We Could Have Been Canada;Was the American Revolution Such a Good Idea?
The Revolution is the last bulwark of national myth….
I don't think they said it explicitly but it made me reflect on how when the U.S. declared and fought for its independence perhaps it wasn't just making a new country/State, but a new nation as well (though not overnight).
Country and State are interchangeable and refer to apply to self-governing political entities (lower-case states refers to smaller parts that make up a country). A nation is basically a group of people that share a common identify (composed of shared culture, languages, customs, institutions, religion, and history). A nation may or may not have sovereignty. Commonly nations don't actually have States (the Kurds, Tibetans). Some nations may technical sovereignty but it is complicated in practice (Native America/First Nation tribes). Some nations have their own State and are called nation-states, where a single nation accounts for most of a State population (Japan). Many states may be considered multi-national States now-a-days, especially with mass migration.
Anyways, as I said, it seems like the U.S. didn't just make itself a new State via violent revolution, but perhaps a new nation as well. Off the top of my head I can't think of any other revolution that had done this. As much as people have been wanting to change their society in various ways, they weren't trying to largely drop their old identifies and create new ones. I figure typically because these nations were in their ancestral land still (whether revolution against oppression within one's nation, or against another nation that were colonizers). But America seems to have formed an sense of identity that has little-to-nothing to do with its British roots (nor other "founding nations"). Nor does it seem to think of itself as a multi-national State (the Nation of immigrants / melting pot sensibility).
My understanding of Latin American history is probably lacking, (took a course, and it appears all forgotten!), but I think it would have been quite different not just because Spanish colonialism was different from the English, as it was from the French, etc, but also because of the much larger portion of the population was bi/multi-ethnic, so was part indigenous. The only similar revolution that created a new nation-state of people not in their ancestral land that I can think of is the Haitian one. Basically, in the short term, a successful slave revolt, so very different from a colony fighting for independence from basically their own nation.
I will probably embarrass myself more if I pontificate further, as I am sure my history is lacking somewhere in humanity's diverse and long history. Though this is assuming I haven't embarrassed myself already, which is never a sure thing
The writer of this article spent 1/2 of their elementary/secondary school in the U.S. and half in Canada, add in some other sources they draws on, they have an interesting perspective on American myth. Here is some of their schooling shared:
Here is some of their schooling shared: It is hard to pick apart this lengthly article for quotes, so here is a long one:
In confrontations between empire and rebels, though, our hearts are always with the rebels. We take it for granted that rebels are good and empires bad; our favorite mass entertainment depends entirely on the felt familiarity of this simple division. But there is a case to be made that empires can be something other than evil. People mocked the beginning of the “Star Wars” cycle, turning as it did on a trade dispute, but trade disputes are real, and begin wars, and whom would you really rather have running the government when a trade treaty has to be negotiated on a galactic scale: Senator Palpatine or Han Solo?
The authoritarian reformers—the empire, in other words—have something to be said for them; and what is to be said for them is, well, Canada. Our northern neighbor’s relative lack of violence, its peaceful continuity, its ability to allow double and triple identities and to build a country successfully out of two languages and radically different national pasts: all these Canadian virtues are, counterintuitively, far more the legacy of those eighteenth-century authoritarian reformers than of the radical Whigs. This is literally the case; the United Empire Loyalists, as they were called, the “Tories” who fled from the States, did much to make Canada. More than that, Canada is the model liberal country because it did not have an American-style revolution, accepting instead the reformers’ values of a strong centralized, if symbolic, monarchy (the Queen is still there, aging, on the Canadian twenty-dollar bill); a largely faceless political class; a cautiously parliamentary tradition; a professionalized and noncharismatic military; a governing élite—an establishment.
The Canadian experience was not free of sin—as the indefensible treatment of the First Nations demonstrates—and was, as well, not free of the “colonial cringe” that bedevils so many countries overattached to the motherland. (London and Paris, in this view, meant too much for too long to too many ambitious Canadians.) Still, there is something to be said, however small, for government by an efficient elected élite devoted to compromise. The logic of Whig radicalism, in whatever form it takes, always allows charismatic figures undue play; there’s a reason that the big Whigs remain known today while the authoritarian reformers mostly sink into specialists’ memories of committees and cabinets.
Edited by sierraleone, 14 May 2017 - 09:51 PM.