Sunday, August 23, 2020

Why Splitting America in Half is a Silly Fantasy

It seems that the more popular a topic is among one’s audience, the harder it is to express one’s views on it without being misunderstood. For example, I have written on my blog before that I expect the United States to begin a slow and (at first) informal breakup around mid-century when, due to a wide range of factors, the resources to maintain law and order over such a large territory are no longer available.

Inevitably, this is misunderstood as a prediction that sometime in the near future the United States will undergo an organized revolution like what we had in 1776 and split into conservative and liberal halves.

Hence the need for me to write about why the second scenario is extremely unlikely.

This is going to be an eclectic post. My topics will include a bizarre child custody case in Texas, the shallowness of the red-state/blue-state divide, the geography of the Bering Sea, and a comparison between the plots of Star Wars and Braveheart.

First, the bizarre child custody case. For at least the last two years, a divorced couple in Texas have been suing each other over whether their son, James Younger, should be raised as a boy or a girl (the name the mother uses is “Luna”). The child himself identifies as a boy when he’s with his father, and a girl when he’s with his mother (this should surprise nobody; children in split families like that learn pretty quickly how to display different personalities depending on who they’re with).

Last October, the father thought he had won after the judge issued a ruling granting the couple joint custody of James and his twin brother Jude and requiring the consent of both parents for any medical decisions effecting the children. Then the judge got careless and talked about the case on Facebook, the mother claimed breech of neutrality and filed a successful motion to get a different judge, and as of this month, she now has sole power over the boy’s “medical, psychological, and psychiatric care.” As an added insult, the father still has to pay his share of the bills for said care, which currently amount to $5,000 per month (!) just for counselling.

People who think that the red states and the blue states are moving further apart, and will eventually come to blows over the proper direction for America’s future, need to think about the fact that this is happening in Texas. And it isn’t just something that the Feds imposed on Texas. At any time during this madness, the state legislature could have made a law setting a minimum age for gender transitioning; likewise, the state supreme court could have issued a ruling to the effect that inferior court judges can’t deprive parents of custody for refusing to affirm a gender change. But they haven’t done this. The same goes for all the other red states.

To be honest, the whole concept of red states and blue states is misleading. The only reason we even have that colored map in the first place is because of the electoral college. If we didn’t have an electoral college, or if electors were allocated proportionally instead of on a winner-take-all basis, nobody would say things like “Texas is a red state;” they would just say “In Texas, Trump got six votes for every five votes that went to Hillary.”

The division that really matters isn’t red state versus blue state, it’s urban versus rural. Look at any map of election results by precinct and you can see it. Even in the reddest of the red states, the big cities – places like Houston and Salt Lake City – are reliably liberal. Perhaps you remember when Salt Lake, the headquarters of Mormondom, named a street after the San Francisco pederast Harvey Milk to honor his contributions to “civil rights?” Well, that is run-of-the-mill for cities in red states.

Universities are the same way. Those of you who follow the American Conservative will have noticed that Rod Dreher has spent most of the last week complaining about how wokeness has taken over at Baylor, America’s largest and, until recently, most conservative Baptist university. As a college student myself, I can see the same process going on at my own institution, which happens to be the top public university in yet another red state. Here, the leftist virtue signalling has by now gotten so bad that the staff are required to include their pronoun preferences in their email signature lines, and every communiqué from the student government office, regardless of topic, is prefaced with a long discourse about how black lives matter.

The only difference that living in a red state makes is that the party which blathers on and on about its dislike for the way that things are going – but doesn’t actually change much of anything when it gets into office – hoovers up about 30 percent of the votes instead of 20 percent (while the other half of the people don’t vote at all).

Republicans winning elections does not mean that your state is on a substantially different trajectory from that of California, New York, or Illinois.

Red state and blue state, conservative and liberal, urban and rural, Christian and secular – they are all on the same track, going in the same direction. Don’t let the fact that some cars are further along that track than others, and that the passengers in the train are yelling insults at one another, distract you from the big picture.

