Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Fighting the Fantasists

Lord Tebbit was right about Tony Blair: "I don't think he's a liar, just a fantasist. He says whatever he likes, and then he believes it." I think that captures it alright; not so much a fraud, someone who deliberately wants to sell you a fraudulent bill of goods, as a fantasist, someone who has tricked himself into believing it will be good for us. And the ones who trick themselves, the ones who are fooled by their own sheer eagerness and ambition, are the ones who so effortlessly end up fooling us. It would be tempting to dismiss the telegenic ease with which David Cameron goes about pitching his lines as nothing more than the experienced fakery of a professional adsman, were it not for the fact that he so clearly believes in what he's saying. How can we accuse him of inauthenticity, when he says it so convincingly? It might all be a total political con job to the clear eyed straight guy, but it's a con job in which the con man himself has been conned.

My fear is that Blair and Cameron are not atypical here, but are becoming increasingly the norm as a democratic response to the growing rootlessness of society. The consequence of progressive urbanisation is that more and more people are becoming disconnected from their cultural identity. The multicultural cosmopolitans see themselves not as a people with a tradition, but as postmodern Europeans or world citizens. They have cast their loyalties so far and wide, they have no loyalties at all. They have become utterly disconnected.

Take the young Johann Hari, for example, columnist for The Independent, who has described the British Empire as a "psychopathic and murderous form of totalitarianism", and anyone who supports it as "an apologist for mass death". In light of this scholarly assertion and remarkable piece of manly restraint, we can see why the writer primarily identifies himself as an "European social democrat", and not British (his citizenship) or Scot (his place of birth) or Anglo (his English-speaking culture). Better to express yourself geographically and ideologically, than have to associate yourself with your genocidal past. But the point here is that it is not natural to suppress the cultural instincts of the community you were born into, the history and habits of your own country.

The writer is free to rail against God and the monarchy and other British institutions, against the Lords and against snobbery, but what does it say about your own snobbery when you don't have the time of day to identify with your own English-speaking readers. You can call the Empire evil, mock the good works of the Commonwealth, embrace your fetish for big continental government, but it may not be a professionally wise move to ignore the reality of the Anglosphere. There is a social revolution going on that is rapidly turning the Internet into a single online community of English-speaking peoples. The folks reading your columns are in London, New York, Toronto and Sydney, not the Parisians, Berliners and Milanos, who don't pay your salary and are not interested in what you have to say. Johann Hari is no more a European social democrat as I am a Chinese Communist. It is the stuff of pure fantasy.

"European solidarity", "World citizen" and other vapidly transnational utopian schemes are not natural. What any "citizen" should instinctively want is the survival and enhancement of the particular institutionalized cultural expressions (Samuel Francis) he was born into, also summarised as the maintenance of the nation's social ecology (Roger Scruton), which requires a little manly loyalty and dedication to carry it through - what the fantasists, regardless of where they are on the political spectrum, are foolishly trying to tear down. We may be trained to think in terms of the political Left and Right, of grouping ourselves into opposing gangs and dividing criticism along an ideological spectrum; while this may still have its uses, it may be more important these days to root out the fantasists, wherever they politically reside, and cast them aside with all the prejudice and conviction we can muster.


PGP said...

"My fear is that Blair and Cameron are not atypical here, but are becoming increasingly the norm...."

You could file that under "No Shit Sherlock!"

Beaverbrook said...

Still, there are enough examples that bely the fact. Look at Harper and Howard.

Scott said...

It isn't that obvious: the Blair years could be broken with by both parties, should they want to. That they seek to continue their style for their own ends represents the embodiment of Blair's style into an official political trend, not merely the isolated workings of a corrupted, useless individual and his associates. It really is significant, and tells us all we need to know both about the state of the British electorate, and the kind of regard our politicians hold us in.