Tuesday, March 06, 2007

On Models of Revolution!

The Jungle mom's brilliant essay on models of Revolution. She lives in Venezuela and has a fantastic blog:


As Thomas Jefferson said,"I tolerate with the utmost latitude the right of others to differ from me in opinion."

We can learn much by examining the exploits of Simon Bolivar. He was well educated, and impressed by the American Revolution. The new philosophy of freedom was spreading through much of the world in his time.Bolivar was actually a great admirer of the founding fathers of the American Revolution.

Bolivar launched a revolution in S. America to copy them, and to free them from Spain. His revolution was one of the most successful ever. He freed not one country but six: Venezuela,Bolivia,Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and Colombia.But after the revolution he was faced with the problem every revolution faces,how to replace the old political system.

We see this right now in Iraq.There are two general models of revolutions. The American Revolution, whose symbol is the Liberty bell, and the French Revolution whose symbol is the guillotine.One must understand the basic differences of the models. The American Revolution was based on the principles of the old British common law. The French was based on democracy, majority rule.

We see this unfolding once again in Venezuela.The American Revolution led to the most free and prosperous nation ever known, but the french model led to the reign of terror.Bolivar was faced with the same problem we saw in eastern Europe at the end of the Soviet Union, as it began to fall apart.

They had no background of common law.Unfortunately, Bolivar's revolution chose not to fight for freedom but for democracy and followed the french model.Remember, after gaining freedom from Spain, these countries began to turn on each other. Chile went to war against Peru and Bolivia. Paraguay against Argentina and everyone else! Uprisings became the national pass time of Latin America.It is not commonly known, but in 1828, in an attempt to bring stability,

Bolivar, the great champion of liberty, became a dictator.But, not being of British descent, he did not follow the common law approach, but rather the french.In Latin America the countries all have democracy....sometimes. The Latin nations ride a pendulum that swings back and forth between democracy and chaos, than back to dictatorship, and so on.Until the Latin countries adopt a rational legal system, they will never have genuine liberty. They only know democracy by majority rule. Which Thomas Jefferson described as two wolves and a sheep deciding on what to have for lunch!!

For true liberty, the people must embrace a rational legal system. Based on a Higher law, a Common Law, and the two fundamental laws of a free market system. America was founded foremost on the belief that there is a Higher Authority, a Higher Law than any human law.

The Higher Law applies to everyone equally.The source of common law is custom. Through trial and error people learn rules that work. The two fundamental laws needed for a free market system to flourish are:


Because the Latin nations are not stable, these countries are often considered unsafe for economic investment. People with money want to keep it safe from a dictator. With out this money, factories and job creating businesses are not built. So, poverty in Latin America is never ending.Because of this poverty a feudal type system is still in the mindset of many Latins. The need for a PATRON. Someone to whom you pledge allegiance and then he takes care of you. Gives you work, or goods. That seems to be why the thought of a dictator is not as distressing to many Latins as it is to an Anglo.

As long as the Patron is providing basic goods, he is accepted by the majority. The Patrons are known to be corrupt and abusive, but they still provide what is needed for today, so they are supported by the poor. And the poor are the majority in every Latin country. This explains why Chavez won his election. He is, El Patron for many of the poor.As you watch events in the world around you, remember the two models. The American Revolution brought freedom and prosperity. The French Revolution brought about democracy, mob rule, and the reign of terror. Always remember history repeats itself, remember the lessons of Bolivar.


A Jacksonian said...

A much more chilling conclusion was drawn from a poli-sci course I took back in university: how a revolution comes to power will determine how it works afterwards. That has been a rough and ready rule of mine for years, now, and when I see an elite group get the 'masses behind them' that is where the masses tend to stay as the elite puts them there. Follow a strongman into power and you get a dictatorship. The US by having a diverse group come to power with many ideas of what it meant to be citizens that had liberty under the Crown, felt it was not right to put that at peril... doesn't do any good to be less free then when you started.

While 'no taxation without representation' was a rallying cry, it was not the taxation itself, to pay for the French American War that was protested, but the way in which no one consulted those to do the paying on how much or how fast the money was to go to the Crown. The Colonists were more than willing to pay their debts, but not to be impoverished in that doing. Unlike many another revolution, what was on the table wasn't money, but how to pay for things owed.

So many revolutions look to perfect their society and right all of the wrongs... the American Revolution looks at us as people as puts forth that we are not perfect and cannot reach perfection... but it is within our grasp to be 'more perfect' and keep an eye on that distant goal because it is worth moving towards. Instead of zeal... humility, because we have much to be humble for and much to strive for.

That does, indeed, come out of the common law and that, itself, was heavily influenced by the Norse ways of doing things. For no King was before the Althing, the convocation of the peoples, and you crossed that at your peril... a harsh way of life that, but seen as just and fair to the community, even when seemingly unjust to an individual. That tempered and fused across Britain into Scotland and Ireland and into America. For all the classical underpinnings of the Declaration, it is the Constitution that bears that stamp, where government is accountable to the People, and crosses them at its peril.

Jungle Mom said...

I must say most of this comes from notes of my children's High school studies of South American history.
With a few added thoughts of my own. I can not remember the name of the book we were using at the time. Our books were left in the jungle and I only have their notebooks available
to me here.
I hope this is helpful.

SERENDIP said...

