Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Is America Heading For A Second Civil War?

Divided Future: “Were Trump either to quit in pique and frustration or, worse, be removed by either of the legal means available, the US would risk being plunged into civic unrest on an unknowable scale.”  - NZ Listener.
 
“TRY TO IMPEACH HIM, just try it. You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you’ve never seen. The people will not stand for impeachment. A politician that votes for it would be endangering their own life.” That is the frightening prediction of the American right-wing activist, Roger Stone, one of US President Donald Trump’s most outspoken supporters.
 
Stone, himself, has many painful personal memories of the impeachment process. He was, after all, an official in the administration of President Richard Nixon. But, a lot has changed in 40 years. In 2017, Stone warns, impeaching a sitting Republican president might not be so easy: “Both sides are heavily armed … This is not 1974. The people will not stand for impeachment.” Asked if he was predicting civil war, Stone replied unequivocally: “Yes, that’s what I think will happen.”
 
Nonsense? Not according to the editorial writers of New Zealand’s own Listener magazine:
 
“Were Trump either to quit in pique and frustration or, worse, be removed by either of the legal means available, the US would risk being plunged into civic unrest on an unknowable scale.”
 
Drawing their readers’ attention to the “considerable” support which Trump still commands among “a socially disaffected rump”, the Listener argues that his diehard supporters “might not hesitate to form militias and try to instigate civil war.”
 
How has it come to this? How has the greatest republic the world has ever known been led to the edge of such a profound political abyss? A more useful line of questioning might begin with another, albeit related, question: “How has the American republic avoided dissolution for so long? Because the most astonishing historical fact about the United States of America is that it is still with us.
 
It very nearly wasn’t. Had anyone but Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 presidential election, it is highly unlikely that the United States as we know it would have survived. Either, the American South’s “peculiar institution” of slavery would have obliged its anti-slavery Northern neighbours to undertake a long and painful retreat from the “self-evident” truths of the American revolution. Or, the North American continent would have been divided between the “United”, and the “Confederate”, States of America.
 
Lincoln forestalled both of these outcomes – but only at enormous cost. The casualties inflicted during the American Civil War of 1861-1865 still outnumber all the casualties sustained by the USA in all subsequent conflicts – including World Wars One and Two. What’s more, the terrible political wounds opened up by the Civil War: essentially a conflict about the economic and social role of Race in American society; have never properly healed.
 
Lincoln’s successors brave attempt to vindicate the sacrifices of the Civil War: the so-called “Reconstruction Period”; lasted barely a decade. Equality between Southern blacks and whites could only be enforced by the bayonets of the occupying Union Army. Its withdrawal, in 1877, was followed by the brutal subjugation and virtual re-enslavement of the black population by the white. The means adopted: illegal terror by the Ku Klux Klan, reinforced by the institutional repression of “Jim Crow” segregation laws, received no early constitutional reproof from the Supreme Court. The federal government thereby signaled its willingness to see established, across the South, racist political regimes that can only be described as “proto-fascist”.
 
Accordingly, when critics of the Alt-Right demonstrators in Charlottesville denounce their “fascist” tactics as foreign to American democracy, they’re mistaken. The much more unpalatable truth is that many of the political motifs we associate with European fascism were actually borrowed from America. Torchlight parades, for example, date all the way back to the 1832 campaign of America’s first populist president, Andrew Jackson. Klansmen’s robes may, similarly, have inspired Mussolini’s black-shirts and Hitler’s stormtroopers. And anyone who believes that the Nazi Party invented the mass political rally should take a look at any American party convention, or the news photographs of 50,000 robed Klansmen marching down Pennsylvania Avenue in 1925.
 
American Fascism: Ku Klux Klan marches down Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC, 1925.
 
Racism, and the fascistic trappings that give it political momentum, are as American as apple-pie. Indeed, it is possible to argue that the Kennedy/Johnson-led Democratic Administrations’ successful efforts to abolish Jim Crow and end Klan terror in the early-1960s have been the primary drivers of American politics ever since. Be it Nixon’s 1968 “Southern Strategy”; Reagan’s upholding of “State’s Rights” in 1980; or, Trump’s 2016 “Let’s make America GREAT again!” (i.e. “WHITE” again) campaign slogan; the Republicans have been the party of race-based politics for nearly fifty years. That President Obama was followed by President Trump is no historical accident.
 
