Democracy keeps a lid on civil war. Y’all took the lid off
The Sri Lankan Civil War ‘officially’ started when I was 0 years old, but in truth we had been fighting for years. Decades really. By the time the match was lit in 1983, the entire country was wet with kerosene. It only took a few sparks for the whole thing to burn.
I won’t get into why the war started, because you don’t care, and I will only briefly discuss when. Instead, I’ll talk about what’s the same, which is how. The tracks of violence are the same for dogs, children, and nations. When creatures stop talking (or sniffing) and start yelling (or growling) it’s only a matter of time before they fight. What do you think is happening in America? What makes you any different from all other people (and animals) on Earth?
Americans have quite publicly checked out of democracy — just look at your Capitol. Civil war has already begun. Perhaps you don’t believe it, but the other side does. That’s precisely your problem. Who needs the element of surprise when people will simply reject surprising information?
In Sri Lanka we could only see the obvious signs in hindsight, but if you could step out of American exceptionalism for a minute, our shitty experiences might help you. I mean, you could ask lots of people. This experience is common across the world.
In Sri Lanka we had post-democracy (1931) ethnic tensions that took 50 years to really start bubbling over. America only attained modern democracy in 1965, and sure enough your ethnic tensions began bubbling over 50 years later, with the election of your first white supremacist President. This may just be a thing with diverse democracies. Like with children I guess. People don’t want to share, and then they start hitting.
Within Sri Lankan democracy, Sinhalese and Tamils had trouble sharing. The British left a mess of colonial injustices, and Sinhalese leaders swung hard the other way, into Sinhala injustice. God knows the Tamil people tried to talk it out. They tried to protest peacefully. We beat them, burned them, killed their mouths shut. Were some Tamil leaders asking for the impossible? Sure. But we (the Sinhalese) didn’t even want to talk about it, we took. We hit. It was unsurprising that Tamil people started hitting back.
Just as America has the Proud Boys, we had ‘The Boys’, young Tamil militants, wielding a rusty pistol between them, causing isolated trouble around the North. They were just called ‘The Boys’. Until they became men. Until they became a military. Until all hell broke loose.
One ‘boy’, Vellupillai Prabhakaran, killed most of the others, consolidated power, and in many ways perfected modern ‘terrorism’. I use the word in a non-pejorative sense, it’s just another weapon of war, no better or worse than state violence. Prabhakaran then assembled a conventional army, a navy, even an air force. With international funding, he ended up ruling 33% of the country, coming within a few missed assassinations of a separate state.
This is an inadequate look at what happened, but again, what do you care? What’s relevant to you Americans is how, because this is common. What you can learn from Sri Lanka can really be condensed down to one event.
At 21 years old, Prabhakaran rolled up on the Major of Jaffna and shot him in the head. He literally shot the democratic process in the head, as your mobs did when they stormed your Capitol. You may not know it at the time (we didn’t), but that’s exactly how war begins. Democracy is the ritual containment of civil war. Parties instead of armies. Rallies instead of battles. When you attack democracy, the war gets out, and it takes for-fucking-ever to get back in.
On January 6th, America came within a few seconds of violence against your democratic leaders. Democracy was nonetheless defiled, quite literally. The mobs smeared shit on the walls. They killed. They livestreamed it all. You Americans think you are so different from Sri Lanka because we are a ‘shithole’, but we’re not the ones with poop on the walls.
We had our Boys and you have your Proud Boys; same thing, just worse. Our boys had to ration every bullet and get around on bicycles, your guys just walk into Walmart and load up their Ford F150s. Prabhakaran ‘collected’ small donations from diaspora corner shops, Y’all Qaeda is funded by billionaires. Tamil militants were easily ID’d by our security forces (as in, racist profiling) while your white supremacists are already embedded inside. You think America’s exceptional? You’re exceptionally fucked.
It’s not that war is coming to America, it has already come. You’ve skipped straight past our warning signs into a frontal attack on your Capitol and you’re still like “uhhh, what’s that burning smell?” It’s you, you fools. Your democracy is on fire.
America has been dripping wet with gasoline for years, and Trump has taken a blowtorch to the place for four years, with FoxNews and Facebook selling it as crème brûlée. What did you think was going to happen? Do you think historical forces just go away? Banning fascists now, changing governments, it’s all too late. You’re still debating whether a civil war is possible while the other side has already started fighting. This does not make you prudent. It makes you dumb. Who needs the element of surprise against a nation of ostriches*?
