When we get tired of blowing up Muslims for Israel, will we turn on ourselves?
Scenarios for a second American Civil War have existed ever since the first one ended. Some hyperbolists called Reconstruction the Second Civil War. Alt-history novelists have imagined the ascension of Huey Long or George McGovern to the presidency as Civil War II trigger. The real-life (?!) ascension of Trump has inspired similar fantasies, leading red state partisans to gleefully thump their chests and imagine how easy and fun it would be to take San Francisco—a fantasy that triggers the hell out of the SF-based blue staters.
How might civil unrest spill over into civil war?
One common scenario is race war. The late Charles Manson, we are told, staged his killer-hippie mass knifings because he thought the Beatles were sending him secret orders to start a black-vs. white apocalypse. Obviously Manson must have been taking some really, REALLY bad acid while playing Beatles records backward in hopes of hearing John sneering “Paul is dead”—then suddenly grokked that the White Album, whose mysterious title does not appear on the record and makes no sense anyway, is really about white power! Manson lieutenant Tex Watkins explained: “and what it (the song ‘Helter Skelter’) meant was the Negros were going to come down and rip the cities all apart…Before Helter Skelter came along, all Charlie cared about was orgies.”
Though Manson was a raving nut, his vision of race war was inspired by contemporary reality. Indeed, while the hippies carried on with their orgies, “the Negros” did rip cities apart. Even before the Deep State murdered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., blacks in New Jersey, Detroit, Minneapolis, and many other cities had been tearing things up and burning neighborhoods down. The “Long, Hot Summer” of 1967 featured 159 race riots in dozens of US urban centers, and elements of the National Security State were drawing up contingency plans for a race based civil war.
William Pepper - the King family’s attorney who proved in a court of law that the CIA, FBI, and US army killed Dr. King with the help of their organized crime assets - once spoke with a US Army Colonel who admitted to helping plan the assassination. The Colonel said that the military had done extensive focus group style interviews with participants in the 1967 race riots and determined that Dr. King’s charisma was the biggest factor driving the riots. Counterintuitively, the apostle of nonviolence was inspiring the psychological liberation of black people in such a way that a certain percentage felt empowered to act out their repressed anger. So when King determined to bring half a million followers to Washington, DC and stay there until the feds pulled out of Vietnam and declared a real war on poverty, the Colonel and his friends immediately envisioned the nation’s capital erupting into mass violence that could spread nationwide on a scale many orders of magnitude beyond what had happened during 1967’s Long Hot Summer, perhaps precipitating a real civil war culminating in the revolutionary overthrow of the American State. This, the Colonel explained to Pepper, was the primary reason King had to be terminated…with extreme prejudice.
Predictably, the Deep State’s murder of Dr. King did not solve the racial violence problem. The assassination itself set off a wave of new riots in cities including Chicago, Baltimore, and - sorry, Colonel - Washington, DC. White-dominated forces of the State retaliated with escalating repression. Black communities felt increasingly under siege, and have continued to feel that way until the present day. Whether it is panicky white police shooting down black people during traffic stops, on sidewalks, or in the black people’s own backyards, or whether it is black people “acting out” against whites (an interesting and under-reported case is the possibly-Cointelpro-orchestrated[*] Zebra killings discussed here by Ron Unz) the simmering racial violence in America is a seemingly unavoidable component of most projections for a New Civil War.
Most red state vs. blue state scenarios, of course, have a race war component. When Trump’s red-staters invade San Francisco, for example, it will not only be to punish the latté liberals and happy homos for their mushy-headedness and luxuriously deviant lifestyles, but more importantly to “make America white again” by ending the sanctuary city movement and deporting the illegal immigrants…while presumably also putting any black people who have managed to remain in America’s highest-rent city, as well as the déclassé ones across the Bay, in their properly subservient place. In other words, just as the first Civil War was really about race (i.e., slavery) the second one will build on the same theme.
Or will it? Omar al-Akkad’s notable 2017 novel American War begs to differ.
In El-Akkad’s dystopian vision, the War on Muslims mutates into the War on Southerners—but has nothing to do with race. Instead, the Yankee Terror State turns its savagery against the New Rebels of the Free Southern States because those good ole boys and girls (of all shades of skin pigmentation and sexual preference) refuse to give up fossil fuels, choosing instead to secede from the Union.
Al-Akkad’s vision of blue vs. red global-warming-driven war run amok in a near-future America that has completely forgotten about the whole concept of race is surprisingly plausible, at least while you are reading it. (Civil War I, after all, was really about economics not race, so why shouldn’t Civil War II also be over an economic issue?) The plot turns on the adventures of Sarat, a young Red State woman of mixed and meaningless (near-black Chicano and po’ white trash) ancestry who awakens politically and goes after the Blue State occupiers in pretty much the same way the Iraqi resistance went after George W. Bush’s storm troopers.
