America’s “Occupy Wall Street” movement has compared itself to the Arab Spring, a social media driven revolt that caught fire earlier this year. Both “democracy” movements were lauded repeatedly in the mainstream press, even as conservatives warned time and time again that such praise was misguided.
While the Occupy movement has turned into a festival of arrests for petty crime, radical Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and even Al Qaeda have rushed in to fill the anarchic power vacuum resulting from the uprisings. Now that the fruits of democratic destabilization and resulting Islamization are becoming clearer, it would behoove us to examine the mismatch between the left’s laudatory rhetoric and the visual reality of the situation.
The left may cry foul and allege that such comparison is unfair, and that to make a democratic omelet, it is necessary to break a few eggs (eggs being human skulls). But it is well-known in political science that democracy is an unstable political system and rapid democratization is a very unstable and often bloody process.
Lest anyone should forget, in the midst of the Egyptian uprising, the CBS reporter Lara Logan was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a crowd in Cairo. Below is a picture of Ms. Logan moments before the brutal and despicable attack:
An anomaly? Not hardly. More recently, this is how those chivalrous, “misunderstood” Egyptians have treated women who dare express their “democratic” rights.
And with the rise of Islamist groups in the Middle East, the rights of women and homosexuals are only going to degrade further. Perhaps it is time for the left to support individual rights and the rule of law, rather than the false seduction of democracy for the sake of democracy?
The late Christopher Hitchens is a source of almost endless hatred on the religious right, and he wouldn’t want it any other way. But lest the socialist left should be too elated with the polemicist’s condemnation of religion, Hitchens had some choice words for the politically correct thought police of the left, especially pertinent for the eco-fascist “consensus.”
My own opinion is enough for me. And I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, any place, anytime. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line, and kiss my ass.
The video above is from his speech given at the University of Toronto in 2006 entitled, “Be It Resolved: Freedom of Speech Includes the Freedom to Hate.”
And what could inspire Hitchens’ own hatred more than religion? Alas, there are even pearls of wisdom for the religious right to contemplate, even in the desolate ashes of their most cherished shibboleths.
“So call me a neoconservative if you must; anything is preferable to the rotten, unprincipled alliance between the former fans of the one-party state and the hysterical zealots of the one-god one.”
Supporter of the Iraq War, unrepentant former socialist, and literary enigma. His vicious and remorseless pen will be missed.
The Deadly Double Game of Using Religion for Political Expediency: How Mainstream Media Have Gone Medieval
Reading through world history, it is fascinating to find precedents for the manipulation of public opinion. One of the most effective techniques has been the employment of religious sentiment to sway not only the public, but the kings and nobility. Such tactics bear striking resemblance to the mainstream media’s attacks on American political candidates who claim the religious mantle for purposes of political expediency.
The use of religion to bolster the political legitimacy of the ruling class is as old as the first ancient civilizations, such as Sumer, Akkad, and Egypt. But the relationship between the ecclesiastical caste and the kings has always been tenuous: the king-makers could become the king-breakers. What kings required from religion was two-fold: to instill widespread fear and mortification in the masses, either by the king claiming that he ruled on behalf of god or actually was god, and to give the slaves and helots something to look forward to in the afterlife, after they had been used up by the king and the nobility.
President Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has spoken out against the widespread and unusually vigorous election protests by holding token meetings with the opposition and by turning to an old trick – blaming the uprising on Western “saboteurs.”
Putin explains his position through his mouthpiece Russia Today (RT):
Scapegoating external opponents on internal crises is a tactic that goes back far in Russian history, and builds upon a grain of truth, as most good lies do. During the Russian Civil War from 1918-1922, Western powers, including Britain, France, and the United States, did intervene in the Russian conflict to support the White Armies against the Reds. (Not vigorously enough, in my opinion.)
Most famously, Joseph Stalin blamed the troubles of his Five Year Plans on bourgeois “saboteurs,” which he promptly responded to with the disastrous “Great Purge.”
Vladimir Putin, for his own part, has been hasty to blame Western influence for everything from the colored revolutions in Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia to internal meddling through civil society non-profits. Putin even passed various laws restricting the activities and funding of NGOs to prevent what he perceives as undue influence being wielded in Russian internal affairs.
Knowing who runs these supposedly benevolent democratization NGOs, one can hardly blame Putin for being cautious. But what Putin is alleging is that international monitors calling election results bogus, echoed by the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is akin to an act of sabotage. This is an overreach that exposes the brittle nature of modern Russian democratic authoritarianism.
