A Different Kind of Civil War

Ian Mitroff
3 min readMay 25


I’m publishing this series of articles to share and discuss my ruminations on coping with a troubled and messy world. You can “follow” me to never miss an article.

With insightfulness that’s absolutely chilling, two articles capture the essence of the dire Threats facing America. The first by Jamelle Bouie is eerily but appropriately titled “A Gun-Filled America”[i]. The second by Adrienne LaFrance, “The New Anarchy”, is no less[ii].

Bouie’s piece makes the essential point that blaming Mass Shootings on the Mental Health of shooters is not only diverting from the real issue, but according to Mental Health Experts Mental Illness is not primarily the main factor for their increase. It’s the sheer availability and preponderance of Guns.

But most of all, in response to increased calls for the Hardening of Schools with armed guards and all of the other places where people gather in numbers, Bouie’s main point is that A Hardened America Is An America Where People Live In A Perpetual Heightened State Of Fear. It’s not a world governed by Trust, Hope, or Solidarity, or any of the things that are needed to make Democracy work. His most terrifying point is that’s precisely the world that Conservatives want because it makes others bend to their will.

The piece by LaFrance is even more terrifying. She deplores the rise of Donald Trump and a Republican Party for not only endorsing violence, but edging it on. But most of all, she concerned with a new phase of Domestic Terrorism: the rise of Extremist Groups on both the Left and the Right. (This is not to say that both are equally at fault.) As she notes, while complex and entangled, the conditions that make societies vulnerable to Political Violence are well known: Great Disparities in Income and Wealth, Declining Trust in Democratic Institutions, Feelings of Aggrievement and Victimhood, Deep Partisan Divides Based on Identity and Dehumanizing Rhetoric Against the Other, Rapid Demographic Change, Flourishing Conspiracy Theories, and finally the Belief Among Those Who Engage in Violence That They Can Get Away with It. Most worrisome of all is that the U.S. is experiencing them all.

As such, there are no easy ways out of the dire morass in which we are mired. In making clear that violence will not be tolerated, Police have to be extremely careful that by their actions they do not provoke it further.

As LaFrance notes, one of the prime factors in ending violence is the feeling on the part of the Public that Enough Is Enough! Sadly, while the Public has indicated time and again that they want stricter Gun controls, Conservatives continue to resist the idea.

While a Civil War in the earlier sense of two opposing armies may not apply, the Warning Signs are loud and clear that we are firmly in a different kind.

[i] Jamelle Bouie, “A Gun-Filled America,” The New York Times, Sunday, May 14, 2023, P SR 3.

[ii] Adrienne LaFrance, “The New Anarchy,” The Atlantic, PP 23–34, 36–37.

Ian I. Mitroff is credited as being one of the principal founders of the modern field of Crisis Management. He has a BS, MS, and a PhD in Engineering and the Philosophy of Social Systems Science from UC Berkeley. He is Professor Emeritus from the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. Currently, he is a Senior Research Affiliate in the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, UC Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Management. He has published 41 books. His most recent are: Techlash: The Future of the Socially Responsible Tech Organization, Springer, New York, 2020. The Psychodynamics of Enlightened Leadership; Coping with Chaos, Co-authored with Ralph H. Kilmann, Springer, New York, 2021. His latest is: The Socially Responsible Organization: Lessons from Covid 19, Springer, New York, 2022.

Photo by Tsvetoslav Hristov on Unsplash



Ian Mitroff