Category Archives: history

Stories from the Life of Christ


Stories from the Life of Christ:
A Latin Reader for Intermediate Students

Selected, with an Introduction, Notes
and Comprehensive Vocabulary
by Sean Gabb
Hampden Press, 2018
ISBN: 978-1983188732

Address to the Reader

The purpose of this book is to give a set of readings that are in genuine but fairly simple Latin, that are interesting in themselves, and that are accompanied by a Vocabulary in which nearly every word used in the text is fully explained. I hope it will be useful to intermediate students—that is, those who have made some progress in the language, but who still find the Roman Classics too difficult to read with any fluency. I think of A-Level students in England, or undergraduates anywhere in the English-speaking world who are beginning an accelerated course in Latin. I think also of students preparing for any other advanced examination at schools outside England, and of students in home education or those who are trying to learn Latin by themselves. I hope the book will be of general use. Read more

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“We must obey God rather than men”: Lutheran-Calvinist theories of resistance


“We must obey God rather than men”: Lutheran-Calvinist theories of resistance
By Keir Martland 

The theology of Luther, Calvin, and other sixteenth-century Protestants is similar in some respects to that of S. Augustine, and arguably in the case of Calvin, based on a misunderstanding or misrepresentation of Augustine’s doctrine of predestination, with Harro Hopfl describing the latter as Luther and Calvin’s “favourite Patristic theologian.” Whatever the provenance of it, there is in the writings of Luther and Calvin a strong emphasis on the fallen nature of man. Now, earlier Christian thinkers with such a view of the impaired, flawed, even wretched nature of man, tended to also hold such a view of society as a whole. When thinkers such as Augustine or later ‘Political Augustinians’ applied themselves to political matters, because of their view of man and society, they gave no ‘naturalistic’ interpretation of government, authority, and power, no account of it independent of the source of all goodness, God, since man and society were, on this account, incapable of any virtue apart from Christian virtue. Their treatments of politics, then, left little room for theories of resistance or even for theories of ownership and political authority independent of the Church; rather, such thinkers tended to view all dominion as belonging ultimately to the Church and they expected at least passive obedience from the Christian to the established secular – delegated – and spiritual authorities. Yet there developed in the sixteenth-century a Lutheran-Calvinist resistance theory, or theories. It is, on the face of it, hard to see how the resistance theory as found in Theodore Beza or the Vindiciae contra Tyrannos developed from the writings of Luther and Calvin. Read more

Paul the Deacon: A Reader


Stories from Paul the Deacon: A Latin Reader for GCSE,
A-Level and University Students,
Edited with an Introduction, Notes and Comprehensive Vocabulary
by Sean Gabb

Introduction

The purpose of this book is to give students a set of readings that are in genuine but fairly simple Latin, and that are interesting in themselves, and that are accompanied by a Vocabulary in which nearly every word used in the text is fully-explained. I hope it will be useful to GCSE and A-Level students, and to undergraduates who are beginning an accelerated course in Latin. Nor do I forget students in home-education or those who are trying to learn Latin by themselves.

One of the difficulties that students of Latin at any level face is a lack of reading material that is both original and accessible. Both qualities are important. For beginners, the second of these is probably more important. If you have learned—even perhaps memorised—the grammar and rules of syntax, you have not yet learned Latin. If you are able to read a sentence by looking for the main verb, and then any subject, and then their dependent parts, you have still not learned Latin. You have learned only how to decode. You have learned the language when you are able to read an entire passage, quickly and accurately, without being consciously aware of the rules you are applying. This is an ability that comes from several hundred hours of practice—practice with texts that are not of forbidding complexity. Read more

Whodunit? Who “Meddled” With Our Democracy? (Part 2)


©2018 By ILANA MERCER

Not a day goes by when the liberal media don’t telegraph to the world that a “Trumpocracy” is destroying American democracy. Conspicuous by its absence is a pesky fact: Ours was never a country conceived as a democracy.

To arrive at a democracy, we Americans destroyed a republic.

One of the ways in which the republic was destroyed was through the slow sundering of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. The 10th was meant to guarantee constitutional devolution of power.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The de facto demise of the 10th has resulted in “constitutional” consolidation.

Fair enough, but is that enough? A perceptive Townhall.com reader was having none of it.

