Posted Without Comment *Updated*

A few points. 1. RO has always accepted Augustine’s account of the 2 cities. The secular regnum can pursue a limited virtue though this must be oriented to the virtues of the city of God. 2. The UK is almost uniquely not composed by ethnicity. (The US is arguably still a white nation to its appalling detriment.) This is why eg British Asians feel totally British and hate the idea of a little England on her own. Britishness, even Englishness, is style and value, not birth or blood or even location. So the UK is not a nation state. 3. It may not even be a State, which means secular autonomy, centralisation of sovereignty and exercise of polizei plus civility. Though indeed much contaminated by all these things, formally it is not defined by them like France and Germany. In his Hamlet Carl Schmitt says the UK is not a State though he thinks this is bad. 4. the UK is still technically a Regnum legitimated by its deference to the Sacrum. Ie there is an established church which, like Rowan Williams, RO tends to defend. (There are exceptions here as we are properly a broad alliance). England and Scotland are only realms because they are also ecclesiastical terrains. Wales is an exception. Till fairly recently the ecclesiastical parish remained the fundamental governing unit and echoes of that remain. 5. To me this ‘west byzantinism’ CAN go along with a theology integrating nature and grace and stressing the communication of idioms in Christ. Ie his divinity and humanity and his priesthood and kingship are all tangled up. For now the sacerdotal rules and seems more divine, but eschatalogically there is an inversion when only his kingship remains and the physical is caught up in finality also. Hence the secular regnum is at once a necessary evil and yet also a sign of the ultimate perfect kingdom. This is the traditional meaning of Christian monarchy I think and why it is so linked to notions of the common good and has always helped to oppose oligarchy and anti-democratic faction. One needs monarchy or some good equivalent. 6. RO of course fully recognises the ecclesial sacrum as the true community of complete virtue beyond the need for coercive law and military violence. The test of the legitimacy of the regnum is the degree to which it enables that. AJM”

“The Queen tells the Duchess of Cambridge to curtsy to the ‘blood princesses’”

The UK’s population is predominantly White British (around 89%).

But Sean just describes Britain under an American category: ‘exceptionalism’. That’s something post-revolutionary and consciously messianic. Whereas he things I described in the UK just happen to be the case: the British are scarcely aware of them. They are lingering archaisms that may still be of use. Other European countries have different kinds of archaism eg non-capitalist features of their market economies of which the same thing may be said. There are not so many British arabs; mostly our Muslims are from Pakistan. They don’t by and large complain of racism but of hostility to Islam. This though (from talking to imams etc) can often co-exist with an admitted view that Muslims need to show prime political loyalty to the country they live in and not to the Umma. Rowan Williams’ forthcoming book makes the same point. Loyalty first to the Church beyond the state does not have the same problem as the Church is para political in a way that the Umma is not. Though the evolution of Islam in Europe would seem to be towards this ‘Christian’ model. Nothing to do with race. Again it is specifically American to read race everywhere. Anything to do with ‘empire’ is seen as racist, forgetting that the British (and the French and to a degree the Portuguese empires) were the main vehicle for the abolition of the global slave-trade, including the intra-African one, considerably before the US abolition. This is not of course to deny all the evil aspects of empire. But racism often springs as in S.Africa from local colonists and not the local centre. Indeed the Virginian rebels against the Crown wanted to repress native and African Americans more than London would have allowed them to. I’m merely amused that my remarks on monarchy leave you so aghast. So why is Canada freer, less violent, more caring and democratic than the US? Why are similar things true of other existing constitutional monarchies? It’s important in politics to think paradox.”

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27 Responses to “Posted Without Comment *Updated*”

  1. Adam Kotsko Says:

    You have to admit, it’s robust.

  2. Ruth Marshall Says:

    Wow. Colonial racism wasn’t really a metropolitan thing, Africans had their own internal slave trade, Islam’s trajectory in Europe has nothing to do with racism… I thought the R was supposed to stand for Radical, not Revisionist.

  3. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I bet the many homeless of Britain will be relieved to learn that the U.K. is the closest actualization of a Christian polity.

  4. Eric Daryl Meyer Says:

    Pay no attention to anything “messianic” about JM’s view of British Empire.

  5. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    I think that Milbank’s thought may be decidedly this-world and anti-messianic. So his claims about England really aren’t messianic. While they are just wrong, the underlying notion seems to be that this is how it truly is in the here and now.

  6. Eric Daryl Meyer Says:

    I only meant to point to his version of British history in juxtaposition to his claim that American exceptionalism is caught up in some kind of messianic confusion. I don’t see the difference. He’s hedged against it with his abstract comment about the “evils of empire,” but he’s not far from claiming that British “style and value” has been a force for unmitigated good in the world, (which those racist bastards in the US and South Africa should have realized by now…).

    And Canada’s “freer, less violent, democratic” history has some pretty awful stuff in it too. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Indian_residential_school_system Sure smells like racism under monarchy.

  7. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    I hear you now. Monarchy and racism seem necessary to me. Both are obsessed with blood after all. Biopolitics isn’t new.

  8. biqbal Says:

    “This though (from talking to imams etc) can often co-exist with an admitted view that Muslims need to show prime political loyalty to the country they live in and not to the Umma. Rowan Williams’ forthcoming book makes the same point [sic]. Loyalty first to the Church beyond the state does not have the same problem as the Church is para political in a way that the Umma is not.”

