Recent events in this country necessitate a talk about where we're likely headed, and as you might guess from the title, it's not good. To start us walking, I want to be clear that the next couple letters I won't be citing sources, referencing tweets or hot takes or IPCC studies or anything. This is just my conjecture. It's educated conjecture, but still. Consider this a kind of gaming out of a possible scenario, and let your own conjecture guide your actions from here.
There is a bottleneck in our future. Off in the distance (hopefully) is the bottleneck of big C Collapse. It is an inevitability. It's an inevitability, but it doesn't have to be a calamity. If we prepare for it, it can be a long-overdue settling of accounts between the Earth and people, and we can live on afterward. What moves this bottleneck closer or further from us are our actions today. Unfortunately, we stand at a point in time after which our actions mean less and less, because our decisions today cement the effects of climate change and commit us to an overconsumptive use of resources.
As I see it, we have a spectrum of choices that can be roughly categorized into three paths that either push out or bring near that bottleneck: Utopia, in which we throw off the yoke of capitalism and white supremacy and usher in an era of sustainability and equity; Status Quo, in which things go pretty much how they're going now; and the Rise of a Christo-Fascist State, which I'm sure is on everyone's mind.
For Utopia, see Degrowth
We all see the light, workers come together and decide we must live another way. I'm not going to talk about utopia here. The whole point to my degrowth series was talking about how rosy things could be, but I keep getting interrupted by the nightmare that is waking life. Eventually, hopefully, I'll get to finish my thoughts on that.
Status Quo, Briefly
The status quo is not good. It's how we got here, and here sucks. I'm defining status quo as the continued operation of nigh-unfettered capitalism, a roughly stable government and a roughly predictable ebb and flow between left and right wing leadership. Progress on climate change and green energy is minimal, but not nothing. We avert the absolute worst outcomes, but endure plenty worse than we're already seeing. We are living in the status quo, to be clear. And while things feel like they're getting worse (because they are), let's assume a kind of freeze-frame of that decay, simply because I don't think things get much worse than they are now without our descent into the third option.
It's possible that we make it out of our current hole with Roe v. Wade still intact. I don't think it's very likely, but it is possible. There has been quite a ruckus since the leak of Alito's opinion, and it's not outside the realm of possibility that this ruckus changes the minds of enough justices to put the kibosh on an overturning. With Roe in place, the Jenga tower of privacy retains its strength, and we do not have to worry, at the federal level, at least, about the dissolution of what feels like very basic civil rights. What changes from here is that the GOP let their mask slip, and they haven't bothered to put it back on. The machinations of the right were put out into the open–they saw how close they were to achieving their goal and none of them could keep from salivating. That's jet fuel for the opposition–the only trouble is that the opposition is the Democrats, and they're bad at literally everything.
If we manage to retain Roe, I think there are still good odds that the GOP takes back the House, Senate, and shortly thereafter the White House. DeSantis has shown that even without Trump (though he may remain a presence, may even be president again), the party is still eager for a leader who runs on white supremacist dogma. States will do everything they can to do what the Supreme Court couldn't, but beyond that their campaign against the LGBTQIA+ community at large will continue. Meanwhile, if and when the GOP takes back control of the government, they could very likely do what McConnell said they may, which is bust the filibuster and ban abortion federally. These victories push liberals to the polls, and we take everything back again in 2028, to repeat the cycle with things always getting a little worse. This is the balancing act, after all: we're just the battery to the oligarchy's Matrix, and the longer we're kept in the system, the longer the rich get to use our labor.
But let's stay optimistic, and assume the Democrats retain control. This is still a country for the rich, by the rich, which ignores the will of the people and actively works against them. It took the Senate about a day to craft and pass a bill protecting the families of the Supreme Court justices after protesters gathered at Kavanaugh's home. This is not our government, or our country, no matter who sits in the big chairs. It's their government, and they will not take resistance from us quietly. Democrats will toe the line socially, pander to equality, even make some progress, but ultimately they are members of the oligarchy and they will not hesitate to crush us–or, that is, attempt to.
