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Saturday, April 17, 2021


 Paul Gosar, a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Arizona, whose paternal grandparents were Slovenian and whose maternal grandparents were Basque, is one of a number of Republicans who have formed a new political organization devoted to preserving the Anglo-Saxon heritage of the American Republic.


s. wallerstein said...

I don't find that weird.

Immigrants come to the U.S. because among other reasons, they value the Anglo-Saxon political tradition and ultra-free market economic system. I just read a blog (by a Jewish person) lauding to the skies the Anglo-Saxon political heritage beginning with the Magna Carta, etc., etc., we all know the narrative. You can criticize the narrative for thousands of reasons, but perfectly rational and intelligent people subscribe to it.

David Palmeter said...

According to the historian J.G.A. Pocock, in "The Machiavellian Moment," the republican heritage of this country did not come from the Anglo Saxons but from a group of "countrymen" or "coffee house radicals" in early 18th century England, who in turn were influenced by Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy.

David Zimmerman said...

Re Wallerstein' comment:

You miss the point, Sir.

The motivation of this "America First" Caucus is obviously based on racial and ethnic preference, not any sort of veneration for Magna Carta.


Anonymous said...

Ignoring s. wallerstein comments will imporve this blog a thousand times.

--Dave F.

s. wallerstein said...

David Zimmerman,

How do you know their motivations. Do you read minds?

David Zimmerman said...

S. Wallerstein:

Reading minds is not required.... One need only read about what Gosar, Greene et al say and do to know what they are.

s. wallerstein said...

We're good, they're bad.

Everyone on the right has nefarious motives, while everyone on the left and/or victim of racism and capitalism has good motives.

Me doy por vencido. The world is a 1950's Hollywood movie, but al reves, the other way around. I give up.

Michael Llenos said...

David Palmeter,
The Founding Fathers were influenced by Marcus Cicero, and now I learn from you that the Republicans were influenced by Machiavelli. I wonder why a Machiavellian-Ciceronian "political genius" hasn't been produced by Washington D.C. yet??? I would love to hear him or her speak.

Dave F.,
I don't know about that. I always love to read what s. wallerstein has to say. His posts are totally fresh, original, and enlightening. If this were the View, he would be like a combination of Joy and Whoopie to me.

David Zimmerman said...

S. Wallerstein on the "we're good, they're bad" theme:

You do know what a "straw man argument" is, don't you?

You certainly have a mastery of the form.

s. wallerstein said...

Michael LLenos,

Thank you.

jeffrey g kessen said...

I'm down with S. Wallerstein. I suspect a lingering antipathy to the man merely because he tried to civilize M.S.---quixotic though the effort was.

Michael Llenos said...

You are very welcome, S. Wallerstein.

LFC said...

Michael Llenos,
D. Palmeter's comment had to do with republicans small "r," not Republicans capital "R." There's a difference...

R McD said...

I wouldn't mind betting that a lot of those in the US who think of themselves as Anglo-Saxon have, like me, a lot of the Celt in them, i.e., a lot of non-Anglo Irish and Scot. Some of them may even take pride in that recent invention/travesty "Tartan Day." And I imagine a great many of these have discovered the Declaration of Arbroath and try to exploit that to racist ends, which is a great shame, which I always blame on Mel Gibson's exploitation of William Wallace.

On the other hand, I have good friends who refer to people like me as WASPs and who fail to understand why I find this inappropriate.

Michael Llenos said...


My bad. From what I learned of the Founding Fathers (in college) statesmen like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were greatly influenced & indebted to Cicero. But I never heard of the Founders being influenced by Machiavelli. In fact, I always wondered if the Founding Fathers were influenced by that brilliant 15th-16th century Italian statesman. In all my various copies of Machiavelli's works I never could learn anything about that. I didn't know anything about it until today. It's good to know.

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

I have always understood our political tradition to be rooted in the Enlightenment, not Anglo-Saxon Protestant, political culture. If it were the later we would have a religious test for political office, at the least, After all, there were preachers in New England who opposed ratification of the Constitution because it didn’t mention god. What Gosar, want is the resurrection of the Know-Nothing party’s staunch anti-immigration platform, and maintain Protestant and white supremacist beliefs. They also want to maintain neo-classical architecture, not exactly Anglo -Saxon related.

Viva Wallerstein!

Charles Pigden said...

To Christopher Mulvaney. The Founding Fathers were undoubtably men of the Enlightenment but that doesn't mean they did not owe a huge debt to anglophone political traditions particularly that of the 17th and 18th century Commonwealthsmen. (And yes, let’s not forget that the liberties of English and Scottish Protestants were vindicated at the expense of the Irish Catholic peasantry, and to some extent the liberties of the Catholic Highland Scots.) Moreover the continental enlightenment was a notably anglophile and scott-o-phile affair. An admirer of Voltaire would be likely, to be ipso facto, an admirer of Locke and Newton. Thus the founders were definitely heirs to a tradition in which Anglophone protestantism played a prominent part. (No American Revolution without a the English and Scottish Revolutions: no English and Scottish revolutions without Puritanism). However that is just a preliminary point

There is absolutely nothing wrong with someone's being an enthusiast for a culture (or aspects of a culture) which is not that of their ancestors. Witness, for example, all those Jewish scholars of Eastern European origin who have made such a massive contribution to Shakespeare studies. Witness also all those black congresswomen and congressmen who, during the controversies of the Trump administration, gave brilliantly lucid and enthusiastic ex tempore lectures on the underlying values of the US Constitution, tactfully ignoring the fact that the founding fathers applied those values in a one-sided way so as to exclude people like them. Witness Arthur Herman (i think a German American, certainly not of Scottish descent) who has written *the* brief history of the Scottish Enlightenment. Or at a more mundane level, think of my own five-person household (two with degrees in French) composed of people of Irish, Scottish, English (including Scandinavian) and Russian descent, with a shared passion for Japanese cuisine and a shared determination that its youngest member (my grandson) will grow up with an adequate knowledge of Tikanga Māori (Māori customs culture and language).