The central fact is that people have checked out of your democracy and now there’s nowhere else to go. I use the Sri Lankan example because I know it, but look anywhere. If my children stop taking turns they fight, if our dogs growl, they bite. You think you’re so different because you’re white? Black people could tell you America is violent, the people at your border could tell you, as could the millions of people living beneath your bombs. Since the 1970s, America has not spent a day at peace. It was only a matter of time before armored chickens came home to roost.
Living in denial doesn’t make things go away you dumbasses, didn’t you learn anything from COVID? Does the virus go away if you stop testing? Do you think terrorists go away when you block them on Twitter? You just went further down the well-trodden road of not talking, and that only leads to one place, which is actually fighting. This is precisely how a civil war starts. The only question is when.
I don’t know when. I’m not a prophet. My only power is seeing through American exceptionalism, and comparing you to the world. In Sri Lanka it took decades, and then years, and then all-at-once. I think you’re already at the all-at-once stage. To be honest, your terrorists have been getting ready for years, that’s why they’re called preppers. It’s only you that’s unprepared.
The political physics of this explosion is quite clear. Once people give up on democracy there’s nowhere else to go. What the fuck did you think your elections were doing? Peaceful transfers of power just keep a lid on violent transfers of power. Y’all have taken the lid off, turned up the heat, and act confused when the blood boils over.
In Sri Lanka the pot had been bubbling for decades before people started checking out of the democratic process. Then it became a matter of years. Prabhakaran capped the Mayor in 1975 but the war didn’t ‘officially’ start until 1983, eight years later. Then it was mayhem for 26 years. AKA a generational cycle. This is what you’re in for. That is how long it take for old blood to boil over and be replaced by cooler new (inshallah).
As with COVID-19, downplaying the threat or saying ‘don’t panic’ doesn’t make it go away. It just multiplies. Many Americans are thinking this will blow over but that’s not what your enemies are thinking. Your enemies are in the street with guns, acting, and you’re not even reacting yet. As Yeats said, The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. And let’s be honest. You’re not sending your best.
Americans are so caught up with the fact that this cannot be happening to them that they are missing the obvious fact that it is happening. Literally just listen to what your enemies say they’re going to do, and notice when they do it. As Oprah and Maya Angelou discussed, when people show you who they are, believe them. This is what your terrorists are saying on MeWe:
“Can I be honest … the day I have to put a human life in my scope is gunna be a scary day ! I’m not looking forward to it,” a user named Justin Alexander wrote in the group’s chatroom.
“I’m not looking forward to it either,” replied another person with the username Derek Howell. “But I’m at peace with it. And it’s time.”
A third member calling themselves Carrie Brownell wrote: “I was able to put down our family dog … If I was able to pull the trigger on something I love, I imagine doing it to someone I hate, or is threatening my life would be a lot easier.”
This is what they were saying on Parler:
You don’t need to believe a random Sri Lankan. Believe all the random Americans saying they’re going to start a civil war. And doing it.
All of these people talking about assassinations, murders, war, some of them will do it. As the IRA said, “Remember, we only have to be lucky once. You have to be lucky always.” Indeed, your terrorists have already taken pretty obvious action. Kyle Rittenhouse shot people in the street and is now out on bail, getting sponsorships. A significant amount of your population is whipped into a racist, religious fervor and they have significant political support. A good 20% of Americans supported the storming of the Capitol, and an evil 45% of Republicans. You have a bunch of frankly rich people that are well-armed, well-funded, and with a very clear ideology. Meanwhile you have a country that’s going to shit in multiple directions, ripe for insurrection. What do you think is going to happen? What happens anywhere else in the world? America is not exceptional. Y’all just exceptionally dumb.
I don’t know when, and I won’t get into why, but this is precisely how a civil war happens. When people check out of democracy, congratulations, you’re all been checked into a generational cycle of violence. Welcome to the Hotel California. You can check out anytime you like — as many Americans have mentally done — but you can never leave. As someone who recently got out of the Hotel Kilinochchi (by virtue of everyone just dying) let me tell you, y’all in for some shit. Living through a civil war took literally my whole life. America has just begun.
*Ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand to hide, just to check on their eggs. I’m just using the phrase in the commonly understood sense and mean them no disrespect.
This is part five of what my wife calls my interminable ‘I Lived Through’ series. It’s.. a lot.