Thank you AJ and JM both for your insights. I recently discovered that none of our American revolutionary writers, poets, scholars have been translated into Persian...Not one...You know I have a few regular visitors from Iran and I wish I had time and could write about the American revolution and John Locke's liberal ideas; on theory of the "social contract" and about the "Founding Fathers" Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. I think the best way to fight extremism of the Islamists is to promote and educate others on the American revolution..Democracy in many parts of the world is still a radical idea though we have taken it for granted.

Rosemary said...

Great post! It is true that we do not have a true democracy. We have a Republic. (Not a Republic as in the party, but a representative gov't.) This guards the God-given rights of the minority.

Dear Lord! Why would we ever want to shove this down other countries! (SARCASM. lol)

Rosemary said...

PS. Jungle Mom is a very kind-hearted spirit that we are fortunate to 'know'. I just love this thing they call internet! :)

Rosemary said...

Dear Serendip,
Many Persian readers have (or can get) what is known as a 'translator'. It is a program that translates any language into Farsi. You could find some of the books you wish to share with them through google and provide the link! Just a thought...

SERENDIP said...

Dear Rosemary: Thank you. I've been looking for a decent translator on the Net but so far the quality of translations are atrocious. In fact, I needed to translate a letter today into English and tried a few of them but to no avail. I ended up having to translate the letter myself and it's not really easy for me to do that since I've forgotten a lot of the vocabularies...but it was good practic today...LOL

If you know of any good translating software online, please let me know. Thanks.

A Jacksonian said...

The place to start is Project Gutenberg for the original texts of works plus The National Archives which is slowly converting a huge mass of documents into digital format. Hard to get a translation without the texts involved. It appears the State Dept has a multilingual version of some documents here with Arabic and Chinese included. Also the Library of Congress on historical documents. Finally a free online book page, that has links to a huge amount of free books.

As for translation... the various online translation sites have had problems even doing simple Danish/English, Swedish/English translations and transliterations in my experience... That is getting better but very slowly, and human translation can often get idiomatic texts better than just the straight translation. Things like the Phraselator while useful for on-the-spot things are not what you would want. So doing English to Farsi may be something that is pretty hit and miss.

The State Dept. was supposed to be working on getting the major governmental founding documents translated into Arabic, as seen above... Farsi is another question all together.

But the basis of translation being the text in machine format is widely available. The hard part has always been reliable translation. One of the democracy in the ME groups was starting a project for this, but I cannot locate them at this time.

SERENDIP said...

AJ: Million Thanks for taking the time and researching these valuable resources...I have to spend some time reviewing them.If you have any suggestions on who I need to talk to in order to start off a project of this magnitude, please advise...And you're right about the Danish language as well. My brother and his German wife just had a baby and they all live in Denmark...I'll be needing to learn Danish fast in order to talk to my nephew. He is turning one year old tomorrow...LOL

A Jacksonian said...

Serendip - My pleasure to find such things! I try to keep up with the general goings-on of the digitization of the public domain works and those held by the various organizations across the world that fall into that category... National Archive and Records has a major project to convert everything that is historical and public domain into such format, and ensuring that the works survive the process is a #1 goal. Now if they could only set standards or a common repository for US Gov't Archives as their current policy of 'you hold on to it' isn't doing so well.

Danish I know only enough about via my Middle English course which is a great way to get one's feet wet near the root of all the Germanic languages and those influenced by them. Prime for that is: The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, New Cambridge Edition, compiled by F.N. Robinson, Second Edition, published by Houghton Mifflin. Learning to properly speak all the letters and then reciting such verbally starts the language process off of actually hearing those Germanic influences and yet have it still be recognizable in English. That single volume has allowed me to transliterate letters sent from the Swedish portion of my family so as to make sense of them after the death of my father. So, for communicating with your one-year old getting the spoken to sound right is important and getting 'the mouth and ear' to finally and comfortably shift to the older form of English and *hear it* is a great way to go... the audiobooks by Naxos, especially those with Richard Bebb are a good way to go for getting the sound right.

There is a long-lost LP out there with, if memory serves, Richard Burton reading Chaucer which my University prof. preferred for various reasons. One learns by doing, however, and so speaking out loud while reading, as was *intended* trains the mouth and ear. The fun thing is once your brain begins to work with that, all the rest of the modern germanic languages start to sound very familiar and hover just at the edge of the understandable. At that point the modern versions of those languages are necessary for training... I am no specialist in that and you will need to look at some things like the Rosetta Stone folks and those other organizations that have ways to pick up languages quickly. But a bit of pre-training to loosen up the mind will help... and if you get good enough will enthrall those that listen to you as you read:

"Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droughte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;"

If you can speak for an hour or so a day like that, you will get through the Prolog of the Canterbury Tales in a few days... Once the mind grasps it the big problem is switching *back* to modern English as the fluidity of the Middle English has a life and speech pattern all its own.

As for the English-Farsi translations, one of the grass-roots democracy projects in Iraq was, I think, looking at something along those lines. Like with all things I would shy away from those that use the Communist 'People's' and head more towards those that do nuts and bolts work and put emphasis on the Declaration, Constitution, Articles of Confederation, Magna Carta, Federalist Papers and such... also some of the various Constitution and Charters of those Nations still having a version of the Althing, like Iceland, would be a great help because of the historical background that usually goes with them. For Peoples looking on how tribes learned to knit together in commonality, the Nordic way that diffused throughout the modern British Isles and the northern coastal areas of Europe are tell-tale. We could learn much from those ways of doing things in places that do not have a strong central culture, but hold a diverse culture in common. That is probably a historical analysis that has not been put forward by any... but I do think strange thoughts.