Thursday, 27 December 2018

It's time for a Republic.

It's time for a old woman in front of a good piano talked of poverty and told us to pursue unity she is a represntative for a long gone age. How on earth can we have a just equal society when we have an hereditary monarchy an aristocracy and the public schools? I even hear rumours of a third Welsh Investiture in July of 2019. In the year of Brexit and desperation of the Establishment to stay in power the monarchy is an institution that preserves and defends the nature of Tory power. The National anthem is a dirge and an opiate for the bluekippers amo get us. I have known it all my life I remember 1969 and the Investiture . It seemed silly to be then and full of anachronism. It contained a fantasy of nationalism and snobbery.

Yesterday I read on Port Talbot Debate and Argue that the institution of monarchy was essential for democracy, that it was cheaper than the family of an elected President and that it was better than a dictator. It's supporters were the usual suspects. They were former soldiers conditioned to the flag and the monarch. They were right wingers who claimed that republicans "we're just jealous of sucess" . It seemed that the hereditary principle passed them by. They just did not grasp the implications. When Elizabeth Saxe Coberg Gotha is gone a bare 25% will have any interest in things Royal. The Institution of the Investiture of the Prince of Wales is an illusion to keep us quiet. It was established in trickery and as propaganda for a military conquest. However in the hands of a Tory government both the monarchy and the Brexit obsessed Tory government need it to distract many from the reality of economic equality. For the Royal Wedding the homeless were cleared from the streets of Windsor. The opiate is clear and powerful so many will only be freed from it's addictive nature till the passing of this monarch.

When the Republic begins we will still have the Royal Palaces the history and the churches.. The money will still flow in and the Americans will still love an imaginary history. The monarchy has no relevance any more except in a historical context. The Republic is necessary for us to cast aside the illusions of Empire and if getting our country back. It does however have a propaganda value for a right wing discourse and a Tory government desperate to retain power. The monarchy has played a propaganda game for the last 80 years. It is promoted by a sycophantic BBC and the superstructure of the state. The military are indoctrinated by it and the Right Wing Press obscure reality and silence an alternative view...but I tell you the Republic nears and will be here soon. My republucanism comes not from jealousy not envy it comes from the desire to establish a just, equal Socialist Repblic. Compare the words of the Welsh National Anthem with the dirge that is the British one. Long live the Welsh Socialist Republic.

Friday, 21 December 2018

May your Yule burn bright at this darkest night. The Summer King stirs.

May your Yule burn bright at this darkest night. The Summer King stirs.

Greeting to the Winter Solstice Brightener of Darkness, hail! Keeper of Clearness, Opener of the Depths Gifts of plenty are arising Winter wonders, white snows’ fall Joyful be the heart within us Open wide the guesting door Wisdom waken in abundance Warm our beings to the core

And now the Winter Solstice is here and the rain keeps a falling

And now the Winter Solstice is here and the rain keeps a falling. The light is at its nadir as I climb onto the bus I hear that 15,000 have died waiting for their correct share of ESA We now know that 600 people have died homeless. They have died forgotten ; unrecorded and ignored. Their average age was 44 something is very wrong and our society is very sick. Brexit has consumed everything, it has obscured all care, concern and compassion. Government is solely concerned with it and all else is hidden. The light will now grow and the days will lengthen. For many this will be the last day in work as it will be for myself. This will be the last blog piece of 2018. I will I expect still be commenting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram . It's time to recharge and replenish.
I wish you well this Christmas. For many this is a grim time Nothing is more apparent than the myth of Christmas. The discourse of Christmas is of the family, of love and of snow. Yet so few line in the nuclear family and are without love and it rains rather than snows

The Maybot gives us a military subtext. She stirs up a real Project Fear we have soldiers at Heathrow and soldiers waiting to be used at Brexit time. Mysterious drone drivers, unknown, unseen are used to increase our insecurity. The right wing press claims that environmental campaigners are responsible. The government create fear, division and disalusionment they kill light and silence laughter. Mean while a viscious tribe of Public School boys chant pantomime like as a homeless man dies a few hundred feet from them. They close their ears, eyes and mouth to reality as the length of human life shortens and austerity bites harder and with it more children feel hunger and cold. These are the days of Scrooge and Marley's ghost is exorcised before Christmas morning. Bob Cratchit has been sanctioned and Tiny Tim suffering from the introduction of Universal Credit.

I am fed up with those who claim that Christ is the reason for Christmas.tbe Holy Family could not get to Bethlehem because of the Israeli Wall. There are many things older than Christ, there us the Celtic child of light there are the festival's going back 10,000 years . We need Saturnalia, we need the feast of wine and good food. We need to challenge the discourse and celebrate the collective .We need to reach out from this narrow nasty conservative Christmas before Brexit. Socialism is essential and the end of this vile government must come. This is a brief moment of rest upon the wind of struggle and another round will begin. Rise like Lions after slumber another world is possible and begins soon.

Winter Solstice thoughts and a Post-modern postscript. and the coming of Ein Gwlad..

Martyn:s Christmas Carol...So tell fine Christian Bluekippers and you too, you devotees of the Libertarian Right.. cast your mind back to the Nativity scene..the holy family are refugees...they have been in exile in Egypt fleeing the wrath of Herod...i wonder how the Egyptian people received them...Mary is an unmarried mother ...the family is homeless ..they are squatting in a tax payers barn...the shepherds are on minimum wage and a zero hours contract.. the wise men followed a star they could not find what they were looking for at home and choose exile to follow their dream...Britain first would be very upset with all these Jews Arabs and Africans in the scene.
The nativity scene was made up of exiles. They were all homeless.. send em back you moronic bluekippers as you every the nature of the first Christian Christmas..for all the participants were far from a place called home. In the 2000 years since it has been perverted to promote the family unit. The discourse
alienated those who live alone, who are lonely and outcast. It became a festival of smugness and conformity. The search for a home and a place of belonging did not belong to the individuals in the Bethlehem nativity scene.. did it?

Yesterday I heard a wonderful story set in Neath of two elderly women in Queen Street in Neath who took a homeless young woman into a cafe and fed her. Since 2010 homelessness has soared . And still you hear the idiots on social media moan that it is homelessness out of choice ..the morons neither understand the first Christmas or the nature of the economic system.. look around idiots you notice more people on the street. ? ASK YOURSELF WHY..and do some research about homelessness and Christmas..perhaps you will have ghostly visitors my fine blue kippers..

The coming of the youthquake and the end of the broflake

. I hear on Radio 4 that the most popular new word of the year "youthquake". It's apt my generation the baby boomers are fading away and with it it's discourse. It's fine and necessary for this process to begin. There are those who struggle with their mortality and power but for me it's not a thing to be resisted. In the last two years some have sort to deny the inevitable, they have fled to Trump, to Farage or Lepen. Yet Canute line they have failed to stem the tide. The sea if their faith reached high water mark in June 2016 and in November of the same year. After Brexit the Left and Corbyn emerged; in Alabama three days ago the tide turned there. It's no longer acceptable for men and in particular for powerful men to harrass, assault and group women. The tide running now will sweep away the baby boomers now crying about witchunts against them. We have transgender rights, variable identities and sexualitied are seen as nothing more than the concerns of the person they belong to.

Another word of the year is broflake it applies to men who fear political or cultural change. Trump and Farage are the Platonic form of the broflaje and their time is coming to end. Two years ago I speculated on a paradigm shift . I commented that I was not sure who would win the populist authoritarian right or the decentralised socialism of Jeremy Corbyn, and Bernie Sanders. Two years on and the tide runs to the left. I still here the bitter old men and some younger whine and moan about nothing but how evil the EU is and how terrible the witchhunt on sexual harassment is. Yet the broflakes are fading and the snowflakes are growing. Like Elrond I see the passing of my generation and am glad of it. It's time for the paradigm to change, the hope to grow and new possibilities to emerge. The broflakes turn to damaging drugs and psychosis. They escape into homophobia, racism islamophobia and sexism. They fear the other, they fear change and project their anxieties on to those they fear. Yet my fine broflakes you cannot stop what is happening and you like me will pass away. And that is both necessary and is the time for renewal as the baby boomers are replaced.

