Actually, We Are Already in the Middle of a Second American Civil War

Same players, same goals, same stakes … how will it end this time?

Steve Genco
15 min readOct 8, 2023


A January 6 rioter stands in the US Capital carrying a large Confederate flag.
A Trump supporter brings the Confederate Flag into the US Capitol on 6 January. Source

It is no coincidence that the Confederate Flag is the symbol of the MAGA movement.

It is no coincidence that today’s most radical Red States are former members of the Confederacy.

It is no coincidence that all of our radical Red States want to hide from American children any accurate depiction of the reasons for, and consequences of, the first American Civil War that the Confederacy started and lost, at a cost of over 620,000 lives.

It is no coincidence that today’s rebellion — just like the last one — is being funded by rich property owners (then: plantation owners, now: tech billionaires) who believe any extension of rights and liberties to new constituencies is a threat to their financial interests.

It is no coincidence that the “way of life” today’s rebels want to return to demands the subjugation of one arbitrarily-defined group of humans (then: slaves, now: women, blacks, people of color, gay and trans people, immigrants … a long list!) by another arbitrarily-defined group of humans (then: white males, now: white males).

When we imagine a Second Civil War, our imaginations tend to fail us. We envision the cinematic features of the First Civil War: the formal secession, the “boys” battling each other in their blue and grey uniforms, the great generals astride their steeds, the massive clashes like Gettysburg and Bull Run. Surely nothing comparable to that is going on today, is it?

The reason we have trouble seeing that our Second Civil War is already underway is because it looks, so far, quite different from the first one, at least on the surface. This is because it is being fought with vastly different weapons on a vastly different battlefield. But underneath these differences are telling similarities: the same players (the former Confederacy vs. the former Union), the same goals (political subjugation and economic plutocracy vs. democratic inclusiveness and majority rule), and the same stakes (democracy vs. fascism; rule-of-law vs. rule-by-force).



Steve Genco

Steve is author of Intuitive Marketing (2019) & Neuromarketing for Dummies (2013). He holds a PhD in Political Science from Stanford University.