Monday, March 18, 2019

Liberty first, loyalty second

This is the natural order. Liberty is the essential and, if liberty is provided, then loyalty is warranted. John Brekell (1697-1769) was an English Presbyterian and an inheritor of that tradition which demanded liberty first, and from that, loyalty second.

It makes no sense to be loyal to a state - whether monarch or government - which is restricting individual or community liberty. This is I think the consistent instinctive position of the Ulster-Scots community, even though they/we might not understand that or articulate that. There are numerous examples of this. So it makes no sense to be a 'loyalist', without a commitment from the state - no matter what part of the world you live in, no matter what historical era - that your liberty is secure. Liberty at risk has often galvanised Ulster-Scots to resistance and revolution.

As the 'Father of Black History', and son of freed slaves Carter G Woodson famously wrote in 1916 –

'… the strongest stock among these immigrants, however, were the Scotch-Irish, "a God-fearing, Sabbath-keeping, covenant-adhering, liberty-loving and tyrant-hating race" which had formed its ideals under the influence of philosophy of John Calvin, John Knox, Andrew Melville, and George Buchanan. By these thinkers they had been taught to emphasise equality, freedom of conscience, and political liberty ... when they demanded liberty for the colonists they spoke also for the slaves ... the ideals of the westerners were principally those of the Scotch-Irish, working for "civil liberty in fee simple, and an open road to civil honors, secured to the poorest and feeblest members of society" ... they therefore hated the institution [of slavery] ... on the early southern frontier there was more prejudice against the slave holder than against the Negro ...'

Liberty first, loyalty second.