The Only Solution to a Second American Civil War is a Thousand Little Revolutions

Image by Clay Banks.

Suppose you had the revolution you are talking and dreaming about. Suppose your side had won, and you had the kind of society you wanted. How would you live, you personally, in that society? Start living that way now!

-Paul Goodman

A storm is threatening our very nation today and if we don’t get some shelter, America is going to do a hell of a lot worse than fade away, or at least so it appears. Every other news story that comes out of this country lately seems to be haunted by a Let it Bleed harmonica riff. America has never been more divided, and the shit just keeps getting worse. While the oligarchs wage open war against each other with insurrections and FBI raids and the divide between the sad tribes of lost proletariats who base their increasingly shallow identities on these creeps deepens, talk of a Second American Civil War and the decline of Western-style liberal democracy has traveled from the fringe to the mainstream with respected partisan wonks and heavily published academics taking turns wailing like Mick Jagger’s rusty harp.

It’s not hard to see why. Aside from the fact that brilliant if criminally underlooked minds from Oswald Spengler to Ted Kaczynski have been warning us of this fate for decades, all the available numbers seem to be pointing towards an impending cataclysm which you can often catch glimpses of just looking out the fucking window. As Hurricane Trump leaves a tidal wave of white working-class nihilism and resentment in its wake that was present long before the Orange Bastard showed up to exploit it, firearm deaths in the US are on the rise with an increase of nearly 43% in the last decade. With the economic trauma of the Covid Pandemic and the geopolitical trauma of the state’s total inability to do anything but exploit it still tearing at the already frayed fabric of civil society, homicides in metropolitan areas have surged by 44% in just the last three years alone and the climate feels ripe for that carnage to spill over into the political arena. In other words, war, children, it’s just a shot away.

Recent studies have shown that one in five Americans believe that politically motivated violence is completely acceptable under certain extenuating circumstances with 7% of 18 million adults in this nation confessing that they themselves are willing to kill for a cause. Nearly half of these Americans expect a civil war in their lifetime and before you go blaming it all on MAGA consider the fact that 41% of Biden voters have stated a desire for their state to secede from the Union along with the lion share of Trump voters. The response from the corporate Washington intelligentsia to this swelling tide of bipartisan disenchantment seems to vacillate between total denial and hair-pulling hysteria. Many on the mainstream left seem to be desperately rifling through their cluttered junk drawers for a jerry-rigged defibrillator to revive faith in our dear old republic and its derelict democratic institutions before it’s too late. My own personal radical left-wing informed response to these trends however can essentially be summed up with ‘about time’ and ‘good riddance.’

This politically incorrect point of view on the coming apocalypse is largely predicated on three equally taboo positions; America is fucking evil, what we call democracy in this country is bullshit, and with the previous two opinions in mind, any sane radical of any stripe should embrace the inevitable collapse of both with open arms as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and finally make things right.

Anyone who’s read more than two sentences written by Howard Zinn or Lysander Spooner should be well aware of the painful fact that the American experiment has been a toxic exercise in pure evil from the drop. This is a genocidal slave colony that only declared independence from the British Empire to take its place in a malignant competition to see which camp of psychotic white supremacists could rape and pillage the entire circumference of the planet first. The fact that America won this disgusting race to become the world’s sole superpower is nothing to be proud of and neither is the electoral circus erected around it to give it the illusion of a free society.

America’s heretical take on democracy essentially amounts to little more than a childish pig fashion show in which the American people are free to choose a dancing puppet to represent the corporate military elites who really run this twisted fucking mess. Just because the Big Steal is big bullshit doesn’t mean that everyday Americans are stupid to suspect that the system is rigged. They’re only stupid if they believe an old money hustler like Donald Trump isn’t in on the grift too. People have lost faith in this system because it’s a fraud that they never should have put their faith in it to begin with. This isn’t disillusionment, it’s enlightenment and if the far left had any balls or ovaries left, they would approach this populist awakening as an opportunity worth exploiting.

This thing was never going to fucking last. Empire never does. That’s because empires are designed for mindless expansion and the larger a centrally organized territory expands the more impossible it becomes to control. This is why Rome fell. This is why the Soviet Union collapsed. And this is why China will never even become powerful enough to take America’s place. They are a Second World bureaucracy that inherited a First World-sized territory, and their dystopian police state is America’s future if we stubbornly insist on being united states. To put it bluntly, America is simply too goddamn big to be anything but tyrannical and the only other option aside from defacto military rule and a bloody civil war is to destroy America before it can destroy the world.

