Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

LQD: The real orgasmic Puritans

by Ted Welch Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 06:24:41 PM EST

Update [2008-11-21 5:31:58 by Ted Welch]: What did you Puritans ever do for us, Oliver?

... On the eve of a new drama about Cromwell and the English Revolution, its writer Peter Flannery tells Lucy Powell we've got the Roundheads all wrong

What did the Puritans ever do for us? They banned Christmas, closed the theatres, and made "tippling" illegal. So, if I ask you to picture a Puritan, the image, inevitably, is not appealing.

...as a new four-part series on Channel 4 is set to illustrate, the Puritans of revolutionary 17th-century England were not entirely the black-clad killjoys history remembers...

Here, Flannery explains why the Puritan revolution merits such a vastly ambitious overhaul, the legacy it left us, and why those plain-clothed, no-nonsense men are sexier than you might think...



Female sexuality

Burgeoning female sexuality underscores every episode of The Devil's Whore, exploding perhaps the most tenacious puritanical myth. "They were very far from prudish," Flannery says. "The Puritans write about the female orgasm all over the place. They believed that sex was meant to be enjoyed, and they believed the female orgasm aided pregnancy. They were all in favour."

Radicalism

Though they did eventually execute King Charles I, the Roundheads did not set out to abolish the monarchy, but to devolve more power to Parliament. "The Puritans paved the way for all the revolutions that followed," says Flannery. "The French, the American, the Russian - they're all the same ideas.
...

"But I've no idea why we're not more proud of these men. They raised a legacy of ideas that we're still battling out today: representation; distribution of wealth; equality. ... The Levellers, before they were a folk-rock band, were a group of militant proto-socialists intent on "levelling the land" of class and moneyed inequality.

"All these crazy ideas eventually came to pass: proposals to decimalise the currency, universal literacy, banning Latin from the law courts. The constitutional monarchy arrived in 1688, but would not have been possible without the revolution. What you see in our story, though, is how incredibly benign Cromwell's Protectorate turned out to be...[Not for the Irish, see below]

Women's liberation

The Puritanical conviction that beauty was God-given, not man-made, meant women could also loosen the punishing pinch of fashionable, tight-wasted bodices, ditch the cumbersome hoops and bustles in their skirts, and forgo the established practice of dropping arsenic into their eyes, to make them wide and wet, and dousing their faces with acid, to keep them white and wrinkle-free. "Nobody advocated women's suffrage," says Flannery. "They'd have thought that totally crazy. But the period did see a radical shift in the idea of what a woman's place was, and that is at the heart of our story, with Angelica's journey of self-discovery. This was a time when women were allowed to preach, to write pamphlets, even to take up arms." ...

Press freedom

In 1641, Parliament abolished the royal censor, until Charles II reinstated it in 1660. "A host of radical pamphlets and chapbooks arrived in the interim. People got used to expressing themselves; so many ideas were disseminated, and though many were squashed [with the Restoration], these ideas returned: in Chartism, or votes for women. [Leveller figurehead] John Lilburne's pamphlets are amazing. But some of the others' ideas are totally out there, blasphemous, free-love stuff."

The Ranters, an infamous sect who thought sin a concept cooked up by priests, and who practised polyamory and communal living, make a riotous appearance in The Devil's Whore. "They sound like [the radical American activist] Abbie Hoffman in 1965. The Ranter Abeizer Coppe ends one of his tracts: 'And I love you all.'"

...

Religious tolerance

"Many of them were libertarians. Cromwell says, 'Walk peaceably with God and you can live in this land.'" In 1655 Jews were allowed legally to return to England for the first time since their expulsion in 1290, and Christian sects proliferated. But for Catholics, and particularly the Irish, Cromwell's rule was one of wholesale oppression." ...

'The Devil's Whore' is on Channel 4 at 9pm for four weeks from Wednesday Nov. 19th

By Lucy Powell - The Independent

What did you puritans ever do for us Oliver?

For another take on this - from an Irish American Socialist point of view - see:

THE LEVELLERS AND IRISH FREEDOM

The English Revolution of 1640-1660 was the world's first bourgeois revolution, a class struggle with the reactionary forces of the feudal aristocracy, the established Church, the large merchant monopolists and Charles I on one side, and the bulk of the House of Commons, the gentry, the emerging bourgeoisie and the masses on the other. But beneath this division, the opposition to the King was split from the beginning.

