English Revolution

oliver cromwellThe civil war in the 17th century saw the forces of Parliament battling against the monarchy of Charles I, fighting for power over England. In essence, this was a revolutionary struggle for domination by the rising bourgeois class of merchants and bankers - an attempt to usurp the old feudal institutions of the monarchy. 

Pivotal to the success of the 'Roundheads' (the supporters of Parliament) in the conflict against the Royalists was the role played by Oliver Cromwell, leader of the New Model Army. And within Cromwell's army were an even more radical wing - the Levellers - who wanted to go even further, anticipating the mass movements of the Chartists in the 19th century and their demands for universal democratic rights.

The task today is to fight for a new revolution - one that throws both the monarchy and the capitalists into the dustbin of history where they belong.

I did not believe that it was possible for the low esteem in which I hold modern academics in general, and bourgeois historians in particular, to sink any lower than it already was. But that belief was misplaced. I have just had the misfortune to watch a three-part series put out by BBC Channel Four with the title: ‘Charles I, Downfall of a King’. I now hold the intellectual qualities of our modern historians at a slightly lower level than those of Mr Bean. At least Mr Bean can be mildly amusing at times, but our self-appointed intellectuals lack even that redeeming virtue.

Josh Holroyd reviews Nelson at Naples by Jonathan North, which exposes the atrocities committed by Horatio Nelson during his part in crushing the Neapolitan Revolution of 1799. The tragic events North describes, which reveal the unbridled barbarism of a reactionary old order fighting for its life, are rich with lessons for revolutionaries today.

On 22 November, at the Leon Trotsky House Museum in Mexico City, Alan Woods began his talk on the English Revolution by saying that, while postmodernists claim there are no laws in history and that it is impossible to understand, there are recurrent processes and even familiar characters across the centuries. Similar material conditions provoke historical phenomena with certain similarities.

To mark this year's Bonfire Night in Britain, Alan Woods discusses the historical background behind the infamous Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in which Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up the English Establishment and spark a Catholic insurrection against King James I and the protestant monarchy.

The Battle of Waterloo - 200 years ago, on 18th June 1815 - was the last great event that marked the end of that great historical process that was begun in 1789 by the Great French Revolution. With the defeat of Napoleon, the last flickering embers of the fires lit by revolutionary France were extinguished. A long, grey period settled down on Europe like a thick coat of suffocating dust. The forces of triumphant reaction seemed firmly in the saddle.

When the Irish Catholic priest Fr. Hugh O’Donnell decided it was time to build a Catholic church in Belfast he had a problem: it costs a lot of money to build a church. The Catholic population of Belfast was too small and too poor to provide enough money, so if he had to rely on the Catholics alone it would take forever. He had to seek help elsewhere. So he asked the Protestants of Belfast to help him out. As you do.

On 17 May 1649, three soldiers were executed on Oliver Cromwell’s orders in Burford churchyard, Oxfordshire, England. They were the leaders of 300 men who belonged to the movement known as the Levellers. They had decided to fight against Cromwell who they considered was betraying the ideals of what the “Civil War”, i.e. the English Revolution, had been about.

Today marks 350 years since the death of Oliver Cromwell, the outstanding leader of the English bourgeois revolution of the 1640s. Without him, with his steadfast courage and determination, the Revolution would have been betrayed by the big bourgeoisie who continually sought an accommodation with the Crown. It is no accident that Cromwell has been described as the Lenin of the English bourgeois revolution.

This year marks the 300th anniversary of The Act of Union between Scotland and England. This was accompanied by the merger of the parliaments into one Westminster Parliament. In January 1707, the Scottish parliament voted 110-67 to ratify The Treaty of Union, which became law four months later.

Today is the 200th anniversary of the battle that is associated with the name of one man, Horatio Nelson. He was considered a national hero, both in his own lifetime and in the Victorian period following his death. But should the working class celebrate the life of this man? We will examine his exploits and show them in a light that is not exactly what the present patriotic hullabaloo is designed to do.