At some point last month, I put down William Gibson’s newest tome and picked up something written by Victor Davis Hanson. I am only now getting back to Spook Country, and though I’m afraid that I know exactly where Gibson is going with this, I found his idea of this country being in a “cold civil war” to be fascinating. What would that entail, exactly? A cold war is a war without conflict, defined in one of several online dictionaries as “[a] state of rivalry and tension between two factions, groups, or individuals that stops short of open, violent confrontation.” In that respect, is the current political climate one of “cold civil war”? I think arguments could be made to that effect. My mother, not much of a political enthusiast, has made similar assessments since the 2000 election, concerned that the political climate (which has become increasingly acrimonious in the last 7 years) would indeed lead to some sort of lukewarm civil war–not hot, not cold, just divisive and destructive. Seven years ago, I laughed off her fears, secure in my naivete.Now, I’m not so sure.
There are certain elements within this country that would rather see our country fail and possibly fall than to see their political rivals succeed. It’s this sort of petty, short-sighted partisan bickering that will metastasize and bring down empires–or benevolent democratic hyperpowers.
Tread carefully, folks.
In his Bleat tonight, James Lileks wrote:
This is what annoys me to no end about the 60s, to cram it all into a tidy convenient decade; the overculture and the underculture ganged up on the great Middle, for different reasons but with equal gusto. The Middle was Crass, in the eyes of the overculture; Phony, in the eyes of the underculture.
And of course, as David Frum has written, the sixties were really the vanguard, the early warning detector of the looming culture war, which rages–if a “cold civil war” can be said to rage — to this day.