tantism, commercially adept, militantlvrnexpansionist, and highly convinced,rnin Old World, New World,rnor both, that it represented a chosenrnpeople and a manifest destiny,rnhi the full, three-century context,rnCavaliers, aristocrats, and bishopsrnprett’ much lost and Puritans, Yankees,rnself-made entrepreneurs, Anglo-rnSaxon nationalists, and expansionistsrnhad the edge, especially inrnAmerica.rnMr. Phillips may not realize it, but hisrninterpretation is not exactly new. It is essentiallyrna restatement of the Wliig interpretationrnof Anglo-American history,rnthough cviriously without the Whiggery.rnIn that view, histor’ is working ceaselesslyrntoward the goal of greater “liberty,” andrnvirtually every conflict, from that of thernGreeks against the Persians through thernReformahon, the victorv over the SpanishrnArmada and Louis XIV, the defeat ofrnCharles I in the 1640’s and the expulsionrnof James II in 1688, the American Revolution,rnand the victory of the North in thernAmerican Civil War, reflects the largerrnconflict between the forces of ”progressrnand liberty” (i.e., the guys who won) andrnthe forces of “reaction, repression, andrnslavery” (i.e., the guys who lost). Thisrnview, of course, is not confined to Whigsrnbut extends to the entire gaggle of folksrnnow generally known as “the left” or, inrnnon-political terms, modernists. It is arniew shared by Lord Macaulay and KarlrnMarx, John Stuart Mill and Mao Tsetung.rnWithout it, there is and can be norn”left,” no political force that defines itselfrnas both the morally correct as well as therninevitably victorious side of every historicalrnconflict, and its opponents as the incarnationsrnof immorality. That is unfortunaternfor the left, because the Whig viewrnof history is quite wrong.rnMr. Phillips, of course, is not a man ofrnthe left, though a stupid review by a conservativernin the New York Times Book Reviewrnearlier this year described him asrnhaving changed into “a muscular liberal,rnboth protectionist and economically dirigiste.”rnBut Mr. Phillips is a somewhatrnunconventional conservative in an erarnthat displays Jack Kemp and Arianna thernAirhead as paragons of the right. Despiternhis apparent embrace of a leftist interpretationrnof history, Mr. Phillips is savedrnfrom leftism, if only because he rejectsrnthe ideologies of the left. Indeed, hernseems to reject pretty much any ideology.rnThu.s, vA’rihng of the influence of ideas onrnthe American Revolution, he concludes,rnrightiy in my opinion,rnit seems unwise to exaggeraterncolonists’ preoccupation with JohnrnLocke’s Second Treatise on Government,rnthe justifications for revolutionrnset forth by the Scottish “commonrnsense” school or even thernwidely read columns of the IndependentrnWliig.rnIt was not so much systematic concatenationsrnof ideas that shaped the revoltrnagainst Britain as it was more elementalrnforces bubbling in the colonists’ mind:rnBut most ordinary colonials,rnmulling questions of self-determinationrnand America’s future, tookrntheir outlook from a less learnedrnframework; the “folk memory” ofrnfamily and friends, Sunday sermonsrnthat compared royal councilorsrnto pharisees and Britain tornBabylon, newspaper articles andrnpamphlets by American dissidents,rna rum-flip tavern politics critical ofrnroyal officials and far-off aristocrats,rnthe musket-slapping bravado of localrnmilitia drills, and the republicanrncamaraderie of groups like thernSons of Liberty.rnAn interpretation of the left, whetherrnWliig, liberal, socialist, or Marxist, wouldrnhave to see the tiiumphant forces (in thisrncase, the American rebels) as in somernway the representatives or agents of thernforces of good, or of the right ideas; otherwise,rnvictor}’ is meaningless as a furtherrnleg of the march toward perfection thatrnwill end only when the whole planet resemblesrnourselves. But Mr. Phillips doesrnnot believe the triumphant forces necessarilyrnwere such representatives, nor thatrnthey triumphed because they stood forrnthe morally right or historically inevitablernideas. In his view, what influenced themrnwas less the workings of the rational mindrnwith its consciously formulated ideas andrnprinciples than the facts of ethnicity andrnreligion (to which he again and againrncalls attention) in the context of communitiesrnand peer groups. What eventuallyrnwon might have looked like the left, butrnregardless of what it looked like, it wonrnbecause it acted like the forces of thernright.rnA’ i l lrnIthough Mr. Phillips displays an impressivernerudition in the recent historiographyrnof the Cousins’ Wars, he recapitulatesrna fundamental error of thernWhig-leftist worldview: that each of thernconflicts he is discussing can be fitted intornthe conventional pro-modern versusrnanti-modern dichotomy that the left peddles.rnIn that model, for example, CharlesrnI and the Cavaliers are anti-modern,rnwhile Parliament, the Puritans, Cromwell,rnand republicanism are all pro-modern.rnBut if modern British historiographyrnhas shown anything, it is that this simplerndichotomy is far too simple. Charles Irnand his court were in fact in the forefrontrnof European art, fashion, letters, science,rnand religion; the Puritans, in many respects,rnwere backward-looking, invokingrna medieval economic ethic and a paternalisticrnpolitical code that is entirely atrnodds with Max Weber’s view of the relationshiprnbetween Protestantism and capitalismrn(a view that Phillips endorses).rnMoreover, as Marxist historian ChristopherrnHill showed in his book The WorldrnTurned Upside Down, the English Revolutionrncontained a powerful edge of irrationalismrnand outright madness, as revealedrnin the flourishing of occultism,rnbizarre religious movements, and socialrnand political inversion having little to dornwith the rationalit)’ and progress usuallyrnassociated with modernism.rnMuch the same is true of James II,rnwhose expulsion in 1688 Phillips alsornsees as continuous with the triumph ofrnmodernity. The Catholic James, so farrnfrom seeking to reverse the Protestant Reformation,rncan more realistically be seenrnas one of the first of the “enlightenedrndespots” of the 18th century in his promotionrnof religious toleration, and certainlyrnwhat he and his brother Charles IIrndid politically can be seen as an anticipationrnof the modern state rather than as arnreaction toward personal autocracy. Thernpoint is that, whether you think modernismrnis a good thing or a bad one,rnspawners of it can be found on both sidesrnof the Cousins’ Wars and, indeed, on allrnsides of every conflict. The idea of thernconflict between modernism and antimodernism,rnif it is meaningful at all, isrnlargely an artifact of the leftist mind,rnwhich invented it to demonize those whornopposed the “progress” with which thernleft sought to identify itself and its agenda.rnEvery time the dichotomy of modernrnversus anti-modern is examined closely,rnhowever, it begins to fall apart.rnMr, Phillips may not be a “muscularrnliberal,” but he has, probably unconsciously,rnswallowed this dichotomyrnJULY 1999/29rnrnrn