February 25, 2024

Introductory Note: In a SurvivalBlog essay that I wrote back in January, 2019, I warned that there were signs that a Second Civil War might be brewing. I’d like to update and expand on that theme, in this essay.

The recent release of the first trailer for the scheduled April 2024 release of the A24 Productions movie titled Civil War has prompted considerable conjecture. The film reportedly had a $75 million budget. Commentator Tim Pool posted his thoughts on it, and then followed up with a more in-depth panel discussion, and then another. Dozens of others have also chimed in, so YouTube is now replete with “Civil War Trailer Reaction” videos, from both right-wingers and left-wingers. Many conservatives are scratching their heads, doubting how Texas and California could ever team up, in a future civil war. It is too early to tell, but I suspect that the 2024 Civil War movie will be a liberal propaganda piece. The timing of its release right in the middle of the 2024 presidential primaries and caucuses makes it immediately suspect.

Speaking of elections, the times we are living in are definitely unusual. In a recent 4-3 decision, the Colorado Supreme Court stretched the definition of Section 3 the 14th Amendment to deny a place on the ballot for Donald Trump. Without due process. Without combatant status or a conviction. And without the opportunity to face his accusers. That decision was stayed pending a Supreme Court  appeal on Friday. But now Maine is attempting to do the same thing… This does not bode well.

If people feel genuinely disenfranchised, then they tend to start to feel combative. This has happened many times, all over the world. Ditto for times when people feel singled out for repression, or over-taxed, or censored, or under-represented. The recent steamroller of Wokeness has justifiably made a lot of people angry. If situations like these are forced on a populace for an extended time, then civil wars or guerilla wars often result.

Dread and Foreboding

I must emphasize that I absolutely dread the prospect of a Second Civil War. I recently read about some liberals who are itching to see a Second Civil War. Let me remind folks of some facts about America’s last little Tiff of Unpleasantness:

  • US Population in the 1860 Census:  31,443,321.
  • Estimated number of combatants killed 1861-1865:  618,200, with 360,200 Union deaths and 258,000 Confederate deaths. Those figures do not include civilian deaths.
  • US Population in the 2020 Census: 331,464,948. (A more than 10x increase.)
  • The projected proportional number of deaths in a Second Civil War: About 6.3 million.

In my January 2019 essay, I had a foreboding of what would later be called the January 6th, 2021 “Insurrection”. I wrote:

The outbreak of actual fighting between red and blue regions will probably begin with street riots during a heated political campaign, or perhaps immediately following a contested election. The most recent election (November, 2018) was marred by, ahem, vote tallying “irregularities”, particularly in Florida and a few other eastern states. If this is repeated in [November] 2020, with enough vote counting manipulation to flip the Presidential election, there could be huge riots. This might be the trigger for skirmishing and for some states demanding partition or even secession. I can see that Texas might be where it all begins. After all, there is a legitimate claim that Texas was never lawfully annexed into the Union. And there are already calls for Texas to leave the Union–so-called “Texit.”

I’d like to expand on something else that I wrote, in 2019:

Regardless of where it begins, I predict that the second civil war will break out piecemeal, and almost unexpectedly.  It might be something as simple as one state declaring a boycott of goods from another state. Or It might be a revolt by one group of counties in one part of a state being denied pleas for partition, by its state legislators in a state capitol in another more populous part of the same state.  (I’ve mentioned this situation in both Oregon and Washington, repeatedly.)

There will probably not be state-level lines drawn in a Second U.S. Civil War. At least in the first few months, there will be no clear-cut “front lines” and there will be no safe “rear” areas. There could be fighting nearly everywhere: Fighting between states, between counties, between neighborhoods, and even between individual neighbors. It will probably resemble the 1920s Irish Civil War or The Troubles, in Northern Ireland in the 1970s more than it will America’s First Civil War of the 1860s. (The photo at the top of this article dates from the Irish Civil War.)

There also could be multiple factions formed — not just two sides. There will probably be massive repression doled out by tyrants in many of the more populous states. There could be large numbers of casualties and full-scale displacements of civilian populations. And if the war goes on long enough, then I predict that there will be wholesale arrests of dissenters, summary trials, POW internment camps, civilian concentration camps, and attempts to disarm the citizenry.  (With more than 350 million guns in private hands in the USA, good luck, with that, tyrants!)

