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The question of whether a third American “civil war” has begun occurred to me after reading a recent New York Times piece (deliberately unlinked as it fails fact checking) that claimed that the president can mandate a vaccine today because George Washington did so during America’s first “civil war,” more commonly called the American Revolution (1775-83).

That much is true, but the article misses a few key differences: it was a wartime measure that applied only to soldiers; it was for smallpox, which was orders of magnitude more deadly than Covid; it was variolation — introduction of small amounts of the live virus into the bloodstream — not experimental gene therapy. (I again call for a Covid variolation option on a voluntary basis.)

smallpox prevention poster

Did the New York Times admit too much by analogizing from a wartime scenario, or is it simply grasping at straws as usual? Maybe inadvertently some of both?

The Revolution and the Civil War (1861-65) were both “civil” in the sense of being internecine struggles but both were extremely uncivil in the sense that they were violent shooting wars that rent asunder families, towns, counties, and even entire states. Some people call the latter conflict the War Between the States or the War of Yankee Aggression, partly for political reasons but also following the logic of Guns N’ Roses: “What’s so civil about war anyway?” 

Some claim that America is already in a civil, in the sense of non-shooting, “war” with China, which purportedly has deployed its “Three Warfares” strategy of legal, psychological, and public opinion distortion. That would not be surprising. The USA of course waged a long non-shooting conflict, typically referred to as the Cold War, against the Soviet Union. During the decades-long conflict, the two superpowers shot at each other only indirectly, in places like Korea and Afghanistan, while also trying to destabilize each other with espionage, propaganda, and such.

A non-shooting, internecine “war,” a civil civil war if you will, is also not unprecedented but it is also not just “politics as usual.” There used to be rules and proportionality. It increasingly appears now that one side wants to annihilate the other at any cost, and that the sides are not drawn along strict party lines.

 

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America’s civil civil war seems to pit “sheeple” against people, the brainwashed against those capable of independent thought, and “safety first” authoritarians against civil libertarians, left, right, and center. To admit that such a conflict exists does not require a conspiracy theory, just recognition of marginal incentives. Nobody planned America’s first two civil wars either; they arose spontaneously from circumstances and incentives in ways so complex that historians still fight over the causal webs that ensnared people and governments in mortal combat.

  

Of course few Americans today want to “throw down” physically. We’ve got too much cool stuff and too many followers on social media to risk our lives. It would be a shame to get blood in our hot tubs, pools, or EVs. Moreover, although the sheeple might outnumber the people, the people have more guns, but they really don’t want to use them.

Cancel culture was the first weapon deployed. Shame people on social media in the hopes they will turn into sheeple and begin to follow the crowd, or at least injure their income. It often worked, but some people will not or cannot be canceled. If they lose their jobs they sue their former employers or slanderous media outletsjump to more lucrative careers on Substack, and so forth. Millions of others simply avoid social media, or keep it strictly to sharing videos of crazy cats or laughing babies. 

 

 Vaccines are a new weapon in the civil civil war because they can be used to reach anyone and everyone. Mandates are not a perfect weapon because some rational free thinkers have gotten the stab after due consideration of their individual situations, while some sheeple consider doctors their alphas and follow individualized medical advice not to get the Fauci ouchie. (No weapon kills all of the enemy or prevents all collateral damage, so those instances do not militate against vaccine weaponization.)

That Covid vaccine mandates are about sorting sheeple from people and not about public health is made clear by several facts. 

First, if public health were paramount, the mandate would be to test regularly for effective immunity, not shot compliance. Some people do not need a vaccine because they have already survived Covid and have natural immunity far superior to that provided by even the most effective vaccine. In addition, vaccines are not equally effective for everyone. Health officials therefore should be testing front line healthcare workers for immune response levels, not mere vaccine compliance.

Second, the mandates apply to remote workers and others who present no danger to the public. If a Covid-19 Survivors NGO has 100 or more employees, they all have to get vaccinated even if surviving the disease is a prerequisite for employment and even though scientists have warned that taking the vaccine probably does not help, and may even hurt, those with natural immunity.

Third, encouraging the termination of noncompliant employees is unduly punitive. The chances of an unvaccinated employee, especially outside of healthcare, “killing” anyone is vanishingly small and virtually impossible to trace, at least if what public health officials claim about the vaccines is true, i.e., relatively few vaccinated people get Covid, few of those need hospitalization, and almost no vaccinated people die from, or even with, Covid. How is a miniscule risk of barely harming others worth somebody’s livelihood?

All the more amazing are reports that people terminated for noncompliance may not be eligible for unemployment insurance because they are being fired “for cause.” That will lead to some fun lawsuits, because “for cause” traditionally means for doing something wrong, like stealing, or not doing something right, like showing up for work on time. Sufficient “cause” was a concept that employers and employees worked out together, not a dictate from the executive branch of the federal government.

It’s a blatantly unlawful dictate at that! Corporations must start to contest unconstitutional federal policies. Imagine if Biden, in one of his delirious tantrums, said that corporations need to execute non-compliant employees. Would they do so? Presumably not! But by the self-styled progressives’ own claims, firing (or not hiring) people is tantamount to slowly strangling them to death. I mean they call it termination, right? (Seriously, Newsweek in 2010, citing “research,” claimed that “layoffs literally kill people.”)

Corporations should team up, hire the fanciest of fancy lawyers, and defeat mandates (and vaccine passports), or be counted as an enemy of the people. They can fund the legal expenses out of their oversized charitable donations budgets because saving the Constitution is the most important cause of them all.

Has a civil civil war begun in America? I can’t reject that hypothesis so long as irrational wars on the vaccine non-compliant, innovation, and small business, continue. If the authoritarians win those battles, free thinking people who believe in human rights may have to capitulate, or worse.

Robert E. Wright is a Senior Research Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research.

He is the (co)author or (co)editor of over two dozen major books, book series, and edited collections and has also (co)authored numerous articles for important journals, including the American Economic ReviewBusiness History ReviewIndependent ReviewJournal of Private EnterpriseReview of Finance, and Southern Economic Review.

Robert has taught business, economics, and policy courses at Augustana University, NYU’s Stern School of Business, Temple University, the University of Virginia, and elsewhere since taking his Ph.D. in History from SUNY Buffalo in 1997.

Republished with permission.

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