Monday 28 December 2020

When Conservatives Are The Only True Radicals.

Restoration, Not Revolution: Throughout history, the popular call for change has been motivated overwhelmingly by a fervent desire to restore the status-quo ante: to make things the way they were before they went wrong. Only very seldom are masses of human-beings moved to demand a shift towards an entirely new and unfamiliar order of things. 


DR BRYCE EDWARDS, of Victoria University, has proclaimed New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, a “conservative”. Writing in The Guardian, Edwards declares: “Ardern’s instincts have been to protect and conserve. She has trodden cautiously throughout the pandemic, providing reassurance and the promise of normality to those in fear of the worst.”

The key concepts in Edwards’ first sentence are, of course, “protect” and “conserve”. He bolsters these, in the next, with “caution”, “reassurance” and “normality”. Though he does not say so explicitly, Edwards clearly regards these concepts as irreconcilable with any genuinely radical purpose.

Radicalism and left-wing politics are generally held to be inseparable: to describe someone as a left-winger presupposes their possession of a radical disposition – and programme. It is not, however, permissible to argue that the reverse is true: one can be a radical and yet have not the slightest respect for left-wing ideas. Indeed, these days there are arguably many more radicals on the Right, than on the Left.

That being the case, Edwards’ generally negative framing of Ardern’s “conservatism” is more than a little problematic. To be a radical, or, to use Edwards’ own words, “a pioneering progressive or socialist” is not always to be, more-or-less by definition, on the side of the angels. (Or, for that matter, the Proletariat!)

In honour of the season, let us take as our example the “radical” measures adopted by the puritan supporters of the “Commonwealth” – the republican political arrangement held in place by Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army (think: the Taliban in breastplates!) between 1649 and 1660.

By the puritans’ radical reading of Christianity, festivals such as Christmas were altogether too close to pagan revelry for the comfort of God-fearing men and women. Even before the execution of King Charles I in 1649, the radical protestants who dominated the House of Commons had thought it best to encourage his subjects to treat the mid-winter period “with the more solemn humiliation because it may call to remembrance our sins, and the sins of our forefathers, who have turned this feast, pretending the memory of Christ, into an extreme forgetfulness of him, by giving liberty to carnal and sensual delights’.”

Legislation confirming this puritanical rejection of the sinfully joyous yuletide season soon followed. The feasts of Christmas, Easter and Whitsun were simply removed from the Christian calendar. From 1644 until the Restoration in 1660, celebrating Christmas was illegal. As C.S. Lewis, that devout Christian, keen royalist, Oxford scholar and children’s author puts it in The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe: “Always winter and never Christmas; think of that!”

Leaving Narnia behind, and returning to this considerably less enchanting world, we might further consider the actions of other radical puritans – like those belonging to the now thankfully defunct Islamic State. Or, the radical “Tea Party” Republicans, who saw moderation as treason and prepared the way for the radically disruptive Donald J. Trump. Thirty years on, a great many New Zealanders still resent deeply the radical reforms of Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson. Even more Kiwis, in 2020, are profoundly grateful that their Prime Minister did not adopt the radically unsuccessful Swedish approach to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

Perhaps the strangest observation in Edwards’ Guardian article argues that Ardern’s “self-declared ‘politics of kindness’ isn’t particularly revolutionary, nor very tangible”. In a world where the very idea of kindness has been out of fashion for so long, the Prime Minister’s use of the word generated a public response that was as physical in its consequences as it was revolutionary in its intent. It was kindness that bound together “The Team of Five Million”, and it was their unforced solidarity and unity of purpose that made New Zealand the envy of the world. Tell all those young New Zealanders dancing at this summer’s music festivals; tell all the grandparents who hugged their grandchildren on Christmas Day; that the “politics of kindness” has produced no tangible effect!

Edwards also notes that: “The political left is […] increasingly bristling at the conservatism of Ardern.” To many New Zealanders, however, that will not be interpreted as a bad thing – quite the reverse, in fact. When they think of the political left, the images called to mind are not of Cabinet ministers carrying furniture into the first state house. No, their thoughts are all about the excoriating tweets, outlandish claims and bitter recriminations of “Cancel Culture”; and the equally distressing diatribes against “colonisation”, “hate speech” and “white privilege”. If the Prime Minister has made it her mission to “protect” people like themselves – ordinary Kiwis – from such excesses, and to “conserve” a measure of decency in their country’s political discourse, then they won’t be “bristling” – they’ll be cheering.