Now, one solution which some revolution-mongers have proposed, for dealing with the lack of geographic separation between left and right, is to convince millions of right-wingers to move to a specific part of the country and set up a homeland for like-minded people. There are a lot of disagreements about how to implement this in practice: where should the homeland be located? Idaho and New Hampshire are both frequently mentioned as candidates, but the movement is nowhere near reaching a consensus. Should the new homeland be multiracial, or should the project only be advertised to white people? And so forth.

In the end, the big migration never actually happens, because nearly all rightward-leaning Americans are too attached to their jobs and their communities to just up and move to Idaho (or New Hampshire or wherever).

For the same reason, there is not going to be a right-wing insurgency in the foreseeable future, either. This is true even if the Feds decide to seize everybody’s guns.

I know that it’s practically blasphemy for me to say this. I know about all those “cold dead hands” bumper stickers, and I know that “What will you do when they come to take your guns?” is the hook on which right-wingers (ordinary right or racist right, take your pick) have hung a million fantasies of patriotic Americans finally rising up against their oppressors.

But it’s pretty easy to get a feel for the actual condition of the American right when you consider a slightly different question: “What will you do when they come to castrate your child?”

This question has already been posed to hundreds of Americans. The answer – with no exceptions so far – has been either “nothing,or “spend a lot of time and money litigating it and hope for the best.

Already, thousands of American children below age 12 (or really, below any hypothetical boundary between childhood and adolescence) have been started on various gender-changing treatments. Chances are that in most of these cases, both parents (if two parents were even present to begin with) were thoroughly delusional leftists who were in agreement about what to do when a 6-year-old boy says “I wish I were a girl.” Nevertheless, there are a significant number of parents who – at least at the beginning of the process – did not approve of what their exes (or soon-to-be exes) were planning on doing to their offspring.

James Younger’s father has been in the news so much because he went further than most of these people, spending two years in court and having already poured enough money down that rat hole to have sent both of his sons to top law or medical schools. But neither he nor anyone else (that I am aware of) has dealt with the situation by fleeing the country.

These people will lawyer up and argue their case in court. They will splash their story across the headlines of The Federalist and National Review in order to garner the sympathy of millions of like-minded conservatives. What they will not do is leave behind their homeland and their social circle and their comfortable middle-class lifestyle, and subject themselves to the vagaries of the asylum courts in the Philippines, Russia, or whatever other country might seem like a suitable refuge.

This isn’t for lack of opportunities. During these past two years, James Younger’s father has held partial custody of his twin sons, meaning that he (probably) had freedom of travel within the United States. There are plenty of places in the US from which an unexpected flight in a small aircraft could have gotten him to any island in the Caribbean, or to Russia by way of Alaska.

The quickest and cheapest way to pull it off would be with a hijacking – i.e. charter a flight from Anchorage to Nome and then, before the plane can land, draw a weapon and demand to be dropped off on the other side of the Bering Straits. The downside consists of having to convince the Russian authorities that what the Texas courts were doing was not only a violation of basic human rights, but also a justification for air piracy. It’s certainly better than just submitting, but it’s far from ideal.

The safest way out would be for the man to simply get a pilot’s license himself and then buy or rent an aircraft, though that could arouse suspicion, and take time and money that he may no longer have.

Here is another option: In the middle of the Bering Straits there is a pair of islands, Little Diomede and Big Diomede, which belong to Alaska and Russia, respectively. The gap between them is about 1.2 nautical miles. If the man could charter a helicopter from Nome (it has to be a helicopter because Little Diomede has no runways) he could kayak across to Big Diomede before the authorities realized what was happening, and then wait for the Russian coast guard to pick him up.

It would be tricky because there is nothing on the American island except for an Iñupiat village of about 115 people, so the helicopter pilot might become overcurious about the purpose of the excursion. As I have little personal experience with the world of Alaskan bush pilots, I can’t say how likely it is that he would realize what was about to happen.

If the man actually got his boys to Russia, he would be looking at a variety of possible futures. The best case scenario (and, in my opinion, the most likely) is that Russia would welcome the refugees the way it welcomed Edward Snowden, savoring the opportunity to berate the United States for its hypocrisy on human rights.

