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The ‘Fourth Revolution’

10:00 AM, Jun 12, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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James Piereson has an important article in the June New Criterion on the "forthcoming political revolution" in America. Here's the heart of the argument:

The United States has been shaped by three far-reaching political revolutions: Thomas Jefferson’s “revolution of 1800,” the Civil War, and the New Deal. Each of these upheavals concluded with lasting institutional and cultural adjustments that set the stage for new phases of political and economic development. Are we on the verge of a new upheaval, a “fourth revolution” that will reshape U.S. politics for decades to come? There are signs to suggest that we are. In fact, we may already be in the early stages of this twenty-first-century revolution. ...

The financial crisis and the long recession, with the strains they have placed upon national income and public budgets, are only the proximate causes of the political crisis now unfolding in the United States. The deeper causes lie in the exhaustion of the post-war system of political economy that took shape in the 1930s and 1940s. ...

It is not possible to outline in advance the precise lineaments of the fourth revolution. After all, few Americans living in 1798, 1858, or 1928 could have foreseen what was going to happen to their country in the years immediately ahead. The best that we can do is to look for some general patterns in these earlier events that might serve as guides for what is likely to happen in the United States in the next decade or two.

What Piereson suggests is that the events of 2007-2012—the financial crisis, the Obama administration, the Tea Party, and "Wisconsin"—are just the beginning of a time of major upheaval and reshaping of the American regime. He suggests some possible features of the battles ahead—but emphasizes that the kind of realignment we get isn't at all foreordained.

Read the whole thing.

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