The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Poised on the Brink of the Abyss

Posted on | November 7, 2020 | 3 Comments

If you have not yet subscribed to The American Spectator, I’ll urge you to do so now, so that you’ll get our upcoming print edition in which I spend more than 3,000 words contemplating the prospects of another civil war in America. Permit me to say what should not need to be said, namely that I am against civil war. This seems so obvious that I didn’t bother saying so explicitly in my first draft, which was an omission I’ve corrected in my first revision. (Oh, these editors and their quibbles!)

Authorial intention is a subject on which I could perhaps deliver a lecture. My friend Jeff Goldstein made “intentionalism” the subject of a running series of blog posts back in the day when controversy arose over Rush Limbaugh’s comment that his hope for the Obama administration was that it would fail. Why that should be controversial, I don’t know; what’s the point of politics, if you endorse the opponent’s agenda? But liberals are not rational or else they wouldn’t be liberals, and so there was a storm of indignation — including from some Republicans — when Rush said bluntly of Obama, “I hope he fails.” But I digress . . .

You should subscribe to The American Spectator, as I say, not only because you get wonderful goodies for just $69.99 a year — less than $6 a month! — but also so you can have the exquisite pleasure of owning a copy of our next issue with more than 3,000 words of me ruminating in print about the chances of another civil war in America.

What inspired this, mainly, was Tim Pool on YouTube. While I am not generally a fan of political video, much preferring the written word as a means of communication, Tim is an exception. His audience is larger than most daytime shows on CNN, and it’s easy to see why. The guy is extremely smart and has a knack for finding the important inflection points amid the daily headline noise. For months now, Tim has been talking to his audience about the potential of civil war, even while acknowledging that most people will think he’s crazy for bringing up the topic. Back during the late 1990s, I recall how some people saw America drifting toward a conflict like the one that devastated the former Yugoslavia. The 1992 Los Angeles riots, the Branch Davidian showdown at Waco, the Oklahoma City bombing — it was a scary time.

Back then, at various events, warnings about civil war were being issued by guys who knew what they were talking about — grizzled veterans of the various post-colonial struggles in Third World places like Algeria, Vietnam and what used to be called Rhodesia. The Cold War era had been an age of guerrilla warfare in lots of “hot spots” around the globe, and there was a certain authority behind the pronouncements of danger when they came from such sources as a scarred Afrikaner veteran who had fought Castro’s troops in Angola. We have had a bit too much peace lately, which is why talk of civil war now sounds like lunacy, but we can’t afford to take these things lightly. One of the strange things about such historical disasters is how, in retrospect, the allegedly intolerable state of affairs that preceded the outbreak of war was mild in comparison to what happened once the shooting started. Go back to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 and ask yourself what was so wrong in Europe as to necessitate four years of carnage and everything that followed in the aftermath of World War I.

Ever heard of the Pottawatomie massacre? Five people were murdered in that 1856 incident, part of the struggle over “Bleeding Kansas” that shocked Americans at the time. Over a period of about three months after that massacre, about 30 more people were killed in Kansas, and this outbreak of guerrilla warfare on the frontier was viewed at the time as a grievous tragedy. Yet in the war that followed, the death of a few dozen men was a minor detail of outpost skirmishes. Most Americans today know absolutely nothing about, for example, the Battle of South Mountain in September 1862, in which 750 men were killed and a little more than 3,000 wounded. Now think of some of the police shootings that have sparked Black Lives Matter protests, and compare those cases to the wholesale death that might result if civil war were to break out.

It’s simply unthinkable, yet there is a danger in not thinking about it. The ordinary peaceful means of government — debates and elections, legislation and lawsuits, regulation and taxation — might induce emotional stress when hyped up by cable-TV news anchors, or the incessant chatter on Twitter, but this is a minor annoyance in comparison to the alternative of armed conflict. Contemplating this subject led me to recall what happened in that Bloody Cornfield. In something less than three hours, about 8,000 men were killed or wounded there, and the fighting was so intense it seems miraculous anyone could have survived it. Yet my great-grandfather somehow made it out alive, and so here I am, urging you to subscribe to The American Spectator.




3 Responses to “Poised on the Brink of the Abyss”

  1. FMJRA 2.0: Midnite Snack : The Other McCain
    November 8th, 2020 @ 5:54 am

    […] Poised on the Brink of the Abyss EBL […]

  2. Serious thoughts on the first Sunday after the momentous 2020 election | The Universal Spectator
    November 8th, 2020 @ 1:32 pm

    […] And finally, Robert Stacy McCain has some very serious things to say: “Poised on the Brink of the Abyss.” […]

  3. I Can’t Spare This Man, He Fights | nebraskaenergyobserver
    November 9th, 2020 @ 9:00 am

    […] R. S. McCain, Has heard people talking about a second civil war, as I have, and he recalls The Bloody Cornfield where, as he says, 8000 men were killed or wounded in about three hours. It’s amazing that anybody survived, but his Great Grandfather did. On the other side of that Cornfield was the 19th Indiana Infantry, of the Iron Brigade of the West, those of you who read me on Discus discussions may know that my avatar there is the standard of the 19th Indiana, they’ve been my hero unit since reading about them as a child. […]