May 29, 2019

THE REVOLUTION DEVOURS ITS OWN: John Cleese faces online backlash after claiming London isn’t ‘an English city any more.’ Cleese tweeted:

In 2017, Cleese admitted to being pro-Brexit: “I don’t want to be run by a bunch of European bureaucrats.”

Monty Python was the culmination of the British left’s satire revolution of the 1960s. As Peter Hitchens wrote in his brilliant 1998 book, The Abolition of Britain, combined, these works were a cultural sea change in England:

Beyond the Fringe, Forty Years On and TW3 created a tradition of ‘anti-establishment’ comedy which continued long after its roots were forgotten. There may still have been an ‘establishment ‘of snobbery, church, monarchy, clubland and old-school-tie links in 1961.There was no such thing ten years later, but it suited the comics and all reformers to pretend that there was and to continue to attack this mythical thing. After all, if there were no snobbery, no crusty old aristocrats and cobwebbed judges, what was the moral justification for all this change, change which benefited the reformers personally by making them rich, famous and influential?

* * * * * * *

It also made the middle class, especially the educated and well-off middle class, despise themselves and feel a sort of shame for their supposedly elitist prejudices, based upon injustice and undermined by their failure to defend the nation from its enemies in the era of appeasement. Thanks to this, in another paradox, they have often felt unable to defend things within Britain which they value and which help to keep them in existence, from the grammar schools to good manners. They are ashamed of being higher up the scale, though for most middle-class people this is more a matter of merit than birth, and nothing to be ashamed of at all.

Cleese’s reference today that “Some years ago I opined that London was not really an English city any more,” is a callback to an interview he gave in 2011:

Cleese also spoke about the shift in British attitudes away from a “middle-class culture” and the emergence of a “yob culture”.

He said: “There were disadvantages to the old culture, it was a bit stuffy and it was more sexist and more racist. But it was an educated and middle-class culture. Now it’s a yob culture. The values are so strange.”

He added that he preferred living in Bath to London because the capital no longer felt “English”.

“London is no longer an English city which is why I love Bath,” he said. “That’s how they sold it for the Olympics, not as the capital of England but as the cosmopolitan city. I love being down in Bath because it feels like the England that I grew up in.”

More recently, Cleese has said he’s relocating the Caribbean island of Nevis. It’s interesting that Cleese fled first London, and then England itself. After WWII, the British left worked very hard to transform the people of England, taking Bertold Brecht’s famous line, “Would it not be easier…for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?” to heart. As with other members of Python, Cleese is discovering the hard way that the revolution, for which they were arguably the most visible part of the spearhead, eventually devours its own.

(Hat tip, Kathy Shaidle.)

UPDATE: Monty Python Star John Cleese Hits Back Against Backlash Over His Claims London Is ‘No Longer An English City’ Because Of Migrants:

Watching a group of lefties calling someone they once worshipped as a comedy god a “racist” is painful to watch, and is a reminder of the corrosive nature of social media. If only somebody had a new book out, devoted to that very topic…

(Updated and bumped.)

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