Two Tales of Civil War: America and Spain

October 10, 2018


War is coming.


There are fewer and fewer points of common ground between the right and the left. Those who hold different values are no longer thought of as rivals to compete with, but enemies to destroy. The far-right and the moderate left see what's coming, and at this point, there isn't much left that can be done to prevent a full-on conflict. In the past two years, we've seen rioting, assassination attempts, street-violence, terrorism, lawfare, and propaganda designed to demonize the other side.


And times are good now. The economy is in good shape. When things go south, everything can either get a lot better, or a lot worse. People either come together and rally, or they eat each other. Which route people take in a crisis usually depends on whether there is something to rally around. In America, there is nothing to rally around, except hatred for the enemy.


It is entirely possible that the polarizing sensationalism, the demonization, the rioting and the terrorism were all motivated by greed or ego. But the intent of these behaviors is irrelevant. The effects are still escalation and conflict, even if those who started it all were just after money or self-gratification.


The United States has also experienced the largest movement of people in human history, in just over 50 years. Every large-scale migration in the past has preceded conflict, including migrations of smaller numbers spread over longer periods of time. To believe that we are so special, so unique, that we are immune from the patterns of history would be naive. Maybe even arrogant.


All civil wars are preceded by political polarization. Not all political polarization leads to war, but the more polarized, the greater the odds. America has not been this politically divided since the years that immediately preceded the Civil War in 1860.


As if these weren't bad enough, racial tensions have only escalated in the last decade. #BlackLivesMatter has adopted the ominous slogan "no justice, no peace," and has been delivering on this violent promise. Academics have promoted overtly anti-white doctrines in schools and in the media, which in turn led to the explosion of the "Alt-Right," a white identitarian movement. Meanwhile, Mestizos are talking more openly about annexing parts of the Southern United States for Mexico, and Asian, Indian, and African immigrants increase the feelings of alienation and anger among American citizens.

Migration, political polarization, escalating racial tension, and control of the most powerful government in the world in the balance... all of these are recipes for conflict independently. In combination, it is a formula. There's the motivation, the means, and the opportunity.


The war just hasn't started yet. Not really.


Some people argue that we're already in the middle of a cold civil war, and there is some truth to this. But a cold war, though a useful category for historians, does not feel like a war as it is going on, at least not to regular people.


Having armed death-squads roam through your town, that feels like a war.


That is a distinct possibility.


Whether you like it or not, war is coming. Maybe not to your town, and maybe not tomorrow. Maybe in a decade. Maybe in a year. No one knows the exact date, or the spark that will ignite the conflagration. But anyone with clear eyes can see the miles of dry tinder, and understand that it's only a matter of time before it has to go up.


The question is what are you going to do?


Anyone who wants to prepare for the coming civil war should begin by understanding what it is likely to be like. That means learning about the Spanish Civil War.


The parallels are as follows:


- Conflict between political left and political right

- Corrupt and ineffective government

- Ethnic divisions and regional secessionist desires

- Open calls for governmental overthrow from mainstream sources

- Escalating violence directed at adversaries

- Geographically mixed adversaries

- Polarization of political parties


The only major differences between Spain and the United States are that here, the right are Constitutional republicans, rather than Catholic monarchists, and we have compounding racial divisions. We're also a lot bigger. That means it's likely that a lot more people will die.


There are three major takeaways:


Pick a side


In political conflicts between polarized sides, he who is not with them is against them, no matter who "they" happen to be. If you are on a side, roughly half the country will be your enemy. If you refuse to take a side, roughly all of the country will see you as a probable enemy. It is not just, it is not fair, it is simply how things go.


Get out of the city


Even if we don't experience bombings severe enough to inspire Picasso paintings, the majority of violence is likely to happen in cities. IRA-style mailbox bombings, or Iraq-style IEDs, or the urban guerrilla combat of Bosnia, or even violence like the Nacht der langen Messer, all take place in the cities. That's where the targets are. That's where the violence has taken place so far in America.


Get ready


Buying a gun, getting in shape, and stocking up on extra food and water is only a start. The real preparation is mental. Most people are not going to believe we are at war, even as it descends upon them. They can't. They didn't when 9/11 happened -- that was just terrorism, a random criminal act that requires international police-action, rather than an act of war. Most people can't believe that a war might be on the horizon, and so they'll see something else. A "horrible incident." A "riot." Perhaps even "free speech."


Be ready to see it, be out of the urban kill-zone, and don't get caught in political no-man's land. Who knows what the future will hold beyond that, but be ready.


History does not end, and it does not make special exceptions. The clock is ticking.


It's time to stop worrying, and start preparing.


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