Is The United States Headed Towards A Civil War?

The looming indictment of Donald Trump is the latest and most potent “catalyst” which can tip the United States towards a civil war. As Trump rails and rants about the “probable” arrest (there has been no official confirmation about the same), and urges his extremist ultra MAGA “base” to protest (an euphemism for another Jan 6th like insurrection), one wonders whether this is the “spark” that can light the flames of discord, fanned by a Million other mutinies that bubble under the surface.

Indeed, there is no shortage of “grievances”, real and imagined in contemporary US, what with the Abortion battles, Culture wars, and the ever present threat of racial and ethnic violence (most of it with the active connivance of the law enforcement agencies) making up a rather long list of incitements to civil disturbance. Moreover, the other “Elephant in the room” is the “fight” over the Debt Ceiling, again the far right holding the “full faith” of the American Economy hostage to their rather “outlandish” demands.

So, there we are, with any of the aforementioned factors being the “pin” which pulls the Grenade of a Civil War. Of course, it is not just the far right alone that is culpable and the Antifa led far left is equally complicit at times. Given these aspects, one seriously begins to worry about where this is leading to as the Millions of Mutinies, birthed by resentment and brought up by Demagogues like Trump, can prove to be as lethal as a Molotov cocktail, waiting to explode.

It is not as though these tensions are new or that they have just burst out into the open. Indeed, the United States has a long history of such divisions leading to periodic bouts of civil disorder. For those of our parents generation, the 60s were an essentially egregious period of timult, with race and class wars threatening the social fabric. In recent years, the semi urban and rural masses, left out of the prosperity from Globalization and the Services “boom” have increasingly lurched so far to the right, that no matter how “persuasive” the counter arguments are, they “flock” to the rabid hate mongers, thereby becoming a ready source of “mobs” inclined to violence.

Of course, who can leave out the fact that the United States, in its present incarnation, was born out of the Civil War of the 1860s. Indeed, the very term we use for the country is an outcome of that “revolutionary ” period when “existential” questions, similar to the present times, created a “crisis” which was eventually “settled” by the Civil War. So, one need not be surprised if it comes to that now, when like then, the “unresolved” debates over “everything under the Sun” (both literally and metaphorically speaking) are sought to be decided by force, rather than by dialogue.

Having said that, another Civil War is not a foregone conclusion if saner and wiser heads prevail. More so, when the “land of milk and honey” and the “great melting pot” of civilization has the capacity to yet again appeal to the rational commensense that had kept it together as the world’s oldest democracy. In addition, the Protestant “work ethic” which made it a preeminent economic power and the sense of nationalism and above all, the feeling of “exceptionalism” that drives its military prowess, remain as strong as before.

So, it is a toss up between these competing centrifugal and centripetal forces which would determine the future of the United States. While each President had to contend with a version of the “pull” of these forces, Biden has the unenviable task of them being extreme like never before. Be it race or gender, or woke and anti woke, the polarization and the partisanship on display have no precedent or parallel in American history, barring the first Civil War. Perhaps, history beckons all sides now and an “inevitable” reckoning is due.


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