To Putin’s credit, he did acknowledge that Senator John McCain was “crazy,” on route to trashing the protesters.
Cheburashka, a Soviet children’s show from the 1970s, is beloved by Russians for its cute innocence and by the Soviet state for its instruction in proletarian values. The main character, a furry little creature, is still popular and was recently selected as the Russian Olympics mascot.
This video excerpt shows the crocodile Gena finding out about a dirty factory, and subsequently, demanding it be cleaned up. This is not malignant in and of itself. But it does show the stirrings of the false narrative that the state can protect the people from the ‘productive contamination’ of industry.
Fascinating cartoon film describing the Nazis’ rise to power. Particularly relevant is the section from 5:18 on the abuse of education, including pictures of Hitler placed in the classroom to foment a cult of personality. It should be noted that this was also done in many American classrooms under FDR, and reminds one of the classroom addresses of the Obama administration.
There are reports surfacing of U.S. troops gathering in Jordan near the Syrian border. It is unclear if the exercise is merely saber-rattling, or the preparatory stages for an excursion into Bashir Assad’s Syria.
It should be noted that Hillary Clinton at the State Department under Barack Obama had given leeway to Assad, especially during the early stages of the administration.
Now we hear the war drums beating again.
As the US completes its final withdrawal from Iraq, American special forces troops have been diverted to positions in Jordan opposite a Syrian tank concentration building up across the kingdom’s northern border, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report.
As of last Thursday, military convoys, air transports and helicopters have been lifting US troops across the border from Iraq. They have been deployed in position to ward off a possible Syrian invasion in the light of President Bashar Assad’s warning that he would set the entire Middle East on fire if the pressure on his regime to step down persisted.
Syria’s other neighbors have taken precautions against this contingency but this is the first time US boots have hit the ground directly opposite Assad’s army.
Read the rest here.
The question becomes: Will Barack Obama once again circumvent the Constitutional requirement of a Congressional declaration of war, as he did with the Libyan invasion? Even under the questionable War Powers Act the president has to submit to advise and consent with the Senate within 90 days. Thus far, no such application has been made, as even the New York Times reported. Obama bluntly stated that the War Powers Act “doesn’t apply”! This is a step beyond even saying that The Constitution doesn’t apply.
Will all the leftists who declared the Bush administration as “neocons,” even after Democrats “authorized” him to take the country to war (a motion presumably covered by the Constitutional requirement of a Congressional declaration of war)? Or will they remain silent, being the immoral statist dupes that they are?
The recent uprising in Russia in reaction to the prospect of another rigged election has occasioned the appearance of oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, a billionaire insider who has declared his bid to run for the presidency against the presumably returning Vladimir Putin. But is this a case of ‘false opposition,’ to cite a line from Russian intelligence defector Anatoly Golitsyn?
A surprising number of Western media are speculating on just such a possibility. Forbes, for example, commented on Prokhorov’s potential role in helping Putin get re-elected, citing a number of Russian politicians:
“Prokhorov’s task is to help Putin get elected,” said Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister under the late President Boris Yeltsin. “A billionaire would never have taken such a risk if he hadn’t had an agreement with Putin.”
In the most embarrassing foreign policy moment for any president since Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama has asked Iran for its fallen drone back.
Yes, the anti-Zionist, mad mullah-controlled, rogue death cult regime attempting to usher in the 13th imam through nuclear apocalypse Iran. The one we have no formal diplomatic relations with since 1979 (thanks Jimmah), finances terrorist organizations, and captures, tortures and kills American CIA agents. Right. That one.
Oh, and request denied.
From the BBC:
Iran has rejected a US call for the return of an American spy drone captured by Iran’s military.
The aircraft was now “property” of Iran and it was up to Iran to decide what to do with it, defence minister Ahmad Vahidi said.
Hmm, maybe they’ll auction it to Obama’s “friends” the Chinese?
Delving deeper into English history, it is clear that there is a necessity to contextualize the significance of the American revolution within the institutional innovations of past peoples. In this way, we can appreciate the tumultuous heritage that gave birth to many of the Founders’ ideas and more fully comprehend the historical difficulties the Constitution was intended to allay.
One institutional innovator was the ninth century English king Alfred the Great. Being an anomaly that one of my two middle names is Alfred, I long considered it a bit of baggage that one of my namesakes had such a disconsonant appendage. It turns out that Alfred is a great figure in English lore, and bearing such a horrible sounding name was not distinctly uncommon in his place and era.
