Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How To Tell Liberal From Conservative Books

I’m working on a Commentarama reading list, which will be published Thursday evening. Before I do that, however, it might be wise to define “liberal” and “conservative,” as these concepts are rather nebulous and easily confused. Indeed, as we saw when National Review and Big Hollywood started listing “conservative” films, most people have no idea what constitutes a liberal or conservative film, and they instead confuse things they like for "conservative" and things they dislike for "liberal."

For starters, let me recommend that you go back and read my article on What Constitutes A Conservative Film. That article lays out the difference between mere conservative elements and actual conservative stories, and how to spot both. In particular, you need to look at the context of how issues are presented and how conflicts are resolved.

Secondly, let me ask: should we judge a book by its content or the author’s intent? Take 1984. Orwell was a committed socialist and even a fan of Soviet communism (until the truth about Stalin’s murderous ways came out, at which point he disavowed the Soviets, but not communism.) Yet, 1984 is the seminal anti-totalitarian text. How can this be? Because Orwell meant 1984 as an attack on Nazism, which he considered a right-wing philosophy and which he didn’t see as being at all like communism. So should we call this a leftist book because Orwell meant to attack what he perceived to be a “conservative” philosophy, or should we call it a conservative book because it attacks leftist oppressive government? I believe we should treat books for what they actually are, not what they are intended.

So how do we separate liberal from conservative books? Well, let’s start with the problem: confusion.

Liberalism and conservatism are often confused for a variety of reasons. For one thing, these ideologies are not always honest about what they believe because they know it will not play to the mainstream. (Liberals in particular use rhetoric that does not match their actions.) This blurs the line. Moreover, sometimes liberals/conservatives take ideological positions on particular issues that they would normally oppose so as to maintain political alliances or because of historical accidents. Also, some people who claim to be liberals/ conservatives really aren’t, and they advocate things that are antithetical to the underlying principles of the ideology. Populists and kooks fall into this category as they shift back and forth between pretending to be liberals or conservatives. Yet these groups are “loud” enough that liberalism/conservatism often gets associated with their views.

More importantly, however, both liberals and conservatives largely see the same problems and injustices within society and thus lay claim to the same issues. This generates further blurring and thereby confusion. However, the two ideologies almost always differ in the solutions they propose. And that is where we must look.

To understand this point, one must realize that both modern liberalism and modern conservatism claim roots in classical liberalism -- although the liberal claim is dishonest. Classical liberalism advocated the rights of the individual against the state. It believed in things like freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion or non-religion, freedom of property, freedom of person, and freedom from conformity. However, those freedoms were not unfettered, as classical liberalism also assumed that personal responsibility was required to exercise those rights and government intervention was allowed when personal responsibility failed. Modern conservatism grew from these roots and largely continues to follow these principles today -- a balancing of individual rights against personal responsibility.

By comparison, modern liberalism adopted the rhetoric of individual rights, but actually disdains those rights. Instead, it advocates collective rights and imposition of a solution by those in authority. This is because modern liberalism really traces its roots back to progressivism, which sought to use government power to fix the ills of society. Moreover, liberalism has disdain for the concept of individual responsibility. Instead, it balances competing group interests.

What this means is that when you get a topic like civil rights, it is propaganda to say that one side cares more than the other about the issue. Indeed, both sides have adopted this as a cause. But they see the issue differently and they advocate very different solutions. For example, the conservative solution is to require equality under the law combined with moral persuasion to get people to see all individuals in a color-blind way. The liberal solution is to use the power of government to force group equality. Moreover, both define equality differently, with conservatives believing in equality of opportunity and liberals believing in equality of result. Other issues are similarly divided.

Thus, when trying to separate books into liberal or conservative, the relevant question is not what issues they address, the relevant question is what solutions they propose?

Now let me add two caveats. First, on conservatism: it is important to realize that being religious and being conservative are not the same thing. Religion deals with the relationship between ourselves and God, politics deals with the relationship between man and the state. Thus, being politically conservative and being religious address two different aspects of the human condition. There can be significant overlap, particularly as many people let their religious views inform their sense of personal responsibility, but it is very possible to be conservative without being religious. The corollary is true as well, as it is equally easy to be religious without being politically conservative. What this means in terms of labeling books is that just because a book has a religious theme does not make it conservative. . . it makes it religious. Whether or not the book is also politically conservative will depend on how the religious themes are applied to the relationship between man and the state.

