May 9, 2017

"The Revolution... was a needless and brutal bit of slaveholders’ panic mixed with Enlightenment argle-bargle, producing a country that was always marked for violence and disruption and demagogy."

"Look north to Canada, or south to Australia, and you will see different possibilities of peaceful evolution away from Britain, toward sane and whole, more equitable and less sanguinary countries. No revolution, and slavery might have ended, as it did elsewhere in the British Empire, more peacefully and sooner. No 'peculiar institution,' no hideous Civil War and appalling aftermath. Instead, an orderly development of the interior—less violent, and less inclined to celebrate the desperado over the peaceful peasant. We could have ended with a social-democratic commonwealth that stretched from north to south, a near-continent-wide Canada."

So the Civil War could have been avoided... if only the Revolution had been avoided.

That's the theory contemplated by Adam Gopnik in "WE COULD HAVE BEEN CANADA/Was the American Revolution such a good idea?" (in The New Yorker).

130 comments:

rhhardin said...

Who would have defended Canada, Klavan asks. They'd be speaking Russian today but for the US.

Original Mike said...

If we were Canada, Europe would be the Reich.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Something tells me Gopnik would not be asking this question if Tory Stephen Harper was still Canadian PM and Hillary had won.

I think this boils down to Trudeau envy.

AReasonableMan said...

Original Mike said...
If we were Canada, Europe would be the Reich.


Australia and Canada joined the war against the Nazis before the US.

Hagar said...

The Canadian solution only became possible after suppression of the American Revolution had been tried and failed.

BTW, it should properly be the Wars of the American Revolution; Britain did quite well for itself in its struggle against France for world domination in other areas of the globe. At the time, the fighting in the American colonies was not necessarily the main event.

AReasonableMan said...

A reasonable case can be made that without the revolutionary war the position of anglophone alliance in the world today would be stronger. How much stronger is debatable, but at least a bit stronger.

Amadeus 48 said...

Who wants to be Canada? Not me.
Obviously, Adam Gopnik. Here's a tip, Adam. You can emigrate to Canada, if you qualify. Good luck to you, and don't let the door hit you as you leave.

Virtually Unknown said...

Of course we would all be speaking either German or Russian.

Laslo Spatula said...

The sexual intercourse of Gopnik's parents was a needless and brutal bit of homosexual panic mixed with romantic argle-bargle, producing a son that was always marked for inadequacy and malcontentedness and delusional thinking.

Revisionism is Fun.

I am Laslo.

Bill Peschel said...

I'd love for Gopnik to unpack this sentence from his essay: "The phenomenon of “Hamilton,” the hip-hop musical that is, contrary to one’s expectations, wholly faithful to a heroic view of American independence, reinforces the sanctity of the American Revolution in American life."

What were his expectations? That a Broadway musical would be iconoclastic? That hip-hop can't be patriotic? That Lin-Manual Miranda can't handle history and hip-hop?

Which of Gopnik's bigotry of low expectations was he exercising? Or should we embrace the power of "and".

Original Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
yoobee said...

I disagree with the premise. I think there is a good argument that the American Revolution pressured Britain to adopt a relatively-more peaceful transition with Canada and Australia, and that this would have been less likely if the American Revolution had never happened or wasn't successful.

AReasonableMan said...

Original Mike said...
Australia and Canada, God bless them, do not defeat Germany.


No, that required the Russians.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

Colby Cosh (@colbycosh) saw this and immediately imagined Gopnik adding: "Not that I would ever move back there or anything."

Virtually Unknown said...

Mexico and South America sided with the Axis. Remember that now France controls the center of the US, because Napoleon sold Louisiana to the US to undermine Britain, so there would be no "Canada in terms of sea to sea" the interior would be French and the West would have been Spanish. The Japanese Empire would have dominated the Pacific.

I wonder how ARM's "reasonable case" deals with just these few events off the top of my head, never mind the millions of other <>unpredictable things that would result from his little counterfactual.

Original Mike said...

Australia and Canada, God bless them, do not defeat Germany. Russia either.

Virtually Unknown said...

No, that required the Russians.

With American materiel, but forget that, the Russians would have swept to the Channel, and Britain would have been cowed.

tola'at sfarim said...

So he wants a more white USA?

Virtually Unknown said...

Or Germany would have had a single front and defeated Russia.

But I am sure that the "reasonable case" deals with all of these possibilities.

Virtually Unknown said...

I disagree with the premise. I think there is a good argument that the American Revolution pressured Britain to adopt a relatively-more peaceful transition with Canada and Australia, and that this would have been less likely if the American Revolution had never happened or wasn't successful.

Now you are just taunting, but that's OK, they need to hear it.

Virtually Unknown said...

Of course we are assuming that Germany doesn't win WWI. One constant through the past couple of centuries is that Germany has sought to dominate Europe, seeing themselves as its rightful master. Most recently through the EU.

This whole exercise is fundamentally moronic. Based on a Marxist premise of historical inevitability holding the rest of history constant that is laughable at its face.

Paco Wové said...

Could have been titled A Canadian Dreams of Empire (Passive-Aggressively, Of Course). As has been mentioned, if Gopnik loves Canada so, as an ex-resident he should have a much easier time than almost all of his readers if he chooses to return to his promised land.

AReasonableMan said...

