Monday, June 01, 2015

The Dawn Of The Bourgeois Age-The English Revolution, Warts and All


The Dawn Of The Bourgeois Age-The English Revolution, Warts and All

Today, in 2015, it may seem odd that a modern day radical would harken back to the mid-17th century to pay homage to one of those leaps in human progress that those who insist on an ever upward and onward spiral of history keep talking about, the English Revolution. However I have my own reasons, political reasons, for reflecting on that series of events this year since the English revolution (some call it under the name civil war, some deny any revolution occurred, others cringe at the thought that his or her royal highness would be subjected to the chopping block, literally and historically). One can reasonably although at a primitive level date the notion of the rise of the individual with rights and prerogatives from out of the undifferentiated subject mass of humanity in medieval times from that period. And that hard fact was progressive in itself now that we are deeply emerged in the age of the sainthood of the self. More importantly some of the basic notions about being a citizen rather than a subject date from that period although it would take a bloodier and more thorough-going revolution in France some one hundred and fifty years later to round those rights one more distinctly ( a process still going on today).      

That brings me to my main point which is that the period we live in today despite the incredible advances in science, industrial production, and mass technology in its ideas in many ways are going back to pre-English Revolution sensibilities. The late Professor Christopher Hill did yeoman’s work to inform us about this revolutionary period which saw a flourishing of science and a struggle to break from both religious superstition and flat out ignorance in everyday thought. Saw in poets like Milton and Marvell a flourishing of literature. Saw with what Weber called the rise of the capitalist ethic associated with the rise of individualistic protestant religion a struggle for new forms of social organization and productive work.

Oh sure there was plenty of push-back as always by those who had lost something in the fight but despite set-backs and ebbs a good foundation was set up. Today when we confront climate-change deniers, religious fundamentalists from yahoo born-again Christians, who will quote chapter and verse, to crazed Islamic jihadists ready to set us back to the 8th century if they can, and those who have lost fate in some variation of the democratic principles of individual worth something has gone awry in the world body politic. So, yes, today I do not think that is odd to reflect back to the English Revolution, warts and all, for some inspiration.    


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