Secondly, on liberalism: there is another aspect of liberalism that must be considered. Liberalism has a destructive core that asserts itself periodically. That’s why socialist movements turned to violence in the 1900s, 1930s, and 1960s. And that’s why the counter-culture found a home within liberalism and why counter-culture values, i.e. the tearing down of existing societal institutions and norms, continue to hold so much sway within liberalism today. Thus, books that promote counter-culture values, even where the underlying issue may be of concern to both conservatives or liberals, must be considered liberal.

A good example of this would be All Quiet On The Western Front, which predates the official counter-culture movement, but shares its elements. Neither left nor right is “pro war.” Both have found reasons to start wars and both have shown a willingness to resist wars. Thus, it would be wrong to say the anti-war All Quiet is a liberal book just because liberals have been more anti-war lately than conservatives (in the 1930s, this was reversed.) What makes All Quiet a liberal book, rather than a conservative book, is its disdain for the traditional institutions of society. This book is not merely anti-war, but it is anti-officer, anti-church, anti-family, and anti-hero, by which I mean it disdains the individual values society normally considers noble, i.e. self-sacrifice, courage, honesty, faith, etc. That puts the book firmly into the counter-culture wing of liberalism and makes it a liberal book.

And let me be clear on this counter-culture point. Merely advocating change does not make one an advocate of counter-culture values. Counter-culture values are at odds with society and human nature as a whole and they seek to destroy existing institutions rather than reform them -- it is the difference between eliminating racism within police ranks (i.e. reform) and eliminating the police force (i.e. counter-culture values). Counter-culture values tend to be extremely radical.

That’s how I would divide books ideologically. If they propose a government or collectivist solution or they advocate group rights, or if they advocate counter-culture values associated with breaking traditional society, then they are liberal. But if they advocate freedom for the individual vis-à-vis the state coupled with individual responsibility, but without pushing those freedoms to the point of being counter-culture beliefs, then they are conservative.

Agree?

Tune in Thursday for the list. . .

37 comments:

CrispyRice said...

Interesting set-up, Andrew. I'm very curious to see the list you've come up with. I'm guessing you're talking fiction, by the way?

I agree with you about judging a book both by the outcomes and by what it has come to mean in general, not strictly by the author's intent. If you didn't say what you meant, then you didn't do a good job. ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Crispy. Yes, the list will be in three parts. The first is fiction with a political bent. The second is nonfiction. And the third will be cultural fiction.

I think you have to judge a book by what it says rather than how the author hoped it would be interpreted. In fact, most of the books on the list suffer from being seen differently than the author expected. But, as you say, if they wanted people to take something different out of them, then they should have been more careful about what they wrote.

In fact, I think the problem goes deeper. I think many of these people just weren't self aware enough to see their own beliefs on trial in their own works.

AndrewPrice said...

By the way, sorry if this is a dense topic for a slow afternoon, but it is a highly theoretical topic and it is an important topic. After all, if we can't spot the things we believe in books and films, then how can we advocate them?

CrispyRice said...

Dense, yes, maybe. But it's always nice to get the brain cells working.

You've really got me thinking about what's on these lists, especially given the parameters you've set out.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, Glad to hear it! Suspense is good. :-)

I'll actually be a bit surprised what's on the lists too as I'm struggling to find the last couple to finish the list. Grrr.

It is good to exercise the brain cells and I think this gives a very accurate assessment of liberal v. conservative philosophies without all the baggage of individual issues or personalities. Thus, this isn't always how it plays out, but I think this is how it should play out if everyone was honest.

T-Rav said...

Interesting. I'll have to take a minute to think it over. Looks good, though (except that religion caveat).

AndrewPrice said...

Think about it and let me know. I stand by the caveat because religion and politics are two distinct fields and while they overlap, being religious does not make one a conservative -- as evidenced by vast numbers of liberal church groups.

In any event, take your time. I'm ready for ya! :-)

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: I agree with you entirely on the way people are easily misled into thinking what sounds liberal is liberal and what sounds conservative is conservative. I look forward to your series.

