Thursday, March 9, 2023

The Next Civil War

A civil war is pretty serious business.  As Abraham Lincoln said, "A house divided cannot stand."Stephen Marcuse contends "The United States is near its end.  The question is how"?  His book explores the atmosphere and suggests a few scenarios that could burst out in a more active war

As I write this blog, a few months after the book was published there is news that quotes from an interview with Rupert Murdoch in which he admits that he believes there was no election fraud in 2020.  Furthermore we are hearing evidence that many of the Fox personalities off air also admitted there was no election fraud, but on air were promoting the big lie.  Apparently a good portion of Americans accept the lie and would vote for Trump all over again.

Do I think they are stupid?  Or are they too proud to admit they were wrong?  I believe the problem is they don't care--some are pleased Trump restricted immigration, or turned the tide against abortion, or pushed against blacks, gays and transgenders, or they dislike high taxes and onerous regulations.  That is a measure of a divided country.  The trends foreseen by Stephen Marche seem to be progressing.  A small part of his research is reflected in the following observations.

The level of violence, both rhetorically and physically has been increasing.  Groups are preparing for armed combat with training and weapons.  Domestic extremists killed 42 people in 2019.  Police brutality, one measure might be shootings, ranks much higher than other countries.

Disrespect for government authority.  Joseph Arpaio had been admonished for illegal immigrant raids, but continued until arrested and convicted, but pardoned by Trump.  Michael German, a former FBI undercover agent points out that white supremacy sympathies among police hurt domestic terrorism cases.  Killers like Dylan Roof and Kyle Rittenhouse are lauded as heroes.  Marche states "The greatest threat to the United States is not the hard right.  It is the general decline of legitimacy of the government that underlies the rise of the hard right."

Gun ownership is growing and already is well beyond any other nation.  That is through registered guns, but "ghost" guns (made from kits, 3-D printers) already account for 30% of seized guns.  Most owners claim bought for protection and for some that means from the government.

Alex Newhouse a researcher into extremist violence points out " radicalization starts with alienation... Social alienation comes with anger at their lot in life...the contrarian will often provide an explanation...for why they are feeling that way."  Population projections point that the United States will be a minority white nation by 2045.

The United States Constitution was a compromise.  The slave holding states were concerned the industrial north would outvote them on important issues.  Their white male propertied population was too small to compete with the north so they insisted upon counting their slaves as 3/5 of a person and combined with the electoral college it gave them parity with the north.  Those rules allowed Thomas Jefferson to defeat John Adams in the 1800 election.  The electoral college has given the south disproportionate power ever since with a notable exception during the Civil War.  After the Civil War, the south was able to institute Jim Crow which could only increase black resentments and southern resistance.  Five of the current Supreme Court justices were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote.

A study in India focused on Hindu-Muslim conflicts.  "An increase in Muslim expenditures generates a large and significant future religious conflict.  An increase in Hindu expenditures has a negative or no effect.  The dominant culture, Hindu feels more impacted by a change in relative standing.  Whites in America also seem to feel most threatened by changes in the status quo. 

Inequality as it increases leads nations closer to war and revolution.  The Covid pandemic underlies the effects of inequality.  A comparison of nations with over 5 million population and an average of over $25,000 gross income reveals that the United States did the worst.  Not masking, not practicing social distancing and not vaccinating were political issues.  The world is inevitably going to provide other crises.  Inequality leads to a lack of co-operation needed to deal with global crises.

 Many politicians do not care about issues accept to use them for power.  Cater to and even inflame the mass prejudices.  Big money is needed to hide the desire for power.

Secession within a nation has been written into legislation for only two nations.  Canada recognizing Quebec represents a distinct ethnic population.  Also Britain recognizing a similar ethnic identity for Scotland.  Texas, essentially a one party state has generated a secession movement that prominent politicians cater to, but not quite endorse as they also have presidential ambitions.

The American people are capable of solving the big problems such as the electoral system, the legitimacy of their courts, police reform, even inequality and climate change.  The author contends "The United States, if it is to survive, requires a Constitutional Convention.  The loathing overtaking the country makes that possibility more remote every day."

The author and I are both Canadians, in other words, outsiders.  But like the whole world we will be affected how the American dilemma plays out.  Without America the world will not solve many crises such as climate change, pandemics, inequality, justice, etc.

Read the book for more scary details and citations.

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