Seeing the Future

SEEING THE FUTURE….This is apropos of nothing, but I had a funny observation the other day and thought I’d share it.

As I mentioned last month, I started reading Samuel Eliot Morison’s Oxford History of the American People a couple of weeks ago and finished it over the weekend. (Verdict: it’s mostly just regulation history, but not bad. Not that it matters since it’s out of print anyway.) By chance, though, it turned out that the book was written in 1963 and ends with JFK’s assassination, which is a pretty extraordinary coincidence since that was precisely the year in which the world was just about to change in dramatic ways.

But Morison, who’s generally a keen observer and frequently provides personal observations, had no clue that anything was about to happen. He writes a bit about the “Negro Revolution” that was then taking place, but mostly to mention that efforts to advance the cause of civil rights were being stymied as usual by Southern committee chairs in the Senate. There’s not so much of a peep about either the sexual revolution or the feminist revolution that was about to take place, next to nothing about Vietnam, nothing about the growth of youth culture, nothing about drugs, nothing about the environment, and nothing about Medicare or the expansion of the New Deal. As far as he could tell writing in 1963, there was absolutely nothing unusual brewing on the horizon.

I don’t have any special reason for bringing this up except that it was a nicely concrete example of how hard it is to see a liberal revolution coming, even if you’re sitting right on the cusp of it. Who knows? Maybe the next one will start tomorrow.

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