Clause 61: The Pushback Blog

Because ideas have consequences

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

European Integration Timelines

leave a comment »

Here it is: the complete reference of events in time, starting with the European Coal and Steel Community and going all the way to Brexit. All the referenda, the countries that wanted in and those that didn’t.

Here is a diagram illustrating the overlapping relationships among European nations at the time of this writing.

Being a healthy bureaucracy, the European Union has more acronyms than you can shake a composing stick at. I am only going to use a few of those.


The treaties and the acts that significantly amended those treaties, with referenda where held.

Year Treaty Event
1951 Treaty of Paris Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany form the European Coal and Steel Community.
1957 Treaty of Rome The same six nations form the European Economic Community.
1986 Single European Act Amends the Treaty of Rome to create a single market by 1992. Expanded the power of the European Parliament. Signed by the 12 then-current member nations of the European Community.
1986 Denmark ratifies the Single European Act in a referendum.
1987 Ireland ratifies a Constitutional Amendment to permit the state to accept the Single European Act.
1992 Maastricht Treaty Signed by the 12 then-current member nations of the European Community.
1992 Ireland ratifies, by referendum, a constitutional amendment to allow the government to accept the Maastricht Treaty.
1992 France ratifies the treaty in a referendum.
1992 Denmark rejects ratification in a referendum.
1993 Denmark ratifies in a second referendum after Edinburgh Agreement provided four opt-outs for Denmark.
1997 Amsterdam Treaty Signed by the 15 then-current member nations of the European Community.
1998 Ireland ratifies, by referendum, a constitutional amendment to allow the government to accept the Amsterdam Treaty.
1998 Denmark ratifies the treaty in a referendum.
2001 Nice Treaty Signed by the 15 then-current member nations of the European Community.
2001 Ireland rejects ratification in a referendum.
2002 Ireland ratifies in a second referendum after the Seville Declaration established the priority of Ireland’s policy of military neutrality and renounced any plans to develop a European Army.
2004 Constitutional Treaty Signed by the 25 then-member nations of the European Community, this would have established a consolidated constitution for Europe and given legal force to the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
2005 Spain ratifies the Constitutional Treaty in a referendum.
2005 France rejects ratification in a referendum.
2005 The Netherlands rejects ratification in a referendum. Europe lost interest in the treaty at this point.
2005 Luxembourg ratifies the treaty in a referendum.
2007 Lisbon Treaty Signed by the 27 member nations of the European Community
2008 Ireland rejects ratification in a referendum.
2009 Ireland ratifies in a second referendum after the EU leaders agreed not to impose rules on Ireland relating to taxation, “ethical issues” (primarily abortion) or military neutrality.


At the time of the Single European Act, the Irish Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution must be amended for the Irish national government to give to the EU powers granted to the national government by the Constitution. Ireland has responded to every integration treaty since with a constitutional amendment to accommodate the change, which must be ratified by referendum. There is every reason to expect further integration treaties would also require amendments to the Irish Constitution, with each having to go before the voters in a referendum.

Entry and Exit

Countries coming in — or not, staying in — or not.

Year Event
1972 France approves the EC Enlargement Referendum.
1972 Ireland approves a referendum to amend the constitution to allow joining the EC.
1972 Norway rejects a referendum to join the EC.
1972 Denmark approves a referendum to join the EC.
1975 The United Kingdom approves a referendum to have joined the EC (since the UK had already joined without a referendum in 1973).
1982 Greenland rejects a referendum to remain in the EC. Greenland left in 1985.
1994 Austria approves a referendum to join the EU.
1994 Finland approves a referendum to join the EU.
1994 Sweden approves a referendum to join the EU.
1994 Norway rejects a referendum to join the EU.
2003 Malta approves a referendum to join the EU.
2003 Slovenia approves a referendum to join the EU.
2003 Hungary approves a referendum to join the EU.
2003 Lithuania approves a referendum to join the EU.
2003 Slovakia approves a referendum to join the EU.
2003 Poland approves a referendum to join the EU.
2003 The Czech Republic approves a referendum to join the EU.
2003 Estonia approves a referendum to join the EU.
2003 Latvia approves a referendum to join the EU.
2012 Croatia approves a referendum to join the EU.
2016 Britain approves a referendum to leave the EU.


