One of the historical periods people often say they would have liked to live in is Tudor/Elizabethan England. Indeed I might have said it myself once – drama, adventure, new parts of world being discovered, religion changing, noble wars, science beginning – but not any more. The major feature of the period was the random nature of life – with an all-powerful monarch you had absolutely no security or certainty. At any moment, at the whim of the ruler, you could be thrown in prison and left to rot, beheaded, hung, drawn and quartered, banished, lose all your possessions. There was no rationale to it, merely the whims of an absolute monarch.

Thankfully we have generally, in the west at least, evolved towards the rule of law. A biased law perhaps, with elements of chance present, but nevertheless some structure which gave you a fighting chance if innocent (or even if guilty), and with punishments to fit the crime.

But in recent times theocracies like Saudi Arabia, Iran and USA, and oligarchies like the Soviet Union, and dictatorships like China and Nazi Germany, have all had a return to the random nastiness of Henry 8 and Elizabeth 1. And I wouldn’t have wanted, wouldn’t want, to live in any of them either.

4 thoughts on “Progress

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