Editorials

Man’s Thirst for Kings

To best define “innate,” consider the birds of the Galapagos. Carried there by winds who knows how many thousands of years ago, they developed and evolved separately, apart from all the rest of nature. Still, when scientists played recordings of the sounds of their homelands, they responded especially to those of predators even though they had been cut off from them for hundreds of generations.

Science believes this sort of instinct or innateness does not exist in Man.

I’m not so sure.

The first democracy

It might not be a bad time to sit down and  revisit the Book Judges and I-II Samuel. What it’s about mostly is how democracy can go wrong. Seems it’s always a work in progress.

But also keep in mind the 40-Year Rule Yahweh first imposed on the Children of Israel when He decided that the original refugees from Egypt weren’t up to the task of building a new nation in the Promised Land. So He let them mill around in the Wilderness for forty years so that their children could move into the Promised Land with a blank slate. Even Moses was denied a ticket.

The 40-year Rule is implied in our Constitution, for the Founders understood that as men became prosperous and powerful their line will more often than not fall away from Good. They will turn their backs on the Creator of all their good fortune (ingratitude), which can happen quickly, even in the first generation, but more often in drips and drabs into the second and third, until the kids have to drop the drum lessons and go back to school to get a marketable education.

America was the perfect petri dish to try this, because we started out as a democracy, with no history of kings to first drain out of our system, so, with the resulting free market system we developed, every time one man’s risen House tumbled and fell, there was always a new one right there to replace it. (This will no longer be the case under Obama.)

This makes America unique in history’s eyes, a case of first instance, and, as I’ve often said before, why all those nations with the baggage of aristocrats and privilege-by-birth hanging around their necks, hate us so.

America, like the Children of Israel in the era of the Judges, has had none of the royal predators, or royal lures, that has blighted the rest of the world’s path.

When they entered Canaan, God had already given the Children of Israel a constitution, The Law, and a new type of leader, Joshua. After Joshua, for over 300 years, the Children were led by men and women who they elected to lead them. They were a theocratic democracy, each tribe electing a leader, who then elected a Judge (president or prime minister). Some of these were weak, some strong, and it seems, about every 40 years, the people would fall on wickedness, turning their backs on God, who would then allow a neighboring country to make war on them, kill off their best men, burn their crops, and carry away a bunch of women and children. At which time the people would turn back to God, throw themselves at His feet and beg for mercy, rededicating their lives to His ways.

Allegory or history, the lessons are clear.

Over and over again God always forgave. Then a new leader, most prominent among them Deborah, Gideon, and Samuel, would come forth to defeat the armies of the Philistines, and everything would be hinky-dinky for a generation or so.

The entire 300 year period of Judges ran in these cycles, first generation grateful servants of God, rising second and third generation ingrates and layabouts forgetting the trials and tribulations of their fathers, thus being forced to repeat those trials. But God had a Covenant with these people, so always kept His end of the bargain.

Understanding this, Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1787:

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

The last judge, Samuel was also the first prophet who spoke directly to God since Moses. As a younger man he was a great leader. But when he became old he appointed his sons to be judges, and they were so bad the people came to Samuel, asking that he approach God with the idea of anointing a king. Democracy is too hard, they thought.

Instead of saying “No” God told Samuel to list for the people all the things they’d lose that they have now if they take a king. Instead of paying a 10% tithe, they’ll be paying two-three times that much. (Sound familiar?) And the king will take their land for his own use at a pittance. And when war comes, while they’re all volunteer now, the king will draft their sons into a standing army, keeping them away all four seasons.

Still the people said “Give us a king.” So He did. And Saul turned out about as bad as a king can turn out. But instead of going back to the old ways, God then replaced Saul with David, and Saul anointed him king, establishing a covenant with David and his House for eternity, “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me…” II Samuel 7:14, thus giving rise to the idea of the Divine Right of Kings, which the French no doubt first concocted since they wanted every uncouth outrage sanctified, just like modern Democrats. This is why, since Charlemagne (800 AD), every wannabe-king went traipsing off to Rome to have his bargain with the devil sealed.

Interestingly, evidence of this constant replay of men doing what is pleasing in God’s eyes, then stumbling and doing what is displeasing in God’s eyes, over and over again, as found in Judges, is only found in England and America. It seems when the French discovered debauchery they liked it so much they decided to stay with it. Culturally they threw God overboard centuries before they discarded the Church, which is an interesting study in itself.

The jury’s still out on the other great powers.

And England is hanging on by a thread. Though so similar in so many ways, England has had a rougher time of it than America because they started out with a king. First they squeezed out a charter, a thousand years ago, and finally got rid of the sovereign power of the Throne, four hundred years later. But they have never been quite able to get rid of the aristocratic institutions the Crown supports. And the real kicker, like France, their Church, and their national soul,  is moribund. They are definitely headed in the wrong direction.

Still we owe them much, as they plowed a row half a century ago we may now have to walk down, “breaking up clods with our own bare feet.”

