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October 3, 2013 / JayMan

Mapping the Road to American Disunion

Scientist/historian Peter Turchin (who was recently in the news for his model which describes the evolution of human civilization over the past few millennia) previously claimed that the United States is due for some sort of upheaval in the coming years – based on his study of historical cycles (cliodynamics), as previously discussed in my post Dark Times Ahead?


This pattern generally follows cycles of economic inequality, which itself tracks societal unrest and political disunity: infographI strongly recommend reading Turchin’s discussions on the matter:

The Double Helix of Inequality and Well-Being | Social Evolution Forum
Peter Turchin – The history of inequality
The Strange Disappearance of Cooperation in America | Social Evolution Forum

One of Turchin’s most recent posts, The Road to Disunion, touched on this issue again:

In 2010 I published a short essay in the science journal Nature, in which I pointed out these worrying trends, and suggested that they were all slated to intensify in the years around 2020. A month ago I posted a book-length manuscript, which fleshes out the theoretical argument with large amounts of data we are fortunate to have for the American society and polity.

The disquieting conclusion from this more recent analysis is that we are still firmly on track to some kind of a social and political upheaval during the coming decade or so. The worsening structural-demographic trends argue that things will be quite a lot more violent than the 1960s. How much worse – I don’t want even think about it.

But as I read the today’s news, I am struck by how many parallels there are between the 2010s and the 1850s, especially on the political front.

Before 1850 the United States had a stable political landscape dominated by two main parties: the Democrats and the Whigs. During the 1850s this “Second Party System” collapsed.

The Democrats split along the Southern/Northern divide,  while the Whig party simply disintegrated.

It’s “high noon,” cautioned Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, “as dangerous as the breakup of the Union before the Civil War.” He doesn’t know how right he is.

On the issue of outbreaks of violence, M.G. of the blog Those Who Can See has previously noted that much of the violence associated with previous upheavals appear to have been associated with racial/ethnic conflict: freed/migrating Blacks in the post-Civil War, post-World War I, and post-World War II eras – and immigrant groups, Catholic Irish, Italians, and Eastern Europeans in the early part of the 20th century. As such, perhaps violent outbursts such as those that occurred before will not occur in the coming upheaval.

Though, that said, it’s not like we aren’t being swelled by ever increasing numbers of minority migrants today.

In his book American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, Colin Woodard has made similar predictions about future internecine strife. Specifically, he forecast conflict between the various “nations” that make up the United States (and Canada). See Flags of the American Nations and Maps of the American Nations.

American Nations 2012nationwidecountymapshadedbypercentagewonD

Indeed, with the current government shutdown and on-going political disarray, perhaps this process is already underway.

EDIT: Indeed, shortly after I published this, there appears to have been a shooting at the U.S. Capitol. Things may indeed be in the process of unraveling as we speak…

In light of his book, in an article in the Washington Monthly, Woodard had this to say about the group at the center of the current political showdown, the Tea Party:

Indeed, in much of the northern tier of the country, the Tea Party has seen a … reversal of fortune…When the Tea Party burst onto the national scene in the summer of 2010, it looked like a national movement. From Wasilla, Alaska, to Augusta, Maine, it dominated GOP rhetoric and produced candidates in virtually every level of government and section of the country. But over the past year, even as its grip on the national GOP has strengthened, its influence has melted away in large swaths of the northern half of the continent, its activists forced to confront the fact that their agenda and credo are anathema to the centuries- old social, political, and cultural traditions of these regions. The Tea Party agenda may hold sway over large parts of the South and interior West…But the movement has no hope of truly dominating the country….

The Tea Party movement is active across the country, but it has had only limited success in the three nations of the northern alliance. Of the sixty members of the House Tea Party caucus, only three hail from Yankeedom, and not one comes from the Left Coast or New Netherland…

By contrast, the Tea Party has encountered little resistance to its agenda in the four nations of the Dixie bloc, as it is a carbon copy of the Deep Southern program of the last two centuries: reduce taxes for the wealthy and services for everyone else, crush the labor unions, public education, and the regulatory system, and suppress voter turnout. The four nations account for fifty-one of the sixty members of the House Tea Party caucus—or 85 percent of them—with the Deep South alone accounting for twenty-two….

