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Get Ready For Strange Days

We're in the twilight of American Federalism
Wednesday, January 8, 2014, 12:52 PM
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Executive Summary

  • The case for a regional fracturing of the US
  • Why the balance of power will shift from the Federal government to local seats
  • How each US region will likely fare during this transition, given their idiosyncrasies
  • Why chaos will trump order moving forward

If you have not yet read Part I of The Disenchantment of American Politics, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

The last time the USA faced a comparable political convulsion was the decade leading into the Civil War, but this time it will be more complex and confusing and it will have a different ending.

A Preview of What's to Come?

In the 1850s, the dominant Whig party choked to death on its own internal contradictions — mainly its failure to take a coherent position on slavery — and morphed into the Republican Party. The original Democratic Party broke apart into southern and northern factions. All of the doctrinal and legal debates of the day — states’ rights, property rights, et cet. — could not overcome the growing moral revulsion against human bondage. When Lincoln was elected in 1860, seven southern slave states seceded from the Union before his inauguration. The ferocity of the ensuing Civil War — the world’s first industrial-strength slaughterfest — came as a great shock to many who had expected little more than a few symbolic romantic skirmishes on horseback preceding a negotiated settlement.

I believe we are headed now into a breakup of the nation into smaller units, but this time there will be no reconstituting the original USA as in 1865. I realize this is a severe view, but the circumstances we face are more severe than the public seems to imagine. To some degree the coming political rearrangement would appear to be the unfinished business of the 1860s. The old animosities remain, mainly in cultural rather than economic terms. But the real driving force of schism will be catabolic economic collapse expressing itself in scale reduction of all our support systems: food production, energy production, transportation, finance, commerce, and governance. Everything is going to have to get smaller, get more local, and be run differently. Just as political rhetoric failed to contain the revulsion against slavery, all the debates of the Left and Right in our time will not overcome the geophysical limits of energy resource scarcity and its affect on the other major systems of everyday life. Environmental degradation (including climate change) will amplify the journey downward in the viable scale of human operations...

 

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