Nativism and Radical Republicanism: a curious relationship

Once upon a time, Tennessee was a stronghold of the Whig Party. More specifically, from about 1836 to 1852. In 1860, Tennessee was also one of three states to capture the electoral vote for the Constitutional Union Party, a splinter group of former Whigs and Know Nothings.

Despite being the home of Andrew Jackson, some of the most virulent anti-Jacksonians would come from the same state.

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Comte de Ferrand on the factions of the Estates-General

From Le rétablissement de la monarchie (1793) by Antoine François Claude, comte Ferrand, pp.33-38:

They had succeeded in speaking incessantly to man of his rights, and raising the body politic against wisdom; in the Estates-General they were given the opportunity to assemble their hitherto isolated attacks, and to ensure their success by giving them a national character:

1. Protestants. Enemies of the royal authority and of the Catholic religion, they had in the last but one century attempted to destroy both: both had resisted their efforts; but they had not lost the hope of renewing them: their deputies arrived at the Estates-General, with the same plan to divide France into departments: a project which they had conceived at a time when they were persecuted, & whose execution they came to attempt at the moment when the goodness of Louis XVI. had assured their repose, their fate, and their civil status. Although in general the Protestants practice religious precepts more exactly than Catholics, their hatred of the church brought them closer to the Atheists, who in their writings had always sided with them, not so much by error as by aversion to the truth. They will implore their help in the name of tolerance; and the philosophers, whose secret had been revealed to one of them, when he had said, that if the philosophers should become masters, they would be more enlightened than the others, they would prefer to be with the passion carried with it by the Protestants, and so they flattered the latter’s credulity with espousals of revenge, and congratulated themselves for having acquired, by granting the protection which they were asked, an additional means of attacking the Christian religion which they had sworn to destroy.

2. All those whose irreverence, pride, and ambition had believed that the moment had come to declare themselves legislators, to give the calculation of their interests, or that of their abstract ideas, as the result of a wise political conception. Each of them pretended to honor or to give a constitution to France; each one in his own way, but all too systematic, too proud, or too little educated to lend themselves to the proprieties of the times, things, and people, and so they wanted a clean slate on which they could be destined without constraint and without obstacles. The first step which they all had to make was thus to destroy what existed; & in following the execution of this plan, the oldest establishments were to be the first to be proscribed.

3. The partisans of anarchy. This class is always numerous, because, to disturb a state, it leaps with more audacity than talent; but it multiplies itself in public discords, because anarchy presents to all passions the success of one hand and the inability of the other. The Estates-General convened near the capital, in a moment of want, in a corrupt century, in the midst of all the rising parties, offering to the eyes of those men who always inspire terror or contempt, the hope too well probed of a rich harvest of profits and iniquities. To ensure its enjoyment, it was sufficient to destroy everything; and of the multitude of interests which were to work in the overthrow, were to be born countless difficulties which, by delaying the renewal/restoration, prolonged the anarchy or the triumph of all crimes.

4. Supporters of bicameralism [monarchiens].

To see from that moment what interest, what means and what desire they had to kill and to overthrow the old regime, they only jumped at the opportunity for their arrival at the Estates-General. Already being sounded by others as the deserters of all orders, they could not hide from themselves that they were exposing themselves to being rejected by all; they wished, therefore, to create a new one, the entrance of which could only be opened to a small number, but could be promised to a multitude whom this chimera would not fail to seduce. It was by betraying their order and their oath that they had to begin; and it was easy to conceive what such a beginning would produce; that nothing would cost the legislators, who gave themselves their mission, and who established it on a perjury. These transgressions of honor and truth offer to their proselytes a seductive appeal, in the humiliation and destruction of their own bodies. For those who are not equal, all the distinctions which apprehended the happiness of their equals, were not the object of a sacrifice. When men of birth are made to go to discontent, they despise their own order, in proportion to the degree to which their arrogance gives them the idea of their own merit.

Lastly, this party was dangerous, because it endeavored to show in a favorable light the example of a neighboring and powerful nation [England]; and because it took care to conceal the local differences and the definite inconveniences. It seduced thus those who judge with enthusiasm, without reflection, and who content themselves with seeing things en masse. It seemed to wish to clarify the three powers/branches of the state, and it announced itself as respecting property…

The monarchiens and Necker, he lambasts a lot. On the former, see also: “Old school cuckservatism.”

In general, these four factions are a recurring pattern: the Protestants (1) are a stand-in for ethnic spoils (complete with their advocacy by philosophes), the (2) managerialist, the (3) rent-seeker and the (4) ineffectual reformist conservative.

Smash the liègeoise

But it would be desirable in this respect, ecclesiastics and seculars, nobles and bourgeois, to unite, to make one family, for all but one public fund. and that all contribute in proportion to their property and their faculties. For this purpose a general meeting would be necessary; it would be necessary to put aside any esprit de corps which tends only to bring several states into a state by diversifying interests; which is the greatest of the political evils. It was quite anxious that all of them were devoting themselves to Patriotism; else then no sacrifice would be worth it, or rather there would be no sacrifice to make! Then the barriers of trade disappeared, then the equality between the poor and the wealthy increased the general prosperity.

— From a pro-Liege Revolution pamphlet, illustrating the frivolity of liberal nationhood and equality before the law more generally

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The Old New Left: Student Radicalism in the 1930s

Ho Chi Minh! Ho Chi Minh!

There has long prevailed a certain exceptionalism about the 1960s. It all went so well with the decade prior, with Father Knows Best on the air… and then, the Yippies are nominating a pig for President, “free love” reigns freely indeed, and the Jews sell America out in 1965. Except really big this time around.

It wasn’t that exceptional, not even the youthful vitality. For there was a student radical movement contemporaneous (sometimes collaborating with) the New Deal some 30 years before. It has been swept under the dust and much of it thrown into the memory hole, but it’s a fascinating little episode. It’s the link between Old and New Left, as these terms tend to be used. Grounded on class analysis, but with very strong concerns for racial equality and fighting fascism.

Common wisdom is that America could never swallow the social-democratic pill like Europe. Yet in an interview with former American Student Union (ASU) leader Joseph P. Lash, he confided that FDR was “accomplishing social reforms beyond the dreams of most of the Socialists of Europe.”

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Communalists and constitutionalists

Liberalism and democracy are not the same, as I’ve mentioned in the context of the doctrinaires and ancients v. moderns.

“Illiberal democracy” is used as an epithet to refer to various top-heavy presidential or parliamentary republics where elections serve a mostly symbolic role to give the dog (the public) a bone. And I don’t mean blow them like in the AC/DC song. Although, figuratively, this may indeed be it.

But that’s quite a limited way of grasping the distinction. Instead let’s use a dichotomy of “communalism” and “constitutionalism.” Such as between, say, the Swiss mountain cantons of the Grey League, and… Luxembourg. Luxembourg? Yes, not even the venerable Grand Duchy was spared from the Great European Chimpout of 1848. Grand Duke William II conceded a constitution.

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