The Dixie bloc is far from solid. Of the Deep South’s partners, Greater Appalachia is the most reliable after Tidewater, sharing a dominant Protestant religious culture that focuses on individual salvation in the next world and discourages efforts to perfect the current one, condoning slavery in the nineteenth century, the racial caste system in the twentieth, and laissez-faire capitalism throughout. But this culture also prizes personal freedom and resents domination by outsiders, be they mining companies or federal regulators. Significantly, Appalachia has had a near monopoly on the production of “southern” populists (LBJ, Ross Perot, Sam Rayburn, Mike Huckabee) and progressives (Cordell Hull, Bill Clinton, Al Gore).

Woodard seems to be proclaiming that the Tea Party is a party spearheaded by Deep Southern masterminds and manned by Appalachians and Far Westerners. As such, at the behest of Peter Turchin, I wanted to map the Tea Party’s strongholds (source):

teaparty_largeAlso, here is a map of congressional districts held by Tea Party members (source):

Tea Party in 113 CongressThe Tea Party indeed appears to be a Deep Southern phenomenon – and secondarily, an Appalachian (and by extension, a Far Western) phenomenon.

Confederate_Rebel_Flag.svgGreater Appalachia Flag NascarFar west flag1

Now how about the Tea Party’s ideological opposites, the Occupy Wall Street movement? They would be expected to have a somewhat different geographical distribution (source):


This appears to be the straight fraction of Occupy Wall Street supporters from each state. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be adjusted for population, which explains the apparent outsized support of the four most populous states (California, Texas, New York, and Florida). That said, there does seem to be a pattern where support is strongest in Yankeedom and the Left Coast, and weakest across the previously discussed Tea Party nations. Interestingly, northern New England proper (Maine, and to a lesser extent, New Hampshire and Vermont), which is perhaps more truly Yankee in its composition that the rest of “Yankeedom”, seems to have elicited weaker support. More study is needed!

In any case, things aren’t looking good for the country in the coming years. Thanks to ongoing mass immigration and its effects on wages (indeed, immigrants account for all post 2000 job growth) – and hence, the distribution of wealth – I suspect that the political and social upheavals to come might pale in comparison to the economic ones that likely await us. Reinforcing that point is that the distribution of wealth is once again where it was right before the Great Depression (with the top 1% capturing 95% of the income gains since 2009).


Worse still, this time, unlike during the Depression, the flow of cheap labor continues unabated, so it’s unclear that the foundation for economic recovery will be present. I will discuss this in depth in a future post.

EDIT 10/4/13: Even NBC News has acknowledged that it seems that things in America are “coming apart.” The apparent signs of the impending upheaval are becoming too visible to ignore, as we see from last night’s broadcast:

At the end of the clip, Harry Smith wonders why it has come to this. Perhaps he should read this post and the work of Turchin and Woodard. Maybe if more people were aware of this historical cycle, we could break it….

Please also see:

Posts by Peter Turchin on Immigration, links to which can be found here:

HBD Fundamentals: On the economic impact of demographic changes (particularly immigration and the Baby Boom in the United States)

My own posts on the matter:

immigration – JayMan’s Blog


Leave a Comment
  1. Sisyphean / Oct 3 2013 3:58 PM

    What fascinates me about this is that it’s precisely the belief that we are all one nation that causes this strife. If the Puritans up north would be content with local legislative solutions then there would be far less friction. Roe Vs. Wade is one example but the Affordable Obamacare Act (did I properly piss off both sides there?) is another. The Tea party folks overwhelmingly don’t want govt healthcare and they overwhelmingly live in certain parts of the country as you’ve shown, but no… we can’t let them be who they are, we have to save them, we have to impose our values on everyone. I’ve been watching this happen for my entire life and been incredulous about it for just as long. it is absolutely maddening.

