The story of history is a power struggle between elites

The story of history is a power struggle between elites: monarchs vs. nobles vs. clergy vs. aristocrats vs. bourgeois, all vying for power.

Beginning with King John signing of the Manga Carta in 1215, the nobility siphoned power from the monarchy, in which the then nascent English Parliament began gain power, eventually culminating in the Glorious Revolution in 1688. [The problem was the aristocracy and nobility became too big, resulting in in-fighting.] This was preceded by English Civil War in 1643-1650, which pitted the Parliamentarians against the King Charles I. The English aristocracy opposed King James II, who wanted to restore Catholicism (Protestantism became the official religion of England, which continues to this day in what is called ‘Anglicism’, a hybrid of Catholicism and Protestantism) and limit the power of the parliament; King James was deposed in 1688 and replaced by William III and Mary II. But before that, the papacy was challenged by the Crown, when Henry VIII sought to annul his marriage to Catherine. His disagreement with the Pope led to the English Reformation, severing the Church of England from papal authority, and Henry appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England. For his defiance, Henry was excommunicated by the Pope 1533. In 1536, the parliament passed the Act against the Pope’s Authority, which removed the last vestiges of papal authority and, in addition, taxes were diverted from Rome to the Crown. In 1540, Henry began the purge of the monasteries, in which Henry sized control of over 800 monasteries and sold many of them to fund the ongoing war against France. So between 1500-1700, England was in a tug-of-war between the three major concentrations of power: The Crown, the Parliament, and the Papacy.

And there was the French Revolution, which, contrary to popular belief, was waged not by the peasantry but rather by the bourgeois (intelligentsia and merchant class) against the monarchy, nobility, and aristocracy. Who were the real revolutionaries in France in 1789: the nobility, the bourgeoisie or the peasantry?

In 1789, the French Revolution broke out. During the course of the revolution, various classes of French society became involved. The nobility, who had had their political power diminished prior to 1789 under Louis XIV’s reign, yearned to have increased political power, and amongst them were also the liberal-minded who subscribed to the philosophes’ schools of thoughts, and harboured revolutionary ideas; the bourgeoisie were not only resentful of the heavy taxation, but were also contemptuous of their lack of political say and the extravagant lifestyles of the privileged orders which they were progressively denied of, and were thus driven towards a course of revolution; the peasants were pressured into revolution by the onerous tax burdens, the increasing bread prices and cost of living, and the decrease in living standards. In my opinion, though, the real revolutionaries in France in 1789 were the bourgeoisie, that is to say, they were the ones who initiated, caused, spearheaded, and brought through the French Revolution, a fundamental upheaval or change in French society, in 1789. The nobility and the peasantry, on the other hand, were revolutionaries made by the revolution; they only caught up with the revolutionary fervour later. In 1789, many bourgeois were dissatisfied with the French system of government and their place in society and they wanted change. Prior to 1789 (and even Louis XVI’s reign), the French monarchy had found itself in a financial crisis, due mainly to the funding of such wars as the American War of Independence (1776-83), and loans that accumulated with interest.

The same for the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, the latter which pitted Northern industrial and political elites against Southern plantation elites (the majority of Southerners didn’t own slaves).

Fast-forward 300 years and you see this same power struggle between elites unfolding in the Trump administration. Trump is the ‘general’ of a civil war within his party that he is barely able to control; of course, he being president probably contributed to it.