Broflakes of the have nothing to lose but your equality and fraternity...the Nation Cymru site is full of news concerning a right wing pro Welsh independence party. I have looked at the site in detail today and upon the comments of a certain Jac o the North. I have watched the rants today on both I have watched them mount up ..there has been a call for nationality tests for the homeless and for those in social care. I have seen rants about lesbians of a predatory nature. This is the blogger who has retweeted European neo Nazi tweets and moaned about the Confederate flag being taken down in South Carolina. This is a party that makes the Kippers look mild. It's a party of broflakes through the medium of Welsh and it devalues through its prejudice both the language and the culture of Wales. I have watched over the last few months rants against "wimmin; lefties and greens '. 

It's members will have sympathy for the loathsome Gareth Bennet on his views on trans people. The truth is that if you are secure in yourself another's sexuality spirituality or sense of self should not bother you. Only the insecure fear change the trick is to transform it by acknowledging it. The bearded woman is an ancient symbol within a Celtic tradition. Thus is psychologically a party of tte insecure, the afraid. Those who gather to promote a Wales of Welsh capitalism ; who seek to speak Tory welfare policies through a Welsh discourse will soon turn to a Welsh aristocracy, monarch and aircraft carrier. It will be a white Wales free from the corruption of the urban threat; a WaLes powered by nuclear power and free from renewables. A Wales obsessed with home ownership and a dearth of social housing. Yes I can see the nature of this rough beast, this 'twrch' waiting to be makes me sick this party of the boring broflakes. it slouches forth from it's birth place in Aberystwyth...guided by that behatted Chandleresque midwife... Jac o' the right...

Post-modern postscript.

I wrote this piece today partly in a postmodern mood and partly a Joycean one. Please note the intertextualities from Yeates poem the 'second coming' I also used the play on words like boar boring and it's Welsh form of 'twrch'. I choose a Chandleresque motif as young Royston likes to see himself as private eye like in his investigative journalism. I however want to play on the use of the term private or dick.. particularly in the last word dick. It seemed an appropriate word somehow. I took the word broflake as in a recent new words referring to elderly men who could not take to challenges to their binary classification of gender; sexuality and ethnicity. I felt somehow it summarised the ethos of this new party. Finally I should point out that it was West Wales where King Arthur hunted the Great Boar the Twrch in the Welsh Arthurian roots of the of mythos. Many of us on the Left have felt we have been hunting this old boar/bore/twrch for many years...excuse my attempts at a fusion of Joyce and the Postmodern..but as they say every saint has a past every sinner a future....

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Looking back, deep in December on the Political ego..

Looking back, deep in December on the Political ego...“An Independent is someone who wants to take the politics out of politics."

Two quotes floated into my mind as I awoke this morning both are by Adlai Stevenson the distinguished American politician the first is “You can tell the size of a man by the size of the thing that makes him mad.” the second “An Independent is someone who wants to take the politics out of politics. By the way I am awre of the sexism in the language the quote came from the 1950s.
Over 40 years of political activity have taught me many things and showed me many political rise and falls of careers, egos and identities. The phenomena I have noticed most is what I would call the emergence of the “Independent politician” Just recently I saw the phenomena again this is how it happens, the individual joins a political party or campaign group, the group is small and needs nurturing, the individual helps it to grow, they tender it , develop it and subtly dominate it. Soon the group is led by the individual, then criticism is made of that individual, instead of reflecting the individual throws a temper tantrum, accuses others of bullying them and when finally the group realises that their saviour was in fact a figure of a dominant ego rather thann someone who wishes to challenge domination: the saviour then leaves the group and becomes an Independent politician or commentator. They may even join another group or organisation but you will find that until the individual spots the pattern nothing will change in their dealings with others.
The tragedy is that this figure has simply used the group to protect their own fragile sense of self. When this is challenged that they are not the Messiah and are simply a Naughty Boy, you see the Gollum moment and then the frightened little Smeagol us revealed. Before the individual leaves an issue is discovered that they totally disagree with, or there is an individual or individuals who are stopping them achieve breakthrough. Their last act may be a take over or attempt to be elected to a new position that will give dominance over the group that is slipping out of their co trom. Its sad to see it happen but throughout History it happens again and again. Look at Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher the list goes on and on.......

Political Parties need independent tho kers but not in egotistical terms, they need independent thinkers who challenge dominant discourses. Einstein did his best work when he worked outside of academia in the patent office, Jeremy Corbyn maintained an independent critical attitude to the dominant labour leadership and emerged as the leader of a new paradigm. The emergence of the Green party has brought new influences, new criticism , a new paradigm and the most healthy Constituency Parties I know that this collective Leadership and independent thinking is essentisl.
I have had vigorous differences of opinion with other activists but I have learnt from them. These learnings have come from many other sources as well from the people I have met, the contemplations and of the reflections I have gone through. The challenge is to learn that when our ideas are challenged or criticised that it is not an individual rejection but a challenge to our sense of self that needs reflecting upon. Adlai Stevendon was right in both quotes. It is the measure of what we do when are angry that stays with people the longest and unfortunately it mat be the lasting thing that people remember about us.Its independent thinking that is needed in Politics not independent dominant egos..from Seven Sisters and through the whole of South Wales..thete was a severe rash that broke out in the council elections of 2015 and still affects us deep in December...nearly all the "independents" were Brexuteers, pro market and right wing..they were not independent thinkers they were masking their true identities. And two years on they have vanished from view without a trace . .

The 18th-century craze for gin

Inspiring oddities from mass public nudity to a mechanical gin-selling cat, the craze for gin swept across London and much of England during the first half of the 18th century. Writing for History Extra, Mark Forsyth, author of A Short History of Drunkenness, explores the history behind this alcoholic spirit

Gin Lane, a print issued in 1751 by painter and printmaker William Hogarth. It depicts the perceived evils of the consumption of gin. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

Gin causes women to spontaneously combust. Or, at least, that was the theory. There are two documented cases of British ladies downing gin and going up in smoke, and a few more of European women doing the same with brandy. The matter was taken seriously enough to be discussed by the Royal Society in 1745.

We don’t take stories of spontaneous human combustion that seriously any more (for reasons I’ll get back to), but for a historian, the stories are fascinating because they’re part of the great Gin Panic. This was the moralising and serious counterpart to the great Gin Craze that swept London and much of England in the first half of the 18th century and produced (aside from the ignited ladies) mass public nudity, burning babies, and a mechanical gin-selling cat.
Alcoholic spirits were a pretty new commodity in 18th-century society, though they had actually been around for a long time. They started as a chemical curiosity in about the 10th century AD. They were being drunk by the very, very rich for pleasure by about 1500, as shown when James IV of Scotland bought several barrels of whisky. But even a hundred years later, in 1600, there was only one recorded bar in England that sold spirits to the curious (just outside London, towards Barking).
James IV of Scotland. We know that alcoholic spirits were drunk by the very rich since 1500, as the king is known to have purchased several barrels of whisky. (Photo by National Galleries Of Scotland/Getty Images)
James IV of Scotland. We know that alcoholic spirits were drunk by the very rich since 1500, as the king is known to have purchased several barrels of whisky. (Photo by National Galleries Of Scotland/Getty Images)
Then in about 1700, spirits hit. The reasons are complicated and involve taxation of grain and the relations with the Dutch, but the important thing is that gin suddenly became widely available to Londoners, which was a good thing for the gin-sellers as Londoners needed a drink. The turn of the 18th century was a great period of urbanisation, when the poor of England flocked to London in search of streets paved with gold and Bubbles from South Sea [the South Sea Bubble was a speculation boom in the early 1710s], only to find that the streets were paved with mud and there was no work to be had. London’s population was around 600,000. There were only two other towns in England with populations of 20,000. London was the first grand, anonymous city. There were none of the social constraints of a village where everybody knew everybody’s business. And there were none of the financial safeguards either, with a parish that would support its native poor, or the family and friends who might have looked after you at home. Instead, there was gin.

