity that make America so great are also the points of vulnerability that are routinely exploited by opportunist, especially America’s adversaries who see ideas like freedom and democracy as a challenge to their own systems. The democratic values that make America so great, are constantly under attack by those that understand the power of America’s democratic values. In an effort to prevent American-style democracy from taking hold in other countries, America’s adversaries routinely attempt to undermine America by leveraging political and social differences throughout the country. They seek to demonstrate the weakness of democracy in order to reduce its attractiveness. In addition, by increasing instability within democracies like the United States, they not only increase their international power, they are also able to consolidate power within their own country.

The current challenges facing America’s democracy must be understood and addressed if the United States is to remain “united.” The political infighting combined with the social movements that have emerged across the country are indicative of the problems to come. Instead of celebrating the importance of the differences within American society, these differences have become the central points of friction causing mass dissent. This dissent has become widespread with large segments of the population mobilizing against the “system” to address what has evolved from differences to become viewed as a wide range of social and political grievances. This friction between those with grievances and those that are seen as being responsible for the grievances, forms the foundation of resistance in America. Resistance can generally be understood as a cognitive or physical friction between two or more entities resulting from force being applied in opposing directions. What has been disregarded as a general dissatisfaction among disparate groups by some political parties, has been leveraged by other politicians and used as political ammunition to attack their opponents. Instead of seeing the crisis for what it is, social dissention has become a convenient tool for gaining immediate political support from disaffected groups. This growth in general dissention among the population should be a major concern for policy makers, but instead it has gone virtually unnoticed. As a result, America is now experiencing advanced stages of resistance, also referred to as a “crisis” state. While absent from the political discussion or the media, those who study social movements and the revolutionary process, understand the current situation in America is representative of a “crisis,” that unless properly addressed could lead to increased turmoil and ultimately revolution. The recurring instances of mass mobilization across the country and the failure to adequately address social and political issues using a bi-partisan approach, represents a looming crisis in America’s history. A failure to understand and properly address the current crisis could condemn America to the ash heaps of history.


The current situation did not emerge overnight, these movements evolved overtime due to conditions in the environment. What generally begins as a call for change based on dissatisfaction due to issues related to discrimination, exploitation, unlawful activities, and so on, can have destabilizing consequences for those seeking change and for society as a whole. For example, the Civil Rights movement that emerged from systematic discrimination against black Americans, led to massive uprisings across the country, unnecessary deaths, and incalculable social and economic costs that could have been avoided had the conditions been properly addressed. Another example that did not work out well for the group accused of repressive behavior was the American Revolution. While many colonists had a strong affinity toward England, that did not stop them from revolting when conditions surpassed their threshold of acceptance. Looking back, it is easy to see how changing the conditions (e.g. treating everyone fairly, not over taxing a population, etc), could have prevented a more than decade-long struggle for basic rights for black Americans and the loss of an entire colony. Unfortunately, when people are too close to situations, they tend to lack perspective which clouds their ability to make informed decisions. This lack of perspective is often what allows history to repeat, where social issues go ignored and are left to fester until a point where those who are subjected choose to act.   

When social issues go ignored, social movements emerge to challenge the status quo. Social movements form the foundation for resistance that when unchecked, can lead to mass demonstrations, popular revolt, and even the overthrow of a country. This was observed in 2010 during the Arab Spring when massive demonstrations swept across North Africa and the Middle East. While numerous factors contributed to these movements, such as dissatisfaction with the rule of local governments,[vi] human rights violations, political corruption,[vii] economic decline, unemployment, extreme poverty, as well as a number of other issues,[viii] the common thread among all movements was a general dissatisfaction with the status quo and the unresolved social issues. The Arab Spring led to reforms, toppled governments, and in some places civil war that still rages on. It also resulted in more than 65,000 people missing after being arrested by government forces, over 250,000 people being killed, and over 11 million people being forced from their homes.[ix] 

Understanding Resistance through Social Movement Theory

Social movements emerge in response to resistance that is caused by a general dissatisfaction with conditions; they are generally understood to be purposeful, organized groups striving to work toward a common social goal. In 1966, Sociologist David Aberle developed four categories that help identify common patterns to distinguish social movements based on what the movement intends to change and how much change is desired. According to Aberle, social movements are focused on specific individuals (or individual groups) or society as a whole and are either limited or radical. Limited movements seek to change some aspect of society for example a law, policy, social norm, etc., whereas radical movements seek system-wide change.  The first category Aberle identified is “alternative social movements,” which are limited in scope and focused on specific changes to an individual or group; examples could include advocacy groups for home-schooling or policies that support Planned Parenthood initiatives. The second category is “redemptive social movements,” which seek radical change but still limited to individual groups; an example of this type of movement might include Christian fundamentalism. The third category is “reformative social movements” which seek limited changes but affect everyone in society. The intent is not to change the system as a whole, but to change some aspect of the system. An example might include environmental groups that seek to limit carbon emissions or women’s rights groups that demand laws to require equal pay. The fourth category is “revolutionary social movements” which seek radical change that affect the entire society. This includes movements like the Arab Spring that led to massive social upheavals.[x]

