The Next Civil War | Stephen Marche

Summary of: The Next Civil War: Dispatches from the American Future
By: Stephen Marche


Dive into the riveting book summary of ‘The Next Civil War: Dispatches from the American Future’ by Stephen Marche, where he paints a chilling portrait of a potentially fractured nation on the brink of civil unrest. Discover how the current climate of divisiveness, rising inequality, climate change, and distrust of institutional legitimacy stem from deeper issues rather than a single political figure. This detailed analysis draws on the forces shaping elections, the role of social media in fueling virality and outrage, and the threat of domestic terrorism and political violence. Join us as we explore how inequality, climate change, and property vulnerability may upend American society, and whether there’s still hope for addressing these challenges.

America’s Demise

Stephen Marche’s non-fiction book paints a picture of America’s decline from being a global leader to a nation paralyzed by division and at risk of civil war. Supported by meticulous research, the author presents a chilling hypothetical portrayal of America’s potential future using a novelist’s narrative style. This work serves as a warning of what may happen to a polarized society that does not address its differences and unite towards a common goal.

America’s Virulent Antigovernment Resistance

The book highlights the growing threat of armed domestic conflict in America by extreme antigovernment rhetoric. It traces the roots of this resistance to Barack Obama’s 2008 election and shows that rising inequality, climate change, and outrage are driving factors. The study suggests that division and polarization are fuelled by the media, the internet, and social media platforms, and that moral outrage is the strongest driver of traffic after the experience of awe. The author warns that anonymity on the internet stokes anger, and social media networks’ divisiveness further fuels civil unrest.

The Dangers of the Hard Right

The hard right is a diverse group of individuals who hold extremist views, including white supremacists and neo-Nazis, with some members present in law enforcement and the military. Despite posing a significant threat, law enforcement agencies fail to take appropriate action against these groups, with the FBI unwilling to add white supremacists to terrorist watch lists. Shockingly, a report released in 2019 revealed that over one-third of active-duty military personnel held racist beliefs. The hard right’s lack of a coherent ideology makes it a challenging group to tackle effectively.

The Blurry Line Between Ideology and Violence

In “America, Now *-er Than Ever,” Marche argues that domestic terrorism and political violence are perpetuated by individuals rather than organizations. He introduces the concept of stochastic terrorism, which is fueled by an ambiguous hatred that condenses into murder. As America experiences a surge in tribalism, ideological beliefs increasingly correlate with racial divisions, with the Republican Party promoting racial resentment and the Democratic Party fostering diversity. This has led to a climate of anger and recrimination that has permeated American society.

America’s Inevitable Challenges

Inequality, climate change, and rising sea levels will be the defining factors impacting American lives. The increasing wealth disparity will breed anger, polarization, and partisan politics. The changing climate will wreak havoc on agriculture, leading to droughts and crop damages. The loss of agricultural stability will destabilize not only the US but also the world as the country is the planet’s primary food exporter. Additionally, rising sea levels will cause a property damage of $1 trillion. These challenges are inevitable and will shape the future of the US.

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