American Unity Based on Fear

I found the excerpt we read from Gordon Wood’s essay Radical Possibilites on the American Revolution very interesting.  He reasons that America’s rebellion and unity was less of a brave cry against taxes and tyranny, but instead stemmed from fear.  America was one of the many few countries where labor and hard work could lead to success.  In other countries if you were born into poverty, labor was unavoidable and wouldn’t change your social status, therefore the American idea that hard work leads to prosperity was radical.  Because of the opportunities that America supplied, the colonists revolted against the British based on their fear that American could backslide and then no longer be so different from every other country.  This fear is what led to heavy patriotism and rebellions.  This essays also made me think of a typical debate during this year’s election.  Some argue that higher taxes on the wealthy promotes equality among everyone and more possibilities for those in the lower classes, but could this destroy the American ideal that hard work leads to prosperity and success.  If higher percents of money earned must be given away by taxes this could destroy the American ideal that hard work leads to individuals success because what is the point of working hard if about 55% of one’s paycheck goes to the Federal and State government.  What are your thoughts?

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4 Responses to American Unity Based on Fear

  1. dcrichlow2015 says:

    I believe the idea of unity based upon fear is an interesting idea. In fact, I agree with that the colonists rebellion was triggered by fear. In my opinion, I believe the rebellion was caused by the combination of fear and bravery. The people were probably frightened by the overwhelming taxes, and were concerned that they were not going to be able to afford life in America. This idea probably scared bravery into them, I believe that they might have been so scare, but so in love with life in America, that rebellion was the only course of action that the people deemed appropriate. Thus, the fear lead to bravery which then lead to a revolution.

  2. AlexP says:

    Lauren I think you raise a good point. I was especially intrigued by the point you made towards the end. This is a debate/problem that has been going on for a long time. What really is the point of working very hard just to get a high percentage of it taken away? Is there any motivation in this system? It reminds me (a little bit) of communism when you think about the fact that the harder you work, the more money gets taken away from you. The whole point of this increased tax is to help with unemployment. Therefore a rich person might think that he/she is more capable of helping with unemployment than the government by spending the money on his/her own business to help promote more jobs. However, their reputations are that they spend money endlessly only for their leisurely lives. Many of the rich are thus misrepresented because a lot of them actually do want to help the economy and unemployment. I believe that in an ideal economy, everyone should be taxed at the same rate no matter how much they make. In reality, the rich still have to pay more, it’s just that they won’t be taxed at a higher percentage than everyone else. With more money at the top, there can be more employment and also smarter investments because they evidently, got to that status for a reason. In other words, I think that the money is in better hands with the rich than with the government.

  3. Joe says:

    I tend to agree with your points Alex. America was built on the premise of liberty and equality, and when times get tough, the logical solution is not to increase taxes the wealthy. The affluent only got to where they are today by hard work and determination. It takes great individuals to build great institutions, and the wealthy Americans possessed the inner drive to innovate business and give America its strong reputation as a global powerhouse of industry and ingenuity. A country will never find as hardworking individuals in a society that values government handouts over hard work. By allocating the wealthy Americans’ money to serve the poor, America is operating on the premise that it is okay to slack off, because there will always be someone to pay your way through life. Furthermore, the wealthy help the economy by investing in companies and purchasing new goods and services. While it is beneficent to a country to have a strong middle class, the fundamental American value of seeing individual success as a culmination of hard work is undermined by higher taxes for the wealthy. Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution requires that, “Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.” Colonists clearly did not want to see their country fall back into an age where hard work means more taxes and less work means less taxes. However, I feel that it is important for the poor to have the same chance of success as our founding fathers did. For this reason, it is important to use some tax revenue to fund inner city programs and small benefits to help the poor and give them a better education than they would otherwise have in order to help them rise the socioeconomic ladder. Although, it is unnecessary to raise taxes only for the wealthy for this effort, as then the wealthy are taken advantage of by the government.

  4. Ross Musicant says:

    The idea of the Americans uniting based on fear is a very interesting idea. I don’t know if that’s the only reason they wanted to revolt, but it definitely could’ve played a part in it because Americans had a very unique style of governing compared to the other nations at that time like Lauren said. Also, about how taxes are being used to even the social classes, I believe that is unfair to take away the money of the more successful people. Most of them earned it themselves and worked hard to get there. It is unfair to just punish them for their hard work which is what taxing them much more would basically do.

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