The Coming Civil War
The Coming Civil War (2018) by Tom Kawczynski is a challenging read any liberal like me, as it is full of conservative clichés about liberals, facts that clearly are none (Republicans are more eager to end wars abroad than Democrats), psychotic ideas (Clinton would have won the presidency if she had been non-white) and a celebration of small-mindedness rural America (where we love our Christian God, our Guns and our neighbours — provided they have the same skin color and mentality, of course). The author is often not aware of how much he contradicts himself. He claims that liberals want everyone to conform and take away people’s liberty. A few pages later you can read how immigrants should not be allowed into America because they are unable to conform (wtf?), that liberals just can’t conform to authority and that hopefully in the coming civil war the army (which is overwhelmingly conservative) will be able to establish a military junta (wtf? again, what happened to liberty?) to protect conservatives who are so disadvantaged because the liberals have cities, universities, the media and the education sector on their side (but conservatives have the better weapons, they have guns).
To be fair, there is plenty of accurate information in the book (e.g. liberals are much less homogeneous than conservatives) and — ideological differences aside — one thing I don’t think is a ridiculous idea: the possibility of a civil war. Kawczynski’s book is only one in a series of recent books warning of an impending civil war.
Igor Panarin, a Russian political scientist, predicted in 1998 that the United States would disintegrate by 2010. Of course, it’s easy to dismiss such a prediction when the predicted timeline has come and gone. However, regional differences have been hardening in the past two decades, with conservatives migrating to conservative areas and liberals to liberal areas. The union between north and south has never been a completely easy one and it’s not unthinkable that seperatist movements, of the kind we have been seeing in Europe, will emerge in the Not-So-United States.
In theory, such a separation could be as peaceful as Brexit. The biggest problem for a peaceful separation is, however, that the most significant dividing line has discontiguous borders: the rural — urban divide.
How did the US end up polarised? Well, it was polarised to begin with, with the southern States more conservative than the northern states: agricultural vs industrial US. Social conservatism is closely connected to the Big Five factor conscientiousness ©. I have argued that this trait has its evolutionary origins in farming. All its facets (industriousness, dutifulness, orderliness, self-discipline and higher disgust aversion) indicate an origin in farming and sedentism. A psychological map of the USA (see above) shows that C is highest where agricultural production has been highest historically (in the South and Midwest). Early farming brought its own psychological adaptations, like highly valuing security, conformity, tradition and authority.
Liberalism on the other hand, is correlated with the Big Five factor openness (O). I have argued that O has its origins in hunter-gatherer egalitarianism, it’s characterised by universalism (vs C patriotism) and self-choice (liberty). This is why Kawczynski has a hard time arguing that freedom is more important to conservatives than liberals. What Kawczynski gets right is that suburbanization in the US was mainly driven by farmer/C types to “protect their families from the cities” (their high need for conformity in order to feel secure).
While I do not think that civil war is anywhere near in the US, their woes are far from being over any time soon either. Our evolved psychological differences aren’t going to magically disappear. However, if we are wise we will hopefully find solutions that do not involve guns.
For more on the forager-farmer divide check out my book: The Forager-Farmer Framework: A new perspective on personality, society and culture
Originally published at http://the-big-ger-picture.blogspot.com on July 21, 2022.