John Lilburne

18 Sep 2013

The liberal elite like to claim that Mrs Thatcher (and Ronald Reagan) won the battle - but they won the war. This is of course quite true as liberals are ensconced in all the centres of learning, mainstream media, government agencies and departments, and almost every nook and cranny of modern Western society. You can't escape it - the mindset is endemic everywhere, from the police to political and social studies, from social workers to judges, form the upper echelons of the Church to the comments you might read on the Internet in response to CAGW - and other hot potatoes.

One question we might ask - how did liberalism arise in the first place. Is it really as liberal as the label says or is there a whiff of illiberalism about it - a tendency towards authoritarianism, dictating to other human beings in various ways, and a habit of criticising the messenger instead of addressing the message. These are also hallmarks of Colonel Blimp - the attitude liberals are supposed to oppose. They use parady to mock what they see as reactionary tendencies - and Gordon Brown famously called CAGW sceptics 'flat earthers'. Is liberalism an abused term undeserved of the modern perpetrators of language stretch - and what is liberalism if it isn't just another way of being cocksure, and on the right side of the tracks. Is it all it is hyped up to be? Has human nature really changed with the label?

In the BBC History magazine a celebrity or bigwig each month is asked to describe their hero and why they think they are heroic - the reasons and whyfore. They also have  to say what are the downsides. In September's issue (2013) the choice is a folksinger and song writer and his hero is John Lilburne (1615-1657), a wealthy aristocrat that took a different course from his peers. He had a dream of freedom of religion and political points of view. He was a democrat, in that sense, but he was primarily a Puritan (which is overlooked by the folksinger). His radical ideas are said to have influenced the Founding Fathers and the text of the Constitution (in the US) and as a Puritan he campaigned vigorously for religious liberty, even advocating universal suffrage (in England). He was imprisoned by Charles I and after his release he became a leader of the radical group known as the Levellers, one of those movements favoured by young idealists in modern times. Somehow, this adulation is able to turn a blind eye to the religious element central to the Levellers.

According to the Clube and Napier hypothesis it was heavy meteoric activity that underpinned and provided impetus to religious radicalism in the 17th century, particularly around the low growth tree rings years of 1640-2. The appearance of skies thick with shooting stars, and various other transient phenomena gave rise to the idea people were living on the verge of the end of the world - not a democratic revolution. What was expected was a new world on the lines of the Second Coming, a world in which the peasants would have equality with their betters - such as Lilburne. Others see the cold climate of the Little Ice Age (from 1600 to 1660) and the subsequent crop failures as the engine that gave life to the witch persecutions - and so forth. In other words, the Levellers and the other radical groups in the time of the civil war, were useful as far as Cromwell and the parliamentarians were concerned, as they were opposed to the status quo. However, Cromwell and his clique were primarily landowners and radicals were  regarded with suspicion and dispensed with once success had been achieved - and this was the fate of John Lilburne. He was imprisoned by Cromwell and ended up a broken man, physically, and died an early death. However, his ideas have lived on, and going by the folksinger, he is still admired - not for his religious views but for his contribution to modern democracy. The caveat here is that the folksinger admits he was 'an egomaniac and had a tendency to fall out violently and verbally with most people in his life, pursuing grudges well beyond the point of common sense'.

Liberals are at the vanguard of CAGW belief. This is because it is regarded as morally superior to support a cause that will benefit our grandchildren - even if it means confining third world people to a meagre existence, even to the point of starvation. The fact that nobody can foretell the situation of our grandchildren is neither here nor there. It is the moral high ground - and this is what liberals like to claim. No matter how ridiculous that might appear to other sections of society. CAGW is your perfect liberal feasting event - and it is liberals that have kept it alive. The ordinary and unbrainwashed, largely the great unwashed, saw it clearly as a ruse by politicians to extract ever more taxation from the plebs - but the liberals saw it as a great moral crusade. The science has been disproven, the models have proved to be worse than useless, and yet it is still propagated in a stubborn manner, a self propelled mindset that owes more to the politics of activism than it does to anything else.

Getting back to history, and not much that happens in the modern world has not happened in the past, we may note that after Cromwell's son was deposed and the monarchy restored there was a backlash against radical religions. State religion tended to be somewhat mute, large numbers of Puritans migrated across the Atlantic, and the elite adopted a lifestyle quite opposed to Puritan ideals. The king himself was a bit of a rake, as they say, and the great and the good enjoyed a bit of wife swapping, masked balls and some rough on the side, and all kinds of high jinks that had been frowned on by the guys in high hats and long tunics. However, there was one enduring benefit - the separation of science from religion. This was the era when the Royal Society became a secular society and ultimately this was a major player in the course of Western politics and economic development. The Puritans gave it life and the divorce provided momentum.

Religion in Britain was largely on the back burner for a century or so - but then we had another series of low growth tree events, 1739-42 - and this resulted in economic hardship as a direct result of poor harvests after a series of bad summers. Large numbers of unemployed agricultural labourers became a  fertile breeding ground for a religious revival - that of John Wesley (and his peers). Wesley began his ministry in 1739 - the very year that temperatures plunged dramatically. It was very cold. There was strong resistance to the Wesley style of preaching - and this came about as a direct result of the unimportance attached to religion of that particular generation. They were percieved as above such superstition - the first shoots of a secular society. Wesley was often met with noise and violence when he set himself up to preach in a public place. Opponents used drums to drown out his voice - and various other tricks of the trade. This is all a bit like the CAGW people that have consistently tried to obscure and misrepresent the sceptic case - even when the latter have had the science on their side. Just as the tactics failed as far as Wesley was concerned, as he went on to found the Methodist movement, so too the CAGW tactics have seemingly failed. There are more sceptics now than there were a few years ago - many more. It is said that Wesley set up stall in High Wycombe, as one example, and preached on thirteen separate occasions before he gained his first convert. Within a few years Methodist chapels mushroomed and even the smallest of hamlets had one - in all the villages surrounding High Wycombe. So it will be with the sceptic message - once shunned by the media but destined to rule the roost once people realise their fuel bills are due to renewable subsidies rather than a political ploy to increase taxation. Its Robin Hood in reverse. The poor and economically challenged are dipping into their pockets to fill the wallets of landowners, financial organisations and banks, and the odd entreprenuer.

Politics is like a see saw. The libertarian excesses in the reign of Charles II were subsequently followed by Victorian morality - a revival of the Puritan ethos. We now live in a liberal society, a return to Charles II it could be argued - but will it rule the roost until another succession of low growth tree ring events? The soft underbelly of liberalism is CAGW. Will the politics prevail once the theory has been dumped?