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Talk of "a new civil war" goes mainstream

Contrary Brin - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 14:07
I despise notions of "cyclical history." But nations do often fall into traps that look similar. Twenty years ago, back when America was riding so high that folks spoke of an "end to history," I addressed folks at a DC agency - flush with victory in the Cold War - and splashed them with colder water by asking: 

"What would enemies do, in this new context, to bring down even a pre-eminent Pax Americana?"

Even in the 1990s, there were many desperately eager to find a way. Some deluded themselves with fantasies of a supposed weakness that  "Americans are all decadent, spoiled, pleasure-seeking cowards" the same canard that every U.S. generation had to disprove at great cost, since the 1770s. (On 9/11 it was easily refuted by 60 brave volunteers aboard flight UA 93.) Now that perennialy-loony nostrum is being repeated by modern confederates, claiming that educated citizens and city folk inherently have no guts. I'll get back to that slanderously stupid calumny, below.

But in the 90s I went deeper. "What clever and potentially lethal endeavors might serious - if weaker - enemies undertake, to bring down the United States?" 

Wearing my sci-fi hat, I answered: "You'd start by looking across history for mistakes that almost wrecked the American experiment. Two stand out. Foreign quagmires and civil war. If I were an enemy, I would use asymmetrical and skulldugerous methods to lure us into both."

How might an enemy accomplish this? Among the methods listed on my 1998 slide (and there are witnesses) were: 

"Incite divisions among our classes and castes," 

"Incite suspicion toward our professional protectors," 

"Suborn top levels of U.S. leadership."  

Although every one of these can be found across the annals of shattered empires, my warnings seemed far-fetched in the late 1990s. I got smirks back when I first showed that slide. 

I don't get smirks anymore. I get gasps. 

Indeed, just three years after that talk, we were mired in endless middle-eastern quagmires, in exactly the same locales where the USSR met its doom. And through innovations such as the Hastert Rule, seeds were lain for an end to all grownup political discourse within the United States -- the beginnings of phase eight of the American Civil War.

== Talk of Civil War goes Mainstream ==

Okay, what seemed far-out, back then, is now on everyone's lips. Read or listen to this NPR report about “a new civil war?” Some passages are chilling. For example: one anonymous “fake news hater" left a voicemail threat for the New York Times' Ken Vogel. 

"You are the enemy of the people. And although the pen might be mightier than the sword, the pen is not mightier than the AK-47. And just remember Ken, there's nothing civil about civil war."
Like all of the bright fools in mainstream journalism, this reporter seemed to think that just quoting such treasonous bile should be enough to put it in disrepute. In so doing, these journalists help make the right's point! That brains and knowledge do not always translate into wisdom! So let me put all of this into much harsher perspective. 

Sure, oh anonymous troll-caller, it all may go hot. Rash heads might tip us over into something as awful as sci fi author Sean Smith relates in his novel TEARS OF ABRAHAM. Indeed, nothing would make Vladimir Putin happier. 

Before our confederate neighbors leap for their AK’s, however, it might be worth remembering that:

1) The Union side is always under-rated. Educated and city folk are routinely derided as “un-manly” and lacking courage, as in 1778 and 1861 and 1941. This lazy reflex is always proved wrong. But if these twits knew any history, they would not be twits.
2) Question: why have most liberals shifted their gun control views from efforts at restricting gun ownership to simple sanities like background checks? Answer: because liberals have quietly been arming themselves since 2001. They don’t preen, or stockpile, or wave their pieces around in compensation for male performance anxiety. Still, you'd be really foolish to just assume they are unarmed.
This goes double since the Fox-Putin treason ramped up its open war against our “deep state” professionals in law, intel, and the U.S. military officer corps. The folks who fought Hitler and saved us from Stalin and Brezhnev are now being told they must spurn facts and science and ignore the threat from a blatant, world-wide mafia putsch. And they are not having it. 

Hundreds of thousands of “crewcut types” have been driven out of the GOP and (sometimes holding their noses, and sometimes running for office) into the Democratic Party. You may be surprised how many of them will stand by the Union, if push comes to shove.
3) It’s not just the Deep State. This neo-confederate cult has been waging war against every profession that deals in facts and knowledge, from science and teaching and law to civil service, journalism… name an exception! 