You might want to look at these numbers when trying to understand where the German army actually died:

Campaign Dead Missing
Poland 1939 16,343 320
Norway 1940 4,975 691
West until May 31, 1944 66,266 3,218
West June 1944-November 30, 1944 54,754 338,933
Africa 1940 - May 1943 12,808 90,052
Balkans 1941 - November 30, 1944 24,267 12,060
Italy May 1943 - November 30, 1944 47,873 97,154
Russia June 1941-November 30, 1944 1,419,728 997,056
Home front 1939-November 30, 1944 64,055 1,315

All the materiel in the world won't do you any good if your soldiers are dead.

Angel-Dyne said...

I actually agree that a lot of revolutionary rhetoric (and not just ours) is so much "Enlightenment argle-bargle". But I doubt Mr. Gopnik has any desire to jettison that part of Enlightenment argle-bargle that suits his own ideology.

Sorry, Mr. Gopnik, but America was made by the people it was made by. It's, ahem, who we are. And, btw, even in Canada the "peaceful peasants" come after the heavy-lifting is done by the conquerors. Then the urban sophisticates can come, once the peasants have secured their food supply.

There's nothing like a diversity-lover when it comes to wanting to homogenize humanity.

Bob Boyd said...

If America had remained in the British Empire, Gopnik would be a wanker today instead of a jerk off.

Birkel said...

So Adam Gopnik thinks the United States is a problem. The Gopnik Hypothesis is that he cannot solve the America Problem so he is willing to re-argue the American Revolution.

I blame Donald Trump for driving Adam Gopnik and many others of and on the Left to madness. Does anybody imagine the Left would be acting this way if Hillary Clinton had assumed her rightful place as leader of the Slightly Less Than Free World?

Birkel said...

@ AReasonableMan

Zee Germans lost 5.3 million men under arms in WWII. Your chart seem to be missing more than two million deaths.

It's not to late to attempt a different incomplete chart that will be a different, if similar, lie.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Slaveholders panic? At that point in time, there wasn't any reason for them to be worried about slavery ending. Author is changing the facts to fit his hypothesis. A lot of that going around on the left these days.

AReasonableMan said...

Another measure of German casualties in WWII. Doesn't matter how you slice it, the German army was killed by Russia.

OKW Casualty Figures Sept 1, 1939 to Jan 31, 1945

Description Dead Missing & POW Total Wounded & Sick
Army
Eastern Front 1,105,987 1,018,365 2,124,352 3,498,059
North: Norway/Finland 16,639 5,157 21,796 60,451
Southwest: N Africa/Italy 50,481 194,250 244,731 163,602
Southeast: Balkans 19,235 14,805 34,040 55,069
West: France/Belgium 107,042 409,715 516,757 399,856
Training Forces 10,467 1,337 11,804 42,174
Died of Wounds-All Fronts 295,659 - 295,659 -
Location not Given 17,051 2,687 19,738 -

Amadeus 48 said...

ARM--concerning the German dead/missing number, are the missing numbers both soldiers unaccounted for and captured?

The Eastern front was a meat-grinder.

Amadeus 48 said...

ARM--I see you answered my question while I was typing it.

Birkel said...

@ AReasonableMan

You have to get to 5.3 million. Third time the charm?

Known Unknown said...

Why do none of these morons ever account for geography when they look at history and the development of nations?

All those Canadian cotton fields would still need picking, bro.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Louisiana purchase could reasonably have ended up with the British; Florida and Cuba - probably still with Spain. Alaska still with the Russians (they likely wouldn't have sold it to a European rival), no major military bases in Hawaii or the Philippines, probably no airfields on Midway or Wake Island. Assuming that WWII still happens, the Japanese have virtually no opposition in the Pacific - with their non-aggression pact with Russia, they don't have to be concerned about the northern Pacific at all. And with Texas, CA, NM, AZ, NV, CO part of Mexico, the British U.S. has considerably less industrial and agricultural might, which results in less support for the USSR. Germany and Japan win WWII.

BillyTalley said...

Unicorn dreams.

BAS said...

United States was the first democratic country. It was an experiment that Europe was observing.
I would argue that you could not have Canada and Australia without the Revolution in the United States.

Lewis Wetzel said...

But don't you dare question Gopnik's patriotism!
It has got to be psychological. Why else would a person look at his own country and see all the faults, and look at other countries and see all the good things?
Belonging to a nation defines a relationship, like belonging to a family. Imagine what kind of person would say the things about his or her family that Gopnik says about America? Why do the people who are alienated from their nation believe that their view of that nation is true, and the people that aren't alienated from their nation have a false view of it?

Jeff Weimer said...

I'm trying to figure out "slaveholder panic". Is he arguing that we revolted because we were afraid the Mother Country would abolish slavery? Were they so prescient that they could see that coming 60 *years* in the future?

ALP said...

Government without a King? Yes Adam, I'd say that was a good idea.

tcrosse said...

Was the French Revolution, then,

"a needless and brutal bit of ... panic mixed with Enlightenment argle-bargle, producing a country that was always marked for violence and disruption and demagogy."

walter said...

Jeff Weimer said...I'm trying to figure out "slaveholder panic".
--
Right. Reframing never ends..

EDH said...

Wasn't the strength, persistence and armed rebellion of the slave state economy in the US south due largely to a temperate climate conducive to certain crops not arable in Canada and too remote in Australia?

