Showing posts with label The Rump Parliament. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Rump Parliament. Show all posts

Sunday, December 05, 2010

**Not Ready For Prime Time Class Struggle- Sherlock Holmes Meets Iron Man- “Sherlock Holmes”-A Film Review

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of the movie trailer for Sherlock Holmes.

DVD Review

Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey, Junior and Jude Law, 2010

Hollywood (and elsewhere) has given up many interpretations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s master detective (along with ace companion, Doctor Watson) since the time of the acerbic, arch, understated Basil Rathbone days along with a bumbling Doctor Watson in the 1930s. Since then, depending on the times, he has been everything from a “hippie” dope fiend to the the present protean man performance by Robert Downey, Junior. In an age when every action film has to meet the Iron Man comic book standard, or better, it is, apparently, no longer possible to portray the magi of Baker Street as a stay-at-home bookish intellectual and mere man of scientific deduction. He must now also be the avenging angel (and old Doc as well), well versed in the martial arts and other forms of self-defense against the criminal element and in this film the besieged British Empire.

Now, normally, I would not review this kind of film, although I am always happy to watch anything that Robert Downey, Junior has a part in. He is just a very interesting actor to watch in the line of Humphrey Bogart, Paul Newman, Jeff Bridges and the like. I, of course, thrilled to Conan Doyle’s stories ever since grade school where the teacher recited aloud Hounds of The Baskervilles to us. And I have read plenty of his other stories but usually the story line is nothing worthy of comment. This one, however, is slightly different.

Our finely-honed and alert pair in this caper are trying fend off the attempts by one Lord Blackburn to create an evil (of course) world-wide Empire and take control of the world’s resources. Hey, wait a minute this is mid-19th century England where the Britain Empire ruled the waves. Hello, that was the evil empire. Just ask the average India peasant or those in about fifty other places. And the way the evil Lord intended to reign (poor old Victoria be damned) is through what appears to be something like a “Rump” Parliament that seems to have some historic reflection back to Oliver Cromwell’s times. Now I know the British monarchy and its myriad supporters never got over that “interloper’s” transgressions but this is sublime, indeed. Naturally, the ever-hovering background presence of evil incarnate, Professor Moriarty, is wovened into the plot as well. So you can see what I have taken the time to write up a couple of sentences to review this film.

But here is my real problem with the story line. Now, traditionally, old Sherlock is not known to be enamored of the ladies, although not a few have swooned over him. No time for that stuff, old boy, right? Here though he seems to have a certain feeling for one very fetching villainess, and he coyly leaves her own devices. So what if she was Professor Moriarty’s agent. I told you she was fetching, real fetching. In the parlance of the spy game old Sherlock could have “turned” her into a double agent. Sherlock wake up.

Monday, January 25, 2010

*Those Who Fought For Our Communist Future Are Kindred Spirits- Honor James Harrington And The Rota Club

Click on the title to link to a "Wikipedia" entry for the English philosopher and radical politician, James Harrington.

Every January, as readers of this blog are now, hopefully, familiar with the international communist movement honors the 3 Ls-Lenin, Luxemburg and Leibknecht, fallen leaders of the early 20th century communist movement who died in this month (and whose untimely deaths left a huge, irreplaceable gap in the international leadership of that time). January is thus a time for us to reflect on the roots of our movement and those who brought us along this far. In order to give a fuller measure of honor to our fallen forbears this January, and in future Januarys, this space will honor others who have contributed in some way to the struggle for our communist future. That future classless society, however, will be the true memorial to their sacrifices.

Note on inclusion: As in other series on this site (“Labor’s Untold Story”, “Leaders Of The Bolshevik Revolution”, etc.) this year’s honorees do not exhaust the list of every possible communist worthy of the name. Nor, in fact, is the list limited to Bolshevik-style communists. There will be names included from other traditions (like anarchism, social democracy, the Diggers, Levellers, Jacobins, etc.) whose efforts contributed to the international struggle. Also, as was true of previous series this year’s efforts are no more than an introduction to these heroes of the class struggle. Future years will see more detailed information on each entry, particularly about many of the lesser known figures. Better yet, the reader can pick up the ball and run with it if he or she has more knowledge about the particular exploits of some communist militant, or to include a missing one.

Monday, May 26, 2008

In the Time of the Rump Parliament


The Rump Parliament, Blair Worden, Cambridge University Press, 1974

Most historians, especially Marxist historians, have recognized the great English Revolution of the mid-17ht century, a revolution associated with the name of Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans as the first great modern revolution. Moreover, this writer would argue that as with all great revolutions the fate of the English Revolution had many lessons to impart to later generations of revolutionaries. Professor Worden’s little book on a specific part of that revolution is filled with such lessons concerning the period that has become known as the rule of the Rump Parliament (1648-53). That is the period from Pride’s Purge (the exclusion by the Army of those parliamentarians who wanted to continue to treat with King Charles I despite his various acts of treachery) until the time of the Barebones Parliament and the personal rule of the Army General-in-Chief Cromwell.

The Rump Parliament, as the derogatory designation implies, has not been treated kindly, at least not before Professor Worden’s book, at the hands of historians. This nevertheless was a period where dear King Charles I lost his head and scared the crowned heads of Europe out of their wits, leaving them ready for armed intervention against the English revolution. Furthermore, this period, despite confusion about what form of executive power to establish, firmly confirmed the rule of parliament supremacy. However, in retrospect it has also been seen as a sluggish period in the revolutionary saga where no serious reforms were implemented; to the relief of many conservatives and the dismay of the radicals- civilian ones like the Levelers and the various religious sects as well as Army ones, especially in the ranks.

Worden does a fine job of analyzing those conflicts and the basis for those claims of sluggishness. In his hands that reputation for sluggishness is exposed to be false as the work done by this body at that time was as good (if that is the correct word in this context) as any 17th English Parliament as far as dealing with the serious questions of religious toleration, land reform, tax reform, political exclusions, army grievances, extension of the political franchise, law reform and finances. Moreover, in the context of that above-mentioned threat of foreign intervention early in this period it held its own against the internal forces that wanted to make a truce with the European powers.

I have argued elsewhere in this space, in reviewing the books of Professors Hill, Underdown and others who have written about this period, that the shadow of the New Model Army hovers over this whole period. Its periodic interventions into the political events of the time are key to understanding how the revolution unfolded, as well as its limitations and its retreats. There is almost no period where this is truer than the rule of the Rump. Pride’s Purge, an army intervention, set the stage for who would govern (and who would not) for the period.

The early period of Rump rule, beset by constant military needs in order to defend the Commonwealth is basically an armed truce between civilian and military forces. In the later period of the Rump’s rule when there are more dramatic clashes between the Army’s needs and attempts to maintain civilian control the balance shifts in the Army’s favor. From that point Army rule is decisive. Some argue that the defeat of the civilian Leveller forces and their army supporters in 1649 was the watershed. I am not so sure now, although certainly the democratic, secular forces represented there were those modern revolutionaries would support.

I believe that there was no question that Army intervention was definitely necessary at the later time (1653). Moreover the New Model Army represented the best of the plebeian classes that fought for and then defended the revolution. It therefore represented the sole force that could consolidate the gains of the revolution. That it could not retain power over the long haul in the face of a conservative counter-revolution is a separate question for another day. For more insights about this period read this little gem of a book.