Surviving The Great American Divorce
As the collapse and division of the United States races on to its bitter and seemingly-inevitable conclusion, protecting yourself and those you care about should be your top concern.
It isn’t pretty when countries collapse. Especially the big ones with lots and lots of guns lying around.
For any nation to survive, its people must agree on some basic level what being part of the national society means in practice.
If a nation’s people can’t agree on basic questions like the appropriate response to control a killer plague or voting rights then they don’t have one. And when the alleged nation is durably split between two behemoth political parties staffed by insiders and directed by lobbyists, it’s already nearly dead.
Might take some time to finally keel over, but the writing is on the wall.
Especially when political, economic, and social interests coincide with Geography to the point 38 states are completely under the control of one party…
…and those parties’ members strongly deviate on almost every major public issue, with the gaps growing larger with time across the spectrum except with respect to anti-gay attitudes (hey, one positive trend at least):
Hence the widespread support for outright secession revealed in recent BrightLineWatch polling:
And this polling uses census regions — offer a more localized split, and the numbers would climb higher than they already will in the near future.
These trends are the same ones that have driven many a country to civil war before — including this one.
But in the twenty-first century, the tools of destruction are so much more potent than in the past. Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq — parts of America are on course to experience this kind of hell in the next twenty years, a hell of drones and rockets and murder in the night.
Given the decidedly non-zero chance of this happening, it is in everyone’s best interest to strategize how to make it through as unscathed as possible.
Because let’s get something straight up front: whatever our beliefs, few of us truly want to be involved in political violence.
Consider that even though the majority of Republicans falsely believe their guy won the last election, despite all the guns they have, only a paltry few hundred made it into the essentially undefended Capitol on January 6th and accomplished nothing but terrify people. Some coup attempt!
Often I find myself incredibly grateful that most of the loudest Americans are too lazy to do more than spout off nonsense. Because if they were half as tough as they pretend, much of the country would look like the Donbass in eastern Ukraine, cut apart by trenches watched over by hidden main battle tanks.
This, thankfully, means there are only two primary civil war scenarios to prepare for:
- A Constitutional Crisis over Presidential succession leads to Red or Blue openly rejecting the new administration and embracing the rival. Both sides then insist the other must be defeated and press the military, which splits too and begins launching offensives to establish control of bases and territory.
- Conditions in parts of the country steadily deteriorate as the federal government remains paralyzed. Small groups begin taking local action that sparks violence, escalating to ethnic cleansing in the Southeast and Midwest. Continued federal inaction causes groups of states to form their own coalitions, leaving the feds effectively defunct.
Surviving Scenario One is basically a function of being near a coast and away from major military bases, border areas between Red and Blue regions, or the major transportation routes along which a military force is likely to travel and fight. Organized military groups descending from the United States Armed Forces will likely do all they can to avoid civilian casualties, but rockets, artillery, and smart bombs will still take apart entire neighborhoods and innocent people will get caught in the middle.
Because that’s what always happens in violent war. Why we accept the loss of our guy in an election when no conclusive proof exists of violations of the democratic process.
To avoid being caught by Scenario One, the best bet is to proactively move to states nobody is likely to fight over — the remoter the better: Hawai’i and Alaska are your best friends, northern Minnesota and Michigan and the northeast too. Florida actually isn’t bad from a strictly military standpoint though I don’t envy anyone in the Southeast the hurricane seasons to come.
Personally, I recommend western Oregon as a refuge because there is literally nothing here worth fighting over and California and Washington state are always going to be on the same team. It would take a very weird chain of events to see troops fighting to control Interstate 5 — though east of the Cascades the situation could be quite different given Idaho’s extreme partisan lean, shared by the Oregon and Washington counties adjacent to it.
The bad news about Scenario One is that the conflict only ends when anybody still willing to fight is dead, and if it goes on long enough it could easily draw in foreign powers. A nuclear exchange or three can be expected, as the nuclear taboo is all but dead while the nuclear arms industry is busy making smaller, more usable warheads.
