Monday, February 06, 2017

Is America Being Primed for a New Civil War?


On the right and the left in America there's talk of unrest, revolt, perhaps a new civil war or maybe just picking up the last one where it left off.

Chris Hedges today sounds the call for the left to make America ungovernable. The Guardian's Paul Mason argues that Trump's closest advisors want something equally chaotic.

A controversial and divisive US president is elected. State governments defy his will. Popular discontent erupts into low-level violence in several states. And then what?

We’ve been here before. In 1861, the newly elected president, Abraham Lincoln, had to be spirited through Baltimore on a secret train to Washington DC, to thwart a suspected assassination plot. Not long after he took power, a five-year civil war began.

Although it comprehensively lost the American civil war, the racist right in the US has for decades consoled itself by reading crazed “alternate history” novels, in which things turn out differently. Now, Time magazine has revealed that Steve Bannon, the White House chief of staff and Donald Trump’s closest aide, believes the next phase of American history should be as catastrophic and traumatic as the conflict of 1861-65.
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While you ponder the parallels with today, consider this statement from Bannon, made on his radio show in December 2015 to explain the worldview of his Breitbart website: “It’s war. It’s war. Every day, we put up: America’s at war, America’s at war. We’re at war.

For Bannon, the No 1 enemy in this “war” is Islam, with China No 2. But there is also a fifth column in America to be dealt with as part of a “global existential war”. For Bannon, this fits into a generational theory of American power whereby the nation fulfils its destiny through a cycle of catastrophic crises: first, the revolution of 1776, then the civil war, then the intervention into the second world war and finally the crisis Bannon intends to provoke through Trump.

In Bannon and Gingrich, then, you have two men influencing the most powerful office in the world whose beliefs about the dynamics of US history could be best described as dangerous bullshit. Bannon fantasises about turning the culture war into a real one; Gingrich about the survival of an undestroyed south. Compared with them, Trump, whose fantasies appear to revolve around women, gold and tall buildings, has a much less dangerous imagination.

With the trashing of UC Berkeley in a riot against Breitbart star Milo Yiannopoulos, and with repeated physical clashes between white supremacists and anti-Trump supporters, the potential for escalation is clear. Dan Adamini, a Michigan Republican party official, tweeted that a “Kent State” solution should be applied to leftwing protesters – that is, shooting them dead, as the Ohio National Guard did in 1970.



This time, we are not facing cold-blooded conservatives defending an existing order, for whom the killing of four students at Kent State provoked a political crisis. This time, we are facing people who want the institutions of the US to explode. That’s what happens in the “Fourth Turning” theory that people such as Bannon believe in.

It’s chilling to acknowledge it but we must: large sections of the American right want another civil war. They have spent years amassing the weaponry for it; and their signifier of choice – hunting camouflage – also gives a major clue as to what they are thinking. In this situation, the choice of the US left, of minorities, of women should be: to resist – but do not give the enemy what they want.

The loudest squeal coming from the Trump camp last week was provoked by the judicial suspension of the anti-Muslim visa ban. Still louder squeals will be provoked if progressive-run states and cities begin to exercise their constitutional rights to defy Trump, as the San Francisco police did by suspending cooperation with the FBI counter-terrorism efforts.

Mass peaceful disobedience against Trump is a reality. Combined with judicial defence of the constitution, and determined resistance in Congress, it can ensure the White House becomes a padded cell for these fantasists – not the command bunker for American civil war 2.0.

3 comments:

Troy Thomas said...

What's conveniently forgotten in US history is just how close the United States has been to civil war over the years since its inception. It's as though the periods between its rare and most influential presidents is simply forgotten. The Battle of Blair Mountain. The Seattle Strike. The Great Railroad Strike of 1877. And so on and so forth.

The history during the Long Depression and the Great Depression should be instructive to us all, but it seems as though there are more than a few people willing to overlook it in full, as though there were no such thing.

Fortunately, it seems Bannon and Gingrich also don't understand this history. It's as though their minds have simply rejected all the history that has happened since the Civil War as being an aberration. A mistake. The leftwing can't be so strong, they must believe.

Well, so long as the left in the USA understands this simple fact, they won't be defeated: they aren't pushovers. All they have to do to win any conflict is hang together.

But if history is any indication, it might be a while before there's ever any resolution to any of this. There'll be a lot of fighting in the meantime. Even deaths.

Trump's presidency is going to open a whole bunch of old wounds. The neo-liberals attempted to continue to rub some barely effective salve over these wounds to keep them from festering too badly, but it seems like Trump and his boys are more than willing to rip off the scabs and scars to settle old depts.

Well, as Cedric the Entertainer pointed out, there's two kinds of people in this world: people who hope nothing bad happens, and people who wish something does, because then they can fight.

the salamander said...

.. I don't see this as the Right vs the Left ..
it seems more the Hysterics vs the Common Sense
The Deluded vs the Grounded in Reality
The Fake Newz vs the Facts

Those who pant & thirst for more nonsense
from Kellyanne or Spicer explaining Trumpism
vs those who can see Trump for a complete fool & tool

The Great Trump & Bannon swindle
strikes me as a quintessential buffalo jump
the thundering herd stampeding off a cliff
all following a leader.. like a chain letter to nobody
You know, send this to 16 friends & you will be rich

Trump is a political ponzi scheme..
and his currency is sensationalism & noyz
He's not fake news.. he's just plain old fake..

The Mound of Sound said...

Going back as far as Malaysia and Algeria, we've waged war for "hearts and minds," something that usually degenerated into a grotesque campaign of "carrot and stick."

Now what our governments used to reserve for little people in distant corners of the world they're employing on us, their own.

I don't know but I'm getting scared and I'm getting a bit angry.