    He repeats this over and over, including a number of times in that volume on Rowan Williams’ comments on shari’a. Any thoughts on why the compulsive repetition? Whether or not Schmitt says the UK is a state, Milbank says the polity still needs to be secured: the internal enemy may in fact be the external enemy, because Muslims misrecognize the properly political. Hence the virtue of Blond’s military academies, maybe? And as in his second chapter in that volume, when Muslims _are_ properly political, it is the result of Western-Christian influence.

    (Ignoring this.)

  9. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I’m really starting to wonder about Milbank’s political instincts!

  10. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Ruth’s comment is great.

  11. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    I think it’s just the only line he has. I’d love to see someone take that article down definitively. I’d post it.

  12. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I bet the American evangelicals who are so into Radox totally buy into monarchism and a state church.

  13. Brad Johnson Says:

    The people of Congo do not have quite so sanguine a view of the relative goodness of (Catholic) constitutional monarchy.

  14. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    The evangelicals always do. If you could read the thread you’d see them bending over backwards to try and make what Milbank is saying somehow really revealing of the differences between the US and the UK.

  15. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Another reason not to be on Facebook!

  16. biqbal Says:

    i’ve been meaning to comment on that chapter but haven’t been invested in it enough to sit down and spend the time. It’s neatly parallel to the old Weberian line of shariah as kadijustiz (Muslims misrecognize the law and its rule just as they do politics and its borders). He surprisingly quotes Hallaq in there at one point but doesn’t seem actually to have understood the article he quotes, and the rest of the references are to Lewis, Azmeh, Hodgson, Corbin, Ruthven – altogether a neat imperial apparatus.

  17. Ruth Marshall Says:

    Spend the time if you can spare it Basit – I’ll up Adam’s offer and try and help you get it into a good journal! I can’t believe he trots out Lewis et al – the mind strictly boggles. I just recalled Ayandele’s history of south-west Nigeria, when CMS Bishop Tugwell eggs the British in 1892 into crushing the Ijebu militarily, and how missionaries were wont to justify the massacre with ‘the sword of the flesh must sometimes come before the sword of the spirit’, so that the gospel might enter, as Tugwell put it, “where hitherto for ages the tom-tom has been beaten and the sacrificial wail of the heathen has ascended often in agony and despair to an unknown God”.

    Ontology of peace!!

  18. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Peace is so unconditionally valuable that sometimes one must engage in the worst possible violence to preserve it (or I suppose create it, in this case).

  19. RodTRDH Says:

    My use of Facebook decreased so much this year until I got an invite to Theology Studio. Milbank’s replies to me are so contradictory, and by contradictions, I mean by the irreconcilable ideas kind. How can he say that Fanon’s anti-racist, anti-colonial views were right and that his position, pro-imperial violence, pro-racially blind perspectives are correct too? I thought that the thread was over last week after Milbank told us that his ontology of peace excluded pacifists, but I guess I was wrong.

  20. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Remember yesterday, when it was generally agreed that we didn’t have much more to say about Radical Orthodoxy?

  21. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Duh. That’s why it’s posted without comment! Don’t have to say much. Just let the words speak for themselves.

  22. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Honestly, I think we could easily hash this out with Milbank over a couple pints.

  23. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Those who have Facebook really should head over there and read the latest. It’s completely rambling and unhinged.

  24. RodTRDH Says:

    After admitting that his reading of church history is wrong, Milbank’s arguments still remain untenable and indiscernible. I literally have no idea what he’s talking about at this point.

  25. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    It’s become very unhinged. Strange jumps, the sorts you’d expect on a graduate students theoblog.

  26. Dan Says:

    I’m gonna echo Eric’s remark and object to this nonsensical talk about Canada as thought it were some sort of peaceful utopia. The residential schools were just one example of the ongoing genocide settlers have been practicing against First Nations peoples. Today the foster care system has replaced residential schools — more First Nations kids are in foster care now (generally in white homes, away from their communities, not being taught their language, etc.) than were ever in the residential schools. If there is one thing Canada wants to do it’s to “kill the indian, save the man [sic]” (a saying that caught on amongst Canadian government officials back in the day and one that still reflects our current practices. Also, Todd Gordon has a great little book called “Imperialist Canada” and it shows how Canada’s colonial project is far from being limited to North America. (Oh, and the book “Seeing Red: A History of Natives in Canadian Newspapers” does a good job of showing how the “look how peaceful Canada is compared to the USofA” myth was developed and fostered over the last 100+ years.)

    And that’s just a bit related to the matter of violence… haven’t even touched the “democratic” side of things (well, except, of course, that First Nations people were never legally recognized as people til 1960 when some of them were finally permitted to vote). A whole different mess of things related to “democracy” are going on here but it is worth pointing out that a few years ago (end of 2009/start of 2010) the Harper government had the Governor General (i.e. the Queen’s representative in Canada) shut down (prorogue) parliament because the opposition parties had made a deal to unite with one another and thereby gain a majority vote over Harper’s minority government (i.e. this “democracy” began to function a wee bit more democratically for the first time in decades and so some old monarchical powers and laws that were still on the books were redeployed in order to prevent that sort of thing from happening).


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