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The Revolutions Were

Written by Gary North on October 1, 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.

With this in mind, I’m going to comment on an article written by an old friend of mine, Angelo Codevilla. I worked with him when I was in Washington in the mid-1970s. He wrote an article for Remnant Review in 1979: “The Danger Is Defeat, Not Destruction,” which was sent out as written by Professor X. I pulled the copyright. It was reprinted around the country. I estimate that at least 500,000 of them were sent out.

I regarded him at the time as the smartest theorist in the conservative movement. I have not changed my opinion over the last 40 years.

He has written a remarkable article, “After the Republic.”


He believes that this election will mark the transition away from the American Republic to something different.

With respect to foreign-policy, I think this happened in 1898. If I were to blame one person for this — and I do — it would be Theodore Roosevelt. We can date it: February 25, 1898. On that day, the Secretary of the Navy took a one-day vacation. Roosevelt, as Assistant Secretary, on his own authority telegraphed Admiral Dewey in Hong Kong to sink the Spanish fleet if war broke out. The Secretary did not countermand Roosevelt’s order the next day. Dewey sank the fleet on May 1 — the international day of revolution. America therefore got the Philippines. It took a bloody war from 1900 to 1902 for America to suppress the rebels: 25,000 Filipino rebels killed, plus an estimated 200,000 civilians who died.

Empires take time to develop, and at some point, they drain the financial resources of the nation that launched the empire. There are no exceptions to this process. Empire always produces bankruptcy.

We are not yet at that stage. The Great Default has not taken place yet. But it is going to. And it is likely that Medicare will be the main culprit rather than the empire itself.

(For the rest of my article, click the link.)

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