Mar. 26th, 2003

policraticus: (Default)
[Copied from a comment of mine in _debate_.]
And yes I am aware that I may be the only person who *reads* in _debat_, they would be the first to admit it. : )

Am I the only one who reads history in this community??

"Let the point of extreme depression to which our national dignity and credit have sunk, let the inconveniences felt everywhere from a lax and ill administration of government, let the revolt of a a part of the State of North Carolina, the late menacing disturbances in Pennsylvania, and the actual insurrections and rebellions in Massachusettes, declare------! So far is the general sense of mankind from corresponding with the tenents of those who endevor to lull asleep of apprehensions of discord...that it has from long observation of the progress of society become a sort of axiom in politics..."
---Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 6 (1787!!)

The US has always been in "decline", in someone's opinion. A brief, thumbnail sketch of a century's worth of trepidation. At the turn of the century labor unrest and anarchist violence would divide the nation. In the teens the Great War would carry all before it to destruction. In the 20's the rejection of traditional morality would make the world a "Wasteland." In the 30's economic disaster heralded the end of civilization. In the 40's we would soon abandon democracy for a brisk and efficient fascism as the world burned around us. In the 50's we would soon fall to the unstoppable Communist Revolution. In the 60's race wars and social corruption would break up our nation. In the 70's we had runaway inflation and the Carter "malaise". In the 80's business corruption and runaway government debt (sound familiar). In the 90's the fall of our great enemy the USSR would unbalance the world and tip us into anarchy.
Is this the end of the USA as we know it? Well, if history is a guide, I wouldn't bet the farm on it. Tough times come, tough times go but a nation as large and flexible as this is hard to un-construct or make irrelevant. This doesn't mean it won't happen, but it just makes it pretty unlikely. In 1987 I remember very clearly the stock market crash and how pundits tisk tisked over deficits and spending and the "world situation." The Japanese were supposed to be buying up the west coast as an "economic colony" and we were being handed our lunch. Turns out the 90's weren't all that bad and the very things the Japenese were feared for in the 80's have plunged their economy into an endless recession truly fitting the Carteresque term "malaise." Now the pendulum has swung back a bit and we are looking over the edge of an abyss yet again. Maybe...but what would these wags have said in 1777? or 1787? or 1812? or 1832? or 1837? or 1861? or 1873? or 1876? or 1886? or 1894?

Do they teach history anymore? Its wonderfully comforting to have a little perspective on which veiw currrent events.


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