The principle texts utilized in my survey exploration of English history have been David Hume’s The History of England, and Lord Maculay’s The History of England from the Accession of James II. Though I trust the judgment of Macaulay a bit more, both are skeptical and astute narrators.
The following sections on Alfred the Great are pulled from Hume’s work. Hume’s comment on the relevance of Saxon institutions appears to be influenced by Tacitus, whose glowing appraisal of the democratic inclination of the Germanic tribes appears to be grossly overstated. The Germanic peoples in the main were barbaric, uncouth savages whose nods to the formal procedures of democracy say as much about the system of government as it does them. Alfred the Great shows more shrewdness by dividing powers among the civil and military institutions, and integrating the body of the jury into the civil administration of justice.
First a brief biography:
Alfred 871. This prince gave very early marks of those great virtues and shining talents, by which, during the most difficult times, he saved his country from utter ruin and subversion. […] His genius was first roused by the recital of Saxon poems, in which the queen took delight; and this species of erudition, which is sometimes able to make a considerable progress even among barbarians, expanded those noble and elevated sentiments which he had received from nature. Encouraged by the queen, and stimulated by his own ardent inclination, he soon learned to read those compositions; and proceeded thence to acquire the knowledge of the Latin tongue, in which he met with authors that better prompted his heroic spirit, and directed his generous views. Absorbed in these elegant pursuits, he regarded his accession to royalty rather as an object of regret than of triumph; but being called to the throne, in preference to his brothers children, as well by the will of his father, a circumstance which had great authority with the Anglo-Saxons, as by the vows of the whole nation, and the urgency of public affairs, he shook off his literary indolence, and exerted himself in the defence of his people. He had scarcely buried his brother, when he was obliged to take the field in order to oppose the Danes, who…were exercising their usual ravages on the countries around.
The Danes were the unquestioned scourge of northern Europe in Alfred’s day. Successfully opposing the invading hordes would require scrapping together the ruins of the island, the dilapidated fortifications, the demoralized people, and the crumbling infrastructure. Internecine wars between the rulers of the “Heptarchy,” the seven kingdoms of medieval England, had not prepared the inhabitants for the Danish invaders; it had rather exhausted them and led them to a series of treacherous revenges and outrages against one another. Such was the case that when the Danish invaded, each kingdom’s ruler was loathe to provide assistance to the other, for fear he would be exposed to future ravages from the piratical menaces.
Through studied and even deceptive practices of warfare, Alfred was able to personally lead the English to victories against the Danish, who were unused to shrewd and vigorous opposition. The king thus combined in his person the man of intelligence and action so necessary to attaining political victory. In the course of fifty-six land and sea battles, Alfred was able to give the English some peace, in which time he was able to reorganize the island for more organized civil and military defense.
Among the institutions Alfred implemented or modified:
The king employed this interval of tranquillity in restoring order to the state, which had been shaken by so many violent convulsions; in establishing civil and military institutions; in composing the minds of men to industry and justice; and in providing against the return of like calamities. He was, more properly than his grandfather, Egbert, the sole monarch of the English, (for so the Saxons were now universally called,) because the kingdom of Mercia was at last incorporated in his state, and was governed by Ethelbert, his brother- in-law, who bore the title of Earl: and though the Danes, who peopled East Anglia and Northumberland, were for some time ruled immediately by their own princes, they all acknowledged a subordination to Alfred, and submitted to his superior authority. As equality among subjects is the great source of concord, Alfred gave the same laws [note] to the Danes and English, and put them entirely on a like footing in the administration both of civil and criminal justice. The fine for the murder of a Dane was the same with that for the murder of an Englishman; the great symbol of equality in those ages.
The king, after rebuilding the ruined cities, particularly London, which had been destroyed by the Danes in the reign of Ethelwolf, established a regular militia for the defence of the kingdom. He ordained that all his people should be armed and registered; he assigned them a regular rotation of duty; he distributed part into the castles and fortresses which he built at proper places; he required another part to take the field on any alarm, and to assemble at stated places of rendezvous; and he left a sufficient number at home, who were employed in the cultivation of the land, and who afterwards took their turn in military service. The whole kingdom was like one great garrison; and the Danes could no sooner appear in one place, than a sufficient number was assembled to oppose them, without leaving the other quarters defenceless or disarmed.
