Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money: WallStreetBets Shows us how to Fight CW2

A Civil War-era cannon overlooks the modern day city of Chattanooga. Image by David Mark from Pixabay.
A Civil War-era cannon overlooks the modern day city of Chattanooga. Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

When historians in the year 2072 look back and the Second Civil War (CW2) in America, they may well consider the implosion of GameStop Shorts orchestrated by the Reddit sub WallStreetBets the first killing blow struck by regular guys fighting back against the elites.  The January 6 invasion of the Capitol was just a warning shot across the bow.  Taking down the shorts is the first true shot fired in anger.

There has been much written about GameStop, the trading platform Robinhood, the hedge fund Melvin Capital and the roll of Citadel, so I am not going to repeat it.  Instead, I will refer you to this article by Andy Serwer and Max Zahn that ran last week. 

Turning the Tables

For years, the rich have slowly been getting richer while the rest of us have seen our debt levels rise as the middle class shrank.  This trend accelerated after the year 2000, according to the Pew Research Center.  COVID-19 restriction in 2020 made the income gap even worse, as income for people like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk shot upwards while the rest of us were locked inside while ordering takeout while small business were failing all around us. 

In fact, according to an Oxfam International study published Time Magazine, there are 2,153 billionaires.  Combine the wealth and together they have more money than 4.6 billion people, or 60 percent of the world’s population.  I doubt even the Pharos of Egypt were ever that much richer than the rest of the population.

Taking Down the Hedge Funds

Many hedge funds saw 20 to 30 percent gains last year which was considered the best year for hedge funds in a decade.

For some of the proletariat, squeezing the GameStop shorts turned out to be an opportunity for some payback.  Reddit readers used the tools and the rules once employed by their to put the hedge funds and other so called “smart money” in an untenable position, costing them billions as they were forced to cover their short positions.  It may not have been a high tech lynching, but as Sewers and Zahn put it:

“These newly-empowered investors insisted they were sending short sellers, hedge funds and Wall Street writ large, a message. They were tired of being on the wrong end of the proverbial investment stick. In other words this wasn’t just investing, it was about torches and pitchforks.”

By leveraging the power, the money, and the motivation of many individuals, the WallStreetBets folks were able to weaponize the very system that had been used by the elite.  For a brief moment at least, retail investors won at the expense of the princes of Wall Street.

Who needs guns when you can bankrupt someone in a day.  For a multi-millionaire, liquidation is a fate worse than death.

Finding Their Voice

With Donald Trump’s election in 2016, the regular guys, those hard working Americans who struggle to get by, pay off their student loans, and hopefully put a few dollars in their retirement plan, felt they had a voice and a champion.  Under Trump, the economy recovered, jobs became relatively plentiful, and the men and women on the street felt that maybe they were catching up.  Trump cared the Black, Hispanic and female employment were at record levels.  He was proud that people were making money and getting ahead for a change.  He was standing up for the little guy and for America buy helping them put money in their pocket.

The promise of the American Dream, absent for most of this century, looked like it was making a comeback.  At least until COVID-19 ripped away everything that mattered to these people:  their job, the roof over their head, and even food on the table.  If that wasn’t bad enough, their champion, the man who stood up for them, was dethroned in what many believe was a stolen election.  And to add insult to injury, he was silenced as Twitter and the other social media giants took away his microphone.

But silencing their voice doesn’t make the anger go away.  Millions of people are pissed.

War is Ever Changing

How we wage war has changed throughout history, with the evolution of new weapons and their impact on tactics.  The musket replaced the pike.  The iron clad supplanted wooden war ships.  Today the cavalry rides mechanical beasts mounting cannons instead of horses and lances.

Since the Vietnam War, we’ve seen the success of small, poorly armed bands of non-professional soldiers whittle away at the strength and will of large, well-equipped forces.  Think Soviets in Afghanistan. 

With the attack on short sellers, asymmetrical warfare is moving from the Cambodian rice paddy and mountainous crags of Afghanistan to the canyons of Wall Street.  Like those fighters, today’s electronic warriors are using the weapons of their enemies to wage economic warfare against them. 

Hitting them in the pocketbook is the way to hurt them.  Let them feel the sting of an overdrawn account and margin calls.  Make them rush around borrowing money just to stay alive.  You can kill 10,000 restaurants, but we can kill your hedge fund.

Fighting Fire with Fire

Possibly without realizing it, the socialists that make up too much of the Democratic Party have declared economic war on the everyday guy and the small business person.  They tax him.  They regulate her.  Worse, they tell them what they can own and cannot own or how they can and cannot use their property.  They charge for permits and licenses.  They make rules, demand compliance, force inspections, and charge for the privilege of being inspected. 

Most of all, socialists are takers.  Anything you do that gets you ahead, the socialists want to swoop in and snatch it up.  They say they want to give it to someone less fortunate, but most of the money they take from you goes to fund their own high-paying jobs.  Government, at almost all levels, has become bloated and no longer exists to serve the people.  Government is a giant tick sucking the life blood out of America and too many state governments are they coyotes and vultures following behind and fighting over the scraps.

When a tick crawls on you, it usually goes undetected.  When it bites, you may not notice.  But as it feeds and grows bloated, it become noticeable.  That’s the stage we are at today; people are beginning to notice the blood-sucking tick. The next stage is removal.  It’s going to take more than tweezers, but noticing the tick is the first step.

CW2 Will Fester

I don’t think CW2 will see battle lines neatly drawn or cannonades shelling fortresses.  I think armed insurrection is the very late end stage, if it comes at all.  Instead, this is going to be a war fought with electrons, dollars, and most importantly words.  Before arms are brought to bear, it will be fought with protests, boycotts, law suits, and outrage.  Lies, exaggeration, spin, fake news, and still more lies will be the tools used against us.  Hacking, leaking stolen data, revealing the corruption within, and undermining the lies and doublespeak with facts will be how early battles will be fought.

Another battle will be fought in the social media trenches as the Amazon Web Services and Twitters of the world seek to suppress the enemy by deplatforming their competition and silencing their critics.  But as every dictator has eventually learned, you cannot stop an idea, and suppressing speech doesn’t silence it, it just drives it underground and makes it that much harder to control and monitor.  Decentralization, peer-to-peer communication, and end-to-end encryption will be tools used to fight the current powers.  Cryptocurrency, for example, cannot be stopped. Get on Telegram. Install Signal. Get a VPN.

The socialists may have taken down Trump and Parler, but they struck too soon.  We have time to build our own infrastructure, and build it better.  By 2022, there will be a red wave, and it will rise from nowhere to overwhelm the socialists and their Democrat candidates.

A Leaderless Resistance

Successful revolutions use leaderless resistance, so the movement cannot be decapitated with a single arrest because there is no single leader.  Instead, small cells of people take independent action against their oppressor. This may be what our future holds.

GME and Reddit is a good example.  No one was elected.  No one was appointed.  Just a good idea that caught on, inspiring millions to act.  Once the momentum builds, if one voice disappears, others will crop up. 

Whether or not you choose to be part of the resistance, at the very least you can choose not to support the status quo. Every step you take, no matter how small, to avoid feeding the beast is a step in the right direction.