The worst case scenario is that the trio would get deported back to the US after a few months, but even that might be enough time away from his insane home for the boy to come back knowing how to stand up for himself. And his father would be remembered as a hero and not a coward.

But I am not going to hold my breath waiting for this to happen. The best time to act was in the past. The longer this goes on, the more the boy will become used to passing as a girl, his former identity as “James” will be just a dim childhood memory, and his father’s arguments – to the courts, the National Review, the Russians, and even himself – that his son’s rights are being violated will carry less and less weight.

Now, I promised you at the beginning of the post that I would tie this in to Star Wars and Braveheart, two movies which happen to have more in common than a casual observer might think. For one thing, both of them are totally lacking in realism; Braveheart gets a few points because the people bleed when they die, but even so, Mel Gibson’s portrayal of medieval Scottish history is about as accurate as George Lucas’ portrayal of astrophysics.

But beyond that, the movies also have a big similarity in regards to what drives their plots. Braveheart begins with Mel Gibson’s character staying comfortably aloof from the war between England and Scotland, but then an English lord kills his bride after becoming enraged over Gibson's presumption in deflowering her himself instead of respecting the right of prima noctis. After her death, Gibson becomes the hardened soldier that the Scots need to lead them to victory.

When we first see Luke Skywalker, he is just a whiny teenager, and though he hates the Galactic Empire, he isn’t planning on joining the Rebellion. Basically, he feels like the war is too far away and he’s too small to make a difference. Even when Ben Kenobi tells him the about the Jedi knights and shows him his father's old blue lightsabre, it isn’t enough to change Luke’s mind. It’s only after his aunt and uncle are killed by the stormtroopers that Luke is all in.

We all know that you can’t really get even a half-decent revolution started if everyone has to wait around for someone close to them to be destroyed before they commit themselves to the cause. (Star Wars even addresses this by having a scene where Luke meets up with Biggs Darklighter, a childhood friend who joined the rebellion on his own initiative a while before their village was destroyed).

But both Gibson and Lucas still chose to have the protagonist begin the story by refusing the call to adventure, and then take up arms only after being bitterly forced to acknowledge that, while he may not care about the Man, the Man cares about him. And those two directors did this because it makes their characters more relatable: we, the audience, feel like we would have done the same thing.

But all those transgender child cases are showing that, for the majority of Americans, this isn’t actually true. Most of us would allow our own children to be sterilized and mutilated rather than leave our homes and give up our safety and comfort in order to resist tyranny.

Which is why the United States will not have a revolution in the foreseeable future, nor will it break up before resource scarcity and maladministration, perhaps coupled with defeat in a foreign war, put an end to the central government’s ability to deliver the safety and comfort to which its citizens have grown accustomed.

When the breakup comes, it will not be driven by an ideology-based attempt to restore the kind of republic that Washington and Jefferson believed in. It will simply be a matter of ambitious gang leaders and charismatic demagogues carving out fiefdoms for themselves in the wreckage of a crumbling empire.

Though it may seem strange, I do not see this prediction as a cause for despair. All empires decline and fall. Eventually, new nations will arise on this continent. They will derive much of their cultural heritage from the United States, just as we have derived much of our heritage from Greece and Rome. If the men of these new American nations are wise, they will hold Washington and Jefferson in high regard.

There are things that you and I can do to increase the chances that our families and our communities will be a part of this future rebuilding, and the project of this blog is to get people to think realistically about the kinds of events that are likely to happen in America over the next century or so. If we do that – instead of fixating on silly fantasies like an upcoming red-on-blue civil war – then we just might end up being able to have a say in what kind of civilization will emerge from the rubble.


  1. What are your thoughts on this: Lincoln Project, in regards to conservative or liberal.

    1. So I typed in "Lincoln Project" on Wikipedia and what I got was a PAC formed last year by a bunch of influential Republicans trying to stop President Trump from being reelected (correct me if it was a different Lincoln Project you had in mind).

      This sort of thing happens from time to time in US politics (think Al Smith turning against Franklin Roosevelt during the New Deal, or the Rockefeller Republicans who couldn't get behind Ronald Reagan). I don't see it as a significant force, either then or now.