But Alfred, sensible that the proper method of opposing an enemy who made incursions by sea, was to meet them on their own element, took care to provide himself with a naval force, which though the most natural defence of an island, had hitherto been totally neglected by the English. He increased the shipping of his kingdom both in number and strength, and trained his subjects in the practice, as well of sailing as of naval action. He distributed his armed vessels in proper stations around the island, and was sure to meet the Danish ships either before or after they had landed their troops, and to pursue them in all their incursions. Though the Danes might suddenly, by surprise, disembark on the coast, which was generally become desolate by their frequent ravages, they were encountered by the English fleet in their retreat; and escaped not, as formerly, by abandoning their booty, but paid, by their total destruction, the penalty of the disorders which they had committed.
It is important to note that historical, geographical, and martial exigencies often shape the long-term institutions and character of a people, for right or for wrong. It is not that this qualification makes political principles relative, but rather that there are varied difficulties in maintaining individual rights in sundry circumstances.
But these establishments that Alfred accomplished are not the signature institutions that the Founders inherited from his reign. They are well-understood necessities for the survival of a state in an anarchic world. More notable are his contributions to the development of English civil institutions, even as they are not always perfectly suitable to modern adaption:
After Alfred had subdued, and had settled or expelled the Danes, he found the kingdom in the most wretched condition; desolated by the ravages of those barbarians, and thrown into disorders, which were calculated to perpetuate its misery. Though the great armies of the Danes were broken, the country was full of straggling troops of that nation, who, being accustomed to live by plunder, were become incapable of industry, and who, from the natural ferocity of their manners, indulged themselves in committing violence, even beyond what was requisite to supply their necessities. The English themselves, reduced to the most extreme indigence by these continued depredations, had shaken off all bands of government; and those who had been plundered today, betook themselves next day to a like disorderly life, and, from despair, joined the robbers in pillaging and ruining their fellow-citizens. These were the evils for which it was necessary that the vigilance and activity of Alfred should provide a remedy.
That he might render the execution of justice strict and regular; he divided all England into counties; these counties he subdivided into hundreds; and, the hundreds into tithings. Every householder was answerable for the behaviour of his family and slaves, and even of his guests, if they lived above three days in his house. Ten neighbouring householders were formed into one corporation, who, under the name of a tithing, decennary, or fribourg, were answerable for each others conduct, and over whom one person, called a tithingman, headbourg, or borsholder, was appointed to preside. Every man was punished as an outlaw who did not register himself in some tithing. And no man could change his habitation, without a warrant or certificate from the borsholder of the tithing to which he formerly belonged. […]
Such a regular distribution of the people, with such a strict confinement in their habitation, may not be necessary in times when men are more inured to obedience and justice; and it might perhaps be regarded as destructive of liberty and commerce in a polished state; but it was well calculated to reduce that fierce and licentious people under the salutary restraint of law and government. But Alfred took care to temper these rigours by other institutions favourable to the freedom of the citizens; and nothing could be more popular and liberal than his plan for the administration of justice. […] Their method of decision deserves to be noted, as being the origin of juries; an institution admirable in itself, and the best calculated for the preservation of liberty and the administration of justice that ever was devised by the wit of man. Twelve freeholders were chosen, who, having sworn, together with the hundreder, or presiding magistrate of that division, to administer impartial justice, proceeded to the examination of that cause which was submitted to their jurisdiction. […] The people, in imitation of their ancestors, the ancient Germans, assembled there in arms; whence a hundred was sometimes called a wapentake, and its court served both for the support of military discipline, and for the administration of civil justice. […]
The better to guide the magistrates in the administration of justice, Alfred framed a body of laws; which, though now lost, served long as the basis of English jurisprudence, and is generally deemed the origin of what is denominated the COMMON LAW. He appointed regular meetings of the states of England twice a year in London; a city which he himself had repaired and beautified, and which he thus rendered the capital of the kingdom. The similarity of these institutions to the customs of the ancient Germans, to the practice of the other northern conquerors, and to the Saxon laws during the Heptarchy, prevents us from regarding Alfred as the sole author of this plan of government; and leads us rather to think, that, like a wise man, he contented himself with reforming, extending, and executing the institutions which he found previously established. But, on the whole, such success attended his legislation, that every thing bore suddenly a new face in England: robberies and iniquities of all kinds were repressed by the punishment or reformation of the criminals: and so exact was the general police, that Alfred, it is said, hung up, by way of bravado, golden bracelets near the highways; and no man dared to touch them. Yet, amidst these rigours of justice, this great prince preserved the most sacred regard to the liberty of his people; and it is a memorable sentiment preserved in his will, That it was just the English should for ever remain as free as their own thought.