Balfegor said...

We wouldn't have become Canada -- Canada would have become us. Even in the time of the Revolution, our population was several times theirs.

Without the Revolution, we would probably not have engaged in the Drang nach Westen, given the treaties and agreements the British government had entered into with the native tribes, but we would still have controlled everything up to the Mississippi. West of the Mississippi would have been Spanish territory (briefly French, under the Bonaparte, but probably returned to Spain upon his defeat), but as the Spanish Empire collapsed in the 19th century, I would imagine that it would probably have ended up as an independent republic, dominated by Anglo settlers like Texas (perhaps as a Greater Texas).

The timing is a bit off, perhaps, and the policies of Lord Melbourne and Peel not really congruent to those of Lord Salisbury, but I would expect that the situation would have been somewhat similar to that in South Africa. Either independent Texas would have petitioned for admission to the British Empire, or British settlers denied political rights in Mexico (like Uitlanders in the Boer republics) would have petitioned to the governments in Britain and the nearby American colony (like the Cape Colony), triggering a war of annexation.

Britain already came into conflict with Spain over the West Coast of North America, back in the 18th century. With no Oregon boundary dispute with an independent American state, the British Empire would probably have expanded its jurisdiction down the coast largely unhindered.

So by 1900, they would probably have had more or less the territory the United States has today. Alaska and Hawaii -- who knows? Mexico might also control more territory to its immediate northwest. No Gadsden purchase, perhaps, and the border between Mexican and British control in California might have ended up north of LA.

Meanwhile, I think it doubtful that Salisbury would have chosen to prosecute a war with Spain at the end of the 19th century. Acquisition of Cuba -- perhaps. But acquisition of a Philippine colony somewhat distant from the Straits Settlements, British Malaya, and Australia would, I think, have disturbed the balance of power vis-a-vis French Indochina and the Dutch East Indies, such that he might have hesitated. And I don't think there was a Jameson or Rhodes to spur things on the way they did in South Africa (or the way I expect local American politicians would have done in British America).

James K said...

I think this boils down to Trudeau envy.

Yes, or maybe single-payer envy.

AReasonableMan said...

BAS said...
I would argue that you could not have Canada and Australia without the Revolution in the United States.


Democracy in Australia, New Zealand and Canada follows a British model. Their independence was inevitable, but they maintained strong ties to Britain. You can see the outline of an anglophone alliance in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, but it is not as strong as it could have been. The US entered WWII out of self interest rather than as part of an alliance with the other anglophone countries. In the British view the US bankrupted Britain during WWII in order to weaken its hold on the remnants of its empire after the war. Britain's decline was inevitable but it is not clear that accelerating that decline was in the long term interests of the US. Language, the common law legal system and overlapping religious beliefs would have been powerful assets in attempting to build a stronger alliance.

Marc Puckett said...

And perhaps Gopnik ignores the... infelicities in Canada's own past? Can't read the article just at the moment but the name Louis Riel pops into my head.

Birkel said...

Inevitable?

Unknown said...

ARM's "It was really Russia that won WWII, not anyone else!" is just Russian and commie revisionism.

Yes, the Russian front consumed the most manpower and materials for Nazi Germany. But the millions of troops fighting in France and Italy, Germany could have sent them to Russia.

Plus, without the US and the invasion of North Africa, it's a fair bet Rommel would have finally driven to the Suez, turning the Mediterranean Sea into a German lake. Turkey would almost certainly (like in WWI) have joined the Axis at that point.... and Russia now has a massive two front war of their own. Plus, the Germans could have driven through the Middle East, getting Iraq and the oil even then, and cutting a massive supply line to Russia.

Plus, without US bombers devastating German industry from the air, the Germans would have had far more supplies and materials... plus millions more troops, and the Russians would not have had Lend Lease.

I'm pretty sure that Germany would have defeated Stalin in those scenarios. Heck, they would have had support from Italy still, which the US knocked out of the war. Italian troops only fought well under Rommel's command, but Italian supplies were still good.

And without the threat from the West, Hitler may well have let his generals alone... and make no mistake, German generals, unleashed, were better than the Soviet guys. The Germans lost Stalingrad.... but then turned around and annihilated 3 Russian Army Groups at Kharkov.

No, without the West I think Hitler would have beaten the Soviets. To say otherwise is just pure leftist revisionism and commie worship.

--Vance

Birkel said...

Pardon me if I don't take lessons on inevitability from a commenter who cannot add.

Unknown said...

Just as a thought: who would you rather have as your military leaders: Von Manstein, Von Rundsteadt, Guderian, Rommel... or Zuckov and Chiukov?

The Germans, facing a 10-2 manpower disadvantage on the Eastern front, still kicked Commie butt for several years. Imagine if they'd had the ability to double their manpower, airpower, and material power (more tanks, etc). Especially without US saturation bombing of the tank factories.

--Vance

AReasonableMan said...

Unknown said...
ARM's "It was really Russia that won WWII, not anyone else!"


Did not say this. I made the factual point that it was Russia that broke the back of the German army. Revisionism is arguing that something else might have happened.

Birkel said...

@ AReasonableMan

When you make a "factual point" could you make sure the math is right? If you make a point that does not have correct figures, at what point does it stop being "factual"?

Thanks in advance.

Biotrekker said...