A craze among the poor

It’s very hard to say which was bigger – the craze for drinking gin that swept the lower classes, or the moral panic at the sight of so many gin drinkers that engulfed the ruling classes. Anonymous hordes of poor, often homeless people wandered the city drinking away their sorrows, and often their clothes, as they readily exchanged their garments for the spirit.
Before the industrial revolution and the rash of cotton mills that would fill the north of England a century later, cloth was very expensive. Beggars really did dress in rags, if at all, and the obvious thing to sell if you really needed money fast was, literally, the shirt on your back. The descriptions left to us by the ‘Gin Panickers’ would be funny – if they weren’t so tragic.
A print of an 18th-century liquor seller. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
A print of an 18th-century liquor seller. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Indeed, the most notorious single incident of the gin craze was the case of Judith Defour, a young woman with a daughter and no obvious husband. The daughter, Mary, had been taken into care by the parish workhouse and provided with a nice new set of clothes. One Sunday, in January 1734, Judith Defour came to take Mary out for the day and didn’t return her. Instead, she strangled her own child and sold the new clothes to buy gin.
Judith Defour was probably mentally unwell anyway, but her case became a public sensation, because it summed up everything that people thought about the new craze for drinking gin: she was poor; she was a woman and she was a mother. Judith was selling clothes for alcohol and as the clothes had been provided by the workhouse, she was therefore taking advantage of the rudimentary social security system, combining benefits fraud with infanticide.

The arrival of gin

Before gin had come on the scene, Englishmen had drunk beer. English women had drunk it too – up to a point – but beer and the alehouses where it was served had always been seen as basically male domains. Gin, which was new and exotic and metropolitan, didn’t have any of these old associations. There were no rules around gin. There were no social norms about who could drink it, or when you could drink it, or how much of it you could drink. A lot of places served it in pints because, well… that’s what you drank. A country boy newly arrived in the city wasn’t going to drink a thimbleful of something.
This was, quite literally, put to the test in 1741, when a group of Londoners offered a farm labourer a shilling for each pint of gin he could sink. He managed three, and then dropped down dead. It’s amazing he got that far, as gin, in those days, was about twice as strong as it is now and contained some interesting flavourings. Some distillers used to add sulphuric acid, just to give it some bite.
And so the efforts to ban drinking among the lower classes began. And they didn’t work very well. When authorities decided to ban the sale of gin, there were fully fledged riots. The poor didn’t want their drug of choice taken away. They loved ‘Madam Geneva’, as they called the spirit.
A satirical cartoon relating to the Gin Act, depicting a mock funeral procession for 'Madam Geneva' in St Giles, London, 1751. (Photo by Guildhall Library & Art Gallery/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
A satirical cartoon relating to the Gin Act, depicting a mock funeral procession for ‘Madam Geneva’ in St Giles, London, 1751. (Photo by Guildhall Library & Art Gallery/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
In any case, the government decided to tax the living daylights out of it. But people simply didn’t pay the tax, so government tried to pay informants to hand in unlicensed gin-sellers. This attempt turned ugly as a number of mobs formed to attack even suspected informants, and several people were beaten to death. Not that the informants were necessarily that nice; they could, and some did, run the whole thing as a protection racket – “pay me or I’ll claim the reward from the government”. And into this chaos it’s almost unsurprising that a mechanical cat should make an entry.

The Puss-and-Mew machine

The contraption known as the ‘Puss-and-Mew machine’ was simple. The gin-seller found a window in alleyway that was nowhere near the building’s front door. The window was covered boarded over with a wooden cat. The gin-buyer would approach and say to the cat: “Puss, give me two pennyworth of gin,” and then place the coins in the cat’s mouth. These would slide inwards to the gin-seller who would pour the gin down a lead pipe that emerged under the cat’s paw. The crowds loved it and the inventor, Dudley Bradstreet, made three or four pounds a day, which was a lot of money. As nobody witnessed both sides of the transaction, no charges could be brought.
A display featuring a 'Puss-and-Mew machine' at the Beefeater Gin Distillery in Kennington, London. (Image used with permission from Beefeater Gin Distillery in Kennington, London)
A display featuring a ‘Puss-and-Mew machine’ at the Beefeater Gin Distillery in Kennington, London. (Image used with permission from Beefeater Gin Distillery in Kennington, London)
 The Gin Craze was a classic example of a drug without social norms. Every society on earth has had its narcotics (and almost every society has chosen alcohol). But those narcotics have come with social rules about when, where, how and why you ‘get blasted’. Every age and every society is different. Today, young adults tend to get drunk on a Friday evening, while in medieval England, the preferred time was Sunday morning. In ancient Egypt, it was the Festival of Hathor and in ancient China, it was during the rites that honoured the family dead.
Nowadays, gin is just another spirit, but in the 18th century, gin had no norms, no rules, no mythology and no associations. It was anyone’s, and that was its danger: a danger that in the popular imagination was easily transmuted into spontaneous female combustion.
A final note on these combustible ladies: they were all reasonably old and reasonably well off. The strange thing about spontaneous human combustion is that in all cases the body is reduced to a small pile of ashes, whilst nearby objects – however burnable – are not even singed. A human body actually burns at around 1,200 degrees Celsius. A burning house rarely gets above about 800 degrees. So, while the stories don’t stand up scientifically, a society that believes such stories is very good for those who stand to inherit the victim’s fortune.
Mark Forsyth is the author of A Short History of Drunkenness: How, why, where and when humankind has got merry from the Stone Age to the present (Viking, November 2017). He also appeared in a recent episode of the History Extra podcast, listen here.

Understanding the Conservative myth of 1688 and the `Glorious rRvolution`

In 1988 Margaret Thatcher praised the the revolution of 1688 and claimed it as a conservative foundation story. Neil Kinnock then leader of the Labour Party in ignorance rose in the House of Commons and too praised its significance for liberty. It was left to the late Tony Benn to point out its significance for the establishment of capitalism, the promotion of slavery and the subjugation of the Scottish and Irish people.. I would too like to add to Benns exposure of the Tory Myth, Now is 1688 is being used by many new right wingers to promote Brexit Island. the truth was that 1688 was imposed by a Dutch European army....lets correct their ignorance....
The Grasshopper, William Burke, and the Conservative myths of the “ 1688 Glorious Revolution” and Professor Steven Pincus.

Just before Christmas I was sitting in a Pub just outside of Neath. I head a man talking about the Glorious Revolution of 1688. He was speaking rather what I would uncharitably call “Kipper Konverstaion”. There had been an article in the Daily Mail about the event that had far more to do with our time and its concerns than 1688. Even when Edward Gibbon wrote the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, he was fearing for the fate of the British Empire. Gibbon blamed the Christians for the fall of Roma and argued for a secular British I wonder how the Daily Mail would take that? All history is seen and interpreted in the context of the time in which it is described. The past has happened but how we learn about it and talk about it is created by the time that we the learners and others exist in. In a time of Brexit we find that the nice British Parliament invited William and Mary to liberate Britain from the threat of absolutism. But we fail to mention that like the Magna Carta the Glorious Revolution was instituted by European powers intervening into British life....but lets not mention that. Williams army was four times larger than the Spanish Armada but we won't mention that will we?