We can see the influence of Alfred the Great in the form of the American legal institutions of bail and the executive pardon, the division of the country into counties, and the Fifth Amendment to The Constitution.
The great majority of terrorists targeting Americans will tell you up front that Islam is their motivation for jihad or “holy war.” That is why it is both baffling and disturbing that a new Obama administration memo forbids the mention of Islam in the “terrorism” context.
It should be noted that this is the same administration that changed “terrorism” to “man made disaster” while our wars abroad were rephrased as “Overseas Contingency Operations.”
Such a redefinition of terms in the hopes it will change reality gives us an outstanding glimpse into the minds of the radicals who seek to remake this country. Liberals believe that through massive propaganda and the cynical use of euphemisms they can make their solipsistic dream worlds become reality.
The left’s approach to the war on terror is thus a bit like the childhood game where the toddler covers his eyes and thinks that mommy can’t see her. The illusion may provide a good kick, but ultimately, it’s just an illusion.
More hide-and-go-seek with the truth can be seen with the earlier re-branding of the Fort Hood assassin’s case, one where the Muslim terrorist screamed “Allahu Akhbar!” before killing 11 and wounding 31, from a domestic terrorism incident to a case of “workplace violence.”
The Muslims are not going to care one wit if America stops fighting the war on terrorists. The Democrat Party can be as sensitive and as politically correct as it wants. We can subject grandmas and small children to random pat downs so as not to offend the sensibilities of people who think women are property and homosexuality is a sin against Allah. But Muslims won’t return the favor. They are not going to think we’re noble and enlightened, they are going to think we’re infidels. And weak infidels at that.
As delusional as Islamic terrorists are, they don’t think America will disappear if they close their eyes. But they do think Americans will disappear if they close their eyes after detonating a bomb vest in a public square.
The Saudi government, a seventh century blast-from-the-past regime subsidized by the world’s largest, most technologically advanced one, has just executed a man…for sorcery.
Forget what you might think about sorcerers. Sure, they look funny with those floppy, pointy hats and those wispy gray beards, but aside from some occasional out-of-control broomsticks, they’re really not all that bad.
A man should have the right to practice sorcery, whether the government thinks so or not. As long as his sorcery doesn’t interfere with the rights of others, what’s the harm?
Sorcery is a human right, and it is time the Saudi government start respecting that.
Photo: Raistlin was well loved by the community for his delightful fireworks and penchant for playing three dimensional chess with no hands. He will be missed.
If President Obama were an English king in Medieval Europe, he would have been ousted from power before now. Though the American Constitution provides a bloodless remedy for removing the overreaching executive from office in the form of impeachment, the fact that it takes a majority in the House and a two-thirds majority in the Senate shows that the provision is toothless if the sovereign is both despotic and popular.
A few valuable extended passages in Macaulay’s A History of England show startling parallels of the designs and depredations of the current administration with those of certain odiously remembered kings in England. And while those who believe our present Constitution is a bulwark against the medieval backwardness that plagued Europe for centuries, the ignorance of the masses can remove any value the document has for preserving a free people.
Here are the Constitutional provisions Macaulay states were designed to check the rapine of the king.
But his power, though ample, was limited by three great constitutional principles, so ancient that none can say when they began to exist, so potent that their natural development, continued through many generations, has produced the order of things under which we now live.
First, the King could not legislate without the consent of his Parliament. Secondly, he could impose no tax without the consent of his Parliament. Thirdly, he was bound to conduct the executive administration according to the laws of the land, and, if he broke those laws, his advisers and his agents were responsible.
Since it is such an important discussion, and one we Americans often take for granted through overconfidence in our Constitution, let’s trace how these prohibitions against the power of the sovereign came to be understood.
No English King has ever laid claim to the general legislative power. The most violent and imperious Plantagenet never fancied himself competent to enact, without the consent of his great council, that a jury should consist of ten persons instead of twelve, that a widow’s dower should be a fourth part instead of a third, that perjury should be a felony, or that the custom of gavelkind should be introduced into Yorkshire. But the King had the power of pardoning offenders; and there is one point at which the power of pardoning and the power of legislating seem to fade into each other, and may easily, at least in a simple age, be confounded. A penal statute is virtually annulled if the penalties which it imposes are regularly remitted as often as they are incurred. The sovereign was undoubtedly competent to remit penalties without limit. He was therefore competent to annul virtually a penal statute. It might seem that there could be no serious objection to his doing formally what he might do virtually. Thus, with the help of subtle and courtly lawyers, grew up, on the doubtful frontier which separates executive from legislative functions, that great anomaly known as the dispensing power.
