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You Say You Want A Revolution?…

06 September 2017 @ 20:41

…Well-ell, you know
You all need to search the word
You have to know it’s evolution
Well-ell, you know
If you wanna free your mind, my friend

But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You are doing it wrong, every way, anyhow
Don’t you know it’s going to be Alt-Right
Alt-Right, Alt-Right, Alt-Right….

Revolution #Bob, found on The Whitey Album

In the Comments section of my post of yesterday, The Modern Devils: Of Misfits And Elitists, old Friend In The Ether, M. Thompson makes a spot-on observation:

The only two decent revolutions were the Glorious and American.

Every once since then has been more about drowning imagined enemies in blood.

Dead solid perfect.

As Russell Kirk wrote in his essay, ‘A Revolution Not Made But Prevented‘:

We need first to examine definitions of that ambiguous word “revolution.” The signification of the word was altered greatly by the catastrophic events of the French Revolution, commencing only two years after the Constitutional Convention of the United States.

Before the French explosion of 1789-99, “revolution” commonly was employed to describe a round of periodic or recurrent changes or events – that is, the process of coming full cycle; or the act of rolling back or moving back, a return to a point previously occupied.

Not until the French radicals utterly overturned the old political and social order in their country did the word “revolution” acquire its present general meaning of a truly radical change in social and governmental institutions, a tremendous convulsion in society, producing huge alterations that might never be undone.

Thus when the eighteenth-century Whigs praised the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688, which established their party’s domination, they did not mean that William and Mary, the Act of Settlement, and the Declaration of Rights had produced a radically new English political and social order. On the contrary, they argued that the English Revolution had restored tried and true constitutional practices, preservative of immemorial ways. It was James II, they contended, who had been perverting the English constitution; his overthrow had been a return, a rollingback, to old constitutional order; the Revolution of 1688, in short, had been a healthy reaction, not a bold innovation.

The Whigs, Burke among them, here were employing that word “revolution” in its older sense. This shift in usage tends to confuse discussion today. If we employ the word “revolution” in its common signification near the end of the twentieth century, what occurred in 1688-89 was no true revolution. In the Whig interpretation of history, at least, the overturn of James II was a revolution not made, but prevented (according to the later definition of “revolution”).

But what of the events in North America from 1775 to 1781? Was the War of Independence no revolution?

That war, with the events immediately preceding and following it, constituted a series of movements which produced separation from Britain and the establishment of a different political order in most of British North America. Yet the Republic of the United States was an order new only in some aspects, founded upon a century and a half of colonial experience and upon institutions, customs, and beliefs mainly of British origin. The American Revolution did not result promptly in the creation of a new social order, nor did the leaders in that series of movements intend that the new nation should break with the conventions, the moral convictions, and the major institutions (except monarchy) out of which America had arisen….

In fact — though many of us don’t want to know this — as Angelo Codevilla has correctly argued:

So what kind of freedom did America’s founders mean to establish? Fact is that, as they framed the American regime, they used the terms natural law and natural right interchangeably. Hence, they never choose explicitly between the implication of these terms as we have come to understand them.

They left no doubt, however, that their peculiar notion of right is something at the same time ancestral, natural, and divinely ordained.

Today’s dominant philosophical-political assumptions make it difficult for us to understand that. Since the Founders did not maintain the strict opposition between the concepts of “nature” and “convention” or “custom” to which academic philosophy has accustomed us, they found nothing incompatible about claiming that, as Britain was violating rights established by God and Nature, it was also violating the ancient rights of Englishmen—and vice versa.

Consider: this British regime had been ruling in the same way for almost 400 years. The Americans were rebelling against the 18th century’s ancien regime’s established customs. But they were doing so in the name of a regime that was even more ancien, whose customs were no longer customary but were somehow right in themselves. Where had these customs come from? What endowed them with right?

Our difficulty in understanding this stems in part from the assumption—as wrong as it is widespread—that history has moved more or less uniformly from less freedom to more freedom, that America’s Founders were revolting against the middle ages’ legacies (despotism mixed with and veiled by religion) and that they, Children of the Enlightenment, were trying to make it possible for people to live however they like.

In reality, the Founders knew that the regime that was oppressing them was anything but medieval. They faulted it for having trammeled medieval and downright ancient rights. Nor, aside from Franklin, were they libertines. To them, freedom was the capacity to live life free from arbitrary power. This is something of which there had been much more in remote times than in their time.

That is correct.  To resort to vulgarity: the Colonists wanted to go Medieval on the Britisher’s arses.  —And at this they were quite successful.

The French Revolution brought about a change in the meaning of the word ‘revolution’.  All the horrors associated with the French Revolution became the prime example of what a revolution is.

The misuse of the word ‘revolution’ by the Sane Right in these times is not a good thing because it automatically associates our Cause with the Destroyer Nihilists on the Left — the Modern Revolutionaries.

The fact of the matter is: We do not seek Revolution.  Rather, we seek a Restoration of our Natural Rights as Americans.  We seek exactly what The Founders sought and won.  More from Mr. Codevilla:

…To [The Founders], freedom was the capacity to live life free from arbitrary power. This is something of which there had been much more in remote times than in their time.

Insofar as the American revolution was about custom, it was about restoring customs of limited government, which they believed was also divinely ordained.

In fact, the British crown against which the Americans were revolting (Parliament had become the senior partner within it) was not a relic of the middle ages. Like other European monarchies, Britain had transcended medieval political forms as well as the Christian notion of right as independent of power. The regime against which the Americans revolted was like the rest of Europe’s in having shed all but the trappings of an earlier age.

It was a regime that embraced the doctrine of The Divine Right Of Kings — that monarchs were in a direct relationship with God and, therefore, beyond the reach of mortal men.  This ‘Divine Right’ had arisen out of The Reformation, which was a rebellion against the Catholic Church and the Pope.  Before it, there had been one person in direct conference with God: the Holy Father in Rome; after it, every monarch claimed such a relationship for his or herself: dozens of ‘popes’ came to rule in Europe.

In such a situation, it is no surprise that the Monarchies became Despotisms, for, when you assume a special relationship with God that goes beyond theology, you must assume that your are Sovereign over all, that The Sovereignty rests solely in your semi-devine bosom.

Alfred The GreatThe Founders totally rejected this idea and advocated for a return to the ideas that animated the Ancient West, as it were — specifically, the English West of the Anglo-Saxons, of Alfred The Great, of Henry II.  Mr. Codevilla again:

The extent to which any of America’s founders ever noticed [John] Locke’s references to specific medieval Christian scholars is irrelevant to the fact that that these scholars’ teachings about how regimes may be structured and what makes regimes legitimate are awfully similar to what the American founders wrought. Indeed kinship would be all the more remarkable had the Americans been wholly unaware of the medieval arguments, since that would show that these ideas were simply the “common sense” of educated Christians.

“God created man in his own image.” Genesis. “All men are created equal.” The Declaration of Independence. “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.” Jesus. “Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The First Amendment. These are old teachings, which had been propounded but honored in the breach for centuries, but which colonists on the edge of a wild continent now were laying down as the foundation of one of history’s greatest nations.

Not only are we not in any way like the Modern Revolutionaries, we are not like the Renaissance nor the so-called Enlightened Monarchs and their courtiers and their aristocracies.

We are the direct descendants of The Witan, The Thing, and Magna Carta.

I say I don’t want a Revolution.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Adobe_Walls permalink
    07 September 2017 @ 18:40 18:40

    Read his series as it was posted over at American Greatness. One of my must stops several times a week.

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