On Saturday night, the center of Shanghai was teeming with young people in bars drinking and watching the World Cup on wide-screen televisions. They were rooting for Argentina, which was facing off against Mexico. (The Chinese love Lionel Messi, Argentina’s star striker.)
Then, something happened.
The message started to spread—mostly on Wechat, China’s No. 1 chat app—that a few people were gathering and lighting candles on Urumqi Road, in the French Concession, which is full of high-end bakeries and eateries and Shanghai’s famous, three-story lane houses.
Urumqi Road takes its name from the capital of Xinjiang, where, two days before, at least 10 people had died in a fire in an apartment building. All of the dead were Uyghurs.
The central government in Beijing would prefer the Chinese people forget the Uyghurs exist. More than a million Uyghurs in Xinjiang have been confined to so-called re-education camps; there have been forced sterilizations, forced labor, the forced teaching of Mandarin and the forced pledges of loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party. The fire seemed like an unintended consequence of the central government’s policy, and it had been blamed, in part, on the regime’s zero Covid policy and its overzealous enforcement in Xinjiang. For 48 hours, an outcry had been building online, and now it was threatening to spring into real life.
In China, real-life demonstrations are okay if they’re not explicitly political. Workers protest against unpaid wages. Residents protest pollution coming from nearby power plants. But people don’t protest or march or get angry about whatever the president or party is doing.
On Saturday night, they did.
When I reached Urumqi Road, there were maybe 50 police officers trying to block access to the vigil. Sounds were echoing from a small crowd and getting louder as I approached: “Yao ziyou!” they chanted, which means: We want freedom! They held their phones up to record the moment. I realized my heart was pounding. I’m 33, French, and I’ve lived in China for nine years—and I had never witnessed this kind of protest.
Some demonstrators held up blank sheets of paper. A woman in her late twenties explained to me: “Our country does not let us write anything here, but even if we don’t write anything, people know what we would like to say.” She meant they weren’t allowed to say what they really thought about the important things—the kind of country they wanted to live in—and now they were winking at one another, and it was like they were sharing a secret message that was no longer so secret. She added: “What I feel is that, for a few hours, I am free. Even if it is very short, for once, I can say what I want.” A friend of hers standing nearby suddenly burst into tears. “It’s the first time I’ve seen this in China,” she said.
While the rest of the world has mostly moved on from Covid, China is in year three of an increasingly brutal—and unsuccessful—effort to extinguish the virus. True, the country has seen relatively few Covid deaths, but it has come at a steep price: to keep people inside, the authorities have, in many cases, welded apartment doors shut or locked them with chains. A sophisticated digital-surveillance system keeps close tabs on everyone. Food and medicine have been in short supply. Children have been separated from parents, and people have been forced into quarantine camps. Depression and suicide have been on the rise.
The Urumqi tragedy was a galvanizing moment. After the fire, the people of Urumqi were the first to lead the way. Thousands defied the lockdown and took to the streets to protest, and with some success: they obtained the end of the restrictions in the least affected districts of the city.
Since then, protests have taken place at universities in Nanjing, Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and in neighborhoods in Wuhan, Chongqing, and Lanzhou, where crowds have destroyed Covid testing booths.
Sliding through the tight crowd at the vigil on Urumqi Road, I discovered a small memorial: candles lit on the ground and wreaths of flowers laid in tribute to the victims of the fire. Some messages were also written on signs: “We don't forget: Guiyang, Urumqi, Henan, Xi'an.” These were the places where people had died during confinement. They hadn’t been able to get medical care; in one case, there had been a bus accident on the way to a quarantine center. Their deaths, their suffering, was now melding into everyone’s anger. It was becoming a cause.
The people at the vigil were mostly in their twenties or thirties. They felt walled off from the rest of the world, literally and otherwise. They chanted: “Health code, fuck you!” They sang the Chinese national anthem, and a revolutionary song that begins “Arise! Ye who refuse to be slaves!” In April, during the Shanghai lockdown, those words were censored on Weibo, China’s Twitter. The revolutionary was now, apparently, counterrevolutionary, or too revolutionary.
A Uyghur man in his thirties told me: “No freedom here.” He was from Urumqi and has relatives who lived in the building where the tragedy took place. “The building was locked down. They survived,” he said, referring to his extended family, “but they were terrified. I’m a man, I’m not used to crying, but for the last three days I've been crying all day.” He added: “You know, for us Uyghurs, it didn’t just start with the lockdown. We’ve been suffering for years in Xinjiang.”
