did someone muck with the backend here

Re: Guest Post - The Second American Republic

1

If you would have Grant as a founding father you must surely by the same token engrave also upon your new Rushmore Sherman, conqueror of the Plains as much as of Atlanta.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 8:21 AM
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We were just talking about Frederick Douglass with my daughter, now an RN in Baltimore, but back in high school somewhat of a Douglass scholar (thanks, AP history). Cedar Hill, Douglass' home in SW DC, is totally worth a visit in the Nation's Capital.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 8:27 AM
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I'm as big a proponent of teaching that the 14th Amendment re-fashioned to compact as anyone, but it seems to me that the origins and conduct of the Civil War are not nearly 'revolutionary' enough to carry the weight of the Second Revolution that followed. Beauregard didn't fire on Sumter, or Lee go to Sharpsburg, to change the relationships between states-feds-citizens as we now understand the 14th Amendment to have done. Or Grant to Vicksburg or Sherman to Savannah.

Comment 1 is quite the clang; our relationship with surviving indigenous people is undergoing a serious evolution right now, a small indicator of which is that AG Barr was in Montana the other day to talk about increased federal involvement in dealing with MMIW.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 8:36 AM
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The modern mixed its mortar with blood, is what I'm saying. Gotta embrace it. What Chile process are you talking about?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 8:38 AM
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4 before 3. I'm drunk and weary, please excuse me, and elaborate upon 3.2.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 8:40 AM
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Chile process makes me think of this:

I didn't mean to take you up all your sweet time
I'll give it right back to you one of these days
I said, I didn't mean to take you up all your sweet time
I'll give it right back to you one of these days
And if I don't meet you no more in this world
Then I'll, I'll meet you in the next one
And don't be late, don't be late


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 8:47 AM
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7

Is the second founding not more plausibly assigned to the FDR era, in light of 1877 and Jim Crow?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 8:55 AM
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8

It's weird to be living in the suburbs with two kids and two cars, currently working a contract with the DoD, and coming here to say, fuck Miranda and his authoritarian/identitarian whitewash, but that's where I am. I guess I'm just like my country, hating all and sundry.

As for the civil war, lately I've been mulling the fact that aside from the amendments, what made the most difference was the entirely successful campaign of racial terror that squashed Reconstruction. That rump of racial terrorists has held power over one party from then until now, and they hate equality and democracy. They'll accommodate themselves to power just enough, but will always resort to terror when they're truly threatened.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 8:58 AM
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Chile. I confess, the neoliberals had me fooled. OTOH, law and order do actually count for a lot.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 9:08 AM
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And the challenge isn't to "make your origin story consistent with scientific discovery", but vice versa; "the living are but a species of the dead" is hardly motivational.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 9:12 AM
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the origins and conduct of the Civil War are not nearly 'revolutionary' enough to carry the weight of the Second Revolution that followed

Yeah, it has to be Reconstruction as much if not more than the Civil War.

Is the second founding not more plausibly assigned to the FDR era, in light of 1877 and Jim Crow?

Honestly that might be dubbable the Third Republic, although the shift was ongoing roughly 1933-1965.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 9:18 AM
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Rhetorically, it seems to me a much easier move simply to write off everything before c.1933 rather than to wrestle the shitshow before that into anything even vaguely resembling a consistent narrative.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 9:33 AM
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I have lots of disorganized thoughts about this, but one of them is that what went wrong after the Civil War is that the revolution didn't get as far as changing the explicit structure of the government. Yes, the Civil Rights Amendments were huge, but as long as the states exist as quasi-sovereigns (who are, e.g., entitled to representation in the national legislature out of proportion to their population) the country is going to be fucked up.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 9:47 AM
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14

I just want to stop worshiping the Constitution so bad you guys


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 9:59 AM
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I want to steal the Declaration of Independence.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 10:10 AM
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16

14: Trump agrees, "Worship me instead."


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 10:17 AM
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I'm partway through Richard White's fantastic reconstruction book. Roughly speaking anyone in power 1865-1880 acted appallingly badly. With the possible exception of Grant, there were no better impulses not acted on inside either (ok maybe completely private ones, but the bad decisions weren't bad luck with better alternatives a hairs breadth away), and the men influencing the decisions were mostly no better either.

