I never thought I would ask such a (I assumed) preposterous question. But it has weighed on my mind since I listed to a 538 podcast asking how likely is it the US will have another civil war.
Before listening to it, I thought the chance of another civil war in the US was minimal and in a country like New Zealand, neglible.
But the guest was Barbara Walter. She is one of the leading global experts on civil wars and has created a predictive model for civil wars based on her 30 years of studying civil wars. She has looked at multiple factors such as poverty, inequality, religious diversity, size topography. In total they have analysed 50 different variables and found there are two factors that are the most predictive of civil war.
The second most powerful factor was if a government wasn’t a fully democracy or a full autocracy, but something inbetween. Now consider whether abandoning equality of suffrage (a fundamental human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) moves a country into that category.
But get this. The most important single factor is when one or more major parties in a country’s political system doesn’t organise around left-right political values but around identity – race, religion or ethnicity.
When I heard her say this on the podcast, it chilled me. This is an expert who has studied civil wars for 30 years, and she said these are the two most influential factors.
This made me even more convinced about the harm caused by policies which prioritise race and ethnicity over citizenship.