Observations by Blair Nathan and other outstanding thinkers on Twitter have prompted some thinking on my part regarding the intractable divisions that seem to have have overtaken the country in recent years.
Yet, I don’t think that these divisions are of recent vintage at all but rather that they reflect deep historical animosities and rivalries that stretch back centuries and that predate colonial settlement.
Indeed, based on a long and fairly extensive reading of British and American history, I believe that because of these deep-seated animosities one could make the case that the North and South never should have confederated in the first place.
The recent upheavals in this country, which were only exacerbated by Trump’s 2016 electoral success, simply have placed these divisions into deeper perspective.
Within the last few years, I and other close observers of our national divisions have been surprised by the increasing candor with which some academic and professional political pundits have expressed this rather unpalatable fact, notably columnist Michael Malice in The Case for Secession, written shortly after the 2016 election.
These regional amosities may even be traced to genetic factors rooted in the ethnic cultures of the British Isles – a theme deftly explored by historian David Hackett Fischer in Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America.
A scientific exploration from this perspective of longstanding political division was supplied recently by Scientific American.
From the very beginning, the incipiently mercantilist Northeast, stemming significantly from the region’s East Anglian and Puritanical ethno-cultural roots, regarded itself as entitled to rule the country and was enraged that the agricultural South had garnered what they considered an unfair competitive advantage. In time, they contrived a brilliant strategy, feigning outrage over Southern slavery as a means of obfuscating their ambitions to become the young republic’s cultural and political hegemon.
The Civil War and a series of cultural and political flashpoints in the century and a half that followed have only served to underscore that the United States remains a deeply sundered country, though 20th century material prosperity and two world wars were effective in obfuscating for a time these profound and intractable differences. But within the last half century, these deep-seated divisions have been exposed again in unusual raw form and conceivably could lead to a conflagration that even could rival the Civil War under certain conditions.