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What we once were like
The British once prided themselves on and were famed abroad for virtues which, it was generally agreed, they manifested above all other peoples. These included a healthy disrespect for power and authority and sturdy independence, self-reliance and initiative. These attributes were the fruits of Anglo Saxon ancestral practices, the Christian religion and the results of a long history in islands which had not been subject to significant invasion for nigh on a millennium. Even the Normans were closely related racially culturally and religiously.
Customs and traditions were respected for their own sakes and because they were important in linking the British to their long past in their ancestral homeland, endowing them with a strong sense of belonging to the land and each other. They enriched their sense of who they were, and what they had come from. They were seen as going hand in hand with the treasured freedoms of the British. As a result of all this there was a sense of mutual social obligation which transcended class and informed local community feeling. There was an amused tolerance of eccentricity and difference.
The Uniqueness of the British Achievement
'In public life today, the English are certainly the most peaceful, gentle courageous and orderly populations that the civilised world has ever seen. .. You hardly ever see a fight in a bar (a not uncommon spectacle in most of the rest to of Europe or the rest of the USA), football crowds are as orderly as church meetings…..this orderliness and gentleness, this absence of overt aggression calls for an explanation'.
- Prof Geoffrey Gorer (Psychologist and Anthropologist) ’Exploring the English Character’ (1955)
'The gentleness of the English civilisation is perhaps its most marked characteristic. You notice it the moment you set foot on English soil. It is a land where conductors are good tempered and policemen carry no revolvers. In no country inhabited by white men is it easier to shove people off the pavement'.
- George Orwell ‘England Your England’ (1941)
'The Englishman …is disciplined, skilful and calm - in eating, in sport, in public gatherings, in hardship…He is the ideal comrade in a tight place; he knows how to be …well-dressed without show, and pleasure–seeking without loudness… what ferocious Anglophboe..is not immensely flattered if you pretend you have mistaken him for an Englishman?'
'Instinctively the Englishman.. is rather glad if only natives will remain natives and strangers, and at comfortable distance from himself. Yet outwardly he is most hospitable and accepts almost anybody for the time being….Never since the days of Greece has the world had such a sweet, just boyish master. It will be a black day for the human race when scientific blackguards, conspirators, churls and fanatics manage to supplant him.'
- George Santayana (American Philosopher) ‘The British Character’ (1922)
What we are like now
'Having been famous for their stoicism, their decorum, their honesty, their gentleness and their sexual puritanism, the English now subsist in a society in which those qualities are no longer honoured – a society of people who regard long-term loyalties with cynicism, and whose response to misfortune is to look around for someone to sue. English is no longer a gentle country and the old courtesies and decencies are disappearing…. Sex, freed from taboos, has become the ruling obsession; the English have the highest rate of divorce in Europe, regard marriage as a bore, are blatantly promiscuous and litter the country with their illegitimate, uncared for and state–subsided offspring'.
- Roger Scruton (British Philosopher) ‘The West and the Rest’ (2002)
Why the Character of the British has Declined
So what has happened to bring the British character down to what we can see around us? Many influences have been at work. These include:
Secularism and Individualism. There has been a long–term trend to increasing secularism and extreme individualism in the country. On their own, these trends would have loosened the grip of Christianity with all the shared morality associated with it. Individualism especially has helped to undermine the strong sense of community and national identity that used to prevail amongst the British. The minds of the people have more and more been focused on the self and living for today, which means for most what they can buy with money for themselves or their partner of the moment. Children of course, the future of the country, are like everything in a consumer society; an optional extra if they are not a source of income through the benefits system.
The Culture of Critique. Although secularism and individualism have played their part, the Frankfurt School agenda of equality of outcomes at any price has been far more important in bringing about the social revolution which has overturned and often reversed traditional morality and attitudes. Cultural and behavioural standards for the generality of the people are now set, not by what is Christian, aristocratic, cultured, refined and/or essentially British, but by the secularised, globalised tastes of the lowest classes infused with cultural marxism. For many now, amoral entertainers, low-grade celebrities, drug–soaked rappers and other exponents of the barbaric rhythms of the African savannahs are the role models.
Mass Immigration. Linked to these former causes has been mass immigration which has had a synergistic role in producing dreadfully deleterious effects. It has served to further undermine that sense of identity and the social trust without which no group of people, be it a village, town, city of nation can function as a real community.
It was almost amusing to see an article in the Daily Telegraph (3rd September) by one Kwasi Kwarteng MP, an individual of African origin on the subject of Britain’s decline. (‘Britain must stop the rot and go for gold’). Neither Kwarteng nor those who allowed this article seemed to be aware that he was part of the problem he purported to address.
