Amused at This Ruthless World (thanks for liking my last post, BTW) wrote a really good post awhile back in response to an essay written by one “John J. Wall”. I’d never read Wall’s piece before, but I have heard the idea advanced within it many times in the past. It is this: that the “liberals” and “conservatives” are so deeply divided on all issues that it would be better for both if each group formed separate countries. Amused’s post inspired me to write something of my own on the matter.
Of course, if you’re a reader of this blog, you know that there are actually three groups: materialists, nationalists and cosmopolitans. But still, let that not dissuade us from this engaging in this thought-experiment. It is still only a simple matter of dividing the country into three instead of two.
The nationalists may have the southeast–the old Confederacy minus Virginia. The materialists may have the West; that is, the area extending from California to east Texas. A vast area to be sure, but one which they will no doubt set about harvesting every inch of for resources. And the cosmopolitans shall retain the Northeast and parts of the Midwest. Everything east of Kansas and north of Tennessee would remain in cosmopolitan hands. Cosmopolitans would also get Hawaii, and Nationalists would hold Alaska.
(Oddly enough, this division into regions mimics a similar scheme by economic historian Douglass North. But he was writing only about the United States internal trade flows in the early 1800s. And then, evidently, something happened around 1861 to fundamentally alter the structure of the country.)
As part of the deal, suppose everyone starts with the same governmental structure and Constitution as we have today. so, now we just go ahead and simulate to see where it will all go.
I imagine the taxation issue would quickly cease to be of interest to the nationalists, once they are no longer trying to destroy a cosmopolitan government. Presumably, they would focus their immediate efforts on bulking up their immigration laws. They would also probably raise tariffs in order to keep their manufacturing sector strong. It might even be a mini-boom along the lines of the 1950s auto-industry. Naturally, in the Nationalist State, minorities and foreigners would be viewed with suspicion until their Nationalist-credentials had been soundly proven. I imagine congressman Allen West would make a successful career in this place, as would Sarah Palin. The political structure would change to be based more heavily on charismatic authority. No doubt the social structure would closely resemble that of 1950s America for the most part, with women being encouraged to be housewives and men being seen as heads of house. Gay marriage, the issue under so much discussion at present, would be utterly unthinkable, as would Civil Unions etc. Gays would also likely be barred from military service, but it is likely that this country would reinstate the draft, so there would be no problem with lack of personnel. Fashion and art would both become considerably more conservative, quite possibly up to the point of introducing government censors.
In the materialist West, meanwhile, it is likely that the world would come to resemble the United States as a whole in the 1870-90s. Almost all environmental regulations would be removed, and worker safety laws would be scaled back. Unions would cease to exist. Tariffs would also be very low or nil, so as to encourage foreign investment. Immigration laws, likewise, would be quite lax so as to gain a cheap labor force. Military force would assume the character of a highly-paid internal security outfit, and be largely defensive in nature. (One imagines the Erik Princes of the world would have to think long and hard over whether his fortune lay to the South or the West.) Social issues would be non-existent; societal mores being relaxed to please the fancies of the wealthiest. Indeed, the city of Los Angeles as it exists today, would probably go on functioning as if nothing had happened under the new arrangement. Art and fashion would all go as the popular will dictated; thus movies, for example, would be solely of the “summer blockbuster” variety all year round.
Of the cosmopolitan North, there is less to say; perhaps because the area is well on its way to being that already. It is probable that taxes would be raised, of course; as it would no longer be so politically abhorrent to do so. A massive influx of public money go to support higher education, which would likely lead to the Academy being the primary institution in the country. Other than that, however, things would change less, principally because the cosmopolitan sees diversity as a strength, and would need to undergo less modification to suit its philosophical beliefs. The military would be fairly small, and probably what there was of it would be based heavily on technological superiority, not man-power.
It would be interesting to see how long this state of affairs persisted. It would not be long, surely, before each country recognized that there was much to be gained from the others. The materialist sector, in particular, might look an inviting target for conquest; though of course it is questionable whether it would be profitable to do so. Also, the nationalist and cosmopolitan states by their nature invite comparison to ancient Athens and Sparta.
Ultimately, the optimal move for each country would be strategic alliances with its neighbors, as each would have something to provide to the others. However, there is also the dark possibility that two would form an alliance against the third, and thereby destroy it either militarily or economically.
And there I conclude this experiment, but you are welcome to add thoughts of your own.
For myself, I see this as rather a gloomy idea. I believe each type has something to contribute to the country. But then, I would, wouldn’t I? I’m a cosmopolitan.