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  1. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Civil War in America. Possible in our time?

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Wreybies, Sep 5, 2014.

    I was having this conversation with my mother the other evening who keeps abreast of political matters much better than I do, and I asked her if she felt, as a child, the same tension and general unease when she was a young person in the 60's and there was so much social change going on then? She said no. I asked her if she thought, as American mindsets seems to grow more and more polarized, if it could actually lead to civil war? Her answer was again no for the simple reason that while mindsets are polarized, the situation does not have geographic divide aiding it the way it did in the Civil War with the North and the South. We have Lefties and Righties in America, but they live door to door.

    And then the next day she showed me this:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andy-schmookler/the-spirit-that-drove-us-_b_5749884.html

    It's hard for me to know if its not just media overload that makes me feel this way, but there's this dull feeling in my stomach that it could be possible. It's the same dull feeling of ever-present anxiety I remember as a kid in the early-mid 80's worrying about Reagan and first Andropov and then Chernenko and the big red nuclear war button I imagined in their respective offices.

    What do you think?
     
  2. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    No I don't think it will ever happen again because most of the people of America take so much pride in their nationality that in the end it trumps whatever differences they may have with others. So whether you like Coke or Pepsi, Rush Limbaugh or John Stewart, or Salsa or ketchup, in the end we are all still Americans and that trumps all else. Back when the Civil War happened the country was still new and their wasn't as much national pride as there is today.
     
  3. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    We had it in 1991
     
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  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    There's always a possibility, though I would argue it's a small one. I'd say there's a better chance of having a revolution.
     
  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I sincerely doubt America will ever get itself involved in another civil war. What must be understood is that back before we had our Civil War, we didn't see ourselves as Americans. We saw ourselves as various states all wrapped up under one government, one banner, but we still saw ourselves as states. We were loyal first and foremost to our own states. In addition to this was the issue of slavery. It's too long and detailed for me to cover, but put it simply:

    The South wasn't about to let go of slavery without a fight, and they sure weren't going to let some city boys in D.C. tell them what they could or could not do in their own states. So when Lincoln assumed office, the South saw what they believed to be their worst nightmare come true: a collection of Northern states, led by Lincoln, were about to tell the collection of Southern states what they could or could not do with their own property (and yes, they saw their slaves as property.) Hence secession and the war. That is also not getting into the fact that the issue of the day was basically "You are either for or against slavery." If you were against slavery, then the pro-slavery people would treat you with hostility because they'd perceive you as a threat to their way of life. I can't even begin to tell you how deeply entrenched America was in on that issue. Even our Founders saw how bad it was and elected to sweep it under the rug for another generation rather than deal with that thorny issue.

    Comparing America today to how it was in the 1860s and you'll see two totally different countries. In the 1860s, America was just a name given to a union under one banner, but the people were first loyal to their own states. In 2014, America is...well, America. :p In short, don't worry, we're not going to have another civil war. We'll let Texas secede first before that happens.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
  6. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Read your history, a revolution is what the south called the civil war.
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    You'd have to define "civil war" and "revolution" before arguing this point. Calling a conflict a revolution doesn't automatically make it one.
     
  8. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Oh...kay. Then you're distinguishing above between a civil war and a revolution is meaningless?
     
  9. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    It depends on what side you're asking. The South may have called it a revolution, but the North called it a rebellion.

    The American Colonies called their war a revolution. The British called it a rebellion.
     
  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Well, no. I just didn't bother defining those terms because it was just a casual comment and I didn't expect a rigorous discussion on the matter. But if you really want, here's what I think is a good definition of "civil war": "Civil war can be defined as armed combat taking place within the boundaries of a recognized sovereign entity between parties subject to a common authority at the outset of the hostilities" (from Stathis Kalyvas' book The Logic of Violence in Civil War). Defining a revolution is a bit more complicated and can involve social change, political change, industrial change, etc. But I don't really think it matters how rigidly (or not) you define it because based on the definition of "civil war" given above, a revolution can be said to be a civil war, but you can't say that a civil war is a revolution.
     
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  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I doubt a revolution would happen today. Nor, for that matter, a Civil War. I think modern communications has made that nearly impossible. Like it or not, we are more one than we have ever been before. We may disagree with each other, even to the extent that 1860s Americans disagreed, but modern technology has forced us to life together and tolerate each other no matter how much we disagree. It's hard to want to kill the person who is, literally or figuratively, at the next desk.
     
