This younger brother of Alexander I was born in 1796, and became Tsar in 1825 at nearly thirty years old. Any chance that there might have been to make him a reformist monarch was destroyed in the Decembrist Conspiracy. Secret societies had been formed in northern and southern Russia, mostly by army officers who had experienced the West for the first time in their lives during the Napoleonic Wars. One of these, the Prince Volkonsky, wrote: ‘the campaigns of eighteen twelve to fourteen brought Europe nearer to us, made us familiar with its forms of state, its public institutions, the rights of the people. By contrast with our own state of life, the laughably limited rights which our people possessed, the despotism of our regime first became truly present in our hearts and understanding.’ (more…)
He was a Lancashireman, son of a rich industrialist. Born in the eighteenth century (1778) he got into Parliament as a Tory at twenty-one years of age. By 1812 he was in Lord Liverpool’s cabinet as Secretary for Ireland, when he was twenty-four. Looking back through history at the misadventures of Englishmen trying to administrate Ireland, one would know that Robert Peel could not treat his job as a sinecure.
Between 1822 and 1827, and 1828 to 1830 he was Home Secretary – the second period under the Duke of Wellington’s premiership. He was never an expert ‘speechifier’, not in any way an orator like Palmerston or George Canning, but simply efficient, mastering details rapidly. He proceeded with unexpected reforms of the legal system, removing obsolete laws, and taking the death penalty off at least one hundred offences. Do not forget that in England even a hungry youth could be hanged for stealing a load of bread. (more…)
Among other things, mainly physical or medical, a Constitution embodies the fundamental principles on which a state is governed, especially when considering the rights of its subjects. Therefore the Unites States Constitution embodies the conception on which the American system of government is based. Most great countries have a written constitution, with the notable exclusion from the list of Great Britain.
In America the Constitution has been the law of the land since 1789; it established a federal republic, with the intention of balancing the power of the states and that of the federal government. In the latter, power is divided among three independent branches – legislative, executive and judicial. The Document contains a brief preamble followed by seven articles which include: the organization, powers and procedures of Congress (the legislative branch); the powers of the elected President and his/her executive; powers of the judiciary (judges) which include the Supreme Court; the rights of the states, and correct procedures for amending the Constitution.
The articles are followed by the amendments; many of the first amendments are to do with the Bill of Rights, while later ones deal with civil rights issues. Others cover concerns such as the election, death or removal (impeachment) of the President, and eligibility to stand for a seat in Congress.
It was drafted at the Constitutional Convention held at Philadelphia in 1787, and adopted after ratification by nine of the states.
General History in book format!
Don’t forget Volumes One & Two of GENERAL HISTORY
are available on Amazon wherever you may be.
These books are simply the articles posted on the website
in the form of a properly printed paperback book.
Volume Three will be published around Christmas time, 2014.
‘Dean Swift’ is the pen name used by author Jeremy Taylor
for his History books.
Just go to Amazon.com, or Amazon.co.uk, or Amazon.es etc.
Click on the long top rectangle ‘All’
Click on ‘Books’
Key in General History Dean Swift.
Both volumes will appear; become a subscriber to Amazon
or if you are already a subscriber, choose your mode of payment.
It is just as easy as that.
The first Volume of General History as a book is on Amazon
For those who are interested the first volume of my 3-volume printed version of articles from General-History.com is on Amazon. Just click on Books, and then key Jeremy Taylor General History and you should find the first volume on sale at around £8. Do not be confused by the name ‘Dean Swift’ – it is just one of my pen-names!
Mention is made in the media (rather too often) of the magic words Left or Right when the subject is politics.The terms originated as follows: The Left came from the French Revolution, when members of the Jacobin Club sat in the Convention on the left of the President’s chair. Before long the term came to be associated with people who held radical views, a belief in the sovereignty of the people, elimination by any means of royalty and/or the aristocracy, a firm republic, and anti-clericism.
With the Industrial Revolution in Britain the left was identified with working class interests. It wanted to interefere in the free market, because it believed that by doing so social change could also be brought about. It is difficult to define what kind of ‘social change’, but one hopes it means a fair deal for all – except landowners, rentiers, lords, bishops etc. Well into the twentieth century the Left referred to all socialist parties, Christian or otherwise, and the Communist Party as a whole. Supporters and upholders of the idea of the Welfare State were and are also supposed to be of the Left, though this has not worked out in practical terms. In Spain, the Falange and General Franco referred to the Left as ‘the Reds’, perhaps because of the clenched fist and singing of ‘The Red Flag’ at public meetings. (more…)
Samurai. This was the Japanese equivalent of the barons of England, feudal aristocrats in France and regional princes in Germany, who ruled the country while representing their king or emperor. They were the ruling caste by the 12th century. One century before these great Japanese warrior families were taking over power from the Emperor however. Towards the end of the 1180s, the victor of most of the battles, one Minamoto Yoritomo was given the special title of Shogun (emperor’s personal deputy) after his ending of the struggle between the Minamoto and Tairo families. (more…)
Nuri as Said, and what Iraq might have been. Though we think of Iraq as a Middle Eastern country, it is really West Asian, bordering on Turkey to the north, Iran on the east, Syria and Jordan to the west, and Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to the south. This land used to be known as Mesopotamia, and was the site of very early civilizations. It was actually called ‘The Cradle of Civilization’, but later in the seventh century after Christ it became a Muslim state after invasion from Arabia. Then the Ottoman Empire grabbed it in the sixteenth century and Turkish it remained until 1914/15 when British forces drove the Turks out.
