Landscape organizes everything within sight.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

More about the Atlantic World

More about Boston's resistance to British taxation: this is hypothetically where a libertarian regime would take us: the realm of early modern city states, where security is guaranteed not by permanent agreement but by a loose and shifting network of paying off the stronger regime.

Tribute allows much more autonomy in responding or not responding to demands from a larger capital. Peterson draws attention to the early phase of the Seven Years War, where Boston refuses to support troops until they’re allowed to raise and send their own troops.

Something changes in Whitehall at the time. London is increasingly interested in formalizing the ties between the periphery and the metropolis, insuring a reliable stream of income for its future wars. This tendency has, since 1690, insured the restructuring of Whitehall’s relationship with the English provinces especially with Scotland and Ireland.

The experience of securing Scotland against rebels convinced the British military of the necessity of being able to forecast the future. They collect maps and plan roads in great numbers: moving away from the awkward balances of power and constant standing militias of renaissance Europe. England’s constitution won’t allow it to maintain a standing army, so maintaining the peace in Scotland after the Civil War requires violence by other means: by a policing of roads and towns, an infinite knowledge of terrain and transport, capable of maintaining an English privilege over Scotland at any moment in the future.

This urge to control the future is at the root of a shift in polity that expands Whitehall’s desire for control, both at home and around the Atlantic world.

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