The first rise and fall of the Left

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.

14 responses to “The first rise and fall of the Left

  1. Nick diPerna

    “Deviation is tolerated amongst the lower classes, since they are deemed hopelessly ignorant…”

    I’ve always wondered why I get off the hook so easily. ;-)

  2. Nick diPerna

    All is not lost as society turns leftwards. New divisions occur. Examples being the feminists who are pro-porn/glamour, and the ones who say it ‘objectifies women’. There has also been a recent ideological split in the atheist-secular-sceptic movement regarding PC, femifascism, transfascism and censorship.

    The basic paradigm is still there: those who want to control others, and those who want to be left alone.

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  4. Clearly, something odd has happened in England during the past half century. It may be the working out of forces set in motion long before. But the speed of the transformation from liberal democracy has been astonishing.

    • Nick diPerna

      Some even claim it started with 19th century classical liberalism. Relative security enabled the ruling class to further show off its status to the rest of the world with exaggerated displays of superior morality and tolerance.

    • We’d better bloody well work out what’s happened, and quickly, and the decide what to do.

      There is even less time left than before 2010, for the current political-EnemyClass is more dangerous for being more diffuse. I am conscious of all the Time Passing, for Time Is All We Have (we have no money for sure) and the bastards are gearing up for their end-game as they see it. I am sure of that.

    • But the speed of the transformation from liberal democracy has been astonishing.

      Not necessarily that astonishing. The speed seems to be about the normal for such a process; the same happened at approximately the same rate at the beginning of Victorianism; a new ruling class seizes power (or, rather, eases itself into power) and brings with it a new, um, way of being. It changes the entire culture- at least at the top, percolating down- with this new way of seeing the world and interacting with it. An Englishman living at the start of the Victorian- particularly through the axial time, the 1830s- might have felt a similar culture shock.

      I’m much thinking of late though on one of Wittgenstein’s opinions. At least I believe it is, because I’ve read he opined it somewhere, and I’m too thick to actually read Wittgenstein. I can barely spell him.

      Anyway, this is the observation that conservatism is useless. Once a society has lived through a cultural experience, it cannot undo it. The people are permanently changed. That does not mean that the change itself is now set in stone, but it means that they cannot go back to being what they were before. If there is some former, lost value which we would seek to express again- such as liberalism- we will have to express it in the context of the cultural experiences that we have had. We are the products of the PC Era, the Libertine Interstitial, and Victorianism. We have to define for ourselves, and implement, the next era, rather than hoping to revive anything which is already swept away.

      Or something like that. I’ve just had one of my temporal lobe thingies and I’m frankly rather addled.

      • “Or something like that. I’ve just had one of my temporal lobe thingies and I’m frankly rather addled.”

        It actually makes sense. Keep ’em coming…

        I attack PC secularism by exposing how backward, illogical and bigoted it is. Nice to give them a taste of their own medicine.

      • I can suddenly understand exactly the problem that Ian articulates.

        I am sorry to say that I can suggest no solution, except revolution.

        • Well, part of my answer is to stop attacking the Enemy for being dangerous radicals imposing new ideas, which makes them sound powerful and forward looking, and instead ridicule them as silly old fashioned fools.

          Big government? Central banking and economic management? Feminism and Greenism? All old 19th and early 20th century reactionary nonsense. European Bureaucratic Empire? Pre-war! This is going to get steadily easier to do as they become ever more blatantly old-fashioned, as with this attempt to shut down the internet because it has tits and bums (not to mention “esoteric material” and “forums”) on it. Silly old fuddy-duddies!

          A revolution probably wouldn’t work out very well; they rarely do. The only three major revolutions are France, Russia and Iran, none of which had a good result. Nor was the English Commonwealth either, of course.

  5. Telegraph headline today:
    Ministers treat traditional families as an ‘economic enemy’, says Nigel Farage

    One commenter stated: “The only family David Cameron is in favour of is one in which a man stays home to look after the children while his husband goes out to work.” Random reply: “And yet he claims that there is nothing queer about his policies”

    It just kind of tickled me….

    My pseudosophisticated replies were:
    Basically, the Conservative party is run by a bunch of upper-middle class liberals who don’t want to pay too much tax, and the Labour party is run by a bunch of upper-middle class liberals who don’t mind paying tax because ‘other’ people pay their wages…

    A ‘managerial state’ seeks to undermine the sovereignty of all the institutions it is in direct competition with, namely the nuclear family, community, church, friendly societies and private associations. Along with welfare, this creates more state dependency which is the ultimate goal of any bureaucracy or ‘therapeutic state’. 

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  7. Edward Spalton

    This reminds me how very traditionally Anglican my early upbringing was. At age 4 or 5 I was walking to Church with my father when we passed a Methodist chapel from which the most marvellous, jolly singing was audible – much more fun than anything we had.
    “Can we go to that Church, Daddy?” I asked
    ” But why can’t we?
    “Because we go to the same sort of Church the King goes to and that’s quite good enough for anyone”.

    It was actually a pretty decent, not unkindly sort of faith, underpinned by the Ten Commandments and Thirty Nine Articles. Although we lived in town, it was very much inherited from the tenant farmer class from which my grandfather came.