Referenda relating to significant financial events.

Britain and Denmark were given the option not to adopt the Euro as their currency (“join the Eurozone”). All other nations are expected to adopt the Euro upon meeting economic eligibility criteria.

Year Event
2000 Denmark rejects a referendum to join the Eurozone.
2003 Sweden rejects a referendum to join the Eurozone.
2015 Greece rejects a referendum on conditions to receive a bailout from the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. Afterward, the Greek government accepted similar terms anyway, as they had their backs to the wall.


leave a comment »

Events of the past year, and discussions about those events, caused me to take a deeper look at the subject of nationalism.

Is It a System of Political Organization?

To discuss nationalism, we have to agree on what we are discussing. This turns out not to be all that simple.

The idea of nationalism depends on the conception of the nation. By 1700, in Europe, some nations were clearly identifiable: France, Spain, Poland, Russia. Others were very confusing. Was Great Britain one nation, two (England + Scotland), three (+ Ireland) or four (+ Wales) ? Was Brandenburg rightly part of Prussia or Germany?

Nations such as France and Russia were identifiable from a common ethnic heritage. But the United States came into existence because of an idea of government. What was to demarcate the membership of the United States as a nation? There has always been some disagreement as to who could really be a citizen of the United States.

Nevertheless, by 1900 the nation-state dominated the world landscape. Those who did not have their own nation-state and were subject to rule by others longed for nationhood of their own. Over the course of the twentieth century, many of them obtained this, although not without much turmoil and some bloodshed.

Or Is It an Attitude?

Overlaid on top of this, to some extend out of necessity, is the attitude of the citizen toward the nation. Since the nation is more abstract than the clan, the nation requires a greater degree of emotional commitment from the citizen than does the clan or the nation would be irrelevant. The French Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle if it did not demand commitment from the citizens. This commitment revolutionized war, because the nation-at-arms could mobilize far more soldiers than the neighboring kingdoms.

Human nature being what it is, the citizen wants to believe that his nation is the superior nation, that his nation can tell any other nation where to get off. This attitude has often been identified as part of the package of nationalism. Einstein called nationalism “the measles of mankind,” likely focusing on the attitudinal aspect. This attitude has also been identified by various terms, such as jingoism or chauvinism.

While I recognize that others have considered the political organization and the attitude bundled together, I do not find it analytically useful to do so. Hereafter, my discussion of nationalism shall be confined to the political structure and not the attitude.

Alternative Sovereignty Structures

A sovereign political entity can make laws and engage in foreign relations. It has relationships with the individuals belonging to it where:

  • They identify themselves as belonging to the entity;
  • They accept the legitimacy of the entity to make laws, demand obedience and tribute and otherwise claim their allegiance.

The nation-state has been so predominant a unit of political sovereignty that it is useful to consider alternative possible forms.

The Clan

There are still places in the world where people identify themselves as members of a clan rather than citizens of a nation. In such places, the concept of citizenship as we know it has no meaning. Others in your clan are your people, whom you will rely upon to keep strangers off your back.

My brother and I against my cousin;
My cousin and I against the stranger.
— Arab proverb

In such an environment, if your people can’t count on you when the chips are down, you won’t be able to count on them, either. It is dishonorable to cut and run from your obligations to your people. All the various folk stories and fables from different cultures where the older, wiser man invites the younger men to break a bundle of sticks as a bundle are meant to reinforce this.

The Dynasty

The dynasty is larger than the clan, but still more personal than the nation. As it is personal, people owe service to the person of the king or lord. The king can have tenants-in-chief, such as dukes or counts, and delegate down. But you can’t have too many levels of delegation or the personal relationship, which is the glue that holds it together, falls apart.

