As the 21st Century has matured, the divide in the United States has gotten more and more pronounced. While in many ways it is tribal (simply look at what either major political faction will scream bloody murder about when they are the opposition, and then look the other way when it is done while their people are in office), there is a fundamental fracture in the fabric of American society. And that fissure is deepening.
More and more voices call for the utter destruction of anyone who disagrees with them, no matter how petty or nonsensical the disagreement is. A side with more and more power is demanding that things that are more and more demonstrably false and counter-factual be held up as right, true, and good, and threaten the livelihoods, or the lives, of anyone who refuses.
The fracture appears to be largely along political lines. But it has become much deeper than that, a cultural divide between people who assume the worst of each other, in some cases simply because of the color of skin. And the politicians and tech giants who make their millions use that divide more and more, stoking the fires of the mob for their own profit and power.
The United States was founded as a representative republic. The Federal Government ultimately answered to the states, which were sovereign political entities of their own. While the House of Representatives was elected by the popular vote in each state, the Senate was appointed by the State legislatures. This was designed to adhere to the principle of subsidiarity, where problems get solved at the lowest, most local level possible.
But as with all popular government, going back to Athens’ democracy, that wasn’t enough for some. And so, the safeguards that preserved that principle of subsidiarity were slowly eroded, and in the name of “Democracy,” the mob became the operating political principle.
The problem is that a mob does little on its own. The mob is a group of men turned into a single, irrational animal. But as the would-be tyrants of Athens, and the populist tyrants of Rome knew, the mob is easily led. And so the American politicians stoked the fires of the mob to get themselves elected, with all the financial and social capital that came with being in office.
But a mob is volatile. And when aided and abetted by the leftovers of a poisonous ideology that killed anywhere from 100 to 200 million people in the 20th Century, the growing chaos could easily tear a nation apart.
Many fingers are pointed at foreign actors, and rightly so. Russian information operations have been constant since 1945 or before. The Communist Party of China is even more culpable. Mexico (where the President himself was on the Sinaloa Cartel take) pours millions into influence operations aimed at American elections.
But while real, those threats are only a symptom of the greater disease.
By the opening of the Maelstrom Rising series, this current nightmare we peer over the edge at has come to fruition. The Cold Civil War has gone hot. Many on the Right have long expected a prolonged guerrilla war against oppressive government forces (a scenario very similar to the Left’s dreams of revolution, though ideologically switched). But that’s not what is on the horizon. Not quite.
Proxy war has been a major strategy for decades. It worked for the Communists in Africa, East Asia, and South America. And it is going to work here, too.
Already, if a city or state government decides it doesn’t like the politics of a mob’s target, they do nothing. The mob is a weapon, either for votes, or to crush the enemies of a regime.
Social violence spreads. Leftist mobs attack those they deem acceptable targets. Hard-core rightwingers resolve to “get this over with,” with bombs and rifles. Leftists, inevitably, adapt and get better training. Already, they are starting to arm themselves more heavily than before.
As the chaos spreads, the political deadlock in the halls of power gets worse. No one wants to move–or even be seen to appear to move–against “their” side. And it gets worse and worse, even as some, insulated from the effects of their rhetoric, continue to stoke the fires, profiting handsomely from it in money and political points.
It is into this environment that an organization called The Triarii is born.