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12 October 2008

Cold civil war: one year later.

Recently, I've been getting a lot of feedback on a post I wrote a year ago regarding the term "cold civil war," (coined by William Gibson in Spook Country), a theme picked up and expanded upon by Mark Steyn in Maclean's. Truth be told, I never did finish that Gibson novel. I love Gibson very much, but at this point I just don't want to deal with more preachy moralizing from ageing, draft-dodging hippies. (As I wrote the previous sentence, I couldn't help but feel that it was an unfair characterization of an author who is much-beloved by my kind, a man who was nothing but nice when he signed my copy of Pattern Recognition, an excellent writer. But it is, unfortunately, more or less accurate.) Computer folk are overwhelmingly liberal--rabidly, irrationally, liberal--as fluent in black helicopter conspiracy theory as they are in Klingon. (Full disclosure: I own a few books on Tolkien's Elvish.) For folk who fear Big Brother's Big Government and the ever-watchful eye of the military-industrial complex, they sure are enthusiastic about installing it in this country. (To be fair, there is also a strong libertarian contingent in the ranks of the older, wiser computer geeks.)

I was initially surprised to be getting comments on such an old post, but the timing could not have been more appropriate and I feel that the theme deserves to be revisited. Every generation says that the politics of the current generation is more contentious than in "their day," and though we've been through a lot as a country--a civil war, two world wars, the threat of nuclear annihilation, and a vicious attack on our homeland--I've never before seen such a willingness by one side to tear this country down. A willingness to lie, cheat, and steal this election, reprehensible actions that are absolved by the high priests of modern liberalism, as they are done in the service of the "greater good." I find myself continually taken aback by how many people claim to be disgusted with this country, desiring that it be remade in the image of a dying Europe.

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.

Perhaps the "war" will be over before it's begun.

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