Whilst the revolution had been developing in England, the Irish clans had taken advantage of the divisions among their English rulers and staged a rebellion in 1641, driving out many of the Protestant settlers who had taken over their lands. From the beginning the Irish Rebellion and the English Revolution were dialectically interlinked. However, the situation in Ireland was even more divided than that in England. Only the clans, led by Owen Roe O'Neill, had a consistent policy and any unity. Both the King and Parliament denounced the rising, but both were too occupied by domestic matters to come to the aid of the Protestant settlers.

... In 1649, opposition to Ireland's reconquest began to take the form of political solidarity with the Irish rebels, rather than a dispute over pay that characterised the 1647 opposition. In The English Soldiers' Standard, probably written by Walwyn in the Tower, English liberty and Irish freedom became combined ...

... Against the arguments of Parliament that Ireland would remain a dangerous threat as a possible base for a Royalist or foreign invasion unless it was reconquered, the Levellers believed it was possible to make Ireland a free, independent and friendly neighbour on the condition that England was free from its own internal oppression.

... The army was purged of its most outspoken radicals and the rest were bullied into submission, although not before further localised revolts had taken place. By September, CromwelI had managed to land a force of 10,000 troops in Ireland. The rest, as they say, is history. Cromwell ordered the massacres at the Drogheda and Wexford garrisons and the Irish rebels were subdued with great cruelty, whilst the English troops were paid in Irish land.

... The colonial policies initiated by CromwelI in Ireland and the West Indies were intimately connected with the rise of capitalism; the trading profits that were made from sugar, tobacco, slaves and other commodities created in part the capital that would be needed for the Industrial Revolution of the late eighteenth century. It was this latter capitalist economic revolution, a revolution made possible by the events of 1640-60, that created not only the material wealth necessary for socialism, but also the tool to achieve it - the proletariat, capitalism's own grave-digger. Therefore, paradoxically, the defeat of the radicals in 1649 has made possible the victory of socialist revolutionaries today.

...The present British ruling class gained its position not by gradual reform but by a revolution which was defended by force of arms. Today, the working class will only be sure of obtaining a socialist society, free from violence and exploitation, if it is prepared to follow its rulers' example.

As Trotsky said in 1925:

"The English bourgeoisie has erased even the memory of the revolution of the seventeenth century, and recasts its entire past in the form of 'gradual changes.' The vanguard of the English workers should discover the English Revolution and should find in it, under its ecclesiastical garment, the powerful conflict of social forces. Cromwell was by no means a 'pioneer of labour', but in the drama of the seventeenth century, the English proletariat may find great precedents for revolutionary action."

1997 Republican Socialist Publications, Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America

http://irsm.org/history/levellers.html

Display:
The funny thing is that the real survivors are always the translators, not the fundamentalists. ie those who negotiate between cultures.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 06:51:12 PM EST
This is fine-sounding but I don't see much application to this subject.

The fundamentalist groups cited certainly weren't survivors, they disappeared lock, stock, and barrel. Flannery is quoted as saying they "paved the way for all the revolutions that followed", but there's not much historical evidence for continuing influence on ideas, and one heck of a stretch when you're talking about France or Russia. It's easy to second-guess history when you're selling a TV show.

So I don't quite see who the "translators" actually were.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 02:02:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See the quotation from Trotsky in the updated version.

CF.:


I'm in the middle of reading The World Turned Upside Down, historian Christopher Hill's classic study of the radical religious movements in 17th century Britain.
...
At the same time that England was founding the colonies that would become the United States, the self-described beacon of liberty in the 21st century, these religious movements--the Diggers, Ranters, Levellers, Fifth Monarchists, Quakers, Seekers, and Grindletonians--were challening the entire religious, political, social, and economic order. Since many of these dissidents became American colonists, you'd be justified to say that the United States was conceived in the womb of English religious radicalism.

... Hill repeatedly mentions how the dissidents opened the door to free scientific inquiry, challenging new forms of literature, and more inclusive politics.

http://armsandinfluence.typepad.com/armsandinfluence/2006/04/ranters_diggers.html

"We need not bother too much about being able to trace a continuous pedigree for these ideas. They are the ideas of the underground, surviving, if at all, verbally: they leave little trace. It is unlikely that the ideas of the seventeenth-century radicals had no influence on the Wilkesite movement, the American Revolution, Thomas Paine or the plebeian radicalism which revived in England in the 1790s. Unlikely: but such influence is difficult to prove."

Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down

http://www.strecorsoc.org/docs/hill1.html

Although the Diggers' venture was short-lived their ideas have long survived them, mainly because of the powerful pamphlets of their main theorist Gerrard Winstanley. The Diggers stand within that marginal political tradition which has argued the case for communitarian and ecologically-sensitive economic arrangements over market-based economies predicated on profit, competition and individualism. They continue to inspire writers and activists on the left, from anarcho-syndicalists to antiroads protestors, from Christian socialists to Greens.

http://www.societyofcontrol.com/ppmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheEnglishRadicals



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 07:29:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, precisely, Christopher Hill "dug out" these movements in the mid to late 20C, actually making them fashionable in the 1960s and 1970s. Though I admire Hill as a historian, I don't think We need not bother too much about being able to trace a continuous pedigree for these ideas. They are the ideas of the underground, surviving, if at all, verbally: they leave little trace, is any more than hand-waving. "The underground" too was fashionable at the time that book came out (early '70s iirc).

As for the final quote, it's no doubt true that: The Diggers stand within that marginal political tradition..., when looked at with hindsight. How well-known they really were and what influence they had in the decades and centuries after their disappearance, before modern historians studied them, is all the same a different question. Similarly, saying They continue to inspire writers and activists on the left tells us nothing about how and why. Not, I suggest, thanks to a continuous tradition, but rather thanks to these movements having been much later exhumed by historians like Hill. (And a good thing too, imo).

I don't know how much Trotsky knew about these groups. I don't see anything in that quote that specifically refers to them: he's speaking rather of the English Revolution in general terms, of the deposition of the monarch and the establishment of the Commonwealth. He's quite right that the bourgeoisie rewrote history to turn that revolution into "gradual progress".

The one area where there perhaps is a case for a tradition coming down from these radicals, is in colonial America, as your quote from Arms and Influence claims (though by a tenuous shortcut). See, for instance, Leisler's Rebellion, but this section on Significance is worth noting:

Leisler's Rebellion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Some scholars argue that the rebellion established a core of rebellious sentiment against British domination, and reinforced the sentiment that the colonies were subject to British rule by their free will, not nature. Others make the point, however, that when taken in context with other rebellions in the same period--Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, the Dominion of New England involving Edmund Andros from 1686-1869, Culpepper's Rebellion in North Carolina in 1677, and the Protestant Rebellion against the Catholic-dominated government in Maryland in 1689--Leisler's Rebellion follows a pattern. In all of these rebellions a group of middling planters, merchants, or tradesmen rebelled against a group of well-entrenched elites who held a monopoly on power. In none of these cases did participants rebel against British rule. Rather, their struggle was with local authorities who they saw as preventing access to greater wealth or power within the British system.

At the same time, the presence of British soldiers on colonial soil and the reinvigorated enforcement of the heretofore neglected Navigation Acts led to increased tension between colonists and British forces. And in that sense in hindsight Leisler's Rebellion, like the others, can be seen as precursors to the American Revolution that began in the 1760s.

To what extent there was a genuine radical tradition as opposed to a new colonial bourgeoisie fighting off aristocratic elites (or what intermingling there might have been of the two), is not clear.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 09:32:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you're probably right (! must be that B Nouveau :-)) Though I like Hill's waving style :-) But actually Flannery's claim for them is quite general:


"The Puritans paved the way for all the revolutions that followed," says Flannery. "The French, the American, the Russian - they're all the same ideas.
...

"But I've no idea why we're not more proud of these men. They raised a legacy of ideas that we're still battling out today: representation; distribution of wealth; equality. ... The Levellers, before they were a folk-rock band, were a group of militant proto-socialists intent on "levelling the land" of class and moneyed inequality.

 I think it's good that Hill promoted them, as E.P. Thompson did people of later generations, and saved them ''from the enormous condescension of posterity.'' not to mention overt suppression. It's good that Flannery is reviving their memory and demonstrating that, as usual, stereotypes don't do justice to the complexity of history.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 10:53:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, as I said of Hill's work, a good thing too, imo. It was invaluable in undoing the Whig airbrushing of the Revolution and the Commonwealth.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 04:42:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[ET Moderation Technology™]

I took out the very long URL (pushes the column wide for many people, if not on your screen), and placed the link at the top, embedding it in a clearly visible reference to title, author, publication.

How to embed links is explained here in the New User Guide, it's just as easy to do as displaying the URL as a link.

