Thursday, 13 October 2016

The Middle Ages & Our Future

Conservatives are often accused of living in the past and in fact we do look to the past to provide answers for the future. We do this because we do not believe in the "tyranny of the living", in other words we do not accept that only those people alive today have all the correct answers and everyone who came before were wrong. We accept that the people of the past often did things better, not always of course, but we give them more weight because in the past things worked.

Most Conservatives are not kind to the Enlightenment, most believe that was a major turning point in world affairs, and not for the better. In many ways Conservatives past and present have looked to the Middle Ages as our inspiration. But we need to look at what it is about the Middle Ages that we can use in the future.

So what is it that we find so admirable about the Middle Ages?

Hierarchy, that each person had a place.

Royalty, that we give our loyalty to a real person and not to abstract ideas which change.

Nobility, in both senses of that word.

God, that there is a place for faith, for public faith.

Family, family was everything, the past, the present and the future.

Human sized, that even the big things still had a place for people.

Decentralized, no one group controlled all of the power

Permanence, people believed not in progress but that things would last.

Now many will point out that there were many bad things that happened during the Middle Ages and of course they would be right. But that does not change the fact that there was also much to admire. Conservatives do not believe in everything that happened in the past, that would be impossible. What we believe in is in taking those things from the past that worked and having them work again. However much of what we admire about the Middle Ages doesn't exist anymore. So let us look at each of these in turn.

Many will complain that in the Middle Ages we were Serfs and today we are free. The Middle Ages that Conservatives admire is when there were no Serfs but when every man was a Freeman. To use the English word, a Yeoman. Every Yeoman knew he was not a Slave or a Serf but he also knew he was not a Lord. He was free to live his life and free to make his own decisions. He was the backbone of the Kingdom. He fought it's wars and he worked it's fields but he was his own man. Not alone but part of a class that knew it's own worth and was not interested in taking from any other class. This is the class we want to recreate. In all human societies there is a hierarchy, but ours pretends that isn't true. Yet another lie.

In every Conservatives heart there is a soft spot for the idea of Royalty. That there is someone worthwhile to look up to and serve. That to serve is honourable and will preserve permanence. However, Royalty has a paradox, a Good King is one of the best forms of Government, but a bad King is one of the worst. And such rule can last for decades. But a Medieval King was not an absolute Monarch. He was the first amongst equals. He had to share and balance power between himself, his council, his nobles and the church. He was not all powerful, even though he was more powerful than most, there were limits to his power,

We want there to be more Nobility in life, more honour, more of the finer qualities that we posses being advanced, so often we see only the baser qualities being put on display, even admired. We do not want that at all. We also think about that other Nobility, the Aristocracy, we want to look up to the powerful instead of looking down at them. We admire the idea of the Aristocracy because it is permanent, because it is decentralized, because it is about Family and because it is Human sized. Although I would caution that in the Middle Ages the Nobility were tied to the wealth created by the land and this kept them in check. But once that tie to the land was broken and they sought to find other sources of wealth their usefulness declined considerably.

Today faith is still allowed but only in private, as if it is shameful. While I would never seek a Theocracy, it does seem that we have gone too far the other way. During the Middle Ages they built Cathedrals and they were more than tourist traps, God had a place. You really must wonder, as I do, if that will be true in the future.

For as long as there have been Conservatives we have warned that the thinking that came out of the Enlightenment would destroy the family. And for all of that time we have been thought of as scaremongers. But here we are seeing the Family being destroyed right before our eyes. Even so many still cannot work it out, they instead think that everything will be alright as long as we change the definition of what constitutes a Family. In the Middle Ages Family was everything, it was the basic building block of society. We want to return to that, to Family being everything, our past, our present and our future.

Human sized
Modern life is very impersonal, both Government and Business treat us as just a number. We hold no importance, how can we when we are unknown, when we do not know them and they do not know us. So little of our life seems to be human sized and we miss it, we know we should not be anonymous. In the Middle Ages nearly everything was human sized. Everything was more personable, good things and bad things.

Today power has been concentrated, Governments and Corporations live in each others pockets, protecting each other. And you and I are not really important. In the Middle Ages power was not concentrated in the King, it was shared with his Council, with the Nobility and with the Church. Today there are data bases on everyone of us, our secrets are not ours. And the reason they stay secret is because we are regarded as unimportant. Centralization is bad and increasing, in the Middle Ages things were decentralized.

It seems like something that doesn't exist anymore, everything seems designed to destroy any sense of Permanence. The Middle Ages believed in Permanence and ours does not. Instead it believes in progress, in the idea that nothing is permanent, that nothing is sacred and that everything is up for sale. This I want to return, the idea that things are permanent, that some things are too special to be changed.

The Middle Ages were like all other times, not all good and not all bad. But there were things that were better then, things we still want and that we still need. When we think about how we want the future, don't forget to include the past.

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