Sunday, March 20, 2011

Walzer - Puritanism and Revolutinary Ideology

Walzer, Michael. "Puritanism and Revolutionary Ideology." From Alexander, Jeffrey C., and Steven Seidman. Culture and Society: Contemporary Debates. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

How did Middle Ages revolutionaries justify the overthrow of kings supposedly endowed with their position by God?

He describes exiles from England during the reign of Mary. These exiles moved into South Germany and Switzerland where they established self-governing religious communities, imagined themselves prophets, and called for the overthrow of Mary who had been placed on the thrown not by God but by the devil.

"Resistance in the Middle Ages had usually been viewed as a defensive struggle against a tyrant guilty of acts of aggression upon the political order. Defense was a temporarily necessary orm of legal violence, ending as soon as order was restored. But the permanent warfare of saints and worldlings set legality and order aside. The devil might be expected to use every imaginable form of wiliness and deception; the saints would continually test his power and rise up whenever they found him weak. They would obey him, as Goodman wrote, only "in captivity and thraldom," never willingly, passively, or in a routine fashion. Thy would disobey and rebel whenever it was possible, for it was their "bounden duty" to "maintain the cause of God with all [their] might." In the history of political thought, this Calvinist idea of permanent warfare lies between the theory of resistance and that of revolution, and mediates the transition from one to the other." (133)

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