Just like the hundreds-of-thousands of Englishmen and women who lined country roads and filled city streets from Dover to London to welcome home Charles Stuart – King Charles II – in the very merry month of May 1660.

The dour regime of the Commonwealth; of Cromwell’s “Protectorate”; may have been radical (certainly they were the only successful republicans in 1,500 years of English history) but they were also dictatorial and joyless. For centuries after the rule of the New Model Army’s “Major-Generals”, Englishmen resisted the idea of a large standing army as a threat to their “ancient liberties”. The restoration of the monarchy (and Christmas!) was indisputably the wish and will of the overwhelming majority of the English people. If they had been given a vote on it in 1660, Charles would have won by a landslide.

If its “conservative” to give the people what they want, then Jacinda Ardern is a conservative. If protecting them from Covid-19 and political extremism is “conservative” then she stands guilty-as-charged. If offering people caution, reassurance, and a semblance of normality as the rest of the world plunges deeper into chaos, makes our Prime Minister a “conservative”, then that’s a badge-of-honour she can wear with pride.

Dr Edwards favours radical change, but he does not appear to be aware of what motivates people to seek change. Throughout history, the popular call for change has been motivated overwhelmingly by a fervent desire to restore the status-quo ante: to make things the way they were before they went wrong. Only very seldom are masses of human-beings moved to demand a shift towards an entirely new and unfamiliar order of things. Certainly, history is studded with minorities who were absolutely certain about the proper ordering of paradise. Most people, however, hanker after the good times they remember – and not for H.G. Wells’ “Things To Come”. Radicals would do well to remember that the winning slogan in the 2016 Brexit Referendum was “Take Back Control”. It was the back wot won it!

Which leaves me wondering whether, in these peculiar times, the only true radicals are conservatives. If the only way to ensure that the voters’ lives remain the same, is for everything to be changed, then I strongly suspect that Jacinda Ardern is the ideal politician for the job.

This essay was originally posted on the website on Monday, 28 December 2020.


Tom Hunter said...

I have to chuckle at one word that does not appear in this essay but which is the perfect description of people determined to return to a failed status quo:


That word has been cast about by the Left for decades now in order to denigrate their Right wing opposition.

But it is the perfect description for Left wingers who have spent the last forty years bemoaning the radicals of Roger Douglas and desiring a return to an Old Zealand that was largely swept away by the Fourth Labour Government.

And with the apparent desire of Adern, like Helen Clark before her, to "conserve" the Douglas reforms, it would seem that the reactionaries have lost, as they usually do.

But I think the real worry you have is that, as you say, the "radicals" are now mainly on the Right, and you are quite correct that they do not see a successful status quo at all but a slowly failing system that must be changed - radically.

The good news for you is that radicals almost always fail - in the short term.

The bad news for you is that radicals don't have to win so much as wait for the system's failures to become self-evident, as they surely will while the NZ economy continues down the path of low productivity, as described by economist Michael Reddell at Croaking Cassandra, falling farther behind other nations who will eventually outbid us not just for our young, educated engineers but for our doctors, nurses and teachers.

Barry said...

Your use of the word 'Back' is very meaningful.
I often wonder how much better we would be if we had put the money into rail instead of road upgrades for trucks. And what about our own coastal shipping instead of using fewer and fewer foreign boats. And there are many more examples of how previous habbits were better for us.
These things - such as better transports systems are strategic matters for an island countries. Other countires do this to their advantage. Japan basically refuse rice imports - why? - they regard food production as a strategic item and will not ever again rely on imported food (following starvation after WW2). Europe have 'intervention' stocks of meat and butter and I think some other foods. They have 6 months in storage - for the same reason as Japan. And Airbus - even though it appears commercially successful - is strategic. The UK and France decided that they couldnt rely on the USA for technical help for ever as the US started doing things that seemed against European interests.
NZ on the other hand has prostitued itself to what ever was the current good idea from some international or local intetest group. An example is the trucking industry. We let a trucking company -TOLL - run railways. Of course it was in their intetest to completely ruin it so that they could put more trucks on the road.
That word BACK has a certain amount of attraction.

John Hurley said...

Bryce Edwards thinks he is a part of a new type of enlightened society, however it is not stable

Paul Spoonley wants to censor it or we won't be able to reach consensus (correct thought/ gated Institutional narrative)

DS said...

