garynorth.com / Gary North / October 01, 2016
“There are those who still think they are holding the pass against a revolution that may be coming up the road. But they are gazing in the wrong direction. The revolution is behind them. It went by in the Night of Depression, singing songs to freedom.” — Garet Garrett, The Revolution Was (1938)
There have been a number of revolutions in American history. It began with the American Revolution, which was armed resistance against lawful government. Then came the revolution that was disguised as an act of Republicanism: the Constitutional Convention of 1787. That was a coup d’état. The next major revolution was the Civil War. The south rebelled against lawful authority, and lawful authority wiped out antebellum culture. Then came the Spanish-American war, which launched the American Empire. It was ratified by the ascendancy of Teddy Roosevelt to the White House. Next, there was the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, which took us into World War I. Next, there was the New Deal. Next, there was World War II. Finally, there was Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.
I think is legitimate to regard all of these famous events as revolutions. Only the American Revolution was a true revolution. The others were revolutions in the way that Garrett described them: revolutions within the form.
There are those who have never ceased to say very earnestly, “Something is going to happen to the American form of government if we don’t watch out.” These were the innocent disarmers. Their trust was in words. They had forgotten their Aristotle. More than 2,000 years ago he wrote of what can happen within the form, when “one thing takes the place of another, so that the ancient laws will remain, while the power will be in the hands of those who have brought about revolution in the state.”
Revolutions do not occur overnight. They build up over a long period of time, and they take place very rapidly. This phenomenon applies to many areas of life. The old story that Hemingway wrote about the man who described his bankruptcy went as follows: it went slowly, and then very fast.