      Trump won control of the Republican Party because the old elites failed. They failed to notice which issues the voters cared about (i.e. excessive immigration, which is bad for American workers) and which ones it would be better for the party to drop like a hot rock (i.e. when everybody but Trump continued to insist that the Iraq War was a good idea).

      Like it or not, the GOP is Trump's party now. If Trump loses this year, then the role of de facto leader of the Republicans will obviously be up for grabs in 2024; however, I have zero expectation that the power vacuum will be filled by the old, discarded elite who are responsible for things like the Lincoln Project.

  2. I'm one of those silly people who think a future American civil war is a real (but tragic) possibility, so let me defend that view here.

    First of all, whatever is going to happen, our side needs to be assembled into serious, sober, well-organized and disciplined civic bodies. Until recently, the closest approximation to this were the 'militias', especially some of the better ones. Now some people from that milieu are attempting to popularize an approach that, while congruent to the militia movement, is broader than that, and which will, hopefully, avoid some of the negative connotations - ('Far Right!' 'Anti-government!' 'Extremists!') that the MSM and the vile Southern Poverty Law Center have succeeded in hanging about the necks of what are basically, in the great majority, good American patriots. Come to to find out more.

    Now: yes, the 'Red' vs 'Blue' state division is at far too large a level of granularity. Better to do a county-by-county analysis, or, better yet, a Congressional-district by Congressional-district one.

    But ... geographic divisions of any sort, including this blog author's preferred 'urban' vs 'rural', are not really the right way to approach things either. They substitute an essentially accidental characteristic for an essential one. It's similar to the 'correlation = causation' fallacy.

    Rather, we need to look at the social attributes that distinguish hard-core Democratic voters from hard-core Republican ones, while noting that there are plenty of exceptions to the rule, and nothing stands still. But that is an extended essay and this is not the place for it.

    Rather, I want to raise one -- really, THE -- fundamental objection to the author's worldview: he sees everything from the point of view of personal character, and he finds American conservatives lacking in it. They just don't have what it takes to, say, move to Russia, or even to Idaho, if circumstances require it.

    But ... character is fluid. Character is actually, in the final analysis (sorry for the cliche), a product of social forces. You and I, although we think we conscious individuals who have chosen our political beliefs and control our actions -- we are actually, 90% the products of our times, our social class, our generation, our race, our sex -- the products of all the inputs we have had over our lifetime into our mental processors. Yes, these are refracted through our personal biology, and yes ... there is such a thing as Free Will which -- somehow -- is also involved (don't ask me how ... I'm not going to try to solve that old philosophical chestnut, where you can make perfect cases for both sides).

    And the author actually understands this! He notes the sources of Trump's support. Snotty spoiled Lefty college students think Trump's supporters are they way they are, because they are stupid, and evil. 'Racists!'. But in fact they were responding to the impact that the events of nearly three decades of job-destroying free trade and open borders, and endless unwinnable foreign wars, have made on them. They would not have supported Mr Trump in the Republican primaries in 1992 and 1996, or in 2000, when when they could have supported a much superior version of him, Pat Buchanan.
    [Continued ....]

  3. [Continuing ...]

    But events change people. They change how people perceive the world, and how they act to defend their own interests. They turn people whose choice of champion of their was Bob Dole (anyone remember him?), into people whose choice of champion is Donald Trump. (And these people-changing 'events' include the dog that did not bark in the night: a Republican Party that promised many good things - such as a sensible pro-American immigration policy -- but that then turend out just to be water-carriers for the Donor Class.)

    By the way, we see the same transformation on the new generations of young people on the Left. But in their case, they have been 'helped' by a conscious collective of indoctrinators. We don't have anything similar -- we have no organizations which can try to bring the results of conscious deliberation -- i.e. 'ideology' -- to guide people who are changing their world-view under the hammer-blows of events. There are some very good conservative publications -- like American Conservative -- but they exist to bring intellectual pleasure to a few tens of thousands of readers. They aren't oriented towards building a mass movement, towards doing 'mass political education'. Our side leaves all that to the Left. Woe is us.