Gradually, the crowd became more daring. They demanded freedom of expression, and freedom of the press. They yelled: “We don't forget 6/4,” which was a reference to the last time students challenged the government and demanded democracy, on Tiananmen Square, on June 4, 1989. The party crushed Tiananmen with tanks and machine guns.
When someone shouted, “Xi Jinping, resign,” the crowd exploded, and soon other people were saying it, and it was as if the shouter had broken a taboo in a country where people usually lowered their voice when mentioning the name of their leader.
Then someone else in the crowd shouted, “Down with the Communist Party,” which was a big no-no—the Chinese generally broadcast their ideological fervor—and the crowd loved that, too. It was like toppling the statue of a dictator. I told a colleague we were probably witnessing something important that might become very important.
Thomas, a 27-year-old who would only share his English name, shouted out in the middle of the crowd: “We want democracy!” He had an intellectual flair, with his velvet pants and black cap and round glasses, and he told me that he’d fallen into a deep depression during the Shanghai lockdown and that he’d be unable to recover so long as the threat of a new lockdown was still looming.
"It gives you a sense of helplessness,” Thomas told me. “I feel like life is not worth living.” He was angry, but for a few hours, on Urumqi Road, he wasn’t—he was on fire. “This is the first time in my life that I have seen a mobilization like this, on the street and not online.”
No one knows what comes next. The party is obsessed with stability, maintaining control. Since Tiananmen—which happened before many, if not most, of the people at the vigil were born—China has perfected its ability to contain unrest. But the movement that is building right now is complex and amorphous, pulling together urban, tech-savvy students and angry, ordinary people around the country sick of being unable to go outside or go to the market or share a cigarette with a friend.
The response so far has been a kind of toggling—the predictable crackdown followed by the teensiest, weensiest of concessions. An editorial published Monday by the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported that locking up people’s homes with chains and blocking emergency exits is illegal. It was like the state reminding the state what not to do.
At the same time, the authorities issued a strong warning, calling for a "crackdown on illegal criminal acts that disrupt social order,” according to minutes from a meeting of the Communist Party’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, which oversees all domestic law enforcement in China.
Also: arrests are increasing. On Sunday, there were tons of police at the site of the vigil in Shanghai—which, since the news of the fire broke, had become a sort of go-to hub for the angry and dispossessed. Police didn’t want people leaving flowers (those were quickly removed). They dispersed the gathering crowd. A BBC cameraman was violently arrested and held for a few hours.
Officers were also seen inspecting people’s phones, looking for mentions of the protests or forbidden foreign apps like Telegram or Signal or Twitter. In some cases, police seized people and scanned their faces before releasing them. Thomas, the enthusiastic protester I ran into Saturday night, was arrested by the police on Sunday at work, one of his coworkers told me.
Since Tiananmen, there’s been a pretty straightforward trade-off in China between the state and the 1.3 billion human beings it presides over: You let us do whatever we want, and in exchange, you get rich (or, at least, richer). But during the pandemic, that trade-off faltered. It went off the rails. Not just that. The pandemic has shown this new generation of Chinese, which never suffered through Tiananmen, to say nothing of the Cultural Revolution, what the regime is capable of. What it is willing to do to its own people. I suspect the young people are rethinking the terms of their agreement with the overlords in Beijing. I suspect they want to renegotiate.
America is lurching toward collapse. Will a contested election, with neither candidate conceding defeat, finally bring it about? An interesting theory, if nothing else. I think and economic collapse will kick things off - but my ESP is notoriously flawed.
ll national declines ebb and flow. The street violence and chaos of the summer of 2020 marked the moment the curtain was pulled back, the country’s true psychic state revealed for a single season before the curtain fell once more—President Biden entered office, the pandemic subsided, normalcy seemed to return.
In the two years since that summer, I’ve considered the specific series of events that might trigger our final national fragmentation, often in Tablet, and it now seems clear to me that America’s demise will be inaugurated by what has become our country’s pastime: a contested election. In two years from now, both parties will declare themselves the electoral victor, with neither presidential candidate conceding defeat; state electors will ratify two different presidents, according to their preferred narrative or conspiracy theory; the country will then fracture, legally and institutionally, along red and blue lines.
