"The easiest way of assessing whether the United States would have been better off without its revolution," says self-described "former historian" Paul Pirie in The Washington Post, "is to look at those English-speaking countries that rejected the American Revolution and retained the monarchy." And if you look at Australia or Pirie's own native Canada, America fails this test, he says, especially on "the ideals the new country set for itself — namely, advancing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Here's an excerpt:
As for the pursuit of happiness, Americans are free to do just that — provided that they aren't rotting in jail. But are they likely to find it? Most Americans work longer hours and have fewer paid vacations and benefits — including health care — than their counterparts in most advanced countries.... This year the United States tied for 14th in "life satisfaction" on an annual quality-of-life study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That puts the United States behind Canada (eighth) and Australia (12th)....
In these senses, the American Revolution was a flop. Perhaps it's time for Americans to accept that their revolution was a failure and renounce it. (For their part, many Russians have.) Alternatively, rather than being wedded to every practice or institution that arose from the revolution, however counterproductive or dysfunctional today, perhaps Americans can rekindle some of the boldness of the nation's Founders to create a "more perfect" and happier union.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- How to make the ultimate grilled cheese
- The liberation of Barack Obama
- Could better U.S.-Cuban relations thwart baseball's human smuggling problem?
- Dick Cheney's America is an ugly place
- The Hobbit: A disappointing set of movies, but a worthy set of prequels
Subscribe to the Week