Even as late as the 1800s, ordinary people in dynasties such as Russia or Austria felt a bond of obligation to the Tsar or Emperor. But it was fraying under the pressures of modernity and scale. The dynasties were growing bureaucracies, and while both bureaucrats and lords demand service, only lords offer service in return. The bond was also literally being alienated, in both senses of the word: estranged and converted into a fungible commodity that could be exchanged for money. The dynastic bond works better under feudalism than capitalism.

Britain and France led the world down two divergent evolutionary directions from the dynasty. France continued to be a dynasty, with unresolved conflicts regarding the rights and duties of different classes of subjects, until the conflicts blew up in 1789.

Britain had to confront its structure during the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714). Britain had been formed one hundred years before as the personal dynastic union of England and Scotland under the Stuarts. Now the English Parliament did not want any more Stuarts after Anne, because they were all Roman Catholic. Where did that leave Scotland? Where did that leave Britain? Anne had pushed for negotiations aimed at keeping England and Scotland together, and the 1707 Act of Union officially recast the two realms as a unified nation. Thereafter, political development continued in the English direction, with Parliament collecting power at the expense of the monarch.


On the other end of the scale, there is internationalism. After the disaster of World War I, the idea of internationalism became attractive to many people as a possible means to end war. Certainly, if all the world were ruled by one government, there could not be wars between states because there would only be one state.

Whether or not it would end violent conflict was a different question. We don’t need two states to have violent conflict. All we need is an aggrieved minority and a ruling group who are unable to work out their differences any other way and resort to violence. Syria is the standout example of this, but there have been others.

All rulers in all ages have tried to impose a false view of the world upon their followers, but they could not afford to encourage any illusion that tended to impair military efficiency. So long as defeat meant the loss of independence, or some other result generally held to be undesirable, the precautions against defeat had to be serious. Physical facts could not be ignored. In philosophy, or religion, or ethics, or politics, two and two might make five, but when one was designing a gun or an aeroplane they had to make four. Inefficient nations were always conquered sooner or later, and the struggle for efficiency was inimical to illusions. Moreover, to be efficient it was necessary to be able to learn from the past, which meant having a fairly accurate idea of what had happened in the past.
— George Orwell, 1984

You might also want to think twice before promoting a plan to end war. As Orwell, speaking in the voice of Emmanuel Goldstein, pointed out, the possibility of a war your country can lose is the ultimate guarantee of your right to your own sanity.

The Settlement of Political Differences

Persuasion and rational argument look appealing as a means of settling political issues. However, they presume that there is some shared common ground among the participants upon which a persuasive argument can be based. If two sides with opposing viewpoints disagree on everything, including norms and even facts, it is very hard to resolve the differences with words. Both sides go home muttering about how arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon.

Most people don’t like conflict, so they try to put off resolution of political issues, kicking the can down the street if they have to. Unresolved political issues pile up and get noisy. They nag and demand resolution. If a political issue must be resolved and cannot be resolved with words, there is only one way remaining: violence. One side prevails, and the others go under.

Violence is very unpleasant, and I don’t want to be cavalier about contemplating it. Violence is what the internationalists are hoping to avoid. However, not having nations does not guarantee the avoidance of violence. It may make violence certain, as you rope together all kinds of people with no shared norms, values or moral foundations into a single polity which must be subject to a single law. How are they going to get any kind of agreement? How are they going to persuade one another rationally and peacefully?

“How will the other EEC countries feel about having to carry identity papers? Won’t they resist too?”
Sir Humphrey felt not. “The Germans will love it, the French will ignore it, and the Italians and the Irish will be too chaotic to enforce it. Only the British will resent it.”
Yes, Minister, “The Writing on the Wall”

Just bringing all of Europe together collects people with very different senses of the entitlement to privacy and the obligation of law, among other differences. It was always going to be a rickety structure that could shelter all of them under one common legal framework. And, because Britain has a political tradition that does not allow the politicians to ignore the people completely, or to keep asking the people a question until they get the “right” answer, it was inevitable that the British people drew a line under their sovereignty and said, “You will not go further.” Which is what happened in the Brexit referendum of June 2016.


