January 11, 2015

American Politics Then, Now

I’ve slowly been wading my way through Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: A Narrative over the past year, with a break between the first and second volumes and another break coming up shortly, before the third. One thing that’s struck me, among many, is the similarity between the politics of the pre-Civil War era and today. We’re accustomed to acrimony and uncivil behavior between the “left” the “right” these days. It’s the water we swim in. It’s also the water Americans swam in back then.

A thought: what if the American Century, such as it was, was an aberration? What if the Archduke hadn’t been murdered, or the United States hadn’t entered what became World War I? What if the victorious allies hadn’t imposed overly severe reparations upon Weimar Germany, which inexorably lead to World War II, the attack upon American soil and the rise of the American war machine? What if what we are today, politically, is what we would have been all along in the absence of those post-American Civiil War influences, and where we’re going includes change to our government, our culture and how we see our republic similar to what was wrought by that earlier domestic conflict?

I plan to re-read the initial chapters of Foote’s work, wherein he describes the politics of 1860-61, after I’ve finished the second volume, and write about it here. It’s a departure from my usual Apple-centric technology interest, which is covered elsewhere far better than I have attention for. But what the hell, why not pick a niche and explore? Who knows what I’ll find.

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