Friday, May 12, 2006

FIRST BLOOD, an Anniversary

Y'all know what day it is. That's right - May 12th. Or as we say in my house, "Strafford Day".
Can you believe its been just 366 years since Thomas Wentworth, the Earl of Strafford was beheaded on Tower Hill. and the revolution drew its first blood? Man, does time ever fly. I know I'm supposed to hate Strafford, but I've always had a soft spot in my heart for him. I mean, he wasn't nearly the kind of evil fuck that Laud was. Its a shame he was the first to go.
Anyway, here's to 366 long years of RAISING HELL


We all know Pym was an absolute monster of a revolutionary, but was he the greatest of them all? I wrestle with this question all the time. I think that if he'd lived past '43, he would have been a lock. Then again, we'll never know how he would have come down in the Putney Debates - whether he would have stood with Lilburne, blah blah blah.
My favorite thing about him is his speeches. Like the dope shit he delivered to Short Parliament:

"This, he said, we might undertake with comfort and hope of success; for tho there be a darkness upon the land, a thick and palpable darkness, like that of Egypt, yet, as in that, the sun had not lost his light, nor the Egyptians their sight (the interruption was only in the medium), so with us, there is still (God be thanked!) light in the sun—wisdom and justice in his majesty—to dispel this darkness; and in us there remains a visual faculty, whereby we are enabled to apprehend, and moved to desire, light. And when we shall be blessed in the enjoying of it, we shall thereby be incited to return his majesty such thanks as may make it shine more clearly in the world, to his own glory, and in the hearts of his people, to their joy and contentment."
- J.P., 04/17/1640

I mean, how can you not love this guy???

Thursday, May 11, 2006


“I had rather have a plain russet-coated captain that knows what he fights for and loves what he knows, than that which you call ‘a gentleman’ and is nothing else.” - O.C., 1642


There's nothing I hate more than when scholars try to marginalize the English Revolution by comparing it unfavorably with the French Revolution. Exhibit A for this kind of nonsense is Theda Skocpol's book, States and Social Revolutions. Skocpol argues that:

"Though the English Revolution was certainly a successful revolutoin, it was not a social revolution like the French. It was accomplished not through class struggle but through a civil war between segments of the dominant class...And whereas the French Revolution markedly transformed class and social structures, the English Revolution did not."

Ok, sure, so the dominant class wasn't "structurally displaced" by the English Revolution the same way the Nobility was by the French Revolution. But that doesn't mean that the English Revolution wasn't accomplished through class struggle! Or that it wasn't a revolution at all, but merely a "civil war" between two segments of the dominant class, as Conrad Russell's revisionist historiography (AKA, my LEAST favorite historiography of ALL TIME) would have you believe. I mean, is it just a COINCIDENCE that the areas of greatest Parliamentary strength were in the East, Southeast and Midland areas - the areas where capitalist agriculture and industry were FARTHEST ADVANCED? Or that yeomen and the urban petty bourgeois formed the basis of EVERY anti-Royalist, radical party (Levellers, Diggers, Independents, etc.) in the late 1640s?!?!

Besides, I just don't understand how you can compare the English and French Revolutions in the first place, seeing that they occured in completely different social contexts. Late-18th century France was still a backwards, quasi-feudal agrarian economy, whereas by 1600, English agriculture had already transitioned to a capitalist mode of production, and its industry was the most advanced in all of Europe.

Quote of the Day

"It was not the ideas of the levelers that made the American and British constitutions, it was the crushing of the Levellers that made the American and British constitutions." - Brian Manning


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