Friday, July 5, 2019

US Civil War - Thinking About Models

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

For the last couple of years (2015 or so) I've occasionally mentioned my worries that the US might enter into some type of civil war. This idea gradually gains traction each year.  While some of this interest is likely due to click-bait dynamics and journalist's need for new topics of interest,  some prominent academics like Peter Turchin are also worried about it.

Here's a superficial take from the ground by Tim Pool that seems like mandatory viewing.

My old thoughts were based on backlash to Hillary Clinton authoritarianism, corruption, one-sided justice and the elevation of political cronyism on an international stage at the expense of US workers.  Whether or not a Trump figured emerged was rather beside the point back then.  The demonization of Romney as "the next Hitler" started to solidify my thinking around political multi-level selection dynamics. Turchin's book "Ages of Discord", obviously did nothing to dissuade my thinking. The emergence of severe Trump Derangement Syndrome supports an "attractor basin" interpretation of the spiralling social dynamics. The massive shift of left-wing politics to the far-left and the near total elimination of center-politics in popular discourse has given me few reasons to doubt the basin-based death spiral.  Right now, it's more an issue of time and severity.

Turchin's Jan 2017 bottom end prediction is 5 fatalities per million per 5 years sometime in the 2020's. That would mean about 1500 "civil war" deaths.

As we move forward in time, the main issue is how many US presidential turn-overs will be required for violence to really ignite? I think a Dem win in 2020 will energize but not spark things. The simultaneous removal of the wall and authoritarian based gun restrictions will certainly set things on a knife edge. I think Kamala Harris is a true existential threat here. But, I don't think things would really get going until you get a more strident pull back from the right during the next cycle. I have a hard time imagining someone more extreme than Trump, but that is almost assured. And, I doubt that reactionary figure would have many of Trump's Reaganesque economic foci or "luck".

But, because I think a 2020 Dem win is extremely unlikley, I think 2024 or 2028 will be the focal points. I suspect Trump Derangers will be extremely upset by Trump's 2024 win. Many extremists will rationalize violence as the only answer to the "inevitability" of a Trump takeover. Taunting such loons doesn't help. Nor can the activist media resist the siren call of these basins of lunacy.

What I suspect will happen is 2020 to 2024 things will heat up. In 2024 Dems will likely regain the White House and its symbolic importance. The only exception I can see is if Nikki Hailey decides to enter the fray (and survives the legacy hand-off set-up). Thus, I see the damn bursting in the 2026 midterms, or more likely in 2028.

A mid-term based explosion seems very unlikely. The violence cycle seems to me to be more about appearance than actual governance issues. In 2028 you'll either get a 2nd Dem presidential term, or a hard reactionary return/revolt back to (extreme populist) Republicans. Either way, this should be the tinder point.

If the Dem's get a second term and push hard on gun control, and the radical-authoritarian left decides to prevent all expression of opposition, then kaboom. I just don't see how this won't happen. The only hope is that the Wall is up so that the existential threat the right feels is posed against the nation is diminished. But, the second term will embolden the far-left to purge the populace of all its "racist" legitimization tools - protest will be considered "hate", social media will be forced to or choose to expel "hate", and Fox will feel the pressure of "fake news" and "incitement" legislation.  The damn will burst. Right wingers will not acquiescence, and the militias will get nasty and suicidal. The (just) demonization of targeted assassinations and street violence will be so hyperbolized, I suspect you'll have lots of far-right adjacents who, like the Swalwell gun poll, will choose to accept the label of insurgent rather than be coyed by it.

If reactionary Republicans push out a second term Dem in 2028, then I think progressives will go crazy. The main result here is just lots of street violence. The Proud Boys - Antifa ground marking pissing contest dynamic springs to mind. At worst, this would fold into 60's era "Days of Rage" type violence.

These two scenarios set up the models I think are most useful to look at for the potential/likely US "civil war".

Next Post - the models...

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