Written by srojak

April 18, 2018 at 10:33 pm

Mead’s Model of Foreign Policy Attitudes

leave a comment »

Walter Russell Mead began an examination American attitudes toward foreign affairs in 1999. He published an article in the Winter 1999/2000 issue of The National Interest titled “The Jacksonian Tradition”, which he further developed in the book Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World.

Mead decomposed attitudes among the public toward foreign policy into four basic approaches. Arranging them from most realist to most idealist, they are:

  • Hamiltonians emphasize trade and economic development for America and see economic policy as an agent for global peace. They are the most elitist of the groups, seeing nothing wrong with engaging in covert operations to achieve policy objectives. They have historically been the most Anglophile, and in recent decades have been the most enthusiastic promoters of global free trade.
  • Jacksonians see the most limited continuous role for the US in foreign affairs. They don’t want to be “the world’s policeman.” However, when the country is attacked or provoked, as it was in 1941 at Pearl Harbor or in 1979 when the Iranian students took Americans hostage, they want us to do whatever it takes to prevail.
  • Jeffersonians focus on the preservation of democracy and civil liberties in America. They are deeply distrustful of military adventures and the attendant cloaking of government action under the guise of national security. They are predominantly isolationist; pacifists can find a home here.
  • Wilsonians are the most idealistic, seeking to spread democracy, as they conceive of it, throughout the world. These are the people who want to engage in “nation building.” They are also the most opposed to nationalism, favoring world government organizations such as the League of Nations or United Nations, and the most willing to cede sovereignty to such organizations.

The majority of Americans can be considered Jacksonian in their approach to foreign affairs. Theirs is the fire brigade approach to foreign conflict: do what it takes to put the fire out, then go home and go about your business. Thus, in World War II, they had no compunction about sowing destruction from the air on Germany and Japan. Once they surrendered, however, Jacksonians wanted the hostilities to be over. There was no support among Jacksonians for plans to keep Germany in penury forever, such as the Morgenthau Plan.

Mead wrote in “The Jacksonian Tradition”:

For foreigners and for some Americans, the Jacksonian tradition is the least impressive in American politics. It is the most deplored abroad, the most denounced at home. Jacksonian chairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are the despair of high-minded people everywhere, as they hold up adhesion to the Kyoto Protocol, starve the UN and the IMF, cut foreign aid, and ban the use of U.S. funds for population control programs abroad. [pp. 8-9]

However, in the same paragraph, Mead goes on to observe that, “without Jacksonians, the United States would be a much weaker power.”

Although the Jacksonians are least likely to publish articles, promote pundits or otherwise engage in conventional thought leadership, Mead identifies several cornerstone principles of the Jacksonian outlook. Jacksonians demand self-reliance of themselves and others. Among those who are self-reliant, all persons are created equal. Jacksonians are individualistic, but adhere to traditional moral standards. They consider the virtue of courage to be paramount, and many have no problem getting physical when they perceive offense.

Jacksonian culture values firearms, and the freedom to own and use them. The right to bear arms is a mark of civic and social equality, and knowing how to care for firearms is an important part of life.”
— Mead, p. 14.

Because of the values Mead identifies, the influence of Jacksonian thinking is not confined to foreign policy. Mead has some interesting observations about attitudes toward debt and consumption, where “credit is a right and that money, especially borrowed money, is less a sacred trust than a means for self-discovery and expression.” He traces this back before the advent of ready consumer credit, and it does help look at 19th-century Populism in a new way. Mead cites the traditional support for “loose monetary policy and looser bankruptcy laws.”

The object of war is not to die for your country, but to make the other bastard die for his.
— General George S. Patton

For Jacksonians, wars must be fought with all available force. If you don’t like the force we unleash on you, you should have thought of that before you picked a fight with us. Our casualties are to be minimized; our opponents’ casualties are not our problem. Jacksonians since Grant and Sherman have understood Clausewitz: it is not sufficient to defeat the enemy army; you must break his ability to raise another. You must break his spirit and prove to him the futility of resistance. General Philip Sheridan, when an observer with the Prussian Army in 1870, expressed his opinion that the Prussians were insufficiently fierce. Sheridan observed that the Prussians knew “how to defeat an enemy,” but not “how to annihilate one.”