They never mention that William had been plotting the invasion for years before and that he felt a new regime help him in his war against France. The Kipper revisionists never tell you about the violence done in Scotland or Ireland that was far from Glorious or indeed how the foundations of the Slave Trade began under this glorious change...but who am I to point this out.? Edmund Burke, the hero of the Conservatives once said “Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern, make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle reposed beneath the shadow of the British Oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field.” Burke could well be describing Farage and his crew and the political culture of 2017. When the Daily Mail begins explaining history I reach for my sick bucket.
The Glorious Revolution of 1688-1689 replaced the reigning king, James II, with the joint monarchy of his protestant daughter Mary and her Dutch husband, William of Orange. It was the keystone of the Whig (those opposed to a Catholic succession) history of Britain.
According to the Whig account, the events of the revolution were bloodless and the revolution settlement established the supremacy of parliament over the crown, setting Britain on the path towards constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.
But it ignores the extent to which the events of 1688 constituted a foreign invasion of England by another European power, the Dutch Republic.
Although bloodshed in England was limited, the revolution was only secured in Ireland and Scotland by force and with much loss of life.
Moreover, the British causes of the revolution were as much religious as political. Indeed, the immediate constitutional impact of the revolution settlement was minimal. Nonetheless, over the course of the reign of William III (1689-1702) society underwent significant and long-lasting changes.

To understand why James II’s most powerful subjects eventually rose up in revolt against him we need to understand the deep-seated fear of 'popery' in Stuart England.
'Popery' meant more than just a fear or hatred of Catholics and the Catholic church. It reflected a widely-held belief in an elaborate conspiracy theory, that Catholics were actively plotting the overthrow of church and state.

In their place would be established a Catholic tyranny, with England becoming merely a satellite state, under the control of an all-powerful Catholic monarch, (in the era of the Glorious Revolution, identified with Louis XIV of France). This conspiracy theory was given credibility by the existence of some genuine catholic subterfuge, most notably the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
A new crisis of ‘popery and arbitrary government' erupted in the late 1670s.
Public anxieties were raised by the issue of the royal succession. Charles II fathered no legitimate offspring. This meant that the crown would pass to his brother, James, Duke of York, whose conversion to Catholicism had become public knowledge in 1673.
Public concern about the succession reached fever pitch in the years 1678-1681. The so-called ‘exclusion crisis’ was provoked by allegations made by Titus Oates, a former Jesuit novice, of a popish plot to assassinate Charles II and place his brother on the throne. The fantastical plot was given credibility by the mysterious death of Sir Edmund Bury Godfrey, the magistrate who first investigated Oates’ claims.
Whig politicians within parliament, led by the earl of Shaftesbury, promoted exclusion bills which would have prevented James from succeeding to the throne.
But the radical tactics deployed by the king’s opponents, including mass petitions and demonstrations, gradually alienated some initial supporters of exclusion.
Charles’s hand was strengthened further by an agreement with France reached in March 1681, by which the king received £385,000 over three years.
With this financial support, and with public opinion turning against his critics, Charles was able to dissolve parliament on 28 March 1681.
Rebellion and revolt
James II’s authority appeared to be secure when he succeeded to the throne in February 1685.
The king’s initial promises to defend the existing government in church and state reassured many of those worried by his personal faith.
James was well-off financially, with a tax revenue over £1,200,000. The manipulation of borough charters in the last years of Charles II’s reign ensured that James’ first parliament was dominated by loyal Tories.
Parliament also voted James considerable emergency sums to suppress the rebellion raised by Charles II’s eldest illegitimate son, the duke of Monmouth in June 1685. James’ army of professional soldiers easily crushed the 3,000 to 4,000 rebels who joined Monmouth’s cause.
nitial support for the king ebbed away as it became clear that he wished to secure not only freedom of worship for Catholics, but also the removal of the Test and Corporation Acts so that they could occupy public office.
Unease at the king’s appointment of Catholic officers to the army forced him to prorogue parliament on 20 November 1685.
James then attempted to secure his religious objectives through the use of his prerogative powers. The test case of Godden vs Hales (1686) established James’ right to suspend the provisions of the Test Acts, thereby allowing the king to appoint a number of Catholic peers to his Privy Council.
n April 1687, James issued a declaration of indulgence, suspending penal laws against Catholics and granting toleration to some Protestant dissenters.
In the summer of 1687, James formally dissolved his parliament and began canvassing officials across the country regarding their support for the formal repeal of the Test Acts. The information was used to begin a purge of corporations, aimed at producing a pliable parliament which would agree to the king’s wishes.
These measures met with increasing opposition from the Anglican-Tory establishment.
In July, members of Magdalen College, Oxford were stripped of their fellowships for refusing to appoint the king’s choice, Samuel Parker, a bishop who supported the repeal of the Test Acts, as their college president.
In May of 1688, seven leading bishops, including William Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury, refused to follow the order to read the king’s second declaration of indulgence from their pulpits. James responded by having them arrested for seditious libel and taken to the Tower of London. Their acquittal at trial was met with widespread public rejoicing.
Dutch invasion
The Anglican campaign against James II’s religious policies went no further than passive resistance. But a number of English peers including the earls of Danby and Halifax, and Henry Compton, Bishop of London, went further, making contact with the Dutch leader, William of Orange.
Two factors moved James II’s opponents to urge William to intervene militarily. Firstly, after years of trying, James’ Catholic second wife finally fell pregnant. The birth of a healthy male heir, James Edward Stuart, on 10 June 1688, dashed hopes that the crown would soon pass to James’s protestant daughter Mary.

Secondly, William’s co-conspirators believed that the parliament James planned to summon in the autumn would repeal the Test Acts.The grave danger posed to the Protestant succession and the Anglican establishment led seven peers to write to William on 30 June 1688, pledging their support to the prince if he brought a force into England against James.
William had already begun making military preparations for an invasion of England before this letter was sent. Indeed, the letter itself mainly served a propaganda purpose, to allow the prince of Orange to present his intervention as a mercy mission.

In fact, William’s main reason for interfering in English affairs was essentially pragmatic – he wished to bring England into his war against Louis XIV’s France and a free parliament was seen as more likely to support this. The forces that the prince of Orange amassed for his invasion were vast, the flotilla consisting of 43 men-of-war, four light frigates and 10 fireships protecting over 400 flyboats capable of carrying 21,000 soldiers. All in all, it was an armada four times the size of that launched by the Spanish in 1588.

Aided by the so-called ‘Protestant wind’ which prevented James’ navy from intercepting the Dutch fleet, William landed at Torbay, Devon, on 5 November 1688, the exact timing of his landfall neatly fitting with the anniversary of another celebrated moment when the nation was delivered from popery.

James had made military preparations for the defence of England over the summer and autumn of 1688 and his army encamped on Hounslow Heath was, at about 25,000 men, numerically larger than the force brought over by William. For the first time since the 1640s, England was faced with the prospect of civil war.
News of the prince’s arrival had sparked off waves of anti-Catholic rioting in towns and cities across England. The civil unrest convinced James to leave London and bring out his forces to meet the invading army in a pitched battle.
But the Orangist conspiracy against James had been maturing for years and had infiltrated James’ own army, with the king’s nephew, Lord Cornbury, one of the first to defect to William. At this point, James’ health also deserted him. He was frequently debilitated by heavy nosebleeds.
Having reached Salisbury on 19 November with the intention of resisting William’s advance, James had by the 23 November resolved to retreat back to London.
The desertions continued, with the defection of John Churchill, later Duke of Marlborough, and James’ son-in-law, the Prince of Denmark on 24 November.
The final betrayal came on the king’s return to his capital on the 26 November when he discovered that his daughter, Princess Anne had also absconded to join the Orangist side.
James now announced that he was willing to agree to William’s main demand - to call a ‘free’ parliament. However, the king was now convinced that his own life was in danger and was making preparations to flee the country.
Meanwhile, William’s advance upon the capital had met with some resistance - a bloody skirmish at Reading on 7 December with over 50 killed.On 11 December, in the wake of renewed anti-Catholic rioting in London, James made his first attempt to escape, but was captured by Kent fishermen near Sheerness.
The king’s capture was an inconvenience for William, who was now looked upon as the only individual capable of restoring order to the country, and on 23 December, with the prince’s connivance, James successfully fled the country.
The ‘convention parliament’, made up of members from Charles II’s last parliament, convened on 22 January 1689.
After considerable pressure from William himself, parliament agreed that he would rule as joint monarch with Mary, rather than act merely as her consort, and on 13 February William and Mary formally accepted the throne.
Before they were offered the crown, William and Mary were presented with a document called the Declaration of Rights, later enshrined in law as the Bill of Rights, which affirmed a number of constitutional principles, such as the illegality of prerogative suspending and dispensing powers, the prohibition of taxation without parliamentary consent and the need for regular parliaments.
In reality, the Bill of Rights placed few real restrictions on the crown. It was not until 1694 that the call for regular parliaments was backed up by the Triennial Act.Pressure from William also ensured the passage in May 1689 of the Toleration Act, granting many Protestant groups, but not Catholics, freedom of worship. This toleration was, however, considerably more limited than that envisaged by James II.