While Aberle’s categories help situate social movements in neat categories for analysis, there are several theories that help explain why people decide to engage in social movements to challenge elements within the system or the system as a whole. In 1893, French sociologist Emile Durkheim introduced the concept of anomie. Anomie identifies incongruities within society that evolve from a conflict between belief systems that manifest as friction between individual or group standards and wider social standards.[xi] If not adequately addressed, this friction can cause a breakdown of social bonds between society at large and the individual due to a fragmentation of social identity and rejection of the broader social values. In 1938, Robert K. Merton developed Strain Theory which linked Durkheim’s idea of anomie with deviance. Merton argued that societal pressures placed on the individual to conform to socially accepted behaviors can have a dysfunctional consequence that engenders deviance when there is a discontinuity between culture and structure.[xii] Strain can occur when individuals are faced with a discrepancy between their goals (or the socially constructed goals that they are expected to attain) and their relative status. Merton argued that when strain occurs, people have five ways to adapt: they can conform with the system using socially approved means while remaining hopeful; they can innovate by using socially unapproved or unconventional means to obtain culturally approved goals; they can engage in ritualism by demonstrating support for the system by using the same socially approved means to pursue less ambitious goals and accepting their lower social status; they can retreat from the system by rejecting both the cultural goals and the means to obtain it; and lastly, they can rebel against the system by rejecting the cultural goals and working to replace them.[xiii] In 1959, Kornhauser developed Mass-Society theory which argues that social movements are made up of individuals in large societies who feel insignificant or socially detached. Mass-Society theory is consistent with the underlying principles of Strain Theory. As the societal pressure to conform overwhelms an individual’s ability to excel within the prescriptive parameters, the resulting strain causes individuals or members of a subgroup to feel insignificant or feel like societal outcasts. According to this theory, social movements provide a sense of empowerment and belonging that the movement members would otherwise not have.[xiv]

In 1962, James Davies, postulated that social movements were based primarily on deprivation. He argued that social movements have their origins among people who feel deprived of some good(s) or resource(s). He contends that individuals (and groups) who lack a desired good, service, or comfort are likely to organize a social movement to improve (or defend) their conditions.[xv] Building on Merton’s Strain Theory and consistent with Davies concept of deprivation, in 1962, Neil Smelser developed Value-Added Theory. His theory argues that six factors precipitate social movement development: structural conduciveness- people come to believe their society has problems; structural strain- when people experience deprivation; generalized belief- participants have to come to an understanding of what the problem is; precipitating factors- discontent usually requires a catalyst (often a specific event) to turn it into a social movement; mobilization for action- people need to have a network and organization allowing them to take a collective action; operation (failure) of social control- how the authorities react (or don't).[xvi] Expanding on this idea, in 1966, Walter Runciman articulated a theory of relative deprivation. He argued that there are four preconditions of relative deprivation which consists of a person not only wanting something, but also knowing that others have it. For example: Person A does not have X, Person A knows of other persons that have X, Person A wants to have X, and Person A believes obtaining X is realistic.[xvii] Relative deprivation is important because it distinguishes from the general dissatisfaction of not having something and the dissatisfaction of not having something combined with the reality that others do have the desired good. Relative deprivation theory also helps explain why some people that are unhappy choose not to act out. Understanding that deprivation is a relative condition also helps further define the relationship between “haves” and “have-nots.”

Understanding the Current “Crisis” State

The preceding theories, while not exhaustive, help provide an understanding of why people decide to resist and ultimately engage in social movements. Understanding these theories provides a basis for analysis that can help predict, analyze, and appropriately respond to social movements to preempt crisis from emerging. While widely understood by sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, and other social scientists for their predictive and analytic value, these theories have seemingly gone unnoticed by policy makers who are more interested in political maneuvering than understanding societal conditions. While social movements themselves are not necessarily bad, the evolution of social movements along the resistance continuum from non-violent resistance and the “use of legal processes” to armed resistance including “belligerency,” should create a sense of urgency that encourages deliberate bi-partisan efforts to address the underlying issues.  A critical analysis of the current state of social and political entrenchment using social movement theories and an understanding of the resistance continuum, would highlight the looming crisis currently facing the United States.



