Reblogged from Jim, who offers this trenchant analysis of the Commonwealth and its aftermath.
Before the English Civil war, the state was Throne and Altar, what we would now call the right. The state maintained slavery, enforced official religion, and everyone was required to pretend to believe in the divine right of Kings, much as today everyone is with equal plausibility required to pretend to believe that women are equal to men.
The English Civil war was intended to secure the rights of Englishmen, but to Englishmen’s dismay, what we would now call right dictatorship was replaced by a dictatorship of the predecessors of today’s left.
Holy leftists were continually outflanked by people even holier and lefter.
This is not some weird Moldbuggian reinterpretation of what leftism means. Marx also traces the roots of the left to the movements holier than Cromwell and suppressed by Cromwell, the Levellers and the Diggers. A faction of the twentieth century hippy movement called themselves “The Diggers”, claiming to be continuation and revival of the seventeenth century Digger movement.
Cromwell became dictator and ended the left singularity, announcing that England had become sufficiently holy, and repressing those to his left equally with those to his right, much as Stalin declared the Soviet Union sufficiently socialist, and proceeded to kill everyone more socialist than Stalin, as well as everyone less socialist than Stalin. Threatened on the left, Cromwell took the royalist General Monck out of prison and gave him a high command, and his own personal right wing praetorian guard, now known as the Coldstream guards.
When Cromwell died, his son was to succeed him, but, since Cromwell and the holy left had been busily opposing monarchy and undermining monarchism, this failed to take. General Monck then marched on London, defeating the New Model Army. He set his Praetorians to “guarding” Parliament, The puritan parliament immediately voted to dissolve itself and hold a new election with rules more favorable to the cavaliers. A Royalist parliament was elected, still guarded by Monck’s Praetorians, the Coldstream guards, who continue to guard the British Parliament to this day. The new Parliament restored the monarchy and Anglican theocracy. For anyone to get near the levers of power, they had to swear fealty to the thirty nine articles, much as today you have to submit essays showing how progressive you are.
This loyalty oath remained in effect from approximately 1662 to 1826.
The restoration regime was an astonishing success. It created the scientific revolution, the industrial revolution, and British adventurers conquered most of the world, forming what would later be called the British empire.
Under the restoration regime, science was high status – not official science, but real science, the scientific method. Today, the scientific method is only carried out by subversive troublemakers, who are likely to be deemed enemies of the state, for example the climate skeptic movement. Similarly, before the restoration, as today, the scientific method was largely carried out furtively. The predecessor of the Royal Society was the invisible college, and the reason it was invisible is that they would rather not be seen.
I attribute the success of officially Anglican England to the fact that official Anglicanism was latitudinarian In Bruce Charleton’s terminology, it tolerated heretics but not apostates.
Today, one must believe everything the state believes, one must believe all official truth, of which there is a great deal. Deviation is tolerated amongst the lower classes, since they are deemed hopelessly ignorant, but the higher one is in society, the more precise and detailed one’s knowledge of the official truth is expected to be, and the higher one’s status, the more one is expected to agree ever more meticulously and in ever more precise detail. In contrast, the thirty nine articles mostly focused on points where members of competing theocratic movements would disagree, mostly focused on the antigens of hostile enemy theocratic movements, permitting much greater intellectual freedom than can exist today.
Because the thirty nine articles were latitudinarian, they did not cause an ever rightwards movement analogous to today’s ever leftwards movement. The requirement to enter the corridors of power was not to be sufficiently holy, which test Charles the Second would surely have failed, but to not be an adherent of Roman Catholicism, Puritanism, or Puritanism’s successor movements.