More Revolting Talk

The other day I posted about a recent Michael Anton essay broaching the increasingly relevant, always fraught question of revolution, in our age of hostile government. Forgive me quoting myself:

Anton makes his most important point here:

It’s that they [“conservatives”] believe—against the Founders, and against all experience of history—that once implemented, it can never be lost. They defend every perversion, distortion, corruption, and topsy-turvy reinterpretation of that system as if it were the system itself.

The original system of republican government was hollowed out and replaced–slowly and then quickly as they say–so that eventually this thing that resembles our original system of government only in that it wears its skin, can invoke before a benighted people the founders’ vision as they put down any attempt to effect it.

It may be that revolution simply isn’t possible for more reasons than repression.

He’s right about historicism blinding the respectable to the fact the original American nation is already history. Not only due to ideological and cultural changes, but due to demographic change, which is irreversible. A country can be reclaimed from bad ideology; demographics are irreversible, destiny, as the man said. There is no American nation at present.

Pat Buchanan’s latest touches on the subject as well, and in his typical model he gives a little history.

Asked, “What is an American?” many would answer, “An American is a citizen of the United States.”

Yet, at the First Continental Congress in 1774, 15 years before the U.S. became a nation of 13 states, Patrick Henry rose to proclaim that, “British oppression has effaced the boundaries of the several colonies; the distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders are no more. I am not a Virginian, but an American.”

If American identity is genuinely lost it’s beyond me precisely where it ended, or began. On one hand American national cohesion had to dilute along with the growth of the country in population, diversity and complexity. But during the same period modern communications began dissolving regional, religious and ethnic diversity among the genuine nation, that is to say whites, creating the single American identity we boomers grew up on. In hindsight we see the identity was too shallow to last, that there was too little investment required of the individual. We could take the identity and its many benefits for granted. Now it takes us for granted.

Maybe we were never grounded firmly. Starting out those thirteen colonies were hardly a unified whole, with competing interests between distinct social models that would lead to the Civil War, and the US now is arguably culturally more homogenous by a degenerate mile than we’ve ever been. But there is no unity of national identity, even within the white American population.

Long before the US crossed the imperial Rubicon in the Philippines it was an empire. The Indian nations swallowed up by the expanding conquest of North America were too weak technologically and thus too completely erased to contribute to that empire anything but the romantic tale of their struggle and defeat–told by us. Had the US swept across the continent picking off small Greek style city states rich in culture, that legacy would remain in appropriated culture, arts and technology. Their influence on the culture of the conquerer would thus be evident. That the Indians built virtually nothing and left scant cultural legacy means they don’t count, historically.

If you know me I hope you understand I make no moral statement or judgement; I am genuinely detached from the moral question here. But the point is the winning of the West was the creation of an empire.

But this empire, liberated from national identity, is now turned inside out, and it creates and grows alien national colonies within the national boundaries in large part to circumvent that original national identity.

Buchanan makes the point:

France was France all through the Bourbon dynasty, the Revolution of 1789, the creation of the First Republic, the Reign of Terror, Napoleon’s First Empire and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy — all the way to the creation of the Fifth Republic by President Charles de Gaulle.

In short, our country came to be before our republic came to be, and long before what we today call “our democracy” came to be. A country is different from, and more than, the political system that it adopts.

Yes. But is it France now?

And if it can be argued the France of the Bourbons and Revolution endures somehow, for how much longer?

Post-WWII liberal convention frets democracy can’t survive nationalism. But the real question is; can a nation survive democracy?

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