William and Mary Won't Do


Celebrate Boxing Day by giving your servants a copy of Steve Pincus' 1688: The First Modern Revolution, which sounds pretty great in this review from the UAE paper The National. Although the Glorious Revolution gets short shrift from historians, Pincus argues that it was both revolutionary and glorious:  

The English Revolution of 1688, which saw the Catholic James II overthrown by his son-in-law, the Dutch Protestant William of Orange, would seem to have no place in this datebook of social upheaval. This "revolution" founded no new state; it did not resound with slogans like Liberté, égalité, fraternité; and it certainly ran with less blood than did the streets of Leningrad. England's Glorious Revolution simply saw the swap of one king for another – hardly an unusual transaction in 17th century Europe…

Men knew how to dress in the olden days.

Yet this apparently uneventful transfer of power concealed profound alterations in the relationship between the English crown and its subjects, and set into motion the formation of a new kind of modern state, whose characteristics – vigorous promotion of economic development, broad religious tolerance, and free competition among political interests – still define liberal democracies today…

Pincus demonstrates that by the second half of the century, England was already a land in flux: commerce was booming, foreign trade was on the rise; the English were moving to cities, where coffeehouses buzzed with the latest intelligence from abroad. The country was modernising at a rapid clip, and the revolution, as Pincus describes it, was in essence a battle – a fierce one – over the terms of that modernisation. James II, who in the accounts of Macaulay and many other historians appears as nothing more than a mad Catholic tyrant, was in fact a forward-looking ruler with his own vision for England's future, one drawn from the absolutist rule of his cousin, France's Louis XIV. James, Pincus writes, "did everything he could to create a modern, rational, centralised Catholic state" – and he was ruthless in its implementation, cracking down on dissent and spying on his enemies, in effect creating "a very modern surveillance state"…

James's opponents, as Pincus notes, came from a variety of backgrounds – from peasants to aristocrats – but it was the country's burgeoning commercial classes that played the strongest role in shaping the economic agenda after the revolution, pushing for "the possibilities of unlimited economic growth based on the creative potential of human labour." This was not a revolution against the state but one determined to harness state power in the pursuit of economic expansion. In place of the Gallic absolutism pursued by James, England's growing merchant classes and their political spokesmen turned their eyes to Holland and a "Dutch model" of economic innovation, commercial prosperity and political openness.

As is often the case with new models of openness, the post-revolution period was not all sweetness and light. There was plenty of retribution, Catholics were cleansed from all prominent posts (including the all-important poet laureate post), and for about 50 years the country lived in fear of an invasion by the Jacobites—loyalists to James who maintained an extensive court in France. But the popish reconquest of England wouldn't really occur until the end of the 20th century, under the crypto-Catholic Tony Blair (who ironically did more to establish a total surveillance state than James could ever have imagined).

And why do they have Boxing Day in Germany? Was that imposed as part of the Armistice terms?

Here's Pincus discussing the Glorious Revolution:

Courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily.

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  1. I oppose Boxing Day. How can you give others the ability to do what you do to them?

    1. But the sales are outstanding.

  2. Steely Dan were the most underrated band of the 70s. Discuss.

    1. Steely Dan is the guy fucking your ass. Discuss.

      1. Really? I want some!

        1. Your next conquest is as close as the nearest WC, George.

          1. Can I play too?

      2. Steely Dan is a dildo, not a guy.

        Whoops. Walked right into that one.

        1. But there’ll be Spandex jackets! One for everyone!

    2. Marc is most misguided poster on this blog. Discuss.

      1. The thing that always impressed me about Steely Dan records was that there was no static at all.

        1. Enough Cuervo Gold and fine Colombian eliminates the static…

    3. Yeah “Countdown to Ecstasy” was easily one of the best albums of the decade.

  3. “There was plenty of retribution, Catholics were cleansed from all prominent posts (including the all-important poet laureate post), and for about 50 years the country lived in fear of an invasion by the Jacobites -. . .”

    Let’s not forget that wee folks across the Irish Sea.