Dr Edwards favours radical change, but he does not appear to be aware of what motivates people to seek change. Throughout history, the popular call for change has been motivated overwhelmingly by a fervent desire to restore the status-quo ante: to make things the way they were before they went wrong.

1945 Britain? 1890 and 1935 New Zealand? 1828, 1860 and 1932 USA? 1789 France? 1917 (February) Russia? 1959 Cuba? Hell, the anti-communist Revolutions of 1989 weren't motivated by nostalgia for the Nazi or interwar era, let alone the return of Austria-Hungary, the Kaiser, or the Tsar.

Chris Trotter said...

To: DS

Well, DS, that's quite a list. Let's take a look at some of the examples you've cited as evidence of revolutionary aspirations on the part of the masses.

1932 USA, 1935 NZ, 1945 Britain: all of these were victories for reformist political parties operating within the Capitalist system and through established representative institutions. Revolutionary? Not really.

Russia in February 1917 offers confirmation of my analysis, I believe, not yours. The people on the streets were calling for bread - above all else. Their next demand was for the restoration of peace - an end to the war. That their efforts forced the abdication of Nicholas II was proof of just how fragile the Tsarist regime had become. It was a welcome by-product of the demonstrations and strikes, not their primary goal.

As for the French Revolution: it unfolded in stages. Reformist in its original intentions, it became increasingly uncompromising - and bloodthirsty - as evidence of intended foreign intervention (demanded by the French aristocracy) mounted. Stimulus and response: it's the pattern of most great historical upheavals.

Cuba, 1959? Uprisings against the Spanish colonial authorities and then, after 1898, against the military dictators installed by the USA, were a common feature of modern Cuban history. What transformed the familiar popular uprising of 1959 into something more permanent and significant was the United States' refusal to accommodate the reforms proposed by Castro and his rebels. It was American intransigence that drove the new government into the arms of the USSR - transforming what had been a government of radical social-democrats into fully-fledged socialists.

As for the so-called "Velvet Revolutions" of 1989. I would recommend you read "Death of the Dark Hero" by David Selbourne. He spells out very clearly the overwhelming desire of the peoples of Eastern Europe to see the regimes of "actually existing socialism" swept away, and for the full-blown restoration of both capitalism and liberal democracy.

The Defence rests.

John Hurley said...

What happened to Winston First. In a question about high rents the candidate is quite sensible but is saying supply supply supply and we have to do away with the quarter acre section. The national candidate refers to rents under Labour, he could have mentioned that high immigration also pushed up house prices. Is that outside the Overton Window (along with NZ First)?
Anyone who read about property investment in the 90's was told unequivocally that migration would put up house prices. Demographia came on the scene pushing supply side economics and sprawl vs density debate, however given geographic rigidities (Auckland) and a public who didn't by the immigration/diversity deal why shouldn't NZF point a finger at immigration.

John Hurley said...

New Zealanders don't realise how censored they are. Censored by media gate keepers Paul Spoonley "has 2 or 3 interviews every week and has a regular slot with Kathryn Ryan

DS said...

With respect Chris, you seem to be conflating "radical" with "revolution". The two are not the same. I was talking about situations where the masses clearly wanted something New. As opposed to a return to an older/idealised system, which is what your article argued. One can want Change, without necessarily being a Lenin or a Cromwell.

Or to put it another way, it is quite possible to see Jacinda Ardern's Government as the least consequential New Zealand Government (outside crisis management) since the second term of Joseph Ward, without actually being a Woke-ist or a Neo-Bolshevik.

The Barron said...