I do have a somewhat different take on Orwell. He remained a committed socialist to his dying day, but with that peculiarly and very British take. When he wrote Animal Farm, the Nazis were very much on his mind, but he was already becoming very disillusioned with Stalin-style communism. He remained a theoretical communist through the end of WW II, but leaned toward Trotsky. Ultimately he decided that communism was a great deal more than simply "socialism in a hurry," and shared too many totalitarian tendencies with the Nazis. He saw communism in action (and inaction) in Spain when he became involved with the Republican forces. That offended his social democratic British socialist soul. The abandonment of the Spanish Republicans by the communist forces and the Soviet Union put him into a deep depression.

By the time he moved to Jura to begin work on 1984, he had disavowed the Trotskyites as well, and the work, though originally advised by his anti-Nazism, became a screed against Soviet-style socialism (i.e., communism). By that time he had decided that the concept of a dictatorship of the proletariat was a perversion of social democracy, and finally broke with all his previous communist associates by the time 1984 was published in 1949.

His bete noire was, as you said, totalitarianism. But I do have to say that I think that by the time he was finishing 1984 he had already switched his emphasis away from Nazi totalitarianism and onto Soviet totalitarian communism. By that time the joke about the East German communists was already making the rounds: "Scratch a Stasi, and you'll find an old Gestapo agent underneath." Orwell didn't miss the irony.

Tennessee Jed said...

There is little to quibble about here since the fundamentals of your article are right on the money when it comes to modern conservatism evolving from classical liberalism while modern or "social" liberalism evolved from progressivism. Where it really can get interesting is how these core philosophies play out in different political movements (anarchism, communism, liberal democracy, socialism, etc.)

Let me add, for those old enough to remember, a perfect example of how liberalism morphed into social progressivism in the 1960's. Start with the hippies, who were very much for "do your own thing," drop out of society, and they talked about our country as a fascist state. It was considered acceptable to revolt against the corrupt state. These same people now are all for big and intrusive government, because "the end justifies the means."

There are books with multiple and complex themes that cannot easily be pidgeonholed, or at least make you work damned hared to break them down. That is not altogether a bad thing.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, That's a very accurate description of Orwell's politics. He was a committed socialist always and communist at one point until he became disillusioned with Stalin. He described Stalin's state as “ceaseless arrests, censored newspapers, prowling hordes of armed police”. I just didn't have the time to really go into his history as this was a long article already -- so I short handed it. Thanks for cleaning it up.

In any event, I think it would be a good idea to take some of these more important authors/books and eventually break them down in longer articles that can focus on them specifically, but that's for another day.

On being fooled, I think the problems really are (1) lack of intellectual rigor, and (2) leaders who push things that they like and then try to wrap them in ideology. For example, we see this a lot with big business, which wraps corporate socialism in rhetoric about free markets.

You also see this a lot with scare mongering, where politicians use the cover of some danger, disaster or tragedy to grab power and then claim that their powergrab is consistent with the ideology -- which it's not.

If people really stopped to grasp what the ideologies really mean, I think more liberals would realize they are conservatives and a lot of the fringe types would find they no longer have homes on either side of the spectrum.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I'm glad you agree.

On your hippie point, some of the thoughts that struck me writing this were that it seems the left has done the most evolution over time. As progressives, they advocated big government taking care of the poor. This morphed into socialism, which was remaking man as the new socialist-man, a creature who works for the state and disdains all traditional values. But the socialists went to war with each other over minutia and disgraced themselves, which caused them to (temporarily) abandon parts of their ideology (like Eugenics and militarism). That led to the counter-culture types, who decided that society wasn't ready to become socialist until society was broken down... hence, hippies and counter-culture attacking every institution that supported society. Then, when they took over, they set about rebuilding society in their socialist image. Since that hasn't gone according to plan though (except on college campuses), we are now back in the angry-socialist phase of the 1912 era.

Conservatives on the other hand have slowly adapted to changes in morality and ethics, but have by and large made few jumps. If anything, in the 1950s, they were pulled toward militarism and in the 1980s they were pulled toward more intrusive government, but never enough to end the basic principles of conservatism.

It's a fascinating thing to study how the two sides have morphed. The problem is that you need to pull out the head fakes created by politicians who try to shift the ideology to suit them and by the fringers who often get associated with the ideologies.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Jed, breaking the books down has been very difficult, especially since so many could arguably stand on either side and because so often the authors clearly intended to attack something on the other side, but inadvertantly attacked their own side.

