Benjamin Disraeli's Coningsby is a proof text that high politics are not as they seem: 'So you see, my dear Coningsby, that the world is governed by very different personages from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes.'
The first English translation of Spinoza’s Tractatus theologicao-Politicus appeared in 1689, the year after the so-called Glorious Revolution. It had provided the philosophical underpinning to the removal of James II from the thrones of England and Scotland.
Left - George III
During the Stuart exile following the English Civil War, James had been raised at the French court of Louis XIV. He became familiar with the highly centralised state in which the nobility and nascent oligarchy were kept strictly under control by the central authority of the crown, continuing the historical principles established by Louis XI when France established the pattern for other Renaissance nation states. Most notably, the nobility was confined for long periods to the court of Versailles, a crown-led controlling tactic. The economy was a highly governed phenomenon, under a single language and within rigidly defined borders.
The success of the French pattern under Louis XIV made centralisation under the sovereign appear to be the modern way forward for other states in Europe and beyond.
It was the model followed by Spain, in which the reining in of oligachical power by the centralised authority had led to the expulsion of the Jews.
It was this model of government that James II would have nurtured in England, which was why the Whig aristocracy collaborated with the Dutch invaders in 1688.
The 1688 Dutch invasion, or Glorious Revolution as it was dubbed by the financial beneficiaries, established a Sarpian ‘Republick of Merchants’ on English soil, as Venetian-Dutch-Marrano commercial and banking interests transferred to London.
The Anglo-Dutch model of oligarchical rule was established, with the formerly centralising authority of the King transformed into the nominal authority of a Venetian-style Doge.
In his novel Coningsby, Disraeli wrote: ‘The great object of Whig leaders in England, from the first movement under Hampden to the last most successful one in 1688, was to establish in England a high aristocratic republic on the model of the Venetian....William the Third told ...Whig leaders, 'I will not be a doge' ...they brought in a new family on their own terms. George I was adoge; George II was a doge....George III tried not to be a doge....He might try to get rid of the Whig Magnificoes, but he could not rid himself of the Venetian constitution.’
In the hands of Isaac Luria, exile itself became the primary means of understanding the condition of humanity and Divinity. His kabbalistc mystical system spread quickly and was ubiquitous in the Jewish communities of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, testimony to how deeply the fact of exile was felt.
In the hands of Spinoza, Lurianic kabbalah would become a Marrano philosophy of exile, return and revenge.
The Renaissance nation state, so devastating to Spinoza’s family, the Marranos more generally and others with a stake in the centuries-old tripartite alliance of mutual economic benefit, namely the nobility, Jews and Venetian financiers, was now under threat.
The return to a pre-Renaissance condition of unimpeded free trade had begun, and the mechanism for rule became Sarpi’s ‘Republick of Merchants’.
In the language of the Lurianic Kabbalah that was at the root of Spinoza’s philosophy, Shevirat HaKeilim - ‘The Shattering of the Vessels’ - had passed its zenith with the Treaty of Westphalia.
The next stage was underway - Tikkun, the processes by which restoration and repair were to be accomplished.
This is where John Locke came in. He strongly upheld the right to hold property as a ‘right’ under a Spinozist ‘natural law’, but that this ‘right’ should be expressed through civil laws.
We do not retain our right to punish the transgressors of property rights according to Locke. Instead, it is precisely our abrogation of the right to punish which is transferred to a state that makes the political realm possible.
A Lockean right to property was Marrano ‘liberty’ deceitfully clothed in political ‘justice’.
© John Dunn.