You Say You Want a Revolution
I keep getting accused of being an optimist. It is definitely accused, in that tone. I get accused of ignoring what grave times we are living in, and how we should already be at war if we’re ever going to be.
I’m very aware of the grave times we’re living in, but some of it, I’m also aware, is not that the times are worse than ever, but that they are more openly so.
People who accuse me of optimism often point at the oligarchic moves of the Deep State and the meretricious behavior of the press. Don’t I see that times are dire? Don’t I see Rome is burning? Don’t I see we need a revolution—now? That it should have happened long ago — when sedition took hold in the sixties; when it deepened under Clinton; or when it blossomed fully under Obama?
I’m a depressive, so of course, yes, I see all that, and I have my dark moments.
The scene that comes to mind, very often, is a scene from Don Camillo and His Flock, by Giovanni Guareschi. The main character, Don Camillo, is the village priest, and in this scene, the village has been swallowed by water from the river Po and the entire village is submerged.
On Sunday, the priest sets out a little portable altar in the tower and starts saying mass, looking out at the blind water and feeling alone and desolate, the last believer at the end of the world.
Most lovers of liberty feel that way. We feel that way when we hear half the country happily mouth that they belong to the government, or our young people say things that don’t even make any sense, having been disqualified by their education and entertainment for rationality and made incapable of individual thought.
But being a depressive by nature, I’ve learned to reality check my feelings that these are the worst of times and we should, in fact, have already had a revolution if we are to save liberty.
And I know history. Let’s suppose that outrages against liberty started at the beginning of the twentieth century. (They didn’t. They started with the Republic.) Why haven’t we had a revolution yet, gosh darn it?
Well, the people expecting us to are suffering from movie history. Movies are very fond of portraying “and then the whole people rose up and their just cause was vindicated.”
It wasn’t like that. It’s never been like that, in the whole history of mankind, much less in the history of this country.
There is no sudden rising up. Humans normally fight when the alternative is too horrible to contemplate. And sometimes they miscalculate. This is how the most civilized country of the mid-twentieth century became Nazi Germany. I’m sure there were a lot of internal dissenters, but by the time they realized what was going on was worse than fighting, the fight could not be won and they were at war.
Heck, even with the first American Revolution, some people believe that the fuse of wishing to get rid of monarchy had been burning ever since the 1688 “Glorious Revolution” in England. I am not wholly convinced by this idea, but it is defensible, and if true, that fuse burned for almost a hundred years.
Even in the first revolution, the fervor of the people, and their embracing of the cause was not as clear as has been portrayed in history books.
It has long been said that only three percent of the people in the colonies engaged in fighting the enemy. I saw the percentage being “refuted” by saying there were 2.8 million colonists and at its height, the continental army comprised 76,000. Charlie Martin tells me that innumeracy is rampant in this country. And he’s right.
Yes, the “only three percent” can be mitigated by pointing out that it was far more than that. I’ve seen it estimated as high as a quarter of fighting-age men, though honestly, no one can know for sure because the population skewed much younger than it does now and “fighting age” could and did start in your early teens. But it must also be pointed out that the 76,000 comprised a lot of fair-weather soldiers who scampered on home to, as Washington put it, “sit in their chimney corner.”
What I know from reading a lot of biographies from that time is that the fighting was “down home and dirty.” Sometimes it was neighbor against neighbor with loyalists to the Crown vanishing in the night with the clothes on their bodies, off to Canada, or being found hanging and their homes with their possessions set on fire.
Revolutions are civil wars, and civil wars always come right where we live, and take generations of wealth and goodwill and law.
The last civil war we had ended with the loss of states' rights (yes, I know that wasn’t what was really being fought over. But that’s part of what we lost) and set Washington on its path to power and aggrandizement.
Remember that a revolution can be lost as well as won. It’s not all “the people rose up singing and the dread tyrants shrank away.”
The revolution you long for can turn against you and can end up bringing more of what you don’t want. Yes, I know, one side has the disproportionate force of arms right now. But the other side has the disproportionate number of young people.
Doubtless, those young people will move right, as other generations will do, or at least a large number of them will. The real world tends to burst Marxist dreams. In fact, I often hear my generation being referred to as one thoroughly indoctrinated. We were. But we didn’t stay that way.
The kids will grow up, but you have to give them time to, not force them to choose a side when they’re still green and, well, red.
As for the outrages committed against our liberty and the rule of law since the beginning of the century and how they should have forced us into revolution: it doesn’t work that way.
For one, because those outrages were much worse than anything going on now. Reading up on the presidency of Woodrow Wilson makes Obama’s attempted power grabs look puny. FDR, too, could have given Obama a run for his money.
Sure, if Woodrow Wilson and FDR were followed by Carter, Clinton, and Obama with no break, we would now be more than overdue for a revolution. But that’s not what happened. Yes, each of the leftists ratcheted the wrench toward socialism and centralized government. Yes, it’s easy to only see that and the ones on our side as “not pulling it back enough.”
