The Preconditions for Revolt

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Jerry Bowyer looks at the the preconditions for revolt and notes that even if the government goes so far as to become a net destroyer of liberty, that doesn’t mean a new government would be any better — and the revolution itself is very, very costly:

I think that few revolutionaries truly count the ‘transaction cost’ of trading one regime for another. The genuinely evil ones don’t even try to. We did this twice in our history. First the colonies dissolved their relationship with the Crown. This was a eucatastrophe ending much better for the human race than anyone really had a right to expect.

The second revolt was a deformed grandchild of the first in which the southern states hid behind the language of freedom in order to avoid taxes which were constitutionally imposed, preserve the institution of chattel slavery, and make way for dreams of a Southern Continental empire. The exercise ended badly for the instigators and was awesomely painful even for the victors. Does anyone seriously believe that we are a people more ready to rebuild than that generation? Do you see any leader on the horizon more able to bind up the wounds of the nation than Lincoln?

The founders believed that what happened here was some sort of historical miracle and it’s easy to understand why. The preconditions for success were uniquely strong. Revolutions usually don’t succeed because they destroy the society in which they occur; tearing down the old social order and forcing a new one to revolve up into its place (hence the word ‘revolution’). That why it almost never works.

I love the way southern secession is declared doubleplusungood.


  1. Guy says:

    Yes, but at some point it doesn’t matter. The current status quo has become so toxic to enough people that they will destroy the current “order” for what comes next, just out of spite.

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