Plus ça change,,,

The 19th (nineteenth) century began on January 1, 1801 (MDCCCI), and ended on December 31, 1900 (MCM). The 19th century was the ninth century of the 2nd millennium.

The 19th century saw much social change; slavery was abolished, and the First and Second Industrial Revolutions (which also overlap with the 18th and 20th centuries, respectively) led to massive urbanization and much higher levels of productivity, profit and prosperity. The Islamic gunpowder empires were formally dissolved and European imperialism brought much of South Asia, Southeast Asia and almost all of Africa under colonial rule.

Sitting at the end of the business day upon one’s worn leather armchair, reading the History of England from the Accession of James II  Volume 1 of 5 by Thomas Babington Macauley 1848 (Philadelphia Porter & Coates), perhaps puffing a sharp tobacco while reddening a new bowl, glancing casually at the shimmering Oriental rugs upon the ebony hardwood floor, cautiously elevating the glass to the lip for another sip of a chilled gin martini – in all assessing the Universe with the knowing entitlement both it and you so manifestly deserve – it is endearing to overlook the spiritual supremacy arrogated by Christians when smothered by the disguise of cloisters and gardens, contemplative nature and the Analytics of Aristotle. In all Babington would have us believe that, “Even in war, the cruelty of the conqueror was not seldom mitigated by the recollection that he and his vanquished enemies were all members of one great federation.” And, he continued,  “…it was better that the Christian nations should be roused and united for the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre, than that they should, one by one, be overwhelmed by the Mahometan power“.

The History is famous for its brilliant ringing prose and for its confident, sometimes dogmatic, emphasis on a progressive model of British history. According to this view, England threw off superstition, autocracy and confusion to create a balanced constitution and a forward-looking culture combined with freedom of belief and expression. This model of human progress has been called the Whig interpretation of history. Macaulay’s approach has been criticised by later historians for its one-sidedness and its complacency. Karl Marx referred to him as a “systematic falsifier of history”. His tendency to see history as a drama led him to treat figures whose views he opposed as if they were villains, while his approved characters were presented as heroes. Macaulay goes to considerable length, for example, to absolve his hero King William III of any responsibility for the Glencoe massacre (1692).

The unsettling collateral is that this narrative of Macauley’s persists to this day. The British and the Christian rendition of the world is open to contest. And people are still creating barbarous villains out of others just to legitimize their rejection.

The History of England from the Accession of James the Second (1848) is the full title of the five-volume work by Lord Macaulay (1800–1859) more generally known as The History of England. It covers the 17-year period from 1685 to 1702, encompassing the reign of James II, the Glorious Revolution, the coregency of William III and Mary II, and up to William III’s death.

Last night I listened to President Joseph R. Biden Jr. deliver his first “State of the Union” address to the American people (and naturally to the world). It was the first time I have ever heard an American president deliver what I perceived to be an entirely authentic address to the electorate.  By every word he manifested that 1) there’s no time to quibble; 2) he is devoting himself to this presidency wholeheartedly; and, 3) Americans can do it together.

Though I know it will be but ammunition for his naysayers, Biden touched on almost every issue of humanity in the United States of America (and by example, the rest of the world). He relievingly spoke with hope throughout his address (punctuated only by reason and logic). Clearly the focus of his administration is upon improvement of society for all not just the few who reap capital benefit. Nor was his ambition flouted in ethereal terms; rather it was directed at elemental matters such as clean drinking water with Pshaw!

The subject of the pivotal nature of American posture arose more than once last night throughout Biden’s address and the subsequent media analysis though admittedly I didn’t check anything from Fox News which I have since discovered limits its entire analysis to the sycophantic proclamations of Repulicans Tim Scott and Ted Cruz. Scott introduced his rebuttal last night by saying there is no racism in America. For most of us (from Canada to New Zealand) watching this post-Trump recovery from madness, America can no longer afford to pretend we’re not living in a very different world.