Tragically, the Republican Party has made itself a willing hostage to the political terror and unconstitutional objectives that have always marched in lock-step with the advance of America’s white supremacist traditions. Defeating both may well require a second civil war.
 
This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 29 August 2017.

26 comments:

David Stone said...

If Trump is removed by the establishment through any of the mechanisms that have been ongoing since his election, or is assassinated, the public reaction will not be on the basis of racism. That accusation is part of the process to publicly discredit him in the hope that his removal will cause as little outrage as possible .
The simmering fury in the US is about the elected leader being emasculated and thwarted in every attempt to enact anything he was elected to do. Esp. including a reduction in US military aggression all of over the globe.
But it does appear that he has given up the struggle. He is completely isolated and alone.

D J S

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"When clusters of people are certain that they are right, sooner or later one or more of them will decide it’s time to impose that certainty on others. When persuasion fails, the only remaining recourse is force."
Oliver Wendell Holmes.
You catch echoes of this from the New Zealand right, from Roger Douglas onwards. And of course it's all done for your own good.

Anthony Rimell said...

There is another option Chris: let the two parts of the US do the South do what wanted to do in 1860, and cede. Let it become the two nations it really is. Better for very one, it seems to me. (But can the rational part please be the one to keep the nuclear codes?)

Duncan Lucas said...

Roger Stone's comment are tantamount to an incitement to commit sedition, if indeed they are not seditious in themselves.

sedition
[si-dish-uh n]

noun
1. incitement of discontent or rebellion against a government.
2. any action, especially in speech or writing, promoting such discontent or rebellion.
3. Archaic. rebellious disorder.

I believe the USA still maintains laws against sedition.

David Stone said...

Here is an eloquently expressed view from a recipient of the US foreign policy that Trump's supporters hoped he would discontinue. As he said he would.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loWBedviMEQ&list=RDloWBedviMEQ#t=118

Here is some clarification of Lincoln's position, and the priorities of the American Civil War.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loWBedviMEQ&list=RDloWBedviMEQ#t=118
Cheers D J S

peter petterson said...

If it threatened the future of the US, he would simply be executed by similar groups as JFK"s asssasinators - and be justified too.

Jens Meder said...

With free elections in the U.S. not under threat, is not the sensible and rational way not to go into hysterics about whatever Trump says in what way, but just remain cool, in a critical way when justified, and let and urge Trump to get on with the policies he is known to have been elected for.

Then - by the next constitutional election - is time to come up clearly and vigorously with everything that did or does not work constructively well, and come up with alternative proposals.

Should we not let the wisdom or foolishness of the people be tested more by policies in action, than excessive demagoguery about what has been voted for ?

AB said...

Chris - what would civil war look like when there is a single federal government with command of overwhelming force in the form of the US military?
It would have to look radically different from the 1860's - there'd be no artillery set-pieces between rival armies on open ground...
Proto-fascists mobs are imaginable, but somehow "civil war" seems an improbable stretch, unless you mean it purely in a metaphorical sense.

greywarbler said...

Duncan Lucas
You are running close to approving oppression and limiting informed discussion and prediction.

Guerilla Surgeon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
btb said...

Yeah well BLM said what do we want? Dead cops now. To me that sounds like sedition. Anyway not the point I really wanted to make. Trump might not make the whole term but I am think he will be fine. Impeach him so what? Then in comes Pence. I am picking the manufactured outrage will drive the voters back to Republicans again at the next election. Obamas social engineering and the revolting democrat corruption have pissed a significant proportion of the electorate off. Since when does a sitting politician get to charge banks a million dollars speaking fee/donation. These are the simmering issues not a bunch of vanilla isis who are economically insignificant and politically incompetent. Soros Clinton and Obama might be laughing at Trump but they have misread the electorate, if you want to win a prize like America you have to show your face.

Victor said...

