September 11, 2004
The Eleventh Revolution
The first American revolution happened long before there was an America--when the notion of something better was worth risking everything on a leaky boat and the Atlantic Ocean. The second American revolution was the big one, 1776. For the new country, now a pissant agrarian democracy at the far side of the world, the third revolution came in 1928, when the peasants elected their first commoner President. Fourth, a civil war. Fifth, the rise of the northern aristocracy and a gilded age. Sixth, a progressive reaction, the first flowering of true equality as suffragettes, anarchists, socialists, and communists pushed for the rights of women and workers. Seventh, the re-emergence of capital in the roaring twenties. The eighth revolution was one of the greatest, as the FDR administration remade the notion of modern government, realizing the hopes of the progressives 35 years earlier. The ninth revolution tried to wash a historical stain of institutionalized racism (and succeeded, partly).
The tenth revolution was the reaction by the aristocracy to sober, reasonable, democratic rule. With the election of Ronald Reagan, the new conservatives began to reverse 50 years of equality. In the next 25 years, conservatives launched an all-fronts assault on the nonwealthy, the nonwhite, the nonChristian, and the nonAmerican, rolling back gains of FDR, the Great Society, and the civil rights movement. They waged a number of optional, pre-emptive wars and set up a military presence across the globe. They sold off most of what was publicly-owned to private, multinational corporations that, in turn, fed billions back into their political machine. They deregulated broadcast media and then bought up all the stations. By the election of 2004, conservatives controlled majorities in the House and Senate, had appointed 75% of the federal judiciary with mostly activist judges, controlled the majority of statehouses, and had seized the White House in a quasi-coup.
The Eleventh Revolution is hypothetical. It requires an activist population willing sacrifice in the manner of the champions of previous revolutions. It requires informed resistance. It requires a patriotic risistance. It requires men and women of spine, in the manner of Jefferson, Paine, Franklin, Lincoln, Gompers, Stanton, Goldman, Addams, Parks, King, and Johnson. It requires will and strength and confidence.
If history is a guide, the ardor and insight of the American revolution will sufficiently erode so that sloth, ignorance, and corruption will swamp it. The revolutionaries will be too few and too weak and the country will collapse, as all others have. The presidency of George W. Bush is a harbinger that sloth, ignorance, and corruption have arrived at the gates of the republic. He will happily take his place as the American Caligula, laughing gleefully as the country rots from his party's influence. The only way to prevent it is by revolution.
The Eleventh Revolution.