According to contemporary resistance literature, the United States has reached a critical juncture defined as the “crisis state.” In an upcoming publication in the Assessing Revolutionary and Insurgent Strategies (ARIS) series, titled “Understanding States of Resistance,” the National Security Analysis Department of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory have developed an interdisciplinary resistance model. This model was developed from an interdisciplinary approach that synthesized nearly a century of social and revolutionary movement literature as well as relevant economic, law and political science literature. The resulting model outlines five states for resistance: the preliminary, incipient, crisis, institutionalization, and resolution states, that can lead to social change, massive social upheaval and potentially the overthrow of a standing system. Much like the preceding social movement theories, this resistance model helps analyze, assess and predict actions that occur throughout the resistance continuum. Using this model and the scientific process of deductive reasoning, it is possible to better understand the current state of a resistance movement and make predictions about the future. Being able to predict actions creates opportunities to engage in preventive and preemptive measures that preclude large scale social upheavals by addressing the underlying causes. For the purpose of this paper, only the first three states will be discussed.



The first state of resistance is the “preliminary, incubation, or emergence state.”[xviii] As the name suggests, this is the period where grievances and other unmet expectations emerge as a problem that creates friction. During this state, social issues emerge from existing or newly created conditions that are perceived to be violations of societal values. This violation creates general unrest among various individuals and groups for which the condition affects. During this state, the unrest is local, decentralized and may only exist in the cognitive space of individuals. During this state the resistance is generally considered to be unorganized because individuals that are experiencing cognitive friction are disconnected, the source of their condition is uncertain, and there is no common narrative about the source of the problem.[xix] This state is also referred to as “normal times,” when there are actual or perceived violations but these violations are generally unknown to society; these issues are neither in the public spotlight nor on society's agenda of hotly contested issues.[xx]  Over time, these grievances gain strength due to what Stouffer,[xxi] Davies,[xxii] Gurr,[xxiii] Runciman,[xxiv] and others describe as relative deprivation. The Davies J-Curve below provides a visual depiction of relative deprivation; it highlights the tolerable and intolerable gaps between what people want and what they get.[xxv] As issues become more intolerable, people become more vocal about their conditions. As individuals become more vocal, they find others who share similar experiences. The emergence of a shared experience signals the end of the preliminary state.



In order for a movement to successfully transform from an individual set of grievances to a collective movement, individuals must become aware of others that are experiencing similar hardships. Research suggests that feelings of group relative deprivation increase the likelihood of collective behavior.[xxvi] When grievances exist across the social strata, they tend to be viewed as politically neutral and less likely to generate large public outrage. For example, when low income is distributed evenly across races it is seen as a general condition rather than a slight against any particular group. Individual grievances become significant when members of a specific group (e.g. religious, ethnic, racial, gender, etc.) feel that their group is treated unjustly. This awareness can result in the emergence of group-based grievances which become politically relevant because aggrieved groups are more capable of mobilizing to demand change than disjointed individuals.[xxvii] The awareness of group relative deprivation initiates the transition from the first state to the second state of resistance.

The second state of resistance is called the “incipient or coalescent state.”[xxviii] This state is characterized by the formulation of a group identity. This occurs when disparate groups of individuals become aware of other like-minded individuals and unify to engage in collective action. At this point the groups have also determined who they believe to be at fault for their repressive conditions. During this state, leaders emerge who create a sense of “esprit de corps” that helps transition the movement from a loose affiliation of individuals with grievances to a cohesive group acting in concert with a shared purpose.[xxix] As conceptions of grievance, responsibility, and solutions narrow and crystallize, the movement becomes formalized and strategic instead of short term and localized.[xxx] The success of the second state marks a significant transition from what might be viewed as a band of “misfits,” to a movement with clearly defined goals. 

In recent years the United States has experienced an increase in the number of social movements across the country representing a wide range of grievances. With the help of social media, these groups have transitioned swiftly through the first and second states and many have taken up strong positions against what they believe to be the root cause of their grievances. For many of these groups, the root cause is the “system,” that has over time been created and reinforced by the government. This has led some groups to become openly hostile to any form of government apparatus from local police to the federal government. The most extreme groups see each of these government entities as an extension of either active or tacit support for a system that they believe is oppressive in nature. As a result, the United States has begun to experience aspects of the third state of resistance. 