David Stone

"The simmering fury in the US is about the elected leader being emasculated and thwarted in every attempt to enact anything he was elected to do. Esp. including a reduction in US military aggression all of over the globe."

If you believe that, you'll believe anything

"He is completely isolated and alone."

Diddums

Victor said...

Chris

I would agree that the US is in a very bad way, that there are profoundly disturbing parallels between what's happening there now and what happened in Europe in the 1930s and that violence is likely to mushroom over the next few years.

I also agree that there's nothing particularly un-American about these developments.

They're as American as (in their different but not unrelated ways) were Nathan Bedford Forrest, Huey Long, Henry Ford and, as you rightly point out, the genocidal murderer, Andrew Jackson.

But I think your parallel with the Civil War fails simply because there's no clear geographical divide around which the two sides can cohere,

Across the US as a whole, a substantial majority of White males voted for Trump, as did a majority of White women. Moreover, the traditionally 'Blue' states that went 'Red' this time around, were all in the North.

And, within just about every state, there's something of a divide between predominantly urban and predominantly rural areas, as well as between voters with or without tertiary qualifications. Moreover, just about every part of the US is now ethnically-mixed in quite complex ways.

So, I agree that we're likely to see a growth in militia violence and in the rage of demonstrators and counter-demonstrators. It will be at least as bad as the late 1960s and probably a great deal worse,with, moreover, far more lethal hardware to hand.

This will, of course, provoke loud calls for "law and order" from amongst the "silent majority" (remember them?). The result is likely to be a degree of violent repression and the erosion of the constitutional liberties on which Americans rightly pride themselves.

Worse still, the Great Anarch in the Oval Office is likely to place himself at the forefront of these developments and, in the process, tip the use of governmental force towards support for the more violent and racist segments of his "base". I'm sure I don't need to cite examples of this kind of development.

I don't know whether you're right in thinking that Republican legislators will be too scared to impeach Trump. In any event, the Democrats have a reasonable chance of substantially eroding, if not replacing, Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress next year.

But, if they succeeded, Mike Pence would be POTUS. No longer would America be on the path towards b3ecoming Mussolini's Italy with Nukes. Instead, it might become a milder form of Gilead. And there won't be much balm there, either.

We live in dark times and, whatever the inadequacies of our own politicians, we should be grateful that they're not a whole heap worse.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Probably not better for everyone if the south secedes. It is not only a hotbed of religious/racial intolerance, but it generally gets more from the federal government than it puts in. Good for the rational states. The other ones are going to have to pull up their socks a bit.

jh said...

“How has the American republic avoided dissolution for so long? Because the most astonishing historical fact about the United States of America is that it is still with us.
………
The major problem with your analysis is that it ignores the present context. It isn’t the clan marching that is the problem, it is that the internationalist left wants to create an ethicless society and believes narcissistically in the power of its ideas to transform society.
Case in point: Chinese don’t vote Labour (they aren’t convinced by Craig Ranapia and Russell Brown).

Nick J said...

Victor,

You say your parallel with the Civil War fails simply because there's no clear geographical divide around which the two sides can cohere,

So what was very clear on election day was that the US was geographically split between the "urban liberal conurbations of the East and West coasts" and the "flyover conservative states in between".

You can draw that parallel back to the Civil War, the industrialising wealthy northern states versus the agrarian cotton exporters of the south. Now it is the great financial, technical and service cities on the coasts versus the rust belt deindustrialising centre.

Seems a fairly clear divide to me. And the issues seem to be the same. The interesting overlay on top of this to me is ethnic, it is the increasing Latino communities that are moving steadily north. By demographics alone that which was lost by Mexico from California to Texas might return to its roots.

If you like a bit of dystopian reading get onto back copies of thearchdruidreport, Greer wrote a wonderful story about a post US future where the country is split into smaller units that war and compete. His logic is pretty good.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"The major problem with your analysis is that it ignores the present context. It isn’t the clan marching that is the problem, it is that the internationalist left wants to create an ethicless society and believes narcissistically in the power of its ideas to transform society."
1. No it doesn't.
2. Do you think that if you're going to talk about questions of fact you could include some evidence, because your unsupported opinion on this can easily be seen as plain old bullshit. Not to mention that your last sentence is NOT actually a case in point – and I have known a number of Chinese people who voted Labour.