That the King could not impose taxes without the consent of Parliament is admitted to have been, from time immemorial, a fundamental law of England. It was among the articles which John was compelled by the Barons to sign. Edward the First ventured to break through the rule: but, able, powerful, and popular as he was, he encountered an opposition to which he found it expedient to yield. He covenanted accordingly in express terms, for himself and his heirs, that they would never again levy any aid without the assent and goodwill of the Estates of the realm. His powerful and victorious grandson attempted to violate this solemn compact: but the attempt was strenuously withstood. At length the Plantagenets gave up the point in despair: but, though they ceased to infringe the law openly, they occasionally contrived, by evading it, to procure an extraordinary supply for a temporary purpose. They were interdicted from taxing; but they claimed the right of begging and borrowing. They therefore sometimes begged in a tone not easily to be distinguished from that of command, and sometimes borrowed with small thought of repaying. But the fact that they thought it necessary to disguise their exactions under the names of benevolences and loans sufficiently proves that the authority of the great constitutional rule was universally recognised.
The principle that the King of England was bound to conduct the administration according to law, and that, if he did anything against law, his advisers and agents were answerable, was established at a very early period, as the severe judgments pronounced and executed on many royal favourites sufficiently prove. It is, however, certain that the rights of individuals were often violated by the Plantagenets, and that the injured parties were often unable to obtain redress. According to law no Englishman could be arrested or detained in confinement merely by the mandate of the sovereign. In fact, persons obnoxious to the government were frequently imprisoned without any other authority than a royal order. According to law, torture, the disgrace of the Roman jurisprudence, could not, in any circumstances, be inflicted on an English subject. Nevertheless, during the troubles of the fifteenth century, a rack was introduced into the Tower, and was occasionally used under the plea of political necessity. But it would be a great error to infer from such irregularities that the English monarchs were, either in theory or in practice, absolute. We live in a highly civilised society, through which intelligence is so rapidly diffused by means of the press and of the post office that any gross act of oppression committed in any part of our island is, in a few hours, discussed by millions. If the sovereign were now to immure a subject in defiance of the writ of Habeas Corpus, or to put a conspirator to the torture, the whole nation would be instantly electrified by the news. In the middle ages the state of society was widely different. Rarely and with great difficulty did the wrongs of individuals come to the knowledge of the public. A man might be illegally confined during many months in the castle of Carlisle or Norwich; and no whisper of the transaction might reach London. It is highly probable that the rack had been many years in use before the great majority of the nation had the least suspicion that it was ever employed. Nor were our ancestors by any means so much alive as we are to the importance of maintaining great general rules. We have been taught by long experience that we cannot without danger suffer any breach of the constitution to pass unnoticed. It is therefore now universally held that a government which unnecessarily exceeds its powers ought to be visited with severe parliamentary censure, and that a government which, under the pressure of a great exigency, and with pure intentions, has exceeded its powers, ought without delay to apply to Parliament for an act of indemnity. But such were not the feelings of the Englishmen of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. They were little disposed to contend for a principle merely as a principle, or to cry out against an irregularity which was not also felt to be a grievance. As long as the general spirit of the administration was mild and popular, they were willing to allow some latitude to their sovereign. If, for ends generally acknowledged to be good, he exerted a vigour beyond the law, they not only forgave, but applauded him, and while they enjoyed security and prosperity under his rule, were but too ready to believe that whoever had incurred his displeasure had deserved it. But to this indulgence there was a limit; nor was that King wise who presumed far on the forbearance of the English people. They might sometimes allow him to overstep the constitutional line: but they also claimed the privilege of overstepping that line themselves, whenever his encroachments were so serious as to excite alarm. If, not content with occasionally oppressing individuals, he cared to oppress great masses, his subjects promptly appealed to the laws, and, that appeal failing, appealed as promptly to the God of battles.
