Roundheads Versus the Cavaliers

A central thesis of mine and a reason for this blog to exist is that most of America is entirely clueless as to why the 20% are making war on them. The daily assaults on the Four Olds by the Cult of Modern Liberalism is like a swarm of bees attacking from all directions. Logically, you know the numbers are small, but it feels like there are so many of them.

Jonah Goldberg wrote a book called Liberal Fascism a few years back. In it he documents how both American Liberalism and European Fascism share intellectual roots and how early Progressives borrowed from the Italian Fascists. There’s nothing new in the book, but it is a nice summary of the topic. Goldberg had to pull his punches, of course, given his career choice. Calling your employers fascists is never a good idea.

The trouble with so much of the analysis of the Left by the so-called Right is that it starts when their people arrived in America. It is a default assumption of “immigrant America” that the wave of Europeans that arrived at the end of the 19th and early 20 century forever reconfigured American culture. The story of America for them begins in the Jewish, Italian and Irish ghettos of New York, cutting off the 200-plus years of history that still defines the country.

If you read the Dissident Right, a common theme is the Cold Civil War between one group of whites (Progressives) and the other group of whites (Traditionalists). The assumption, and probably an accurate one, is that this term refers to the American Civil War. My guess is most people who think of the culture war this way are referring to the American Civil War. That event looms so large in the imaginations of the political elites, it is a reasonable way to start.

I would contend that the better place to start is the English Civil War, the fight between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers, the Parliamentarians versus the Royalists. The people that settled New England were English, who were on the side of the Roundheads. Some actually fought in Cromwell’s army. They also came from specific areas of England, thus having customs particular to that area, which they brought with them to the New World.

The other big colony founded at the time was the Tidewater area around the Chesapeake. The men who founded and developed Virginia and North Carolina were men of high birth and they created the sort of society you would expect from such men. The colonies of the Deep South were founded by plantation owners from Barbados. They not only shared the same sensibilities as the Tidewater gentry, they were also Royalists.

Just as the two sides of the English Civil War had a different political and religious vision, they had a different social vision. This was true of the American colonies. The Yankee world was one that was highly egalitarian and defined political liberty in terms of community freedom. The South was hierarchical, defining liberty as that of the gentry and their freedom as a ruling class.

The bigger divide was in their social views. Males in a Cavalier society were going to be what you imagine. Status was conferred on those who showed courage, daring and risk taking. In a Puritan society, males attained status through the sorts of things a highly egalitarian and fanatically religious people value. Instead of flamboyance, it was competence and community spirit that were the key to status.

This standoff between the New Model Army and the high risk cavalry charge is with us today. The assault on white males is not about race as much as it is about the concept of masculinity. This insane article from Salon gets at what I mean.

Toxic white masculinity defaults to violence as a means of maintaining social and political control. It clings to guns as a symbol of “real” male identity. It fears women as equals; it lashes out at non-whites who are somehow “stealing” white men’s jobs and power. Toxic white masculinity sees “liberals,” “progressives,” “social justice,” and “feminism” as enemies — out of a fear that “white masculinity” will somehow be made obsolete or extinct. The dream worlds and paranoid fantasies of angry white men are distractions that look to some type of Other as the preeminent threat to America’s safety and security. The reality is of course, very different.

There’s the old Roundhead versus Cavalier fight. The Progressive crazies making war on white males today are the spiritual descendents of those Roundheads, who executed King Charles. It’s not a political or cultural issue as much as it is a spiritual issue. The modern Progressive sees the flamboyant brash male as a threat to the spiritual well being of the community. In the Puritan tradition, men are humble, competent and risk adverse, as God expects from the elect.

Another Puritan attribute comes into play here and that’s a fanatic’s sense of obligation to enforce their ways on everyone else. The Puritans believed they were chosen by God to protect the common good through maintaining internal conformity and unity. When John Adams won the Presidency after Washington retired, he immediately set about enforcing Puritan culture on the rest of the country.

The Alien and Sedition Acts are exactly the sorts of laws you expect from religious fanatics. Modern Iranians or Saudis would perfectly understand the point. On the one hand Puritans wanted to keep foreigners from bringing foreign ideas, by forcing them to assimilate – or else. On the other hand, they wanted to stamp out dissent, particularly from those Cavalier males to their south.