In 2000, Jim Anderton changed the Ministry of Commerce to the Ministry of Economic Development. From the earliest colonial days until 1984, the idea that the people's elected representatives had a role in shaping the New Zealand economy was never questioned. In 2000, it had to be justified. Since then, Governments of both ilk have again accepted the Ministry. 1984 to 2000 was an aberration. The success of the new right was to naturalise radical departure from the norm.
After the 2020 election, a Southland Federated Farmers spokesperson bemoaned the returned Government, seemingly oblivious to the voting patterns of the members willing to reward the bovis and covid elimination policies. Back in 1984, the same '├žonservative' lobby group welcome the withdraw of Government support from the rural sector. The local Post Office, hospital and school closed. Generational farmers that would leave the land in better condition for the next generation sold to those only motivated by the profit margin. The land and rivers suffered. Radical change to the communities the so called conservatives claimed to represent and preserve.
Margaret Thatcher is widely thought to have a political strategy. One third of the population are privileged and will vote Conservative. One third are disposable poor who rarely turn out to vote in great numbers. The final third can be seen as the aspirational, those that want privilege but will never achieve it. The trick is to get them to blame others (minorities, immigrants, International agencies etc.) for the goals being unreachable. In this model, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, an social chaos maintains the social order. Large "C" conservatism relies on radical change in the illusion of the status quo.
It may be too early to rate Labour's second term in NZ. The Covid business bail outs showed proactive Government, but set no environmental or labour conditions. Taxation muddled the top rate, but no great changes. UBI and FTT don't appear in the Governor General's Parliamentary opening. No extension of the Woodhouse principles for ACC to cover illness, only soft promises of abatement to those that can work. Bread and circuses offered for holiday and sick leave, but do not mention the return of the right to secondary strike action.
The fifth led Labour Government retreated to incrementalism after the Alliance initiatives (Kiwi Bank, PPL etc.) had been claimed. This Government has been crisis managers. There still lacks a significant definable initiative to make lasting change.
Dr Edwards and Mr Totter are both correct in the views on conservatism. This Government is popular but not populist. The onus is on this Government to look to the mandate and follow the values that preceded and succeeded the aberration of 1984 -2000.

Nick J said...

Barry, you are so right about sense versus reality in transport. Unfortunately economic sense is not aligned with the physical, the balance sheet bottom line driving for ever more "efficiency " is what counts.

The physical will however ultimately decide. Deisel is set to face a crisis in supply well before petrol as fossil fuel reserves diminish. Global supply lines will attenuate and drive local production of formerly cheaper imports.

This is however medium to longer term. That requires strategic thinking, something that is in short supply. One alarm bell for us as an island nation is our current inability to freely get on a jet and leave. Imagine a collapse in airlines. Would we demand that we own a national passenger ship service?

greywarbler said...

I think this from Gordon Campbell, Werewolf at Scoop spells out the broad general thinking of those attempting wisdom at our political front share.

That’s the political challenge. Voters gave Labour a mandate to deliver radical left wing responses to social needs, and on the environment. Labour were given the powers to execute that radical agenda. So far though, the Labour leadership looks petrified by the prospect of venturing much beyond business as usual. Previously, it could blame Winston Peters. Now, it talks of the “need” to retain the National voters who crossed over to Labour in October. On both counts, these look more like convenient excuses.

So far, Labour been very, very reluctant to deviate from the “Third Way” approach that centre-left parties (in the UK and US) adopted during the mid to late 1990s. That approach consists of economic conservatism, and only the level of social liberalism that those economic settings will permit.

I bolded the 'petrified' - I think it a perfect word for Labour watchers to ponder on in the coming six months, considering its varied meanings.

Chris may have said the very same things in different words, but this para was present and perfect, so am adding it to the discourse.

Boris said...

This is an interesting comparison of two apparently different eras. The narrowly “pure” attitudes of the militaristic 17th century Puritans has a lot in common with purist woke keyboard warriors, who would do well to ponder the Puritans’ ultimate fate. However, the desire to return to aspects of the past is not completely reactionary, but a more corrective response to the errors of neoliberal zealotry. It is inarguably that the Douglas revolution threw much of the baby out with the bath water, and it is hardly reactionary to desire a return to the post-war social consensus where there was less inequality and a greater sense of communitarianism. We would all be better off if there was less insistence on “individual rights” and more awareness of the concept of civic responsibility.

Charles E said...

Perfect. An excellent and very significant insight Chris.
One which I wish I’d written on your pages some time ago. I formed the same idea a while back when I asked myself why I’ve calmed down about Ardern.
Previously I thought she was a disaster, as I thought she had no substance so would just go with the pushy mob on the radical left and the horrendous woke puritans would flood us… and we’d drown in their SJW intolerant ideology.
Then I thought she’d bow to the animists who want to close down our land-based economy.
Then I feared she’d open our borders to vast numbers of incompatible economic ‘refugees’ ..
But no, I’ve come to realise she is ‘just’ a sensible, cautious and conservative kiwi above all. I didn’t vote for her and I still dislike even listening to her, let alone looking at that excessively smiley face, but I am, as a Tory, grateful Labour came up with her. Well done.
And your argument that what people want in crisis is a return to ‘normality’, to the best of the past, is correct. Only a destructive few want radical change and yes they come from both ends of the political spectrum. Both are on the march. They are always the few, and we, the conservative majority of all colours must stand up to those resentful destructive nihilists. The majority always above all seek the stability and continuity of their family, friends, community, province & country. Their layers of culture remaining intact, although accepting of constant manageable change …. Arhern like all good leaders knows that is an eternal truth, hence she has a large majority, including most of my Tory friends, as supporters. May her good sense last.

greywarbler said...