Meaning you do NOT want to live near bases where nuclear forces are stationed, especially the three bases spread across Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, and North Dakota which house the nation’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile force. Those are intended to draw nuclear fire in any exchange, and it is likely any nuclear conflict will start — and hopefully end — with the sides taking out each other’s ICBM silos.
But if things go really bad, major Air Force and Navy bases might be targeted too. Not cities, thankfully, Russian, American, and Chinese nuclear targeting has moved past city-busting, though if North Korea decided to self-immolate who knows what they would attack (or hit).
The better news is that Scenario One remains extremely unlikely thanks to the fact the military is a big, powerful, semi-independent institution in its own right with leaders who would do all they could to avoid divided loyalties. They know all too well the tragic history of the Civil War when the officer corps was divided in its loyalties.
My bet is rather than fight they would find a way to make the political system work things out on its own. Besides, the Democrats are fast becoming the party of the college educated — therefore, the party of those who could afford to go to college and/or took out loans they will forever fight to pay off — which includes the officer corps.
Which is why Scenario Two, I’m afraid is more likely — and unfortunately, more difficult to escape unscathed. Because even if the officer corps remains intact, enlisted defections could quickly spiral out of control.
Ethnic cleansing doesn’t require a large number of people to get going. It begins with small groups of angry, aggressive men seeing what they can get away with, egging each other on. If not stamped out fast though, it starts to take on a life of its own.
The worst part about it is that is doesn’t tend to hit homogeneous communities — the new KKK won’t be trying to dominate Atlanta, at least not at first. It will be mixed suburbs and enclave minority communities that are targeted.
And because every action anyone takes these days goes live on social media and Facebook algorithms select the most engaging content to keep making Zuckerberg the big bucks, there will be imitators. On one side, at first — then the reprisals will begin.
This is essentially the story of the inane street battles between self-described “anarchists” and the white supremacist thugs who like to rally in Portland every now and again to drum up attention. For years now they have been escalating with the city recently openly choosing to stand by and do nothing despite the harm done to adjacent neighborhoods.
Attacks against property are generally counterproductive and futile except in a few specific cases and should be dealt with leniently, but violence against people simply cannot be tolerated in a free society. Once people start to engage in violence and get away with it, a security gap is created that someone will fill — either people committed to transparency and non-discrimination (as police should be, though as we know too often aren’t) or those who can demonstrate the biggest, toughest following.
Scattered social violence is frankly more dangerous than most organized conflict because it is so unpredictable. It is a lot like a pandemic in practice — everyone’s behavior changes and every part of daily life is turned upside down.
Once it begins in force, it is rarely possible to stop without large-scale organized violence or extreme forms of division — walls between neighborhoods, travel restrictions, you name it. Most people will accept any imposition to have peace after being exposed to constant violence.
Preparing for Scenario Two requires a very different approach. People have to focus first on their family and close friends, then on their community, seeking whatever stability they can get.
Even though many will have sympathies for different sides, at the community level it is essential to set these aside wherever possible to avoid being part of the great social unraveling. People have to come up with new rules and self-enforce them, always mindful of the costs to everyone if it goes wrong. They have to be willing to give others the benefit of the doubt and be slow to react to perceived slights — in short, they have to develop strong self-discipline.
Yet at the family and friend level the opposite must happen — people must band together with those who can agree to share the same worldview.
During the pandemic, most of us have learned how to do this. We’ve discovered that you actually can’t have a common society and open debate when people choose to assert their rights to exhale virus on you over your right to not be put at risk by those around you.
When champions of Liberalism tell us to evaluate our personal risk, what they’re really doing is accepting that society is dividing into separate groups. Some will evaluate the risk as low and act accordingly, forcing all who rate the risk higher to band together and exclude the others from their circle or else be terrorized by the risk tolerance of others.
