In the distant past—five months ago—I believed our country could heal its divisions. Sure, we’d always have disagreements, and sure, our new President was always going to be unpopular with a lot of people. But, after all, he had won a democratic election. The Left would regroup, consider why its offerings had been rejected, and perhaps dial back its extremism. But I was wrong. The Left has instead doubled down on hatred. This was shown yesterday, when the fear and anger created and nurtured by the Left over the past two decades, deliberately whipped to a fever pitch in the past months, caused the first attempted political assassinations of Republican Congressmen. In this harsh light, the split of the country originally posited by Kurt Schlichter in People’s Republic no longer seems as unrealistic as I thought in my November 2016 review of that book. As Schlichter accurately says, “Yes, the Left hates Trump, but its hatred is really for us.”
This book, Indian Country, is a sequel of sorts (actually a prequel) to People’s Republic, and it succeeds in being the rare sequel that is even better than its predecessor. At its heart, Indian Country is black comedy as cautionary tale, with a bunch of guns and killing thrown in. It is Gulliver’s Travels for the 21st Century, with more Javelins and less international travel. Like all good satire, its targets are exaggerated versions of undoubtedly existing tendencies or practices, rather than fantasies woven out of whole cloth (which would be make-believe, not satire). But that basis in reality makes it a doubly disturbing, though often amusing, read in today’s environment.
It is true that even to a Schlichter fan, such as I most definitely am, a few elements of the satire seem silly at first. But that is a fault in my vision, not in Schlichter. He has merely realized, and now ably communicates to us, the truth that a lot of things existing in the world of June 2017 also seemed equally silly, not so long ago. Now, though, the Left, with its domination of all news-setting media, academia, and big business, characterizes them as eternal truths, opposition to which, we are indoctrinated, is either insanity or hatred. So, when Schlichter talks about “reparations taxes” being imposed on all those not in a designated victim category, or describes the squabble between a Hindu and a cripple, each claiming higher oppression status so that he can advance in the line for airport customs, it may seem silly. But, if you think about it honestly, that’s exactly what would happen in California this very moment if that state were left to its own devices.
Indian Country is tightly focused in time and space. It takes place over several weeks beginning June, 2027. The country had split in 2023, following Hillary Clinton’s election to replace Donald Trump, and her immediate attempts to, among other things, seize guns (which, again, is undoubtedly what would happen immediately if the Left fully gained power—anyone who says otherwise is totally delusional or a liar). The “Split” is hastily negotiated and has the two coastal regions as one new “blue” country, the self-named “People’s Republic.” The rest of the country, basically the flyover states, remains the “United States.”
Crucially for the plot of this book, the division is made strictly along existing state lines, for purposes of getting the Split accomplished quickly. But that means that some areas that really should be blue are in red states, and vice versa. One such area is southern Indiana, centered around Jasper. As the two countries negotiate border revisions, the book turns on efforts by the United States to destabilize southern Indiana in an attempt to make abandoning it more attractive to the People’s Republic—a realistic scenario that does not cast the United States as at all heroic, merely realistic and practical. The result is non-violent #Resistance by the red-leaning citizens of Jasper (accelerated, but not caused, by the hero of the story), followed by violent repression by jack-booted thugs (complete with political officers, i.e., “diversity commissars”—a nice touch), followed by ever-widening circles of retribution, anger and violence, capped off by armored brigade-level fighting countered by irregular action, centered in and around Jasper.
We tend to look at a scenario like this and say “it can’t happen here,” simply because we can’t picture it here. Isn’t this deep down still the country of Norman Rockwell’s portrayals, with better cars and social media? No, of course it isn’t (nor was much of the country even in Rockwell’s time like that, though many areas were, convenient post hoc Leftist myth to the contrary notwithstanding). This blindness is an error. Not only can it happen here, it has happened here. Think, for example, of Civil War Missouri. Or think of the 1970s, when in eighteen months during 1971 and 1972 the Left detonated 2,500 bombs in America. This wave of terrorism has been erased from memory because it was the Left who did it. And they, together with their media and academia allies, were then actively working for the imposition of a form of government that would have executed millions of Americans if it had come to power. It very much can happen here, and not just simple battle, but the types of atrocities we inaccurately associate only with distant places and foreign cultures, like Cambodia or Turkey.
So, I think I’ll take the opposite tack of my People’s Republic review—I’ll examine what things in this book are realistic, even if they’re not things most people like to think about. That said, as with People’s Republic, this book posits too much one-sided virtue—it portrays, for example, what amounts to a heroic hillbilly family (most of whom are massacred by the irregular militia “People’s Volunteers,” along with the federalized police, the “People’s Security Force”). I am sure there are heroic hillbilly families. But far too many of them are just as welfare- and substance-dependent as many in big cities. The other day the New York Times profiled a pathetic male-free household of multiple generations eager for disability checks, in rural red America, living in squalor, totally dependent on pills and handouts. As a spate of recent books, from Sam Quinones’s Dreamland to J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, have chronicled, the “red” lower classes in America are in a very bad way, and are not just waiting to take up arms against the Man to defend their ancient freedoms. They’re waiting for their next government check so they can get four cases of Mountain Dew, two cartons of Marlboro Lights, and some meth.