Consequences of 1688
If we take the revolution to encompass the whole of William III’s reign, it certainly imposed limitations on royal authority.
Parliament gained powers over taxation, over the royal succession, over appointments and over the right of the crown to wage war independently, concessions that William thought were a price worth paying in return for parliament’s financial support for his war against France.
William’s wars profoundly changed the British state. Their massive cost led not only to growth of modern financial institutions – most notably the Bank of England founded in 1694 – but also to greater scrutiny of crown expenditure through parliamentary committees of accounts. The bureaucracy required to harvest all this money grew exponentially too.The revolution’s legacy might be seen as negative in other ways. In Ireland and Scotland, the revolution was militarily contested and its settlements extremely politically and religiously divisive. For example, Irish Protestants disregarded the generous peace terms of the Treaty of Limerick (3 October 1691) and established a monopoly over land-ownership and political power.

The revolution also failed to limit the power of parliaments and created no body of protected constitutional law. Therefore the Septennial Act of 1716 was able to effectively undermine the terms of the 1694 Triennial Act, ushering in the lengthy rule of a Whig oligarchy.
The revolution also fostered the growth of slavery by ending the Royal African Company’s monopoly on the trade in 1698. For the non-white inhabitants of the British Atlantic empire, the Glorious Revolution represented not the broadening of freedom but the expansion of servitude.
Before I get told off I would recommend that you read an excellent book by Steven Pincus. The research is formidable and extensive. The Conservative lens through which the events of 1688 is out of date and full of propaganda of the right.In this brilliant and provocative book, Steve Pincus creates a welcome stir that will enliven the study of the later 17th century. Its author is like his revolutionary Whig subjects: self-conscious and polemical about a desire to set things on a new footing. The result is a bracing, combative, highly stimulating argument, written in vivid and lively prose. The book is an ideal one to give to students, not only because Pincus enthuses about and revels in his subject in a way that is highly infectious, but also because he writes such a strongly argued and argumentative piece. Almost all the chapters court controversy and should provide ample scope for debate.
The overall argument is relatively easily summarised. The revolution of 1688 was the first modern revolution. Like more recent revolutions, it was violent, popular, and divisive. It was not an aristocratic coup or a Dutch invasion, but a popular rejection of James II’s French-inspired, Catholic, absolutist modernisation of the state in favour of an alternative Anglo-Dutch vision that prized consent, religious toleration, free debate and commerce. By the mid-1690s this second, Whig version had triumphed. Britain had experienced a truly transformative revolution that had reshaped religion, political economy, foreign policy and the nature of the state.
The first half of this review will sketch out the argument in more detail. I shall then conclude with some reflections on it.

The first chapter examines the way in which 1688 has been viewed by subsequent generations. Pincus seeks to explain why, if 1688–9 was really revolutionary, it should have acquired a reputation as conservative, moderate and peaceful. Discerning a change of Whig attitudes under Walpole in the 1720s and 1730s, Pincus also suggests that the radicals of the later 18th century turned their back on what they saw as an imperfect revolution. Both moderates and radicals thus came to see 1688–9 as a conservative revolution, though the first group celebrated it for that and the second despised it for it. Pincus then takes the modern scholarly community to task for having ‘claimed with a united voice’ that the ‘lives of most Britons were remarkably little affected’ by the revolution.
The next five chapters (part two of the book) examine pre-revolutionary England. Chapter three adopts an explicitly comparative European perspective, arguing that by James II’s reign England was urbanising ‘more rapidly than any place in Europe’; had become commercial; and had developed an infrastructure of communication and debate (p. 60). These ‘social and economic changes informed a new kind of politics’ (p. 87). Political change thus occurred in part as a result of a new type of commercial society. Chapter four surveys politics in 1685. Pincus argues that the warmth with which his accession was greeted showed that ‘the vast majority of English men and women were willing to accept a Catholic king as long as he was willing to rule within the parameters established by the English constitution in church and state’ (p. 104). Chapters five, six and seven turn to an examination of the king and his policies. Chapter five takes issue with Macaulay’s interpretation of James’s policies as ‘stupid and perverse’ – Pincus thinks James had political skill – and also with historians who have suggested that James did not have absolutist intentions. Instead, Pincus argues that James ‘pursued an aggressive and very modern agenda – modern not because it was particularly tolerant but because it adopted the most up-to-date notions of state building’ (p. 121). The model was the brand of Gallican Catholicism developed by Louis XIV. The French king’s alliance with the Jesuits and hostility to Rome shows that James deliberately surrounded himself with those closest to the French position. Indeed, Pincus argues, ‘James’s commitment to French-style Catholicism placed limits on his commitment to toleration’ (p. 135). For James, toleration was merely ‘a means to an end, not a deeply felt principle’ (p. 137).

Chapter six, the most traditional in the book, explains the ways in which James sought to modernise the state by reforms of the army and implement ‘a very modern surveillance state’ (p. 153) in which discussion of royal policy was unwelcome and in which opposition resulted in removal from office. Chapter seven charts the resistance to this process of Catholic modernisation which Pincus argues was more widespread than has previously been recognised. Returning to a thread running throughout the book, he sees this opposition arising on secular rather than religious grounds. Even those who wanted toleration saw ‘that civil liberty was a necessary prerequisite to real religious liberty’ (p. 180). Indeed ‘it was precisely because James II’s opponents deployed the language of liberty rather than that of salvation … that it makes little sense to discuss their triumphs as an Anglican revolution’ (p. 198). Having initially embraced the opportunity for religious freedom offered by James, more and more dissenters voiced their opposition to James’s Catholic modernisation project. ‘Most Whigs and Dissenters moved beyond a narrow politics of religious identity in 1687 and 1688. They did not believe that religion was unimportant – far from it – rather, Whigs and Dissenters developed the claim that religious liberty was impossible without the protection of the law’ (p. 209). Even so, Pincus argues, the demise of James’s regime was not inevitable by the summer of 1688’, since he had proved remarkably successful (p. 211). ‘James was able, using the resources, institutions and traditions he had inherited, to mold a modern state’ (p. 213). He was ‘not the bumbling, bigoted and hopelessly unrealistic king described in Whig historiography. He did much to centralise political power in England’ (p. 216).

The next section of the book examines the revolution itself. Three chapters insist that 1688–9 was popular, violent and divisive. It thus meets ‘the theoretical standard of revolution’ (p. 223) and can be compared to events in France in 1789. Indeed, ‘popular disaffection rather than military revolt destroyed James II’s modernizing regime’ (p. 234). 1688 was not an aristocratic putsch or a Dutch invasion. It was bloody, with violence directed not just against Catholics but also James’s protestant supporters, and extensive in both Scotland and Ireland. Rather than spawning political consensus, the revolution also fostered bitter division. Party-political differences rapidly rose to the surface and the temporary unanimity of groups in 1688 fell apart soon after as a result of partisan feuding. ‘As in all modern revolutions, there was a political ebb and flow between those who simply wanted to dismantle the modernizing programme of the ousted leader and those who wanted to implement an alternative modernization agenda’ (p. 300).

