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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

let freedom ring

I just finished writing the chapter on the 28th Age, from 1794 to 1864, and it feels good.

In the space of one Age, the entire western world, otherwise known as Christendom, erased the lowest rungs on the economic ladder - serfdom in Europe, and slavery in the New World.

Truly remarkable how the spirit of an Age can spread so far and fast, like a fever, but in a good way.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Darwin's grandfather

Erasmus Darwin published The Temple of Nature in 1803. In it, he prefigured most of Charles Darwin's ideas expressed sixty years later in The Origin of Species.

With one important difference. Erasmus assumed that God controlled the universe, and directed the development of various species from a common ancestor.

Clearly the grandson wanted to exceed the grandfather.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The British about-face

Reading about the next Age, from 1794 to 1864, one notices such a distinct change in the world. The divine right of kings died and turned into the natural rights of everyone, by which we are endowed by our Creator, or so says the Declaration of Independence.

The British manifested this in a unique way. In the space of a few decades, they went from the most prolific slave-trading nation on earth, to the leading emancipator. They devoted the Royal Navy to the task of stopping the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

What a turnaround!

No one wonder they could build an empire upon which the sun never set, in spite of losing America to the Americans.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Palindromes

I'm reading about Napoleon this week, and keep amusing myself with two famous palindromes.

Able was I ere I saw Elba.

Madam I'm Adam.

Both read the same backwards and forwards. The first refers to Napoleon, the second to Adam introducing himself to Eve.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Original meaning of liberal

In one of the supreme ironies of history, I present the actual, original meaning of the word "liberal", coined a little more than 200 years ago.

Liberal: free economy under a minimal government.

I kid you not.

Monday, April 4, 2011

France and the United States

Few people realize the sacrifice France made to help the United States in our Revolutionary War against England. They bankrupted their economy, and then their nation died, so ours might live.

Sounds dramatic, I know. But it wasn't like King Louis XVI planned it that way. He just wanted to hurt England.