Star & Stripes flag made from captured confederate flags, circa 1865.

Is America on the Brink of Civil War?

As the dust of America’s Civil War settled, roughly 700,000 Americans were dead—more than the United States has lost in all its other wars combined.

Kicked off primarily by the southern states’ refusal to accept an end to slavery—and their subsequent attempted secession and retaliation—the Confederacy’s defeat has been a point of seething discontent for a particular type of asshole ever since.

Now, 155 years later, America is again a nation with increasing cultural divides. Constantly fostered by propaganda machines in the guise of journalism and hammered home by a corrupt political system that cares more for power than constituents, the possibility of mending this rift seems less and less likely. An armed uprising of some sort—a second civil war—is no longer just the fodder of radicals and the ridiculous. It now looms in the popular consciousness, touted in headlines and alluded to in Presidential tweets.

But how real is the actual threat of civil war? Is it something to be worried about, or just more bluster and grandstanding to distract from real issues, such as Trump’s impeachment?

Until recently, it would’ve been hard to imagine any sort of armed militia actually taking to the streets. Even when some fringe group did make a public stir, it was often a slapstick caper with no real rationality behind it, like when troubled Nevada rancher Ammon Bundy and some buddies took over a bird sanctuary in Oregon to protest a national wildlife refuge in the area.

Now, however, emboldened by a racist, classist, extremist, liar of a president and an increasing trend toward domestic terrorism by pathetic white males, fringe movements like white power groups and ‘constitutional patriots’ (also founded in racism or deeply religious rhetoric) have found themselves with more of a voice. Violent far-right events such as Charlottesville and the more recent (albeit peaceful, after the last-minute apprehension of a handful of white power would-be terrorists who were captured en-route) Richmond open carry rally have drawn hundreds of thousands of armed people into the streets, making it much easier to imagine a large scale armed insurrection.

Still, given the ‘proper’ motivation, such as Trump refusing to acknowledge he lost an election and leaving the white house, would an ‘army of unfuckable hate nerds‘ rise up and turn their guns on fellow Americans? What happens then? Local and state police would be overwhelmed by groups in the thousands, and many law enforcement officers have shown a propensity to support fringe groups like militias. Would the military—who cannot technically be called upon to enforce domestic laws and require a presidential command to intervene in an armed uprising on home soil—stand up to an army of their own people?

They certainly could. It’s safe to say that any sort of ragtag militia, even one armed with assault rifles, driving police cars, and fueled by stupidity and hate would be little to no match for actual highly trained, well-armed military forces. All the AR-15s in the world won’t do much against a well-executed drone strike. But would they?

That’s a little more complicated. The military, from rank and file all the way up to the brass, are largely right-leaning as well, and many troops worship the president. It could get dicey if they were asked to put themselves between the so-called extremist groups they ideologically agree with and a general populace they felt doesn’t appreciate their service, morals, or sacrifice.

Once the violent unrest ball starts rolling, it may be hard to stop, and that ends in either a completely authoritarian, evangelical, propaganda-led state dominated by a few oligarchs (kind of like the USA now), or, more likely, the dissolution of the United States into separate red and blue countries. The irony being, of course, that all these red states full of red hat-wearing extremists would quickly become failed states without the financial and intellectual support that flows from, you guessed it, blue states. They’d ultimately endure financial and cultural collapse, rendering those bigoted blowhard newly-minted countries deflated members of the third world.

What’s that they say about ‘they who laugh last?’

In all seriousness, though, is the USA on the verge of a total violent meltdown? Probably not. Just because the Internet has given a louder voice to the loudest yowling madmen, it doesn’t mean that all common sense and decency is gone. Beyond that, there are simply too many checks and balances in place to prevent a total militarized devolution. Plus, don’t forget that at the end of the day, money talks, and there’s not much to be made in the collapse of the United States and all its surrounding infrastructure and industry. So, no need to worry, or even to start stockpiling canned goods and guns. Besides, the environment will likely get us all first.

Threats of revolution sure do sell papers, though.

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