    Of course the consequences of backing the south into a corner where they feel like they have to defend themselves morally and culturally could be quite different from last time. Now the weapons do a lot more damage, there are a lot more of them, and many of our the largest army and air force bases are located in the south and west.

    I’ve often mused to friends that the biggest mistake we ever made as a nation was not letting the South go when we had the chance. We should have beaten then, took the west and it’s resources and let them go be their own agriculturally (and later oil) based country.

    I’ve considered several times writing a novel about what it might be like, either the initial breakout of conflict or the aftermath… might be fun. I keep stumbling on the details though, I don’t have the knowledge of military matters like Clancy (RIP) did, now HE could have done this scenario justice, though somehow I don’t see Jack Ryan saving us from this one.


    • JayMan / Oct 3 2013 4:03 PM


      I’ve often mused to friends that the biggest mistake we ever made as a nation was not letting the South go when we had the chance. We should have beaten then, took the west and it’s resources and let them go be their own agriculturally (and later oil) based country.

      I’ve considered several times writing a novel about what it might be like, either the initial breakout of conflict or the aftermath… might be fun. I keep stumbling on the details though, I don’t have the knowledge of military matters like Clancy (RIP) did, now HE could have done this scenario justice, though somehow I don’t see Jack Ryan saving us from this one.

      As much as many of us are tempted to think life would be better if we had let the South go, unfortunately, it likely would have not been so simple. See Greg Cochran on it.

    • Sisyphean / Oct 3 2013 4:13 PM

      No, I know you and Cochran are right, we obviously can’t change the past and there are too many variables to do anything but wildly speculate about what might have happened. However the fact remains that nothing (aside from emancipation, I am not disputing that and absolutely am not against that result) was truly resolved in that conflict, the two regions have continued to spar ever since and will continue to do so but will it erupt over the coming decades into armed conflict? That is the 64 thousand dollar question here. Because if that is in the cards, then those of us residing in the midlands, such as myself, need to be thinking about moving somewhere else. How is New England this time of year?


    • JayMan / Oct 3 2013 4:14 PM


      72 degrees and not a cloud in the sky… ;p

  2. T. Greer / Oct 3 2013 6:13 PM

    Trouble is that Tea Party and Occupy are not really ideological opposites at all. I’ve blogged about this before:

    T. Greer. “Far Left and Far Right – Two Peas in a Pod?” The Scholar’s Stage. 10 April 2013.

    T. Greer. Far Right and Far Left – Coming Together — With Infographics! The Scholar’s Stage. 13 June 2013.

    T. Greer. “Ominous Parallels: What Antebellum America Can Teach Us About Our Modern Political Regime.” The Scholar’s Stage. 26 February 2013.

    All of that was written before the Syria vote came to capitol hill, which only accentuated this strong inter-party rift. This divide between the establishment and the fringes – who agree on quite a lot – are just as wide as that between left and right, and politicians (say the Speaker of the House) have to go to great lengths (say, shutting down the government) to force the political system into the type of hyper-partisan gridlock that keeps their party members focused on the righteous fight against the liberal or conservative enemies.

    I would be interested in a geographic break down of the “establishment” faction’s base of support.

  3. Tomás / Oct 4 2013 8:29 AM

    Emancipation will come only when american negroes have their own separate, geographically-removed, nation-state. It will mean emancipation for them… and for the white ethnies which right now suffer them.

    Slavery, like indentured serfdom before, was the great idea of the plutocrats of the day (today we would call them globalists, or “open society” advocates, or immigrationists or, why not, simply libertarians). The plan was so simple… “let’s import cheap labor and fuck the underclasses. If that’s economically catastrophic for millions of my ethnic cousins, well, hey, fuck them. If that provokes terrible problems in the long term for my descendants, well, we will be dead long ago. Fuck my grandsons as well.”

    You can only think like that if your culture is pure individualistic economicism. Just a culture of egotistical merchants and money-lenders can think like that.

