I’d been planning to write this post for a while, but had wanted to approach it a bit differently. Yesterday’s post, however, reinforced the need to get this out there. For all that I think a number of schemes have gone south on people, I am very much afraid we are in for interesting times. How much so, well, that’s part of the question.
While some of this does very much apply to the political and other struggles to come, much of it looks beyond those to what comes after.
Regime change, be it from within or without, is a daunting task. It takes far more than a mere force of arms to effect such. It does indeed quite often take arms, but it also takes education, the shaping and sharing of public opinion, a hope if not a plan for something better, and acts of political will. It takes a cadre of sharp and dedicated people who understand not only what’s at stake, but the security to plan and implement those plans.
Historically, most revolutions fail. From the Gunpowder Plot to the Whiskey Rebellion, from the Nubian Revolt in ancient Egypt to the Rebellion of the Three Guards in ancient China, few revolutions succeed. Of those that meet the immediate goal and win the immediate victory, they often rapidly lose the peace with extreme and brutal results. The French Revolution being but one example.
As such, few today (particularly amongst the younger generations) appreciate just how unique and unusual the American Revolution is from almost any vantage point. The Founding Fathers not only laid the philosophical groundwork within the colonies (shaping public opinion), but also the diplomatic and logistical groundwork needed for success. Success being not just overthrowing the Crown, but in establishing over time a novel government founded on the belief that reasonable people could make decisions on their own not only in their best interest, but in the best interest of the country as a whole.
Philosophically, it is a novel and still relatively new idea. Historically, the concept had been that the peasants could not and were not capable of self-rule and therefore needed kings and nobles (however they were labeled) to make such decisions for them. Thus, the new nation that was the United States became known to many as “The Great Experiment.” For all that there had been various Republics before (to appease the pedantic) none had truly taken the concept as far as did our Founding Fathers.
Why and how they did so lies in what they read, and the public debates and discussions of same. It also owes a small bit to the fiction they enjoyed, and shared with each other, spouses, and in some cases the public. All of this presented a common frame of reference that spanned all strata of colonial society. That common frame of reference is something that existed up until the last century, and it’s wanton and willful destruction is a topic for another day.
What we desperately need now and in the days ahead is to re-establish that common framework and add to it. Not to foment revolution, rather, to remind ourselves of the true philosophical foundations of our government and to provide goals for securing individual liberty no matter what may come. To ensuring that current generations, especially the younger, understand the concepts of Natural Law and proper discourse.
However, allow me to start with some of the fiction that our Founding Fathers read, and add to it a bit.
The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker – Tobias Smollett
Beauty and the Beast – Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont
Tristram Shandy – Laurence Sterne
To those I would add: The Honor Harrington series by David Weber; Troy Rising series by John Ringo; The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith; and the 1632 series by Eric Flint (et al). Feel free to add to this list in the comments.
Now, given the rampant censorship, the idea that words are violence, and a general loathing of actual discourse in today’s youth (and others) a book that caught the eye of the Founding Fathers was Rules of Civility by Brookhiser. There was another that is slipping my mind on civil discourse (stupid lightning) that helped set the stage for the discussions and debates that preceded the Revolution. If anyone knows which it was, or if you have suggestions for more modern takes that encourage respect, consideration, and discourse, please add them to the comments.
As for the other works that set the stage for what became America, go here. The list is extensive and while I do have my favorites, a perusal of most of these is rewarding all on its own. As is reading the letters and debates (Federalist Papers for one example) that surround the move from the Articles of Confederation to what became our Constitution.
The Constitution, with the Bill of Rights, is one of the most amazing documents of governance ever written. Could it be improved? Perhaps. Personally I’d love to slip term limits and some additional blocks on the expansion of Federal power into it, but I’m biased.
Civics needs to be restored as a part of our education, be it in schools or unofficially through other means. Understanding our nation, it’s founding, and the philosophical framework of The Great Experiment is essential to the Republic and to our future. It is even more important to navigating interesting times and what lies after.
Knowing why the Founding Fathers made the choices they did, not just in governance, but in deciding when and how to act and the framework that went into the Revolution and what came after is still important today. I suspect it may be even more so to the future. Knowing these things is a way to avoid mistakes and excesses, and to ensuring the continuation of the Republic.
Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.