The quote from the article is also very liberal. Recommendations on quoting from other publications (especially under copyright) can be read here in the New User Guide.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 01:41:10 AM EST

That's what comes of doing it after being out drinking Beaujolais Nouveau :-) I'm usually careful about long links. The Independent and the CH 4 series get a plug so they might be pleased.

But I've edited the Independent story down a bit more and added selections from the Irish American Socialist article - I don't think they'll sue :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 05:40:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - LQD: The real orgasmic Puritans
In 1641, Parliament abolished the royal censor, until Charles II reinstated it in 1660.

Obviously, you do not have a royal censor if you abolish royalty. A more interesting question is if you have censorship. And that question boils down to: what were the instructions to the Stationers Company during this period?

Unfortunately I could not find the answer.

Wikipedia says

During the Tudor and Stuart periods, the Stationers were legally empowered to seize "offending books" that violated the standards of content set by the Church and State; its officers could bring "offenders" before ecclesiastical authorities, including the Bishop of London and Archbishop of Canterbury. Thus the Stationers played an important role in the culture of England as it evolved through the intensely turbulent decades of the Protestant Reformation and toward the English Civil War.

The Stationers' charter, establishing a monopoly on book production, ensured that once a member had asserted ownership of a text (or "copy") no other member would publish it. This is the origin of the term "copyright".



Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 02:04:11 PM EST
It appears I was right to be suspicious about the claim to freedom of the press.

Brittish encyclopedia 1911 - Censorship:

When the Civil War broke out in 1642, the Puritan army under Oliver Cromwell took up arms, not only against the king, but against "popery, prelacy, superstition, heresy, schism, and profaneness." One of the first pieces of legislation passed by the Puritans, on September 2, 1642, was the closing of the theatres for, among other things, "too commonly expressing lascivious Mirth and Levitie." In this generally repressive atmosphere, numerous tracts were written against swearing, such as Walter Powell's A Summons for Swearers (1645), but A Free Discourse against Customary Swearing and a Dissuasive against Cursing, written ca. 1647 by Robert Boyle, the famous scientist, was published only in 1695, nearly a half century later and four years after his death. In 1645 the Scottish Parliament determined that cursing or blaspheming should be "censurable" and the fine should be according to rank: a nobleman should pay 20 pounds Scots, a baron 20 marks (about £7), and a gentleman 10 marks (about £3.5).

1695 - the year Boyle was published - was also the last year of the Stationers monopoly. For 15 years printing was free until monopoly - and thus control - was re-established by the Statute of Anne in 1710.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 02:59:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He says:

"A host of radical pamphlets and chapbooks arrived in the interim. People got used to expressing themselves; so many ideas were disseminated..."

And evidently he's read some of them:

"[Leveller figurehead] John Lilburne's pamphlets are amazing. But some of the others' ideas are totally out there, blasphemous, free-love stuff."

You can read some of them linked here:

http://www.bilderberg.org/land/index.htm

e.g.:

"England's New Chains Discovered 1648 - John Lilburne Ex Lt. Colonel in Cromwell's army and popular Leveller leader wrote this pamphlet as a challenge to the ruling classes who he saw as cynically abusing the power vacuum created by the successful campaign against Charles I.  He details his criticism here and, as is almost taken for granted in civil war pamphlets, managed to get his ideas printed on a liberated back-street printing press."

Which includes this:

"5. That you will open the Press, whereby all trecherous and tyranical designes may be the easier discovered, and so prevented, which is a liberty of greatest concernment to the Commonwealth, and which such only as intend a tyrannie are engaged to prohibit: The mouths of Adversaries being best stopped, by the sensible good which the people receive from the actions of such as are in Authority."

http://www.bilderberg.org/land/newchai1.htm

Of course there was censorship, they weren't angels; Flannery is trying to restore some balance to the image of the Puritans. It was a difficult, complex political situation - and short-lived:


In the course of the Protectorate, the executive resorted to questionable financial ploys, bullied defendants, their legal advisors and even judges, imprisoned without trial, for a time experimented with a novel and semi-military form of regional government and imposed a heavier level of censorship, though in all this the Protectoral regime probably acted less harshly or questionably than most Stuart monarchs and most early modern regimes. In the end, the regime survived for barely five and a half years, collapsing and swept away in May 1659. Most of its principal goals, both in healing and settling and in advancing godly reformation, had made limited headway by that time and many were largely reversed or rendered irrelevant by the traditional monarchical government restored in 1660.

http://www.olivercromwell.org/protectorate/protectorate_9.htm

 

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 03:56:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He details his criticism here and, as is almost taken for granted in civil war pamphlets, managed to get his ideas printed on a liberated back-street printing press.

