Revolutionary War

If war was the necessary precipitating factor in the American social revolution [i.e. the War of Independence], let it be remembered that war has accompanied each of the other major Western revolutions of modern times. The link between war and revolution is both existentially and historically close, especially when war is either intense or prolonged. Both destroy traditional authorities, classes, and types of wealth; both create new kinds of power, rank, and wealth. With much reason, conservatives have been as suspicious of war as of revolution. It was, after all, in the wake of war that revolutionary changed occurred in ancient Athens at the end of the fifth century B.C. and in the Rome of Augustus. Nor should it be overlooked that almost all the intensity of the French Revolution burst upon the French people in war and under the justification of war emergency. Much the same is true of the development of communism in Russia, starting with the period of "war communism" and continuing through the subsequent hostile relationship with the West. Finally, we need only be reminded of the number of elements in modern welfare states whose actual historical origins lie not in socialist ideology, least of all in socialist governments, but rather in periods of war. Consider the United States and such matters as civil rights, minimum wage laws, management-worker councils, guarantees of union organization, improvements in working conditions, and so on.

That's an excerpt from Robert Nisbet's Social Impact of the Revolution, a rather obscure 1974 pamphlet published by AEI. Well worth seeking out if you happen to have a university library nearby.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s