A second civil war in the United States would be an unparalleled disaster. Nobody who is sane and who has studied modern civil wars from Spain to Lebanon to the Balkans and beyond would ever wish to see one occur. But if political, cultural and demographic trends are sweeping us toward that unhappy destiny, it would be wise to at least cast a weather eye over the possible terrain.
First, a caveat. I am not going to waste our time making politically-correct genuflections after every controversial sentence, because this essay is intended to be read by mature and rational adults.
Before we move on to the cube, let’s begin with the CW2 Square. The cube is best tackled in another step. Draw the square and label one axis Poorer to Richer. Label the other axis Darker to Lighter. Darker, for brevity, includes African-Americans, Hispanics and so on. Lighter refers to those of European ancestry. The two opposed meta-groups are the poorer and darker versus the richer and lighter, or whiter if you wish to be blunt. The richer/whiter have the power of their wealth, but counterbalancing that advantage is the fact that the poorer/darker have succeeded in wresting control of much of government power. This is so, even if most of their elected leaders are anything but poor or dark.
Now, before you scream out your exceptions, yes, there are rich black cattle ranchers and poor whites living in blighted urban areas and so on. However, to focus on them is to miss the critical centers of gravity of Civil War Two for the over-study of interesting but insignificant outliers. Filling one corner of the CW2 Square will be the poorer and darker, who primarily are liberal and progressive Democrats who believe in a malleable “living Constitution.” And in the other corner will be the richer and whiter, who mainly are conservative or libertarian Republicans who believe in the original intent of the written Constitution. Again, keep your eyes on the two meta-cores, not the exceptions.
Now, let’s add the third dimension and shoot another axis out from the square to form the CW2 Cube. Label the third axis Urban versus Rural, or City versus Country if you prefer. This axis gives a geographical dimension to the meta-terrain, but there will be no convenient dividing line between the opposed sides as there was during the first civil war. It has frequently been observed that today’s red-blue political map is better understood at the county than at the state level. Even blue states like Illinois, California and New York are rural-red outside of their blue urban cores. Obviously, these urban cores are heavily populated but geographically small, with all that means to the electoral process today and to a possible civil war later.
Most of us live in the mushy, mongrel middle, far from the tips of the two opposite corners. But the centers of gravity of Civil War Two shall be as I have described: the relatively richer, whiter and more rural against the poorer, darker and urban. One can also propose many more axes of conflict than can fit on a cube, such as the religious versus the non-believers, socialists versus capitalists, statists versus individualists and so on. However, after you reflect upon the CW2 Cube, I think you will find that most of these extra axes can be overlaid parallel to one of the three already posited.
To begin: you do not want to live as a trapped and cut-off minority in what might become “enemy territory.” If you live amidst your civil war enemies, as defined and located within the CW2 Cube, you will be in mortal danger even if your immediate neighbors know, love and respect you. Those persons who have a stake in fanning the flames of CW2 (and their number shall be legion), will intentionally target those remaining “holdouts” who may be respected minority neighbors. (In this essay, minority means “the minority within a given group or area.” Blacks are the majority in some areas, and whites are the minorities in others, and so on.)
Frequently in modern civil wars, roaming armed groups (in or out of uniform) will even force people to kill their own beloved and respected minority neighbors as an ultimate loyalty test. If they refuse, they may themselves be killed as “traitors.” Besides pre-conflict racists and radicals, there will be an ever-increasing pool of persons attempting to expel minorities from their homes. Those embittered unfortunates who have already been ethnically cleansed will be seeking new living quarters, and the homes and property of “enemy” minorities still living in majority territory will be the first on the chopping block. (Not the auction block, because payment of any kind is rarely offered.) This process of minority eviction becomes self-perpetuating.