Buckaneer printers has been around almost as long as the printing press. That pamphlets were printed on those is not much of an indication of Press Freedom, rather the other way around. And of course, during times of turmoil more freedoms are taken, but that is less a sign of liberty as a goal and more a consequence of a weak government.

Flannery is trying to restore some balance to the image of the Puritans

Since I am not familiar with the image of the Puritans - or perhaps somewhat of an image say to the same level as that of the Mennonites - I took the claims to press freedom, to actually mean press freedom. I am somewhat more familiar with the history of the Puritans. If the licensing order of 1643 is commonly known among the assumed audience, then I somewhat understand what the Independent article refers to, i.e. censurship was changed and some stuff that had been forbidden was allowed (in addition to the well-known censorship practised by the Puritans).

However, I do have a nasty suspicion that Flannery is pushing the Puritans good sides a bit more strongly then history can support, in order to create interest in his production.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 04:33:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't be surprised :-) But I certainly think some of the stuff he's focusing on is clearly  based on reality and would come as a surprise to most Brits. Of course, "what history can support" is not that easy to establish, hence the debate amongst historians. Some of their ideas WERE revolutionary, would have been supressed under the monarchy, were now able to be debated and there was a great range of opinion amongst them.  

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 05:05:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Censorship was a major issue. The poet and polemicist John Milton was a republican radical and "Puritan" (there was no actual movement of people called "Puritans", the word has been used far more often since that time than during it). He was passionately against censorship and wrote Areopagitica as a polemic against it.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 03:13:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the links.

It appears Areopagitica particulary objected to Licensing Order of 1643 enacted and upheld by Parliament untill the return of monarchy and restoration of monarchial - instead of parlamentarian - censorship.

Licensing Order of 1643 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Licensing Order reintroduced almost all of the stringent censorship machinery of the 1637 Star Chamber Decree including

  • pre-publication licensing
  • registration of all printing materials with the names of author, printer and publisher in the Register at Stationers' Hall
  • search, seizure and destruction of any books offensive to the government
  • arrest and imprisonment of any offensive writers, printers and publishers.

The Stationers' Company was given the responsibility of acting as censor, in return for a monopoly of the printing trade.



Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 03:22:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Flannery was particularly praising people like the Levellers, Diggers, etc. These weren't the poeple in power and were eventually suppressed. Some of their more important publications, see earlier comment above, were published after 1648.

On the importance of context in understanding Milton's "Areopagitica" -  see this very interesting discussion, if you have the time:

When King Charles I was forced by financial exigencies to convene the Long Parliament in November of 1640, he set in motion a political dynamic that led to civil war less than two years later and his own beheading within the decade. One of the first actions of the new Parliament was to abolish the Court of Star Chamber, the infamous offshoot of the King's Privy Council which had served as the principal forum for calling to account political opponents, religious dissenters, and those who defied crown-granted monopolies of the printing trade. The abolition of Star Chamber meant, in effect, suspension of the licensing system that had been in operation for over a century, a regulatory hiatus that was more a byproduct of the attack on royal prerogative than a deliberate policy in favor of a free press.

The immediate result was a flourishing of political and religious ideas the likes of which England had never before experienced. Tudor and early Stuart licensing had been variable though sometimes draconian, often corrupt, and usually porous. The elimination in 1641 of the institutions of press control caused a dramatic increase in both the volume of advocacy and the range of views expressed. By one count, the number of pamphlets published during the year 1640 was 22; in 1642 it was 1,966.

In this atmosphere of excited disputation among antiroyalist factions, King Charles raised his standard at Nottingham in August of 1642. Civil war was at hand. The royalist prospect was by no means bleak. Throughout the year 1642, as various schemes for accommodation failed, about two-fifths of the House of Commons and most of the Lords chose to side with the King. The early skirmishes of the war were indecisive. In mid-1643 the parliamentary armies suffered serious setbacks. Those who believed the parliamentary cause to be the work of divine providence began to have doubts.