And who would have saved the world from National Socialism (The NAZI's!!!) Canada? I guess that Gopnik - like all good Socialist-Leftists just hates the country that gave him the cushy life style he enjoys because he feels deep down inside that he doesn't deserve it.

William said...

I understand that slavery was abolished peacefully in Brazil and the West Indies. I don't believe that they then went on to live happily ever after.

Jupiter said...

Gopnik needs to get together with those those two guys who claimed Jackson couldn't have stopped the Civil War and get their story straight.

Rick said...

Notably Gopnik doesn't recognize the American Revolution's success increased leverage for Canadian and Australian independence. Much like Althouse's observation that the left presents all differences between men and women as female advantages the left also presents all differences between America and other countries as American failures. As ARM demonstrates anti-Americanism is their training and core essence.

Sebastian said...

Yeah, all those slaveholders up in Boston sure panicked their way into a revolution.

"There's nothing like a diversity-lover when it comes to wanting to homogenize humanity." Right, and talk about Enlightenment argle-bargle. Of course, there were reasonable rationalists--not that many among the modern left.

AReasonableMan said...

Rick said...
ARM demonstrates anti-Americanism


Pointing out that if things had played out somewhat differently the US might now have a stronger hand to deal with a multi-polar world is anti-American?

rcocean said...

Gopnick - the son of immigrants - doesn't like America 1.0.

tcrosse said...

There's a Dream Canada which only exists in the minds of US Liberals.

rcocean said...

The big mistake wasn't the American Revolution, it was giving in to the demands of Georgia and South Carolina at the constitutional convention. They didn't want to join if the slave trade was outlawed, and should have been told to take a hike.

Oh, and a statement in the 1787 constitution stating no right to secede would have also avoided a Civil War.

Rusty said...



All the materiel in the world won't do you any good if your soldiers are dead."

All the soldiers in the world won't do you any good if they have nothing to fight with.

This is the mitacle of WW2. We fought on two fronts simultaneouly many thousnds of miles from our shores all the while providing materiel for all the allied forces.

The Germans in Europe fought just as hard as the Germans in Russia. And before you start to pat Russia on the back too hard for their victories over Germany, a lot of those Russian losses were because os Stalins intransigence.
If quantity had a quality all its own Russia would have taken Finnland.

David said...

American slavery was a business decision by British colonizers. The Crown and its beneficiaries, the large landed proprietors of the southern colonies, could not attract enough white colonists to cash in on their land speculation. Thus the importation of slaves on a mass scale. Gopnik understands little about the development of the New World if he really thinks that slavery-no slavery was a political or moral decision alone. It was an expedient economic policy that grew into a political and moral issue.

Rick said...

Pointing out that if things had played out somewhat differently the US might now have a stronger hand to deal with a multi-polar world is anti-American?

Presenting all differences between America and other countries as American failures is anti-American, a conclusion the left has no trouble understanding when the discussion covers race, gender, or even other countries. Somehow these keen intellects lose their insight once the targets change and suddenly their evaluation process would not yield the appropriate outcome.

Luke Lea said...

But then there would have been no Declaration of Independence or 1st amendment. There is no free speech in Canada or Britain it must be pointed out. You can be put in jail for saying unkind things about various classes of immigrants. Not sure about Australia and New Zealand.

Robert Cook said...

"Original Mike said...
'Australia and Canada, God bless them, do not defeat Germany.'

"No, that required the Russians."


Oh SNAP!!

Known Unknown said...

"Wasn't the strength, persistence and armed rebellion of the slave state economy in the US south due largely to a temperate climate conducive to certain crops not arable in Canada and too remote in Australia?"

That's what I was saying.

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Known Unknown said...

I agree that the Russians did indeed break the Nazis. However, I would give more credit to Hitler's immense stupidity than Soviet military strategy. They just had enough bodies to throw at the Germans after Hitler thought it would be a great idea to fight a simultaneous two-front war.

But hey, we certainly finished off those pesky Japanese.

Static Ping said...

Alternate histories are fun adventures in fiction, but that's all they can be: fiction. Removing the United States as we know it from the timeline is going to have massive repercussions downstream and while some events seem more likely than others it is impossible to know for sure about any of it. A lot of the discussion here is about World War II. If the United States is Canada South, probably minus a whole lot of territory and population, does WWII even happen and, if so, are the belligerents the same and in the same alliances? Japan and the UK were allies in WWI; it's not clear there would even be a Pacific theatre unless Russia and Japan were at odds. Assuming WWI goes forward as it did, does the added manpower of Canada South make for a decisive victory for the Allies earlier or does Germany win? If the Allies win, does the Russian Revolution still happen, especially if the Allies win quickly? Would the Nazis have come to power in a world where Germany won the Great War? Would the Nazis have come to power in a Germany that decisively lost the Great War, as opposed to losing a long grind that the Nazis could blame on "treasonous" elements? And who is going to develop nuclear weapons and are they going to be as restrained with them as Truman was?

I suspect none of this really matters when one pines for beavers.

readering said...

Without the example of the American War for Independence the trajectory of Latin American colonies might have been very different.

walter said...

James K said...

I think this boils down to Trudeau envy.

Yes, or maybe single-payer envy.
--
Well..he grew up in Montreal. I don't think he has a Parti 51 hat.

walter said...