The third state is the “Crisis State,” which is defined as an outbreak of action, characterized by escalated confrontation between the government and various resistance movements.[xxxi] The crisis state is also characterized by a clear division between the resistance groups and the government whom the resistance groups hold responsible. America has experienced escalated confrontation across the country in the way of mass violent and non-violent protests, riots, and even police assassinations. Since 2015 there have been major riots across the country with the most significant in Baltimore, Ferguson, Oakland, St. Paul, Dallas, and Charlotte. The emergence of these riots is consistent with the principles of social movement theories, specifically Smelser’s value-added theory. While members of the black community may have longstanding grievances consistent with deprivation theory, the catalyst which value-added theory suggests is required, was the police killing several unarmed black men.

During the crisis state, there is a real threat to the government’s interests, authority, and in some cases its long-term existence.[xxxii] The nonviolent to violent resistance continuum above identifies five stages that can occur especially after the movement has crystalized in the second state of resistance. The nonviolent stages focus on working initially within the system to generate change by using legal processes to gain political advantage. When the movement is unsuccessful using legal processes, they often resort to the use of illegal political acts. If legal acts do not work then the movement may be forced to engage in illegal non-violent acts. It is also possible, as witnessed throughout history, that when non-violent approaches are unsuccessful, social movements can be forced to transition to violent struggle using rebellion, insurgency, and even belligerency to solve the perceived injustices for which they are fighting. The trajectory of resistance movements are directly linked to the actions of the state. While appropriately addressing concerns expressed by a resistance movement can lead to peaceful resolution, ignoring or implementing policies that are perceived as threatening can quickly exacerbate the crisis and embolden the movement.  

What Resistance Looks Like Today

Within the prescribed resistance framework, there is significant evidence that the United States is experiencing events associated with the crisis state. While protesting and the pursuit of social justice is deeply ingrained in American culture, the past decade has seen a dramatic increase in protests, riots and general social discord that threatens to weaken the nation’s social fabric. Over the past four years, the number and size of protests have grown exponentially with the largest protest in American history, consisting of an estimated 3 to 4.5 million protestors in more than 500 cities across the country, taking place the day after President Trump’s inauguration.[xxxiii] These protests and social movements are not only increasing in size and prevalence, today they are taking on an increasingly aggressive stance against any resemblance of established order. The riots that took place across the country in Baltimore, Ferguson, Oakland, St. Paul, Dallas, and Charlotte are just a few examples of the destructive potential that can occur when social movements gain strength as grievances go unaddressed or even worse, when a deadly catalyst causes their rapid transition to a violent struggle.

 Today there are countless social movements across the country seeking to change social conditions or fight a perceived wrong. These social movements pull from a wide range of socio-economic groups and political affiliation. Many groups are openly hostile to the government, ranging from the “radical left” to the “radical right.” While these radical groups are on opposite ends of the political spectrum and have conflicting goals, they both see the government as the root cause of the conditions that they oppose. As such, many radical groups, on both ends of the spectrum, believe that the way to resolve social conditions is to either eliminate the government or completely reform it. Hashtags like #TheResistance, #IResist, #CallTorResist, #JailTrump, #Resist, #ResistTrump, #TrumpHitler, #TrumpForPrison, #Trump4Prison, #FuckTrump, #TrumpShutdown, #DumpTrump, #NotMyPresident, #LiarTrump, #LiarInChief, #Resist!, #ResistTrump & His #ComplicitGOP!, #Resisters #ResistanceStrong, #FuckThePolice, #fuckthejudge, #FuckTheNWO, #Corruption, #ComeAndTakeIt, #ComeAndTakeThem, #Anarchist, #FuckAmerica, #FuckTheUSA,  #bluelivesdontmatter, #FuckTheState, #Revolution, #TaxationIsTheft, #Anarchy, #freedom, #NoSlavesNoMasters, #ResistAndWin are posted across social media platforms hundreds of times a day with more than 100,000 impressions each reaching more over 100,000 people per single post. These are just a few of the hundreds of hashtags that represent discontent with the current system. While social media posts are a simple form of expression (protected by the U.S. Constitution) and may not constitute an existential threat independently, the relative size of these movements and the increasingly hostile attitudes require attention.

