118. Conflict (II)
With the deletion of Donald Trump’s Twitter account, it now seems that America is treading the path to civil war. It is a truism that when the talking stops the violence starts; for America’s elites, lost in their own world of delusion, the conversation is ongoing: they have never recognised Trump as the legitimate opposition, for them a legitimate conservative opposition comes from the tame Republican Party—itself insinuated in all the filth of Washington. The ruling elites will, therefore, be surprised when violence occurs; they will be shocked and outraged, deeply offended. After all, the legitimate national conversation is ongoing; so only wicked terrorists could resort to violence.
What chance do the partisans of the real America—MAGA America—have against their rulers? In their own terms, they are competent small businessmen and veterans; they are the productive core of American society. The typical MAGA supporter will hold that since the American core has many firearms and the sympathy of the military ranks, they will easily prevail against the decadent elites. In this respect, they are the ones with delusions.
The key to winning an armed conflict is the ability to bring force to bear at the right place and at the right time. This means that victory is never simply a question of raw numbers; it is a matter of superior communication, and superior intelligence regarding your enemy’s movements. In conflicts, it is as important to maximise your internal coherence—and degrade your opponent’s coherence—as it is to have superior numbers of men; it is also vital to have superior logistics, the ability to move men and matériel across the landscape—and superior intelligence, foreknowledge of your enemy’s actions and intentions.
Anglophone civil wars follow a familiar pattern: the reactionary knightly brotherhoods enjoy early tactical success, but they are eventually beaten by the strategic technological power of their enemies. The Cavaliers in the English Civil War, a knightly brotherhood, had early success against the Roundheads, but they were defeated by the New Model Army; similarly, the Confederates—an aristocratic society—had early success against the Union, but they were beaten back by Northern industry.
In contemporary America, the MAGA faction probably has many competent soldiers, tradesmen, and businessmen on its side. However, as we saw with Trump’s Twitter account, their communication networks are completely vulnerable to disruption by the enemy; a flick of a switch and they cannot communicate. This gives their opponents a huge advantage; although their propaganda is boring lies, they can completely dominate the minds of the masses and disrupt their opponent’s communication. A group of veterans in Idaho may well be a superior fighting force than anyone in San Francisco, but when they cannot coordinate nationally they will be picked off easily; and the national conversation will have been turned against them: “A group of one hundred domestic terrorists were killed in a drone strike outside Boise, the Department of Defense said today, intelligence reports indicated that they were a credible threat to the Las Vegas suburbs.”
Hence any American civil war will see some early victories for MAGA—for small brotherhoods, for experience—but these will soon be pushed back. We live in the age of information war; today’s New Model Army or Northern factory and railroad is the social media platform, the ability to coordinate and manipulate groups of people anywhere; and this ability is almost completely in the hands of the elites. Further, the elites, thanks to the NSA, can also read any communication they choose, so giving them complete insight into the plans of their opponents. For this reason, it is highly likely that the American elites will prevail in any potential civil conflict. Only the most radical measures, such as only communicating by post alone, could give the reactionaries victory; but they are already too tied to the new communication infrastructure to do this at any scale. As ever, the real answer is always to go back as far as possible—though few dare.