"On the political passions in Europe and America and their implications for Transatlantic History"
Charles S. Maier
Charles Maier’s chapter is a plea for global history. It uses the lens of political passion to present a transatlantic comparison and particularly emphasizes that the Atlantic World has never been as unified as some of the historiographies have us believe. Maier identifies four major fields that have given rise to conflict and political passion: religious authority, self-government, defining the (national) community, and the distribution of wealth and goods. However, as the analysis zooms in on Europe and the United States it becomes evident that these transnational themes may and should also be explored from a global perspective. European history has always had a global dimension, from colonialism to the divisions of the Cold War.
Ariane Leendertz investigates changing perceptions of transatlantic relations in the United States since the late 1960s. Looking into the complex relationships of decision-making at the political level and how they are being informed by changing epistemics, discourses, and perceptions, she concludes that the United States emerged from a moment of crisis (war in Vietnam, increasing economic competition with Europe, and the loss of credibility in Europe) with a growing awareness of global interdependencies. This resulted in a rather pessimistic approach to transatlantic relations that have since the 1970s informed US politics towards Europe.
Giuliana Chamedes identifies two distinct visions that characterized the ideological construct of the ‘Atlantic order’ for the post-war world: a liberal-democratic American and British narrative that helped the United States strengthen its political and economic ties with Europe so as to protect a shared democratic worldview; and another vision, advanced by the Holy See, a handful of European Christian Democratic leaders, and certain key American Catholic opinion-makers, which did not have ‘democracy’ as its endgame. Rather, it proposed to build a peaceful transnational post-war order through the reconstitution of the ‘Christian West’, an early-modern concept of the ‘Old and the New World’ which was defined as an imagined community built on a shared commitment to Christian principles. This move enabled them to embrace the ‘Atlantic Community’, all the while remaining wedded to a conservative, anti-liberal, and anti-communist worldview.
The TransAtlantic reconsidered brings together established experts from Atlantic History and Transatlantic Studies – two fields that are closely connected in their historical and disciplinary development as well as with regard to the geographical area of their interest. Questions of methodology and boundaries of periodization tend to separate these research fields. However, in order to understand the Atlantic World and transatlantic relations today, Atlantic History and Transatlantic Studies should be considered together. The scholars represented in this volume have helped to shape, re-shape, and challenge the narrative(s) of the Atlantic World and can thus (re-)evaluate its conceptual basis in view of historiographical developments and contemporary challenges. This volume thus documents and reflects on the changes within Transatlantic Studies during the last decades. New perspectives on research reconceptualize how we think about the Atlantic World. At a time when many political observers perceive a crisis in transatlantic relations, critical evaluation of past narratives and frameworks will provide an academic foundation to move forward.
In his chapter Giles Scott-Smith analyses the Transnational Transatlantic from a Foucauldian perspective. He posits the ‘overflow of the state’s role into new spaces of politics’ as a key development in this period: the Cold War Atlantic Community was much more than a structure described by the rationalist theory of political scientists, he argues. With the Anglo-American bond at its core, it was indeed a transnational public sphere that spanned the Atlantic. Scott-Smith suggests a combination of the history of mentalities and (new) governmentality.
After 1649, parliamentary authors have usually been distinguished as either 'de facto theorists' or 'commonwealthsmen'. De facto theory incorporated languages and ideas which are difficult to fit into current definitions of 'republicanism'. Nonetheless, the writings of Anthony Ascham, Francis Rous or John Dury were intended to support the rule of Parliament, and after January 1649 that meant the rule of republican government. The same combination of distinctive features and similarities between Ascham's and John Milton's writings could be found in Marchamont Nedham's The Case of the Commonwealth of England Stated the case of John Hall. From Rous to Hall, a surprisingly rich and varied range of ideas and values were used to support adhesion to the rule of Parliament and the Republic. These ideas were not inherently linked to a singular form of polity.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on concepts discussed in this book. The book presents a picture of Anthony Ascham as an 'anti-radical' parliamentarian who used ideas of natural right to argue for obedience to authority rather than to challenge it, prioritising order over liberty and representation. It highlights the complicated mixture of political languages which was used in propaganda for the Parliament and the Commonwealth. The book describes the relations between Independents and Presbyterians in Parliament between 1648 and 1649, reconstructing in detail their several attempts at political and religious reconciliation. It approaches the study of the English receptions of Hugo Grotius's works from an interdisciplinary perspective in order to understand how the English engaged with all of Grotius's works on state and church, international law, natural rights and religion.
The Puritan Revolution of mid-seventeenth-century England produced an explosion of new and important political thinking. But while due attention has been given to the most famous thinkers, Thomas Hobbes, Sir Robert Filmer and the Levellers, there are other important figures who have been relatively neglected, of whom Anthony Ascham is one. Ascham represents a case in point of the interaction between politics, propaganda and political thought in the context of the English Civil Wars. Ascham, initially designated by the Council of State as 'agent' of the Republic to the Merchant Company of Hamburg, became eventually 'official Agent' to Madrid. The investigation of Ascham's work has been generally linked to the Engagement controversy. Ascham's reputation as a de facto theorist, which undeniably points out some distinctive features of his work, underestimates the complexity of his political thought. This chapter also presents the outline of the book.
Anthony Ascham in the first part of the Discourse said that, according to jus belli, 'possession' was the prerequisite for rightful obedience. In the second part, he went to speak 'to subjects obeying an usurper power, after an obligation of Allegiance to another Power'. In The Bounds and Bonds Ascham replied to the Presbyterian opponents of the republican government saying that 'things are considerable only so far as they may reach the ends for which they are'. His response drew mainly on Hugo Grotius's De Jure, and expressly on his treatment of the sovereign rights deriving from victorious war grounded in the law of nations. Ascham's political argument in support of the politics implemented by his patrons in the Parliament, and, after Pride's Purge, in the Rump, was mainly drawn from Grotius. The Machiavelli on which Ascham drew (like in most of his sources) was arguably that of The Prince.
Parliamentarians shared the idea that the natural right of self-preservation was better secured through the safeguard of state's order. However, Presbyterian writers put an emphasis on the people's consent, regarding it as duty toward God-derived authority, while they were reluctant to ground civil power on individuals promising to retain their natural rights. Despite his frequent attempts to reassure Presbyterians that the new government would achieve the religious clauses of the Covenant, in a few passages touching religion, Anthony Ascham displayed his favour towards a moderately tolerant national church. Notwithstanding his task to sponsor the governmental attempts at reconciliation with Presbyterians and royalists, Ascham displayed the Erastian and anti-clerical stances of many Independents when he traced a sharp dividing line between the prerogative of divines and civil authorities.