Think of this as Volume 18, Number 16 of the newsletter I have written weekly since March, 1997. Enjoy.
The Civil War was about tariffs and states' rights, according to the South. It was about slavery, according to the North. But it was really about mechanization, about machine power replacing human power. Manufacturing won the war, and provided America's new economic model.
The same was true during the Progressive Era a generation later. It seemed to be about human dignity and the power of corporations. It was really about national markets and the inputs needed for mass manfacturing.
Again, the New Deal. Economic collapse? Not really. It was about economic systems, the false choices of fascism and communism on one hand, democracy and capitalism on the other.
The same was true with Vietnam. It seemed to be about the Cold War, when it was really about a switch from manufacturing to technology, from hands to minds, as the center of economic life.
Which brings us to the present day.