Wednesday, October 04, 2006

# Posted 9:01 AM by Patrick Porter  

HITCH ON PAINE: Attention British readers. This Saturday, Belton and I will be heading to London's Royal Geographical Society Lecture Hall to hear Christopher Hitchens talk about Thomas Paine, the British-American radical who backed the American and French revolutions.

Where does Oxblog stand on revolutions? Belton as a Francophile and cosmopolitan pamphleteer will probably take the Paine line. Personally, I probably would have liked the French revolution until they got the guillotines out.

Bearing in mind the speaker and the subject, someone might mention the current movement for democratic revolution in the Middle East. Or even raise a middle finger.
(2) opinions -- Add your opinion

That's rather like enjoying steak and kidney pie until you reach the kidney.
I have long found Simon Bolivar’s distinction between the American and Latin American Wars of Independence of interest in any discussion of revolutions. Bolivar distinguished sharply between the two, writing that “the United States is a singular example of political virtue and moral rectitude.”(1) Of Latin America, he said: “I was in command for twenty years, and from them drew only a few certain conclusions: 1) for us, Spanish America is ungovernable; 2) he who serves a revolution plows the sea; 3) the only thing that one can do in Spanish America is emigrate; 4) this country will inevitably fall into the hands of a rampaging mob and later into the hands of almost imperceptibly small tyrants of all colors and races; 5) devoured by crime and destroyed by barbarism, the Europeans will not deign to conquer us; 6) if it were possible for part of the world to return to primordial chaos, this would be the final epoch in the cycle of Spanish America.”(2)

Steven Schwartzberg

(1) See Simon Bolivar, “Address to the Congress of Angostura,” 15 February 1819, excerpts in William Spence Robertson, Rise of the Spanish-American Republics as Told in the Lives of Their Liberators [1918] (New York: The Free Press, 1946), pp. 222ff
(2) Fragment of a letter from Simon Bolivar to Juan Jose Flores, 9 November 1830, in Vicente Lecuna, et al., eds., Simon Bolivar obras completas in two volumes (Havana: Editorial Lex, 1947), Vol. 2, pp. 959-60.
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