Sunday, April 11, 2010

You Say You Want a Revolution?



It appears that the left will continue its frenzied push to fundamentally transform America from a constitutional republic to a socialist democracy. There is some question in people's mind whether the leftists, in both parties, intend to make the United States resemble France or Russia if they accomplish their ultimate goals.

While France doesn't look so bad to some, many people forget how France came to be France. Once the most powerful, culturally advanced, and wealthy country in the world, it descended into chaos in a matter of a few years, from 1789 to the Jacobin regime of 1792-4. How and why France spiraled out of control is perhaps not coincidentally obscured. There are so many parallels to present-day America that it is hard to believe that it is chance.

At the same time, our own revolution is fading in the collective memory of the youth generation. Revolution is romanticized in the minds of the young people, leading to a misunderstanding of the causes and ends of revolutions.

The American revolution is perhaps more appropriately characterized in social and miltary terms as a rebellion and secession, and thus its dynamics were not similar to those of internal social revolutions. It established a political, economic, and social order based on individual rights and freedom. If there is an American "revolution" it is one of ideals. Destroy America's founding ideals, and you overturn the revolution, obliterating America as we know it.

How does the left intend to destroy America's ideals? Through "free" compulsory education, where state-licensed propagandists undermine the founding by omission or oblique slander; the replacement of critical thinking from an individualist point of view with "deconstruction" of anything pro-capitalist or supportive of America; the creation of a pervasive culture where the citizenry, and especially the youth, swim in a pond of leftist values and traditional value destruction; news media that intentionally disinform, support the leftist party at all times, and reinforce socialist values through systematic, selective reporting; the infiltration of the apparatuses of the rule of law, to be twisted into vehicles for leftist causes; the repeated lies that we are a "democracy" and not a constitutional republic; and the distortion that the Constitution is a "living, breathing document" to be rewritten according to the whim of whatever statist comes along.

But why would leftists seek to overturn the American revolution?  Precisely because it is a barrier to their power.  As Orwell put it, "One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes a revolution in order to establish a dictatorship." Revolution is the means, and power is the end.  Nowhere is this made clearer than in Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, the Machiavellian bible of the modern left.

In any case, the deadly recipe for internal social revolutions appears to include: social demoralization leading to moral bankruptcy; re-orientation of values conditioned by intense and sustained propaganda; rampant monetary inflation or other severe economic disruption; relative deprivation or sudden loss of lifestyle; revanchism by colliding groups; chaos and breakdown of rule of law and possibly national security; the establishment of a "benevolent" tyranny, often accompanied by a "reign of terror," which may or may not be overturned by "reactionaries." The formulations vary, but this is the gist.

The historical conditions leading to the French, Russian, and German revolutions (the Nazi regime's ascension to power) can be traced and compared with America's revolutionary trajectory, which has recently experienced a parabolic upshot. An article by Otto Scott entitled The Shape of Events provides an overview of the French and Russian revolutions worth reading, especially the passage on the monetary and social conditions of revolutionary France. Further exploration of revolutionary France can be found in  The Triumph of Statism, written by the economics professor Richard Eheling. The short article Le Quatorze Juliet provides valuable insight into the French Revolution, especially by challenging the popular academic argument that the Nazi regime was the first to industrialize mass murder.

Ultimately, the analytic framework for revolution does not seem to be much improved from Aristotle, whose Politics provides the fundamentals:

Revolutions arise from inequalities, numerical or qualitative--from a numerical mass claiming an equality denied them, or from a minority claiming a superiority denied them. A revolution may result either in a complete change of polity, or only in a modification of the existing one. An oligarchy is less permanent than a democracy, owing to factions within the oligarchical body.

In all revolutions, the conditions which leads up to them is the desire of the many for equality, and the desire of the minority for effective superiority. The purposes with which they are set on foot are profit, honour, or avoidance of loss or dishonour. The inciting occasions are many; jealousy of those who have wealth and honour, official arrogance, fear of the law or of its abuse, personal rivalries, failure of the middle class to maintain a balance, race antagonisms, antagonism of localities, and others.

In democracies, revolutions are due mainly to demagogic attacks on wealth, leading the wealthy of combine, and they result in the establishment of an oligarchy or of a tyranny, a 'popular' military chief seizing the power for himself; or sometimes in replacing a moderate by an extreme democracy. [...]

For the preservation of polities, minor illegalities must be particularly guarded against: in oligarchies, personal rivalries, abuse of power by individuals (making short tenures of office advisable), insolence of privilege, tricks to deceive the masses; in oligarchies and constitutional states, excessive concentration of power in individuals or classes; oppression of the wealthy minority in democracies, and of the poor majority in oligarchies.


America needs to be aware that it could 'happen here.' If we continue on the present path, it is not a matter of 'if,' but 'when.'

4 comments:

Richard Thornton said...

Since your view is that the constitution is not a document which can be used to propel society forward, through evolving insight into the ideals, ideas and language structure put forth in the original document unless there is a new ratified amendment incorporating these new clarifications, how does a society like the USA progress without continuous social disobedience eventually forcing constitutional changes through periodic civil wars?

Reasonsjester said...

So the only way for the nation to "progress" with a defined Constitution is for the citizens to engage in immoral or unlawful behavior? What is a Constitution? It sets the limits of government coercion and establishes the moral realm of citizen rights and responsibilities. Does it spell out every variant of behavior in civil society? Does it prohibit or sanction certain kinds of art? Does it support or restrict certain kinds of science? Does it approve or condemn certain kinds of speech? No, it does not. A Constitution establishes political rules for the state, as well as the rule of law for citizens. It does not determine the content of society, nor should it actively intervene in the economy to determine winners and losers, or to insure businesses against risk. A legitimate Constitution is a document that provides freedom by protecting individuals from coercion in society and by the government. Again, it does not, or should not, determine social or economic outcomes.

Richard Thornton said...

how can one know the "exact" meaning of words assembled in any random sentence? Beyond science and mathematics, all words must be interpreted.

Reasonsjester said...

There are entire legal courses on the originalist interpretation of law, which is beyond the scope of a short response to a post. But let me just say that it is less vague and arbitrary a process than you might think. It generally requires historical context and definitions of the era the contract or legal document came into force. It also does not necessarily require reliance on legal precedent.