What If the South Had Won the Civil War? 4 Sci-Fi Scenarios for HBO’s "Confederate"

Allen C. Guelzo, Gettysburg College


“What if” has always been the favorite game of Civil War historians. Now, thanks to David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — the team that created HBO’s insanely popular Game of Thrones — it looks as though we’ll get a chance to see that “what if” on screen. Their new project, Confederate, proposes an alternate America in which the secession of the Southern Confederacy in 1861 actually succeeds. It is a place where slavery is legal and pervasive, and where a new civil war is brewing between the divided sections.

The wild popularity of Game of Thrones has already set the anxiety bells of progressives jangling over how much a game of Confederate thrones might look like a fantasy of the alt-right. Still, if Benioff and Weiss really want to give audiences the heebie-jeebies about a Confederate victory, they ought to pay front-and-center attention to how close the real Confederacy also came to the fantasies of the alt-left, and what the Confederacy’s leaders frankly proposed as their idea of the future. [excerpt]