Witch hunts then and now

your say September 05, 2018 01:00

All of this orally flatulent baloney evacuated by Trump about a “witch hunt” has some serious historical connotations.

I take it that the role of Matthew Hopkins, the English witch hunter and self-appointed “Witchfinder General” of Stuart times, is now taken by Robert Mueller, if The Donald is to be believed. It’s notable that Hopkins’ career flourished during the chaos (how apposite) of the English Civil War (1642-1651), a conflict that Thomas Hobbes described in “Leviathan” as “bellum omnium contra omnes” or in English a “war of all against all”. It is believed that Hopkins, and his familiar John Stearne, sent more people (mostly women) to the embrace of the noose than all of the witch hunters in the previous 160 years put together. 

Perhaps the role of Parliamentarian Oliver Cromwell is now assumed by Mueller, while Trump is Charles I? Could Charles II be Mike Pence, one wonders? Not that I advocate public beheading, one understands. Given the political context in which the war was fought in (almost) all its phases, could perhaps the role of the erstwhile Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury and supporter of the principle of Royal absolutism (hence the war a century later) over state and church, be played by one of our number here? I certainly have my ideas on who might fit the bill.

Interestingly, Governor Gerry Brown of California used the Hobbesian phrase to describe Trumpian policies, in that a war of all against all had been declared by Trump, against, literally, all of humanity. Brown was referring, specifically, to “Big Coal”, but I firmly believe one may wish to widen the remit to include many other aspects of the White House incumbent’s antics. Power for power’s sake? It’s noticeable that an alleged user of that aphorism gave a eulogy at John McCain’s funeral. 

Perhaps the most pertinent observation should be left to Orwell: “Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.” Be careful what you wish for... 

Dr Frank

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