The Atlantic: April 5, 2020, The Revolution Is Under Way Already
Fear sweeps the land. Many businesses collapse. Some huge fortunes are made. Panicked consumers stockpile paper, food and weapons. The government’s reaction is inconsistent and ineffectual. Ordinary commerce grinds to a halt; investors can find no safe assets. Political factionalism grows more intense. Everything falls apart.
This was all as true of revolutionary France in 1789 and 1790 as it is of the United States today. Are we at the beginning of a revolution that has yet to be named? Do we want to be? That we are on the verge of a major transformation seems obvious. The onset of the next Depression, a challenge akin to World War II, a national midlife crisis—these comparisons have been offered and many more.
As some Americans take shelter in their homes from a newly arrived threat and others put their health at risk to combat it, we can all mourn lost certainties, but we can also set about intentionally creating new possibilities. To claim this moment as a revolution is to claim it for human action.