Thursday, August 2, 2012

on loss of self government

Oliver Cromwell

…. “Free government is only for nations that deserve it; and they lose all right to it by licentiousness, no less than by servility.  If a nation cannot govern itself, it make comparatively little difference whether its inability springs from a slavish and craven distrust of its own power, or from a seer incapacity on the part of its citizens to exercise self-control and to act together.  Self-governing freemen must have the power to accept necessary compromises, to make necessary concessions, each sacrificing somewhat of prejudice and even of principle, and every group must show the necessary subordination of its particular interest to the interests of the community as a whole.  When the people will not or cannot work together; when they permit groups of extremists to decline to accept anything that does not coincide with their own extreme views; or when they let power slip from their hands through sheer supine indifference; then they have themselves chiefly to blame if the power is grasped by stronger hands.” ...(Biography of Oliver Cromwell, Theodore Roosevelt. P.189)

Theodore Roosevelt
This biography was published while he was Governor of New York. He later became 26th President of the United States, after the assassination of William McKinley.

Theodore Roosevelt is here commenting on the closer of the Long Parliament. 

A people who will not govern their own appetites.  
A people who will not recognize the truth of the opposing parties position.  
A people who will not self govern, ...
   ........ may lose their representative government.

When we are so convinced of the correctness of our own position and fail to see the truths in the opposing position we fail to come to a central position.  This central position can be the compromise sought.  This failure to compromise may lead to inaction. This inaction may allow stronger hands, like those of Cromwell, to grasp power.

The real tragedy at the death of the Long Parliament is Oliver Cromwell did seek for power , not for self aggrandizement,  but to build a a body of saints.  He sought to create a Christian Republic, a new Jerusalem.  He instead imposed a Puritan Empire,  an empire that did not last even half a generation.  

He name and cause remain an anathema to this day.