According to recent polling, more than 50% of Americans expect a new civil war in the “next couple of years.” It’s a pathetic scenario more fitting for a semi-authoritarian backwater than the world’s beacon of democracy. National breakup efforts will be coming and, if we’re being honest, they’re behind schedule.
Since 2000, the U.S. has witnessed three contested presidential elections, with one side labeling the results illegitimate. In 2000’s Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court shut down vote recounts and delivered the election to the son of a former president, a man whose family, at various points, maintained that the 1992 election itself was “stolen” by the querulous Ross Perot and the meddling “liberal media.”
The appointment of President George W. Bush, grandchild of Prescott Bush—who took part in the Business Plot, a bumbling coup d’état attempt against Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s—led the country into two disastrous Middle Eastern wars, one being based on fraudulent premises. In his final year in office Bush stood at the helm while the U.S. banking system collapsed, causing the country’s most significant economic downturn since the Great Depression.
In the next election the U.S. electorate pinned their hopes on Barack Obama, the skinny junior Illinois senator promising to lead the country past the triune plagues of Wall Street greed, racial animus, and Middle Eastern wars. Amid more puff pieces about the beauty of the presidential family than occurred during John Kennedy’s presidential tenure, Obama lost the 2010 midterms.
Six years later, the former first lady, Hillary Clinton, who everyone in elite media penciled in as their next queen, deepened the Democrats’ failure by taking electoral losses throughout the Rust Belt region far worse than Al Gore’s 2000 campaign.
Instead of admitting fault for their losing campaign strategy, Democratic Party apparatchiks and their allies in the legacy media became full-time election denialists. The news operations that made billions airing Trump’s every idiotic word in the lead-up to the 2016 election accepted no responsibility for his eventual victory; neither did the Democratic Party establishment, who all but rigged their own primary process in favor of one of the least popular political figures in American history. The Democratic Party leadership and journalism class did nothing wrong, we were repeatedly informed. It was Vladimir Putin and the Russians who were actually to blame—they hacked the election!
Heading into the 2020 election, COVID-19 crashed what had been a not-quite-as-disastrous-as-anticipated 45th U.S. presidency for Donald Trump. By embracing both the COVID lockdowns and a miniscule relief package that did not tie employees to their jobs, Trump tanked any realistic chance of winning a second term. But instead of admitting his own errors, Trump—like the Bushes, the Gores, and the Clintons before him—blamed everybody else.
Predictably, Trump claimed that his defeat was a fraud. The election, you see, was stolen. Sound familiar? Within a matter of weeks, “stop the steal” became the mantra of the Republican Party. All who refused to abide by its claims were run out of the MAGA camp as traitors—or worse.
Bringing us to the present, when no one in leadership takes responsibility for anything—not America’s military generals, nor its public health officials, and least of all its president. Scapegoating and conspiracy accusations are the norm. Both left and right view instigating mass hysteria as a legitimate political tool—not only for career advancement, but also institutional takeover. Where does that leave us?
Entire nations can go insane. Here’s a way to test if we’re headed that way: Watch five minutes of TikTok—anything related to politics, beauty tips, or social justice. Follow that up with five minutes of MSNBC, then the same amount of Fox News. Next, read a chapter of Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility—any chapter. Lastly, carefully scan some QAnon Reddit posts. Immediately after doing all this, take a shower and then ask yourself: Is American political culture not in the throes of degenerative madness? Might the seemingly stable present be attributable to the fact that we remain too rich, militarily impenetrable, and geographically insulated to face the full consequences of our psychological derangement?
Once a political culture embraces the path of the dark triad—narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy—negative end products are not simply possible, but inevitable. There’s only one chance to stave off the worst potential outcomes in the United States: Recognize our 50-state partnership as a failed marriage and, like adults, move on. Here’s how it could look:
California, parts of Oregon, Washington, and Nevada agree to become one new federal system but keep their independent statehoods—and legislative bodies—intact. Utah, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and the Dakotas do the same. The Rust Belt states, including, let’s suppose, a separated western Pennsylvania, forge together as another similar regional governance agreement.
