YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

May 28, 2016

Are Americans wild-eyed radicals and killers?

Daniel Boone, 1779, with red cap

Daniel Boone, 1779, with red cap

These past few weeks, I have been immersing myself in English history as written by two political historians for a popular audience (the brief books were given me by my dissertation advisor, the super-organized and detail-oriented Alexander Saxton): R. W. Harris (http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/obituary-rw-harris-1103491.html) and John W. Derry. (The latter was the more obviously social democratic).

What fascinated me most was the following: both historians had apparently mastered every intricate detail of English politics from the Glorious Revolution (1688) onward, but it was Derry who was the most obviously social democratic, seemingly welcoming the gradual movement toward greater social participation, but it is Harris’s take on the American Revolution that is relevant this Memorial Day weekend.

I was flummoxed by the Harris account of the separation from the “mother country.” It seems that my prior intuitions about [Tory] versions of U.S. history are correct. Forget the heroism of George Washington and the American patriots who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and suffered through that portentous war. Americans should have moderated their views and stayed with mercantilist [Mom]. The only reasons England lost that war was its weakness regarding France and related conflicts, plus the difficulties in shipping soldiers over the Atlantic.

And Americans (especially frontiersmen and other hoi polloi) were crazy radicals (https://clarespark.com/2014/02/07/herman-melville-on-the-materialist-solitary-backwoodsman/ and https://clarespark.com/2014/01/08/the-frontiersmansettler-as-all-purpose-scapegoat/), none more so than the wandering, irreligious, impudent supporter of the American and French Revolutions, Tom Paine. whereas Edmund Burke, Paine’s Irish-born Whig/Tory antagonist, comes out as the true humanitarian (https://clarespark.com/2014/09/13/melville-edmund-burke-and-literary-cubism/) . Moreover, Harris advances the view that the bankrupting of France caused the French Revolution.

I hadn’t heard that one before, though UCLA’ history, art history, and English departments had a lot to say about the [mob-driven?] French Revolution during its Bicentennial year of 1989, though one leftist English professor waxed eloquent on “the crisis of the sacrificial,” which brings me back to Memorial Day weekend when such as our President bandies the word “sacrifice” about, perhaps indirectly alluding to the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, while forgetting that the descendants of [wild-eyed radicals plus immigrants] in all classes took an awful beating from Japanese imperialists in the Pacific theater during the second world war.

HD Wallpapers

HD Wallpapers

It took me many years of reading histories to realize that fears of “the Bomb” (i.e., science and technology) were at the heart of the Green movement and other social democratic innovations. (https://clarespark.com/2009/09/20/jungians-on-the-loose-part-one/, especially statements of Jung, Broughton, and Henry A. Murray).

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