Harvard Classics, Volume 7: Augustine & Kempis

I promised when I finished Gibbon’s Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire, that I’d be dedicating more time to working on the Harvard Classics. However, when faced with this volume, I decided that I needed to read the Gospels before undertaking two very important works of Christianity. I would have preferred to have read the whole New Testament, and I will with time, but I needed a better base to interact with these works. Much of these texts is lost on a reader who doesn’t have some appreciation for the Gospels and Scripture as a whole. As I had never deliberately read the whole of any of the Gospels, I was well served having the necessary context to understand these works and catch most of the allusions they made to scripture.

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19th Century Liberal Nationalism, an Antecedent to Trumpism?

I’m a big fan of Mike Duncan’s podcast “Revolutions”. The first revolution it covered were the English Civil War, which would make Moldbug happy. The podcast has also covered colonial revolutions in the Thirteen Colonies, Haiti & South America as well as the French Revolution. Recently, the podcast has covered the revolutions, both failed and successful that took place after the Bourbon Restoration and before the spring of 1848, when attempted revolutions took place across Europe.

Between 1830-1850, there were attempted or successful revolutions by liberal nationalists in every European nation except Russia. Even the Canadians got in on the action.

While it is hard to pin down so many disparate groups over such a wide span of space, it was clear that these groups shared some basic ideals in common.

First, was national self-determination. These movement’s large sought to bring the borders of the state and the borders of the nation into harmony. This meant rejecting the multinational imperialism of the Austrian Empire by Italians, Hungarian, Germans and an assortment of Slavic groups as well as the Greeks towards the Ottoman Empire. This also meant agitation for the German and Italian peoples to unify into a single state.

In addition, these movements were not purely nationalistic, they were usually pushing for Western European​ liberalism in the form of constitutions, and guaranteed rights like freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

Lastly, these movements largely sought to curb the privileges of the aristocracy and the church. 

These issues are echoed in the reasons why people supported Donald Trump for president. National pride is an obvious theme of the campaign and among his supporters. So is an end to political correctness, which is, in essence, a means by which the elite caste controls the bounds of acceptable discourse and intellectual interrogation of ideas.

The last notion is an issue that is not so obvious. However, to the modern American, draining the swamp is a desirable outcome for the same reasons that ending the ancien régime was desired across Europe. Like the Continental Aristocracy, the swamp dwellers have grown comfortable in power, abandoning the provinces for the capital and court life. They put up massive debts while sneering at the people they  rule cannot understand why they are so hated.

This is an interesting parallel between current events and fairly recent history. The consequences remain to be seen, but I think much of the structure of these revolutions serve as a model for political organization for the resurgent right against the bifactional conservative & neoliberal ruling class. Most of these revolutions sought for peaceful reform of the system, not wholesale replacement, and in my opinion, that’s the right choice.