Boris - That approach sounds fair and right.

Charles E - You trace the moods of many of us, stepping cautiously finding our path in the dark. Yet your comment that the radicals are the few, and the conservative majority of all colours are the defenders of good; that isn't correct. The term conservative is being used too widely here; those agitating for change come in 'all colours', some OTT, and some who fight against being lumped with those who ride fearlessly up to fight wholeheartedly with windmills. I do believe that great things are introduced by the few; just not this part of the few. Your summary is faulty; it doesn't fit with what I observe.

Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have. Margaret Mead
Author Profession: Scientist
Nationality: American
Born: December 16, 1901
Died: November 15, 1978

I looked up George Bernard Shaw and found quotes to Africa! So I offer them for some quiet amusement as we approach the very serious 2021.

3. “[The] power of accurate observation…is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.”

6. “We learn from experience that men never learn anything from experience.”

7. “Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.”

8. “He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.”

13. “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

15. “A fashion is nothing but an induced epidemic.”

27. “Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history.”

31. “If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.”

34. “When a man of normal habits is ill, everyone hastens to assure him that he is going to recover. When a vegetarian is ill (which fortunately very seldom happens), everyone assures him that he is going to die, and that they told him so, and that it serves him right. They implore him to take at least a little gravy, so as to give himself a chance of lasting out the night.” – George Bernard Shaw

Kat said...

@ Charles E

Well, you now give our wonderful local and internationally acclaimed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern your tacit acceptance. Gosh, all those belligerent posts, written from the cellar disparaging Tory put downs on somebody you really didn't know or even took the time to know before hitting the keyboard were somehow justified because now you have "come to realise she is ‘just’ a sensible, cautious and conservative kiwi above all....."

I am sure Jacinda will forgive you.

However, as the song goes, you ain't seen nothing yet, so you had better get prepared to study and know the PM a lot more before you start wailing to a different tune and end up making a fool of yourself and flailing your keyboard once again.

Jens Meder said...

Is not the basic, healthy normality in everybody's natural responsibility and priority of caring for one's own health and welfare, so as to be able to be a more effective helper when and where there is a need for it ?

If that is true, then is not the most promising future of our mixed capitalist Social Democracy in striving towards at least a minimally meaningful level (or more) of individual wealth ownership by all citizens eventually, and is it not time to examine all the pros and cons of this innovation possibility now ?

While none of our contributors here has bothered to comment with an open mind for or against on this so far, a substantiated analysis by Chris of this "pie in the sky(?)" and the possible discussion provoked by it might raise interest in it by some political parties.

Cheers - Jens.

Geoff Fischer said...

Social and economic change happens, and is happening now, and it will continue to happen regardless of whether people in power or the voting public have an explicit plan or desire for radical political change.
The real question is whether these are times like the nineteen fifties and sixties, in which Keith Holyoake could credibly maintain a conservative "steady as she goes" course. But even in those most stable of times, forces were at work to upset the social equilibrium. If Holyoake had not left politics when he did, he would have seen the political and economic order he come crashing around him.
If you believe that the current situation is fundamentally stable for the long term then Jacinda's politics make sense. If not, she and all her supporters are living in a fool's paradise.
I don't know whether fundamental change will prove necessary and unavoidable, but I am damn sure that if I was in her shoes I would be doing things very differently.

greywarbler said...

Perhaps Jens you would be behind UBI. The main problem people see with UBI is that we have to trust that the level set offers a standard of living that enables the willing to achieve better. But also that once some improvement is made, and the person climbs on the ladder to advancement, that uncaring authority does not pull the bottom rungs away. If the upper ones fail then there is nothing below to prevent a fall leading to injury of some kind, and greater poverty.

You talk as if there is a direct line to follow for improvement. There are so many 'ifs' in the pattern for the method you propound. And just behind the 'ifs' there is a list of the fallen and over that, two words 'If Only'.