More Adam:
No more anti-Trumpism, long live anti-Trumpism

readering said...

On WW2 counterfactuals, what if Japan had been satisfied with bloodless annexation of Manchuria in 1930s and had not plunged into the rest of China? It would have been in a position militarily in 1941 to invade Siberia in league with Hitler. Instead, lost 600,000 men in vicious stalemate in China before Pearl Harbor.

John Lynch said...

The reason Canada and Australia became independent peacefully was because the UK parliament saw what happened with America. The American Revolution changed their policies toward their other colonies.

You can't cherry pick history.

Paul Zrimsek said...

It would be a fine thing for Donald Trump: the libel laws would already be opened up!

Achilles said...

Instead, an orderly development of the interior—less violent, and less inclined to celebrate the desperado over the peaceful peasant.

This has been the fight since the founding of the United States. The Aristocracy wants their peaceful unarmed serfs back.

furious_a said...

Australia and Canada joined the war against the Nazis before the US.

Australia stripped its home defenses to send regular troops to the Middle East, leaving it with only reservists and irregulars to confront the Japanese in New Guinea, Timor and the Solomons. It was the US Navy at Coral Sea that prevented the Japanese from landing behind the Australians at Port Moresby.

Between them Canada and Britain by themselves would have been unable to break the U-boats in the North Atlantic.

CStanley said...

I'm not sure if there is a term for this logical fallacy that many other commenters have pointed out- assuming in a counter factual that there are no unintended consequences that would prevent straight line causation of some expected outcome.

This is such a common logical error made by progressives, one that relates to Chesterton's fence analogy. Events, movements, institutions, and even wars all have meaning and consequence. Long after those meanings are forgotten the foundation that they provided remains. Clearing the old fence simply because we can't be bothered to learn of its purpose and decide if repairs are in order will lead to a demonstration of what the foundation provided-though that causation will be denied by those who don't want to admit the damage they've caused. I first noticed this with respect to progressives' disregard for Church and family, then sexual mores, but now they're giving the same treatment to our entire nationhood.

furious_a said...

if only we were more like Canada...

...with the collapse of the Meech Lake Accords, we'd be one successful Quebec independence referendum away from the dissolution of the Federation. Back in the late 80s-early 90s the Maritime and some of the Prairie Provinces were prepared to apply for annexation by the U.S. in the event.

Achilles said...

AReasonableMan said...

Did not say this. I made the factual point that it was Russia that broke the back of the German army. Revisionism is arguing that something else might have happened.

Speaking of 2 front wars... was there something going on in the Pacific theater around that time? Oh I forgot Russia took care of that too. No need for the US at all in WWII.

mockturtle said...

CStanley: Kinda like 'throwing the baby out with the bath water'?

Lewis Wetzel said...

Gopnik is literally wishing that the United States did not exist.

ddh said...

Gopnik is full of it. Slavery was legal in all 13 American colonies at the time of the American Revolution, as it was in Canada and the rest of the British Empire. Slavery had been banned in Britain in 1706, but abolition in the colonies did not occur until 1833.

ddh said...

But don't question Gopnik's patriotism.

Gahrie said...

Oh, and a statement in the 1787 constitution stating no right to secede would have also avoided a Civil War.

Problem is, in 1787 they believed that the States did have a right to secede.

penelope said...

AReasonableMan said : “The US entered WWII out of self interest …”

Well, there was that little dust-up at Pearl Harbor.

AReasonableMan said...

Achilles said...
was there something going on in the Pacific theater around that time? Oh I forgot Russia took care of that too. No need for the US at all in WWII.


Why do some people rely so heavily on straw men?

No one has argued that the US wasn't the dominant force in the Pacific during WWII.

Richard Dillman said...

The people in Nunavut who read the article are having none of it. I heard they need people in Whitehorse, Yellowknife, FlinFlan,

Churchill, and the outports of Newfoundland. The is also a strong demand for potato harvesters and "Ann of Green Gables " guides
on Prince Edward Island.

policraticus said...

or south to Australia, and you will see different possibilities of peaceful evolution away from Britain, toward sane and whole, more equitable and less sanguinary countries

When asked, the Aboriginal Tasmanians were unavailable for comment. Other aboriginal Australians answered only with a rude gesture unsuitable for reproduction in a family blog.

wwww said...

So the Civil War could have been avoided... if only the Revolution had been avoided.


Maybe, but I doubt it. The colonies would have revolted when the British Empire attempted to abolish slavery in the 1830s. Too much $$ was in slaves and cotton by the early 1830s. It's possible that many northern colonies would have allied with Canada, while the southern colonies broke off into their own country.

Rusty said...

It was also the dominant force in the Atlantic , ARM. Russia for all intent and purposes didn't have a navy in WW2. It was American and British merchantmen that brought the material on an almost endless trasatlantic conveyor to Murmansk.

Birkel said...

To summarize:

Those who hate America wish to argue that America's contributions in WWII were minimally (or perhaps modestly) important and Europe would have been saved if only the Iron Curtain had been drawn on the whole continent? The mind boggles.

Those same idiots will argue for so called "Green" policies, ignoring how well the Soviet Empire deforested and polluted every place it held. We should not needlessly mention the mass graves so conveniently forgotten because of the news black out non-coverage provided by the New York Times.