Also, finding this books has been hard because I'm trying to stick to meaningful books rather than just anything I can find. Even finding true liberal social commentaries rather than just regular stories with liberal idiocy thrown in has been difficult.

Who knew?

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I have a slightly different take on the religion/politics thing. Of course there are a lot of liberal churches out there, which to me mainly suggests people (and by "people" I mean "Jimmy Carter") haven't really thought through the implications of a left-wing Christianity.

But I do think being conservative and non-religious is a bit of a contradiction. I say this mainly because ignoring or rejecting God raises a lot of thorny questions about human nature--important because the reason we argue socialism is a bad idea is mainly because it violates the tenets of this nature. But where did human nature come from if it was not divinely inspired? The Darwinists and others have never really come up with a good answer to this.

It's true that there are a lot of conservatives who aren't religious, and I don't intend to get onto a theological tangent. And not every conservative book needs to be primarily God-centered. But I do think a conservative who tries to defend his position on a philosophical level without including God at some point is bound to find he's on shaky ground.

rlaWTX said...

sounds promising...

patti said...

can't wait for your list...

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I get your point, but I respectfully disagree. Indeed, I think the conservative who can’t defend his positions on a philosophical level without reference to God is the one on shaky ground. This is for three reasons.

First, arguing from the stance of “this is what God wants” is not persuasive to anyone who doesn’t share your view of God. In our world, there are 1-2 billion Christians out of 6 billion people. That means you automatically turn off 2/3 of the people unless you can give a reason other than your faith. Not to mention that even Christianity is broken into hundreds of groups, each with different beliefs. To base a political argument on a religious interpretation simply cannot work.

Secondly, God doesn’t deal with most of the issues politics does, like the appropriate tax rate or how to define property rights. That is because religion and politics are talking about two different things. They can overlap, like where politics delves into regulation of personal conduct on moral grounds, but they are not the same.

Third, even where we are talking about morality, religion did not invent morality. Morality predates religion as man created codes of conduct from their first social interaction. Even the Greeks created an entire code of conduct based on ethics, which evolved based on philosophical questions about good and bad rather than being grounded in religious beliefs. This code was largely incorporated into Western religions and Western culture, and was refined during the Enlightenment -- again without reference to religious belief. Thus, it is not a true statement to assert that the non-religious are immoral. In fact, look at Europe today where moral codes are being created for all kinds of things (like internet use, business conduct, codes of conduct for lawyers and scientists) and it’s being done in a virtually God-less society.

On the issue of liberal churches, the problem with equating being religious with being conservative is that to make that argument, you need to claim that members of liberal churches aren’t actually religious. I’m not prepared to make that sort of assertion.

On Darwin, they make the point that human nature is an evolutionary construct that results from the survival of desirable traits and the disappearance of undesirable traits, which results in a slow formation of a fairly common human nature because only certain traits have survived over a million years of evolution. You may not like the theory, but it’s a valid explanation if you accept evolution.

Thus, while I think religion and modern conservatism often overlap and certainly travel together a great deal, they are not equivalents.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Hopefully. I think you'll all like it. And hopefully people will read the ones they haven't read. We'll see. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, Thursday night... be there or be square! ;-)

Ed said...

Andrew, Excellent analysis! I'm really looking forward to the list. I have some guesses about what will be on it, but not more than a couple.

On your caveats, I agree entirely. Even Jesus tells us render unto Caesar and render unto God, which means the two spheres are distinct. They may overlap, but they are distinct.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ed. I hope you like the list.

Let me clarify on point on the religious caveat. I am not saying there is no place for religion or that religious consideration should be banned. Far from it. What I am saying though is that it is a mistake to equate being conservative with being religious as (1) you can be a conservative without being religious and (2) you can be religious without being conservative.

That's my point.

Ed said...

Andrew, I didn't mean to imply you were saying religion needs to be kept at the door, I'm only saying that I've always been taught in church that the church has higher concerns that the political system.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I get the points you're making here, but I don't think that really touches what I'm trying to get across. Conservatism has always relied on the idea of a transcendent, not purely secular, moral order; even Plato in The Republic made allusions to God--not the polytheistic Mount Olympus, but a spiritual realm far beyond mythology. As for The Enlightenment, I would describe that more as the collapse of any attempt at a secular code of ethics, not its culmination. Anyway, I don't mean to say that a particular political issue of the day should be explained in terms of God's will or something like that; I mean it in a much broader sense than that.