Below is a list of a just few of the many active social movements and the size of their followership. This article does not suggest that these groups are or will become violent, this is simply to highlight a few of the groups that are actively working to change conditions and the size of their follower network. The number of followers highlights the importance of the issues these social movements are working to resolve which should serve as a warning of future potentialities if grievances are not addressed. Based on the principles described within the states of resistance framework, all of these movements are undeniably in the incipient state. Based on deprivation theory, all that is required for any of these groups to transition to the crisis state, is for the gap between what people expect and what they get to exceed a tolerable level. Likewise, value-added theory suggests that a catalyst could also precipitate the rapid transition to the crisis state.



Today, there are groups across the United States that believe the existing form of government, as well as the social and economic systems need to be removed. One group is attempting to create a New North America Political Network to coordinate disparate resistance efforts with the ultimate goal of displacing the standing authority. This emerging network consists of diverse groups and member organizations, from Cooperation Jackson in Mississippi to Olympia Assembly in Washington. Their expressed intent is to dismantle what they view as an exploitative socioeconomic system (capitalism). [xxxiv] For this group, it is not enough to organize and resist they seek to transform society, to “build the new world in the shell of the old.” [xxxv] Their plan is to use their networks of community councils, popular assemblies, tenant unions, and other bodies to act as counterweights to the institutions presently governing. They outline a strategy that leverages their labor unions to seize the workplace; their tenant unions to take control of housing; their councils and assemblies to restructure political authority.[xxxvi]


While some politicians in America continue to ignore these social movements and others leverage these movements and politicize social issues simply to undermine rival parties, America slips further into crisis ultimately playing into America’s adversaries’ strategies. There is overwhelming evidence that external actors are interfering with domestic political and social issues, yet politicians and media pundits seem committed to ensuring these adversaries’ success. For example, the recent revelation of Russia’s actions preceding the 2016 U.S. presidential election clearly demonstrate not only their intent to cause divisiveness, but also the negative impacts that they are capable of achieving from the comfort of their own territory. Today, more than ever, America’s adversaries are taking advantage of America’s culture of openness and debate. They are doing this by creating artificial social movements (known as astroturfing), high jacking other legitimate movements, creating false grievances, and spreading disinformation across the country to undermine, disorganize, destabilize, and otherwise attack the United States. These actions not only disrupt the benefits of social awareness which underpin the America’s democratic system, they also serve to unnecessarily sow seeds of hatred and dissent in America that threaten to weaken the country. America’s adversaries understand the political climate and social issues in America; using an indirect approach, they are manipulating these social and political conditions which inevitably push America into a “crisis” state by using the American population as a weapon against the state.

It is undeniable that America’s democratic ideals are under attack from internal and external threats. With the political divide nearing the 19th Century pre-Civil War levels it is clear that America is in a state of crisis. If politicians fail to realize the importance of social movements, continue to politicize these social issues, and remain committed to partisan entrenchment, the future of the Republic is at risk. As leaders, politicians need to understand the current threat and the importance of bi-partisan policies to address social issues, they also need to be able to identify when they are being used as patsies to serve external agendas. If they cannot understand how they are being exploited, the American people, with the help of politicians and the media, will also continue being used as proxies to carry out an agenda that America’s adversaries’ ambitions. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. once stated that “democracy is messy, and it's hard. It's never easy.” If it were easy then it would not be worth the sacrifices that have been undertaken to get this far. It is time for America to wake up to this crisis, come together, and work toward collective solutions to the current problems. A continued failure to understand the current crisis and make a commitment to resolve it, will condemn America, as it is currently known, to the ash heaps of history.

The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views of the United States Army or any other government agency. References to this paper should include the foregoing statement.

End Notes

[i] Byrne, Lorna. “Why America Is A Beacon Of Hope For The World.” The Huffington Post,, 7 Dec. 2017,

[ii] Pew Research Center, “The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Wider.” Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 25 Apr. 2018,

[iii] McCarthy, Justin. “In U.S., 53% Oppose Sending Ground Troops to Fight Militants.”, 12 Nov. 2015,

[iv] Pew Research Center, “The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Wider.” Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 25 Apr. 2018,

[v] Leung, Tommy, and L Nathan Perkins. “Count Love Demonstration Statistics.” Count Love:Demonstrations and Protests for Respect, Love, and the Earth., 17 Sept. 2018,

[vi] Kazamias, Alexander. “The ‘Anger Revolutions’ in the Middle East: an Answer to Decades of Failed Reform.” Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, vol. 13, no. 2, June 2011, pp. 143–156., doi:10.1080/19448953.2011.578857.

