Created November 7, 2022
Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.
On the eve of the most important election in at least the last 100 years, three writers have compellingly described a scenario in which the US at the time of the 2024 election goes into a period of guerilla civil war driven by the burning desire by some to forever live in a state of White supremacy. The writers cite history including very recent events around the world linked by a fear of losing White majority. They centrally point out that the playbook was put into the form of a novel called The Turner Diaries written by a neo-Nazi in 1978.
Barbara F. Walter writes:
Pages of The Turner Diaries were found in Timothy McVeigh’s truck after he attacked a federal building in Oklahoma City in April 1995. Patrick Crusius, the alleged El Paso Walmart gunman, and John Timothy Earnest, the accused shooter at a synagogue in Poway, California, echoed the book’s ideas in their manifestos. A member of the Proud Boys can be seen on video during the insurrection on 6 January 2021 telling a journalist to read The Turner Diaries.
The US is not yet in a civil war. But a 2012 declassified report by the CIA on insurgencies outlines the signs. According to the report, a country is experiencing an open insurgency when sustained violence by increasingly active extremists has become the norm.
In this early stage of civil war, extremists are trying to force the population to choose sides, in part by demonstrating to citizens that the government cannot keep them safe or provide basic necessities. The goal is to incite a broader civil war by denigrating the state and growing support for violent measures. Voter suppression bills have been introduced in almost every state since 6 January. Election deniers are running for office in 48 of the 50 states and now represent a majority of all Republicans running for Congressional and state offices in the US midterm elections this week.
Civil wars almost never happen in full, healthy, strong democracies. They also seldom happen in full autocracies. Violence almost always breaks out in countries in the middle – those with weak and unstable pseudo-democracies. We are already seeing elements of this in Europe, where rightwing anti-immigrant parties such as the Sweden Democrats, the Brothers of Italy, Alternative für Deutschland in Germany, the Vlaams Belang in Belgium, the National Rally in France and the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs in Austria have all seen their support increase in recent years.
Regulate social media, and in particular the algorithms that disproportionately push the more incendiary, extreme, threatening and fear-inducing information into people’s feeds. Take away the social media bullhorn and you turn down the volume on bullies, conspiracy theorists, bots, trolls, disinformation machines, hate-mongers and enemies of democracy. The result would be a drop in everyone’s collective anger, distrust and feelings of threat, giving us all time to rebuild.
Stephan Marche writes:
Any failure to recognise electoral outcomes, even in a few states, could result in a contested election in which nobody reaches the threshold of 270 electoral college votes. In that case, the constitution stipulates a “contingent election” – acclimatise yourself to this phrase now – in which each state gets a single vote. That’s right: if no candidate in an American presidential election reaches the threshold of 270 electoral college votes, the state legislatures, overwhelmingly dominated by Republicans, pick the president, with each state having one vote.
Christopher Sebastian Parker writes:
Election-related violence generally takes place when the following four factors are present: a highly competitive election that can shift power; partisan division based on identity; winner-takes-all two-party election systems in which political identities are polarised; and an unwillingness to punish violence on the part of the dominant group. All four are present in America now, and will be more amplified in 2024.
These disturbing notions caused my mind to imagine the various ways this situation might be headed off at the pass. Of course, I agree with Barbara F. Walter that social media must be regulated to permit free speech that is respectful and does not concoct baseless fantasies to stir fear and loathing. This is not too much to ask.
But I do not have the feeling that social media regulation to permit “free fair speech” removing lies and hatemongering is sufficient to move us out of the reap of the whirlwind that these writers portray in their respective articles. More action is needed to curtail the tragic downfall of the USA which to some intelligent observers is near at hand.
What action would that be? My immediate urgent recommendation is that you vote, and do so with these possible scenarios in mind.
What I am also doing here is laying out a few ways this could go.
Scenario A and B: It goes down exactly as these writers describe. The US is taken over by one party, which although a minority, retains power and uses it, leading to an ongoing civil war (Scenario A), or to a pogrom to ethnically cleanse America (Scenario B).
Scenario C: Before the 2024 election, a national referendum is held, leading to a three-tier federated USA. Instead of just States and Federal government, the USA modifies its Constitution to allow a middle federation level consisting of Blue States and Red States. The Supreme Court might be in this level, so that the Blue States have one Supreme Court and the Red States have another. The Federal level would have as its main areas of control the State and Defense Departments, plus the Intelligence agencies. In order to keep all of us safe from outsiders, centralized power would be necessary. The main point of this scenario would be to neuter the need for violence against ourselves.
The Red States might choose, the way South Africa did in the 20th Century, to continue to be a White Supremacist place for as long as possible. In this scenario, three things are predictable: non-White people would move out of Red States and some Whites into them – and some businesses would also move. Global companies would tend to move into Blue states – because operating globally they have to sell to everybody and most of those bodies are not White. Thirdly, the younger generations who are more inclusive in their thinking would lobby within the Red states to eliminate the supremacist tenor, and in time, they would become the leaders, and the bicolor State system would someday be repealed.
In Scenario D, following the midterms and the continuing trend away from peaceful democracy and into violent takeover, most of the people in the country decide to go the other way in 2024, keeping extremists out of power, and the FBI and all other relevant governmental agencies eliminate the domestic terrorists by force.
In Scenario E, Scenario D happens sooner, in the midterms.
In Scenario F, the current situation continues with no clear winners for a long time, but does not totally descend into the depths of hell, just ongoing sporadic violence and we all get used to it and blasé about it, like we adapted to the pandemic, and like we adapted to WWII.
Scenario G is the end of freedom for awhile practically everywhere on Earth, as a small but powerful White minority, skewed toward people with much money and/or addiction to violence, seize a degree of control unprecedented in US history (but highly precedented in all other history) and make life uncomfortable for tens or hundreds of millions of people. In this scenario the situation ends in violent overthrow of the government by a second American Revolution which re-establishes a full American democracy.
Scenario H is just like Scenario G except Americans are not able to do it on their own. Instead, the rest of the non-White world eventually takes over America and any other remaining bastions of White power. In one variation of Scenario H, the entire White race is eliminated. Today there is no faction seeking to eliminate the White race. I can see no significant probability of such a thing ever happening, except if Scenario H White Supremacy Hegemony takes over the world.
There can be other scenarios, these are just a few to choose from when you vote tomorrow.
May God protect us.
Norm Hecht comments helpfully, adding a ninth Scenario I:
I hope and believe that the major Republican donors will drive the party to more sanity. The Democrats have seemingly no young bench strength, but losses next Tuesday may force sensible change to the middle and youth. We can only pray for the 2024 Presidential election will have younger moderates on both sides. Should the Democrats move to the center the increasingly large number of unaffiliated independents are likely to join the Democrats. Then the Republicans will be forced to move to the center to avoid being a permanent minority party.
Just a few thoughts.”
We’re all in this together. It can come out good for all of us, it just takes creativity and sufficient respect to enable communication.
And your vote as the starting point.
Love to all,
Note: I rearranged certain quoted sentences for flow in this context, and inserted the link on the word “feeds” because I thought the research project I linked to is very relevant to what Barbara F. Walter was saying.