Millions of kulaks and wreckers could not be reached for comment.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Well, there was that little dust-up at Pearl Harbor.

5/9/17, 9:45 AM

Yep. And Hitler then declared war on the US.

Bay Area Guy said...

Gopnik shows his true Leftist colors by making this feeble contra-hypothetical argument.

The sad truth is that the Left does not believe in the American experiment. Period. Full stop.

They think it's a rigged capitalist game, where straight white Christian males horde all the capital, rape the land, feather the nests of their stepford wives, and undeserving kids, either actively suppress or passively ignore the plight of people of color and gays, and then make war every 20 years or so to send its poor to fight and die to support the interests of some multi-national corporation or industry (Big Oil, Defense)

Like all effective lies, there are kernels of truth sprinkled within this narrative.

What the Left doesn't understand is the 150 Million middle class Americans, who are neither rich, nor poor, but happily chug along, working, gardening, raising kids, paying bills, bowling on Friday nights, going to Church, driving American muscle cars or pick-up trucks, and basically living decent lives for the short 80 years we each have on Planet Earth.

The engine of Capitalism created this prosperity, tethered to Western values and Christian work ethic. Gopnik and his ilk may not like this, but too bad. They can always MOVE to Canada, if they so choose.

Myself, when I visit Mt. Rushmore, and see Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln & TR, I feel a sense of pride and honor for our American heritage, flaws and all.

CStanley said...

@mockturtle- Yes, exactly

mockturtle said...

Bay Area Guy rightly concludes: The sad truth is that the Left does not believe in the American experiment. Period. Full stop.

Everyone who hates America--its founding, its values and its might--should just leave. Now.

Just an old country lawyer said...

Prior to the invention of air conditioning and the internal combustion engine, the economic/agricultural development of the American Southeast would have been impossible without slave labor. Inevitability doesn't retrospectively make chattel slavery moral, or something we shouldn't regret and deplore, nor relieve us from the obligation to ameliorate its effects (good luck on agreeing how to do that) but it does make it inevitable.

tcrosse said...

They can always MOVE to Canada, if they so choose.

Not so fast. Canada's immigration is not as open as ours.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Canada didn't become Canada until 1867, and as a fairly direct result of our Civil War. Plus a desire to build a railroad across the continent.

Balfegor said...

Re: wwww:

Maybe, but I doubt it. The colonies would have revolted when the British Empire attempted to abolish slavery in the 1830s. Too much $$ was in slaves and cotton by the early 1830s. It's possible that many northern colonies would have allied with Canada, while the southern colonies broke off into their own country.

I think South Carolina would probably have rebelled. The real question is how much of the South would have come along with them. In deciding to secede, I would guess they weighed both what they stood to gain and what they stood to lose and the likelihood of each. The Confederacy looked to the sympathy and even the support of the British Empire. If they had rebelled against the British Empire, what hope of foreign aid could they have had? What access to foreign markets for cotton? The Royal Navy could have enforced the Anaconda strategy even more easily than the Union fleet. Under such doubtful circumstances, would Virginia have voted to secede?

And consider too that this would be coming in the 1830's, not the 1860's. Either they make like the Boers and trek into the interior of the country to carve out new republics (on land less suitable for their massive plantations), or they fight for independence, then and there. Would Tennessee -- the site of so many of the battles of the Civil War -- have had enough people to participate meaningfully in a war for independence?

All told, I think the Civil War would have been a smaller affair, resolved more quickly and a generation earlier, if we were part of the British Empire.

Rusty said...

Here's the thing. all the cotton and tobacco grown in the colonies went through British warehouses before going on to the wider world. Britain didn't want the colonies to trade independantly.

My name goes here. said...

Correct me if I am wrong here. But I thought that the United Kingdom got rid of slavery in it's empire by paying the slaveholders for the slaves. I read that this was costly, so costly that is was a very hard solution to get people to agree. The reason for the high cost was the number of slaves in Jamaica.

Assuming I am remembering correctly (so anyone that wants can correct me) then the cost of freeing the slaves in the American southeast would have been magnitudes higher. The 1833 plan to get rid of slavery empire wide might not have been implemented. Chattal slavery could have existed for decades longer than it did.

Balfegor said...

Re: Rusty:

Here's the thing. all the cotton and tobacco grown in the colonies went through British warehouses before going on to the wider world. Britain didn't want the colonies to trade independantly.

As of 1776, yes. But even then, you saw cracks in the Navigation Acts -- the Tea Act, for example, allowing the English East India Company to ship tea directly to the American colonies. The Navigation Acts were repealed in the mid-19th century, because the British public (spurred by fear of the "dear loaf") turned massively against trade restrictions after the introduction of the Corn Laws.

So that would have been the case for a generation, maybe, but not for long. I don't know about tobacco, but I think Britain was still the South's principal non-American market for cotton (Britain being the major textile manufacturer among the European powers), so stopping in Britain before heading a bit further to France or Germany (where American cotton was also consumed in substantial volumes) probably wouldn't have had a huge impact on trade.

John Lynch said...