In response to “Whodunit? Who ‘Meddled’ With Our American Democracy” (Part 1), the reader upbraided this writer:

“Anyone who quotes the 10th Amendment, but not the 14th Amendment that supplanted it cannot be taken seriously.”

In other words, to advance the erosion of the 10th in explaining who did our republic in, without mentioning the 14th: this was an omission on the writer’s part.

The reader is admirably correct about Incorporation-Doctrine centralization. 

Not even conservative constitutional originalists are willing to concede that the 14th Amendment and the attendant Incorporation Doctrine have obliterated the Constitution’s federal scheme, as expressed in the once-impregnable 10th Amendment.

What does this mean?

You know the drill but are always surprised anew by it. Voters pass a law under which a plurality wishes to live in a locality. Along comes a U.S. district judge and voids the law, citing a violation of the 14th’s Equal Protection Clause.

For example: Voters elect to prohibit local government from sanctioning gay marriage. A U.S. district judge voids voter-approved law for violating the 14th’s Equal Protection Clause.

These periodical contretemps around gay marriage, or the legal duty of private property owners to cater these events, are perfectly proper judicial activism. It flows from the 14th Amendment.

If the Bill of Rights was intended to place strict limits on federal power and protect individual and locality from the national government—the 14th Amendment effectively defeated that purpose by placing the power to enforce the Bill of Rights in federal hands, where it was never intended to be.

Put differently, matters previously subject to state jurisdiction have been pulled into the orbit of a judiciary. Yet not even conservative constitutional originalists are willing to cop to this constitutional fait accompli.

The gist of it: Jeffersonian constitutional thought is no longer in the Constitution; its revival unlikely.

A Court System Centralized

For another example of the endemic usurpation of The People, rendering the original Constitutional scheme obsolete, take the work of the generic jury. With his description of the relationship between jury and people, American scholar of liberty Lysander Spooner conjures evocative imagery.

A jury is akin to the “body of the people.” Trial by jury is the closest thing to a trial by the whole country. Yet courts in the nation’s centralized court system, the Supreme Court included, are in the business of harmonizing law across the nation, rather than allowing communities to live under laws they author, as guaranteed by the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.

States’ Rights All But Obliterated 

Like juries, states had been entrusted with the power to beat back the federal government and void unconstitutional federal laws.

States’ rights are “an essential Americanism,” wrote Old Rightist Frank Chodorov. The Founding Fathers as well as the opponents of the Constitution, the Anti-Federalists, agreed on the principle of divided authority as a safeguard to the rights of the individual. 

Duly, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison perfected a certain doctrine in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798. “The Virginia Resolutions,” explains historian Thomas E. Woods, Jr., “spoke of the states’ rights to ‘interpose’ between the federal government and the people of the states; the Kentucky Resolutions used the term nullification—the states, they said, could nullify federal laws that they believed to be unconstitutional.”

“Jefferson,” emphasized Woods, “considered states’ rights a much more important and effective safeguard of people’s liberties than the ‘checks and balances’ among the three branches of the federal government.”

And for good reason. While judicial review was intended to curb Congress and restrain the Executive, in reality, the judicial, legislative and executive unholy federal trinity has simply colluded, over time, in an alliance that has helped abolish the 10th Amendment.

Founding Faith Expunged  

And how well has First Amendment jurisprudence served constitutionalists?

Establishment-clause cases are a confusing and capricious legal penumbra. Sometimes displays of the Hebraic Decalogue or manger scene are taken to constitute the establishment of a state religion. Other times not.

This body of law forever teeters on conflating the injunction against the establishment of a state religion with an injunction against the expression of faith—especially discriminating against the founding faith in taxpayer-supported spaces.

The end result has been the expulsion of religion from the public square and the suppression therein of freedom of religion.

On the topic of religious freedom, Jefferson was prolific, too. The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was a crowning achievement for which he wished to be remembered, along with the Declaration of Independence and the founding of the University of Virginia.

Jefferson interpreted “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the exercise thereof”—as confirms by David N. Meyer, author of Jefferson’s Constitutional Thought—to guarantee both “an absolute free exercise of religion and an absolute prohibition of an establishment of religion.”

Yet somehow, the kind of constitutional thought that carries legal sway today prohibits expressions of faith or displays of a civilizing moral code in government-controlled spheres. Given my libertarian view of government’s immoral modus operandi, I find this amusingly apropos. Still, this is not what Jefferson had in mind for early Americans.