The fourth part of the book – in many ways its intellectual heart – therefore examines the revolutionary transformation envisaged and ultimately effected by the Whigs. The first transformation, explored in chapter 11, was a revolution in foreign policy that was explicitly intended by the revolutionaries rather than being the result of a Dutch king’s will. William did not simply impose his European agenda on the nation; instead, ‘the English invited William to England because they knew he would support their image of the national interest’, which meant war with France (p. 307). James’s aggressively pro-French and anti-Dutch foreign policy meant that ‘most English people came to understand their own problems in remarkably modern and nationalist terms’; they saw the world in European terms (p. 333). This was not, however, a war of religion, for Catholic powers supported England and the Dutch; rather it was ‘an international struggle against Louis XIV, a tyrant and aspiring universal monarch, who was equally threatening to Catholic and Protestant’ (p. 339).
A second revolutionary transformation occurred in political economy, the subject of chapter 12. Against those he sees as stressing hostility to new economic ideas, Pincus argues that the revolution has to be seen in the context of a debate ‘between two rival modern economic programs’ (p. 368), a ‘fierce debate between a land-based Tory political economy and labor-centered Whig one’ (p. 369). Both sides wanted the post-revolutionary state to intervene in support of their economic programme. James had thus sought to use the state to back Josiah Child’s East India Company, which sought to expand territorially in India. James had a ‘coherent and modern imperial policy’ but it was at odds with Whig notions that property was created by human endeavour and that banks had much to do with the nation’s wealth (p. 381). The Whigs wanted a manufacturing rather than a landed society. And they initiated their economic policies in the 1690s after gaining the political ascendancy.
The third major revolutionary change, Pincus argues, occurred in the Church. Claiming that many scholars insist that the revolution did little to change the Church of England and that ‘the post-revolutionary Church of England was united in its commitment to intolerance and persecution’ (p. 402), Pincus argues that it was transformed by 1688–9 into a church whose bishops upheld toleration and which placed the security of civil liberties above all else.

The final chapter of the book takes the debates over the assassination plot against William in 1696, and the subsequent widespread subscription to a national ‘association’, as testament to how much had changed. Embracing William as rightful and lawful king, most ‘now eschewed a moderate and ambiguous interpretation of the events of 1688–9’ (p. 454). Notions of hereditary divine right were abandoned; and the plot ‘dealt the final deathblow to Jacobite economics’ (p. 461). The assassination plot of 1696 ‘made it possible for the Whigs to consolidate their radical revolution’ (p. 473).Pincus’s methodology and many of his recurrent themes are extremely welcome. The book’s concern to see history in the whole, and hence to correlate changes in politics, religion and the economy, helps us to evade scholarly ghettoes. The book’s deliberate use of the secondary literatures of other disciplines, notably the political and social sciences, is important and should help us to stand back from events in 1688 to ask how they fit into wider patterns of change. The thrust of the book’s argument, that 1688–9 was the first modern revolution, is made in the light of a wide-ranging analysis of the literature on revolutions. The criteria for a revolution are set out and, it is suggested, centre on state modernisation programmes. These open spaces for contest by conceding the need for radical change, are often related to international affairs and create new forms of publics and politics. Though this is a wide definition of revolution (and requires us to think harder about modernisation theory), encouraging historians to engage with the social science literature in this way must surely be a good thing.

Pincus’s desire to compare the revolution of 1688 to other revolutions and to compare England with its continental neighbours is methodologically refreshing. Similarly he has an important case to make when charting of a shift from the confessional concerns of the earlier 17th century to the more complex and interest-ridden world of the 18th, in which matters of political economy featured prominently. Indeed, this will make the book an important read for anyone studying the 17th century and trying to assess the degree of change and continuity over the century. By stressing that key changes occurred in the later Stuart period rather than earlier, and that these help to explain the character of Britain in the 18th century (not a point that he makes a good deal of but which his concern with political economy makes very clearly) Pincus’s book will find a place in any discussion of the timing and impact of revolutionary change. The overall argument that 1688–9 was and is important and that the controversies it both reflected and created penetrated a wide political nation are also an important addition to work by Geoff Holmes, Bill Speck and (more recently) Tim Harris who showed how popular and divisive partisan politics were in this period. Pincus really does show why 1688 mattered and why it can’t just be dismissed as the last invasion of England or as an aristocratic coup. By refocusing attention on the later 17th century as a period of national importance and as a period of exciting changes, Pincus has helped to reinvigorate it and make it worthy of discussion and debate.As this suggests, I have great sympathy for many of the arguments put forward. But, in the interest of further stimulating that discussion and debate, I shall suggest that some of the strengths of the book also, paradoxically, admit weaknesses.

Pincus is nicely argumentative, delights in controversy and is keen to take on scholars, both dead and alive – but sometimes this is also problematic. He invents some historiographical Aunt Sallies to knock down. In each of the three chapters in part four, outlining revolutionary change, he creates a rather distorted view of what historians actually argue. There are very few scholars, I think, who don’t admit that the revolution transformed the contours of foreign policy or that this change was not in some way part of a longer struggle against French influence and power, as he suggests at the start of chapter 11. At the beginning of the following chapter Peter Dickson and John Brewer, who between them have done most to establish the notion of a financial revolution in the 1690s, are lumped together with a ‘profound consensus’ that sees no demand for modern financial institutions. Pincus’s characterisation of the historiography of the church, at the start of chapter 13, is also rather questionable. There are few historians who don’t recognise the changes brought about by the revolution or who are unaware of divisions between Low and High Church wings or who argue that the church was ‘united in its commitment to intolerance and persecution’ (401–2). Pincus, sometimes rather needlessly, exaggerates the coherence of scholars ranged against him. Moreover, if we take two standard textbooks for the period, Geoffrey Holmes’s Making of a Great Power and Julian Hoppit’sLand of Liberty? (1) we can find many of the arguments developed in Pincus’s book. Similarly, although Pincus and Tim Harris disagree about the strength of James’s regime (Pincus thinks it much stronger and more successful), the argument that 1688–9 was more important than the mid-century revolution and was radical, violent and popular (particularly in Ireland and Scotland) is shared by Harris’s recent Revolution.(2) This is not to say that Pincus’s book is not original or well footnoted. Indeed, there are over a hundred pages of notes. But he highlights areas of disagreement rather than agreement with other historians. Sometimes that is a virtue; but not always, and it can actually make it harder to appreciate his own contribution.

Other strengths can also at times leave his argument vulnerable. Pincus must surely be right to argue that the revolutions are not made overnight and he does well to integrate an account of change in the restoration era into an account of 1688. Yet he is himself open to the accusation that he makes against others of an overly short chronology. There is relatively little consideration of the claims of the mid-century revolution – which was also violent, divisive and popular. A more sustained comparison between the two 17th century revolutions would have been extremely useful to show how they differed and answer a series of questions that are raised by Pincus’s argument. How precisely did debates over property and political economy differ in the 1680s from those of the 1640s? How was the ‘public’ of the later Stuart period different to that of the earlier? Was the vision of religious toleration different in the later period? How did the imperial impulse of the mid-century differ from that of the end? I think there were differences (though also interesting parallels) but these are never spelt out. Perhaps there is scope for a collection of essays comparing the two 17th century revolutions and indeed those with the American and French revolutions of the 18th century.

Moreover, by ending his account in 1696 Pincus leaves himself little scope to examine the medium and longer term impact of 1688–9; and the early end-date may actually leave a false impression of Whig triumph. He ends his story at the high-tide of Whig fortunes. Just a few years later, in 1698–1700, the Whigs were divided and weakened; and if the story had ended in 1710 or 1713, it might have sounded very different. By then, the Tories were resurgent. Ideas about non-resistance and about the danger of toleration were again being openly discussed in the popular literature; and the political economy of the Whigs was distrusted and reviled. At the end of Anne’s reign, then, the revolution and its principles seemed far from being consolidated; they were once again being contested. Longer term, the critique of the later 18th century radicals about what the revolution failed to achieve also deserves some real consideration. Moreover, such reservations make Pincus’s claim that 1688 ‘paved the way for parliamentary democracy’ (p. 43) seem a needless exaggeration of his argument, one that ironically give his analysis a Whiggishness even though he is explicitly countering Macaulay’s Whig interpretation.

