Could the ever deepening financial crisis lead the US or other powerful nations into civil war or some other type of major internal conflict? Clearly large sections of the population feel a strong disillusionment if not outright disgust with capitalism as a system. Even my mother says “Now maybe we need some socialism” because what we have now clearly doesn’t work.
But left social movements which would have the potential to respond in a meaningful way to the crisis, which largely exist in small and scattered pockets in the US, have yet to garner the strength to have a national level impact. The only exceptions are probably the UE sit-down strike at Republic Doors and Windows, perhaps the Sacramento tent city encampment of homeless and potentially the immigrant rights protests this coming May 1st. Each though are largely spontaneous events or one day mobilizations, rather than longer term movements (though May Day protests though could be seen as a mobilization by both smaller grassroots as well as larger institutional forces of larger bases) . The right though seems to have already begun their mobilization and response with the April 15 Tea Party Protests, which seek to channel discontent with the economy and the bailouts into hatred for Obama (and of course the fact he’s Black is no doubt a strong part of it), as well as fears of “socialism” and immigrants. Whether their efforts will be a flash in the pan or something with more longevity is yet to be seen.
The below article by Immanuel Wallerstein asks this question and explores the growing uneasiness of the world economic elites. While some like Pepe Escobar of The Real News take Wallerstein’s piece (watch his video segment here) as further confirmation that an eruption of rebellion and class conflict is right around the corner, I think that’s a little premature. The elites are afraid not because something will happen, but because they believe that it could happen. With the Texas Governor’s recent bombastic comment in support of succession while speaking at a Tea Party protest, we need to keep in mind that conflict may not be initiated from below, but perhaps by above as well. -AW
Civil War in the United States?
By Immanuel Wallerstein, March 15, 2009
We are getting accustomed to all sorts of breakdowns of taboos. The world press is full of discussion about whether it would be a good idea to “nationalize” banks. None other than Alan Greenspan, disciple of the superlibertarian prophet of pure market capitalism, Ayn Rand, has recently said that we have to nationalize banks once every hundred years, and this may be that moment. Conservative Republican Senator Lindsay Graham agreed with him. Left Keynesian Alan Blinder discussed the pros and cons of this idea. And while he thinks the cons are a bit bigger than the pros, he was willing to spend public intellectual energy writing about this in the New York Times.
Well, after hearing nationalization proposals by arch-conservative notables, we are now hearing serious discussions about the possibilities of civil war in the United States. Zbigniew Brzezinski, apostle of anti-Communist ideology and President Carter’s National Security Advisor, appeared on a morning television talk show on February 17, and was asked to discuss his previous mention of the possibility of class conflict in the United States in the wake of the worldwide economic collapse.
Brzezinski said he was worried about it because of the prospect of “millions and millions of unemployed people facing dire straits,” people who have become aware “of this extraordinary wealth that was transferred to a few individuals without historical precedent in America.”