Enter Oliver Cromwell

You think you know great Indian “massacres,” but in 1622, members of the Powhatan tribe killed 347 men, women and children in the English Colony of Virginia. In 1704 the town of Deerfield, Massachusetts, (yes, Massachusetts, not Colorado) was attacked by a band of Indians Native Americans and Frenchmen (who else?), killing 66, including 9 women and 25 children. Many more died as they were marched to new slave quarters in Canada. No assault weapons were involved, unless you consider the war ax an assault weapon.

This is not just a gratuitous throw-in paragraph about the 2nd Amendment (well, maybe just a little) but makes the point that America was in diapers a long time, 1609-1776, when England had its great Civil War, and that civil war was over who had the greater power in England, the people through Parliament, or the King, then Charles I; a crucible we seem to be backing into ourselves today.

Oliver Cromwell began the Civil War as a lieutenant general (cavalry). He was a member of Parliament, a commoner, while many of the leading Parliament leaders were of the nobility. They didn’t get along. Cromwell was also a Puritan, a narrow Protestant sect who didn’t like Rome at all and were none too ecumenical about other Protestants. Cromwell wanted to abolish the monarchy, while many members of rank and privilege only wanted the monarchy to agree to be subordinate to Parliament. Cromwell believed that England could do better without any strong executive at all.

This disagreement between Cromwell the Puritan and Parliament’s nobility was decided not by debate or vote but the simple fact that Cromwell was the better general, and it was Cromwell who defeated the King’s armies in several engagements. It was sort of like dealing himself four aces.

So, during a lull, when they became aware that Charles I was trying to raise a new army from France, Ireland and Spain (all of them papist states) Parliament, at Cromwell’s insistence, ordered the King to stand trial, and then be executed, which he was in 1649, again, when America was still in diapers, and Harvard (then a Puritan school) was the only college in America, and had only been offering classes for seven years.

(Editor’s side note: Charles II died well at the ax man’s hand, which was not uncommon among the nobility. But neither was this trait uncommon among the common man, even the poor, if they were also people of faith. They had a pedigree that ran back 800 years before the first nobleman.  But there are classes of men, we all know them, from mountebanks to fops, popinjays to politicians, who are not cut from this kind of cloth. Sometimes the only way you can tell true nobility from the phony is whether they can walk erectly up the steps to the scaffold, or have to be drug up by the shoulders. Maybe time will show us.)

Thus the Commonwealth of English was born, only it didn’t work out so well, for Parliament went off on a brigandage spree, essentially appointing themselves a kind of replacement-royalty. In fact, they had become so ravenous, taking a cut of every pie, that Cromwell, still in charge of the military, and thoroughly disgusted, stomped into Parliament in April, 1653 and said these words:

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would, like Esau, sell your country for a mess of pottage, and, like Judas, betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!”

Not bad for a commoner. Carrying a loaded Colt.

With this he dissolved Parliament and appointed a new one that was more responsive to the people. And another. And another until they got it right. He remained as Lord Protector of England, (a pompous title, I think, but better than “military dictator”) until he died in 1658, after which the English promptly invited Charles I’s son, Charles II, to become the new monarch…only more in keeping with the original Parliamentary proposals to Charles I back in 1642. But the new kings (Charles II and James II) wouldn’t back off that royal prerogative crap of dear old beheaded Dad, so there had to be yet another Glorious Revolution (1688) in which the Stuart line (going back to Mary Queen of Scots) was finally kicked out of the British Isles and a new Kweeng, William and Mary, were invited in to rule, bringing George Frederich Handel along with them, so that Messiah would be an English oratorio instead of German.

The new arrangement William & Mary used with Parliament was the one Cromwell designed.

So Cromwell is both loved (Macauley) and despised (Hume) in England, but unlike most military dictators, he actually had a plan to restore Parliament to its former glory under Elizabeth as a true representative voice of the people, and that largely happened under the reign of William and Mary. Even Cromwell’s detractors had to begrudgingly grant him that. And until the rise of Marx and the British Labour Party in 1900, England had been on an upward path toward recovery.

Cromwell exercised power, sometimes ruthlessly, but he never exercised it royally or aristocratically, and for this he is buried still in Westminster Abbey.

When George Washington was offered the presidency after ratification of the US Constitution, he had already turned down the offer of king. It seems many of his political followers, like England, never quite understood the full gravity of the Constitution. Like Galapagos birdlife, man’s thirst for king runs deep, but Washington did posterity a service by declining to quench it, for it is only just now rearing its head after 225 years.

So man’s thirst for kings is innate. Now we know. Now we are forewarned, and I hope, forearmed.

The 40-year rule is almost eternal, no matter how well parents school their children at their knees before sending them out into the world. Some can stretch it out to 50 years, even 100. I always thought the Buckley family, in its third generation of top-of-the-mountain constitutionalism, epitomized what can be. But then WFB’s son Christopher endorsed Obama, no doubt for the approval of his peers, and in one day, the House of Buckley slumped to one knee.

Gratitude, the shoulders we stand on, is the most difficult thing to teach in any case, for it is often the most neglected, and one we can no longer rely on schools or even churches to serve as our proxy.

That men are ungrateful is not at issue here. What to do about them is, for under the Constitutional, free market plan, we simply displace them. We leave them by the side of the road. We brush them aside. For they have proven unworthy to ride while we pull. We only forgive if they return to the fold.

Fin

 

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