Analysis and Proposals

Conflict between radicalism and conservatism began in the 17th century in the transition from monarchy to democracy in which force was made necessary because of royalist intransigence. Left extremism developed from the role that error played in the evolution of radical policy to overcome these obstacles. John Milton expressed this paradox in his proposal that the 17th century English republic should be a dictatorship to suppress royalist resistance. The American Revolution succeeded without such extreme measures due to the favourable circumstances in which it took place. French radicalism used them and was nevertheless defeated. This helps explain why leading historians maintain the origins of totalitarianism may be traced to the French revolution. Americans took the separation of faith and reason pioneered by the British scientific revolution and with this the principle of religious toleration as fundamental tenets of government by consent to craft a constitutional settlement upon practical foundations. French radicals however adopted more desperate measures which bore less relation to scientific method, oriented instead to the ideas of Machiavelli, and with this state control of faith to enforce revolutionary ideology. Thomas Jefferson believed the 'whole art of politics lies in being honest with the people.' Machiavelli thought ends justify means and that lying to the people is an essential requirement of government.

Although the American right ensured the US constitution was modelled more closely on the aristocratic organisational principles of the Roman republic than those of Athenian democracy, American radicalism nevertheless succeeded in establishing a Bill of Rights which preserved bottom up mechanisms of popular power to help guarantee freedom of speech: the rights to jury trial and armed self defence. As Jefferson stated, the right to trial by jury is the only means by which a government can be held accountable to its constitution: trials without juries may be conducted for the government, but not necessarily for the people. Jury trial is an effective check upon laws which are unacceptable to the people, since juries can simply refuse to enforce them. The right to bear arms is also a necessary barrier to creeping forms of tyranny. Among the greatest threats to free speech is collusion between governments and terrorism. Such practices are common - even the UK government stands accused of them in Ireland. The right to self defence consequently remains a necessary protection by which free speech can be securely exercised. Unlike the American Bill of Rights the French Declaration of Rights did not incorporate either of these mechanisms of popular control. French radical leaders had an autocratic approach to common sense as compared to Americans due ultimately to the fact that Europe was a century behind Britain in politics and science and even further behind in the development of rights for the common people. American rights to jury trial and self defence have their origin in the British Anglo Saxon period and in large part retain continuity with democracy in its original, Athenian expression in the 5
th century BC, in which government by jury, and through this, sortition (election by random selection) play a central role. European law by contrast is based on Roman law, which broke this democratic continuity when the ancient city republics were replaced by 1500 years of dictatorship. It incorporates a top down mode of reasoning derived from the imperial principle that sovereigns are not bound by the law. In that sense the French Declaration is very different to the American Bill. While the latter is oriented to defending free speech, the former makes such rights ultimately subordinate to the 'general will' of leaders.

The errors of French radicalism and its defeat by monarchism retarded progress in both Europe and America. European radicalism failed to overcome the legacy of autocratic thinking concerning democracy and common sense. Totalitarian ideologies developed in large part from this circumstance. The call for dictatorship as a necessary form of republican government became a radical dogma, such as in Marxism. US democracy continued to develop but within narrow parameters such that radical aspirations to develop Athenian democratic forms were shelved to maintain unity with anti-British conservatives in the more internationally isolated conditions. Consequently US democracy, though still the most developed in the world, remains narrower and less flexible than envisaged by Jefferson and Tom Paine. Their hopes for democratic progress can be understood as forestalled in three main areas: First, US elections remain excessively elitist in nature, based exclusively on voting for nominated, competing candidates who in some, frequently artificial sense, are attributed with exceptional qualities - what the ancient Greeks termed elective aristocracy. Elections in Athens by contrast were mainly by sortition and were so held in order both to give ordinary citizens an equal chance to hold positions of power and also - crucially - to contain the influence of secretive, aristocratic factions. Whereas elective aristocracy - as used in Rome - has the self evident tendency to engender factions, sortition - as used in Athens - has the equally intrinsic tendency to contain their influence. American conservatives ensured the US constitution followed the Roman example, not that of Athens. Consequently radicalism largely failed to contain the power of secret, masonic factions. The American Antimasonic Party, which at its peak held 37 seats in congress, similarly failed in these tasks.

Second, payment for political participation has not been fully developed. The US Senate was modelled on that of Rome, and for decades was similarly presupposed by the understanding that politicians should not be paid because they should be motivated by virtue alone, and that accordingly since only the leisured aristocracy could afford to be virtuous only the rich were fit to govern. In stark contrast in Athenian democracy politicians were usually elected by random selection and paid for their services. In fact Aristotle defines democracy as 'rule by the poor.' Any Athenian citizen could earn half a day's wage for attending the City Assembly every ten days. Even today nothing comparable exists in modern US political process, which like Rome, remains highly influenced by hidden interests.

