5. The Penultimate Election
In the last chapter we considered the prospect of a second American Civil War from the standpoint of the white right, which rose to prominence in the election of Trump, but the meteor streaked to earth and smashed in the wake of the showdown at Charlottesville. Our conclusion was that “the Alt-Right lost the C’ville War.”
What used to be the political mainstream, however, has splintered so radically that civil war is a lively and recurrent topic in the news and social media. USA Today quoted a “political scientist” named Thomas Schaller as saying that a “soft” civil war is already under way, and grimly concluding: “I don’t know if the country gets out of it whole.” The article went on to cite Democrat and Republican pundits predicting that whichever side wins the midterm elections this year, there’ll be “hell to pay” at the hands of the losers.
Similar predictions were made about the 2016 Presidential election, but for all its numbers the best the liberal left could come up with in the aftermath were some softcore protests, with the usual violence around the edges by the miniscule anarchist fringe. Since then the anger at Trump has simmered into collective rage, and a replay after the 2018 voting might get pretty hellish. As always, though, the right is better equipped for serious hell-raising, given a sufficient trigger.
The CIA was trying to hunt down Osama bin Laden long before the 9/11 attack, and from 1995 to ’99 the leader of this mission was an agent named Michael Scheuer. He resigned from the agency in 2004, and since then has been a gadfly blogger treading ever closer to the far edge of the right wing, even though his wife still works for the CIA. This past July he shocked the whole spectrum with a post calling for a bloody insurrection by “those millions of well-armed citizens who voted for Trump” against the Democratic leaders whom he believed were plotting a coup d’etat against the President. He danced along the fine line of the legal definition of “a specific and credible threat of violence” by naming names, including Comey, McCabe, the Clintons, and the Obamas, and unloaded the k-word: “It is quite near time for killing them,” he said.
Scheuer was clearly unhinged, tipped off by his remark that he seriously believed Trump himself might give the order for the bloodbath, and his blog was shut down in the outcry after this post. But if such a call to arms went out from any source after the election of another “Obamanation” or “Shillary”, the psychotic nuances might well be lost on a mob inflamed to madness.
Most cool-headed observers would probably think that Scheuer’s claim of a literal coup in the works against Trump was just more delusional paranoia. Yet this theory was shouted from an even higher housetop just a few weeks before the time of this writing, as our old friend Steve Bannon railed against the New York Times report of a secret resistance network within the Trump administration. And with his knowledge of the saecular cycle, Steve cast it back to ~ guess what? ~ the Civil War. He said: “The country has only ever had such a crisis in the summer of 1862 when General McClellan and the senior generals, all Democrats in the Union Army, deemed that Abraham Lincoln was not fit and not competent to be commander in chief.” And so they plotted a coup d’etat. He added that the “deep state” had passed beyond conspiracy theory and was now “an in-your-face state.”
The biggest factor mitigating against a system-disrupting shock from the midterm elections is that the losers will eventually be pacified with the prospect of reversing their fortunes in the Presidential election of 2020. But there’s one big exception, also pointed out by Bannon: if the Democrats manage to regain control of the House of Representatives, they will definitely impeach Trump. This alone would likely trigger violence from the right, but after the five-ring media circus of the trial, the decision to convict or acquit is in the hands of the Senate. Even if the Republicans are still in control there, it may teeter on a precipice ~ the cucks and neocons could consolidate their votes to get rid of Trump. The only thing preventing it might be that the cowards would not want the blood of the ensuing backlash so publicly on their hands.
I’ll opt to override the impeachment possibility in my forecast for one conclusive reason: even if the worst case unfolded, it would only bring on the inevitable crux of the crisis two years sooner, and even then the turmoil might not spill over the floodgates in the interim. The year 2020 is compelling as the predicted benchmark for the climax of the Fourth Turning and hence the entire saecular cycle. In mythic-symbolic terms, it’s as if the number of this year had appeared in the Book of Revelation, the prophecies of Nostradamus, or the writing on the wall of the King of Babylon.
We noted the anomaly of the short Fourth Turning climaxed by the Civil War. But if we broaden our scope beyond what was presented by Srauss & Howe, we find that in Europe the cycle rolled on according to pattern. And eureka, we discover a factor that matches our current crisis: the rise of protofascism, starting in Prussia. In 1862, the same year those devious generals were plotting to oust Lincoln, Prussian President Otto von Bismarck declared that his government would dispense with parliamentary rule. Inspired by his leadership, the many fragmented German fiefdoms began to amalgamate with Prussia. Bismarck wanted a war to arouse nationalist sentiment, so he tricked France into starting one. The Franco-Prussian War was the climax of the Fourth Turning in Europe, ending with a dramatic victory for Bismarck in 1871. The upshot was that the largest independent German kingdom, Bavaria, united with Prussia, establishing the Second Reich.
The forces of the left were a powerful countercurrent just as they are now, and back then they were led by Marx himself, goading the workers to insurrection wherever his insidious doctrine could gain a foothold. While the French army was away fighting the Prussians in 1870, a tatterdemalion crew of Marxists and anarchists roused the rabble of Paris enough to take over the city. The so-called Paris Commune endured for almost a year, with competing gangs of adventurers, thugs, and crackpots vying for power, all shouting rhetorical slogans and waving flags of many colors, mostly red or black. In an event-nexus redolent with historic-symbolic significance, Bismarck’s triumph sent the French army scuttling home, where their first order of business was to flush the leftist scum from their capital city.
We don’t need Photoshop to superimpose an image of the outcome of that past Fourth Turning onto the one that looms in the present, for the cycle will peak and the pattern will repeat. There’s always a chance that the coin will fall on the opposite side, as it did in World War II. But simple math lays odds in favor of alternate flips: 1871-1945-2020: heads-tails-heads; right-left-right. And history goes marching on!