I think the system operating now sets the general community up to fail; just manipulates us for long-term advantages to others who don't mingle with the hoi polloi. They are on a different planet in their minds.

Geoff Fischer said...

Kia ora ano Chris
You have, perhaps unwittingly, put your finger on one of the fundamental flaws of the colonialist political system in its current manifestation.
That is that what Jacinda herself (and with her every other new model politician) thinks or believes is no longer considered to be significant. What matters is what others think, believe or desire, or rather what Jacinda thinks that others think, believe or desire.
Consequently, no one really knows what Jacinda stands for. No one knows for what if any cause she would die in a ditch. With Helen Clark we all knew that whatever pragmatic accommodations she might make on matters of social justice, she would not budge on the right of women to operate at the highest levels of state and international governance.
But with Jacinda we do not even have that certainty.
Jacinda's "pragmatic idealism" is fraught with practical as well as moral and political difficulties. Despite the intensive use of opinion polls and focus groups, it is actually quite difficult to know what other people, or "the people" as a whole, are really thinking. So much depends on the questions that are put to them, when the questions are put, and to whom in particular.
And even when it is done well, government by opinion poll quickly comes to be seen for what it is, amoral opportunism that inspires cynicism rather than admiration, loyalty and the kind of enduring support that the modern model of the politician still hankers after.
Then, even if one can remain in office indefinitely through a process of pragmatic accommodation, the policies which one has accumulated by seeking consensus on individual issues will, more likely than not, stand in contradiction to one another. For example you may get a joyful consensus in favour of free access to psychoactive drugs (including alcohol) but at the same time you will have a consensus against escalating health, law enforcement and welfare costs. You may have a consensus in favour of a Five Eyes politico-military alliance concurrently with a consensus in favour of free trade with the Peoples Republic of China. A consensus against allowing property prices to fall, and a consensus in favour of quality housing for all.
Some of these contradictions will be irreconcilable.
So do we no longer need leaders who can steadfastly hold to a clear and consistent vision in the face of all opposition? Can we have such leaders under the present system?
I think the answer to the first question will be in the affirmative, and to the second in the negative.
Jacinda is as good as we will get under the colonialist regime, but not nearly good enough to secure the future of our nation.
If you think otherwise it is because you have fallen into the same moral black hole, which is to be expected and even accepted in a journalist, but is not so acceptable in anyone who aspires to lead.

greywarbler said...

As Geoff Fischer says-Despite the intensive use of opinion polls and focus groups, it is actually quite difficult to know what other people, or "the people" as a whole, are really thinking.

Or, what those people questioned regard as thinking! Perhaps it is deciding what they want and then looking to see which Party will provide it. This bears no relation to making a valuable judgment about what the country needs to do to maintain a good, working society with respect and opportunities for all to enrich our lives with money or skills. And the thinking probably doesn't extend to the future trends and view them objectively, and also to query the experiences and ideas the minds of planners and futurists have met.

The problems for us now are well put in this short summary of John Le Carre's stories. He died on Dec.12, aged 89. This is from stuff - the Nelson Mail Sat.Jan2/2021:
The British author drew on his experiences as a Cold War-era spy to write powerful novels about a bleak, morally compromised world in which international intrigue and personal betrayal went hand in hand.

Geoff Fischer said...

There is no disputing that the English revolution was intimately associated with Protestant Puritanism (indeed it would be hard to find a revolution anywhere that did not involve a conspicuous element of puritanism).
But was the revolution on this account so unpopular with the masses as you suggest, and was the restoration of the monarchy universally welcomed?
Large sections of the working classes felt the revolution did not go far enough. They had little reason to rise up and defend a revolution which they felt had been betrayed by its leaders.
But even after the restoration, revolutionary sentiment remained strong in England, as it does even to this day. The brutality of the restored monarchy towards those associated with the Commonwealth is evidence that Charles II quite rightly did not believe himself to be safe in the affection of the English people.
The collapse of the revolution can be attributed to the failings of its leaders (or even, stretching a long bow, to the abolition of Christmas!), but there is a better explanation.
Under the Commonwealth, England had forged its colonies (formerly the domains of a mixed bag of righteous fugitives, adventurers, entrepreneurs and scoundrels) into something more closely resembling an empire. An empire needs an emperor. The Roman republic and the French republic both gave rise to, and gave way to, empires headed by an emperor. England was no different. The principles of republicanism are not congruent with the principles through which an empire can be effectively administered. So in Europe, wherever we see emergent empires we see the return to monarchical rule usually with the "tacit consent" of the masses but no hint of a popular mandate.
It is easy to suggest, but impossible to prove, that monarchy represents the will of the people. Until about a year ago, the New Zealand media invariably prefixed the title "King of Thailand" with the words "revered" or "much revered". This sham is now so completely exposed that the New Zealand media has finally desisted. The claimed "popularity" of the colonial regime's own Queen (the daughter of George VI "Rex Imperator") will in good time be similarly exposed as a sham.
The British revolution collapsed because the Commonwealth did not free its colonies and enfranchise the masses, and instead set itself on the road to empire. In these circumstances the restoration of the monarchy was the only viable option. England, where it once enjoyed the fruits, is now suffering the consequences of that course.