Johnson was horrible , Hayes was bad (1876 election pretty interesting, read about it, one electoral vote decision with heavy corruption and also uncertainty) and his opponent Tilden was worse (wanted to restrict the vote in NYC to property owners). Hays did give Frederick Douglass a little bit of authority, but none of them let the Freedmens bureau take real action or took choices for federal troops to meaningfully intervene in the South, Grant more than the rest and him not much. So imagining a better US originating from these years would need to begin, I think, with imagining completely different Americans, both northern and southern.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 10:26 AM
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Roughly speaking anyone in power 1865-1880 acted appallingly badly

Are you excluding the Radical Republicans in the legislature? They did have some power for a few years.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 10:32 AM
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19

18. Congress effectively limited Grant's ability to act by refusing to fund the freedmen's bureau and also keeping the army underfunded as long as there was a possibility that it would be used against southern traitors. So from that perspective, which may be too limited in some sense, they had no real power.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 10:41 AM
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16: Nice excluded middle.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 11:10 AM
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21

wreaking, not wrecking


Posted by: Anonymous Pedant | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 11:33 AM
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20: I would say the "middle" is let's continue to worship the Constitution even thought that's obviously silly, because there are too many people just waiting for an excuse to get rid of the parts of the Constitution that attempt to guarantee the rule of law and protection of basic human rights.

I'm not saying this "middle" is correct, just expressing the fears that would lead one to stick with such a flawed document.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 11:34 AM
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23

That reminds me of Pokey's recent joke:

Q: What do Alexander the Great and Winnie the Pooh have in common?

A: Same middle name.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 11:41 AM
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Wayne?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 11:50 AM
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23: I like it! I'll try it out on my stepdaughter.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 11:59 AM
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I think there are many middles between continued defensive allegiance to a mishmash of text and principles from different eras, and personalistic fascism.

I liked the glimpse of far-future political science in Book of the New Sun:

"Name for me the seven principles of governance."
"Attachment to the person of the monarch. Attachment to a bloodline or other sequence of succession. Attachment to the royal state. Attachment to a code legitimizing the governing state. Attachment to the law only. Attachment to a greater or lesser board of electors, as framers of the law. Attachment to an abstraction conceived as including the body of electors, other bodies giving rise to them, and numerous other elements, largely ideal."

Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 12:15 PM
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27

So imagining a better US originating from these years would need to begin, I think, with imagining completely different Americans, both northern and southern.

As always, the problem with America is Americans. Structural change can only get you so far.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 12:34 PM
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28

27: You say you'll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well, you know
You better free your mind instead


Posted by: Opinionated Lennon/McCartney | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 1:07 PM
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29

We couldn't come to a consensus about America.


Posted by: Opinionated Lenin/McCarthy | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 1:10 PM
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30

27. The structural change proposed seems to me orders of magnitude beyond what actually happened at the time. A slightly better freedmen's bureau that persisted, a small number of army interventions with civil support when they got challenged, something like lustration to exclude senior confederates; these were all just outside the limits of what the men in power at the time managed to do. Those modest possibilities would have been seeds of real change, but they did not happen. Better changes would have come from better men. Look, the constitutions of the PRC and USSR both supported press freedom; I'm questioning the utility of presenting possibilities so counterfactual as having been plausible.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-26-19 1:17 PM
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31

From the Atlantic:

While the 1787 Framers succeeded in creating the most durable form of government in history
I would love to think, for the author's sake, that that's a joke, but clearly it isn't.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-27-19 3:12 AM
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32

It's doing pretty well, though. Up there with some of the longest lasting Chinese dynasties, and I think could pass all of the ones sensible to compare to (i.e. not the Zhou dynasty) in the lifetimes of people here. Of course, the British system has been around longer, but it's hard to say how far back to go for continuity of sovereignty. The English Civil War is an upper bound on that, but there's probably a more reasonable more recent cutoff.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 11-27-19 5:05 AM
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33

Wasn't the end of actual royal power in the 19th century? I think that counts. (But would be happy to be taught better by our UK contingent).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-27-19 7:09 AM
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34

Replacing one Chinese dynasty with another isn't really a change in the system of government, though.
33: we don't know and we would rather not find out.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-27-19 7:39 AM
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35

On the OP: I think it's a distraction to focus on the 1860s as a Second Revolution, because US history is a much more consistent story than a second revolution would imply.

The USA was founded on two contradictory values:

And then it's been 250 years of trying to reconcile those irreconcilable ideas, up until this very political moment.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-27-19 7:57 AM
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36

Opinionated Constantinople would be laughing at 32, but that would be beneath its dignity.
34.1: I'm sympathetic, but dynastic successions were generally accompanied by general system collapses. That's a lot less true for the Yuan-Ming and Ming-Qing transitions, but there were also quite major changes in governance. The form of government was absolute monarchy throughout, yes, but then constitutional monarchy has been the form of government in Britain since 600AD or whenever.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-27-19 8:14 AM
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37

34: In the sense of being broadly autocratic, I guess, but the dynasties were usually very different from each other in terms of degree and forms of bureaucracy, favored ethnicity, etc. And usually there'd be at least a civil war, if not total state collapse, between them--it wasn't just one guy being substituted for another. So I agree with 36.last.

