This brief series answering questions put to me about the prospects of a new American civil war has focused on the things that most substantially prevent one from starting (in the near future, anyway) and the things that most substantially are contributing to creating conditions for one. In trying to wrap the series up, my mind has wrestled with many other important contributing factors one way or the other. If I wrote about all of them, I’d never stop writing. Moreover, I wanted my focus to be on the primary aspects, not the symptoms. But, it they are all so intertwined and compounded by each other, that it is difficult. Let’s face it: More than 150 years after the first American civil war, there are still disputes about its causes and effects. They will be arguing about the causes of the next one for at least as long.
This is not an excuse to evade trying to understand it. To the contrary, it is a caution against playing with fire. If bloody skirmishes often arise for reasons we have trouble understanding–and the American civil war is just one example of many I could offer of that–then perhaps we shouldn’t play fast and loose with our institutions, values, etc. It continues to astound me that people who seem intelligent believe that just because a negative consequence hasn’t happened yet–say, a week, month, or a year from a major culture shock–that means it was silly to worry about them happening. Yet, the circumstances leading up to the American civil war, World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution, etc, took decades, even centuries to develop and unfold.
Therein, I think, is part of the problem. Most of the founders of the US were dead before the fruits of their deal with the devil re: slavery came about. Karl Marx was long dead when the 20th century’s ‘experiment’ with communism murdered tens of millions of people. People believe that you can ‘play with fire’ today… if nobody is burnt, today, then, well, what’s the problem? Unfortunately, people are so ignorant about these matters that they couldn’t factor them in if they wanted to. Does that make the failure of our education system a cause of the next civil war, or a symptom?
To address this problem, and to offer intrigued people a way to rectify it if they are so inclined, I wrote a series of essays a few months ago explicitly with this ‘civil war’ series in mind. It was the “What Went Wrong with the Left?” series. As I said at the time, and I’ll repeat now, you can’t really process this present series accurately unless you read those, anyway. So, now is your moment. At the end of this essay, its time to put it in context with most of the posts I’ve written since January.
I also penned a series on the different ‘kinds’ of leftists–bad guys, nice guys, statists, good guys–etc. Again, I had this ‘civil war’ series in mind when I wrote those, too. So, read them as well.
Somebody is going to say, “Ok, so you’ve explained why you think a civil war is unlikely but also what things are making it more probable. What should we do about that? What are your solutions?”
For your average ‘leftist,’ their whole measure of how well society is going is based on how ‘civil’ conversations are. They believe that cordial dialog is sufficient. But of course, as we’ve seen with the purge of predominantly, almost exclusively ‘right wing,’ voices from social media and de-platforming in general, its clear that for a disturbingly large number of ‘leftists,’ they do not think much of dialog, either. They wish to suppress other viewpoints altogether; this can be partly explained by way of my essay on ‘conditioning.’
(They are convinced materialists, so to them, ideas are not abstractions, but rather ultimately physical ‘stuff.’ To them, the mere exposure to ideas can ‘trigger’ reactions, where you should understand that the ‘triggering’ is a completely involuntary effect on a person, which they are powerless to control. Un-confronted ‘hate speech’ will create new ‘haters’ spontaneously, just as surely as Coke and Mentos churn violently when brought into contact. Better then confronting them is preventing them from speaking at all. Together with this tyranny-inspiring viewpoint is the obvious question: just who gets to decide what constitutes ‘hate speech’? See also my post on the dangerous unintended–but totally predictable–consequences of ‘de-platforming.’)
No, civil discourse, even if it was permitted, is an auxiliary matter. While it is one of those things that can get ‘intertwined’ and compound, it is less important for the preservation of a civilization then things like the ‘bargain’ which I have discussed in this series. Thus, if you really wanted to move away from the prospects of a civil war instead of rushing headlong into creating one, you could start by ‘reverse engineering’ the things I said are under attack: the rule of law, due process, limited government, etc. These are structural ‘pillars’ that serve to let people work out their differences in a way that need not resort to violence, but also do not force them into a corner. (Leaving only ‘fight’ in the ‘fight or flight’ equation.) Restoring these ‘pillars’ and giving them proper maintenance will go a long way towards putting American society back into ‘civil’ territory.
Ok, this is not going to happen.