    1. They should be graetful to the English for bringing civilization to their backwards little island.

    2. Yo, fuck King Billy.

  4. Sorry, missing link: http://www.libraryireland.com/…../Penal.php

  5. One of the most glorious things about this revolution is the fact that, unlike every other successful revolution I can think of (incl. the American), it was not followed by a reactionary phase that took back much of what the revolution accomplished.

    1. Actually, in some ways it was the reactionary phase. The English Revolution of the 1640s created a military-governed parliamentary republic with some democratic stirrings by the lower orders. The 1660 Restoration of Charles II (succeeded by his brother James II) ended the republic and reinstated a de facto constitutional monarchy made unstable by its wannabe-absolutist monarch.

      The Glorious Revolution ended this arrangement and swung the pendulum part-way back. It imported a version of the Dutch model along with William III himself: a constitutional monarch who was the military leader and chief diplomat, working with a strong elite-dominated legislature.

      The Dutch Revolt, led 120 years earlier by William III’s grandfather, William the Silent, was really the first modern revolution. William the Silent created the Dutch Republic and its model of elite-dominated constitutional government, religious tolerance and commercial enterprise.

      1. And, of course, Cromwell’s Commonwealth devolved into a military dictatorship before the Restoration, so that was the reactionary phase, viewed from a half-century perspective.

        Similarly, while the US Constitution partly an elite reaction to the decentralization and democratization of the American Revolutionary era, the political structures soon swung back toward an expanded franchise.

      2. “elite-dominated constitutional government, religious tolerance and commercial enterprise”

        Sounds great. We should have that here.

  6. Steely Dan again? awesome! I’ll reinstate my subscription.

    1. Next time, use protection.

  7. Michael Barone beat Prof. Pincus to the punch here by 2.5 years. Barone’s
    “Our First Revolution: The Remarkable British Upheaval That Inspired America’s Founding Fathers (Hardcover, May 2007) is an excellent account of 1688 and all that:

    1. Your brother George is upthread.

      1. Nobody ever brings ME up… it’s always George that gets the references.

        Oh, well, I still have my job at Hot Topic.

        1. I, too, suffer from Other Guy Syndrome.
          Though it’s not as bad as suffering from David Lee Roth Syndrome…

          1. Were you the one with the mustache?

        2. I spent many years under the illusion that you were in fact Kenny G.

  8. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting mixed signals from William’s getup in that book cover.

  9. Your wishful thinking is interfering with your gaydar, FoE.

    1. From the look of it, maybe my GWARdar should be going off. Or borgdar.

      1. Hey, we’re still on tour. And tell that pussy Glenn Danzig he owes us fifty bucks for that hooker we fronted him.

  10. The Glorious Revolution was basically a Donald Rumsfeld wet-dream come true. The foreign army invaded to remove the local tyrant, was welcomed by crowds waving the foreigners’ flags and effected regime change with fairly low losses of life. The resulting loyalist insurgency was defeated quickly and efficiently and the invaded country became a beacon for the invaders’ ideology (Protestantism) for centuries in its region.

    1. There, you see? Sometimes it works!

      1. Only I can usher in The Glorious Revolution. For it is My Wisdom which shall save this pathetic nation. Praise AGW, I have come to save thee.

  11. EXCERPT:
    England’s Glorious Revolution simply saw the swap of one king for another […]

    Ha. Sounds exactly like what happened when King George left office in favor of King Obama. Meet the new boss…same as the old one.

  12. Frightening, isn’t it? A sophisticated incendiary device made it through airport security in Lagos, Nigeria, which just passed a U.S. security assessment in November, and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

    It must not have been that sophisticated.

    1. now we all get to be patted down one more time at the airport. I just hope nobody succeeds at sneaking in a bomb in their bottom

    2. Passengers going to U.S. will be searched twice and must remain seated during final hour of flight in wake of attempted attack on Northwest plane


      1. And what friggin’ difference will that make? If one search doesn’t find anything, what good will a second one do? How does being seated for the final hour prevent something like this from happening five minutes before the final hour?