Jens Meder said...

Well, greywarbler.
Although a 100% citizen participation rate in the personal wealth ownership creative effort (easily achieved through the taxation system)should generate some income to all, I am not really standing for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) -

because the increased income created from wealth invested varies widely, depending on the profitability and amount of it.

But since widening and increasing wealth ownership does generate more jobs, earnings and security, the austerity of the accelerated widening wealth creative effort is bound to generate a more securely sustainable (higher?) consumable earned and welfare income rate than what we have now.

Cheers - Jens.

greywarbler said...

I recognise your sincerity Jens and your ideas. But I have a feeling that they are still based on 20th century notions. We are being pushed forward by machines and technology while still constantly turning back, unwilling to view the crumbling road ahead. If we can drag ourselves away from past plans and look to conserve our basic social structure with goodwill and practicality, speaking slowly for those who have a short attention span and spend all their time watching television and listening to PR from the wealthy and wannabes, we might be able to save the core and heart of our society. We can then make plans that include us all without waiting for the hoi polloi to build wealth.

There was an interview this a.m. on Radionz about a book on money which looks at what it actually is and what it was introduced to do, which is something we don't often think about, if at all. I like the title of the book.

greywarbler said...

Geoff Fischer - You make good points. All these people setting out to conquer others and build colonies or impose their business systems on others, usually subjecting the people to negative outcomes.

But overall I think you are questioning who has the right to be in power and make decisions. Looking back over history one can see the faults and the disgraceful behaviour, and the power-plays and who rises to the top and the iniquities of it all. It happened. Wishing it hadn't, saying it shouldn't have, decrying the result, doesn't provide a solution to today's needs. What has to be accepted is the nature of humans, and how we can find better practices with adequate leaders who have both principles and a sense of pragmatism, and a desire for common good, and listens to people who can put forward practical suggestions. We have so many wailing folks with their own private agendas, also groups that establish their own fiefdoms to their leaders satisfaction. We need better than that in the 21st century; or can't we learn anything from history?

David George said...

A great essay up on Quillette discussing these issues Chris

Return of the Strong Gods: Understanding the New Right:

"Traumatized by the horrors of fascism and totalitarianism, and by the violence of two world wars, the postwar consensus was a repudiation of the powerful passions and loyalties that unite societies and bind men to their homelands. Anything strong or solid became suspect. Globalism supplanted nationalism, the “open society” upended traditionalism, relativism questioned axiomatic truths, multiculturalism replaced cohesion and solidarity, and critique and deconstruction chipped away at the pillars of Western civilization."

"But citizens, Reno argues, will not tolerate a society of “pure negation” for long. The strong gods always return. Public life requires a shared mythos and a higher vision of the common good—what Richard Weaver called a “metaphysical dream.” Human beings long to coalesce around shared loves and loyalties. We unite in solidarity to elevate the sacred. “Our social consensus,” Reno writes, “always reaches for transcendent legitimacy.” There must be a center of things. Without that integrating ideal, without that centripetal force, societies begin to disperse, spiraling ever outward in a “widening gyre” until the culture lies in fragments. “There can be no society,” wrote the French sociologist ├ëmile Durkheim, “which does not feel the need of upholding and reaffirming at regular intervals the collective sentiments and ideas which make its unity and personality.”

John Hurley said...

First they came for the real estate developers. Then they came for the motel and cafe owners. Then they came for the bus drivers. All the while I celebrated diversity. Then they came for the white journalists and university lecturers and I said "think of our children's futures"

Puddleg said...

"If we want things to stay the same, things are going to have to change.” –Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa