How Do Civil Wars Start? Is America On the Verge of One? What Would It Look Like?

Anne Applebaum wrote the book, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism. In the following interview she explains why some of her contemporaries have abandoned liberal democratic ideals in favor of strongman cults, nationalist movements, or one-party states. At the 10:43 mark onward she talks about former President Trump's lies and more. For an Authoritarian, lies are a test of party loyalty. Loyalty is everything. If you're willing to lie publicly, you're "on my team." Once you repeat the lie you can't go back to normalcy.

You should read her essay in The Atlantic, "A Warning From Europe: The Worst Is Yet to Come: Polarization. Conspiracy theories. Attacks on the free press. An obsession with loyalty. Recent events in the United States follow a pattern Europeans know all too well." LINK.

Now consider Barbara F. Walter. She is a political science professor at the University of California at San Diego. She has spent over three decades studying civil conflict. In her new book, How Civil Wars Start: and How to Stop Them, Walter examines the rise of violent extremism on a global scale and warns of the increasing likelihood of a second civil war breaking out in the United States. She answers my three questions in the title of this post in the following interview, which will be the best 33 minutes you spend on these questions.

Let's focus on my third question, which Walter answers as Q#6 elsewhere:
6) What would a modern civil war look like?

“The next civil war will look nothing like the last civil war. 21st-century civil wars tend to look much more like insurgencies — often fought by multiple factions, militias, and paramilitary groups — sometimes working together, sometimes competing. And they tend to use unconventional methods such as terrorism and guerilla warfare. It will look more like Northern Ireland and the 1st and 2nd intifada than Gettysburg.” LINK.

What I found interesting was a breakdown of this question that I found written by someone named Den Valdron, on Quora. Take a look:

If a civil war breaks out in the United States, what are my options?

By Den Valdron

An American Civil War would not resemble the previous civil war. America is simply not divided like that. People who look at maps of Red and Blue states or counties are delusional, it simply doesn’t work like that.

California and New York are two of the biggest Republican states by voters. Florida and Texas are two of the biggest Democratic states by voters. In most states, one side outnumbers the other side by no more than ten or fifteen points. Every single town and city has both Democrats and Republicans. The only place where Republicans really have overwhelming numerical superiority are places where no one lives - counties with only a few hundred or a few thousand people, spread wide. These sorts of places are the exceptions, not the rule. Anywhere else, it gets pretty mixed.

And the ‘breakdowns’ into Red and Blue don’t make any logistical or geographic sense, not when you look at highways, waterways, infrastructure, access, etc. Some people will argue ‘red areas have all the resources and agriculture’ but that’s just simplistic crap that ignores how geography actually works, ignores how the economy actually functions.

You will find that most Americans are pretty comfortable and don’t want war. That’s on both sides. No one is starving in America. Most Americans aren’t concerned enough to want to go over to their neighbors and butcher their families.

You are not going to see a 1864 style civil war, or even a Syrian style civil war.

What you would get is Bosnia, or Lebanon, or something much more like La Violencia in Colombia, 1946 to 1958.

While most Americans don’t want a war, there’s a small minority who do. These are entirely on the right wing. They’ve been jonesing about it for years, they have their bible, The Turner Diaries. They basically want to burn America to the ground, genocide liberals, blacks, gays. They tell themselves that liberals are evil and will fire the first shot. But really, they’re just psychotic loons.

In the 1980’s, The Order went around assassinating people trying to start the new Civil War. Then Tim McVeigh in the 1990’s. Dylan Root shot a whole bunch of black people in a church, to start the civil war. Eric Rudolph, the guys who shoot up Mosques and Synagogues. Proud boys, skinheads, atomwaffen, oath keepers, these guys have been around a long time. And mostly, everyone else found them repellent.

But if they get enough support, they’ll start a civil war.

What would it look like?

Simple - they’ll get together, put on hoods and masks, go over to a house where a black family is living, and murder them all. They’ll shoot people in the back. Assassinate people. Blow up day cars. They’ll shoot up churches and bars. They’ll kidnap people in the middle of the night torture and murder them, and then leave the bodies somewhere to be found. They’ll rape women, and then cut out their guts. They’ll murder children.

They’ll basically do the same thing as the Mexican Cartels. But instead of keeping it in the drug trade, they’ll just go hunting and murdering everyone who pisses them off in any way.

It won’t be noble, or heroic, no brave battles. Just horrible ugly people running around in the night, doing horrible things whenever and wherever they can get away with it.

They won’t stand and fight - because they’re no match for the police or the military.

They will try and infiltrate the police and military. They’ve been trying that for years. The degree of success they have in infiltrating military and police will have a direct bearing on how many atrocities they commit and how easily they get away with it.

The more support they get on the right, the more easily they’ll murder and torture and rape.

Rich people will be safe with bodyguards and gated communities.

Poor people will be victimized. The economy will go to shit. People will band together in self defence groups and try to look out for each other. If the psychos run wild, there may be vigilante counter-groups forming to try and find them and kill them.

Eventually, the government will quash them. It’s Big Tech and Big Data, there’s too many cameras everywhere, too much GPS, too many cell phones, too many electronic transactions. Everyone is documented and facial recognition and data analysis algorithms will hunt all these guys down.


John W. Loftus is a philosopher and counter-apologist credited with 12 critically acclaimed books, including The Case against Miracles, God and Horrendous Suffering, and Varieties of Jesus Mythicism. Please support DC by sharing our posts, or by subscribing, donating, or buying our books at Amazon. Thank you so much!