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A public service message from the American Income Life Insurance Co. Waco, Texas Bernard Rapoport, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. Moving Toward Ungovernability By Ralph Lynn The current weakness of most of the governments in the industrialized nations seems to indicate incipient ungovernability. This perhaps unique situation may be traceable in some part to the American and French Revolutions of the late 18th century, World War I, the Great Depression andparticularly in the United StatesRonald Reagan. Such a sweeping generalization may be far wide of the mark. But history casts a long shadow, historians rarely agree even on what happened when, and many would agree that things may just happen to happen. What line of reasoning lends some support to the argument? The American and French Revolutions put into circulation four ideas which have unsettled subsequent history. First, both questioned the legitimacy of ancient, established governmental arrangements. Moreover, they got away with it. In France, one revolutionary worthy taunted the European establishment by observing that when neighbor nations sought to crush the revolution, the revolutionists “threw them the head of a king.” Second, both revolutions questioned the legitimacy of the religious as well as the governmental establishment. The French attack on the established religion was more radical than the mere separation of church from state in the United States, but the Founding Fathers clearly gave religion a small place in their hierarchy of values. Third, the propaganda of both revolutions emphasized the rights of man without specifying what rights for which citizens. Therefore, the heritage of both revolutions is an open-ended promise of better things for all and neither revolution will be over until a closer approximation of justice prevails. Fourth, both revolutions exalted national patriotism as a new religion. This heresy, wedded to a distortion of 19th century biology, led to the Holocaust and the current “ethnic cleansing” in the former Yugoslavia. These developments divided the electorates and transfixed the governments of the industrialized nations. World War I is significant in this view of history chiefly because the traditional ruling classes not only allowed the war to occur but also allowed it to go on in convulsively murderous fashion with the result that the masses lost confidence in the wisdom of their governments and in the fairness of their societies. Arthur Koestler reported that the young people of Europe had little respect for either the governmental or religious establishments of their fathers who, after the war, seemed like “tired winter flies crawling about on a dirty window pane.” The Great Depression was more of a worldwide disaster than either the two great revolutions or World War I. \(Oddly enough, the Russian Revolution of 1917, by its radical nature, posed such a threat to the industrialized nations that it sion and mass unemployment lifted only with the huge economic and employment demands of World War II. The suffering entailed by the long depression years further eroded any confidence people had entertained for the forces which had ruled the industrialized nations for a hundred or more years. Entirely aside from the staggering national debt for which Ronald Reagan was largely responsible because the “Great Communicator” was willing to borrow and spend without commensurate reduction of expenditures, Reagan made a more significant contribution to our incipient ungovernability. He succeeded in convincing the American people that the government was not only the problem but the enemy. At the height of the Cold War, the Communists could not achieve such a victory. Agreed: The troubles now besetting the industrialized nations can be attributed to developments more recent than those emphasized here. But history is continuous. We cannot escape its long shadow by being ignorant of it. Ralph Lynn is Professor Emeritus of History at Baylor University. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13