by Shelt Garner
I was very pleased with David French’s 2020 book “Divided We Fall” about the prospect of secession in the United States. While he came at the idea from a #NeverTrump point of view, he echoed many of the same things that have been rolling around in my mind for some time now.
Here were the things that stood out from the book:
Fascist Tech Bros
It’s a testament to how fast things are moving that things about Silicon Valley that French takes as gospel seem rather dated in 2023. While, in general I suppose “Googlers” still lean progressive, just in the last few years it definitely seems as though there Tech Bros of banked Right recently. See, also, David Sacks. As such, all of his hysterical fears about “woke” Silicon Valley companies going after conservatives in the even of a “National Divorce” are quaint. I’ll admit that there remains a center-Left bias on a system basis within major American corporations, but I suspect that says more about the state of highly trained, well educated people than it does how “woke” they are. In general, knowledge workers are more progressive than their blue collar counterparts. (That is a very broad generalization, of course.)
Another think that really stood out to me reading his book was how he really, really did not want to admit what a massive fucking clusterfuck any sort of attempt at a “National Divorce” might be. He bent over backwards to paint the most sanguine scenarios possible, when, in fact, there’s no way a National Divorce would not spark a Second American Civil War that would probably kill millions. America is just too big, too soaked in WMD on military bases across the country for the two sides to not bomb the other into oblivion if it came to that. It’s telling how copacetic his scenarios depicting Calxit and Texit were in real terms. There was little or not violence and, in real terms, we somehow magically had enough leadership that when the country gave up being united we somehow, equally magically, didn’t blow North America up.
Even French’s depiction of WWIII caused by a National Divorce seemed based on unicorns and moonbeams. If the United States was too preoccupied with collapsing to do anything about keeping the post WWII liberal order intact, WWIII will happen and it would be a massive fucking culsterfuck. Potentially nearly a billion people might die as the result of a series of limited nuclear exchanges. As such, the whole thing would definitely be a “Not great, Bob” situation.
Soft vs. Hard Power
One thing I found interesting about French’s book is how close he comes to talking himself into being MAGA. All the grievance politics of MAGA were there, but somehow he has decided to remain “#NeverTrump.” It will be interesting to see if this stance will change if Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer Ron DeSantis becomes the GQP nominee in 2024.
I found French’s arguments for a renewal of American federalism pretty much identical to why there should be a National Divorce. Any attempt at neo-federalism would only add to the centrifugal forces that are tearing the country apart. Rather than prevent a National Divorce, giving the states more wiggle room would only lead states with similar political views to want to join forces to make a more…perfect Union.
End of the Woke Era
French’s conservative bias definitely comes out when he bitches and complains about “wokeness,” especially on college campuses. He does this to the point that I don’t quite understand why he is a #NeverTrumper. It really seems to bother him. In fact, given his Christianity and pro-Life beliefs, I am at a loss as to why he would destroy his conservative talking head career to be #NeverTrump. It’s very curious. But the issue for me is — the excesses of the woke era are a luxury of a peaceful nation. I suspect should things grow…existential…that people will be too busy dodging fucking bullets to worry about their fucking pronouns.
Overall, “Divided We Fall” is a really thought provoking book. I say this especially as someone who more progressive than French. My biggest complaint is how pollyannaish he is about any form of National Divorce. If states start leaving the Union — be they Red or Blue — it would be the biggest fucking catastrophe since the worst times of the French Revolution. It would not be orderly and it would not be peaceful — millions will die around globe for various reasons as a direct result of it happening.