  12. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Civil war is always possible. However, America is so highly militarised, it's ordinary police are armed like assault units, the practice of detention without a charge is now well established, and weapons of mass destruction are wielded on civilians world-over. This constitutes a powerful message to their own citizens, about how far the American government, the president and the interest groups, are prepared to go for their interests. And then there are Manning, Assange and Snowden, who uncovered vile practices by the USA government and are either ruined men or hunted men. I can't think of any First World country that has that much power over their own citizens.

    So I think American government is doing everything they can to ensure that nothing compromises their power or security, and while that is really bad for democracy, it might be good for prevention of civil war or revolution. However, in my culture we have a saying 'He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword." So that would be my greatest concern.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
  13. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Possible, and I'll not say unlikely. I don't think it would be as certain people would imagine it these days.
     
  14. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I like the way the non-American tells us the way the wind is blowing in America.
     
  15. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Yeah, because you need to live in Russia before you know Putin is bad news.
     
  16. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Well to extrapolate your point, we might know that Putin is "bad news" to western intrests. But he is
    1.) Not representing western interests
    2.) Actually very popular for Russian interests
    So for us to presume to know what the Russians are thinking, how the conversations are going, whether the loud Russian uncle is talking revolution at the thanksgiving table (allegorically) and whether anyone takes him seriously is the height of ethno-centrisism.

    We are not in Russia. The majority of use can't read Russian writing, let alone speak it. So saying that Putin is "bad news" for Russians is just ignorance.

    And then pulling that back into America, I'll use a line from a Tool song,
    All you know about me is what I sold ya.
    You probably consume a lot of American media. You might use American idioms. You may even read American news. But don't pretend that the eye of the media, or the movies you watch, or the phrases you say let you in on how America is actually dealing with events.
     
  17. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Of course Putin is not representing western interests. But because he isn't doing that, doesn't mean he cannot be bad news to humanity as a whole. One need merely glance at what's going on the Ukraine to see that. Russian bias has little, if anything, to do with it when you try to see how things are beyond national lines and care about actual people.

    Not for me personally. I'm at times, by my own admitting, snobbishly European. I'm getting better, but the US is still far from the centre of my universe. But I'm only speaking for myself.

    Someone can be clued in on a country without actually physically living there. Often journalists prove this to the best of their abilities.
     
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  18. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    The fact that you think that is western bias. Putin's badness is not up for debate, your ability to calculate the feeling of the people is what is at stake here. All you are doing is showing how much that doesn't work.

    Let me tell you that the best of their abilities are, as a whole, failsauce.
     
  19. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Jack, I think Lemex is saying that we can learn what other countries are doing via research, the news, and what journalists are doing. Just a few weeks/months ago, when Ferguson went up into hell, non-American journalists were there to document it. Just as we have American journalists all around the world documenting what's up outside America. It's how the world stays connected.
     
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  20. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I don't think it's western bias at all. In fact that is exactly what I didn't say. I'm pretty sure I'm able to 'calculate' what someone may feel when they have a Russian-fired bullet in the chest though. It's not a western bias that would suggest people would be screaming in agony, that's human.

    Really? So the people on the ground in Syria giving reports of what is going on in the streets of Aleppo is 'faulsauce'? Do you have any actual evidence for this?

    I've just got back from Holland, and trust me, their reports on the UK were better than the BBC's at times. For example, on their news show on I think Veronica/Disney they mentioned Cameron's government as being based on free market principles - you'd never hear the BBC say that.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
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  21. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    When did I talk about Syria? I'm talking about the media portrayal of America, which even American media is horrible at. If you really want to know what's happening in America you have to turn on the local news or read a local paper. The internet news sites as well as the 24 hour news cycle portray a clownish caricature of American people/opinions/life.

    Also:
    You may be able to calculate agony, but you're very bad at understanding Russian people, who think that Putin is doing a fantastic job. And the fact that that is western media reporting on it means it's already biased in our favor. The first rule of journalism is that no one is completely unbiased, so western news reports of Russia are skewed in the favor of Western civilization.

    You have no idea whether Russia is near a civil war any more then you do America.

    Edited to add: I'm sorry, but my original post was not directed at you, but at someone who wrote a far longer, and far more ignorant post. And whom has less knowledge of America then someone living in the UK.
     
  22. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    And I wasn't talking about just America, obviously. You barely need to read all my posts here to see that. I was making the point that people do not need to actually live in a country to have a good idea of what is going on there. The best example I can give is this: George Orwell never visited the USSR.