Concerned both about disunity in its own ranks and the effectiveness of Crown propaganda, Parliament in June of 1643 decided to reinstate government control over printing. A small number of master printers was authorized to operate presses. Those who held printing patents were enlisted, through their trade organization the Stationers' Company, to search out and bring to justice all who printed without a license. The economic self-interest of monopoly privilege was thus united with the demand for religious and political conformity.

http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/ideasv42/blasi4.htm


But also see this:


History ran an early experiment in unlicensed printing: during the English Civil War (1641-1649), when Parliament had won effective control of London and the Stuart monarchy raised its standard at Oxford, England experienced a suspension of the informal system of censorship developed by the Crown and the Stationery's Company in the first century of printing in London (Feather). Civil War brought an unregulated explosion of print--much of it propaganda designed to advance one side or other in the war. Citizens began to experience, and perhaps enjoy, unfiltered access to a wide variety of writing.

The loosening of controls led to an immediate, dramatic rise in publishing.  Between 1640 and 1660, at least 300 news publications were produced.
...
With the downfall of the republican parliamentary government and the restoration of the monarchy in 1660s came even tighter controls on the press.

http://www.assumption.edu/ahc/1770s/ppressfree.html




Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 07:37:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very interesting, thank you.

I have an interest in the relationship between technology, ownerships, regulations and free speach. Thus I found this paragraph especially interesting.

Milton's Areopagitica and the Modern First Amendment by Vincent Blasi

Milton apparently tried to get The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce licensed for publication. When approval was denied, he published his tract in defiance of the law. Only one of his subsequent divorce pamphlets appeared with a licenser's imprimatur. It is possible that his experience with the censor prompted his polemic against licensing. It is also possible that he wrote Areopagitica at the behest of the journeymen printers of the City of London. This politically active group, with whom Milton was in contact, saw its livelihood threatened by the prospect of strict enforcement of the Licensing Order for the benefit of the limited number of master printers favored by Parliament with monopoly privileges. The argument of Areopagitica seems to reflect both of these influences, as well as Milton's growing interest in church-state relations and toleration.

The Licensing order served not only the governments interests but also those of the master printers. The opposition included journeyman printers. This is also clearly seen in the Statute of Anne, though there (for the first time?) the need for control is motivated on the surface as care for authors - while limiting authors choices of printers and effectively banning self-printing.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 10:12:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... a Holiday in the United States that originally celebrated an Indian Massacre.

The myth is much more pleasant ... excessive truth is bad for children and politicians.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 05:21:24 PM EST
The Civil War and Protectorate were fascinating to me when I studied them, but I never had the opportunity to take a graduate seminar in the area.  One of the most fascinating aspects of the period was that, with the Civil War and the overthrow of the Monarchy social controls were greatly weakened and the whole question of the proper organization of society naturally arose in so many minds.  Diggers, Levelers, Ranters and more all flourished in a world abounding with new lands and rapidly unfolding scientific understanding.  It was and it remains an intoxicating period for those of us among society's discontents.

For those whose concerns run to stability and control, this period was and remains troubling and terrifying.  How to justify the gains made against absolutism given the implications of the means?  The Restoration put at risk the gains made during the Civil War and Protectorate, but at least reestablished the hierarchy and social order valued by the elites of England, and dissent, though not eradicated, was attenuated.

To those concerned with stability and control the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688 is vastly more satisfying as an edifying example of the wisdom of our forebearers than is the Civil War and Protectorate as well as being easier to explain in a coherent and "sound" didactic manner.  Emphasize and extol the Glorious Revolution, disparage and downplay the Civil War and Protectorate.  A caricature of the Whig View of History but not entirely inaccurate.

The Puritans can be handled in a similar manner. They ceased to be an acute problem for the Monarchy with the Decree of Toleration.  They are strongly associated with Cromwell, the Civil War and the New England colonies.  It is easy to treat them as a stern and "puritanical" bigots, the enemy of all levity and joy and as examples of the problems of religious intolerance, especially for the first six and a half decades of the twentieth century and especially for school children.  So much awkward material you don't have to discuss.  No wonder so many school children found history boring!  The full story was so much more fascinating.  As Chris Hill said: "The Whig View of History will no longer do--if it ever did."

As to influences on future generations, there are still extant broadsides, pamphlets and books from the era.  Upper class families often had libraries that had been accumulated over multiple generations, if not centuries.  The core collection of the Huntington Library in Southern California was purchased intact from such a family, (the Cecils?) by Henry Huntington during WWI and has a Guttenberg, first editions of Copernicus, Galileo, Newton etc. along with a collection of pamphlets and broadsides.  The well to do may have hung on to such items just to prove what so and so's grandfather actually wrote.


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 09:50:39 PM EST
"As to influences on future generations, there are still extant broadsides, pamphlets and books from the era."

I hope Flannery's series will prompt some people to read some of them - easier in these internet days.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 12:32:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]