Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

Storm clouds a-gathering

Codevilla on how to ignite a civil war.

In societies riven by mutual hate, the people who control the police and public communications make all the difference. When they maintain impartiality, as did Germany’s Weimar government while the Nazis and Communists struggled for primacy, partisan warfare tends to be resolved politically—though the results are harsh. When societal hatred or the partiality of authorities results in deaths, long-smoldering cold civil war can blaze into holocaust.

We Americans are now facing the danger of a civil war thus ignited. We do not think of civil war this way because our Civil War from 1861 to 1865 was less a conflict within society than it was a highly organized war between states. That war notwithstanding, personal friendships and mutual esteem persisted on both sides, such as that between Ulysses S. Grant and prominent Confederate General James Longstreet.

What we face now is worse.

Probably, yeah. What I’m even more confident of, though, is this: we have NO IDEA what it will actually be like. Not how it might begin, nor how it might play out, nor how long it might go on, nor how it might end, nor what shape its aftermath might take.

I’ve long been annoyed at how most politicians, pundits, and others—left, right, whatever—insist on viewing the Trumpian uprising exclusively through the lens of the past. They base their analyses on established rules that have been upended and made irrelevant. Vanishingly few of them seem able to grasp that maybe, just maybe, the societal tsunami represented by Trump and his supporters might not play out in precise accord with the old, established playbook they’re comfortable with. Even some of the writers I like and regularly excerpt here fall into this trap.

And I don’t get that, I really don’t, especially when it comes from the people who were most shocked and stunned by Trump’s 2016 victory. Seems to me that those most humiliated by the shattering of their predictions of a surefire Hillary!™ win would be a little more circumspect about their obviously misplaced faith in Ye Olde Ways now, and would be among the quickest to consider abandoning them. Guess sometimes hindsight ain’t 20-20 after all.

And the same principle applies to CW speculation. Any civil war we might wind up stumbling blindly into will likely share one, and only one, characteristic with any of its predecessors: it will be nothing like what any of us expects now. In any event, though, Codevilla knows who should be held accountable.

What should happen, what can happen, when the real, existing violent organizations of the Left—Antifa and the several radical black organizations—try to exclude or to punish? Several cities—Portland, Oregon and Charlottesville, Virginia among them—have had their streets taken over. What happens when these organizations organize mobs to harass their least favorite people? What happens when some of them wind up dead?

At a certain point, the other side shoots back. Here as elsewhere, the several police forces may be expected to split and take opposite sides. Then the army’s special forces become the arbiters, and the war rages.

We know that our ruling class having largely made government into a partisan thing, America has crossed the threshold of revolution. While we have no way of knowing what lies ahead, we know that the spiral of political violence has already taken its first fateful turns, and that the logic of our partisan ruling class is pushing for more.

Heaven help them should they get it.

Update! Call me a weirdo, maybe, but I find at least some reassurance among Bill’s words of despair:

What is there to say? It’s all so frickin’ predictable.

We’ve got a bunch of new judges, many of whom seem…oh…shaky, at best.

We replace swamp monsters with new swamp monsters. Everybody has lots of excuses and explanations for that, but the fact remains – one step forward, one step back.

It’s depressing. And starting to get, at least for me, profoundly uninteresting.

Is there going to be a hot civil war?

No, because there are not enough people in this country willing to point a gun at another person and pull the trigger over political differences. The vast majority of fatal gun violence is carried out over disputes over real things like drugs and familial hatreds. The percentage where somebody pulls the trigger because they hate conservatives, or hate immigrants, or hate leftists is tiny, little more than statistical noise.

That may change, but I’d be surprised if it happens any time soon.

I bolded the comforting part to distinguish it from the rest, which is all the more bleak because it’s, y’know, true.

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