If you are reading this, you probably already know that.
Rather then write another five posts, here are some things to look for. They are a mix of ’causes’ and ‘effects’ and ‘symptoms.’ Played out over time, and viewed retrospectively by people in 2150, some of these may prove to be more important than some realize today.
1. The collapse of the ‘traditional’ family and the rejection of God. These create their own problems, but its the corollaries where the real danger lies when it comes to the prospects for violence. Because of what people are… and what they aren’t… (they are NOT mere animals) … it is not possible for people to dispense with them. People are built to resonate within the paradigm of the ‘family’ and worship God. If the family goes away and God is rejected, their nature is not changed. They seek to satisfy what they got in the ‘family’ and by worshiping God through substitutes, none of which manage to do the trick.
Analogy: everyone is built to eat food. But let’s say you’ve decided to dispense with food. Well, you’re still going to get hungry, aren’t you? But if actual food is out of the question, what then? Vitamins? Dispensing with food was fun while it lasted, but then the reality of hunger asserted itself. Too proud to admit you needed food, you try one substitute after another. Each creates its own serious health problems.
Dispensing with the ‘family’ as one of the chief ways people find fulfillment in life has sent them looking in other directions. Dispensing with God, has directed them to find something else to worship. In our current day, the main ‘substitute’ that people have turned to is the State. The State becomes the object of ‘worship,’ with sacrifices offered, naturally. The State becomes the ‘family.’ Leftists in particular welcome a paternalistic and maternalistic State. Its primarily their doing that the institution of the family has been destroyed. After demolishing motherhood and dispensing with fathers, and treating sex for the sake of sex as the height of human fulfillment, they propose the State be both mother and father–and God. Here is an example of the State as ‘parent.’
These are things I’ve discussed on this blog before, including in the posts since January.
2. The Politicization of Everything.
As part and parcel of making the State the object of our obedience and affection, there is the ‘progressive’ mentality which tries to find fulfillment in ‘making a better society’ (eg rather than finding fulfillment in spouse, child, grandchildren, etc). If you’ve staked your entire sense of worth, belonging, and fulfillment on perfecting society, then you cannot wait around for society to get better. Moreover, people who stand in your way are thwarting your very sense of ‘being.’ In my series on the kinds of liberals, I pointed out that one of the big things that sets apart the ‘good’ liberal from the others is that they have purpose beyond the State. These are increasingly the exception, not the rule, but that’s not my point.
The thing is, if you have this mindset, then there is no part of society that can be free from the governance of the ‘collective.’ There is no ‘public vs private’ distinction. Not really.
The most ironic example of this is the whole “keep the government out of the bedroom!” line that leftists like to spew at conservatives who object to abortion and homosexuality. These are the same people, literally the same people, who believe that public schools should be addressing sex and gender as early as possible, with no real qualms about doing so in very explicit ways. (In one example I’ve documented, 5th graders were taught that anal sex = abstinence. With pictures and instructions on how to have anal sex.) In the meantime, they’re handing out condoms like candy, and doing their best to make sure that people can have as many abortions as they like. Then, as if it couldn’t get any more ridiculously intrusive, out of one side of their mouth they say that people should be able to determine the number and spacing of their children, while out of the other side of their mouth producing and distributing materials and implementing programs to guide people into having a particular number of children–2 or less. (Will this cause a population implosion? No worries, we can solve that with unrestricted immigration!)
And they have the audacity to say accuse conservatives of wanting to involve the government in the ‘bedroom’? What they accuse us of doing, they are actually doing! LOL. And far more intrusively then any conservative ever had in mind. Honestly, is there anything left for them to intrude on? Their intrusion is nearly total.
This rank hypocrisy might seem hard to understand, but when you view it from the point of view of obedience and service to the State, it makes sense. Go back to the video clip I posted above about the State as Parent. It’s the same sort of thing. If you have a position, its based on mere personal preferences–religious ones, perhaps, and therefore it would be wrong for you to impose your mere personal viewpoints on another. But they are imposing ‘evidence based’ viewpoints (hence, objective, not personal) in service not to this or that individual, but to the entire community.
They don’t really see it as an imposition at all. They see it as the community providing ‘parental’ guidance in the manner that democratic communities ought to. The ‘democratic’ element is crucial.
