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For most of humanity’s existence, entire countries were run by little more than glorified warlords. Although today we take the concept of individual rights for granted, the vast majority of people had never heard of such a thing until a few hundred years ago. As democracy began to shape the face of the Western world, power began shifting from the hands of the few to the hands of the many.
Today the United States, along with most modern nations, has a precarious balance of power between the people and those whom they elect. Just how precarious that balance is remains to be seen. Martial law has been enacted many times and in many places, and every time it’s been enacted, it has changed the nature of people’s rights.
As the world becomes increasingly unstable, the chance of martial law happening in your town becomes more and more likely. If one of the following scenarios unfolds where you live, martial law could be just around the corner.
Difference between Martial Law and a State of Emergency
First of all, there is a difference between true martial law and a state of emergency. True martial law is when the highest-ranking member of the military takes over leadership of the government, controlling all aspects of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. An excellent example of this can be seen in the cases of Germany and Japan after World War II, when the U.S. military dictated all actions of reconstruction.
A state of emergency, on the other hand, is when a state or federal government suspends certain constitutional freedoms to react to a disastrous situation. In the eyes of a prepper, both impose the government’s will on the people and suspend constitutional rights. Knowing who suspended your rights (a military or political leader) is less important than dealing with the loss of your rights in the first place.
Here are seven dangerous events that could cause this to happen.
1. Economic Disaster
The first dangerous event that could lead to martial law is an economic disaster such as a worldwide stock market crash. As of March 2017, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is seeing record highs. But whenever it hits record highs, you can be certain a crash isn’t far behind. In such an event, the public would scramble to withdraw cash, causing banks to collapse.
On the other hand, if the Federal Reserve keeps interest rates too low for too long, the economy could crash due to hyperinflation. The stock market would continue to soar, but it wouldn’t matter because people’s money would lose its value. In this type of event, people would have to resort to barter in order to buy and sell things. Here are some things you should do before that happens.
Many economic situations today teeter on a delicate balance. Debt to foreign countries, increased defaults on student loans, and other unseen economic bubbles could cause a crash in the near future. Just look at what happened in Venezuela. If things get out of hand, the government could enact martial law in order to maintain order.
A cyberattack is a very real threat that could render useless anything dependent on the Internet. In October of 2016, East Coast Internet users found themselves unable to access sites such as Amazon, Twitter, PayPal, and Netflix for an entire morning because of a cyberattack. If a similar attack knocked out a large portion of the Internet for a day or longer, it would cause panic in the markets and for many businesses.
A full-blown government cyberattack with enough sophistication could knock out the entire country’s Internet. Any online data, from banking to transportation, would be knocked out and chaos would ensue. Enter martial law to save the day, for a while. Here’s how to prepare.
3. EMP Attack
An EMP attack would have even more severe consequences than a cyberattack, although probably more localized. An EMP—also known as an Electromagnetic Pulse—is a burst of electromagnetic energy that can knock out all forms of electricity in its vicinity. A city hit by an EMP could be sent back to the Dark Ages in a split second, ushering in all the rioting, scrambles for resources, and intensified violence associated with an extreme disaster. The government would most assuredly call for martial law until some semblance of normality returned.
4. Conventional Attack
Martial law could also be called into effect in the wake of a conventional attack from an enemy force. A great example of this is when Abraham Lincoln suspended certain constitutional rights during the Civil War. He closed courts, shut down newspapers that disagreed with him, and even imprisoned people without a trial. If the U.S. were to become involved in total war once more—which is certainly possible given her adversaries abroad today—you can be sure martial law would follow suit.
5. Disease Outbreak
One of the more likely scenarios that could lead to martial law is an infectious disease outbreak. While zombie apocalypse fiction and end-of-the-world scenarios are popular fantasies in the minds of preppers, a very real disease threat—whether by accident or biological warfare—exists, looming over the population. In fact, there are many diseases that could be a problem after the SHTF.
Entire civilizations have crumbled to the ground due to disease, and even though today’s population is living through the most technologically advanced time in history, a radical disease only needs a slight foothold to do some major damage. Should a deadly disease outbreak occur, you can rest assured the government will be there to try to lock it down.
6. Riotous Populations
Martial law can also be called into effect when the population gets out of hand. A mild example of this can be seen in the wake of Hurricane Katrina when, during a state of emergency, government agencies and private contractors working for the government confiscated weapons in New Orleans. In any crisis, the governor of a state usually calls in the National Guard as a backup, either for peacekeeping or for environmental rescue.
In the event of a riotous population, especially on a massive scale, martial law could be enacted to beef up the police force and to keep law and order. With political tensions as they are, this may be closer to a reality than you think.
7. Natural Disaster
As mentioned above in the example of Hurricane Katrina, natural disasters such as hurricanes often lead to the enacting of martial law. While Katrina may be seen as one of the worst possible natural disasters, there is certainly the possibility of something worse such as the eruption of a super-volcano in Yellowstone or a major earthquake along the San Andreas fault. Events such as these are completely unpreventable and have the potential to cause enough damage to push the federal government into enacting martial law.
There are many different scenarios which could lead to martial law. Your job is to be aware of them and aware of what to do if such an event occurs. There may be a time in the future when the government can no longer uphold its end of the bargain to serve the people. When this happens, you need to be prepared to help yourself and others.