There has been a tremendous amount of commentary concerning a burgeoning civil war many consider inevitable in the United States. Much of this commentary is informative and useful, but there’s a noticeable lack of speculation on what would trigger this civil war.
William S. Lind, father of the term “Fourth-Generation Warfare” and whom many readers of this blog are likely familiar with, had this to say a few months ago:
It is precisely that “moral preference for liberty” that America was founded on. It runs deep in the blood and soil of the Heartland, that vast geographic portion of the map painted red in both 2016 and 2020 Presidential elections. Americans have the right to reject the vaccine just as they have the right to believe, say and write that races are different, the two sexes are different, sex outside marriage is sinful and Christianity is the only wholly true religion. They have the right to do and say these things without being “canceled,” fired, arrested for “hate speech” or blackballed in their chosen field by a left-wing McCarthyism that makes the original version seem like small potatoes.
Heartland Americans believe these rights are worth fighting for. And so a vaccine for a not terribly dangerous disease may trigger a vast revolt, the revolt against cultural Marxism and all those institutions and people who seek to make it the replacement for liberty. The revolt is coming; the only question is the trigger. If a vaccine mandate does not trigger it, something else will. Mars is in the ascendant.
A vaccine mandate certainly won’t trigger it. Public opinion is firmly in support of such a policy and they’ve largely been in support of all but the most extreme anti-COVID policies. Even if their real-world behavior says otherwise, politicians don’t look at what people actually do. They look at what people say and hedge their bets based on that because rhetoric is much easier to put in a box.
The Heartland Lind speaks of is also nowhere near as robust as he makes it out to be. The “Silent Majority,” to the extent it exists, doesn’t support Donald Trump and, if they don’t share the Left’s views on everything, they share very little of the Right’s views on most things (look at abortion). America today is a firmly center-left country and there are quite a few more Democrats and left-leaners than there are Republicans and right-leaners. It says a lot that the Republicans have won the popular vote just once in the last 30 years.
The fact is, most Americans just want things to go back to “normal” and will approve or disapprove of our leadership based on their ability to follow through on this promise. This is entirely understandable, but it also means they’re not interested in taking on our ruling class the way those clamoring for civil war are willing to, because they see the state as the only solution to this crisis.
Of course, black swan events are always in play. It’s very possible something might happen that’d make Americans finally wake up and wonder, “What have we become?” Douglas MacGregor, whom readers may also be familiar with, said this recently:
Brown’s execution transformed him into a martyr and dramatically intensified anti-slavery sentiment in the North. The event compelled Americans on all sides to confront the questions: Who are we? What do we stand for? In 1861, Americans answered these questions with a war that defined America’s true priorities and fundamental beliefs.
We don’t know when, or which specific issue from the laundry list of crises and disputes, will be the decisive moment. It’s impossible to anticipate precisely. But when it happens Americans will begin to answer the same basic questions: Who are we? What do we stand for? The outcome will be historic.
As he usually is, MacGregor is correct in his analysis, but there’s one problem – we might’ve had our last John Brown moment for a while. It was our “George Floyd moment” last year and what we saw wasn’t at all encouraging. Whether he was truly a victim of police brutality or not, the fact that we nearly burned the country down over a multiple—time violent felon because he was Black and the officer charged and convicted of his murder White, was a display of what galvanizes Americans most and what they’re willing to fight for. I remain unconvinced Floyd was murdered (though I’ve been consistent in my belief Derek Chauvin needed to be held accountable on some level) but, still, it was a moment where the country asked “Who are we? What do we stand for?” I think the answer was heard loud and clear.
Since that hot summer of 2020, however, I sense a certain amount buyer’s remorse over the George Floyd riots. Nobody really talks about it anymore and the protests and rioting that continues are carried on mostly by members of Antifa and BLM. Thanks to January 6, folks can talk about domestic right-wing terrorism while memory-holing the sheer destructiveness and violence the Left proved itself capable of inflicting on the country. Even the media seems leery about putting police under the microscope, probably because of the startling rise in violent crime since last year. Again, people want to return to normalcy, which is precisely why another John Brown moment isn’t coming for a while. You’d think that father getting arrested and charged for daring to challenge the school board after his daughter’s in-school rape was covered up would galvanize the public (especially the Left), but it hasn’t. The media isn’t providing wall-to-wall coverage, nor are they providing wall-to-wall coverage of a host of other major crises (the border, supply chain, etc.)
Going back to COVID, everyone, including radio DJs who often pride themselves on bucking trends are spouting state propaganda (whether it’s true or not, it’s propaganda) in support of state-sanctioned policies. Simply put, if there’s any kind of critical mass in this country, it’s for the state to implement more stringent policies and to succeed in doing so. When those who love to rail against The Man suddenly love the man, it’s a good sign of a society’s appetite for standing up to authority.
I think talk about civil war is ultimately motivated by fear, mostly on the Right, that things could, at best, continue as is into perpetuity or, at worst, the Left continues to rack up big wins and ultimately usher in the totalitarian regime so feared by many. The idea that the fever won’t break instills a certain panic, so people are hedging, at some point, William Lind’s “Heartland America” will rise up and take the fight to our enemies.
But the real likelihood is that there’s no revolt coming, not for a long time. If there’s a revolt, it’ll probably be from the Left yet again over what happens to be the media and ruling class’ crisis du jour and people will be even more afraid to stand up to the revolution. Talk of civil war is a form of eschatology, a belief that there will be some kind of ultimate deliverance and a day of judgment.
The reality is, a civil war would be immensely ugly and would likely not deliver the results so many seem to hope it would. At the risk of fatalism, if the country is in a decline, there’s likely little which can be done to reverse it, leaving a slow decline the next best thing. Disheartening as it may be to think Americans will have to watch their country die a slow, painful death the rest of their lives, spending those remaining days fighting a war isn’t something we should hope for, either.