Plan C: The top secret Cold War plan for martial law in the USA


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Not surprised there was no A or B. That’s a strategy to keep the the opposition guessing. Just like there are no Seal Teams 1-5.

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Uhh, that’s “martial law”, not “marshal law”.

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Actually, it’s a bit of Cold War black humor. Plan A is what you intend to do, what you want to do - the optimistic but possibly risky ‘best case’; Plan B is the less risky, more failsafe option - what you fall back to if Plan A doesn’t work.

Plan C, then, is for when A and B both fall apart on you, and everything’s going to shit.

There were lots of Plan As and Plan Bs.

This is not any of them. This is Plan C.


It can be both things!


And not “martial arts,” either, which is kind of a bummer because I would love to think there was a secret plan to train everyone in the US in Kung Fu, or something.


Wow. They’ve been implementing this very slowly… at least the pace seems to have picked up a bit recently…


You spend 60 years building something, you eventually want to play with it.


I never thought about it before, but why exactly is martial law useful? Supposing there are emergencies and disasters, are we civilians that useless and inefficient?

And of course behind that is the question of destroying the Constitution in order to save it.

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That is a VERY important question.

I think it goes back to the notion that, for those in power, the maintenance of that power becomes the ultimate goal. And since a defining characteristic of the modern nation state is a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, the point at which the maintenance of power comes under greatest threat is the time to deploy the means of imposing ultimate violence.


I mean, besides that.


Probably because people really don’t know what to do in an emergency, or a disaster.

I’m an academic librarian. In case of an emergency at school, the faculty act as security. If it’s a fire, we lead the evacuation. If it’s a shooter, we’re all responsible for initiating lockdown procedures. We’re expected to know what to do, and do it. Our students are required to participate, for everyone’s safety and security.

In a sense, that’s “martial law” for our social group, because someone has to take control of the situation and limit the harm / do the most good.

Edited to add: adult education, so not looking out for children.

Or for when you pretend things are going to shit:


Also because nation-states tend to cook up some idea of having “national interests”, and since these somehow exist independently of the population or government personnel, some contingencies are implemented to protect them.

Humans are ultra kewl because they are the symbolic animal, but they often get hyp-mo-tized by their own symbollock wanquery and try protecting symbols rather than the people who made them - despite the obvious reality that the symbols do not exist without the people who perpetuate them. Capitalism is its most refined, and, apparent inscrutable, example.


I want to reply to your question on a very pragmatic level, but time does not permit at the moment.

If no one beats me to it, I’ll try later this evening.

Edit to add:
I would characterize my first response as cynical.


In exceptional circumstances, freedom of action for authorities can be more important than following established procedure. This usually means suspension of civil liberties in times of national emergency in to preserve the functioning of the social order. Of course the imposition of martial law has commonly been abused by those imposing it, especially when a national emergency is concocted specifically to justify suspending civil liberties. The reason the military is called in is because it has the firepower to enforce martial law, and it is an institution designed to function in a chaotic environment without breaking down.

Their idea of nuclear apocalypse seems like something not much larger than a big street riot lmao! Martial law to control what, what is left over? And who is going to do all the controlling on the surface?

Hey, assholes! Why dont you work on getting us out of impending doom, instead of fanciful post apocalypse control scenarios?


I’d expect martial law in Hull, Winthrop, and Nahant, MA in about 36 hours. As happened in the blizzard of '78

It’s your job to write a report about how to fix a fuck up of Biblical proportions and you want to show your bosses you are thinking things through. The plan boils down to:

Step 1: Take Charge.
Step 2: Figure out what to do now that you’ve taken charge.

Of course there would be all manners of abuse but if you are, say, a LT COL put in charge of writing a report on how to fix the US of A after an atomic war, seriously, what else are you going to say?


PLAN D: Official pretense that “Plan C” is defunct and made non-operational.