The Welfare State.
But the most transformative influence on the British, the one which above all has destroyed its once-famed character has been the exponential growth of the now many-tentacled incubus called the Welfare State. In its present form, bloated through government attempts to bribe voters with benefits and the use of it for social manipulation (as in the Frankfurt–School Marxist attempts to destroy the Family by subsidising single parenthood and to destroy the nation through mass immigration), it has more than anything else rotted the character of the British and brought their country to social and financial ruin.
Von Hayek and the Road to Serfdom
In his The Road to Serfdom, Hayek argued that the shift to collectivist attitudes which came about as a result of the national effort of WW11 had relocated the focus of people’s moral concern. Increasingly it was the state of society or the World which engaged their moral passion, not their own conduct.
Hayek did not fully appreciate how collectivism could rot the national character. Hilaire Belloc did though. Belloc predicted how it would infantalise the British, taking the newly established compulsory unemployment insurance as an indicator (The Servile State, 1912). (This is the same argument as that over Obamacare in the USA):
The State as Master
'A man has been compelled by law to put aside sums from his wages as insurance against unemployment. But he is no longer the judge of how such sums shall be used. They are not in his possession; they are not even in the hands of some society which he can really control. They are in the hands of a government official'. It is the official, not the man, who judges when and where the man may have his money back.
What applies to unemployment insurance applies to every other sphere into which the government intrudes. And as we know, there are few spheres nowadays into which governments do not intrude.
Belloc wrote; 'The future of industrial society, and in particular of English society…is a future in which subsistence and security shall be guaranteed for the proletariat, but shall be guaranteed ..by the establishment of that proletariat in a status really, though not nominally, servile.'
‘Benefits wrecked British Work Ethic’.
Not only have the British surrendered their freedoms and independence in exchange for the hand-outs of officlals on behalf of the State, they have allowed their traditions of honesty and honour to be undermined by them.
'Over the past decades each generation has seen more and more people milking the benefits system which has sapped their will to work'. Further, since the Institution of the Welfare State there has been a progressively increasing willingness to cheat the system. – ‘Centrepiece’ Journal Report of Centre for Economic Performance (Daily Mail report 8th Oct 2009)
Destroying the Self-Respect of the White Working Class Male
This attitude to benefits has had a deadly effect, especially on the working class British and especially on the male. As Gertrude Himmelfarb remarks (The De-Moralisation of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values):-
'Part of the ethos of work (in the Victorian era) was the pride of growing up, assuming the mantle of adulthood, and with it work. But part of it was also a sense of responsibility to the family, and beyond this, a sense that work itself was something to be proud of, a source of self-respect and the respect of others.'
This is what an omnipresent, grossly over generous and easily manipulated Welfare State has helped to destroy.
The ‘Pocket Money’ Society
Theodore Dalrymple tells us ('Not with a Bang but a Whimper 2009) - (and who can seriously argue that he is wrong? - ‘The state action that was supposed to lead to the elimination for Beveridge’s five giants of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness has left many people in contemporary Britain with very little of importance to decide for themselves, even their own private spheres. They are educated by the State (at least nominally) as are their children in their turn; the state provides for them in old age and has made saving unnecessary or in some cases actually uneconomic; they are treated and cured by the state. If they are ill; they are housed by the state if they cannot otherwise afford decent housing. Their choices concern only sex and shopping.
The growth of the Welfare State has even has implications for the practice of religion. Rather than turning to the privately spiritual for strength to deal oneself with one's problems, there is a turning to the public provisions of the Benefits system which even provides 'counselling'. The Welfare State is now 'God' for many, to the great loss of personal and private enrichment and that of society.
The Net Result: the Infantilisation of the People
Given all the factors noted above, it is no wonder that the character of the British has changed and that they have allowed the character of their country to change with it. Where they once were sturdily independent and healthily sceptical of the powerful, the British are now passive, servile or merely complaining. Amongst those in the lower reaches of society, who get as it were pocket money from the authorities, one often finds a sullen resentment that not enough is being done for them. If they behave irresponsibly – by for example abandoning the duties of fatherhood – it is because the state has delberately made it possible and even profitable, financially.
The Way forward
The argument here is that a nationalist social policy should aim at attempting to restore, as far as possible, the character of the British which was outlined at the start of this article.
In order to achieve our goal, we must aim to reassert their independence and their freedoms. To do this we must minimise state control in every area of our lives as much as we can. The state must become mainly the holder of the ring in which the nation plays out its history and the guarantor of its continued existence - if that is what its people want.
Pitching our Message to be Acceptable to the Voting Public
If we are to be successful, we must pitch our message so that the public will find it acceptable. It is suggested here that this can be achieved by an approach which fuses elements of classical liberalism with nationalist aspirations for Britain to remain the national home of the British people - by which is meant the native British people. Liberalism –up to a point- is necessary in social policy because the public, long stewed in it will not now accept anything less. In any case it is in many respects desirable in itself.
The Case for Nationalist Liberalism
Left-liberalism is much more left than liberal. Where the need for personal freedom conflicts with the drive for - not just equality but equality of outcome - it is equality that takes precedence. The result is that the areas of life in which personal freedom is allowed to flourish are relegated to increasingly narrow spheres such as sex and shopping. The state intrudes into just about every other aspect of life (and even into sex) in order to enforce ‘equality’. That is one aspect of our current serfdom.
With Nationalist Liberalism, where they conflict, freedom would trump equality rather than the other way around. This would mean the end of cultural Marxism and the cult of equality. Socially it It would allow the full range of personal freedoms in the context of the framework provided by the nation. For example, parents would be given vouchers which would help them to buy what educaton they wanted for their children wherever they wanted it. It would mean complete freedom of speech as envisaged by John Stuart Mill, within the limits only of the ordinary Law. (Hate Speech, so-called, must then of course disappear). It means complete freedom of association. One would be free to associate or not to associate with anyone on whatever grounds one prefers. If one isn’t free to do this one isn’t in a free society. There is only one place where this happens to adults: prison.
Minorities, of race, creed, ‘sexual orientation’ etc. would be free to carry on as they wish but would be subject to the freedom of speech and freedom of association of others as well as themselves. And so on.
The guiding principles would always be that one can do what one wishes provided one hurts no one else, hand in hand with the overriding imperative that what should be aimed at is the greatest happiness of the greatest number as determined by a system of Swiss-style binding referenda.
Human Rights, so–called, would disappear as such. This would mean the ‘Tyranny of majorities’ as Mill put it. But it is foolish to deny the rights of majorities. Democracy exists to prevent violence. Without majorities having their way, violence will ultimately return. And what we have now is the tyranny of minorities, and that is true tyranny. Thus if the majority wants a policy of repatriation of the immigrant-descended, then so be it.
Where personal freedom conflicts with the interests of the British people, the national interest would take precedence. In the context of an essentially liberal society, this arrangement would in practice be far less intrusive, far less oppressive, far less totalitarian than the present Cultural Marxist intrusions in the pursuit of equality.
Throwing off the Incubus of the Welfare State
Nationalist Liberalism, in championing the cause of the free, self-reliant Briton, would entail the winding down of the rule that benefits should be doled out on the basis of ‘need’ which merely serves to encourage those inclined to fecklessness because they know that whatever their ‘need’, whether self-inflicted or not, the State will always pick up the bill. Instead, there should be a reversion to the Victorian rule that only the ’deserving’ should get benefits and that these should not be such as to give the recipients the same standard of living as those in work. Thus immigrants (if any) would cease to qualify. People will be encouraged to make provision for themselves. This method implies a generally accepted morality which should be Christian; the traditional morality of the country.
The Single Parenthood Racket
Especially, no women should be granted a living at taxpayers’ expense purely by means of getting themselves pregnant or getting rid of their ‘partners’. Single parenthood (in practice single motherhood) has been conclusively shown to be the source of endless social ills.
Getting rid of the current arrangements will have several beneficial effects at a stroke
It will put a halt to the practice of using single motherhood as a lifestyle choice amongst the less intelligent females in the lower classes who in dysgenic fashion are at present encouraged to produce numerous low-IQ, tax-sucking progeny.
If women want to be single parents, well and good. But they shouldn’t expect other people to pay for it. That’s the job of the fathers of their children. Those women who still require support because of the choices they make should rely on charities. They will then get the support the public thinks they deserve.
This measure will strengthen the traditional family, the building block of society and the primary bulwark against the state (which is why it is so hated by the left), thus providing the best arena for the raising of children. It will help to restore the need for marriage, commitment and legitimacy, increase the importance of fidelity and honour in relationships; encourage a decline in demeaning sexual promiscuity and bolster the role and self-respect of males as fathers and (rather than the state) as providers.
This article has made no attempt to put forward a nationalist economic policy. That is left to others. It is merely a discussion document for social policy which might though have implications for economic policy.