    Anyway, big, wrenching, violent transformations are coming to America, driven both by internal, and external, forces. How people will react to them is an open question, probaby -- like when an unstable nucleus will disintegrate -- not even predictable in principle. Almost all great revolutionary upheavals have caught even sophisticated pundits by surprise. (Karl Marx called it 'the old mole' of history, grubbing away below the surface, then suddenly bursting out.)

    So, given that some of us -- the author of this excellent blog included -- know that big, dramatic changes are coming to America ... what should we do? We must plan for the outcome we want ... in our case, the best that we can hope for, the salvage and reconstruction of some part of the Republic given that demographics are against us (in the absence of some genetically-specific plague).

    Accident plays a huge role in history. In 1815, two days before the Battle of Waterloo, the Prussian high command decided to send part of their forces eastward,towards the village of Wavre, (ie towards Wellington's army) -- both the Prussians and Wellington having been given bloody noses by Napoleon, and being in retreat. Wellington called this decision, 'the decision of the century', because if the Prussians had decided to keep their armies together, retreating westward -- a prudent course of action, facing Napoleon -- he (Wellington) would almost certainly have lost the Battle of Waterloo. On such accidents does the course of history sometimes turn.

    We cannot predict in advance, these sorts of events and decisions. Some will be favorable to us, some not. When a favorable event occurs, if we are organized, with an acute, alert, wise leadership, we will respond quickly to it and leverage it to our advantage.

    No one knows the future. But we can prepare for it ... and we can try to shape it. At this point in history we must not stand passively by, just observing events and making wise comments upon them.

    We have to organize all patriots into such formations as can survive the ongoing collapse, and take us forward to rebuild the Republic.

    1. Wow, you have a lot to say there. There is no way for me to answer it all in just a comment, but, to begin with, I don't actually think the idea of America eventually having another civil war is silly. Just the idea that it will be fought by Red States against Blue States. Right now, all the evidence indicates that Red States and Blue States are both are undergoing the same social and cultural transformations. It just so happens that the balance of people who are happy about what's going on, and people who are upset but rarely ever have the courage to act, varies a little from state to state.

      Now you mention my excessive focus on character, which may or may not be a flaw. It seems that you and I often draw different conclusions about the future because our concepts of what a "good" revolution would look like are drawn from different historical events.

      When I talk about fighting for one's liberties in a revolution, I am most often thinking of 1215, 1689, and 1776. Those were events in which the rulers' refusal to uphold longstanding laws and customs, and acknowledge traditional limits on their power, led to a rising spiral of sedition and civil unrest culminating in said rulers' ouster some ten to twenty years after tensions began to build.

      Now that is a kind of revolution which I don't see happening in the United States, because as far as I can tell, our old form of government - a federal democratic republic where the central governments powers were limited by a written constitution - was done away with in a slow-motion revolution-within-the-form which began around 1933 and was essentially complete 40 years later. During this time, despite a lot of shouting, serious resistance never materialized. I attribute that lack of resistance to a lack of character on the part of the American people. And I think that events like the one presently going on in Texas in the James/Luna case are supporting evidence to my thesis.

      Now, you say that character is fluid and is a product of social forces, and that because of this, it is reasonable to expect these circumstances to rapidly change at unpredictable times in the future. You've given the examples (in other places, not this comment) of France in 1789 and Russia in 1905 and 1917, as what sort of revolution you anticipate - one that will take everybody, including those who participate in it and even those who lead it, by surprise.

      Discussing the differences between these two kinds of revolutions is way too big of a topic for this thread. Let me remind you, though, that while I don't believe we're going to have a Red States vs. Blue State war, I do believe that rising poverty and resource scarcity will eventually lead to the breakdown of law and order across much of the United States, leaving room for militias to take over (or for less savory characters to take over, should the militias not be the strongest force around). So by all means, if you think that joining and organizing militia and civilian defense groups is the way to be ready for America's next transformation, then keep your armor bright and your powder dry!