If we were to unpause that downward spiral, we would see another potential outcome. No matter what a Dem federal government does, conservative state governments will continue moving forward with draconian policies. As those states become more theocratic (because they will, ultimately, they have the Supreme Court), the nation will reach another breaking point. We're going to be dwelling in a GOP-primed universe for these newsletters, but a universe in which the Democrats retain more control and still split the nation is possible. These are irreconcilable differences, and I don't think there's enough time left on this Earth to heal them–one way or another, this country is sleeping in separate bedrooms.
The Christo-Fascist State and the Cold Civil War
Roe is founded upon the idea that privacy is a right, and Alito's opinion is written to weaken that foundation. The assumption here is that with Roe gone, more cases will come from various rightward states that chip further at the right to privacy. These blows will come quickly, and since the right to privacy is so important to so many other facets of our lives, the loss of that right will be far-reaching. States will ban IUDs, Plan B, perhaps even all forms of contraception. We could lose same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, and see the criminalization of same-sex relationships. Gender-affirming healthcare will surely come under fire, particularly for children but perhaps applied even more broadly. Some speculate that less obvious precedents may also fall away, such as workplace regulations and child labor laws–which has already been hinted at during COVID.
As chilling as all this is, what may be worse is that various bills are now being drafted and moved through their respective bodies that will allow for the pursuit of persons who have abortions across state lines, and that is bound to include anyone who aids and abets in abortions as well, and then beyond into other "crimes." This means that fleeing to Chicago or New York or wherever for an abortion, gender-affirming care, or god knows what else, would not keep an Ohioan or South Carolinian safe from prosecution and incarceration or worse. The home state can require extradition anywhere in the country, and even beyond. This, right here, is the thing that widens divide between us.
As the killings in Buffalo made clear, there's more than one rift in our nation. White replacement theory is on the minds of a lot of conservatives–mainstream conservatives. Not even far-right radicals, though it is certainly on their minds as well. While the government attacks our rights from one side, the right wing media apparatus radicalizes people for violence. This is not a new concept; for decades, white supremacists in this country have been expecting and egging on a race war. Time and again bombings and mass shootings are carried out in the name of white supremacy, and the government does little to curb this violence because the government itself benefits from that white supremacy. Moreover, the government often perpetrates such violence on citizens of color for the sake of the economy or fighting "the war on drugs." Because our nation is built on that idea of supremacy, promulgating its beliefs is, at the least, a happy accident. This is why the media and politicians are on tenterhooks when it comes to speaking about white supremacist violence, but when another brand of extremist commits an act of terror, it is loudly decried. While white supremacy in government bodies has always existed, its hood was removed when Trump took office, and the movement has been emboldened.
The battle lines are being drawn. In response to legislation from red states, some blue ones, like Connecticut, are already putting in place anti-extradition measures and strengthening abortion rights. It doesn't take much of a leap to see that other states will take this stance (though not necessarily all), and that, from there, the divide widens. The United States will be a Republican-controlled nation, and blue states and cities will be islands, isolated figuratively and literally. Just as Trump defunded sanctuary cities early in his term, so too will the federal government, in the hands of a similar demagogue, cut off all funding from cities and states that seek to protect those who receive abortions, and beyond, as other acts and ways of existing become criminalized.
This is the cold civil war; a nation divided along ethical lines with barely restrained animosity on both sides. If the GOP acts as they have telegraphed, if they obtain and retain their power, this is where we're headed. They will carve from the US the nation that they desire, and they will not tolerate liberal states and cities that act counter to their will within that nation. Either blue states will secede, or the federal government will no longer recognize them, causing a de facto secession. And even without secession, to be clear, we are still in for it. The loss of bodily autonomy, the restriction of abortion care in particular, is a bellwether for democracy–countries that restrict healthcare tend not to be democracies, or not to remain them for long. This would be a country that either rips apart or becomes wholly authoritarian. It will no longer be the United States, one way or another.