The Native American question was handled differently in Canada. There were no reservations; natives were governed like everyone else and the RCMP had jurisdiction in disputes between natives and between natives and whites. Apparently the Mounties had enough power to make that stick. In the USA the federal gov't and courts couldn't control what happened between settlers and Indians, or Indians and Indians, and usually found itself reacting to events. Because natives were theoretically sovereign they could not be arrested for crimes, so attacks were treated as wars instead of murders. It's hard to see how things could have been much different than they were given how large the settler population was, but Canada clearly handled natives better and more humanely than the USA.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Canada had only been British for a dozen years or so before the issues spawning the American Revolution began firming up.

To understand the American Revolution, one must go back at least to the Seven Years' War.

To ask if the Seven Years' War could have been avoided, one must ask the guy who started it - George Washington.

D said...

Would I be compelled to read M Atwood, R Davies, or ol' F Mowat in english class still?

All this wondering over the grand tides and what- ifs in history - Civil wars, westward expansion, defeating the Nazis (would ze germans have risked making war with a british empire with the support of all of NA - ie no WW1, no bolshevik success, no endless endless debate about the soviet front) - the real issue would be the SEVERE impact on can lit. Or canadian rock! Or canadian cuisine!

The American Revolution led to the CBC. Thanks a hell of a lot, America!!

John Lynch said...

Go live in Canada. I hear they speak English there.

tcrosse said...

I hear they speak English there.

Not everywhere.

John Lynch said...

I hear some places speak Cajun.

southcentralpa said...

A sad attempt to delegitimize the American founding, to present the founding as illegitimate.

The problem with "we could've been Canada" is that without being downstream of the American Revolution, Canada and Australia wouldn't BE Canada or Australia as we know them today.

(Also, counterfactuals in general: fun to think about, but they don't really provide a lot of support for further intellectual ruminations. I think James Thurber really nailed it with "If Grant had been drinking at Appomattox".)

(and if you get a DVD of the alt-history mockmuntary "CSA: The Confederate States of America", be sure to use the good professor's Amazon portal)

tcrosse said...

I hear some places speak Cajun.

You didn't hear it in Chicoutimi.

MrCharlie2 said...

No USA means no rescues of Europe in the 20th century.

Look south to Jamaica and England's other slave colonies. Orderly development, yup.

William Chadwick said...

"Englishtenment argle-bargle . . . " You know, all that stuff about freedom and reason . . . stuff no modern 'liberal' puts up with.

Virtually Unknown said...

A reasonable case can be made that without the revolutionary war the position of anglophone alliance in the world today would be stronger.. - ARM

Revisionism is arguing that something else might have happened. - ARM

LOL

Plus remember that if there was no Revolutionary War, Pacific is a Japanese lake, unless you think that Mexican California, Oregon, and Washington could have whipped up a navy that could have taken them on. Russia is in Alaska, no "Seward's Icebox."

Russia has ports in North America on the Pacific.

It is impossible to accurately imagine what would have happened, so all of this argument about who really won WWII is utterly moot.

Virtually Unknown said...

would ze germans have risked making war with a british empire with the support of all of NA

NA divided in four, Louisiana Purchase still belongs to France, because Napoleon would never have sold it to hated rival England. In fact Napoleon remarked that he was creating the basis of a naval power that would eventually overshadow England, which is what happened.

No Mexican War, Spain controls the western half of North America as well as Central and South America. Maybe there is no Mexican Revolution.

Alaska is still Russian, Seward never buys it for the United States.

Maybe the whole of North America is divided into Dukedoms, and divided among a landed and hereditary gentry. Who can possibly say what would have happened without the example of the America Revolution.

Virtually Unknown said...

What if you had to argue that one of the central events of the 18th Century didn't happen, and yet the changes were minimal, and easily predictable?

D said...

I was wrong to think Britain would have assumed the rest of NA as destiny. Your point about Napoleon not selling the heartland brings up another point re: that is: the impact on 18th century europe. If the american rev didnt happen, would Napoleon have come along in the aftermath of a french rev?

AReasonableMan said...

Balfegor said...
We wouldn't have become Canada


Balfegor has two really excellent thoughtful posts in this thread. A standard we could all aim for.

Virtually Unknown said...

I agree that Balfegor's posts were interesting, but honestly, it's arguing about angels dancing on the head of a pin. Had King George managed to bottle the British settlers inside of the Appalachians, as he seemed to desire, who knows what would have happened in central North America if, for example, the Sioux weren't wiped out in a genocidal war by the United States, but instead were a nation armed with modern, at the time, weapons? The Apache might have held on as well. The Iroquois were also a Siouxan nation, and spoke the same language, or a dialect thereof. They would not have been driven out either. That work was done by the Continental Army, General Sullivan's genocidal campaign.

It does appear that the whole Pacific West was not defensible by the Spanish and might have fallen to the British, whatever their Pope given claim to the region. But the weight of their empire was already taxing Britain, would they have sought more after already gaining control of a third of the globe's land area maybe? Or would they have sought consolidation and peace with the aboriginal peoples?

Virtually Unknown said...

Oh yeah, Marx, Stalin, Lenin, Kaiser Wilhelm, Hitler, Mao, Hirohito... Queen Victoria herself! None of them are born because of the astronomical odds against any individual person being born which requires a perfection of circumstances, which is overwhelmingly unlikely to be re-created if any change is made in the course of the unfolding of reality. It is of negligible probability that any of these people would have been born, even if their parents met.

Static Ping said...

This also leaves open the question of the Oregon Territory. Without the United States shoving settlers in there, the territory remains in dispute among England, Spain, and Russia. Do remember that Russia had a (small) colony in northern California which the Spanish and later Mexicans were very wary expanding into something larger.

