Monday, May 27, 2013

More on the American Revolution and the special relationship


With good friend Jim C.:
I think we make more of the American Revolution in the sense of glory and righteousness than it deserves, and not just because of its perpetuation of African Slavery but because it was less a revolution (culturally and ideologically) and more a typical tax revolt . . . or the prototypical tax revolt? The ideology? This was prominent in the Mother Country--the Enlightenment's Contract Theory of Gov't--before our Founding Fathers decided to employ this ideology to justify their break with the Mother Country. I am a loyal American too, seriously loving all that flag waving, martial music, re-enactors (Revolutionary & Civil War), etc., being a Vietnam veteran and a retired naval officer, more etc., but I must acknowledge frankly that had the colonists not revolted or succeeded in revolting from King George, etc., African Slavery in the British America might have ended in 1833. Something to think about. And given the natural resources of the North American continent and the energy of its peoples (OK, the Indians got screwed too, not just the African-Americans), the "nation" would have been explored and developed anyway.

The American Revolution was our first tax revolt. The Parliament-imposed taxes were not unreasonable. To help pay for the French-Indian War of which the colonists were primary beneficiaries especially vis-a-vis the acquisition of western territories.
Interesting to me, having lived in the UK and visited Canada, is what alternative-history British America might have been. (Someone once wrote that America's what Britain would have been if Britain had room to grow.) We would have looked and sounded much the same, like Canada now (American English sounds different because English sounded different when America was settled, in the 1600s; we would have -our spellings, like Canada, because American spelling was invented out of spite after independence), but would we have been a model of Burkean conservatism or as socialist and anti-religious as the mother country, Canada, and Australia (they're irreligious; I don't know about socialist) are now?
I don't know about irreligious. The religious ideology cum quasi-myth of the Mass. Bay Colony, etc., with its Calvinistic expression in Presbyterianism and Congregationalism (pre-Unitarian) was pretty-well entrenched long before the Revolutionary War. Would a non-Revoutionary War have changed the religious movements and revivals of the 1820s, the ferment that led partially to the advent of Mormonism and other off-short (some of the others not surviving) religious movements? Who can say. Interesting to contemplate or for someone of a literary bent, writing an alternate history novel other than those stupid alternate history Nazi or vampire [what's the difference?] novels. He he he.

Re: the Fr. & Indian War and the British/Colonial acquisition of former French Western territories/forts----->>>the origin of American manifest destiny (before the phrase was uttered) and American Imperialism??? Perhaps. I think we could look upon the new nation--the United States--as the British Empire, Jr., even though the U.S. and Gr. Britain were quasi-enemies even through the U.S. Civil War . . . the War of Northern Aggression for you unrepentant Confederate Rebels and anti-statist Libertarians! LOL
We're definitely the British Empire, Part II. Even though for much of our history, Britain was a threat to our independence (there were a naval arms race and a war plan to invade Canada, both as recently as the 1920s), the cultural tie of course remains. When WWI and the Depression bankrupted the empire, it did a couple of things: divested itself of its white colonies (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. — the monarch's still head of state but they're independent now) and passed command from London to Washington, the point of the Rhodes Group/CFR (as in Rhodes Scholarships to maintain the special relationship), to keep the empire going even after British decline. WWII further impoverished Britain so even the illusion of a British-run empire went away (just what Churchill didn't want); the black colonies and India were spun off, and the US military took over the British role of world cop. Britain became Airstrip One, independent of Europe thanks to the role reversal of becoming a protectorate of its former colony.
In WWII Gr. Britain definitely was the loser. The empire was declining even in the relatively recent run-up to WWI. WWII put the "kaput" on what was not accomplished by WWI. The main tragedy IMHO was that WWI was fought due to competition among the European Imperialists but it was played out on the European land mass rather than in imperialist overseas areas (the war stuff happening overseas was basically inconsequential during WWI). WWII was rendered almost inevitable (OK there is a lot of room to argue this) by the disastrous results of WWI, again almost all the cause of European imperialism. We got drawn into it (WWI) over money/finance/commerce and into WWII if only sympathetically to what were now considered our British cousins. Again all opinion subject to debate, here, on your blog, in internet-space, etc. Interestingly, the author John Toland, in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, "The Rising Sun," considered the War with Japan to be wholly avoidable.
It was. Just like Nixon with China, peace with imperial Japan was possible and, for America, which is all that should matter to the US government, desirable.

2 comments:

  1. I suspect, John, you are trying to turn me into a Libertarian! LOL Well, it's too late. I am a Libertarian "sort of" by default although not [yet? :-) ] an ideologically complete one. It's just that the Reps and Dems are hopeless abortion-ridden losers, even the allegedly anti-abortion talking Reps, and other things to boot! Unfortunately, there are too many pro-abortion Libertarians. I consider abortion on demand to be the overriding issue/scandal of our day, even more so than war, etc., if only because it makes us just like the Nazis of old who declared a certain people (OK, not just Jews even if mostly so) basically not human and not deserving of life. We old fogeys are their next targets starting with voluntary euthanasia and ultimately IMHO moving to the mandatory variety. This is why abortion on demand must be stopped.

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  2. "...would we have been a model of Burkean conservatism or as socialist and anti-religious as the mother country, Canada, and Australia... are now?"

    I suspect one obstacle is America's written Constitution. It doesn't stop the march of leftism- it's totally failed at that- but it at least forms a series of speed bumps on the road to "progress". If progressives and the power structure had their way, we'd already be like Canada today, but they have to wait for their pet causes to percolate through the court system for a couple of decades, carefully building up the precedents they need before imposing their ideas on the country at large. I also suspect America's ethnic diversity has something to do with it- people are more hostile to the idea of an all-encompassing welfare state when they don't think of their fellow citizens as de facto family members.

    Interestingly, before WWI, America was considered one of the most progressive nations in Western civilization. After WWI, it was considered one of the most conservative, without having changed very much.

    "We're definitely the British Empire, Part II."

    The notion that most third-world countries are "independent" is a joke. Sure, they have something resembling "Democracy" (which, in its sacrosanct modern one-man, one-vote incarnation, dates back no earlier than about 1830 in the Anglosphere, and no more recently than 1945 in most of the rest of the world- frankly, I don't expect it to last), but if they elect the "wrong" leaders, they'll either lose their US foreign aid and all their IMF/World Bank/UN/etc. funding, or in the worst case, their new leader will be overthrown by the CIA. The army of aid workers, "Human Rights agencies", "development consultants", and all the rest- are these not the modern, American-style equivalent of the old British colonial services? I'll say this much about the old-style empires: they were a drain on the treasuries of their home countries, and they could be brutal in repressing rebellion or extracting resources, but they usually imposed some semblance of law and order and economic growth on the countries they ruled. America's empire wastes ten times as much money, can be just as brutal when it decides to be, and doesn't bring anything but chaos and disorder to the countries over which it is responsible. In most parts of Africa, travel was much safer in 1953 than it is in 2013.

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