Indeed, why would anyone, bar Nancy Pelosi and her party, object to “thou shall not kill” or “thou shall not commit adultery, steal or covet?” The Ten Commandments can hardly be perceived as an instrument for state proselytization.

Nevertheless, the law often takes displays of the Decalogue or the nativity scene on tax-payer funded property as an establishment of a state religion.

“I consider the government of the U.S. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercise,” Jefferson expatiated.

He then gets to the soul of the subject: “This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise of religion but also from the Tenth Amendment, which reserves to the states [or to the people] the powers not delegated to the U.S.”

So, dear reader, if there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that the Russians didn’t deep-six our republic of private property rights and radical decentralization; we did.

***

Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She is the author of “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016). She’s on Twitter, Facebook, Gab & YouTube

Jerome and His Women


Joan O’Hagen
Jerome and His Women
Black Quill Press, Sydney, 2015 (pb)
ISBN: 9780646943701 

Review by Richard Blake

This novel explores the background to one of the most important events in history. When Constantine established Christianity as the preferred state religion in 313, he was saving Western civilisation. Until then, the religious settlement in the Roman Empire was divided both vertically and horizontally. The vertical division marked off the educated elite. For those at the top, the pagan cults were approaches to the concept of a Supreme Being and a universal moral law. Those at the bottom took these cults at face value, with their alarming or simply scandalous mythologies, and their frequent lack of mutual sympathy.

Christianity was a universal religion. For all its sectarian tendencies, it crossed every boundary of language and race and class. It was a way of life, and it had philosophical content. Once spread beyond the frontiers, it did much to humanise the barbarians, who would otherwise have invaded as pure savages. It also provided a check to misgovernment. The Jews aside, it is hard to think of any religious group that had been able to face down a determined pagan emperor. Once Constantine himself was dead, the clergy could rally the faithful as they pleased – usually for the Empire that they now dominated, but also against any emperor who in their opinion went too far. Read more

Enoch Powell: The Man and his Politics


Enoch Powell: The Man and his Politics
Speech to the Conference
of the Property and Freedom Society
Bodrum, Saturday, 13th September 2014

As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see “the River Tiber foaming with much blood.”

Enoch Powell is one of the heroes of this novel

I may have fellow countrymen who cannot identify these words. If so, I have yet to meet them. The words are from the speech that Enoch Powell (1912-98) gave on the 20th April 1968 to the West Midlands Area Conservative Political Centre – a work best known as “The Rivers of Blood Speech.” It is, beyond any doubt, the most notable political speech given in England during my lifetime. It may be the most notable of the twentieth century. It made its author both the most loved and the most hated politician in the country. Shortly after the speech, dockworkers marched in his support through the centre of London. Thirty years later, at his memorial service in Westminster Abbey, the space outside was filled with a great crowd of those who had come to pay their respects. Read more

Towards a naturalistic account of man, society, and politics


Towards a naturalistic account of man, society, and politics
By Keir Martland

For much of the Middle Ages – ordered anarchy though it was, owing to the situation on the ground of overlapping jurisdictions and law codes – the path to a fully-developed political or legal philosophy of any kind was blocked. There were, to be sure, a number of obstacles for the political philosopher, and no single factor can be held entirely responsible. Among these factors was the very idea of Christendom itself, since men in the Middle Ages did not separate ‘Church’, ‘State’, ‘Empire’, ‘kingdom’, ‘Europe’ etc. If ever Hilaire Belloc’s line that “Europe is the Faith and the Faith is Europe” was factually correct, it was during the early to high Middle Ages. Naturally, this lack of clear thinking was one significant impediment to the development of serious political thought. At the same time, this Christendom required, so many thought, a single dominus. Whether pope or Western Emperor, for as long as the secular realm was thought of in the same terms as the spiritual realm, where one Lord and one Faith were both sufficient and necessary, for as long as the mission of the temporal powers was the same as the mission of the spiritual powers, one man on earth surely ought to be lord of the world. As a result, for much of the Middle Ages, while the battle for the position of dominus mundi raged between pope and emperor or pope and king or emperor and king, the ‘political thought’ produced was necessarily to a certain extent propaganda which took for granted the unity of Christendom under one divinely-appointed head. Read more

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