The proper strategy consists in the first place in inflicting as telling blows as possible upon the enemy’s army, and then causing the inhabitants so much suffering that they must long for peace, and force their government to demand it. The people must be left nothing but their eyes to weep with over the war.
— Sheridan to Bismarck, 1871.

The rest of the country has recognized the existence, if not the specific nature, of the Jacksonians, and confronted the need to enlist their support in projects in which there was no clear and present danger to the US, such as World War I, Vietnam and Iraq. The result has often been that dangers were oversold to mobilize this population, resulting in a big crash after the discovery of the oversell.

Jacksonians are united in a social compact. Outside that compact is chaos and darkness. The criminal who commits what, in the Jacksonian code, constitute unforgivable sins (cold-blooded murder, rape, the murder or sexual abuse of a child, murder or attempted murder of a peace officer) can justly be killed by the victims’ families, colleagues or society at large — with or without the formalities of law.
— Mead [p. 14]

Mead has made a significant contribution to our ability to understand ourselves. The attitudes he identifies go a long way to help us understand both events in our past and trends in our present. His analysis has explanatory power.

Written by srojak

April 8, 2018 at 10:41 am

Cycles of History: Can You Force Them?

leave a comment »

Earlier this year, there was some discussion of Steve Bannon and his intellectual debt to The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe.  This began with an article last November in Time, and has resulted in intermittent discussion since. Howe himself wrote an article in The Washington Post last February, citing some of the high-pitched articles that had been written about what Bannon had learned from the book. The New York Times followed up in April with a piece that, while not a exactly a hatchet job, takes on specific excepts from the book in the light of the viewpoint of the cultivated Times audience (“Conform, or Else”).

Politico simply dismissed the book as “The Crackpot Theories of Stephen Bannon’s Favorite Authors.” Another putdown I have seen: “pop” historians. Anything not from a suitably pedigreed academic source is “pop.”

I had read The Fourth Turning shortly after it came out. I don’t consider the book to have “crackpot theories”, but I don’t see Strauss and Howe having attempted to be the next Nostradamus, either. Despite the subtitle of the book — An American Prophecy — the authors don’t provide any specific who, when or how. They were attempting to analyze history in terms of patterns and project them into the future. They examined Anglo-American history back to the 1450s. They say more about moving forces than how those forces will necessarily be directed, and avoid “see, I told you” political interpretations.

Nevertheless, their analysis of history has political implications. A cyclical pattern of history has a far different future than a linearly expansive pattern of history. Could the United States return to an era of deference to authority and high levels of social conformity? It is neither inevitable nor desirable, but it could happen. The current condition of the public square does remind me of the late 1850, when the nation became increasingly polarized. In 1856, when Representative Preston Brooks beat Senator Charles Sumner unconscious with his cane in the Senate chamber, Brooks became a hero in South Carolina.

Whatever the size of a person’s group, he or she is more likely to feel fairly treated in a High, where a shame ethos fosters togetherness and gratitude — and victimized in an Unraveling, where a guilt ethos fosters separation and blame.
The Fourth Turning, p. 112

I found the model of a shift back and forth between shame and guilt cultures particularly interesting, and having some degree of explanatory power. I can see why such a model might bother the people over at The New York Times; are we going to have to fight to defend our hard-won social gains?

Nevertheless, Strauss and Howe are not promoting a rigid pattern. There is no guarantee of what will happen, when it will happen or how it will all turn out. For example, the Civil War period broke the pattern; there was no Hero generation produced.

In the Civil War Saeculum, the Third and Fourth Turnings together covered the span of just one generation and produced no Hero archetype. By the usual pattern of history, the Civil War Crisis catalyst occurred four or five years ahead of schedule and its resolution nearly a generation too soon. This prompts the question: What would have happened if tempers had cooled for a few years, postponing the Crisis for another presidential election and slowing it down thereafter? … Imagine what might have happened differently in the South (which was devastated), in race relations (which reverted to Jim Crow), in the women’s movement (which collapsed), and to the Gilded and Progressive Generations (both heavily damaged by war).
The Fourth Turning, p. 262.