    3. Anyway, bad news for US inbound travel until TSA figures out that it has…overreacted? Can’t even read a book during the last hour before landing. Nothing can be on your lap or in your hands. And no visits to the loo.

      Good God, even loser failures can succeed when working for ALQAEDA. This one low-life failure of a human being can score major economic havoc by failing to accomplish a seemingly simple task. Of course, score an assist from TSA.

    4. ‘As the flight neared Detroit’s airport on Friday, Abdulmutallab set it off ‘

      Anyone thinking Detroit is a target is emotionally deranged. TSA would better use its resources identifying deranged people than scattershot denying everyone liquids, scissors, etc.

      1. Would somebody please explain why a wish to wipe Detroit off the map is considered deranged?

        1. Because it is wiping itself off the map all by itself. It doesn’t need any help.

          1. This guy could never outdo Coleman Young for sheer destructiveness.

      2. A real blow would be to blow up Branson, Missouri. The hidden missile silo under Andy Williams’ theater, alone, would be a crippling strike against America.

        Uh… mwahahaa.

    5. Thermite with a potassium permanganate and glycerol igniter, like what could have been in the syringe, is not sophisticated. It has been around since the 1800’s. But could be effective.

  13. ‘A preliminary analysis of the device shows that it contained PETN’

    Shows that liquids aren’t necessarily the ‘problem’. Will solids now be off-the-table as carry-ons? WTF?

  14. “one flight attendant asked him what he had had in his pocket, and he replied ‘explosive device.'”

    Again, sign of derangement. I will confess to you my plot in order to give you a chance to stop me. I thought that only happened in movies. Or on Batman.

  15. ‘at least two years been on a list that includes people with known or suspected contact with or ties to terrorists’

    So given actual intelligence, TSA drops the ball. Much better that everyone-is-a-potential-terrorist approach. Let’s pretend that we respect the Bill of Rights by interrupting everyone’s rights in the name of avoiding ‘racial profiling’.

    Shows how pathetic TSA is. You interview everybody and you you look for deranged behavior.

  16. The TSA,Homeland Security,Air Marshalls, et al. really hate this attack was foiled by “civilians”. There is going to be hell to pay when they show us all who the Real Security Professionals are.

    1. It will certainly be a thorn in the sides of those who hate Individualism.

  17. ‘the suspect said he was working for al-Qaida’

    Where is his paystub? Where is his al-Qaida pension kept? Is he part time? Member of International Association of Suicide Bombers union? Answers, we want answers.

  18. ‘[His father]had reported him to the U.S. Embassy in the capital Abuja and to Nigerian security agencies six months ago.’

    Waterboarding is much more effective than first hand intelligence from a concerned loved-one. FAILURE!

  19. What this incident shows, like the shoe bomber before it, is that the way to thwart a terrorist on an airplane is for the other passengers to go berserk on his ass.

    Have the air marshalls caught anyone yet? What is that program costing us?


    1. Exactly. Wannabe terrorists today have all of five seconds anymore to implement their plans. After that, large vessels of passenger whoop-ass will spring open and smother them. And forget about hijacking.

      1. Problem:

        Civilians on airline flights foiling hijacking attempts.


        Make it a federal crime to interfere with a hijacking.

        1. Well, if we can acquit the New Black Panther Party, we can certainly pass a law forbidding civilian interference in terrorist plots… I’ll get on it first of the year.

  20. 1776 wouldn’t have happened without the Glorious Revolution. WHIG POWER!

  21. OK this actually seems pretty reasonable to me dude.


  22. Regarding what started this thread: Let’s not forget that the Glorious Revolution spawned the English Bill of Rights, which in turn inspired our Bill of Rights — about the only thing now standing between our remaining liberties and greedy government types.

  23. Steely Dan were under rated. Chevy Chase was a potential member of the soon to be created Steely Dan back in college.

    Perhaps InGlorious Revolution needs to be made by Quentin Tarantino using Steely Dan tunes? Is that it?

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