  4. The fatal omission I see from all revolutionary theorists is that of nuclear weapons. Everyone analyzes as if it's the 19th century, as if these things don't exist. To an extent, it's understandable, because these weapons increase the complexity of the analysis by an order of magnitude or more, so leaving them out is a good simplification for a first pass at an analysis. But this is ultimately unsatisfactory.

    In my view, nukes and similar WMD play the role of freezing conflicts, since no one seems prepared to use them. A revolution might well happen, but what is just as likely at this point, if not more so, is a descent into a kind of dystopian future as depicted in sci-fi, where concepts such as "American" become obsolete, and heightened crime and civil strife are just another aspect of daily life for those who aren't part of the elite and don't live in some kind of "Elysium".

    I am joining the Patriot army either way, but I am just sayin', dystopian sci-fi might well end up being our future, and no one on the left or on the right seems to be aware of the possibility, much less attempting to analyze it.

    1. OrgyOfTheWill,

      One thing you've got to remember is that the consequences of using nuclear weapons are so dramatic that the actual decision-makers rarely even consider using them, and haven't gone ahead since 1945. In particular, neither the threat nor the actuality of using nuclear weapons has affected any real-world revolutions.

      Both Britain and France developed nuclear weapons while their colonial empires were disintegrating, and neither used them to threaten their colonies into not breaking away. Both the Soviet Union and Apartheid South Africa had nuclear weapons and went through state-collapse anyway, losing territory to successful independence movements - Namibia separated from South Africa in 1990, and a whole bunch of SSRs broke away from Russia a year later. South Africa eventually dismantled its own nuclear weapons for the sake of sanctions relief and keeping them from falling into the hands of the Blacks once Apartheid ended in 1994.

      Nuclear weapons simply can't be blamed for what is/isn't happening in the United States right now. I do think we are headed for a future that some people would consider dystopian, though I also think America's future will have more in common with Mexico's present than with movie dystopias like "Elysium" or the "Hunger Games."

  5. Mexico sounds exactly like Elysium and Hunger Games to me. It even looks exactly like the Elysium movie.

    Another aspect people never take into account is technological progress. After all, nuclear weapons are almost a century now. They are old news. The new news are miniaturization, and proliferation. We are getting to the point where nukes will fit in suitcases. In fact that might be what happened in Beirut a couple of weeks ago. You guys are theorizing about what might happen in 50 or 100 years without taking into account that terrorists will have nukes by then, or at least massive yield conventional bombs. That's without even counting the drone armies they will have IN A MERE FEW YEARS. And don't get me started on chips inside our brains very, very soon (there's already a company in Sweden that installs them in early adopting techies).

    In short, the future will be orders of magnitude more complex than the past on which all current analyses will be based, and I am afraid we need philosophers to deal with the analyses. You're doing a solid job here, and I have no complaints, but you are far from being a philosopher, and I see many blind spots. And the same is true of everyone else I have read, on both the right and the left. I'd have to go all the way back to Baudrillard to find an adequate critique, but he was a philosopher, which underscores my point. I would suggest you read everything he's written, and then everything on this list:

    1. Well, to begin with, Mexico has a striking absence of ginormous space stations, and when people are forced to fight to the death for entertainment, it's done by gangs, and not the central government, which is itself losing a lot of territory to said gangs. Those are some pretty big differences from Elysium and the Hunger Games, and if you're going to style yourself as a philosopher, it's your job to notice things like that.

      Also, if you want to keep debating me, you should pick a topic more germane to my original post. Saying "but what about suitcase nukes and drones and brain implants" doesn't really cut it, since I don't really see those topics as having much relevance to what I've said here.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Orgy of the Will,

      I didn't let your last comment through because I'm trying to maintain a high standard of civility for this blog.

      If you want to say that one of my predictions about the future is wrong, and then build a case for why, due to suitcase nukes, drone armies, brain implants, or fill-in-the-blank, something else is going to happen instead, then you're welcome to do that. But I'm not going to let you insult me simply for not bringing those things up in the OP.

    2. Ah no worries, I get the same response everywhere in the internet I try to post. Pretty much every blog bans me within a few posts :) Enjoy your blog!