Instead of sex and reproduction being left to the affairs of individual families, or just to individuals, period, the community has an obligation and duty to be involved. What prevents this from being literal totalitarianism (in their minds) is the fact that 51% of the community voted for it, or voted to establish and fund the agency or school which is now being used to ‘manage’ the population. (Except, as I have documented in this series, they are more than willing to forgo anything passing as ‘democracy’ as it suits them. Again, part of the problem.)
It’s ‘ok’ that a school allows a Planned Parenthood to operate a birth control clinic right from the building, including helping girls get abortions without the knowledge or consent of the parents, because, well, there is a school board which was elected in charge of the school. It’s the rule of law, man!
(They rationalize it further by pointing out that a lot of people don’t have parents, so someone needs to fulfill that role. The fact that it was their very own policies which led to a society filled with parent-less children is something that does not occur to them. They will also justify their intrusions by saying that the children of those born out of wedlock will be a burden to the State, so the State is justified to involve itself… nay, is morally required to do so. Of course, prior to FDR, communities and families themselves bore that burden, so its not like the burden doesn’t get born. But the elevation of the State, as a function of their ideology, crowds out these options.)
The point here is not the hypocrisy, as laughable as it is. The point here is how exhaustively they have inserted themselves into the ‘bedroom,’ which was presumably a personal domain. It is a nook and cranny of human experience, and there is no nook and cranny of human experience that a progressive believes is inappropriate for 51% of the population to intrude itself on. For the common good, of course. Indeed, they see themselves as veritable priests in service of their God, the State. If you can imagine how soberly a priest distributes the element in Communion, that’s how a liberal progressive feels handing out a condom.
The stretching into every ‘nook and cranny’ is the problem. It goes back to the ‘fight or flight’ thing. In the American system, matters warranting ‘public’ action on was carried out through a process, which, in theory anyway, allowed people to choose ‘flight.’ By virtue of governments being limited, that left more arenas outside the realm of public action.
In other words, it was possible to go about your day with 99% of it fully within the realm of the personal domain. If you went to a neighbor’s house for a barbeque, you could talk sports, weather, jobs, life in general, etc, and never stray into something which requires you to take a definite position on, which you and the other guests are expected to extend into a national dialog and national decision. If people found the remaining 1% infuriating, at least they could ‘flee’ into the rest of human experience, where people were able to get along just fine, even with people they didn’t agree with.
This has changed dramatically. Now its the other way around. Maybe not 99%, but in any social gathering almost everything you might talk about has political and ideological implications. Worse than that, when the State is your God, every dispute becomes effectively theological.
In this spirit, the whole taking a knee at athletic events to protest racism (presumably) is far from helpful. It is toxic. It is taking a community event and introducing even more political content into it then has already been interjected. It is one more place you can’t go to be free from controversy and friction. It is one more safe haven excluded from ‘flight.’
Is there anywhere you can go without tripping over this or that leftist there waiting for you with his pet agenda? Nope. And each of them is ready to make his pet agenda national, or even international, if he can manage it.
So yea, sure, take a knee during the national anthem for the sake of racism. Congratulations, you’ve helped create conditions for the next civil war. I hope that’s what you were going for, because that’s what you accomplished. Meanwhile, the entire community’s participation in the national anthem–something that has the ability to unite people of different races, genders, economic statuses, ideologies, etc–that is to say, the very thing which was helping to prevent a civil war… is the very thing you have undermined.
These were just a couple of examples of the politicization of everything, but obviously could only touch the surface. The politicization of everything flows naturally from the progressive worldview, but it is precisely because few things were politicized that American society has remained stable. Progressives think they can have the former and the latter at the same time. But you can’t. It can’t be done.
3. Another element which is tied into all of this is the deep conviction within the left that they are morally superior to those who disagree with them. I’ve discussed this throughout this series. AoC is still the best recent example, saying that reality was less important than being morally correct–and she is the sole arbiter on the matter. I’ve discussed this in other posts as well, but I would like to make the point that in a set of 6-12 things which could serve as a catalyst for a ‘shooting’ civil war in America, the imposition of collectivist ideology is high on the list. The ‘moral’ argument they return to is ‘negative’ rather than ‘positive.’ That is to say, they will not propose and defend what they are doing so much on the basis of it being a ‘positive’ good, but rather on the basis that you are selfish.