Third, the means of constitutional review and taxation in US politics do not reflect the egalitarian and participatory aspirations of American revolutionary radicalism. These were derived from Athenian democracy and the common sense realist tenets of British scientific method. Jefferson saw them as resting upon the self evident truths of common sense, and thereafter upon further truths derived from them through practical experiment. These insights inform the Declaration of Independence: 'We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.' Jefferson and Paine agreed upon a further self evident truth: that 'the earth belongs to the living.' This was not included in the constitution because Madison persuaded Jefferson it would endanger unity with anti-British conservatives. Its meaning was that each generation should have the right to revise the constitution and redistribute inherited wealth through what Jefferson proposed to be a 19 year cycle of review.

These aspirations were never realised. As a result the US constitution remained narrower, less egalitarian, and less participatory than American radicalism had envisaged. It evolved into a two party system in which economic hereditary factors largely predominate. While Jefferson viewed parties as being necessary to democracy, he also saw them as potentially harmful vehicles for factional intrigue - famously he stated that if he had to go to heaven with a party he would rather not go. It is, however, the two party system that now predominates, with few exceptions, throughout the world. These systems were introduced by the European aristocracies after it became clear that democracy in its limited, early American form could be adapted to preserve their interests. Totalitarian ideologies such as communism and fascism developed in large part due to failure to overcome the legacy of political backwardness bestowed with defeat of the French revolution. Anglo-American common sense realism took second place in these ideologies to prescientific European philosophical theories such as those of Machiavelli. In such fashion Marxism claimed socialism must 'inevitably' replace capitalism through dictatorship, largely because it does not distinguish the self evident truths of common sense from truths which can be derived from them through practical experiment. Although Marxism has since shown itself as impractical, how much of this appearance is due to Leftist deception and stealth is an open question. Beneath the surface spin of public relations many Leftists still uphold the same dogmas: that socialism must for all time replace capitalism; that to achieve this state power must be monopolised by radicalism; that lying to the people is necessary to do this. Left and Right militancy operate in polarised conflict with each other striving to overcome their opponent by force or by stealth. The mutual suspicion endemic to this struggle has frequently erupted into violence. World War II was launched because of fears that the party system itself had been suborned by a hidden monopoly of power controlled by a single, secretive faction. These fears remain today in the Arab world, and may yet result in a regional, possibly even World War. Similar fears exist concerning cross party Europhile eagerness to adopt the European constitution thinly disguised as a 'treaty' to avoid a referendum, knowing the people would reject it given the chance. Even David Cameron is suspected of communist affiliations by Margaret Thatcher's closest ally, Norman Tebbit.

The present character of 'human rights' has been influenced by these factors. Leftists now envisage human rights as those which are bestowed by benevolent ruling authorities, much as indicated in the French Declaration. The EU Convention on Human Rights and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights reflect this approach and are seen by many as superceding the American Bill of Rights. In reality however the American Bill is far more radical and egalitarian. Whereas the European convention and the UN Declaration were agreed as diplomatic settlements between government bureaucrats the American Bill comprises fundamental constitution forming concessions demanded by the radical wing of the most revolutionary movement in history from the very leaders who had, courageously, won independence for them in seven years of war. It is a blueprint for the exercise of bottom up forms of popular power to be used independently of and if necessary actually against those who rule. By contrast the rights upheld by the UN and the EU are essentially pragmatic compromises on how people ought to be treated by their rulers. The totalitarian Left has exploited these ambiguities to substitute what are diffuse, easily flouted guidelines on good government - including those on the secret ballot - for those specific and fundamental rights which empower citizens to disobey and if necessary even use deadly force against their rulers. Exploiting pacifist sentiment, Leftism instead almost invariably presents these rights as bearing on criminal matters alone, with little or no mention of their crucial role in the defence of free speech in conditions of creeping tyranny. Indeed, David Cameron and assorted leftists now wish to imply that citizens meet 'responsibilities' to the state if they wish to be treated fairly by it in a proposed British 'Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.' Such Orwellian doublespeak similarly pervades the Europhile project. In place of the ten pages of the US constitution the EU treaty has 300 pages of prescriptions as to how society and the economy should operate, in which the distinctions between the self evident and what can be derived from it by practical experiment is lost. In fact it is in most respects a Leftist bundle of policies which should be subject to review in accordance with the results of practice, but which are granted a constitutional status so that opposition forces will face greater difficulties in changing them. Having excluded rights to prevent creeping forms of tyranny the European constitutional treaty amounts to a one way street to a future monopolised by a bureaucratic elite.

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