But it ain’t so. Let’s take the economy. I’m 55. Not that old. But I was interested in politics at an early age. I remember when the idea of price controls wasn’t particularly leftist. It was accepted by everyone. Of course, prices had to be set by the government.
Lest we forget, Nixon imposed price and wage controls. It was a policy of socialists, but one that sane people thought was necessary for every government. It wasn’t until Reagan that price and wage controls were fully abolished, and if you weren’t alive then, let me tell you that the rest of the world and many in the U.S. thought that this was insane.
Now if anyone tried to impose price or wage controls—in a table, published by the government (other than minimum wage, which people don’t seem to realize is a wage control)—my comments would be full of people telling me it was proof we were going to hell and needed a revolution now.
It just wasn’t a straight progression. We’ve won a lot of battles along the way. Exaggerating the other side’s wins and minimizing ours doesn’t do anyone any good.
Sure, the left has the deep-state bureaucracy. And do you know why you’re so aware of it? Because things haven’t been going their way, they’ve gotten really desperate and made some spectacularly stupid moves. Are still making them, in fact.
The truth of the matter is that from the Civil War – just about – the world and the U.S. have been going toward greater industrialization.
I’m not a dialectical materialist. I don’t believe physical and technological conditions matter more than ideas. I believe both matter.
But the truth was the revolution of 1776 was a revolution of an agrarian Republic. The Civil War was the attempted revolution/convulsion of a nation fast changing into an industrial superpower.
That same industry led to mass production, and mass media, and mass entertainment, and the centralized government demanded by such an economy. In its maw, notions of individualism and individual freedom were mangled, our liberties lost their meaning, and the monstrous idea of a “living” Constitution took hold.
But our industry and our technology aren’t going that way now. The left has taken over the centers of power of the mass economy: the press, the education centers, the bureaucracy of government.
All of which is starting to be upended, superseded, or bypassed by the era of personal computers and personalized technology. Yes, sure, there are some “giants” like Google and Facebook, but even they aren’t mandatory gateways and are finding that their power can easily be circumvented. And is.
This is why they are so desperate. The old levers of power aren’t working. They’re so crazy they invented a whole Russian scare. And don’t get me started on the sheer, arrant stupidity of the pee-pee dossier. It’s something that could only have come out of the brain trust of the Obama administration.
And this is why their hold on the centers of power has become obvious to you. Because they’re panicking, beclowning themselves and letting the masks drop.
But what power do they have, other than the usual neurotics and the easily offended women’s marches, students’ marches against guns, all of that is lionized and pretended to be much larger than they are, and yet.... And yet they can field maybe ten thousand out of an army of 300 million.
Meanwhile, we, who are the real resistance, who have carried the flag of liberty through the darkest times, are starting to find each other and establish connections and our own parallel structures. And more people are starting to stand out in public and spit on Marxists and their crazy notions.
Is the glass half empty? Sure. But we know who stole half of it. They’re doing a comedy escape stage left, caught in the full glare of lights and trying to look innocent. They’re very obvious, but they’re no longer all-powerful. They needed secrecy in which to manipulate for their power.
In Don Camillo and His Flock, the priest feels like the loneliest person on Earth, the last priest of a forgotten religion. And then he rings the bell. On the other side of the waters that cover his village, people start gathering, and when he rings the bell again for the consecration, he can see those distant figures doff their hats and kneel. And he realizes he’s not alone, and that people of his faith were there, waiting for him to do what was needed.
There might be time for a revolution. A great change in technology often causes that. The spate of revolutions from the French to the American Civil War, to even Russia, were the end spasms of the Industrial Revolution.
But let’s hope we don’t have one. Let’s hope we can recover liberty without one. It’s possible. We’ve been doing it. We’ve been doing it enough to scare the agents of the ancient regime.
Heaven knows “aristo aristo a la lanterne” is a heck of a lot more fun than correcting historical misconceptions, building new ways for conservatives/libertarians to communicate, or making conservative/libertarian ideas more appealing and accessible to newly-indoctrinated citizens.
But it is also bloody, and you can lose it very quickly and horribly. Let’s remember the French and Russian revolutions and the others that are responsible for the 100 million dead of the twentieth century.
Our cold civil war might yet turn hot. But work to win it without that.
Count among the signs of hope that that “populist” Trump won by promising Americans jobs, not government benefits, which is what the other side was offering. I bet you that in Europe it would have gone the other way.
The Republic is not dead. Despite everything, it is not dead. It’s merely submerged in the flood of socialism and indoctrination. But the people are still there, waiting for liberty.
Of course, the other side will still win some battles, but we’re winning the war.
You’re not alone. Be not afraid. The glass is half full. And we can work to make it brim over.