I see a lot of posts by people who don't live in the U.S., that look on the possibility of the U.S. "breaking apart", like some other countries they have seen that happen to, with excitement. It seems to me that they don't realize how strong the bonds are holding the U.S. together, and how exaggerated the forces trying to pull it apart. So, I thought I'd write something about just what it would take to "bring the U.S. to its knees":
First of all, forget about the "unrest" you see on TV. Everybody is exaggerating the scale of what is happening. The protests exist, sure; they are mostly peaceful, with a little violence here and there, some of which is being instigated by outside actors (like right-wing groups). There is some looting, some burning of cars, some tear-gassing, and so on -- but it hardly adds up to very much, when you consider the country as a whole. 80% of the population haven't personally even seen any sign of the protests. They've seen it on Fox News or CNN or MSNBC or their local news; but not up-close, and personal. This isn't in the same league as the "Arab Spring" protests that led to "regime change" through the Muslim world.
Some things to keep in mind:
* The groups protesting are very small. They make up less than 10% of the population, and probably less than 5%.
* U.S. militias are also pretty small. They are vastly outnumbered by police, military, state and federal agents. This isn't like in some countries that break apart, where you have war lords with 10% of the population indebted to them -- and that can whip up a revolution, if they wish. Only about maybe 0.05% of Americans belong to a militia, according to this:
* As a general rule, Americans follow rules and authority more than most other countries. I don't want to pick on anyone; but there are videos you can view online, that show how disorganized traffic and pedestrian ground movement is in some countries. In the U.S., people mostly walk in straight lines. They may not trust the police, but they don't often resist authority. They may not believe the opinions they are hearing in the news on TV, but Fox News, say, usually doesn't lie about major happenings, like about whether the military shot down a commercial jet, or invaded another country. And American culture is pretty much uniform -- in a way that it isn't in other countries. Culturally, a person born and raised in Maine (North East) is a lot, lot, lot, lot more similar to a person raised in San Diego (South West), they are are even to a person born in the U.K. There will be some difference in the accent, and a few other minor differences; but that's about it. (It's harder to break apart a people that are so similar.)
* The global economy is locked in fate with the U.S. economy. If the U.S. falls, lots of other countries will fall with it, as they are deeply invested in the U.S. Russian Oligarchs, for example, probably have invested billions of dollars, collectively, in the U.S. (e.g. their real estate investments). Because of this, foreign countries try to prop it back up when it looks like it's falling down. Even China knows better than to harm the U.S. economy (except in small amounts as a proportionate response to trade barriers).
* There is a lot of political polarization in the country; and it can be exploited to shift outcomes a little this way and that, in close elections. But it's not really anymore extreme than support for the local sports team. Yes, people say some stupid things on TV; but we all get along ok, in the end. My brother, for example, has polar-opposite political views from me, yet we get along ok.
Ok, so, now, what would it take to bring down the U.S.? First, it won't be just one thing. It's going to take a combination of things -- the bonds are just too strong. Something like this:
* Collapse of not just the stock market, but the "real economy", following a massive bubble that burst. This results in long-term unemployment in the double-digits (just like what happened with the 2008-2009 financial crisis).
* In combination with that, a rising social movement, perhaps brought on my disaffected, poor millennials, who see their chances at the good life taken away from them by massive student debt.
* In combination with an ill-advised proxy war with, say, China or Iran, resulting in thousands of American deaths.
* In combination with the rise of neo-fascist leader even worse than Trump. The leader makes some really bad military and economic decisions, prolonging both crises by several years.
* In combination with global growing resentment at the U.S., and a reduction in U.S. investments and influx of talented foreign students and workers.
* In combination with a disaster of some kind, that tears apart the social fabric. For example, maybe a dirty radiological bomb is set off in New York City, resulting in the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment -- further stoked by that neo-fascist leader.
All that I listed so far still would not pull it apart. It would come right back together. What can we add, to worsen things?...
* Maybe an energy crisis of some kind causes gasoline prices to skyrocket, making it harder and harder for people to travel.
* Maybe another dirty bomb is set off, this time on the West Coast. Now the public sentiment is really toxic, and coupled with all the other things going on, it might look like the U.S. has had it.
But, you'll hardly notice anything at all wrong with the country. People will still go to their favorite breakfast spots; still go to their jobs; still have dinner with their families; as though nothing has changed at all.
I'm afraid we've only got about 10% of the way towards "bringing the U.S. to its knees". we're going to have to turn up the temperature:
* Police and military are infiltrated by extremists united by anti-Muslim sentiment (Muslims are blamed for the dirty bombs), and incite random violence all over the country.
* TV propaganda is cranked up to even higher levels, and people just outright lie during the evening news. Muslims are called "terrorists"; raw, racist language is used on right-wing channels.
* The neo-fascist president signs executive orders, and has the backing of Congress, to begin the construction of "education centers", which are actually concentration camps to "educate" Muslims. Thousands are sent there against their will.
But that's STILL not enough. We've only gotten 15% of the way there! Good god... how hard can it be to bring this **** country down?!
* How about a solar flare severely impacts the internet and electric grid, so that our technology doesn't work?
* Or, even greater levels of unemployment due to AI automation?
STILL not enough!