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Stealing Back and Forth of Symbols

The divine right of kings was first invoked by secular interests combatting the authority of the theocrats. It held that God appointed the king, rather than the church authorities, to represent the secular interests of "the people." Later, when the church made peace with established monarchs, identifying its interests with the interests of the secular authorities, the church adopted the doctrine as its own. And subsequently the bourgeoisie repudiated the doctrine, in repudiating both monarch and state. It did so in the name of "rights." Among these "rights" was "freedom." And Marx in turn stole this bourgeois symbol for the proletariat. The stealing back and forth of symbols is the approved method whereby the Outs avoid being "driven into a corner."

Kenneth Burke, Attitudes Toward History (1937)