I know I’m usually the one urgently warning everybody of the dangers of nuclear holocaust, climate chaos and plutocratic tech dystopia, but there’s one disaster I keep seeing people worrying themselves about which absolutely will not happen. I’d like to take a minute to set everyone’s mind at ease about the prospect of civil war erupting in the United States, either between liberals and conservatives or between the people and the state, so that we can focus on the actual real problems we need to deal with.
For months I’ve been seeing people on both the left and right side of America’s imaginary political divide talking about the possibility of the divisiveness in US politics leading to large-scale violence, and a recent high-visibility tweet by Kim Dotcom makes me feel like I should probably talk about this sooner rather than later to help prevent yet another phantom boogieman from gumming up the gears of political discourse.
“I’m calling it,” Dotcom stated. “The conflict between left and right is now so inflamed that we need to start worrying about violence. Can you feel the anger? It’s reaching a boiling point.”
On a personal note my interest in western involvement in the Syrian war has given me a reflexive distaste for any high-profile foreigner talking up a civil war in a country that they do not belong to, but more to the point, Dotcom is just plain wrong here. There will not be any civil war in the United States as it exists today. Maybe if the country and its power dynamics change in an unimaginably drastic way that could become a risk, but as things are right now there is exactly zero probability of any large-scale civil warfare happening in America.
One of the very, very few advantages of having a plutocrat-owned mass media apparatus constantly manipulating the way Americans think and vote is that you can always with 100 percent reliability count on it to manipulate public perception in a way which benefits the plutocracy, and civil war would be detrimental to the plutocrats. Foreign wars and military escalations, predatory capitalism and the plutocrat-owned two-headed one-party system of establishment US politics will always receive full-throated endorsements from the mass media, and divisive politics will always be inflamed to prevent the populace from uniting against their dominant oppressors, but they will necessarily stop short of inflaming civil warfare in the nation they’ve got so much investment in.
The fear of liberals and conservatives or gun owners and the government entering into civil war is a product of the mistaken notion that these tensions arose naturally and exist organically. Nothing could be further from the truth. The same manipulators who have been deliberately fanning the flames of America’s hysterical divisiveness will immediately pivot towards deescalation and unification the second it starts to look like plutocratic properties could be endangered.
If there is ever a spike in violence that looks like it could get out of hand, you may be absolutely certain that any politician or media figure involved will immediately change their tune, and all mainstream outlets from MSNBC to Fox will be saturating the airwaves with narratives of reconciliation. It will tug at the heart strings. It will probably involve dead children. And it will work.
The plutocrats who’ve sowed the seeds of America’s political divisiveness will never allow a full-scale civil war to ravage the country they’ve put so much time and effort into controlling. A civil war would damage their investments, obliterate the economy they’ve been using to control everything, balkanize the nation they benefit so much from dominating as a whole, and deplete the police and military forces they need focused on protecting their assets at home and abroad.
No, an American civil war will not be permitted to happen. But those who rule over you benefit from your believing that it might.
Divide and conquer is a longstanding and highly refined practice of the elites. Did you know that racial segregation didn’t begin immediately after slavery ended in the American south? It wasn’t until poor white and black southerners began uniting and growing power and influence together behind the Populist movement in the 1890s that rich white men grew fearful and began pushing for apartheid, disenfranchisement and other Jim Crow legislation.
In this three-minute video Tim Wise brilliantly describes the way whiteness as a concept didn’t exist in early colonial America, where those of European ancestry identified with the specific country their family immigrated from, not the color of their skin. It wasn’t until white indentured servants and black slaves became a threat to power that the notion of whiteness was bestowed as a badge of honor upon poor whites by rich whites, a divide-and-conquer manipulation which was used to protect the interests of slaveowners for generations.
Robben Island Prison, where Nelson Mandela was famously held, used a clever divide-and-conquer scheme wherein different races were given different privileges and different kinds of food in order to keep the privileged prisoners constantly seeking the favor of the guards to maintain their status while keeping the least privileged envious and hateful. This scheme fell apart during Mandela’s imprisonment when the higher-ranked prisoners began sharing their privileges with the black prisoners in solidarity.
The nature of divide-and-conquer tactics are perhaps a little more complex than they were in the days of state-sanctioned slavery and apartheid, but the principles remain exactly the same and just as devastatingly effective. The more rank-and-file Americans are shaking their fists at one another calling each other “libtard” and “Nazi”, the less their true oppressors have to worry about the masses turning their gaze upon them. That’s all this rage and hysteria is for. The more fearful and divided they can keep the public, the easier the public is to manipulate. They will never allow those manipulations to threaten their empire.
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