But let’s circle back to that first one. Science. I have to ask the guy who threatened Ken Vogel: 
“Um, sir. If the AK-47 is mightier than the pen, then is an atom bomb, or a genetic weapon, or a software worm mightier than an AK? Because your cult’s open, death-vendetta against people who know physics and biology and cybernetics and medicine and every other science does seem to… well, forgive me… fail a simple IQ test. 
"Who will treat your battle wounds, when you've told doctors they're satanic? 
“I mean seriously, you think all the folks who know stuff will be helpless, when you traitors and your oligarch-mafia masters turn this civil war hot? Seriously? You assume your penis compensating arsenal of assault rifles and McVeigh devices can stand up to what we’ll be able to throw together in days, if your klan comes at us with torches and AKs and death in your eyes?
“Seriously? We're talking millions of people, each of them dozens of times smarter than you. Slay a few dozen of them and watch them get mad. You won't like them when they get mad.
Here's a modest suggestion. Go visit Jim Wright’s Stonekettle Station blog. He comes from a good ol’ boy background and can beat any of you at blindfolded field-cleaning an M4. Only he also passes these IQ tests. And he can tell you what will happen if the New Plantation Lords send you into battle against “the north” again. 

Maybe, instead of obeying those masters and attacking all the folks who know stuff as a hated "elite," you should give another look at the real, conniving elite of casino moguls, slumlords, inheritance brats, Wall Street parasites, petro-sheiks, coal barons, KGB agents and mafia dons. They are “enemies of the people.” 

And if I'm not here to say it, then millions will step up to shout "j'accuse!"
== It's happened before ==
This is not the first all-out effort by paranoid dinosaurs to throttle our brave experiment in democratic-tolerant-scientific progress. The Dreyfus Affair crystallized a very similar turmoil in 1890s France, between liberal and reactionary forces that led ultimately to treason in 1940 — a  struggle that goes way back, in much the same way as the American Civil War has had recurring outbreaks, all the way to 1778: 

The Dreyfus affair was triggered in 1894, when a traitor was discovered in the French army: Somebody had been passing information to Germany, which had defeated France a quarter century earlier and occupied Alsace-Lorraine. French military intelligence blamed Captain Alfred Dreyfus - an Alsatian who spoke with a German accent, and was a Jew—and therefore, in the eyes of some, not a real Frenchman. As it would turn out, he was also innocent. But French army investigators created fake evidence and gave false testimony; as a result, Dreyfus was court-martialed, found guilty, and sent into solitary confinement on Devil’s Island."
From The Atlantic: “The ensuing controversy divided French society along now-familiar lines. Those who maintained Dreyfus’s guilt were the alt-right—or the Law and Justice Party, or the National Front—of their time. They pushed a conspiracy theory. They were backed up by screaming headlines in France’s right-wing yellow press, the 19th-century version of a far-right trolling operation. Their leaders lied ‘to uphold the honor of the army’; adherents clung to their belief in Dreyfus’s guilt—and their absolute loyalty to the nation—even when this fakery was revealed.”
 As comments Daniel Duffy: “The split still divides France. The Dreyfusards led France to victory in WW1. The anti-Dreyfusards (especially those on the French general staff) led France to defeat in WW2 and ruled the Vichy regime. In his "Collapse of the Third Republic", William Shirer (also famous for "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich") strongly implied that the anti-Dreyfusards of the French officer corp deliberately betrayed France and preferred Nazi anti-Antisemitism to "liberte, egaletre et fraternite". On paper, the French army was vastly superior to the Germans and it took more than just incompetence to cause defeat.”
Seriously. When our few experiments in a newer-better way than perpetual feudalism are so very successful, but then crushed by tsunamis of illogic and madness, you have to wonder if we are in Heinlein's "Crazy Years." 

You, yes you, might be able to make a difference during the coming week.
I hope you will.. . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ (site feed URL: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/atom.xml)

View From a Hotel Window, 10/31/18: Nantes, France

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Wed, 10/31/2018 - 13:35
My view is of the front of the convention center where the Utopiales festival is happening. It’s like a ten-second commute from my hotel to the event space, which I appreciate. I am currently on about one hour of sleep for the last 30. I’m a little loopy. Also, my AC adapter here turns out […]
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