[vii] Cockburn, Alexander, and Jeffrey St. Clair. “CounterPunch Diary.” Razor Tie Artery Foundation Announce New Joint Venture Recordings | Razor & Tie, Rovi Corporation, 27 Feb. 2011,

[viii] Radsch, Courtney. “Digital Dissidence & Political Change: Cyberactivism and Citizen Journalism in Egypt .” American University, 2013,

[ix] “The 'Arab Spring': Five Years On.” Campaigns, Amnesty International, Jan. 2016,

[x] Aberle, David. The Peyote Religion among the Navaho. Chicago: Aldine, 1966.

[xi] Durkheim, Emile. The Division of Labour in Society. Trans. W. D. Halls, intro. Lewis A. Coser. New York: Free Press, 1997.

[xii] Merton, Robert K. "Social Structure and Anomie." American Sociological Review. Vol. 3, no. 5, 1938, 672–682.

[xiii] Merton, Robert K. "Social Structure and Anomie." American Sociological Review. Vol. 3, no. 5, 1938, 672–682.

[xiv] Kornhauser, William. The Politics of Mass Society. New York: The Free Press, 1959.

[xv] Davies, James Chowning. “Toward a Theory of Revolution.” American Sociological Review.  Vol. 27, no. 1, 1962, pp. 5-19.

[xvi] Smelser, Neil J. Theory of Collective Behavior. New York: The Free Press, 1962.

[xvii] Runciman, Walter Garrison. Relative Deprivation and Social Justice: A Study of Attitudes to Social Inequality in Twentieth-Century England. University of California Press, 1966.

[xviii] Thompkins, Paul J., W. Sam Lauber, Steven Babin, Katharine Burnett, Jonathon Cosgrove, Catherine Kane, and Theodore Plettner. “Understanding States of Resistance.” (n.d.) Assessing Revolutionary and Insurgent Strategies, United States Army Special Operations Command and The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory National Security Analysis Department.

[xix] Thompkins, Paul J, et al. (n.d.)

[xx] Moyer, Bill. “The Movement Action Plan: A Strategic Framework Describing The Eight Stages of Successful Social Movements,” History is a Weapon. 1987

[xxi] Stouffer, Samuel A., Edward A. Suchman, Leland C. DeVinney, Shirley A. Star, and Robin M. Williams, Jr. “The American Soldier: Adjustment During Army Life.” Studies in Social Psychology in World War II. Vol. 1,. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949. 125

[xxii] Davies, 5-19.

[xxiii] Gurr, Ted. Why Men Rebel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970.

[xxiv] Runciman, Walter Garrison. Relative Deprivation and Social Justice: A Study of Attitudes to Social Inequality in Twentieth-Century England. University of California Press, 1966.

[xxv] Davies, James Chowning. “Toward a Theory of Revolution.” American Sociological Review.  Vol. 27, no. 1, 1962, pp. 5-19.

[xxvi] Martin, Joanne. "The Tolerance of Injustice.” in Relative Deprivation and Social Comparison: The Ontario Symposium, Vol. 4., James M. Olson, C. Peter Herman, and Mark P. Zanna. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, 1986, pp. 217–242.

[xxvii] Klandermans, Bert, Marlene Roefs, and Johan Olivier. “Grievance Formation in a Country in Transition: South Africa, 1994-1998.” Social Psychology Quarterly, 64(1), 2001, 41-54.

[xxviii] Thompkins, Paul J, et al. (n.d.)

[xxix] Thompkins, Paul J, et al. (n.d.)

[xxx] Thompkins, Paul J, et al. (n.d.)

[xxxi] Thompkins, Paul J, et al. (n.d.)

[xxxii] Thompkins, Paul J, et al. (n.d.)

[xxxiii] Owen, Tess. “The Women's March Turnout Is at 3.2 Million and Counting.” VICE News, 23 Jan. 2017,

[xxxiv] Symbiosis. “New North American Political Network Emerges From The Grassroots.” PopularResistance.Org, 9 Jan. 2019,

[xxxv] “Movement Congress.” Symbiosis, 12 Jan. 2019,

[xxxvi] “Movement Congress.” Symbiosis, 12 Jan. 2019,

About the Author(s)

Major Jeremy Lawhorn is an active duty Psychological Operations Officer with over a decade in Special Operations. He has served in the United States Army for over 18 years in a variety of leadership and staff officer positions, both domestically and internationally. His academic interest is primarily in military strategy, especially during the competition phase. His current research focuses on the importance of addressing grievances and looking at how unresolved grievances can destabilize countries as resistance movements emerge. He currently holds a Masters Degree from Norwich University, Duke University, and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.