Wednesday, August 17, 2022

A House Divided: Unless We Become Kinder and More Tolerant, America Will Collapse

 Years ago, I read The Coming Fury, Bruce Catton's classic study of the United States on the brink of civil war. In the months preceding the shelling of Fort Sumter, Catton explained, extremists in both the North and The South wanted a war. 

And war they got. When it was over, 600,00 men were dead, and thousands of veterans spent the rest of their lives without their arms or legs.

America was a house divided in 1860, and America is a house divided today. Last night's Republican primary in Wyoming illustrates my point. Liz Cheney, the Republican congresswoman who voted to impeach Donald Trump, was swept out of office by a landslide.

Curiously, Cheney carried two regions of the state: Teton County, where wealthy Democrats reside around Jackson Hole, and the region around the state capitol of Cheyenne--where most  of Wyoming's liberal-leaning government bureaucrats dwell.

As predicted, Democrats "crossed over" in Wyoming's Republican primary--not to support Liz Cheny but to register their contempt for Republicans and Donald Trump, the Republican's tarnished standard bearer.

We similar signs of division everywhere. Dana Milbank, the Washington Post's chief loon, wrote a column a few weeks ago expressing the desire for Texas and Oklahoma to leave the Union. 

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott is busing illegal migrants to New York City and Washington DC. Both towns are self-proclaimed sanctuary cities, but the mayor of DC wants to call out the National Guard to help control the people the District of Columbia claims to welcome.

In California, the state's government forbids travel by California employees to more than 20 states. Why? The reasons are varied, but they include disapproval of states that don't want youngsters with testicles to compete in girls' athletic contests.

Do you want another example? A poll of likely Texas voters found that a strong majority  want to leave the United States! That will make the Washington Post  and the liberal elites happy, but do they really want the nation's leading exporter, energy producer, and cattle raiser to head out on its own? I would think not.

Today the United States is very much like it was just before the guns began to play in 1861.  We need to step back and reflect a bit. Does it make sense for our political leaders to sow disharmony and denigrate the people who live in states where traditional values still prevail?

I do not think it does.


  1. The sociologist Randall Collins is also a novelist, and his 2017 novel
    "Civil War Two" scaffolds the Battles of Civil War One.
    The novel includes an (un)likely Blue versus Red states map.

    1. Thanks for this information. I just finished an apocalyptic novel by William Forstchen that describes a malevolent federal American government that consents to allowing China to take control of the western United States. Forstchen's story has the Texans fighting the Chinese and Mexico. Forstchen is a good writer. I've read One Second After, One Year After, and The Final Day. Thanks for writing!

  2. I recently came upon a valuable history of Southern dystopian apocalyptic propaganda dating back to 1835, starting on page 16.
    Just after South Carolina left the Union, "Fire Eaters from South Carolina traveled throughout the South, acting as secession commissioners, to encourage other states to secede as well. South Carolina played an active role in the secession of additional states and the creation of the Confederate States of America."
    I can picture crazed emissaries on their trusty steeds, like Paul Revere, shouting and warning, "The Lincoln is coming! The Lincoln is coming!" as they rode across the country.
    Lincoln was, indeed, the President that overturned the Southern realm, but only because Southern paranoia and conspiracy theories won the day. Ironic, then, how the Southern propaganda BECAME a self-fulfilling prophecy, even contributing to the slaughter it warned against!
    The echo today that rings in my ears is the essential conservatism of the Fire Eaters -- seeking at all costs to preserve the Caste System of the South, the class system of planters and slaveholders, slaves, and all those in between. And the economic interests of the South.

    But now it's the Academy that is hanging on to the bitter end. CRT activists can look the other way -- past their own institutions that reproduce inequality (see Pierre Bourdieu) -- but I cannot. Higher education is complicit in maintaining and supporting America's Caste System. DEI is sham for this very reason -- and it's not just the elite schools, but the degree system that's the problem.
    As Keil Dumsch reminds us, medieval teaching guilds established ranking hierarchies as a way to limit the and control those entering the profession -- first, by obtaining imperial monopoly rights in a given area and other government protections, and then by restricting those wishing to enter the guild.
    The present-day degree system was never meant to certify learning, but instead relies on the mystique of an imagined past and medieval mythology for its legitimacy -- not dissimilar to the easily recoverable founding myths (birth mythology, actually) for our own country (that idea is in James E. Block, The Crucible of Consent).
    Arguably, the earlier higher ed guilds have little in common with today's bureaucratic sorting of the masses -- only the ranks of degrees, graduation regalia, symbolic processions, etc., endure.
    The larger question, IMHO, is what will replace the social institution we call higher ed -- What Comes Next? -- The present trajectory is unsustainable, and when something cannot go on, it won't.
    What Comes Next?

  3. I'm not sure what comes next but I am certain that a lot of obscure nonprofit liberal arts colleges are going to close. I hope the for-profit industry collapses, but federal money has propped up that sleazy corner of higher education and will probably continue doing that. I'm more and sympathetic to those who say that Americans should skip college altogether.