While reading Vico's New Science, it is pretty clear that the problem of how to run a society has been with us a long time. We may think we are more sophisticated than past generations, but we just have fancy gadgets and many more atheists. Vico analyzed the ancients and discussed monarchy, democracy, aristocracy and how these forms can come about, thrive and fail. A particular type of commonwealth he cites is the Herculean commonwealth that was aristocratic, but an aristocratic democratic civil government in that it was a group of armed men who had fought for their area. An assembly of armed men that had restored or created order who would set the laws for society to function. The armed men have a say in the way society is run. Looking at US history, this applies to America as well if we consider the generational theory of crisis and cycles.
Vico states that the commonwealth takes shape after an armed conflict. Generation theory is (paraphrased) that turnings are crisis moments that end with a conflict, which are followed by high times in the new order. The armed men of the conflict have a say in the new order they have created. America always emerges different than what they were before, not just politically but economically. Each war is followed by an odd period of confusion and muddling, then the warrior figure, having performed feats to win victory for the new power, rises up to take the reins. The victors of the conflict return home to take brides, raise the new generation and build society per their group' ideas.
The Revolutionary War was followed by Gen. Washington performing the duties of chief magistrate as a two term president. The economic power base was farming with merchants in ports secondary, which is expressed through the dominance of Virginia large estate holders + thinkers serving as president. Most of the policy moves were expanding the land mass of the USA for farming interests and protecting the sea lanes for US merchants. Transition: period between end of revolutionary war and the constitution's ratification. Washington had carried the Revolution at times, and his presence gave the new republic legitimacy. Because the experiment was new, many of his actions created the customs and habits that later presidents followed. He also twice relinquished power peacefully. Personally, I waffle on who was the greatest president of all time, but as I age, I appreciate what Washington had to do, and how he did it, more and more. He is different from Grant and Eisenhower by being the leading figure during the crisis (Revolution) as well as warrior leader afterwards. Grant and Ike followed crisis leaders who died in office (Lincoln + FDR).
The Civil War was followed by Gen. Grant performing the duties of chief magistrate as a two term president. The economic power base was the Ohio-NY axis of industry + agriculture with the presidency filled by Ohio and NY politicians (mostly GOP). Our policies were geared towards manufacturing expansion, infrastructure for trading and mercantilism. Transition: the awful presidency of Andrew Johnson and the troubles of reconstruction in the direct aftermath of the Civil War, which Grant followed. The nation rewarded the victorious general, as well as the men who fought on the Union side. Grant's memoirs are impressive, not just for what they reveal of the Civil War, but how the actions of the Mexican-American war played a major part in the nation's troubles. Grant's reform of the civil service, as well as his change to how the South was handled set the table for the following decades.
The Great Depression and WW2 were followed by Gen. Eisenhower performing the duties of chief magistrate as a two term president. Economic power base was oil + product/chemical manufacturing dependent on petrochemical inputs, with presidents hailing from Texas or California (largest domestic oil producers) to control the American Empire (also focused on oil production + transport). Transition: Truman's second term was clouded by the problems of Soviet espionage, the birth of the Cold War, and another new type of war, the police action or defense of Empire conflict, the Korean War. Eisenhower was the victorious general from WW2 that the nation turned to for a steady hand. One difference, and it is a major one, is that a parallel type power was set and rose during the crisis due to the centralization of the state's power: the cathedral. Prior to the Great Depression, the federal government was far weaker than afterwards, and this mucks up the heroic commonwealth principles. As a federal bureaucracy grew, a separate track outside of the economy + military grew for control. Eisenhower set the table for a decade of Empire machinations in the 3rd world as well as positioning America in position for conflict with the USSR. He may have warned against the military industrial complex, but he definitely inserted American forces and intelligence assets into as many places as possible.
We stand in the midst of the new crisis. All turnings in American history are a mix of military and economic problems. We are no different. I would add that Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and, to a certain extent, Mitt Romney represent the technocratic, cathedral force, rising up against the capitalist oligarch order. I foresee either an India/Brazil styled multicultural democracy or a break up. While my head feels that a multicultural hell hole is where the USA is going, my heart is hoping for a break up with self determination for different states and peoples. Only with true competition between political states speaking the same language will we get government that has to serve its citizens. If there is a break up and violence is a part of it, we will most likely see figures for respective regions that follow a similar path to Washington, Grant and Eisenhower. Since a break up would create entirely new regions (and possibly involve a Mexican region with a leader), the path and figure(s) may resemble Washington more than Grant or Eisenhower.
“Michael, Rossi. “Turnings, New Orders + Heroic Commonwealths.” 02/05/13. <http://28sherman.blogspot.com/2013/02/turnings-new-order-heroic-commonwealths.html>