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We all are conscious of that sense of weariness which almost daily comes over us when we read, in editorial parlance, what the American People have made up their minds to do or not to do, to have or not to have. On this point the average journalist is always fully advised. His insight is infallible. To his conclusions, knowing by long experience their utter worthlessness, we pay no attention.
Charles F. Adams, Lee at Appomatox and other papers, “A National Change of Heart”, 1902
A delicious piece of revisionism

The history of the Whig-Tory conflict is best told as a series of three civil wars: one east of the pond in the 17th century, one across the pond in the 18th, and one west of the pond in the 19th. So the American Revolution: a civil war with an ocean in the middle.

This is not a moral disagreement. This is a case of “is,” not of “ought.” Both parties in England agree - or, at least, appear to agree - on the goal: American colonies that acknowledge the authority of Parliament. The Whigs think the most effective means to this end is to persuade America that England is really their friend, by making concessions when concessions are demanded. The Tories think the most effective means to this end is to use firm and consistent force, to show the Americans that they have no alternative.

After the war, the Whig theory became generally accepted in Britain. This answers question four: why the British have no hard feelings. They have no hard feelings because they believe the war resulted from a British mistake.

We see here also why t_he American patriots never described themselves as Whigs, and nor did their friends in Britain_. If we think of the revolutionaries as Whigs, we are tempted to ask who is in the driver’s seat - the ragtag armies and mobs in America, or the British intellectuals who encouraged their rebellion. We are tempted to see the revolution as a continuation of British politics by other means

So I will simply point out one undisputed fact in the matter, which is that two of the leading British generals, Howe and Cornwallis, were Whigs - in fact, Whig MPs.

This is not a matter of the merits of the rebel causes in the American Revolution and the Civil War. As a progressive, of course, you believe (not very strongly) that the first rebellion was just, and you believe (very strongly) that the second was unjust. These are matters of morality, over which we cannot argue.

The question is the physical efficacy of coercive suppression in both cases. Your theory of history, which of course you did not invent but have received, assures you that coercion could not have worked in the first case. No theory is required to know that it worked in the second.

Here’s a fact that may have escaped your attention. There has never been a successful right-wing insurgency. That is, there has never been any successful movement employing the tactics of guerrilla or “urban guerrilla” (or “terrorist”) war, in which the guerrilla forces were to the political right of the government forces.

… and finally …

The cause of revolutionary violence is not oppression. The cause of revolutionary violence is weak government. If people avoid revolting against strong governments, it is because they are not stupid, and they know they will lose. There is one and only one way to defeat an insurgency, which is the same way to defeat any movement - make it clear that it has no chance of winning, and no one involved in it will gain by continuing to fight.

So insurgency in the modern age is not what it appears to be. It is an illusion constructed for a political audience.

From Unqualified reservations, "The shortest way to word peace"

Though I know that evenin’s empire has returned into sand

Vanished from my hand

Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping

My weariness amazes me, I’m branded on my feet

I have no one to meet

And the ancient empty street’s too dead for dreaming.

Bob Dylan, “Mr. Tambourine Man”

Wherever God erects a house of prayer

the Devil always builds a chapel there;

And ‘t will be found, upon examination,

the latter has the largest congregation.

Daniel Dafoe, “The True-Born Englishman”, 1701

Now to execute the known Laws of a nation upon those who transgress them, after having first been voluntarily consenting to the making of those Laws, can never be called Persecution, but Justice.

But Justice is always Violence to the party offending! for every man is innocent in his own eyes.

Daniel Dafoe, “The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters”, 1703
A (prophetic?) warning, on the excesses of inequality

Not only are the rich not compactly united amongst themselves, but there is no real bond between them and the poor. Their relative position is not a permanent one; they are constantly drawn together or separated by their interests.

The workman is generally dependent on the master, but not on any particular master; these two men meet in the factory, but know not each other elsewhere; and whilst they come into contact on one point, they stand very wide apart on all others. The manufacturer asks nothing of the workman but his labor; the workman expects nothing from him but his wages. The one contracts no obligation to protect, nor the other to defend; and they are not permanently connected either by habit or by duty. The aristocracy created by business rarely settles in the midst of the manufacturing population which it directs; the object is not to govern that population, but to use it.

