THAT NEVER WAS
“Only when Lee handed Grant his sword was the Confederacy born.” 1
—Robert Penn Warren
Revolutions are never easy. The people who inhabit the new regime are the same as those who dominated the old detested order. They cannot be expected to change quickly. The judges who interpret the new law are basically the same as those who interpreted the old law. Even if the law changes, even if there is a nominally new constitution, the process of reading the new document will gravitate toward the old. The regime changes, but the people are, after all, the same.
The ancient Israelites would spend forty years wandering in the desert before the passing of time would generate a new people, unaffected by the mentality of the “fleshpots of Egypt.” Modern political conditions rarely offer this luxury. The Soviets dreamed of creating a “new man” who would regard the communist system as the natural backdrop for cooperation. History never gave them the chance. But Germans could engineer a radical transformation after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of the country. The West Germans absorbed the former German Democratic Republic and then restaffed the courts and the law faculties with new personnel, drawn overwhelmingly from Western ranks.
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Publication information: Book title: Our Secret Constitution: How Lincoln Redefined American Democracy. Contributors: George P. Fletcher - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2001. Page number: 113.
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