Decades of Recriminations

In short, a Second Civil War would be a decidedly ugly chain of events that would ruin almost everyone’s lives. And, regardless of how it ends, I can foresee that there will be recriminations that linger for at least five decades. To illustrate: My grandfather, Ernest Rawles, was born in 1897.  He reached adulthood in 1915. But even then, 50 years after the end of the Civil War there was still lingering North-South tension in his small town in Northern California. The state of California had hardly any involvement in the Civil War. But in 1915, the little town of Boonville still had a North Methodist Church and a South Methodist Church that sat on opposite sides of a street, and their congregants often shunned each other. People’s choice of church membership reflected their states of residency before they had moved to California. Former Northerners attended the North Methodist Church and former Southerners attended the South Methodist Church. (On the east and west sides of the street, respectively!) There is an old saying: “Still waters run deep. Again, what my grandfather saw was a full 50 years after the war ended.

Even today, in the South, some folks still refer to the Civil War as “The Recent Unpleasantness.”

Think This Through

We need to think through the likely chain of events if we experience a Second Civil War. We must assess our locale, our level of family preparedness, the depth of our food storage, our tactical readiness, and our possible level of involvement. If we see threats to our lives, liberties, and property, then we should plan and actively mitigate those threats. Think about this seriously: Will we be mere bystanders? Will we be combatants? Or logistical supporters? Will we attempt to be medics — and if so on which side, or be neutral? (Attempting to be neutral didn’t work out too well for one teenager at a riot in Kenosha.)

My own choice? I intend to continue to be a journalist. Almost a decade ago, my son and I launched a free press credentials site, at CFAPA.org. And in 2017, I bought large “PRESS” patches for my body armor plate carrier. At least I’ll have the option of wearing those patches if there are hostilities. I must make note that when I exercise my First Amendment Rights, I won’t be leaving my Second Amendment rights at home. My primary plate carrier also has magazine pouches.

I recognize that because I’ve been an outspoken conservative libertarian novelist for more than 30 years, and a blogger for 18+ years, I’ve effectively put a target on my back. So be it. I won’t let any fears push me into silencing myself. But from a practical standpoint, I may have to go underground to avoid being put behind bars, or being killed. My only regret is that my high profile will probably also endanger the lives of my family members. I pray daily for their safety: May God grant them a place of hiding, in the uncertain days to come.

Existential Threats

I’m also including some advice verbatim from two of my posts in 2018 and in 2019:

Regardless of the potential range of severity or likelihood of riots, terrorist attacks, or a future civil war, it is wise to prepare. There are many existential threats. As I’ve written before, it is wise to Study Up, Stock Up, Team Up, and Train Up. The same preparations that you make for an economic collapse will look a lot like preps for surviving a civil war. Think in terms of Location, Logistics, Training, Communications, and Force Multipliers. The SurvivalBlog archives are replete with useful knowledge on all of those. Dive in deep and take full advantage of those educational resources.

Preserving Life and Limb

With a second civil war now on the horizon, you, my dear readers, may have questions:  Will my family be involved? Will we want to be involved?  What regions of the country will be [relatively] safe? The answers to these questions may not be immediately clear. But some places definitely won’t be safe. Consider this: The counties in the state of Wyoming are almost uniformly red, from end to end. But many states are a patchwork of red and blue counties. For example, the state of California is divided into 58 counties. Of those, roughly 10 quite urbanized counties are blue, while 30 rural counties are red, and perhaps 8 counties are various shades of purple. Living in California may become like living in Bleeding Kansas, before and during the first Civil War. If you continue to live in California despite the obvious risks, then that would be a classic blunder. Take a long, hard look at the political demographics of your current State of residence. Analyze it. Is it more like Wyoming, or more like California?

My advice is simple: Vote with your feet. The threat of a future civil war is just one more reason to permanently relocate to a more conservative inland state. If you are living away from the conflict, then you will have the option to become involved–either directly or indirectly.  But if you are living “right in the thick of it”, then you are more likely to be tossed about by events. Many situations will be determined by simple geography, rather than by volition. So pick your locale wisely.

I may be biased, but I believe that nearly all of the counties inside The American Redoubt are a good starting point, in your search for a safe haven.  – JWR

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