36.first: And I'm trying to be somewhat narrow in terms of constitutional order: I would consider the Fourth and Fifth French Republics to be different, just as I'm considering the US Constitution and Articles of Confederation different. And I'd say that if you have a civil war that topples the current regime, that's the antithesis of durable: the state is not able to maintain its monopoly on violence, which is at the core of being a state. If you think that a system that accepts civil wars as just par for the course is a durable form of government, then we're going to have different answers.

So where the Byzantines fall depends on whether you accept losing a civil war as breaking durability/continuity. The Latin Empire clearly causes a discontinuity, and the time from its end to the fall of Constantinople to the Turks is shorter than the American Constitutional regime, so let's only consider the time before. Baldwin I took over in 1204. I dunno when you want to start counting, but Leo I was installed by the Germanic general Aspar in 457, which seems like a clear difference from the systems in both earlier Roman times and in later Byzantine dynasties. An incomplete list of notable depositions in the meantime: 475 Basilicus forcing out Zeno (then turnabout the next year), 602 Maurice by Phocas, 610 Phocas by Heraclitus, 711 Justinian II by his army followed by two decades of anarchy, 867 Michael III by Basil I, 1057 forced abdication of Michael VI.

If your view is that that's all just the same system of Greek or Hellenized aristocrats trading off rule, often by violent means, over an increasingly militarized state, then yes, the Byzantines win by a mile.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 11-27-19 9:55 AM
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38

37 last basically is my position, yes. I think excluding violent transfers of power (within a substantially unchanged system) is an unreasonably narrow definition of form of government; such transfers have been recurrent within I'd guess a huge majority of all polities ever. It is of course a very modern definition of government, and that presumably is the kind of government the Atlantic author was actually thinking about: modern constitutional states. That's a reasonable set of states to be interested in and make comparisons about, but leaving that focus implicit as the author does I find to be a sloppy chronological chauvinism.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-27-19 10:25 AM
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39

I won't attempt to defend the verbiage of the original author, but I consider the elimination of violent transfers of power a Big Deal. Usually things end up being pretty different during them (though I'm sure you can find examples to the contrary, where a usurper maintains the state apparatus unchanged), and they, broadly speaking, are unpleasant. Figuring out how to have a long record of doing so is a meaningful innovation, and something that people in power have put a lot of energy towards--it's usually one of the main goals of the state. So it's still meaningful to compare our current record against previous polities.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 11-27-19 10:45 AM
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So, I'm riding through the white people reserve and there's a billboard with a picture of Rep. Schiff (with a nose like Pinocchio when he lies) and the text "Read the Transcript."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-19 2:46 PM
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40: Wonder how they would feel about a counter-billboard with a picture of Trump with a much longer nose, and text "Yeah, we read the transcript."


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 11-27-19 4:14 PM
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42

They only put it up because they know none of his voters are going to read anything.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-19 4:40 PM
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As a white American man, it is my God-given birthright to explore new frontiers in stupidity while being outraged at the possibility that stupid liberals might think I'm stupid.


Posted by: Opinionated Trump Voter | Link to this comment | 11-27-19 4:54 PM
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44

23: My roommate and I both just laughed out loud at this.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 11-27-19 6:23 PM
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33. A gradual process from 1660 to the early c19. The formal structures looked the same, but the "efficient" aspects of government, to quote Bagehot, changed out of recognition.

Of course royal power kept on keeping on, at least in theory, in Prussia/Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and a bunch of smaller places. But you knew that.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-28-19 3:05 AM
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In Sweden, formal royal power persisted until ca 1970: an eccentric nurse had to petition "His Majesty" in the 30s for permission to erect a tiny shack in the wilderness round Kebnekaise.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 11-28-19 5:35 AM
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46. Isn't that more like the fiction of Her Majesty personally prosecuting every suspected criminal in the UK and Dominions?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-28-19 6:42 AM
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Oo, TV series concept.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-28-19 6:47 AM
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Is there any prospect of of Tory/Brexit/Labor splitting tossing some seats to the Lib Dems? Or just leaving Parliamnet hanging?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-28-19 7:06 AM
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50

Wrong thread I guess.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-28-19 7:07 AM
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