A number of reflections leap to mind from this remarkable extended passage. First, that the Constitution can be jealously guarded, but certain interests in the state will contrive to circumnavigate these safeguards, while steadily eroding the apprehension that the Constitution is being violated. Second, if a vigorous popular opposition could be found in early nineteenth century England, how much more so could that be true now! Third, the current National Defense Authorization Act would effectively repeal Habeus Corpus, a jealously guarded right whose violation was tantamount to an act of war declared by the sovereign upon the people. Fourth, the executive prerogative to detain without trial, combined with the presumption that the sovereign has the discretion to torture his adversaries, is reflective of a purely medieval mindset. Fifth, the executive is becoming further removed from the legislative bounds to be imposed on his authority. The bureaucracy, and particularly, unelected and unconfirmed czars, have become a rogue apparatus replacing law with regulations and fiat. Sixth, human nature is fairly constant throughout history, even though circumstances may change. Seventh, a historically free people will tolerate the hubris of a government only so long.
We cannot allow the leftists to continue building their precedents for tyranny, whether through executive fiat, bureaucratic decree, legalistic decisions, or other sundry outrages against the Constitution and Americans’ hard-won freedom. Every infraction, no matter how grave or fearsome, must be opposed, until the avalanche of public opposition has accumulated to such a degree it appears that it will overcome all in its way.
One of the most fascinating experiences of reading well-written histories is unearthing obscure parallels with contemporary life. Lord Macaulay‘s A History of England provides numerous insightful passages and molds a powerful lens on history that allows the reader to see current politics in an entirely new light.
According to Lord Acton, Macaulay was to be considered one of the three greatest liberals, along with Edmund Burke and William Gladstone. It is no surprise, therefore, that his political opponents condemned him as one who studied the past with reference to the present and wrote with a Whiggish one-sidedness. The man had a mind of his own and displayed explicit good judgment in his narration of history. This is the true source of his opponents’ enmity for the man – he frustrates their political agenda.
One of Macaulay’s greatest merits is the hatred of radicals for him and his writings. No less than Karl Marx, seeking to craft his own warped lens on history, must have found the British historian’s writings formidable and eminently persuasive. Eventually, Marx had to throw up his hands and merely brandish Macaulay as a “systematic falsifer of history.”
But contemporary analysis shows otherwise. Although he is often typecast as one who related history as dramatic prologue, exalting heroes and deriding villains, it has proven difficult for his adversaries to pinpoint factual inaccuracy in his works. And since he is so forthright with his reasoning, one has to conclude that those who castigate the author intend to do so because they do not desire the public to read his works and judge for themselves.
A short passage illustrates not only how sensitive Macaulay was to misrepresenting history, but yields a precedent on the practice of historical revisionism so common today.
The historical literature of England has indeed suffered grievously from a circumstance which has not a little contributed to her prosperity. The change, great as it is, which her polity has undergone during the last six centuries, has been the effect of gradual development, not of demolition and reconstruction. The present constitution of our country is, to the constitution under which she flourished five hundred years ago, what the tree is to the sapling, what the man is to the boy. The alteration has been great. Yet there never was a moment at which the chief part of what existed was not old. A polity thus formed must abound in anomalies. But for the evils arising from mere anomalies we have ample compensation. Other societies possess written constitutions more symmetrical. But no other society has yet succeeded in uniting revolution with prescription, progress with stability, the energy of youth with the majesty of immemorial antiquity.
This great blessing, however, has its drawbacks: and one of those drawbacks is that every source of information as to our early history has been poisoned by party spirit. As there is no country where statesmen have been so much under the influence of the past, so there is no country where historians have been so much under the influence of the present. Between these two things, indeed, there is a natural connection. Where history is regarded merely as a picture of life and manners, or as a collection of experiments from which general maxims of civil wisdom may be drawn, a writer lies under no very pressing temptation to misrepresent transactions of ancient date. But where history is regarded as a repository of titledeeds, on which the rights of governments and nations depend, the motive to falsification becomes almost irresistible.
Not only is today’s history being sullied by factionalism, but the same could be said our cultural media in all facets. The one-sidedness in American culture and education is nearly all leftward biased, so that the republic would return gently to the state domination of society so prevalent throughout history. For a venerable historian to take sides against ignoble oppression and misery, shows honor and good judgment, rather than self-serving distortion, ignorance, and ill-intentions. Macaulay should thus be read as one attempting to impart great truths of history to the reader with no ulterior motive; the spirit of enlightenment implies that the reader is entrusted with his own mind, and thus it is his responsibility alone to judge for himself.