Nobody brought up in post-war England can fail to be aware of the educated derision that has been directed at our national loyalty by those whose freedom to criticize would have been extinguished years ago, had the English not been prepared to die for their country. The loyalty that people need in their daily lives, and which they affirm in their unconsidered and spontaneous social actions, is now habitually ridiculed or even demonized by the dominant media and the education system. National history is taught as a tale of shame and degradation. The art, literature and religion of our nation have been more or less excised from the curriculum, and folkways, local traditions and national ceremonies are routinely rubbished.
Roger Scruton, speech to the Vlaams Belang party of Belgium. (Note Scruton’s discussion of “oikophobia” is very similar to John Fonte’s discussion of “tranzis”.)
UPDATE: Helen Szamuely sends along this paper by Kenneth Minogue entitled The Fate of Britain’s National Interest, which she likes better than the Scruton piece.
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I’m not sure I really agree with this.
In the European context, patriotism i.e. identification with a state, is functionally identification with an ethic group. The word “patriotism” itself derives from the greek ‘patrios’ meaning ‘of one’s fathers’. In its original sense it meant loyalty to the political to the political entity where ones family was based. Patriotism rapidly became a matter of ethnic identity before all other factors. Different ethnic groups fought determinedly to link up with others of their culture into “nation” (ethnic) states.
Up until the end of WWII, the past 150 years or so had seen wars that were essentially conflicts between competing ethnic groups. WWII occurred in part because of a widespread desire among cultural Germans to live within a single political entity. In reaction to a long serious of ethic wars, I think European intellectuals have been on a century long jag of trying to severe European’s political identification with the ethic-state and to instead replace it with loyalty to some trans-national political entity like Socialism or the E.U.
In other words, they are trying to become something like America.
I think the problem with American Leftist is that they ape Europeans without realizing that even though Americans use the same words like “country” or “patriotism” as Europeans do, we mean radically different things by them. Americans have not collective ethnic identity and as a nation of immigrants we have no “fatherland”. Americas collective identity is purely ideological.
I don’t think that European’s attempt at a multicultural society will succeed until they have some kind of collective identity that is not based on ethnicity.
Shannon, you should read Adam Zamoyski’s “Holy Madness: Romantics, Patriots, and Revolutionaries, 1776-1871”. It is a very good history of the Continental European idea of organic nationalism and the quasi-religious idea of the national state as the arbiter of moral goodness. It’s pretty clear that the Anglosphere idea of patriotism — the natural love of people for their community and land, which is found all around the world in many types of cultures — is quite distinct from the Continental idea of nationalism, which is a very specific ideology that originated with a very precific set of ideologues and theorists, of which the Nazis were only the last and most desparate version (after watching the ideals fail repreatedly for the previous 150 years, they tried to take the ideology’s implications to the ultimate implementation). Britain has also been remarkably free of this ideology (Brits would argue even more so than America) but at any rate this Anglosphere immunity to the nationalist religion has much to do with the remarkable failure of any of the English-speaking nations to sustain more than the most miniscule fascist movement, unlike every other industrial nation, despite sharing all the same supposed precursor conditions.
This is also why the Europeanists despair of both the American and British mass populations, who despite the best efforts of their educational establishments, retains an unashamed love of country combined with a distrust of the state. (In Britain this is reduced to a strong attachment to British accomplishments in WWII, being one of the few forms that the goverment can’t actively discourage.)
Scruton doesn’t have it exactly right, but he is more so than the European anti-nationalists, at least in regard to the Anglosphere nations.
Thanks for the book recommendation.
I think that Britain has always had an identity based more on ideology than does any country of continental Europe. Great Britain was more ethnically diverse being comprised of Anglo-Saxons, Normans, Welsh, Scottish and Irish. Also, the idea of common law, a body of law that was greater and more permanent than any group of leaders or even of entire generations, created an abstraction with which people could safely identify. Americans inherited this identification with abstract law and our great ethnic diversity enhanced it.
That was an excellent and thought provoking article, as others in the Brussel’s Journal that I have read have been, and thank you for directing me to read it.
I find myself with mixed feelings about the general thesis of the speech, however, both as it addresses the immigration issue, which is certainly hot here in the US at the current time, and as the author treats the antipathy felt by so many of the cultural elite toward the cultural characteristics of their own societies.
As it is well known I can consume bandwidth like a hungry locust in the wheat field, I will try to be as brief as I can. I hope the gist of a very complex argument comes through.
Let me start with the second part I mentioned above, the disdain, even contempt, routinely expressed by the cultural elites for the very culture and society which sustains them, and provides them with their position and influence.
It seems to be a staple in many societies, often derived from their militaristic past, that the aristocracy, the ruling oligarchy, look down on the “merchant class” as a less than legitimate group. I think this is a combination of true contempt by the warrior for the non-warrior, as well as a certain amount of fear and envy on the part of the blue bloods when they are forced to turn to the wealthy merchants for financial help and advice.
The British often speak of the Magna Carta as the foundation of their liberty, but it is also very indicative of one of the recurring themes in the histories of many cultures—the financial ineptness of the ruling class which regularly results in crises as massive expenditures bring the aristocracy to the brink of bankruptcy, and they turn to the merchant class for funding, either by looting it or trading political favors for money.
This pattern is repeated over and over in the history of Europe, Asia, Japan, and the Mediterranean. It is most elegantly summed up in the horror expressed by a British member of the nobility at the thought of “engaging in trade”.
From the other end of the spectrum, the recurring peasant uprisings which punctuate the history of many societies often focus on the land owners, merchants, and money lenders who are seen to be parasites on the honest farmer and laborer. If it so happens, as in Western demonology, that these evil types are Jews, or in Asia, overseas Chinese, then they are instantly placed in a special category, and everything they touch is tainted.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, these two threads merged as collectivist ideology and autocratic disdain became the accepted cultural values of the upper class, educated elites. Anyone who wished to join this subculture had to adopt the required contemptuous attitudes for those engaged in “commerce”.
We are now at the culminating phase of this centuries long trend. The Vatican-like centers for all things collectivist have imploded, the Kremlin in Moscow, and the subsidiary Forbidden City of Mao in Beijing, but the epithets and tenets they promulgated for many decades are still common currency in many cultural circles.
As the old left dies off, and the New left of the ’60’s generation ages into senility, the grip of this ideology on the academic and cultural “chattering classes” will weaken, and can finally be challenged by a new generation whose focus of rebellion is the current orthodoxy under which they have been raised.
This is already too long, so I must cut short the response to the first point. Suffice it to say that the disastrous effects of political correctness and multicultural ideology are playing themselves out at this very moment, both in academia and in the general culture.
It is my opinion, and my hope, that the students being stifled and bored to tears by the crap ladled at them in the race/gender/class based educational system, as well as their parents who are being stigmatized as racist and xenophobic every time they question the deterrioration of their neighborhoods and schools, will finally overturn the political and social agendas of the purveyers of this nonsense, and demand a return to rigorous educational standards.
The bankruptcy of these elites is obvious and their IOU’s are long overdue. Like the Okies of the Dust Bowl, it is time for them to hit the road.
I think the “educated derision” to which Scruton refers is largely a matter of personality structure, rather than having to do with forms of government. I’m not sure I’m up to really explaining what I mean in any depth right now, but see my post An Incident at the Movies and also Lord Wavell on the destructiveness of sarcasm.
A much better discussion of the subject in my opinion:
“The Fate of Britain’s National Interest”
OK. Try again. Ken Minogue’s paper is “The Fate of Britain’s National Interest”. I think I have finally cracked how to post links.
Kenneth Minogue’s paper
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