Here the authors directly address variations in the patterns. This also provides a cautionary note to those who would attempt to accelerate change in the hope of bringing about an earlier resolution. The requisite conditions for a satisfactory outcome may not be there.

This is where Bannon’s obsession with this book should cause concern. He believes that, for the new world order to rise, there must be a massive reckoning. That we will soon reach our climax conflict. In the White House, he has shown that he is willing to advise Trump to enact policies that will disrupt our current order to bring about what he perceives as a necessary new one. He encourages breaking down political and economic alliances and turning away from traditional American principles to cause chaos.
— Linette Lopez, “Steve Bannon’s Obsession with a Dark Theory of History Should Be Worrisome“, Business Insider, 2 Feb 2017.

So if Steve Bannon does believe that he should create disruption to accelerate the coming crisis, he needs to go back and re-read the book.

Written by srojak

August 6, 2017 at 7:30 pm

William Pitt the Elder

leave a comment »

William Pitt the Elder, by William Hoare

William Pitt the Elder, by William Hoare

William Pitt the Elder (1708-1778), later 1st Earl of Chatham, was a chief minister of Great Britain (there was still ambivalence to the title of Prime Minister). He was bombastic, mercurial, confrontational and he may have been manic-depressive.

He changed Anglo-American politics forever. If you live in Pittsburgh, Pittston, Pittsboro or various Pittsfields or Chathams, your place of residence was named in recognition of William Pitt.

Paymaster of the Forces

Between 1746 and 1755, Pitt served as Paymaster of the Forces, effectively the treasurer of the British Army. At that time, the office was extremely lucrative for the holder, with two principle perquisites:

  • Ability to skim the interest in army funds, including the soldiers’ pay;
  • Ability to skim the profits of sale of military assets, such as the sale of old military supplies.

Although Henry Pelham, who has previously been paymaster of the forces, had refused these perquisites, he had been private about it. Pitt publicly renounced them. This example initiated a change in the way we conceive of the conduct of a political office holder. What had been looked upon as standard operating procedure, and remained so in many other countries, became viewed as corruption in the Anglo-American tradition.

Pitt initiated this change, and he did it not through introducing laws or launching a crusade, but by the simple force of his own example.

The Seven Years’ War

The Seven Years’ War began in 1756 and initially went very badly for Britain and her allies. The Braddock Expedition had been smashed in 1755. In the early years of the war France took Minorca, Fort Oswego and Fort William Henry. Hanover, allied to Britain through the King, was forced to withdraw from the war.

I know I can save this country and that I alone can.
— William Pitt, 1756

In 1757, Pitt entered into a coalition government with a man who had been his enemy: Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle. They divided their responsibilities: Pitt managed the war against France in their colonies, while Newcastle managed the war in Europe. Pitt obtained the funding to support world war, while Newcastle handled the patronage needed to keep the coalition in power.

Our bells are worn threadbare with the ringing of victories.
— Horace Walpole, 1759

1759 is remembered as an Annus Mirabilis for the harvest of victories over the French. In North America, Britain captured Fort Ticonderoga and Quebec, and drove the French from the Ohio Country after taking Fort Duquesne the previous autumn. British forces captured Guadeloupe. In Europe, the Navy destroyed the French capacity to launch an invasion of Britain, establishing itself as the dominant naval power, and Britain with her allies won the Battle of Minden. In India, British forces relieved the Siege of Madras.

For the remainder of the war, Britain consolidated and expanded on these gains, collapsing French holdings in India and North America east of the Mississippi.

The American Colonies

The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail — its roof may shake — the wind may blow through it — the storm may enter — the rain may enter — but the King of England cannot enter — all his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement!
— William Pitt, speech in Parliament, 1763

Britain had become concerned about how to pay for the enormous army it had created during the Seven Years’ War. Sons of powerful landed families had purchased commissions as officers in new regiments. It would have been unthinkable to buy them out, but how were these regiments to be supported financially? A plan for an excise tax on cider, which would have landed principally on the country gentry, had gone down to dramatic defeat in 1763, taking George III’s favorite, the Earl of Bute, along with it.