As for the Darwinist argument, I think that's really a back-door argument for leftist experimentation. It does suggest that the elements of human nature can be changed by earthly forces, given the right circumstances; yes, I know Darwin himself would probably suggest this could only be done over millenia, but there inevitably would be and have been people who would find a reason to see if they could recreate those circumstances, and ramp them up enough to reform humanity on the quick. Which would be a summary of every left-wing totalitarian movement of the past century.

I figure we're probably going to end up agreeing to disagree on this, which is cool. There can definitely be non-religious conservatives (and non-conservative religious believers), but invoking the spiritual strengthens our argument far more than it weakens it.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, That's probably something for another time, but I agree with you. I think religions dirties itself when it starts to mess with politics and you end up with watered down versions of it.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I get what you mean about seeing religion in a broader sense, but I'm not sure it makes a difference. In any event, agreeing to disagree is cool -- we're not leftists, we don't need rigid conformity! :-)

In terms of evolution, I think it does open the door to experimenting with trying to remake human nature. But it is what it is. If evolution is correct, then we should consider a scientific code of ethics that prevents such tampering.

I think a more interesting question to solve in terms of getting at what human nature really is, is why has our moral code changed so radically throughout recorded history? And has human nature ever changed that we are know of? And if so, why?

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - I am interested in your comment about liberalism's destructive core. While I would not disagree that liberalism periodically manifests itself in destructive violence, do you see something in liberalism's definition that inherently triggers that manifestation? If so, what do you think that might be? Perhaps the reliance on end results over ideals?

On another front, when judging whether a book is inherently liberal or conservative, it is true we must not look so much to the issues addressed as to the solutions proposed. Yes, the book has to speak for itself, not so much the intent of the author. That said, if we know an author's intent, it can certainly help to get the reader through any ambiguity.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I guess it depends on what you mean by "human nature." If you mean things like people's general refusal to do something for nothing and so on, I would say that has probably always been the same.

That said, certain values of ours have undoubtedly changed over the years. If you get the chance, I would refer you to the British historian Lawrence Stone and some of his writings on the family over time. Among other things, he says that the nuclear family as we know it did not exist during the Middle Ages and up through the 17th century or later; nor were our perceptions of children and interpersonal bonds the same. Social history's not really my thing, but it can make for interesting reading.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: Since I, like L. Stone originally, was determined to be a medievalist, I know a little about him. His studies of the family tended to concentrate on the arranged marriages of the nobility rather than the much broader middle class and peasantry. He did seem determined at one time to prove that most marriages were "loveless" prior to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and therefore the family was a very different creature prior to that time. I agreed with his thesis--but only up to a point. The family of the nineteenth century is a very different thing from one in the twenty-first century. But the "nuclear family" is a twentieth century expression meant to describe a religious concept of an ideal family that probably never existed.

In his later years, Stone revisited his concept of the medieval and early modern "loveless marriage," and abandoned many of his earlier beliefs. The "core" family, with many, many variations, was a staple of medieval life, even among a large percentage of the nobility. Children and women were often treated as property, but extremely valuable and often loved property. It may not have been the nuclear family of a Jerry Falwell or the idealized family of some present-day dreamers, but family it was. The clans and tribes were like extended families, but that "household family" was still the core of all institutions other than the Church.

I'm guessing you're referring to The Family, Sex, and Marriage in England 1500 to 1800. He wrote that in the 70s, but took so much heat from medievalists that he had revised most of his views by the late 80s. I had moved out of the history arena by that time, so I was never sure whether he really did change his view, or simply caved into pressure from the academic community.

Was I close?

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Good question! :-)

On your second point first, I think the author's intent certainly helps, especially when we are faced with ambiguity or things that just aren't addressed in the text. It can also give us context. But in the end, I think author's intent is less important because many of these authors are blinded by their own beliefs. Thus, for example, the socialists don't see their own philosophy on trial in their indictments of oppressive governments and collectivist action. And while they would probably react in horror and deny that they had indicted their own beliefs, the fact is they have. In court, that’s called an admission against interest and it’s very powerful with juries.

On the destructive core, I do think there is a cause in the nature of liberalism:

1. Unlike conservatism, liberalism does not respect the individual. It sees individuals merely as parts of movements or groups. That makes it easier to see people as expendable.

