intriguing possible theoretical framework

Mark Steyn has quoted William Gibson’s phrase “a cold civil war” positing a possible framework for looking at the U.S. society currently and into the future.

Here is how Hyacinth Girl puts it:

This country is now, as Steyn has said numerous times, a “50/50 nation.” We are increasingly divided, in a way that is reminiscent of the country my parents inhabited in the late ’60’s, which I’m sure is no coincidence, given the work “educators” like Bill Ayers have been doing for the past several years. I’m not convinced we’ll see a return to the civil unrest of the ’60’s, but I can’t see this country coming together again on much of anything. If 9/11 failed to unite us–it divided us sharply along previously unobtrusive fault lines, surprising many, myself included–then I’m not sure what would. Throughout this election, I’ve expressed my enthusiasm for smaller government and fewer taxes, and I couldn’t comprehend how this did not appeal to everyone. I’m becoming increasingly aware of a growing attitude amongst my countrymen for a more intrusive government, a populace willing to pay higher taxes so long as they don’t have to take care of themselves. Apparently, roughly half of this country feels this way. And I can’t see how that side will “come over” to the side of self-reliance (though I’m not so sure that “we’re” for that anymore either).

So are we witnessing the beginning of a cultural and political standoff? A “cold civil war,” as is has so eloquently been phrased? If so, what the hell are we going to do about it? I’m not so sure that this tide can be stopped, but perhaps I’m being too pessimisstic. However, as Steyn pointed out recently, we may well be on our way to losing our ability to express our opinions at all, following the lead of Canada’s “human rights” councils.

and here is how David Warren expresses it:

In the United States, especially in the present election, we get glimpses of two political solitudes that have been created not by any plausible socio-economic division within society, nor by any deep division between different ethnic tribes, but tautologically by the notion of “two solitudes” itself. The nation is divided, roughly half-and-half, between people who instinctively resent the Nanny State, and those who instinctively long for its ministrations. And every kind of specious racial, economic, cultural and class division has been thrown into the mix to add to its toxicity.

emphasis added

What do you think? Cold Civil War? Is that too extreme a name? What is an alternative moniker?

Because the phenomenon described above is very real. It might only be 30% hardcore supporters on each side fighting for ground among the 40% uncomfortably planted in between them. It might be as much as 45% a side scrabbling for purchase among the remaining 10% that are “persuadeable.”

But whatever the percentages, worldviews (political solitudes”) have hardened with the fragmentation of society caused by (reflected in?) cable t.v., the internet, etc. When people don’t have a shared culture, the opportunity for Balkanization into like-minded fiefdoms is great.

What can we do? Is it fixable? or will any proposed fix exacerbate the division? do we ignore the problem and hope it gets better on its own?



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