Pincus is excellent on integrating different branches of history. It is genuinely refreshing to read an account that brings together politics, religion and economics, as well as drawing on the theoretical literature about revolutions and modernisation. So it is slightly curious that one of the central concepts of the book – the state – is so lightly conceptualised and that Pincus doesn’t make more of the social history of the state that has been developed by Mike Braddick, Phil Withington, Patrick Collinson, Steve Hindle and others. Central to Pincus’s argument is that there were competing state-modernisation programmes. By ‘state’ Pincus tends to mean a centralising, bureaucratic state that becomes, as he puts it on page 467, ‘more than a local affair’. But the social historians have taught us that the early modern state was never merely a central or local affair, nor was it simply about institutions. We can talk of a parish state and also of a dispersed state, whose institutions were locally situated, socially constructed and which also relied less on power than on negotiation. The ideal of the voluntary office-holding, participatory state was one retained by many of the revolutionary Whigs. There were many others who discerned in the post-revolutionary state a decay of the ‘public spirit’, a danger of overly large royal influence as a result of the enormous amount of patronage now at its disposal and a restricted freedom of self-governance, whilst at the same time remaining deeply supportive of revolution principles and indeed interpreting the latter as representing their own ideals. Pincus argues that both ‘sides’ wanted to transform the state and that one vision of the state triumphed over another; but the battle against a centralising, bureaucratic, authoritarian and coercive state was certainly not over by 1696.

As this suggests, Pincus’s polemical vigour, so refreshing in many ways, sometimes leads him to over-simplify the complexity of the dividing lines. For example, Sir Bartholomew Shower is described as an anti-monopolist lawyer who successfully pleaded that property was not limited to land but also included mobile wealth (pp. 385–6). Pincus hails his argument as sounding the deathknell of an opposing political economy based on land, exemplified by James II’s policies and by the East India Company. The decision that Shower helped to secure is described as a ‘landmark’ one. Shower thus outlined ‘a very different imperial regime’ to the one espoused by James II. We would conclude from this that Shower was a revolutionary Whig. In fact, he was a Tory, who was knighted for his services to James II, with whom he was very closely identified in the late 1680s. He was attacked as a Francophile, mercenary and popish tool of the king – the very reverse of the image that his legal argument would suggest. The larger point to be made here is that the ambiguities of positions within the two competing ideological camps are important and sometimes need more acknowledgement.

Two reservations might also be made about the interpretation of 1688. First, the attempt to rehabilitate James is interesting but there is also a tension in the argument. Pincus goes out of his way to say that James was a skilful politician; that he was, until as late as the summer of 1688, rather successful; and hence that revolution was not inevitable. But he also refers to institutional collapse in 1688 and stresses the depth of popular and elite hostility to James’s policies. Given that collapse and hostility, and the reliance of the state on large ranks of unpaid office-holders, it is difficult to argue that James’s absolutist policies and modernising programme were really very successful at all – or at least not without offering some yardstick for measuring ‘success’. Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing and certainly in 1687 the king still seemed strong. But the strength of James’s modernised army state was always rather illusory, an edifice of royal power built on a monarchical republic. It took courage to challenge it; but once challenged, it fell apart rather rapidly in England, if not in Ireland. Second, Pincus is also excellent at showing the divisions within Catholicism and how James II surrounded himself with Francophile Jesuits and emulated Louis XIV’s model. But (beside the issue of whether the French and English states were sufficiently similar for that to work) this creates another tension. In 1685 Louis XIV tore up religious toleration in France; yet after 1686 James II in England embraced toleration as a central policy. Pincus argues that the latter was only ever a means to an absolutist end; but the ideological defences of toleration that he encouraged complicate any use of France as a model and ironically also promoted commercial arguments that were designed to appeal to the Whigs.

These are only a few of the controversies that Pincus’s excellent book stirs. That it invites such debate is one of its very real strengths and makes it a book that will be difficult for any student of the 17th century or of revolutions to ignore.
William III by T Claydon (Longman, 2002)
Revolution: The Great Crisis of the British Monarchy by T Harris (Allen Lane, 2006)
The Anglo-Dutch Moment: Essays on the Glorious Revolution and its World Impact by J Israel ed. (Cambridge University Press, 2003)
The Glorious Revolution by J Miller (Longman, 2nd edn., 1999)
The Glorious Revolution: A Brief History with Documents by SC A Pincus (St. Martin’s Press, 2005)
England in the 1690s by C Rose (Blackwell, 1999)
James II by WA Speck (Longman, 2002)
The Glorious Revolution: 1688 and Britain’s Fight for Liberty by E Vallance (Little, Brown and Co, 2006)

Stupid people at the Winter Solstice.

Stupid people at the Winter Solstice. In Hungary Viktor Orban's government imposes compulsory overtime on Hungarian workers because of the inability of Hungarians to fill job vacancies. The odd thing is as Orban closed the frontiers, forbade Hungarians to assist refugees and shut down centres of learning and closed down the traditional liberalism of Hungarian history.. he caused a shortages of people to fill job vacancies. Stupid is as stupid does..

And now Orban's stupidity is coming to the UK As May's government strides towards getting the country back and controlling the borders I wonder if the baying groups of bluekippers will be picking fruit and working in the care sector vacancies that will soon be there. They voted "leave" to stop immigration and gain sovereignty but they never thought that their choice would ask something of them. When they never saw that British ex pats were economic migrants and that cheap holidays and cheap food were essential When an ex pat living in Spain organised a petition for the closing of the UK frontier when stupidity is mistaken for free thought and patriotism.

When a homeless man dies a few yards from the Palace of Westminster we know that there are stupid people in power and many elsewhere...oh well stupid is as stupid does and ignorance is a conscious choice and there are no excuses for it...there never were simple solutions for complex problems. There never was an economy that worked like a household budget . Skilled workers will always be essential, migration is essential and we are all economic migrants that came out of Africa. There is no such thing as race there has always been migration into the British Isles There have been brown and black faces on Hadrian's Wall and the Cheddar caves for thousands if years. The stupid people never read, thought or considered anything but their own 'common sense" in Wales ex kippers move towards the 'abolish the assembly party' and the biggest age group within this new party are the over 60s. Of course they forget that the Assembly gives us free prescriptions and free bus passes for the over 60s. They go to a health service staffed by ' immigrants" and are cared for by them at home. .. stupidity stalks the land and we are ruled by pigs whose rule is enforced by wolves..

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Remembering Lily Jane Summers

Remembering Lily Jane Summers..It was this time two years ago when we lost Lily Jane Summers. I was on a train when I heard of her death. I was on a train heading to London and i read tribute after tribute to her. As a trans activist and socialist she had broken through the barrier to be selected as a candidate for the Uplands council seats. I met Lily a couple of times during the referendum campaign .as she put up with the abuse and mockery of all things tolerant and broad experienced during that campaign. She was always stoic and secure and she experienced the right wing bigoted trolls on social media. But wherever Lily is now.. she has broken through, has majde her mark and weathered the prejudice. Those who are in the vanguard of change, those who change consciousness and understanding have very difficult times . Lily was in her early twenties when she weathered the winds of prejudice...we are all poorer since she left us...the bigots are still with us and the broflakes are still there.. but they are much weakened..thanks to people like Lilly in peace Lilly ..aĺl that was solid is melting into air....

Asclepius Course starting Tuesday January 8 at 10 am Satire in the 18th Century

This courses lasts for thirteen weeks in 2 hourly sessions. It costs £65. For more information ring 07592330467 or email

The 18th century was one in which exaltation of wit and reason came to the forefront of literature in the form of both Horatian and Juvenalian satires, which, through keen observation and sharp nimbleness of thought, exposed the superficial follies and moral corruption of society during the neoclassical period in Britain. Underneath the enlightenment ideals of rationality, order and knowledge, society embraced a pervasive obsession with “decorum,” a façade of established traditions and vanities, as well as an innate sense of moral and political supremacy. Satires during this period aimed to point out the shortcomings of society through ridiculing accepted standards of thought, exposing Britain’s flaws and chastising the hypocrisy of the time. Enlightenment writers Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift used different mediums of satire, different types of logic, and different targets of ridicule in order to shine a light on separate aspects of British society, providing much-needed criticism of the profuse moral corruption of a society that sometimes seemed to forget the true ideals of its age.