Connecticut, Massachusetts, and the rest of New England become another confederation of nation states. Upstate New York, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and eastern Pennsylvania join it, or perhaps Canada would like a few new wealthy provinces. The five boroughs of NYC should probably be given unique status inside this new New England, similar to Scotland’s place inside the United Kingdom: a distinct parliament and some separate form of micro-nationhood.
Down South, the former Civil War border states of Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri can collaborate in a new state partnership. Similarly, the 11 states of the former Confederacy join together once more, minus Texas, who we all know—because they remind us incessantly!—has been counting the days until it can declare full independence again.
Alaska and Hawaii are beautiful and luxurious places. They’ll easily find a home in one of these new state partnerships. Puerto Rico, America’s long-suffering and neglected stepchild, might seek independence, which is increasingly popular with its citizens: In 2020, the Puerto Rican Independence Party picked up 13.6% of the vote compared to 2.1% in 2016; the anti-colonial Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana, meanwhile, garnered 14% of the vote, signaling a full quarter of the territory is ready to cut ties with the U.S.
There’s nothing sacred about 50-state America. Breaking up the country into six or seven new semiautonomous state partnerships won’t solve all, or even most, of our political or cultural problems. It should, however, end the insane and unwinnable culture wars over the national identity of a country that was never intended to have a massive top-down, one-size-fits-all solution for how its citizens should live. America was founded to allow local experiments in democracy to flourish within regional cultures. That tradition has been destroyed by a ruling class made up of people who were all educated at the same schools and taught to believe that technocratic solutions were the answer to every problem. Corporations and federal surveillance bureaucracies may object to a national breakup on the grounds that it would make their jobs harder, but why should ordinary Americans feel the same way?
How much of America’s present dysfunction is the result of Abraham Lincoln’s 1861 choice to forcibly keep together two regional cultures that detest each other? Few comparable civil wars exist in world history where one side vanquishes (and humiliates) the other and then the two sides stay together peacefully—but teeming with unresolved resentment—for more than a century and half.
Like it or not, the United States is poised to Balkanize at some point. If anything, sustained independence movements are overdue. The 21st-century ascent of the critical-race- and gender-as-a-social-construct ideologies might not actually represent an effort to dismantle a “hegemonic white patriarchy,” as claimed. A better way to understand the tremendous popularity of woke thought among the bureaucratic class could be as an unconscious attempt to create the moral economy needed to forcefully keep the union together a second time. For, if the red-state voters and rural Americans are merely dens of “deplorable” “racist” “fascists” then there’s simply no choice but to deny them democratic independence when they inevitably ask for it.
Since I started writing about the topic of national breakup two years ago, the concept of a second U.S. civil war has become presque vu across much of the American media landscape. The round-faced YouTuber Tim Pool has made a living posting daily videos on the topic. With his head hovering in the bottom right corner of the screen, Pool displays the day’s news. After reading a few lines, Pool will then sigh, pause for dramatic effect, and offer commentary that, nearly without fail, contains the phrase “I tell you what” and some reference to the notion of a second civil war.
My YouTube algorithm pairs Pool’s videos with advertisements for bulletproof vests, tactical knives, and other self-defense paraphernalia. Prepare yourself nancy boy, YouTube whispers in my ear. The zombies are coming.
In need of an informed interlocutor, I called F.H. Buckley, a foundation professor of law at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, and outlined my predictions for America’s end. We discussed two distinct national breakup possibilities:
Scenario A is the “Buchanan,” named after President James Buchanan’s apathy toward the South’s independence efforts. In this scenario, Trump—or any other Republican—occupies the White House when Californians set in motion a serious move toward “Calexit.” According to Buckley, the Republican president responds by saying “‘goodbye and good luck.’”
Scenario B, the “Lincoln” (named after Lincoln’s inexorable campaign to keep the union together by force): Under a Democratic chief executive—including a Biden second term—red states launch independence movements. Buckley believes this is where the true danger lies. “The question is which party is prepared to invade and occupy the territory of another part of the country,” he asks rhetorically. The Democrats, he goes on, “wouldn’t hesitate to make war on the Republican parts of America.”
I share with Buckley that I live in a solidly middle-class neighborhood in north central Florida. Roughly 30%-35% of my neighbors are African American. On the road directly in front of my house, kids ride their motocross bikes wearing cowboy boots and unironic mullets. On this same road, I’ve heard Punjabi and Mandarin spoken by neighbors walking by with their children. However, when November rolls around and lawn signs go up, most of them plug Trump, Ron DeSantis, or other GOP candidates. There are plenty of Biden signs too, but I’ve never witnessed any consternation and certainly no ethnic animosity. “Mixed-race” couples are common to the degree that they’re unremarkable—as aligns with demographer Richard Alba’s recent research on the expanding American mainstream.