2. Moreover, further devaluing human worth, liberals believe they have the right to change people, i.e. the right to impose new values and beliefs. Anyone who believes they have the right to force another to change their beliefs is not someone who will have much of a moral underpinning against violence.

(continued)

AndrewPrice said...

(continued)
3. Also, seeing the world through the prism of group identity with those groups set at each other’s throats over ancient antagonisms is conducive to periodic violent outbursts. Indeed, note the liberal “principles” always are relative in the sense that they only apply to certain people. For example, person X can have free speech, but person Y better not repeat what person X said. When you break the world down into good and bad people and you don’t feel that bad people deserve protection of the law as well, then it’s not a big stretch to justifying violence/murder “against the right people.”

4. And finally, liberals see themselves as superior to the proles because they are the enlightened few who know what’s good for the rest of humanity. People who see themselves as superior do not take well to the inferiors refusing to go along with the program.

Thus, I think their ideology makes them prone to intolerance and arrogance, and when they decide they aren’t going to get their way, they step up to violence, which they tell themselves is ok because they don’t worry about individuals who are hurt and because they think they have the right to teach the proles a lesson and besides “only the right people will get hurt.”

Add in that most liberal leaders are demagogues because of the group identity thing (it’s a requirement to hold the groups together that you can preach victimhood for your group), and you’ve got a recipe for violence.
What I find interesting is that their violence seems to happen about every 30 years, like a cycle. I’ll bet it’s the same thing each time -- disclaim the prior violence, try some new form of persuasion, meet with limited success, push harder, give up on the proles and turn violent, repeat.

Interesting huh?

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I've read some of that and it's fascinating that what we think of today about love and family is so different than what people used to think. In fact, looking back on it, it's stunning that those people are our ancestors, they seem so foreign.

In terms of human nature though, I actually don't think it's changed. Indeed, it's pretty amazing when you read old texts that human motivations and behaviors have been extremely consistent for so long and across so many cultures.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Yeah, what you said. ;-)

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, yep that's the one. It's been a while since I read it, so I've forgotten some of the details, but that's essentially his argument. However, we never read anything about the more recent revisions, so that's pretty interesting. I have wondered in the past about the argument that the lower classes were actually more free to marry for love than the nobility, which had to worry about its estates being preserved and all. I wonder if you could do a study on that. (Probably not.)

Incidentally, if, like me, you're a history nerd who sometimes enjoys this sort of thing and has no life in general, you should check out an academic "discussion" from the '50s between Stone, H.R. Trevor-Roper, and another guy about the turnover in English manor ownership in the early 17th century and whether or not this represented a collapse of the old nobility. The topic is boring, but these scholars are more or less politely telling each other in their articles to go to hell, and the dry wit with which British historians can do this sort of thing is just amazing. And even as I typed this, I realized how pathetic my chosen career is.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, It could be worse... you could be in law school?! ;-)

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: Don't forget I was a history major too. I have geeky things around the house like The Plantagenet Encyclopedia. Even when I ran off to the dread law school, I never lost my interest in history. So the reason I know Stone may not surprise you. I got the bright idea that I would get an LLD about five years into my practice. Since about half my practice was family law, I decided I would do my thesis on aspects of divorce in England versus common law divorce in the American Colonies. Guess who popped up regularly. Yep, Lawrence Stone--with The Road to Divorce, Uncertain Unions--Marriage in England, Broken Lives-Separation and Divorce in England, and of course the previously-mentioned Family, Sex and Marriage.

Life has a way of changing one's plans, and after being appointed to the bench and at the same time sitting on the regional planning commission, along with raising a growing family, I never did get that LLD.

Unless I'm wrong, you are referring to the "Court and Country" debates over the so-called General Crisis. That academic debate eventually drew in scholars from all over Europe, including Marxists.

See what happens when you get me started? I'll give it some thought, but as you know this is largely a modern political blog and I'd probably put everybody to sleep with a lengthy historical treatise. To get to British wit (which I love), you first have to write twenty pages of introduction. LOL

Ed said...

Andrew, That's an interesting theory on why liberalism turns violent. I agree, but to me it's even simpler: anyone who thinks it's right to use government force to control people's lives won't have any problem with using violence as part of that force.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I agree with that. Besides, the use of government power is already the threat of force -- what do you think the government does if you refuse?

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, The Plantagenet what and why do I not have this book??!!

Post a Comment