This only sounds insane because every single institution of power in this country is heavily invested in fooling us all into believing that anything less than full compliance with the status quo they designed to control us and rip us off is a recipe for fucking chaos. Well, take a good look around dearest motherfuckers because we’re already there. The collapse of any imperial power structure may be as inevitable as the rising sun, but it only ends in carnage when people insist on clinging to these same systems long after they’ve clearly failed. Civil wars aren’t caused by secession. They’re caused by the refusal of one power to let another leave their broken marriage. Any second civil war in this country will be the result of rival camps trying to impose their will on each other the way both sides of the last one did. The best solution to such a grotesque fate is a revolution or to be more precise, a thousand little revolutions.

Another sorry side effect of the status quo’s Delusional Industrial Complex is the belief often shared by even the most well-intentioned revolutionaries that we need one big epic revolution to overthrow one big epic empire. This formula generally only ends in one of two ways; either in a colossal bloodbath that only results in replacing one form of tyranny with another as we’ve seen in Russia and China or more commonly in a state of revolutionary stasis with a bunch of pissed off kids in Che Guevara t-shirts waiting around for some mythical critical mass that never seems to materialize. There are dusty old politburos across the globe clogged with big-mouthed polemics who’ve grown geriatric and gray waiting for their busted alarm clock to go off. But there is another way, and it is almost criminally simple; just drop out and exist unruled beneath the radar before the grid goes down.

As stated above, all empires collapse and this collapse only results in violence because people stubbornly stick to their designated statist delusions and insist on going down with a sinking ship. True revolution, therefore, is simply a matter of building an escape raft for your people and preparing for the inevitable. Forget about America. Forget about Washington and Wall Street. Forget about Trump and Biden and Republicrats and Dempublicans and all that fucking bullshit. Build the revolutionary society we all deserve right now where you live.

Build autonomous local networks capable of sustaining themselves without state or corporate institutions all while depriving the war machine of the tax revenue it subsists on through theft. Build your own food resources with community gardens and family farms. Build your own social resources with mutual aid societies and homeschooling collectives. Protect yourself and your people with volunteer civilian militias. Prepare for the very real possibility of having to defend your community from state intervention but don’t provoke it by attempting to overthrow a busted system when you can simply replace it without even firing a shot and don’t make the tragic mistake of trying to force your values on other communities who are just trying to do the same thing in different ways.

This has been done before by unsung pioneers across the political spectrum. The left-libertarian outlaw Karl Hess made his Washington DC neighborhood directly in the heart of the beast totally self-sufficient by building community gardens and creating a primitive but effective fish breeding facility using nothing but pumps from old washing machines and leftover construction materials that produced hundreds of pounds of meat a year. On the other end of the spectrum, the Black Panther Party created a free breakfast program that began with a single Episcopal church and donations from a handful of local grocery stores in inner city Oakland and ended up feeding thousands of impoverished children with 45 programs across the country. The federal government ultimately had to replicate these services themselves just to shut them down and keep the ghettos compliant.

And this is being done as we speak by pioneers across the globe. The Mexican city of Cheran has opted out of the colonialist War on Drugs by arming peasants against cartels and cops alike and forming a vibrant direct democracy built on local indigenous values. In the failed state of Lebanon, thousands of citizens of every creed have abandoned their corrupt centralized government services to rely solely on the services provided by local Hezbollah militias. And the Amish have been taking care of their own peacefully right in my own backyard with their own tightly woven networks of communal farms and craftsmen without even so much as touching a Glock.

It can be done and for some of us there has never really been any other choice. As a genderqueer person in rural Central Pennsylvania, the only thing separating my community from certain extinction is each other. The government will never understand us, and I honestly hope they never do because I’ve seen what becomes of those they assimilate. All I want is for the freaks I love to live weird and free from fear and dependence on institutions defined by colonialist violence. By narrowing my goals to this simple and immediate revolutionary dream I can peacefully coexist with Anabaptist Puritans who seem as extraterrestrial to me as I do to them. This is how we prevent another civil war, dearest motherfuckers, by destroying America with nothing more severe than peace, love, and empathy.

I tell you, revolution, sister, it’s just a kiss away.

Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.