“The ironic thing is that American conservatives are the tolerant people here,” Buckley says. “I’m from Quebec and lived through a real secession debate,” he then says. “There was never such animosity between English and French Quebec as there is between conservatives and liberals in America. There is such a degree of deep-seated contempt and widespread fantasies of what life would be like without the other side around.”
In our chat, which happened more than a month ago, Buckley argued that the most likely outcome of the 2024 presidential election is a Biden presidency. Due to Biden’s advanced age and visible health problems, I hadn’t even contemplated that as a possibility.
Should Buckley’s prediction prove true, following a second Trump defeat, it feels inevitable that “stop the steal” morphs into some form of red-state “national divorce”—rhetoric already used frequently by Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and many on the American right. The Libertarian Party has also made #NationalDivorce part of their refrain.
What does the federal government do under that 21st-century “Lincoln scenario”? I ask Buckley.
“March troops into seceding red territories,” he says without hesitation.
There’s an American hostage crisis going on right now and it’s not in Iran, Russia, North Korea, or China, it’s in Washington D.C. US citizens are being held against their will, with no trial in sight, and according to sources, are being tortured and abused daily. More than 800 US citizens were arrested nearly two years ago for simply walking past police and federal agents who assisted their entry into the capital, and only 185 of those folks have had a right to a trial (and been sentenced).
After stealing the 2020 POTUS election with fake ballots and rigged voting machines, the communist Biden Regime wanted to make sure anyone who questions the (non)validity of the election would be thrown in Gulags like in communist countries, and made an example of, for all patriotic Americans to fear. The insurrection happened when the Democrats stole Washington DC, and the extreme Leftist insurgents are still occupying the territory while holding American prisoners
Democrat politicians and their billionaire (globalist) cohorts have taken control of a huge swath of American soil between Virginia and Maryland, and the military forces for the entire country. Over 800 American citizens tried to stop the takeover two years ago, January, and are now prisoners of ‘war,’ being held captive and tortured with bouts of starvation and floors covered in feces.
The American Gulag is no joke, and it’s not fake news, Russian disinformation, or a “conspiracy theory.” In fact, the American Hostage Crisis is now being addressed by congressman Matt Gaetz, who says when the House of Representatives is restored to Republican power in January, he aims to release every second of security footage from the Capital ‘invasion’ that reveals most people were ushered to enter by DC police AND undercover FBI agents.
For the crime of protesting criminal activity during our biggest election ever, loyal patriots and law-abiding Americans are now being tortured in prison with no constitutional rights, and some have already committed suicide (or been ‘suicided’ by the Democrat cult) who couldn’t handle the concentration-camp-style abuse. See: Jan. 6 protesters subjected to extreme TORTURE, starvation and deliberate malnutrition – raw sewage flows into jail cells while MOLD grows on cell walls https://naturalnews.com/2021-11-01-...starvation-malnutrition-sewage-mold.html
Congressman Gaetz is already on the record saying, “While Kevin McCarthy has said he would disband the January 6th Select Committee, I would repurpose it. I would take over their snarky little Twitter account, and pump out 14,000 hours of video so the American people can see what really happened.” According to members of Congress who are not part of the Democrat insurrection, protesters from January 6th are entitled to a fair trial
Even if a handful of the protesters from January 6th destroyed property or fought cops, that certainly doesn’t qualify them as domestic terrorists who can be jailed without due process. We all witnessed Antifa thugs and BLM rioters fighting police, burning cars, and destroying businesses during the reverse-racism riots in most metropolitan cities.
The American Hostage Crisis is a serious one, and a threat to all Americans who don’t support their right to peacefully protest and contest thwarted elections and US citizens being held captive, even on our own soil by our own rogue government. There currently exists whistleblower documents, audio transcripts, and text messages that reveal FBI informants who influenced protesters to enter the capital on that heated day. This is evidence that would most likely exonerate the Proud Boys and Trump supporters whose goal was to simply have the election investigated and/or redone fairly. Where’s the crime in that?