11 thoughts on “Roundheads Versus the Cavaliers

  1. An agenda? I suppose. The core structure of the American Constitution was its separation of powers, now destroyed by modern liberals. As a matter of history, that constitutional doctrine has its origins in the English Civil war and, strangely, does not descend to us from the followers of Charles but from the Puritans. See MJC Vile’s book “Constitutionalism and the Separation of Powers” for the details. It is available through the Liberty Fund.

  2. Speaking of the American Civil War, more than one historian has noted that the one general who seems to have been beamed directly from Cromwell’s army into that conflict was: Stonewall Jackson.

    • I like curry, but that does not make me a Hindu. Stonewall Jackson was out of the Appalachian culture of early America, not the Puritan tradition. Not even close.

      I sense an agenda here.

  3. Your premise about the migration from England, particularly prior to the revolutionary war, affecting current attitudes is basically correct. However it is far more complicated than you describe.

    Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer describes this complex source of our various cultures from the outset. But even he does not fully expand it to the current era. Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell does, to a fair extent, bring it to the current era for a few select groups..

    Of note, the era of massive European migration from southern and eastern Europe came to a halt in the 1920’s with the introduction of limitations on immigration. This allowed those immigrants over the next several decades to assimilate. The culture at that time, in effect, forced Americanization. The 1960’s immigration law that Edward Kennedy had enacted allowing new massive immigration from a variety of nations, subsidizing them and encouraging “diversity” and not assimilation. This is the situation facing America today. It is Balkanizing our country.

    I personally would not use roundheads and cavaliers of the English Civil Was and apply them to current American political trends in as much as under the Roundheads you had a ruler called the “Lord Protector” and under the Cavaliers the ruler was called “King”. The Restoration returned King Charles II to power after Cromwell died because of the incompetence of his son who assumed the position of Lord Protector. Neither was particularly for individuals though the result was a stronger parliament which over time reduced the power of the “King”. Unfortunately at this time the British Parliament, much like the federal government in america, is accumulating more and more power and diminishing the individual.

    • Honestly, I had trouble keeping that post under my self-imposed limit of 1500 words. It is a huge topic upon which I could go on for a long time. Albion’s Seed is a big book for a reason.

      Maybe I’ll do a long post on my thoughts at some point, but I’m suing the English Civil War as a starting point. The Puritans evolved into our modern liberals, which means they dropped a lot of traits and developed other ones, but some core values are still there.

      Similarly, the Tidewater culture has faded entirely. Faulkner wrote about the rise of the vermin-like Snopes clan, who reflect the Scots-Irish Appalachian culture. They slowly overwhelmed the Royalist culture of the South, which was largely destroyed by the Puritans in the American Civil War.

  4. The phrase “separation of powers,” as well as the political doctrine, originates among Puritan political theorists during the English Civil War. It doesn’t exist before that. The political theory that it displaced was called mixed government, which was the belief that the “King in Parliament” was a unitary system of government. The separation of powers was then taken up as the definition of constitutional government by Montesquieu who was the primary influence on the Founders. But the separation of powers doctrine, as the core structure of the American Constitution, originates with the English Puritans.

  5. I had long thought the history of the U.S. is Massachusetts vs. Virginia. Roundhead vs. Cavalier spells it out. Thanks, Z Man.

  6. The Roundheads vs. Cavaliers thing as the source of our present troubles is a vast oversimplification and distortion. The idea of separated powers within government, the structure of the American Constitution, originates in the dispute between the Puritan Parliament and the king, and in the Puritan understanding of the covenant (as found in the Old and New Testaments) as the basis of law rather than a unitary state under a monarch. In terms of their core political theory, Jefferson, Madison, and the other southerners are, in essence, Roundheads.

  7. UGH – I read the article at Salon link in its entirety. One may safely assume that any work of prose that requires the use of so many lefty power words like “the Other”, “Islamophobia”, and “toxic masculinity” is horseshit on stilts. Those whole thing is really more of an omnium gatherum of left-wing slogans and jargon than it is an essay to designed to persuade the reader or advocate a political position in any meaningful way.

  8. How about the connection of Wall Street bankers like Jacob Schiff to Communist revolutionaries like Leon Trotsky?

    Fascism was a European response to the rise of International Marxism promoted by non-Europeans, France first Socialist Prime Minister was the jew Leon Blum.

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