A Lesson on Partisanship from the English Civil Wars

The English Civil Wars are a little piece of history that I never learned about in history class. They were fascinating. Think French Revolution but earlier and more warring. Before we go too far, I suppose I should give you a little background. The king, Charles Stuart, needed cash. That meant, of course, he had to raise taxes, but every time he called Parliament, they just bitched at him and wouldn’t grant him taxes, so he kept disbanding them. Then shit started to get real. Like, war real. The Parliamentarians raised armies and they had themselves a proper civil war (the first of three).

In the midst of the wars between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists, the king siphoned away his backers in Parliament, which made the body even more extreme.  Then, near the end of the turmoil (but really not at all the end), the Parliamentarian army wasn’t paid and they were ordered by Parliament to disband. Obviously, that’s idiotic. More the most part, the army did not disband. At least not the radicals. Mostly, the Presbyterians did follow the command and they retired from the New Model Army. The army then promoted from within, further radicalizing the body. Then the New Model Army took over England. Weird, right? Never saw that coming.

You see the theme there? It’s not just the English Civil Wars. Leaving only makes conflict inevitable. When the moderates leave, it leaves all the power with the radicals. So, next time you hear about some political party boycotting elections, remember this. We need the moderates to prevent a breakdown of government. We have to have a counterbalance, even if it’s in a rigged or corrupt system. Their voices still matter.


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