George Grenville then became first minister, and sought to solve the problem by taxing the American colonies through the introduction of Sugar and Stamp Acts. More odious than their tax effects was their intent to bypass colonial legislatures in imposing taxation. Townshend and his allies maintained that the colonies had “virtual representation” in the British Parliament.

The Stamp Act led to riots in America and attacks on British agents who collected the taxes. By January, 1766, there was sharp division in Parliament. Grenville had worn out his welcome with the King, who replaced him with Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, who brought Edmund Burke along with him as personal private secretary. Rockingham wanted to repeal the Stamp Act, but a substantial number of MPs were unwilling to yield the conceptual right of Parliament to impose taxes. Virtual representation was also seen as essential; the same doctrine addressed the representation of cities such as Manchester, which had no representatives of their own in Commons.

Pitt was not buying the idea of virtual representation, and foresaw the future of reform:

This is what is called the rotten part of the Constitution. It can not continue a century. If it does not drop, it must be amputated. The idea of a virtual representation of America in this House is the most contemptible idea that ever entered into the head of a man. It does not deserve a serious refutation.

The Commons of America represented in their several assemblies, have ever been in possession of the exercise of this, their constitutional right, of giving and granting their own money. They would have been slaves if they had not enjoyed it! At the same time, this kingdom, as the supreme governing and legislative power, has always bound the colonies by her laws, by her regulations, and restrictions in trade, in navigation, in manufactures, in every thing, except that of taking their money out of their pockets without their consent.

After this, Grenville rose to voice his objections, and then Pitt returned in reply.

The gentleman tells us, America is obstinate; America is almost in open rebellion. I rejoice that America has resisted. Three millions of people, so dead to all the feelings of liberty as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments to make slaves of the rest.

Pitt concluded:

Upon the whole, I will beg leave to tell the House what is my opinion. It is, that the Stamp Act be repealed absolutely, totally, and immediately. That the reason for the repeal be assigned—viz., because it was founded on an erroneous principle. At the same time, let the sovereign authority of this country over the colonies be asserted in as strong terms as can be devised, and be made to extend to every point of legislation whatsoever; that we may bind their trade, confine their manufactures, and exercise every power whatsoever, except that of taking money from their pockets without consent.

[Full text of speech and rebuttal:]

The distinction between binding their trade and taking money from their pockets without consent escaped many of the members in attendance.

If you understand the difference, it is more than I do, but I assure you it was very fine when I heard it.
— Lord George Germain, 1766

Whigs were always having to navigate the treacherous space where liberty and order met; it would ultimately undo them. But that was more than a century in the future.

Rockingham yoked a Declaratory Act, asserting the theoretical right of Parliament to tax the colonies, to repeal of the Stamp Act, recognizing the impracticality of doing so in this manner.

Chief Ministry

Being responsible, I will direct and will be responsible for nothing I do not direct.
— William Pitt, speech in Parliament, 1761

His time as chief minister was short: 1766-1768. He selected a cabinet of very capable men, but there were no precedents by which he could require them to work together or to all pull in the same direction. Pitt himself was too obstinate and too much of a loner to do the backstairs politicking that would have been necessary to bring the group together as a team. His term as chief minister is generally considered a failure.

In 1767, Charles Townshend, Chancellor of the Exchequer, introduced the Revenue Act of 1767, first of a series of bills remembered to history as the Townshend Acts.

Pitt himself, now Earl of Chatham, had gone into seclusion in 1768. Only in 1770 did he return to his seat in the House of Lords. He was still an intermittent participant. Without his leadership, his allies — Rockingham, Burke, the Earl of Shelburne — were in disarray the government’s back-and-forth measures in America spun out of control.

Weakened by illness, Pitt played an increasingly marginal role in British politics, until he finally collapsed on the floor of Parliament in 1778.

Nevertheless, he had a profound effect on our political traditions.

Written by srojak

March 4, 2017 at 1:23 pm