Everything has changed in America between 1860 and 2022 except one thing: The people claiming that a negotiated breakup of the country is the best way out of its troubles are selling a dangerous fantasy.
The recognition that the United States is in dire, probably terminal trouble is spreading widely. Fringe Texas independence groups have been active for decades, but they have gained increasing traction with off-the-cuff remarks by Republican Farce/Fascist Governors Rick “Goodhair” Perry and Greg Abbott. On the other side of the aisle, there were rumblings in California and Vermont during the Insane Orange Clown Presidency.
A multitude of fanciful maps is swirling around the Internet, with regard to a peaceful American “divorce.” None of them can withstand a moment’s reflection. To begin with, most of them are drawn around state lines, in an attempt to cleanly separate “Red States” from “Blue States.” But there are no such entities; there are only “Blue” enclaves containing a majority of the population, in the midst of vast “Red” plains that are mostly thinly populated, where the majority of MAGAs live. Already, there are secessionist movements within states, notably of angry MAGAs in rural areas of “deep-Blue” California, and the counties of eastern Oregon that wish to detach themselves and join up with a “Greater Idaho.” Some White neighborhood of Atlanta wants to secede and take its tax dollars with it. The fissiparous logic is endless, and relentless.
Nor can we imagine a separation being made on a county-by-county, town-by-town, or even precinct-by-precinct basis. Recall that the Capitol putschists mainly hailed from counties that Biden won. Their militancy seems to have been all the greater for their living in the midst of thousands of people who didn’t think like them.
There is another factor, acknowledged by Stephen Marche in a later chapter of his book, The Next Civil War: Dispatches from the American Future, where he speaks of the possibility of a peaceful breakup of the U.S.: the negotiations would require goodwill that does not exist. Imagine sitting across a table from Marjorie Taylor Greene or Madison Cawthorn, trying to negotiate, say, fishing rights with an individual who denies large swaths of reality and believes you to be the stooge of Satanic pedophiles.
And this relates to the real reason it’s impossible to conceive of a negotiated fragmentation of America: MAGA is a fascist movement out for absolute power. As Voltaire said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” The point of the Big Lie is to force it on the entire country, by making Trump, or another fascist to be named later, President again, regardless of the desires of the majority of the country. To cement their control, the MAGAs demand to own the “brand,” to use the degraded word associated with the current pre-extinction phase of capitalism, of the United States of America. They won’t be satisfied to rule just Mississippi and West Virginia, even with Texas and Florida thrown in. They must dominate it all, including cosmopolitan New York, where they insist on the “right” to rape the Statue of Liberty, replace her crown with a MAGA cap, tear off and melt down that plaque with Emma Lazarus’s paean to immigration, and take a dump on the pedestal, too, if they feel like it. No, there will be no living in peace with MAGA, not within the framework of the United States, and not by taking an axe to it, either.