On to realism. First, in any civil conflict, it is impossible to stay neutral indefinitely, human nature being what it is. The best example of this in American history is the Tories in the War of Independence, whom we conveniently forget were violently abused where they were a minority, sometimes killed, and almost all driven out, going first to New York or other havens, and ultimately to Canada, Florida, the Caribbean or England. Schlichter even has the Red locals call other locals sympathetic to the progressive cause “Tories.” While allegiance to nut jobs like the People’s Republic seems strange, it makes complete sense that such people would exist when you think about all the people you know who define their self-worth by allegiance to the latest progressive ideological inanity. The original Tories had good reasons for being Loyalist; these Tories are a few notches higher, or lower, in the stupidity scale. But the point is everyone is always forced to choose a side, even though most people don’t really want to.
Second, and related, there are no angels in civil wars. Such conflicts are never clean—not that war ever is, but a civil war is much less so. We run a clean drone war in the Middle East, from our perspective (not from the target’s perspective). That’s possible because it’s impossible to get to the drone operators. As Schlichter shows, if drones were used in America, the targets would become the drone operators. Or, even more likely, though Schlichter does not show it, their families. Over time, the evil that men do gets glossed over. We forget what John Brown did in Kansas, because he later became an icon. It wasn’t pretty, and it wouldn’t be in any future American civil war either, on either side.
Third, it is critical to never underestimate your enemies. The Left is stupid in this book, just like in real life. They really would have diversity commissars, undercut military readiness by mandatory sensitivity training and general lack of competence, and stifle innovation and productivity. But that doesn’t mean they’re not a threat. Stalin had commissars too, and killed much of his officer corps, and he was still capable of fighting a war. Just because the Left shoots itself in the foot by elevating fat transgender people to colonel rank doesn’t mean they can’t shoot you too, or have their People’s Volunteers do it for fun. When in doubt, shoot first, rather than relying on their incompetence causing their collapse.
Fourth, on a lighter note, Indian Country does an outstanding job exposing as ridiculous sophistical cant that sounds good on first impression, a position we already find ourselves in today. Thus, posters are everywhere in blue America, announcing “Intolerance Will Not Be Tolerated.” The government airline in the blue states is “Justice Air,” and the in-flight magazine cover story “was a hagiography about a differently abled Justice Air pilot. She was blind.” Deodorant is constricted to one male and one female version—followed by reduction to only one choice because “genderfluid individuals” protested this hate crime. (This is, of course, a satire of an actual admonition of Bernie Sanders). This action is characterized as “The People’s Republic was hoping to soon be able to expand the constriction of choices throughout the country as part of its quest for greater freedom.” Practically every page has something like this, which make the reader unsure whether to laugh or cry, since most such passages have the ring of truth, being necessarily dictated by the principles of the Left and very similar to what has already happened in many areas of life. You sometimes have to think for a while to decide if a particular passage is satire or something that has already happened in today’s world. Unfortunately, if I could get a progressive with no sense of humor (not difficult to find) to read this book (harder to do), I suspect he would actually approve of at least 80% of the cant that Schlichter makes fun of. Which just goes to prove his point, I suppose.
Fifth, the entire plot shows, as the saying goes, “man proposes and God disposes.” Nothing ever goes according to plan. Everybody knows this and yet everybody acts as if he doesn’t know it. This is true both on the tactical and the strategic level. Thus, glib calls on the Left or Right for the type of split Schlichter portrays are ill-considered merely as a planning matter, for the end-result is not likely to be what the speaker wants. More likely it’ll be some form of unpleasant authoritarian government on both sides, since governments that cherish freedom are in short historical supply.
Sixth, if one must fight a civil war (for just because it’s unpleasant in the extreme doesn’t mean it won’t become necessary), this book shows why it’s a myth that Americans could not effectively fight back against the traditional Army, with its overwhelming technological and weapon superiority. Of course, our inability to win in Afghanistan and Iraq shows that clearly enough, but the balance would be closer to even here. You often hear that the Second Amendment is an anachronism, with the claim that small arms can’t defeat a modern army. (We can leave aside that the definition of “arms” in the Second Amendment should clearly include more than small arms; it should also be totally legal to own any type of portable crew-served weapons, including machine guns, mortars and anti-tank rockets, as well as explosives and grenades, with, of course, no government oversight or tracking). But you don’t need an army to defeat an army—you just need enough weapons to kill enough people to acquire heavier weapons (or, as here, supply from abroad of anti-tank and other man-portable destructive devices), and then you need to use those weapons effectively. Given the large numbers of Americans in red states with military training, that probably won’t be too difficult. And that’s true for an insurgency—what’s portrayed here is basically proxy civil war, which would likely be even more effective from the insurgents’ perspective.
In some perfect world, I’d like to rate this book “fun, if gruesome, fantasy,” and now go back about my day. Instead, I rate it one-quarter prophecy, one-half warning and one-quarter training manual, and now I will go worry about it. I’m not happy about it, but that’s just the way it is.