Unlike most dystopian science fiction, American War is not just showing us a terrible future that is really an exaggerated (we hope) depiction of the present-day world we live in. Al-Akkad’s fictional 2074 America is not so much a pessimistic caricature of actual 2017 America as a wish-fulfillment dream of Americans karmically reaping what they’ve sown in their War on Muslims, euphemistically known as the “war on terror.” The horrors that Sarat and other southerners experience under Yankee occupation - drone killings, rape, massacres, torture, internment camps, orange jumpsuits - are precisely those that Muslims have been experiencing since the false flag event of September 11th, 2001. Sarat’s fictional resistance, which culminates in a fantastically horrific act of revenge against the Yankees, represents gratifying fantasy payback for the real-life Terror War’s murder of 32 million Muslims, and a prescient and timely warning about what GWOT is likely to lead to. The whole thing is premised on helping the American/Western reader empathetically imagine what the post-9/11 world looks like to Muslims in general and resistance fighters in particular: Al-Akkad fosters empathy and identification with our victims by casting the archetypal victim-turned-resistance-fighter as ordinary American rather than exotic foreigner.
An even better dystopian “new civil war” novel, C.J. Hopkins’ Zone 23, hasn’t yet garnered the kind of mainstream support that helped American War collect positive reviews in such outlets as The New York Times, win awards, and generally get noticed and sell plenty of copies.
Perhaps that shouldn’t surprise us, since Hopkins, a regular contributor to Unz Review, is on the red side in the real red-vs.-blue civil war that is raging all around us. (I’m talking about the red-pill vs. blue pill war, of course, not the phony culture wars thing ginned up by the Deep State.) Omar El Akkad, despite the subversive aspects of his book, is basically a blue pill kind of guy: His global warming alarmism, gratuitous decision to make his heroine a lesbian, denial of the existence of race, and general penchant for victimology (not to mention his complete avoidance of 9/11 truth in a Muslim-POV takedown of the “war on terror”) all go down well with the Establishment.
C.J. Hopkins offers a deeper, more accurate, vastly funnier, more genuinely subversive vision. His far-future America, which bears an uncanny resemblance to our nightmarish present, features drone-patrolled hyper-surveiled cities, each of which is divided by an Israeli-style Wall complete with Israeli-style checkpoints and incursions featuring Israeli-style killings of hapless untermenschen. But instead of Israelis vs. Palestinians, the divide here is between the Normals on one side of the wall and the Anti-Socials on the other.
The Normals - good corporate citizens who are submitting to pharmaceutical and genetic correction so they can work and consume and conform and live meaningless lives like everybody else without batting an eyelash - are conditioned to fear and loathe the Antisocials, who retain enough humanity to rebel, in whatever pathetically insignificant way, against corporatist dystopia.
Zone 23, like American War, imagines the future as post-racial: Hopkins’ Normal vs. Antisocial divide isn’t about race. But it is, nonetheless, very much about behavioral genetics. In this (not so) far future, the Hadley Corporation of Menomonie, Wisconsin has developed a variant-corrected version of the MAO-A gene. Inserted into embryos via germline genetic engineering, this patented DNA produces “clears”: people who are intelligent but incurious, incapable of emotionally-driven fight-or-flight aggression (including the most common defensive variety), “easily trained, highly responsive to visual and verbal commands,” and so on. In other words, perfect corporate citizens!
The corporatist state naturally strives to perfect itself, imposing a “final solution” to the ASP (anti-social person) problem by mandating that henceforth no non-genetically-engineered babies may be born. The result is a very one-sided “race war” in which a few antisocial malcontents try to hold out against what amounts to a genocide against “uncorrected” humanity. The plot follows two of those ASP antiheroes as they throw rocks at the Israeli bulldozer of corporatist genocide.
Hopkins’ ferociously funny yarn is not just a satire on our ever-worsening techno-dystopia. In imagining a genetic basis to the difficulties many of us experience adjusting to hyperconformist “technologically-enhanced” lifestyles, and in portraying individuals struggling and flailing against the uber-civilization around them like flies caught a spider web, Zone 23 resonates with the great critiques of technological civilization. According to this tradition, which runs from Taoist Chinese hermits through Middle Eastern prophets and Marxian critics of “alienation” to contemporary scientists who insist that humans are genetically suited to be hunter-gatherers not high tech city dwellers, we are grossly unsuited for living the kind of lives that most modern humans are, for all practical purposes, forced to lead. Through the Brechtian device of estrangement, Hopkins forces us to recognize ourselves in his beleaguered ASP antiheros.
The apostles of race war, from Hitler to Charles Manson to today’s ultra-Zionists, are hugely bothered by what they see as a supposed basic and massive incompatibility between races, i.e. broad, loosely-identifiable swathes of the human genome. According to their bleak vision, we are doomed to fight and kill our cousins whose slightly different average genetic profiles mark them as Other.
Perhaps there is some truth to this notion. Perhaps our nature includes a strong tendency to in-group vs. out-group hostility. And perhaps we tend to divide in-group from out-group on the basis of ascribed ancestry, that is, along tribal lines.
But those who are hugely bothered by other races (or their own race), like those who loathe people of a different ideology or religion or language, may be getting all worked up over nothing. They may in fact be projecting their own experience of a much deeper alienation. They may simply be natural-born hunter gatherers caught in the trap of modern technological civilization, living fantastically comfortable yet somehow miserable lives, desperately seeking someone Other to blame for their predicament.