Can Biden’s ‘Unity’ Really Save Us from Civil War?
Stephen Marche Talks to Andrew Keen on Keen On
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In this episode, Andrew is joined by Stephen Marche, author of ”America’s Next Civil War,” to discuss President Biden’s potential to bring peace to America and what major obstacles to diplomacy exist in the country today. In the wake of Biden’s inauguration, is another civil war impending?
From the episode:
Stephen Marche: Joe Biden is going to send people out to preach American gospel around the world. No one is going to listen.
Andrew Keen: People don’t listen to Biden in Canada?
Stephen Marche: Well, we’ll listen, because we have an interest in stake. We have mutual interests that are very intensely at stake. But the idea that American democracy, when I was 25, even—and I’m not super old—but it was the ideal. It was absolutely the model for the world. It isn’t. It just is not anymore, and it never will be again. That has ended. That process where it’s like the United States is the hope of the world, the necessary nation—that’s gone. That’s why I think I found the spectacle of the inauguration so grotesque. You’re just pretending that you’re back to the necessary nation. You’re just another nation trying to get through the day without falling into tyranny.
Andrew Keen: But are they supposed to say that? I mean, they’ve got to at least show a good game. I was watching, and I don’t disagree with some of the things you’re saying, but at least they put on a show. And as I said to my daughter, the one thing Americans still know how to do is put on a nice show.
Stephen Marche: Yeah, it’s true. Lady Gaga hugging everybody. Right, you’ve really got this shit worked out. To me, it’s like, can we get to the point where we recognize that Americans are just people too? And that their vulnerabilities are the same vulnerabilities that have haunted everyone ever? I see no evidence from anything Biden’s done to recognize the plight that he’s in. Now, maybe I’ll be wrong. But I’ve been talking to people—you have to understand the point of view I’m coming from—I’ve been talking to FBI sources for two years about how white power has infiltrated police departments to the point where they can’t send out watch lists about domestic terrorism to police departments because somebody in the police department would just tell the white power people that they’ve been made. I’ve been talking to people in the military about white power infiltration. These are serious questions. If there is a white power movement that takes over significant portions of the US military, I mean, that’s a real crisis. That’s a real, very serious crisis for the world.
Andrew Keen: And it seems as if you’re not in a minority. You tweet that 31 percent of Americans think that a civil war is coming in the next five years. You wrote that in 2018. I would guess that that number is probably higher now.
Stephen Marche: Sixty-four now.
Andrew Keen: Sixty-four. So what is it going to look like? Is it right-wing militias taking over state houses, states—Michigan, Kansas, Arkansas, Alabama?
Stephen Marche: I don’t like to make specific predictions, because what I’m dealing with here are models, that I really do believe in. I mean, one of them’s going to break, but the ones I’m using haven’t broken yet. Like the hyper-partisanship people, I asked them two years ago who’s going to win the election; they said Biden, narrowly. And the models that I’m using are like that. They have very strong predictive capacities and they have very strong predictive histories. So I don’t like to go beyond them because they work.
But the model that is in my own head is chaos. It’s sectarian conflict. It’s what we saw in Iraq. It’s what we saw in Syria. It’s tribalism broken down into chaotic forms. It’s new political entities taking on meaning. Do people in New York start to think of themselves as New Yorkers first and American second? What are the consequences of that? What happens when a Republican president comes to power with 5 or 6 percent less than the popular vote? The models show that is likely. That’s likely to happen.
Stephen Marche is a novelist, essayist and cultural commentator. He is the author of half a dozen books, including The Unmade Bed: The Messy Truth About Men and Women in the Twenty-First Century (2016), The Hunger of the Wolf (2015), Love and the Mess We’re In (2013), How Shakespeare Changed Everything (2012), Shining at the Bottom of the Sea (2007) and Raymond and Hannah (2005). He has written opinion pieces and essays for The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Walrus and many others. He is the host of the hit audio series How Not to F*ck Up Your Kids Too Bad, and its sequel How Not to F*ck Up Your Marriage Too Bad on Audible, and is currently at work on a book about the possibility of a civil war in the United States for Simon and Schuster. He also writes “A Thousand Words About Our Culture,” a monthly column for Esquire magazine, in addition to opinion pieces for Salon.com, The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star. He received a doctorate in Early Modern Drama in 2005 from the University of Toronto.