If this analysis is right, what causes these cycles of reform and backlash in American politics? I believe they are linked indirectly to stages of technological and economic development. Lincoln’s Second American Republic marked a transition from an agrarian economy to one based on the technologies of the first industrial revolution – coal-fired steam engines and railroads. Roosevelt’s Third American Republic was built with the tools of the second industrial revolution – electricity and internal combustion engines. It remains to be seen what energy sources – nuclear? Solar? Clean coal? – and what technologies – nanotechnology? Photonics? Biotech– will be the basis of the next American economy. (Note: I’m talking about the material, real-world manufacturing and utility economy, not the illusory “information economy” beloved of globalization enthusiasts in the 1990s, who pretended that deindustrialization by outsourcing was a higher state of industrialism.)

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