So what is wrong with Congressman Gossar is not that he admires aspects of Anglo-Saxon culture. What is wrong with him is that he is making the baseless claim that Anglo-Saxon culture is in some serious sense *under threat* in the United States (it is not as if there is anyone is suggesting that English should no longer be the primary national language or nor that the constitution should be abandoned, or that Shakespeare , for example , should not be taught in schools and colleges) and is using this baseless claim to exclude non-Anglo voices from the political and cultural scene in the interests of a white Supremacist agenda. (You can love and value America’s Anglophone heritage without wishing to silence everyone else.) In fact supremacism is precisely the issue. These are people who feel themselves to be threatened unless they are politically and culturally supreme. Anything less than complete dominion constitutes servitude in their eyes. Hence other people’s liberties constitute a threat to theirs and the recognition of other peoples’s cultures means that theirs is on the road to extinction. They have in the popular sense, a zero-sum approach to culture and politics: other people’s gains are necessarily their losses. This stance is not only contemptible (and incompatible with civil peace in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society) but ridiculous in Gossar’s case, since if the political culture which he is trying to foster had been in force a couple of generations ago, his ancestors would never have been allowed into the country. He is, to paraphrase Shakespeare, ‘scorning the base degrees by which his family did ascend’

Charles Pigden said...

Not apropos of the latest post but apropos of the latest news. This is from the Greville Memoirs from 180 years ago, on the ‘successful’ outcome of the then recent Anglo-Afghan war. (He was Clerk of the Closet, a sort of cross between a courtier, a politician and a senior civil servant.)
“In the midst of all our successes, however, the simple truth is that Akbar Khan and the Afghans have gained their object completely. We had placed a puppet king on the throne, and we kept him there and held military possession of the country by a body of our troops. They resolved to get rid of our king and our troops and to resume their barbarous independence; they massacred all our people civil and military, and they afterwards put to death the king. We lost all hold over the country except the fortresses we continued to occupy. Our recent expedition was, in fact, undertaken merely to get back the prisoners who had escaped with their lives from the general slaughter, and having got them we have once for all abandoned the country, leaving to the Afghans the unmolested possession of the liberty they had acquired, and not attempting to replace upon their necks the yoke they so roughly shook off. There is,after all, no great cause for rejoicing and triumph in all this.”

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

To Charles Pigden
Thank you for your reply. I have an engagement that will occupy me until Wed. My response will be posted soon thereafter.

David Zimmerman said...

At last: An explanation of what "Anglo-Saxon culture" is:

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

Re: the influence of Machiavelli in America

Mr. Palmeter is correct. Machiavelli had a significant influence on John Adams, but also on Madison, Jefferson and certainly many others. His “Discourses” could be characterized as one of the great works which all educated persons of the day should have read.

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

To Charles Pigden:

We clearly have very different approaches to historical analysis. I must admit to being stopped dead in my tracks when I read that the liberties of English Protestants “...were vindicated at the expense of the Irish Catholic peasantry…”. You are stating that the liberties of the English Protestants were justified by the subordination of Irish Catholics to the Protestants. To be clear, the freedom, liberty and wealth that accrue to the dominant class is always achieved at the expense of the subordinate group, and the dominant group “naturally” thinks it is a good bargain. But let’s turn to the question of the meaning of “Anglo-Saxon” in the United States, which I assume must be quite different than it’s usage by British historians.

Many years ago the host of this blog put forth the argument that the virtue of a pluralist democracy is tolerance. However, it is a virtue to which Puritanism was unacquainted. Arriving in the new world the Puritans proceeded to engage in genocide against the Native population and adapted readily to chattel slavery. Let me just briefly hit some further highlights. Some 1.5 M Irish fled the genocide practices of the British government and those who came to the States, like my great-grandfather, were met with unrelenting hostility by the ruling elites here. Those elites identified themselves as Anglo -Saxon. They used gang violence and terrorism against the Catholic immigrants on the belief that Catholics will destroy democracy because they are “papists”. The Know Nothing Party arose with an anti-immigration, anti Catholic planks, and the position that no non-Anglo-Saxon Protestant should be elected to political office. The Irish defeated the Anglo-Saxon elite in New York in 1857 but only after several days of gang warfare provoked by a threat to burn down another Catholic Church.

Southern Baptists preachers actively promoted scriptural arguments justifying slavery prior to the Civil War and the Southern Army was overrun with evangelical preachers during the war. After the war, the anti immigrant, anti- Catholic and Jewish, and white supremacist impulses coalesced around the KKK. The white supremacist movement to this day includes an understanding that it is an Anglo-Saxon Protestant movement. To get to the point, this movement that coalesced around Trump is the contemporary iteration of the American version of fascism. Its historical antecedents are the movements described above that understand themselves as White, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant, and the largest reservoir of support for these positions is fundamentalist/evangelical Protestantism that is strongest in the South. The Enlightenment is not over and done with - the battle between reason and religious intolerance is still being fought.

Two final thoughts. Gosar is a fool who I wager couldn’t pass an Advanced Placement American history exam, much like Trump. If you are not familiar with the monograph by Richard Hofstadter titled “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” I highly recommend it.

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