Steven said...

What an idiot.

First, before you claim we could have gained autonomy peacefully, you need to know substantially about the period 1763-1773, and how the British refused to conciliate American demands for the very gradualism it later practiced in Canada and Australia. The British were more conciliatory locals demanding reform precisely because they had the example of the American Revolution telling them what would happen otherwise.

For example, before denouncing the principles of the American Revolution as "Enlightenment argle-bargle", one might first remember that the English Civil War and Glorious Revolution -- the very reasons there was a King George III instead of King Charles III on the throne -- were over the exact same issue, taxation without representation. To demand that British North Americans acquiesce on the tax issue was, psychologically, to demand that they surrender their view of themselves as British -- but if British North Americans ceased to see themselves as British, what else could follow but demands for independence from an alien power?

Second, before you claim we could have been Canada, you need to know Canadian history. The Rebellions of 1837 and 1838, for example, which happened even with the US available as a place for Canadians hotheads to move to for representative government. And with the examples of the two Riel Rebellions, it's pretty obvious that Canada had a much harder time dealing with people moving west than the US ever did. Gopnik's view of Canada's history as peaceful compromises is what he was taught in school in Canada -- and is fully as naive as the view of the US he was taught in US schools at the same time period.

Marc Puckett said...

Hear, hear, Steven. I suggested Riel's name long ago but I suspect that most of us here in the US are as uninformed about the realities of Canadian history as Adam Gopnik seems to be.

mockturtle said...

Marc, I confess I am uninformed about Canada. How often does Canada even show up in our news? Having traveled through it more than once, about the only things I know are that all signs are in English and French and the mileage and speed limits are posted in km. Oh, and, at least in BC, you have to insert a 'loony' to use a grocery shopping cart.

I was informed that Canadian Parliament recently passed a law against 'Islamophobia'. Outlawing phobias could get interesting, no? I'd better keep my arachnophobia to myself.

Marc Puckett said...

mockturtle, Am very little informed about Canadian history-- I include myself in that 'us'.

The sad fact is that I know about Louis Riel &c only because the opera Louis Riel by Harry Somers, composed for the Canadian centennial in 1967, has been recently revived, fifty years later, but with a certain amount of defensible or indefensible (depending on one's perspective) revision to include the originally-more-or-less-ignored 'voices' of the indigenous Métis people-- in other words, I've only recently read up on the history of the European Canadians' relationship with the indigenous peoples, and that only via Wikipedia articles &c.

The Canadians seem to be doing their PC best these days to pretend that being PC will solve the problems caused by Islamic militancy &c, don't they? When I was a child, we vacationed in Nova Scotia a couple of summers, as I recall, but I haven't been north of the border in many years.

Gospace said...

"Through the Murmansk Run, the United States supplied the Soviet Union with 15,000 aircraft, 7,000 tanks, 350,000 tons of explosives, and 15,000,000 pairs of boots. American boots made a difference on the Eastern Front, especially during the harsh winters."
From http://www.usmm.org/ww2.html

Without the United States, Russia falls during WWII. We not only supplied ourselves, everywhere, we supplied all the allied forces.

Michael K said...

First, before you claim we could have gained autonomy peacefully, you need to know substantially about the period 1763-1773, and how the British refused to conciliate American demands for the very gradualism it later practiced in Canada and Australia.

Excellent comment. Read about how Ben Franklin was treated in London. He did NOT want to separate from England and the King but he was treated so badly that he gave up and went to France,

It really helps to know some history. This might help.

Despite the tensions, Franklin worked tirelessly toward reconciliation, in the process, attracting criticism from both sides. As Franklin said in a letter from the House in 1768, “being born and bred in one of the countries, and having lived long and made many agreeable connections of friendship in the other, I wish all prosperity to both sides; but I have talked and written so much and so long on the subject, that my acquaintance are weary of hearing, and the public of reading any more of it...as I do not find that I have gained any point in either country except that of rendering myself suspected for my impartiality; in England, of being too much an American, and in America of being too much an Englishman.”

Although times were turbulent in this period, he maintained constant contact with friends, scientific and otherwise. He spent time in his Craven Street laboratory investigating topics as diverse as lead poisoning, the common cold and magnetism. He also took an active part in the everyday affairs of his beloved adopted Craven Street family. However, with his wife's death, his failure to limit escalation of misunderstanding on both sides (though he tried to the last, with the great British statesman William Pitt coming to Craven Street to explore last minute proposals for reconciliation), he could not avert a war of independence. Thus his third and final stay in London came to a close. By the time he stepped ashore in Philadelphia on 5 May 1775, the American Revolution had already begun.


That account minimizes the disdain with which he was treated by the British politicians.

Edward Bo said...

Most people don't realize that the most important thing about France's entry into the Revolution was not their military help in America. Rather, it was their threat to the Caribbean. The British had to withdraw half of their military presence on the continent to protect their Caribbean holdings, particularly Jamaica. These were directly worth more to Britain than all of their continental holdings. Many members of Parliament had personal holdings there, that is, they owned slaveholding plantations there. So the idea that Britain wanted to end slavery in the Americas in the 1770s is absurd.

openidname said...

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor." All just Enlightenment argle-bargle, I guess.