The next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic could be a flare-up of social unrest across major Western cities as millions have lost their jobs, economies have crashed into depressions, and the military is being called up to maintain order.
The Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned that riots could be imminent in low-income neighborhoods as extreme wealth inequality has left households unprepared and without a cash buffer to weather the economic downturn.
As we've noted before, many Western households were already stretched thin before the shutdowns began, with little savings, insurmountable debts, and the lack of access to proper healthcare. Now, these folks, which many have been laid off from gig-economy and service sector jobs, have zero income and could be emotionally motivated to hit the streets and protest.
IFRC president Francesco Rocca warned on Friday during a press conference that social unrest could be imminent in Italy, reported Reuters.
"We have a lot of people who are living very marginalized, in the so-called black hole of society... In the most difficult neighborhoods of the biggest cities, I am afraid that in a few weeks, we will have social problems," Rocca said.
"This is a social bomb that can explode at any moment, because they don't have any way to have an income," he said, whose agency deploys volunteers across Europe, including in Italy, Spain, and France.
He warned that the largest Western cities have only a 'few weeks' before social unrest is seen.
As for the US, President Trump has been deploying National Guard units across the country to fight the virus, or a perfect cover to prepare for Martial law-style shutdowns across some areas where the virus is hard-hitting.
President Trump, on Saturday afternoon, said he is considering a quarantine in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area, which would likely be enforced by the military to some degree.
We have noted that National Guard armored vehicles have already been spotted across the country and have suggested that troops are being positioned around major US metros to maintain order if social unrest was seen in low-income neighborhoods.
The Western world is on the brink of turmoil. The dominos are already falling with crashing economies in Europe and the US, triggering massive job losses that could soon lead to the unraveling of social fabric.
Governments offering universal basic income as a solution to keep their citizens content won't work this time. The West is headed for a period of instability, not just economically, but socially.
And now it all makes sense why Americans are rushing to gun stores…
#Gun stores are considered a non-essential business in #LA County,however, several shops in the area have remained open&are seeing more first-time buyers. Outside a #gunstore in Burbank,Calif.,several gun buyers say they are preparing for“uncertain times.” pic.twitter.com/OgCE1j15aQ— Jeremy Song (@tezuma75) March 25, 2020
Here's the line to buy guns at my local gun store the day after CA went on stay at home orders. pic.twitter.com/Vh9WesUjoz— Some Rando (@realsomerando) March 25, 2020
Long lines outside a Pasadena gun store. (This is maybe 1/4 of the line, which stretched around the corner.) Folks at the pet shop where I was said it had been like that for a week, with the line forming around 5:30 a.m. pic.twitter.com/DjX7eVbuc1— Sean Carroll (@seanmcarroll) March 21, 2020