by Shelt Garner
Let me be absolutely clear — the only reason why I keep writing about the possibility of some sort of “collapse” of the United States into civil war / revolution is we have a 50 / 50 chance it is going to happen between now and, say, January 2021.
Either Trump “wins” outright and we slip into a Russian style autocratic managed democracy peacefully, or there’s a significant implosion of the United States that takes months, if not years, to sort out. There is never going to be what we otherwise would assume would happen — a peaceful transfer of power. Those days are gone. We are now in the age of white-knuckled power politics.
If the United States does “collapse,” the closest approximation in modern times to this event would be the a similar collapse by the Soviet Union. But the similarities between these two events extremely superficial — it simply involves a major geopolitical power imploding. That’s it. Otherwise, the two situations appear to be completely different.
The collapse of the Soviet Union was a unique event because everyone pretty much just stop believing in its central tenet all at once after years of decline. The whole thing was peaceful because the major political force in the Soviet Union — Russia — essentially had something akin to a political revolution in the months leading up to the Soviet Union’s demise in the guise of Boris Yeltsin declaring that Russia’s laws held precedence over those of the Soviet Union.
And, remember, the Soviet Union was, in a sense, a 19th Century dream that outlived its welcome after existing for just about the length of one lifetime. Communism simply could not adapt to the vigor of American Capitalism. At its heart, Communism was a lie and little more than Russian imperialism under a different name.
So when Russia stopped believing in Communism, the whole thing became moot. The coup of August 1991 was, in hindsight, nothing more than a final deathrattle.
Now, let’s look at the United States in late 2020, early 2021.
Any collapse of the United States will happen because a lot — a LOT — of things go wrong for Donald Trump. He’s well on his way to consolidating power by stealing the election in a rather brazen fashion and that will be that. Americans are too content, too politically apathetic and too generally indifferent to the rise of tyranny in the country to do the things necessary to stop it in its tracks at this late date.
There are two ways Trump could screw this otherwise foregone conclusion up — one, be himself. He’s a self-own artist. He’s just an idiot. So, that’s one major known unknown. Connected to that is if things move to fast the average person not on Twitter might get woke in a rather abrupt fashion. So abrupt that we careen towards something closer to a revolution than a civil war.
So, in a sense, any collapse of the United States would be a political collapse. The two sides simply would have no middle ground and, as such, would try to solve their differences through “other means.” A lot of gnashing of teeth is being done about what California might do if there were, say, dualing presidents. The lazy answer is that California will leave the Union. I find that stupid because that’s just the type of the Trump would want so he could really consolidate power. There’s a chance, however, that not even Trump could pull that office because, well, he’s just a fucking idiot.
The liberal fever dream is, of course, that Blue States will simply leave the Union, establish a liberal utopia (maybe in conjunction with Canada) and we will, at last, have a taco truck on every corner and drive through free abortions. But I just don’t see that happening.
Yes, there will be a lot of talk about Blue States leaving the Union if things get bad enough, but it seems as though it would be more a matter of Blue States not recognizing Trump as president and coordinating a reponse to that rather than they leave the Union and do some sort of New Coke USA.
Or, put it another way – once the collapse is actually upon us, it won’t be a matter of everyone no longer believing in our shared ideals, but that those ideals are interpreted in radically different fashions by Blue and Red States. There will likely be a lot of debate about Blue States simply leaving the Union, but in the end, that choice may be made for them — they may realize they can get a lot more support from center-Right-but-not-MAGA people if they market their struggle as a fight for the soul of a shared nation, not the creation of a new one — a New American Covenant, if you will. You might go with “Renewed American Covenant” if you wanted to sound a tick less radical, but lulz, no one listens to me.
And, remember, the United States is a voluntary union of states, at least since April, 1865. The Soviet Union actively did everything in its power to prevent some of its more restless Republics — like those in the Baltics — from leaving. So, the United States starts with a vast reservoir of legitimacy that the Soviet Union didn’t have when it really began to collapse all of a sudden.
The Soviet Union was RUSSIA and 14 other Republics. The United States is California, Texas, Florida and 47 other States. The Federal — especially the U.S. Military — has the “mandate of heaven” for millions of people who simply want to raise their kids, pay their mortgage and go see a nice movie every once in a while.
As such, those people will be completely sucker punched if the bolts finally pop off the Republic and Blue and Red States actively begin to plot against each other on the battlefield.
I still don’t think this is going to happen. Something pretty big would have to happen for me not to simply try to tune out after Trump “wins” election night and we become, at last, the Fourth Reich.