Why was the American Revolution, of all great revolutions, the only successful one, resulting in two centuries and more of unexampled freedom and prosperity? The French Revolution, by contrast, illuminated by America’s example and Enlightenment thought, began in blissful optimism but collapsed into a blood-soaked tyranny much worse than the monarchy it deposed. It spawned a military dictatorship that convulsed Europe and roiled half the globe for over a decade with wars of grandiose imperial aggression that slew at least 3 million. And the result of 25 years of turmoil? The Bourbon monarchy, minus the Enlightenment of its earlier incarnation, settled comfortably back down on its throne.
The Russian Revolution switched one despotism for another; and a century later, after the millions of deaths from its purges, slave camps, and intentionally inflicted famines, Russia remains a despotism, without rights or justice. We all get only one life: imagine someone born under the billowing flags of the new Soviet Union in 1917, who had to live that whole single life without the freedom so much as to speak the truth of the squalid, oppressive reality he saw in front of his own eyes. One single life—and what you can make of the one you have depends so much on what others have done to mold the time and place in which you live.
The Founders knew that truth so well that they announced their nationhood by significantly changing John Locke’s catalog of natural rights. The shift began in the Virginia Declaration of Rights, where George Mason emended Locke’s right to “Lives, Liberties and Estates” to “Life and Liberty, with the Means of acquiring and possessing Property, and pursueing and obtaining Happiness and Safety.” Two months later, Thomas Jefferson penned the final pithy formulation of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. The pursuit of happiness! Who but the Americans made a revolution to vindicate the paramount right of each individual to try to make the most of his life by his own effort as he sees fit?
And who but American Progressivist despots could then turn that noble formulation on its head; declare it irrelevant due to age (as if it weren’t timeless, and intended to be so from the start) if not outright evil due to the skin pigmentation of those who wrote it; and proceed to put up a standard-issue, Mark-1 Mod-0 tyranny in its place, supplanting freedom of choice with freedom from choice and placating the lowing herd with adolescent sideshows like “free” birth control?
We’ve become a nation of juvenile fools, fascinated by the obligatory bread and circuses without taking the merest notice of how hollow they’ve left us, abandoning a precious and glorious birthright to idly watch it swindled from us in exchange for a mess of pottage. Anyone advocating revolution in these times ought to think long and hard on what nightmarish system such a benighted flock of drooling reprobates is likely to establish in its wake.
Depressing as it is to contemplate how very far we’ve fallen, this is a good and inspiring piece, and you ought to read it through to the end, which is every bit as heartbreakingly true as the rest of it.