After the Mesopotamian Campaign the country was occupied by Britain, granted responsibility under a League of Nations mandate (1920 – 32). In 1921 Amir Ahd Allah Faisal became King Faisal of Iraq, and British influence was strong, especially under the premiership of Nuri as Said (1888 – 1958). His was the last effective and sensible rule in that sad country.
Said set up the Iraq Development Board, using ever growing oil revenues for positive and constructive purposes. There were no collections of dozens of Rolls-Royce motor cars kept in specially designed hangars. Instead good roads and bridges were built, electricity and proper sewage disposal came to the villages, fresh water pipes were laid, schools, colleges and hospitals founded and financed. The beginnings of heavy industry were created. Iraq might by now have been among the richest and perhaps even happiest nations in the world, but by 1957 the pot was being stirred, as always happens, by revolutionaries.
Nuri said in 1957 that Iraq was not a real country at all; that it was an artificial creation, put together by Britain as an emergency measure; that it could not be managed by constitutional means, kindness and British-style laws. It required a tough approach, and resolute leadership, which the British disapproved. That disaster was imminent, and could not be reversed. The British Embassy declined to take any notice.
In 1958 Uri as Said, King Faisal and most of the royal family, Said’s cabinet of ministers and advisers were machine-gunned by military revolutionaries, a group which included the young Saddam Hussein. This was the beginning of Iraq’s long and apparently interminable martyrdom, still continuing today, even after the hanging of Saddam. If Nuri as Said had been allowed to finish what he started, there would have been no Iraq/Iran War, no Bush/Saddam wars, and the ancient Mesopotamian coastline might have been a favourite Riviera. But Life, and Politics, are not like that.
Is Spain democratic?
April of the year 2014 is with us, and one cannot really face the headache of the news on television every evening, because the country seems to be splitting into a number of segments, each with a jagged edge:
Andalucía is a bottomless (and I fear neglected) well of confusion and corruption; the latest discovery by the police is the possible stealing of more than 2000 million euros destined by Europe for adult education grants for unemployed youth. The female judge Alaya is still struggling womanfully with the Case of the EREs, involving hundreds of millions of euros supposedly contributed by the EU to assist Andalucía with the unemployment problem some years ago. Over 500 million euros have vanished. This case involves two ex-presidents of the autonomic region – Chavez and Griñan, plus a host of others. This unholy couple is under the protection of the Spanish Parliament, as they are senators now. They cannot be judged in Andalucía therefore, but in the Madrid Supreme Court. If only it were supreme! It is called ‘supreme’ but its judgments can be overturned by the Constitutional Court, which is the same in grammar as calling something ‘almost unique’ or ‘nearly unique’ when if a thing is unique it is unique. The word cannot be modified.
Mr Artur Mas the president of Cataluña, burdened with a ‘Rhodesia Smith’ Complex, is determined to continue his nearly hopeless fight to declare independence unilaterally from Spain. The Government in Madrid recently won – with a massive majority – a debate about whether or not Cataluña can consult the Catalans on this subject. The Congress and the Constitution say no. Mr Mas and Mr Homs continue saying yes. Now Mr Barroso from the European Commission speaks up saying that the Catalans should know that if Cataluña breaks away from Spain she will NOT remain in the EU: that Catalans will require a passport to visit family and friends in formerly neighbouring regions such as Asturias. In reply, Mr Homs tells the Catalans not to worry, for Barroso was not speaking officially. Perhaps he was speaking, observed by a hundred TV cameras, from his bath?
The Popular Party thought it had got rid of a pile of dodgy former ministers like Acebes and Cascos etc. But the official they did not dismiss was the one who is now causing all the trouble over the financing of political parties while robbing the till – Mr Bárcenas, who even looks like a Chicago gangster. He was the Treasurer of the Popular Party until a Spanish judge started (years ago) investigating his personal finances. The PP could do without Mr Bárcenas just now, when the cleaning of the Augean Stables by Mr ‘Hercules’ Rajoy is beginning to take effect.
Is Spain democratic? The answer is no for these reasons, though if you call it ‘representaive democracy’ it scrapes by: (1) If in an election, local or national, voters use their vote to elect a Party, not a Person, it is not democratic as such. (2) If, as happened recently in Andalucía, the people vote (albeit with insufficient majority) for an Opposition Party, it is clear that they wish that opposition party to rule. They have voted democratically. But Spain has a ‘Pact’ system, by which the party that lost the election can still win it, though not democratically, by forming a pact with a third party. In Andalucía the PSOE lost the election to the PP, but then pacted with IU, giving the combined couple a majority larger than that gained by the PP. So the PSOE continued ruling, and the PP, which had won the election, was left in opposition. (3) Again in Andalucía, the previous president decided to resign. He was replaced by a fellow party member, in this case a woman. She was never elected by the people of Andalucía as their president, but she is still the President. This is undemocratic.
The book is taking up all my time and I am doing it alone. Thanks for your patience. I shall try to write a post for General-history this week. Very best wishes, Dean.