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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Reading List: Civil War Two

Chittum, Thomas. Civil War Two. Seattle: Amazon Digital Services, [1993, 1996] 2018. ASIN B07FCWD7C4.
This book was originally published in 1993 with a revised edition in 1996. This Kindle edition, released in 2018, and available for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers, appears to be identical to the last print edition, although the number of typographical, punctuation, grammatical, and formatting errors (I counted 78 in 176 pages of text, and I wasn't reading with a particularly critical eye) makes me wonder if the Kindle edition was made by optical character recognition of a print copy and never properly copy edited before publication. The errors are so frequent and egregious that readers will get the impression that the publisher couldn't be bothered to read over the text before it reached their eyes.

Sometimes, a book with mediocre production values can be rescued by its content, but that is not the case here. The author, who served two tours as a rifleman with the U.S. Army in Vietnam (1965 and 1966), then fought with the Rhodesian Territorials in the early 1970s and the Croatian Army in 1991–1992, argues that the U.S. has been transformed from a largely homogeneous republic in which minorities and newcomers were encouraged and provided a path to assimilate, and is now a multi-ethnic empire in which each group (principally, whites and those who, like most East Asians, have assimilated to the present majority's culture; blacks; and Hispanics) sees itself engaged in a zero-sum contest against the others for power and the wealth of the empire.

So far, this is a relatively common and non-controversial observation, at least among those on the dissident right who have been observing the deliberate fracturing of the society into rival interest groups along ethnic lines by cynical politicians aiming to assemble a “coalition of the aggrieved” into a majority. But from this starting point the author goes on to forecast increasingly violent riots along ethnic lines, initially in the large cities and then, as people flee areas in which they are an ethnic minority and flock together with others of their tribe, at borders between the emerging territories.

He then sees a progression toward large-scale conventional warfare proceeding in four steps: an initial Foundational Phase where the present Cold Civil War heats up as street gangs align on ethnic lines, new irregular forces spring up to defend against the others, and the police either divide among the factions or align themselves with that dominant in their territory. Next, in a protracted Terrorist Phase, the rival forces will increasingly attack one another and carry out strikes against the forces of the empire who try to suppress them. This will lead to increasing flight and concentration of each group in a territory where it is the majority, and then demands for more autonomy for that territory. He estimates (writing in the first half of the 1990s) that this was the present phase and could be expected to last for another five to twenty-five years (which would put its conclusion no later than 2020).

The Terrorist Phase will then give way to Guerilla Warfare, with street gangs and militia groups evolving into full-time paramilitary forces like the Viet Cong and Irish Republican Army. The empire will respond with an internal security force similar to that of the Soviet Union, and, as chaos escalates, most remaining civil liberties will be suspended “for the duration of the emergency”. He forecasts this phase as lasting between ten and twenty years. Finally, the situation will progress to All-Out, Continuous Warfare, where groups will unite and align along ethnic lines, bringing into play heavy weapons (artillery, rocket powered grenades, armour, etc.) seized from military depots or provided by military personnel defecting to the factional forces. The economy will collapse, and insurgent forces will fund their operations by running the black market that replaces it. For this phase, think the ex-Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

When the dust settles, possibly involving the intervention of United Nations or other “peacekeeping” troops, the result will be a partition of the United States into three ethnically-defined nations. The upper U.S., from coast to coast, will have a larger white (plus East Asian, and other assimilated groups) majority than today. The Old South extending through east Texas will be a black majority nation, and the Southwest, from central Texas through coastal California north of the San Francisco area will be a Hispanic majority nation, possibly affiliated or united with Mexico. The borders will be sharp, defended, and prone to occasional violence.

My problem with this is that it's…ridiculous. Just because a country has rival ethnic groups doesn't mean you'll end up with pitched warfare and partition. Yes, that's what happened in ex-Yugoslavia, but that was a case where centuries-long ethnic tensions and hatred upon which the lid had been screwed down for fifty years by an authoritarian communist regime were released into the open when it collapsed. Countries including Canada, Ireland/Northern Ireland, and Belgium have long-standing ethnic disputes, tension, and occasional violence, and yet they have not progressed to tanks in the street and artillery duels across defended frontiers.

The divide in the U.S. does not seem to be so much across ethnic lines as between a coastal and urban élite and a heartland productive population which has been looted at the expense of the ruling class. The ethnic groups, to the extent they have been organised as factions with a grievance agenda, seem mostly interested in vying for which can extract the most funds from the shrinking productive population for the benefit of their members. This divide, often called “blue/red” or “globalist/nationalist” goes right down the middle of a number of highly controversial and divisive issues such as immigration, abortion, firearms rights, equality before the law vs. affirmative action, free trade vs. economic nationalism, individual enterprise vs. socialism and redistribution, and many others. (The polarisation can be seen clearly by observing that if you know on which side an individual comes down on one of these issues, you can predict, with a high probability, their view on all the others.)

To my mind, a much more realistic (not to mention far better written) scenario for the U.S. coming apart at the seams is Kurt Schlichter's People's Republic (November 2018) which, although fiction, seems an entirely plausible extrapolation of present trends and the aftermath of two incompatible worldviews going their separate ways.

Posted at September 11, 2019 12:05