Britain. Home of English Common Law. Home of parliamentary democracy. Home of Western liberty, of property rights, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, of religion, of association. Home of that most noble and rooted idea: the nation state, a nation state of people bound together by a common language, common beliefs, commonality of culture, religion and purpose. All bought through the great and noble sacrifice of those that have gone before.
Britain today is a shadow of its former self. The ideas, beliefs and old certainties about who we were and what we were here for are gone. No longer do we have the ties that bind us together. This disintegration of the community of our island nation has been disastrous. People now not only live in cultural enclaves but in personal enclaves, enclaves of the soul, souls which still cry out for connection with our fellow man, and instead seek solace in the synthetic communities of the cold dead, world of cyberspace.
Mass immigration alone did not cause this rupture of that which bound us together as a society. Indeed, it would behove us to recognise the salient fact that many immigrants coming to these shores would assimilate with greater success if there was something to assimilate to. Instead, there is only feeble talk of ‘our values’, followed by mention of shallow nothings, whispered sentiments that just as quickly vanish in the wind of reality.
The hollowing out of our culture has been ongoing for a century. The First World War crushed the soul of Europe, and Britain was not immune from the tragedy. Nearly a million dead, the uncounted wounded, in mind and in body. The families rent by the loss of their sons, brothers, fathers and husbands, through death or the immolation of their spirit in the fires of Flanders. The toll on all levels of society was immense. Those in the ruling and gentry classes arguably felt the effects, the loss, the continuing, aching absence of those gone from this world in a different fashion, more keenly than others. An entire class, an entire social structure that presumed to rule had the heart torn out of it in bloody Flanders fields. It never recovered, neither its moral or civil authority.
Then came the second calamity. The Second World War, despite the attempts to stave off the coming storm, the attempts to shelter behind the watery frontier of the English Channel, called Britain back to the field of battle, to answer the tramp of boots and the occult chants of a regime that appeared born of an earlier and more savage age, to resist those who would drag us back to a time from the darkness of history, those who believed in a desecration of the soul that had no compunction in swallowing up sovereign nations to drape its darkness of the soul over the continent like a shroud.
In response, Britain stood fast, through the travails of varying fortune. Britain bore the sacrifices, the necessity to bear the suffering to ensure that our home remained free, the acts that required the incorporation of out national shadow to secure that freedom, despite the cost to us and the enemy.
These two catastrophes destroyed Europe’s sense of itself. Europe had its metaphysical foundations torn away in the heat of the industrial and scientific revolutions. It attempted to replace the destroyed moral structure that Christianity provided with art, music, philosophy, all of which ultimately led down and down to the evils of Fascism, Nazism and Communism.
Britain escaped this fate. But only just. No-one should delude themselves that if circumstances had conspired to leave Britain facing the darkness alone, that our freedoms would have remained intact and our consciences clear. In order to destroy evil, Britain itself had to commit acts that would at any other time be designated less than righteous. Our national incorporation of Jung’s shadow was necessary to win. Our freedoms were not left untouched, however, and it would have taken little for them to be subsumed even further should events have necessitated it.
Following the end of Europe’s second Thirty Years War, the dissolution of our societal bonds continued through the 20th century, through the upheavals of the cultural revolutionary 60’s, through the stagnant and decaying 70’s, into the decadence of the 80’s. Margaret Thatcher may have saved Britain from national oblivion, but she, like Ronald Reagan, displayed too great a reverence for the power of the economy, worshipped too readily at the altar of the mighty dollar. Having seen the collectivist horrors of Communism, our leaders swung far the other way.
The preservation of culture, outside the economic sphere, became something in which the government had no role to play. We became human oeconomicus, as Roger Scruton elegantly describes, economic widgets to be moved around by the forces of the untrammelled free markets and individualism, with no thought for the consequences on what binds us together as a community, as a country. Margaret Thatcher’s legacy occupies two sides of the same coin; she rescued our economy, securing our place in the world. However, she also destroyed what little cohesion we had left as a nation with a distinct shared culture. The mass immigration under Tony Blair and successive governments, along with the concomitant investment in divisive policies of multiculturalism, simply widened these cracks further.
Our society is coming apart. We are now divided between Somewheres, Anywheres and Global Villagers, to use David Goodheart’s terminology. Somewheres are more rooted in their local community, and still feel a strong connection to the land they call home, often occupying the lower rungs of the economic and social ladder, but also occupying space further up. Anywheres are more cosmopolitan, occupy the higher echelons of society and the economy. They feel no deep connection to the land they live in, and often disdain those who do as backward, nativist, narrow-minded, somehow morally deficient.
Global Villagers are members of the international elite, those who proclaim from on high what is right and good for we mere mortals, in all spheres of life, while displaying an attitude that signals the rest of us should be grateful for their deigning to address us with their presence at all. They have little connection to any single place and take full advantage of the increasingly borderless world that they helped create, never mind the cost to their home societies or the rest of the world. Their relationship to our nation is purely instrumental, a matter of convenience.
The Brexit vote and the turmoil of the recent general election is a result of all this and shows the deep divisions that have opened up in our society. All are searching for an answer, and none are yet close to finding it.
Instead, we no longer remember who we are, or if we do, we feel so racked by masochistic, existential guilt that the repudiation of our shared past seems the only moral option.
We are stumbling around in the dark, searching for the light of understanding, searching for who we are, for a reason to exist.
If we do not find it, history tells us that a flood of chaos follows to wash away all before it.
We cannot allow that to happen. We must re-engage in logos, to renew ourselves and by extension our culture and country through dialogue. We have a hope, maybe a fool’s hope, but a hope nonetheless to discover what our highest ideal is, both personally and as a national community, and thus aim for the highest possible good that comes out of the spoken truth of logos. Only through this can we revivify the dead structure of our society, only through the spoken truth can we regain some order out of the chaos of our lives.
The time to start is now.
If we do not, then we, immigrant and non-immigrant alike, risk losing that most precious of things: our home.