Collectivism would certainly work and would be obviously good (on their telling) if only you weren’t so selfish. Don’t you love others? Don’t you care about them? Aren’t you ashamed of putting your own interests above theirs? So what if there is rationing? So what if you and thousands of others lose their jobs? The Government will provide, and in doing so will bring fairness and equity into the system. You are telling me your right to earn a very high wage out-weighs the fact that thousands of people are hungry? You should be happy that A., we’re taking 90% of your wages and doing good things with it or B., we’re putting your industry out of business altogether but creating a fair and just society in the process. YOU SELFISH BASTARD.
Their watch word will be: “Because you should want it, we shall make you have it.”
The argument won’t be on the propriety of massive redistribution of wealth and the establishment of the Managed State. It will be an ad hominem. The problem is YOU. Just how they intend to deal with YOU is one of the potential flash points in the United States.
4. Perhaps the number one reason why a ‘shooting war’ is on the table as a possibility at all is precisely because people don’t think it can happen.
Now, civil wars happen all the time, and for many reasons. (By the by, the imposition of collectivism was at the back of many of the 20th century ones.) Any reflection on actual history will make this abundantly clear. Even a survey of more recent times will make it clear that it is silly to think that ‘we’ have ‘progressed’ so far as to be beyond such possibilities. Ignorance, or willful denial, of the true nature of the world and humans in general is leading people to play with fire.
A person like AoC believes that with the right propaganda, indoctrination, and conditioning, so long as you go through the ‘democratic’ process it follows that schemes like her Green New Deal will come about peaceably. Ok, if America was Europe, maybe.
But even in Europe the Statists have met stiff resistance. They call it ‘populism’ because they don’t really care what people think; they know what’s best. What? People don’t want to go along with it? That’s just because they are SELFISH BASTARDS. Because they should want it, they will make them have it. The result of their elitist snobbery is a growing number of people who are thoroughly disenchanted with Statist-Collectivism. And I’m talking about Europe!
The snobs in America can thank themselves for Trump. If they had bothered to represent people according to the actual interests and desires of people, Trump would never have happened. Do they have any sense at all of what they’ve done? Of course not. They piss and moan about ‘populism,’ which really means they think it perfectly appropriate to double-down on their elitist policies.
Eventually, you can push people only so far. Right now, it has been effective and convenient to characterize dissenters as crazy ‘far right’ bigots, and so on, but as the Statists press in closer with their various policies (as described in the posts since January on this blog), normal, ordinary people suddenly realize, “Hey, wait a minute. I believe X, too. I’m not ‘far right.’ I’m not a fascist! Hell, I’ve voted Democrat my entire life.” They’re not going to take kindly to this. The ‘silent majority’ is a real thing.
If there is one thing I know about Statist snobs, its that most of them are too arrogant and even too stupid even to get to the question of the moral propriety of imposing their views on an unwilling majority. As they draw their entire purpose for existence and their self-worth from perfecting the State, you can expect such people to continue to gravitate into positions and roles where they carry out such work, and you can expect them to never stop. You can expect them to be completely surprised when suddenly they are surrounded by torches and pitchforks. Smart lads, they are.
But we cannot make the same mistake. We have to recognize the fact that we have no reason to believe the status quo can continue indefinitely. Certainly, it requires deliberate maintenance. The ‘cold civil war’ is precisely because the status quo has been taken for granted. Whatever the ultimate reasons and the ultimate catalysts, a ‘hot’ civil war will occur for the same reason: it was assumed we could do whatever we wanted in society with nary a fear that the structure and fabric of society itself could fail.
As a personal note, my sense of things is that its only a matter of time before ‘something’ happens. There are just too many things suggesting it, and not nearly enough to counter-balance it. If you are at all concerned about such things, you should not presume that you can rely on having time and resources to survive when the SHTF. Heck, natural disasters alone should show you that. You should be pro-active: if you do not live on land, secure some. Have a plan. Educate yourself on everything. Be ready.
If you and your neighbor are being chased by a bear, you don’t have to be faster than the bear. You only need to be faster than your neighbor.
Sell your cloak and buy one.