    Despite what some people might think, not everyone in the not-America part of the world is in love with America.

    This is an astoundingly strange comment considering I've not mentioned the Russian people at all, and have already said I'm talking from a more human-based, unbiased perspective. You've heard the phrase 'master of war' right?

    As I said: 'Of course Putin is not representing western interests. But because he isn't doing that, doesn't mean he cannot be bad news to humanity as a whole. One need merely glance at what's going on the Ukraine to see that. Russian bias has little, if anything, to do with it when you try to see how things are beyond national lines and care about actual people.'

    Again, 'master of war'.

    Pure pish, it might be the first rule of journalism for government stooges who want to be on TV, but for the good, independent journalists like Private Eye it's the first bull's eye

    I've never said anything definitive about either counties, other than the fact a guy who has started a war has hurt people. That's hardly a groundbreaking observation.

    Also, I'm willing to bet you don't know much more than me about what is going on in the rest of your own country. There could be a civil war brewing here in the UK, but I may not actually know it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
  23. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I have no idea what this means, but you can be forgiven for not understanding. During the cold war (the older members can back me up here), there was very little information at all coming out of the USSR. Orwell didn't write from actual accounts, just his ideas about what a totalitarian regime was like.

    I hope you'll excuse me, on this thread in which oppression has been mentioned several time for thinking that you meant a Russian bullet used on a Russian person.

    You seem extremely resistance to the concept of bias. There is a great many people who believe that Putin is a great leader for standing up to the West, and not giving in. Who are you to say any different, other then a Westerner steeped in Western opinion?

    No I assure you, this was the first lesson in my history class, and the teacher was actually the head of the Journalism department. Bias is something to constantly fight against but there is no way to truly banish it from your work.

    Once again, I'm sorry. I quoted the post I was responding to, and (as I said) it was far more ignorant. You just leaped in between and got caught in the cross hairs.

    Edited to add: This isn't just a matter of current events and news reports. I doubt you took four years of American history and two years of poli-sci. I don't think you watch the super bowl or understand American traditions behind it. You don't go to Thanksgivings or the Fourth of July, and there is so much to American culture that you are blind to.

    Just as I don't know anything about the World Cup, Guy Fawks day, or any goddamn thing about the English party system/government.
     
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  24. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I can see you are not entirely ignorant of the subject, but Orwell dealt with the Communist party in the UK. Asked them directly to help him get to Spain, despite knowing it was funded by Russia. And he suffered actual Communist repression in Catalonia, Spain, which is detailed in his Homage to Catalonia. There are also letters in which he talks about discussing matters in the soviet union with defectors in Paris during the 1940s, and London after the Spanish Civil War. He was also a British policeman in Burma, being the tool of a tyranny. His detailing of totalitarianism was as far as you can get from what you suggested without actually living under Stalin himself.

    I can.

    Because I try to step away from my tradition and the opinion I've been born into, because I used to be a journalist myself, and I've seen how much rubbish is written when you try and spin the facts in your favour in my academic work. Bias is like poison, and that has been the great lesson of my life, because it can make people say a great many very stupid or intellectually dishonest things.

    As someone who has worked as a journalist and is currently trying to pursue a career in academia the way to remove bias to a point when it is virtually not a factor is to have excellent critical thinking skills. Everyone is in love with their own opinions at first, but you need to also have the attitude that until you have approached your opinion from as many directions as possible, it's going to stink of ideology. And it often does.

    Yeah, I know, that's kind of my thing. :D

    That's fine, but who is to say someone else is not clued up and well read on American politics and knows more about contemporary American politics than the average American? Say for the sake of argument they had even visited America. Is their view not as valid simply because they have not lived in America for some length of time?
     
  25. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I would honestly say no. I was going to use an analogy about living in a state, and then realized that you wouldn't quite get that. But if you grew up all your life in a little town in England and then met a man who had visited your town, read up on the history, and had tea with the vicar, would you say he had the same knowledge of the people and the town then you did?

    It's easier with states, because every state has it's own history class that deals exclusively with that state. My wife took a Colorado history course, but still has misconceptions about what goes on here. I'll ask her, "Didn't you learn that in third grade?" and the answer is "of course not". It's similar when I go to visit her family, and even though we live in the same country there is still some culture shock surrounding our visits.

    And my wife has never gone skiing, which is a whole subset culture that she doesn't understand at all, and probably never will.

    So there are cultural attributes just of my state that I wouldn't trust an outsider's opinion on.
     
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