Pope and Swift, well known for their sharply perceptive works, both looked to rhetorical masters of the rational, classical past and their separate satirical archetypes for inspiration. Pope, in his The Rape of the Lock, is Horatian in tone, delicately chiding society in a sly but polished voice by holding up a mirror to the follies and vanities of the upper class. Pope does not actively attack the self-important pomp of the British aristocracy, but rather presents it in such a way that gives the reader a new perspective from which to easily view the actions in the story as foolish and ridiculous. A gentle mockery of the upper class, more delicate and lyrical than his brutal counterpart, Pope nonetheless is able to effectively illuminate the moral degradation of society to the public. Swift’s A Modest Proposal, however, is a quintessential Juvenalian satire, shockingly revealing an often-overlooked dimension of British colonialism with regards to the Irish through savage ridicule and disdainful contempt. A bitter attack, Swift’s morbid tale delineates an immoral and perverse solution to Ireland’s economical woes using bizarre yet brilliantly clear logic and a detached tone in order to attack indifference to the poor. Swift’s satirical tone, relying on realism and harshness to carry its message, is much more acerbic than his counterpart, perfectly displaying Juvenalian satire’s ability to shock and ridicule.

The Rape of the Lock assimilates the masterful qualities of a heroic epic, yet is applied satirically to a seemingly petty egotistical elitist quarrel. During this time of literary prosper, epic poems such as John Milton’s Paradise Lost were held in high regard, due to their significant subject matter, compelling heroes, and rich text. Pope follows this grand form in The Rape of the Lock, ultimately achieving a whimsical mock epic through his mélange of the trifling and timeless. Despite the likeness to historical epic pieces, this work displays a light and playful tone, which illuminates the idiosyncratic nature of the poem’s central conflict, the Baron stealing, or “raping”, Belinda’s illustrious lock of hair. “The meeting points the sacred hair dissever from the fair head, forever and forever! Then flashed the living lightening from her eyes, and screams of horror rend the affrighted skies” (Pope 153-156). This embellished and exaggerated quotation is representative of the fundamental elements of Horatian satire used in this mock epic. Personification is employed to place emphasis on the seemingly transcendent effects of Belinda’s terror, as her screams “rend the affrighted skies.” As read, this example makes a mockery of the traditional epic, suggesting that the removal of Belinda’s lock has detrimental and almost divine implications. Pope uses personification extensively throughout, to add to the heroic colouring of the poem and in general elevating the subject matter.

In contrast to Pope’s epic style in The Rape of the Lock, Swift models his A Modest Proposal after a traditional staid economic proposal for the purpose of inclusion in British governmental policy. Swift, however, spins the standard on its head, shaping his daring proposal on the basis of ruthless, uninhibited economic gain at the expense of the Britain’s Irish colony. When the proposal was published anonymously in 1729, Ireland was in a state of distraught after essentially being “eaten”, or consumed by the British Empire. The protestant British completely suppressed the Catholic Irish population, and utterly neglected to consider the welfare of the significantly large impoverished population. As a result, Swift composed this harsh satirical proposal, suggesting that the Irish sell their children as food, in order to escape their economic despair. “The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders” (Swift 1115). This quotation is demonstrative of Swift’s economist persona, and leads the reader to believe that the proposal is serious in nature, and is meant to be interpreted literally. Other than his use of true Juvenalian satire, and inherent irony, Swift neglects to apply other literary devices to the proposal, due to its formal, academic nature.
Evidently, both Pope and Swift had a motive behind composing their two compelling yet divergent satirical works. Pope fashioned the characters of Belinda and the Baron as representations of Arabella Fermor and Lord Petre, Catholic British aristocrats who possessed an infatuation with decorum during the neoclassical period. These characters represent the facsimile of 18th century British personal ideals, and thus take the roles of pseudo-heroes in The Rape of the Lock. More apparent than Swift’s A Modest Proposal, Pope uses his elaborate mock epic to serve as a metaphor for the vain and superficial period in British history. The poem was intended to grasp the attention of aristocrats and society in general, compelling them to humorously realize their shortcomings, and spark a cultural shift. However, Swift’s A Modest Proposal is politically motivated, and undermined the British Empire’s colonization and treatment of the Irish. The proposal is presented in fine logical sequence and is seemingly well calculated. The “shock value” behind the suggestions and hidden accusations served as a testament to the moral inadequacies and limitless political behavior of the British. The work was deliberately published anonymously so Swift could avoid severe personal implications.
These two works of satire express their authors’ profound dissatisfaction with their society. Literature that pushes for reform of any kind, social or political, acts, along with entrenched tradition itself, as a dialectic force; it is the synthesis of that which is and that which is wanted that nudges society to a certain direction. Both Pope and Swift used their considerable literary talents to illuminate contemporary society, forcing them to acknowledge the shortcomings of the Neoclassical period. Through The Rape of the Lock and A Modest Proposal, Pope and Swift respectively aspired to influence the British mindset of their age and inspire it to move forward into a new era of true enlightenment with regards to social and political morality.

Pope, Alexander. “The Rape of the Lock.” Abrams, M.H., Greenblatt, S. & Stillinger, J. 2000, The Norton anthology of English literature, 8th edn, Norton, New York. 
Swift, Jonathan. “A Modest Proposal.” Abrams, M.H., Greenblatt, S. & Stillinger, J. 2000, The Norton anthology of English literature, 8th edn, Norton, New York.

Conservative and Right wing thinkers Asclepius Course Wednesday January9 at 10am.

Despite the misgivings of certain individuals who have an absurdly black/white view of the political spectrum, conservatism does not instantly mean hypocrasy and it certainly is not necessarily far-right in philosophy. Conservatism can be broadly categorised in two areas:

1. Fiscal conservatism. A belief in personal responsibility for finances. Scaling back taxation to allow greater control over individual incomes. Conservative thinking promotes cutbacks in public spending enabling tax breaks to be given to those that are earning, and believes in helping those out of work back into self sufficiency.

2. Social conservatism. Contrary to the fiscal conservatism, social conservatives believe in placing restrictions on personal freedoms, resulting in more government involvement into the daily lives of individuals. This is also known as neo-conservative.

Conservative thinking has many facets and many expositors. Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France (1789–90) is often cited as one of the most complete presentations of conservative thought as practiced in the West.

Conservatives do not believe in the perfectibility of humans or human institutions, so they are inherently suspect of government’s ability to solve some of the most pervasive human ills: poverty, ignorance, and violence.

Conservatives do not believe that government should oversee social or economic experimentation.
Conservatives do believe that the individual is the only legitimate possessor of rights; neither groups nor institutions have rights that individuals do not have.

Conservatives do believe that there are many areas of human life that government should stay out of entirely and that in those areas where government activity is necessary, it should be kept to the minimum level possible.

These are very broad “first principles” of conservatism, and they are not in any way exhaustive. Some, perhaps many, conservatives and commentators of all stripes will quarrel with the inclusion of one or more of the principles I have chosen, but I think they stake out some ground that conservatives must defend against the shape-shifting populist mountebanks that currently (and falsely) call themselves conservatives.

we will be looking at conservative thinkers and philosophers. The list will include Jordan Peterson, Roger Scruton , Marageret Thatcher, Ayn Rand and Reagan abd Trump, John Locke, Cato amongst many others. This is a course that looks at right wing thinkers. it seeks to descibe their psychology; purpose and approach.

This courses lasts for thirteen weeks in 2 hourly sessions. It costs £65. For more information ring 07592330467 or email