An aristocracy thus constituted can have no great hold upon those whom it employs; and even if it succeed in retaining them at one moment, they escape the next; it knows not how to will, and it cannot act. The territorial aristocracy of former ages was either bound by law, or thought itself bound by usage, to come to the relief of its serving-men, and to succor their distresses.

But the manufacturing aristocracy of our age first impoverishes and debases the men who serve it, and then abandons them to be supported by the charity of the public. This is a natural consequence of what has been said before. Between the workmen and the master there are frequent relations, but no real partnership.

I am of opinion, upon the whole, that the manufacturing aristocracy which is growing up under our eyes is one of the harshest which ever existed in the world; but at the same time it is one of the most confined and least dangerous. Nevertheless the friends of democracy should keep their eyes anxiously fixed in this direction; for if ever a permanent inequality of conditions and aristocracy again penetrate into the world, it may be predicted that this is the channel by which they will enter.

The worker, pre-industrial-revolution

When a workman is unceasingly and exclusively engaged in the fabrication of one thing, he ultimately does his work with singular dexterity; but at the same time he loses the general faculty of applying his mind to the direction of the work. He every day becomes more adroit and less industrious; so that it may be said of him, that in proportion as the workman improves the man is degraded.

What can be expected of a man who has spent twenty years of his life in making heads for pins? And to what can that mighty human intelligence, which has so often stirred the world, be applied in him, except it be to investigate the best method of making pins’ heads?

When a workman has spent a considerable portion of his existence in this manner, his thoughts are forever set upon the object of his daily toil; his body has contracted certain fixed habits, which it can never shake off: in a word, he no longer belongs to himself, but to the calling which he has chosen.

It is in vain that laws and manners have been at the pains to level all barriers round such a man, and to open to him on every side a thousand different paths to fortune; a theory of manufactures more powerful than manners and laws binds him to a craft, and frequently to a spot, which he cannot leave: it assigns to him a certain place in society, beyond which he cannot go: in the midst of universal movement it has rendered him stationary.

On the inevitability of recurring crises in … democracy (!)

Almost an offhand comment hidden away at the end of a section (chapter 19, book 2). But read it again, and it seems to be (pre-Marx) a mention of the “natural crises of capitalism”; except it is not, it talks about them as the “natural crises of democracy” !!

The Americans make immense progress in productive industry, because they all devote themselves to it at once; and for this same reason they are exposed to very unexpected and formidable embarrassments.

As they are all engaged in commerce, their commercial affairs are affected by such various and complex causes that it is impossible to foresee what difficulties may arise. As they are all more or less engaged in productive industry, at the least shock given to business all private fortunes are put in jeopardy at the same time, and the State is shaken.

I believe that the return of these commercial panics is an endemic disease of the democratic nations of our age. It may be rendered less dangerous, but it cannot be cured; because it does not originate in accidental circumstances, but in the temperament of these nations.

On the limits of equality

It is possible to conceive of men arrived at a degree of freedom that should completely content them; they would then enjoy their independence without anxiety and without impatience. But men will never establish any equality with which they can be contented.

Whatever efforts a people may make, they will never succeed in reducing all the conditions of society to a perfect level; and even if they unhappily attained that absolute and complete equality of position, the inequality of minds would still remain, which, coming directly from the hand of God, will forever escape the laws of man.

However democratic, then, the social state and the political constitution of a people may be, it is certain that every member of the community will always find out several points about him which overlook his own position; and we may foresee that his looks will be doggedly fixed in that direction.

When inequality of conditions is the common law of society, the most marked inequalities do not strike the eye; when everything is nearly on the same level, the slightest are marked enough to hurt it. Hence the desire of equality always becomes more insatiable in proportion as equality is more complete.

It was not man who implanted in himself the taste for what is infinite and the love of what is immortal: those lofty instincts are not the offspring of his capricious will; their steadfast foundation is fixed in human nature, and they exist in spite of his efforts. He may cross and distort them – destroy them he cannot.

The soul has wants which must be satisfied; and whatever pains be taken to divert it from itself, it soon grows weary, restless, and disquieted amidst the enjoyments of sense. If ever the faculties of the great majority of mankind were exclusively bent upon the pursuit of material objects, it might be anticipated that an amazing reaction would take place in the souls of some men.

They would drift at large in the world of spirits, for fear of remaining shackled by the close bondage of the body.

Tocqueville, “Democracy in America”