This process is difficult, but necessary. In war, you have to be able to rely on the people around you. Teams survive because everybody looks out for each other. This is the real bedrock of all culture and society.
Deep down, most of us don’t want to fight over politics and ideology. We’re taught to by a broken higher education system controlled by people who insist on pretending they’re the direct inheritors of mythic ancient Greece, where men proudly proclaimed their truths and denied those of their opponents.
We’re taught to think that wars are won through superior words or, if those fail, firepower. But wars never truly end — they evolve.
That’s why today feels like such an echo of the runup to the Civil War. Large-scale structural patterns do drive our lives, even as our collective smaller-scale actions alter them in turn. These patterns repeat, leading to what feels to those trapped on the great roller coaster of history like an endless cycle.
But reality is lived locally — for most of us, what happens in faraway places is invisible. We merely see what impacts make it to us, whether that comes in the form of upsetting images or price increases or stories of open warfare in Georgia and Ohio.
The great challenge is, and will be, keeping the madness from the broader world from seeping in to shatter our own homes and communities.
Dealing with Scenario Two requires avoiding high-tension areas by making sure you live in a region and district that typically runs 60–40 in favor of your partisan lean. The more levels this is true— state, county, city — the better, even if that does leave a community vulnerable to ideological rigidity in the long run.
Such is the price when complex systems collapse.
The next step is working within that community to boost self-sufficiency and reduce inequities wherever possible.
The places that will survive the coming years better will be those with higher levels of solidarity and community trust that can remain connected to the global community. As we’ve all been bubbling to control our exposure levels during the pandemic, so will we have to cluster and network to maintain lines of travel and trade.
And either scenario demands a focus on international investment. If you are in the markets and you’re not globally diversified, you are dangerously exposed.
Non-dollar denominated assets and securities will be important hedges in the future. Cryptocurrency is and likely will remain a crapshoot with each vulnerable to wild price swings and a fragmented exchange landscape. Same for NFTs and Meme stocks and the like — these attract speculative investment when money is flowing freely from governments to big banks, but as the Fed starts tapering as it must in 2022 the landscape is likely to shift quickly and unpredictably.
Productive material investments in stable growing economies around the world? That’s the ticket.
The 2020s are almost certain to be a difficult decade — not until the last couple years will the shift from the Boomer’s grip to the Digital Generations reach a tipping point. And given the emerging gerontocracy in D.C., where white people privileged throughout their aging process thanks to having access to the best medical care adamantly refuse to retire despite obvious signs of mental slippage, even the early 2030s might remain blighted.
Much will change eventually — but on the whole not soon enough to avoid the process becoming extremely messy. It is important to take refuge where you can.
I recommend Pacific America myself. The Rocky Mountain West is ideal for conservatives — these both hold true for Canada and America alike.
Southeast America is possibly the worst place to be, and I feel really bad for everyone there. The ghosts of the past aren’t even spectral in that part of North America — they’ve never even died.
The Plains would seem like a good place for conservatives, but it and the Ohio River regions are dominated by Evangelical Christians who appear to believe Covid infection is the Rapture so if you’re older, they don’t care about you. These areas are also likely to experience extreme weather — continental interiors are set to dry out and suffer extreme temperature swings, plus they’ve fracked the area so badly the depleted aquifers are probably poisoned.
You get heat waves near the ocean, of course, but they tend not to last as long even when they are severe, as the Northwest saw in the summer of 2021. The Southwest is in serious trouble in the future because of heat and drought.
The Northeast is probably alright — conservatives can go to New Hampshire or Maine — though it faces a combination of severe storms, cold and heat waves, old infrastructure and high cost of living. Pacific America gets forest fires, but let the Northeast get hot enough and it will too — besides, active forest management can dramatically mitigate wildfires.
No place will be perfectly safe — but some regions are better equipped to handle the future than others.
So get to one, and prepare. Time is running short.
And America, barring a miracle, is done for.