A Cold Civil War
by Mark Steyn - October 13th, 2008 - The Corner (National Review Blog)
Is that where we're headed? William Gibson used the phrase a year or so back in his novel Spook Country; the Hyacinth Girl picked it up at her website; and I ran with it for a column north of the border.
What is interesting in this posting by Steyn is the struggle to find a term to refer to what is well known. America is split over two views of the past, present and future. Both of these views are passionately defended by people who are having difficulty expressing the basis for their different views of reality and different dreams for the future. Both, however, hate the view of the other.
One person that Steyn links to is David Warren who has an interesting historical take on the concept using the term "two solitudes". Like Steyn, he sees the consequences as being close to war.
Democrats and Republicans have become two solitudes, and so, the result of the election will be ugly, no matter which side wins.
An intriguing take for me is the link to a blogger known as The Hyacinth Girl. She makes an interesting observation about the world of computers (my world for most of my life) and the people who populate it.
Computer folk are overwhelmingly liberal--rabidly, irrationally, liberal--as fluent in black helicopter conspiracy theory as they are in Klingon . . . For folk who fear Big Brother's Big Government and the ever-watchful eye of the military-industrial complex, they sure are enthusiastic about installing it [big government tyranny] in this country. To be fair, there is also a strong libertarian contingent in the ranks of the older, wiser computer geeks.
I think that I fall in the later libertarian category of older geeks, though I will leave to others the determination of whether I fit the description "wiser". However the incredible dichotomy between the extremely liberal but simultaneously anti-government young geeks seems very accurate to me. I have had so many discussions that ended in frustration at the inability of young geeks to see the irreconcilable conflict in their views. I suspect this dichotomy (and their inability or unwillingness to reconcile it) is at the heart of the enthusiasm for Barack Obama.
I do however have an explanation for the dichotomy. Today's bright young people have been raised in a virulently politicised school system that simultaneously left them unprepared to deal with logical analysis of public issues due to the concept of political correctness. No matter how brilliant they are in technical fields they fall back on the brain washed views they never saw challenged as they grew up. In fact they were told they could not challenge them as that was politically incorrect.
Some were immune due to the strong influence of parents, or by virtue of being removed from the politicized public school system and they reject this liberal world view as strongly as its practitioners accept it.
This background has left us with two groups that cannot communicate. Hate of the other is all that is left. And that is the politics of America today. At this point it is being fought with rhetoric, whether you call it a "cold war" or "two solitudes".
A much bigger question is whether it will stay rhetoric or lead to the blood bath such disagreements have historically created.