The American Revolution of 2021

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The American Experiment has had a good run.

  • Reflect On:

    What do you want the next revolution look like?

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

— Margaret Mead

245 years ago, a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens were determined to invent their own version of representative government. But before they could do that, they needed “to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another” government. 

They were clear in their own minds that their freedom was being encroached in unacceptable ways. “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes.” They must have been keenly aware of prejudices on both sides: on the one hand, the tendency to feel these offenses to their freedom as larger and more important than future historians might judge them in context; and on the other hand, the human tendency to tolerate great pain and injustice from a known oppressor rather than risk an unknown future.

Their experiment worked out pretty well, as historic experiments go; but it evolved in ways that they certainly never anticipated. They never imagined that a democracy of land-owning, white males would expand to encompass universal adult suffrage. Black and white, rich and poor, male and female. They also probably would be surprised that America would evolve 170 years later to become the world’s premier imperial power. 

In the Constitution that they wrote 13 years later, (after a more decentralized schema had failed) they were keenly aware of all the ways that some people would connive to seize the helm at the expense of others. They were obsessive about checks and balances, as limits on concentration of power. Perhaps they were less savvy about concentration of wealth, and the danger that wealth could buy influence over government, which could be used to effect yet greater concentrations of wealth and even more influence. It would be unfair to fault them for failing to foresee that this dynamic would lead to the downfall of American democracy in the 21st century. How much more unfair, then, for us to expect they might have built in protections from media consolidation, which has led to manufacturing consent on an industrial scale. 

So here we are, 245 years on, contemplating some of these same truths that our forefathers held to be self-evident. The exigency of creating a new democracy has been clear for some time. Equally clear is the fact that armed resistance is both repugnant to our deep vein of non-violence and doomed to failure in the face of the American military behemoth.

Already, our widely-dispersed communities of interest have created trusted networks for disseminating the truths that the Corporate Media seeks to hide. The American Revolution of 2021 continues with local cooperatives and shared gardens and community skills banks and alternative currencies. As Bucky counseled, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” We will gradually lessen our dependence on international capitalism. We will build a better way of life, and our communities will be an inspiration to the masses of people who will flock to us for respite from the life-devouring capitalist machine.

Are you spontaneously enthusiastic about everyone having everything you can have? It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a ‘higher standard of living than any have ever known.’ It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary and henceforth unrationalizable as mandated by survival… It is a matter of converting the high technology from weaponry to livingry.   

— R. Buckminster Fuller
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