I had an opportunity to read Robert J. Allison’s 2011 book “The American Revolution.” There are three passages that made an impression on me.
Page 43 relates the complicated social and military interactions that were in play early in the American revolution. The author observes “[British commanders] Howe and Clinton had been sent to achieve a political end—reconciliation—through military means. [George] Washington was securing a military end—victory—through the political means of cultivating support from the men and women the army protected.” In some ways Washington, though on the home turf, was practicing insurgency techniques documented by Mao two centuries later. I see similarities to Charles Tilley’s connections to state making as an (organized crime) protection racket.
The early revolutionary battles highlight the Clausewitzian tension and interplay between civilian and military authorities, goals, and methods with the populous. If one overlooks the socialists colored language, one can see even a hint of Fred Block’s triad of State, People, and Capitalists.
Page 78 spoke of the debate between constitutional authors whether only landholders could be trusted with voting rights. Gouverneur Morris said, “Give the votes to people who have no property, and they will sell them to the rich who will be able to buy them.” If the propertyless joined together, neither liberty nor property would be safe; more likely they would simply, “become the tools of opulence and ambition.”
Indeed, it seems politicians gain office these days by bribing voters with promise of government benefit from government coffers. Contrary to fears of the authors, it’s not the rich merchants that buy up groundless votes, but rather the politicians. This made me think of the current manufactured crisis of illegal aliens welcomed across the border and into the United States. There are many who want to give rights, votes, and citizenship to illegal aliens without any surety that they would be resource contributors instead of resource consumers. Democrats are being accused of buying votes with uncontested privilege to stay in the U.S.
On the other hand, George Mason looked to the future and saw large propertyless families not as threats to liberty and property but instead as a supply of children who would pursue their fortunes in the new country. Using my two “c” words, he envisioned contributors rather than consumers. Sadly, I suspect his vision did not include contemporary entitlement programs that transfer tax dollars from individuals to other by-name individuals. These programs provide a huge incentive for illegals to cross into America, and IMHO, are in violation of the “common good” phrase of the U.S. Constitution.
Lastly, Page 88 speaks of the transition to the Jeffersonian presidency after the political Federalist “reign of the witches” (Jefferson’s words) in the late 1700s. Using The Sedition Act and other laws, the Federalists pretty much outlawed opposition during the late 1700s. Much of the world expected the Republican Jefferson administration to lash back to “punish his political opponents, who had tried to silence the opposition.” Rather, he allowed competing view points to “stand undisturbed as monuments to the freedom with which error of opinion ay be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.” I agree with Jefferson. I wish there were more reason present in the contemporary political discourse, instead of biased greed.