Victor said...

On reflection, Nick, I may have overstated things.

Several states were not initially firmly decided on whether they were for the Union or the Confederacy. Their final choice was often the result of brief but bitter turf wars.

Moreover, quite a few states that continued to tolerate slavery stayed with the Union and many people within the Union had either Southern sympathies or tended, as far as possible, towards neutrality.

So maybe the two situations are not so different. What an absurd and terrible thought!

Thanks for calling me out.

David Stone said...

Victor
My point not so much that Trump was genuine in his early statements re foreign policy, I think it's possible but I don't assert that he was . But that is what many who voted for him hoped and believed , and a lot still do.
Diddums is fair enough, but it's not about sympathising with him, it's about trying to perceive the true dynamics of what's going on there. I think it's important because the global situation looks closer to WW3 than any time in my lifetime, and it's largely as a result of the political struggle going on in Washington between Trump and the establishment that wants rid of him.
Cheers David J S

Nick J said...

Hardly a "call out" Victor, more a minor addition to the prevalent "state of confusion" that is the Good Ol US, so many prisms we can view it through and all be right and wrong concurrently.

The next overlay is the current hurricane and its' impact, it would appear it has stopped production in the refineries that supply the fuel by pipeline to the rest of the US east of the Rockies. Maybe we replace the prism with a kaleidoscope.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/06/voter_study_group_and_why_obama_voters_defected_to_trump.html

That's an interesting article. I happen to find myself on a religious Youtube site and politely asked them why they would vote for Trump who is obviously not religious over Hillary who obviously is – a little too obviously for my taste. The replies were both racist and ridiculous, but concentrated on the need for getting rid of liberal abortion laws.

jh said...

This takes a fairly balanced view (I think)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgccg9xurE8

Victor said...

David

"But that is what many who voted for him hoped and believed , and a lot still do."

"Many" is a very slippery term. Do you mean millions, hundreds or tens of thousands or just a few hundred?

There were, after all, so many other reasons, almost all of them bad, that people freely gave for voting for this walking caricature of dysfunctional personality. In contrast, there's not a great deal of evidence to support your view of matters.

I would agree , though, that we're closer to a nuclear exchange (over North Korea) than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis (which I vividly remember).

As then, blame for this obscenely irresponsible game of "chicken" can be attributed to both sides. But, to the extent the US is culpable, a large part of that blame must now fall personally on Trump and his incendiary prose.

I make no claim to any expertise whatsoever concerning Korea and Koreans. But I know enough about East Asia to understand the importance of saving face.

It is Trump, rather than the US foreign affairs establishment, that has most wholly ignored this factor, after he initially destabilised the situation by casting doubt on America's commitment to Japan and South Korea.

Frankly, I doubt whether this crisis could have erupted without him.

Victor said...

Nick

Thanks all the same.

And now, to the horror of a possible rerun of America's early 1860s, we must add the far greater horror of a possible playing-out of the fear-filled scenarios that haunted the early 1960s.

There is indeed a kaleidoscope or possibilities, almost all of them atrocious.

jh said...

“Our story of bus drivers reveals the existence of the proverbial elephant in the room. It shows that the living standards of the huge majority of people in rich countries critically depend on the existence of the most draconian control over their labor markets—immigration control. Despite this, immigration control is invisible to many …

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism Paperback – January 17, 2012
by Ha-Joon Chang
http://takimag.com/article/a_blind_spot_full_of_billionaires_steve_sailer
.....
Pickety [most popular with progressives] ignores immigration. When influencial people follow their ideological preferences we get Fake News. Mediawatch said fake news turns people against the MSM, infact alternative sources turn people against the media. People detect patterns in things?

jh said...

My friend is flying to Brisbane to look after his son who has stomach cancer. I couldn't understand why he isn't in hospital but it seems to be because he is still a NZ citizen. He has been there about 15 years. I don't know if he has medical insurance (or why he didn't take it out) as he was well paid. Multiculturalism has been New Zealander's loss.