The same can be said of our “revolution” in the late 18th century, a time when enlightenment was the battle cry of the newly literate lower classes and the intellectual elite of their era. In the American colonies, wealth and class could be earned rather than inherited and the number of immigrant radicals added spice to the melting pot. Tom Paine and the Massachusetts militias come to mind.
Meanwhile, back in “old blymey” the cost of the extended war against Napoleon was breaking King George’s bank and wearing away its Navy with years at sea. Raising taxes across the board and across the sea seemed like a good idea at the time, but Americans, particularly the Yankee mercantile class, used the new tax on all documents and business dealings as an excuse for running the red coats back into the barracks with riot and street mobs. The Boston Massacre and similar events in New York and Pennsylvania added yeast to the dough.
But it took the over reaction of a massive invasion, whose troops, by their very presence, further inflamed the situation. Interviews with veterans applying for benefits after the war showed that most had nothing against British rule until troops began taking homes and crops to shelter and feed their forces. Local “minuteman” militias harassed the occupation daily, and the war was on.
These days there is a lot of loose talk about revolution from the neo con fringe of the political circus. The Republicans believe in a new version of what they thought of as the revolt of ’94, when Newt Gingrich forged a coalition of abortion and gun rights paranoids into congressional takeover, which ultimately burned out for lack of substantive accomplishments. Further to the right the newly brewed “Tea Party” is trying to capture the broad popular frustration at everything from economic stress, losing wars overseas and the swarms of illegal immigrants threatening our anglocentric society. Demagoguery as a format has turned talk radio into the voice of the new fascism, concealing the racism and police stalest trends engendered by fear of damn near everything, thanks to TV news and political machinations.
But it is a long way from neurotic morons waving inscrutable signs and flags and anything remotely approaching revolutionary actin, particularly in this new age of populist social reform as opposed to violent revolt. If Bolivia and Paraguay can keep the lid on in an environment of total societal change, the mild dissent of the dissatisfied American middle class is unlikely to ignite any serious conflagration among our obese and apathetic would be warriors.
When it’s time for railroads, someone will invent trains, and not one damn minute before.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.