    “Integration”, like now “assimilation”, are predicated on the extreme versions of egalitarianism and individualism that poison the american white mind since, at the very least, the Illumination. Fanatic ideologies that have progressively poisoned all europids’ minds since the defeat of Those Who Shall Not Be Named in the last (by now) Great Europid Internecine Worldwide Slaughter.

    The obviously *maladaptive* character –in the current environments– of the *moral rules* associated to this culture is breathtaking. Maddening, indeed.There’s no better proof than the social or legal ban on every meaningful criteria of discrimination: ethnic origin, sex, age, religion, cultural practices.

    In fact the very change of meaning of the verb “to discriminate” from “to choose” to “to be mean for absurd reasons” is very significant. A change that has taken place in several different western languages, as I can personally attest.

  4. Greying Wanderer / Oct 7 2013 12:50 AM

    “On the issue of outbreaks of violence…and immigrant groups, Catholic Irish, Italians, and Eastern Europeans in the early part of the 20th century.”

    The pattern is always the same because mass blue-collar immigration generally involves young men arriving first and congregating in beach-heads where they have local superiority of numbers of young men but no women. When you think of it in those simple terms it’s pretty obvious why what always happens, always happens.

    Internal migration for work follows the same pattern.

  5. Maciano / Oct 7 2013 3:50 PM

    I’d be interested if age is a big factor too.

    David Brooks, the NYT neocon, wrote about Edward Snowden & Bradley Manning, that they seemed like a new phenomenon; he characterized them as atomized, alienated men in their late 20s with activist libertarian sympathies who fear “Big Gov”. Young white guys with a functioning brain don’t like the way the US is turning out, especially since Bush. Just think of the people running Wikileaks, Snowden, Manning, Ross Ulbricht (Silk Road guy), Cody Wilson (3Dprinted gun guy), Satoshi Nakamoto (Bitcoin, probably some white guy alias),

    They’re all familiar with the anarchist libertarian Von Mises Institute. It’s where they get much of their idea fuel. I’m pretty sure this isn’t just a coincidence. On Techcrunch I read a commenter saying capable young white guys in tech feel out-of-place in an H1-B Indianized Silicon Valley and turn to other interests.

    Methinks Brooks misses something profound, they’re not just turning to libertarianism.

    There’s also scores of HBD and/or WN bloggers; the Moldbuggians/”neo-reactionaries” on Twitter are even younger, mentally much tougher. And, of course, there’s the game/manosphere, literally filled with young white guys who’ve basically given up on their country and a bourgois lifestyle. Unlike Brooks, I don’t blame any of them.

    • JayMan / Oct 8 2013 11:41 AM


      You raise some good points. It would be worth doing some HBD on the HBD community (or more accurately, “alt-right” community, since the vast majority aren’t primarily interested in the human sciences beyond that it supports their ideological worldview/grievances, it seems).

  6. Peter Turchin / Oct 7 2013 6:56 PM

    Very interesting. Some aspects of the maps agree with intuition (preconceived notions?), but there are also lots of surprises.

    • JayMan / Oct 8 2013 11:42 AM

      @Peter Turchin:

      Thank you! And thank you for visiting and sharing your comments. What did you find surprising, if you don’t mind sharing?

  7. Rome's Creature / Oct 9 2013 11:58 PM

    I don’t see the American Nations uniting against population replacement before their less outbred elements constitute an overwhelming high-IQ majority. The diminished Northerners at that point may face three options, none of them pleasant: 1.) Follow the cool kids and embrace “racism”. 2.) Uproot themselves and abandon ship. 3.) Insist on clinging to power and suffer dearly for it.

    Something like the Civil War was inevitable. When you have two opposing groups in direct competition, one must rule the other to whatever extent practicable. Yankeedom and the Midlands achieved ideological dominance, and the Northerners of old could be very effective at war when necessary. Since then these slow breeders have not only been dying off but growing more docile, effete, even.

    Looking at SWPL males and today’s conservative young men in martial terms, this comparison is unkind to the former.


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