Years ago I was at a conference, and had the pleasure of sitting next to a historian from L. America. Argentina, if I remember correctly. We talked about a variety of things, but usually ended up talking about history. At one point, we got to talking about his views of America (at that time, around 2006).
He said like all countries, the US has its good and bad. But then he asked if I knew why so many people in his country envied the US. I didn’t know. Trains? Wealth? Bears? I didn’t know.
He said our Founding Fathers. As he proceeded to explain, most revolutions turn out disastrously. Perhaps the revolutionaries are good, but can’t build an effective government. As often as not, they merely promise the world and then make things worse once they have power (see Orwell).For all the flaws of the Founders (and goodness knows, if you’re under 60, you should know what they are), they did two amazing things: 1) they constructed a government that worked, and 2) they set out to make a country that would work toward fulfilling their promises. It’s not as if it’s never happened. But it’s rare, and the US is the most glaring example of revolutionary success.
On the other end of the scale, we have the revolution that brought the most disastrously murderous and evil political system in the history of the human race. One that is still influential in our world today. In these troubled times, it’s worth thinking about and considering the odds.