Donald J. Patti

U.S. Divided? A Shred of Truth in Igor’s Words

In Ethics and ideology, Igor Panarin, Politics, United States on 11 January 2009 at 9:01 pm

According to Washington Post staff writer Joel Garreau, Russian Professor and former KGB analyst Igor Panarin has been predicting the balkanization of the United States for over a decade, claiming most recently that the current economic crisis and associated debt will drive us separate ways, region by region, until there are six separate countries in North America.  Both Garreau and other members of the journalistic community have covered this subject thoroughly, so I encourage you to read these articles to see if you don’t come to the conclusion that Igor’s predictions are largely nonsense.

To paraphrase Garreau, Panarin is off base mainly because he has cleaved the country in odd places, forming unions with other countries that make little sense. Portland, Oregon and Utah in the hands of China; Tennessee in the European Union; Ohio to Canada (“A Disintegrating U.S.? Critics come Unglued”, Joel Garreau, Washington Post, 3 January 2009).  After reading the article, many long-time American citizens will also doubt Panarin and likely agree with his critics.

But there is a shred of truth in Igor’s words that Americans will find difficult to deny.  While the U.S. is obviously not dividing along the lines proposed by Panarin, an ideological divide is clearly forming in the U.S. — the “Red State/Blue State” phenomena.  Like Panarin argues, this divide is bad for America and even threatens to break the country apart – functionally, though not physically.

For starters, it’s hard to deny that “red” states and “blue” states now exist, as one only need look at recent elections to see that many states consistently vote for Republican or Democrats.  Sure, occasionally a state switches colors and there are definitely battleground states that are “in play” every election.  But forty of fifty states now consistently vote either blue or red.

But, consider how this is bad for America.  In those forty of fifty states,

(1) citizens rarely (if ever) hear an opposing view point from news outlets, who prefer to mirror the viewpoints of their viewers, readers and listeners instead of challenging them. People don’t pay to be told they might be wrong, nor do they watch programs that contradict their views.

(2) rarely hear an opposing opinion from their neighbors.  Instead, neighbors with dissenting options stay silent to avoid alienation, or they move to a state that more closely matches their own.

(3) No longer hear opposing ideas from political campaigns, which spend their advertising dollars in places where they have a potential to sway the results, not where one side or another is firmly entrenched.

Many of you, I’m sure, are happily “red” or “blue” and prefer living in a state with like minds.  But your red or blue bliss implies that one side has a monopoly on the best ideas; that these ideas are not improved by the crucible of criticism; and, that it’s not important to understand the opposing viewpoint, regardless of whether you agree.

As a country, we’ve succeeded for over two centuries because the debate over ideas has been vigorous and the competition of ideas in the political marketplace has equaled the competition in industry.  In just two decades, we’re eliminating that debate and instead promoting a “divide and conquer” strategy for the political landscape – one that will make it harder for us to work together in the future.  While it’s unlikely that this will result in secession or disintegration a la Igor Panarin, it is likely to result in more gridlock at the national level.  And, unless it’s addressed, it will eventually bring political and economic irrelevance.

What do you think?  Am I off base?  Is the problem as bad as I say it is, or is it my imagination? If so, what’s the solution?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: