Watching the various factions of the British right (such as they are) at each others’ throats, the American Spectator ponders “What Will Britain Turn Into?” As Hal G.P. Colebatch writes there, “British Tory grandee and Europhile Ken Clarke has joined his leader David Cameron to stigmatize the UK Independence Party as clowns and racists, making this now Tory policy:”
UKIP is being driven by the obvious erosion of sovereignty on a myriad of fronts: British courts, in obedience to the European Court of human rights, can no longer deport Muslim hate-preachers, British boats cannot fish in waters that have been British for centuries, and the country is groaning under a myriad of Europe-derived health and safety regulations, from food marketing to the design of flush toilets. Unrestricted immigration from European Union countries means 80,000 new houses will have to be built on Britain’s limited countryside, to say nothing of the increase this implies for an already crushing burden of social services.
Goodbye, Wind in the Willows, goodbye, Tolkien’s Shire. Goodbye, bird-haunted meres and misty moorland. No more:
See you the ferny ride that steals
Into the oak-woods far?
Of that is where they hauled the keels
That rolled to Trafalgar.
Mass Muslim immigration from European Union countries such as France has already meant areas in big cities, such as parts of London’s Finsbury Park, have become virtual no-go zones for native Britons.
To ridicule the UK Independence Party in this utterly contemptuous manner involves more than a matter of party discipline or even of democracy itself (most Tories probably agree with UKIP on the need for a referendum).
Things have reached such a pass that they are coming to involve the whole question of British national identity and history. The seldom-spoken things, which countless writers have tried to define, are suddenly there and important again: St. George, Magna Charta, Shakespeare, Westminster Abbey, the little boats entitled to fly the Dunkirk Jack… but what matters most is that word “independence.”
UKIP does, in fact, take its watchword from Margaret Thatcher’s address in Bruges in 1988: “We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the State in Britain, only to see them re-imposed at a European level with a European super-state exercising a new domination from Brussels.” Cameron and Clarke are playing with fire – a fire that could consume their own party – in writing off these sentiments by the most successful of Tory leaders as the frothing of clowns and racists.
Further, the last two years have demonstrated dramatically the wisdom of Mrs. Thatcher in refusing to join Britain to the Euro.
The disappearance of national sovereignty and the reduction of nation-states to, at best, administrative units, seems a given among much of the political class.
Fortunately, it can’t happen here, right? It already has writes National Review’s John O’Sullivan (himself a man at home on both sides of the Atlantic), as he reviews Tom Wolfe’s Back to Blood and describes it as a battlefront report on the warring “Tribes of Post-America:”
Wolfe’s vision of the America emerging from the chaos of modernity is eerily similar to the Rome of Antiquity before Constantine. Where that antiquity was pre-Christian, this New Antiquity is post-Christian. Its original brand of Protestant Christianity no longer influences the politics, institutions, and laws of the nation it once shaped. The WASP elites, for whom Protestantism was long a mark of respectability and soundness, no longer even pretend to believe. It is a genuine religious faith for only a tiny number of people. Its secular expressions, “American exceptionalism” and “the American Creed,” are in only slightly better shape. The former provoked President Obama into an embarrassed meandering as he sought to reconcile his cosmopolitan disdain for it with its popularity among the rubes; the latter has been redefined into its opposite, an umbrella term covering a multitude of tribes and their different customs, namely multiculturalism.
This transformation from the Great Republic to the New Antiquity has happened in large measure in order to accommodate the growing number of immigrant groups forcing their way into the metropolis. It is a colder and crueler world: Inside the cultural ghettos, the new tribes of post-America retain much of their old affections and loyalties; outside them, they treat others with wariness and distrust. And they are slow to develop a common attachment to their new “home.”
“As mainline WASP Christianity shrivels,”O’Sullivan writes, “other cults flourish in its place: the ethnicity cult, of course; the arts cult for the very rich; the sex cult for the young; the celebrity cult for professionals; the psychology cult for billionaire clients; a religion cult (non-traditional religion, of course) for the perplexed; and the cult of wealth for everyone. Only the Gods of the Copybook Headings are missing from this teeming agora through which Wolfe’s characters pursue their fantasies and flee from their anxieties.”
The Gods of the Copybook Headings are certainly having their way with the EU, in addition to the UK and US. “While the US is focused on its own domestic dramas, Europe as the Economist puts it, ‘is bleeding out,’” Richard Fernandez writes at the Belmont Club. “Silently, exsanguinating below the fold, but bleeding all the same:”
The entrepreneur has now inherited the mantle of the European Jew. He has become the designated scapegoat of the cabal in power. Heads socialism wins. Tails the entrepreneur loses. There doesn’t have to be a reason why. Society doesn’t do reasons any more. Donald Kagan who has just retired from Yale ruefully contemplated the possibility that “democracy has had its day” because the academy is now churning out low-information graduates. It teaches “cool” because its too dangerous to teach anything else.
“The tendency in this century and in the previous century at least has been toward equality of result and every other kind of equality that could be claimed without much regard for liberty. Right now the menace is certainly to liberty. … Democracy may have had its day. Concerns about the decline of liberty in our whole polity is what threatens all of the aspects of it, including democracy.”
But I think Kagan is wrong. The impulse for freedom never dies simply because, as I pointed out in the post Freedom, free societies are more information rich than collectivist, statist hives. There is no escape from poverty, stagnation and tyranny except through the information, technology and innovation that liberty brings. So however much they march, however many Penny Pritzkers they nominate the only way the Lost Generation will ever see a job again in their lifetimes is to repudiate the Mayday nonsense.
Freedom is the only way out. The last exit.
If only we had a president espousing such values. On today’s show, Rush had lots of fun with the latest Democrat mantra that Obama is no LBJ. But on this one they’re right, though not for the reasons they think. It’s not just because Obama can’t marshal Congress. (To a man, they know he despises them.) It’s also that the “New Left” of the 1960s (read: the current incarnation of the Democrat Party) killed the worldview of LBJ in 1968. And LBJ was the last president from the left-hand side of the aisle to truly believe in American exceptionalism.