Breakup of the USA
rah at shipwright.com
Fri Jan 23 07:46:21 PST 2009
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Conceptual Trends and Current Topics
Breakup of the USA
In the world of scenario planning, the fact that something is
unthinkable should not prevent us from considering it. The breakup of
the Soviet Union was unthinkable almost until the day it happened. At
the same time, of course, not every impossible thing will happen.
Among the most unthinkable scenarios for most Americans is the
unthinkable idea that the United States could become the disunited or
turn into divided states. Even though this union accumulated very
slowly in the first place, and against all odds -- in other words it
was not inevitable -- the fact that the USA will not always be as
united, or at least united in the way it is now, is considered,
But as Juan Enriquez notes in his amazing PopTech talk, based on his
book "The Untied States of America: Polarization, Fracturing, and Our
Future", no US president has ever died under the same flag that he was
born under. That is, the borders of the United States has constantly
shifted even in modern times. The last state was added in 1959 (after
I was born!) and more could be added still. Americans are comfortable
ADDING states, but it might not take much to subtract one. The outcome
of the US Civil War has biased Americans to disbelieving in
subtraction, but that might change.
In past decades bold American thinkers have imagined how the US might
break up, but these were more thought experiments indicating the
cultural differences within this large country. There's no shortage of
maps showing the alternative arrangements of North American countries.
One of the finest is Joel Garreau' s 1981 scenario of the Nine Nations
of North America.
However the current economic instability and the general devolution of
nation states around the world has led to several outsiders
considering the break up of the US as a serious possibility. Two of
these scenarios come from Russians.
In the past year or so, traffic to Dmitry Orlov's online presentation
about the 'collapse gap' has soared as word of mouth recommendations
about his scenario flourished. Orlov's argument is that the parallels
in the state of the USSR twenty years ago and the USA now make an
economic collapse likely. Orlov does not specifically talk about
breaking up as collapse. He says the USSR was better prepared for
collapse than the US.
The most recent breakup scenario was noted today in the Wall Street
Journal in a piece about Russian professor Igor Panarin, who predicts
the breakup of the US in the year 2010. He has been predicting the
same for the past decade but is now getting an audience. The logic of
his scenario goes like this:
He predicts that economic, financial and demographic trends will
provoke a political and social crisis in the U.S. When the going gets
tough, he says, wealthier states will withhold funds from the federal
government and effectively secede from the union. Social unrest up to
and including a civil war will follow. The U.S. will then split along
ethnic lines, and foreign powers will move in.
With his Soviet KGB background it may be no surprise that in Panarin's
scenario the breakaway "countries" all succumb to foreign influence
and are not really independent. In contrast American scenarios of
breakup envision the resultant countries -- like the Pacifica coast --
as vibrant independent influences themselves.
It is certain that in the long run, the borders of the US will change.
I think it is far from clear how it will change at the moment. I would
be willing to bet the US will add something (Puerto Rico?) before it
subtracts, but that is a minor matter. History is betting that at some
point the nation as we know it will break up.
So, to my fellow Americans, happy new year!
December 31, 2008, 9:41 AM 0 Links
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