Sunday, March 02, 2008

The English Women

“Women may fall, when there’s no strength in men.” – Shakespeare
A friend recently sent me an interesting newsletter, published in the 1980’s by a group of Englishwomen. It is called, appropriately, The English Magazine. The women’s contention, which I completely agree with, is that there is nothing after the early 1960’s that is redeemable in movies, literature, etc.

Some people say that one has only to see a few seconds of a film made in the 1930s to get from it a strong impression of ‘period’—of a world that is, in its style and mannerisms, very different from one’s own. I have the opposite experience. Some time ago, I visited the house of a friend who uses a television machine for watching old films. While watching the film, I was unconscious of any sense of ‘period’, but when the film ended (we watched the credits because the music was so delightful), for a few seconds while my friend fumbled with the ‘off’ switch, I saw a modern young announceress and was at once infused by a powerful sense of period. Here was someone from a world quite other than my own, with a manner and style which, while not entirely unfamiliar, marked her out as belonging to a particular age—the 1980s…

I mention these things to illustrate something of which I imagine most of you are already aware: the fact that people have changed very considerably over the past few decades—that there is such a thing as ‘the modern person’, and that he speaks, thinks, moves, stands and acts differently from his counterpart before the last great war, or even before the ‘cultural revolution’ of the 1960s.
The women also place their finger on something that is overlooked by those hard-charging, right-wing political parties. What the hard-charging politicians overlook is the fact that no counterrevolution will be successful unless a fundamental shift in attitude takes place in the European people. They must fall out of love with modernity and learn to once again love the ‘evening lingerings’ of old Europe. Nothing is more hopeless than trying to get people who actually prefer Clint Eastwood movies to Gary Cooper movies or Harry Potter books to Chronicles of Narnia to support right-wing, eleventh hour candidates.

A friend of ours recently came to us in great depression of spirits. She had been tidying an old trunkful of pamphlets, mostly of late-1960s vintage. They had covered a variety of subjects, from Church affairs to decimalization and immigration. Nearly all of them had proclaimed that this was the Eleventh Hour, that the Time for Action was Then, and that, in the words of another poet: --‘Unless something drastic is done…’

Twenty years on it all seemed rather futile. They had mostly been right in their way, of course. Nothing drastic was done, because those who cared had not the power to do anything effective, and most of the predicted disasters came to pass as predicted. Let us have the courage to admit that it is the same today. Traditionalist campaigning of nearly every sort is a waste of effort. In some ways the position is better; in many ways it is worse. We do not deny that the prospects for the middle-term future are distinctly less bleak; or at least, the possibility of some sort of restitution is not quite so closed as it was in those days; but as to the effectiveness of campaigning on large public issues: --that has not changed at all.

If we wish to take advantage of the breaking-up of the great ice-floe of the ‘liberal consensus’, we will do so not by wasting our energies on doomed campaigns, but by preparing a new mode of consciousness, by discussing and developing new ideas and by bringing those ideas into the way we live our lives, from our dress, décor, speech and entertainment to our philosophy, our reading, our moral conduct and our art, so that they may develop into a true ethos.
The ladies are right to insist that nothing worthwhile will be accomplished until we change “our reading, our moral conduct and our art.” But they are wrong, I believe, on one central point. One must -- at least a man must -- still fight the rearguard actions that the ladies view as hopeless. I would be in complete agreement with the Englishwomen if they had said, “It is not a woman’s place to get involved in eleventh hour, political movements; we must work on changing hearts and minds through our art, our moral conduct, etc.”

The problem with eleventh hour groups such as the British National Party and like-minded U.S. groups is that they do not regard their political movements as rear guard movements; they regard their political movements as the main counterattack, which has been disastrous. They keep campaigning and they keep losing because they have put no effort into developing what the Englishwomen call an “anti-modern ethos.” (1) I think this is often because many of the right-wingers are too fond of certain aspects of modernity, such as the change in sexual mores and the technological revolution, to feel comfortable in advocating a return to more traditional ways of living. But I digress; let me proceed with my one caveat regarding the Englishwomen.

Kipling correctly informs us in his poem, “The Female of the Species,” that the female is “launched for one sole issue.” And of course Kipling is referring to giving birth and the rearing of children. But he also is making the point that women are single-issue oriented. They are less able than a man to divide their time and loyalties, which is one of the reasons the feminist movement, by forcing women to divide their loyalties between work and family, has been so harmful to women.

The cultural issue, the restoration of a European mindset and a European heart, is the main issue. And the Englishwomen of The English Magazine have made that issue their baby, for which they are to be commended. But they err in failing to see that a man has a different role (2). He must keep the central fact before him that the cultural issue, the ‘evening lingerings’ if you will, is the main issue, while at the same time fighting the rear-guard political and military actions. And he must do so because one of the requirements of a counterrevolution is that the people who will constitute the vanguard must stay alive. Let me use the immigration issue, which the English ladies mention, as an example.

Presumably the anti-modern English ladies have roofs over their heads and do not have to sit and write with semi-automatic machine guns on their laps in anticipation of an immediate invasion. But many whites in countries like Rhodesia and South Africa do not have roofs over their heads, and the ones that do live in constant fear of home invasions. And the white technocratic rulers of the U.S.A. and the various European nations have all announced their intentions of moving toward the model of South Africa and Rhodesia. So anything a man can do, by supporting a rear-guard political candidate or by organizing a local undercover vigilante group, is a necessary delaying action. Roland knew he couldn’t win the war by his stand, but he hoped to delay the enemy long enough to give Charlemagne time to mobilize and thus win the war. By all means, we must make it our major focus to form an anti-modern ethos, but we can’t neglect the delaying actions. A counterrevolution must be fought on many different levels. We must know what books to read as well as what ammunition to use.

The Englishwomen are correct about the main issue, and we should keep their insight before us at all times: We have come to the point where we have to hide in basements and where no political candidate even dares talk about white identity, because we have treated the poetic core of European culture as a charming little frill on the sleeve of Europe. But that charming little frill is Cyrano’s white plume. It is European culture. It’s what we fight for and are willing to die for. The technocratic white has lost the ability to see the white plumed rider of Europe, and the barbarian has never seen Him. And we will cease to see Him if we look at the world through the eyes of our enemies. No counterrevolution can succeed if we see with the eyes of the new, enlightened, European technocrat instead of through the eyes of the antique European.
(1) The “practical right wingers” remind me of George Boas, a famous professor of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University. During World War II he suggested that the colleges should suspend teaching the liberal arts so that students could “get to the business of learning trigonometry and physics and chemistry.” Russell Kirk’s response to Boas is worth quoting:
It might not be surprising to hear the headmaster of a military preparatory school expounding a doctrine which exalts above his victim the legionary who slew Archimedes; but to listen to this cry of "sound, sound the clarion, fill the fife" coming from the ivory tower is another matter. It is an opinion which differs only in degree from an important article of faith in the credo of those states now contesting with us for the mastery of the earth, whose intellectual principles we profess to despise. [Kirk had written this essay in 1944.] Before commencing our work of world reformation, it might pay us to consider whether we are going to beat the Nazis and enlighten them, or beat the Nazis and join them. We are fit to weigh this question only if we retain some
vestige of the liberal learning so quickly cast aside in one crowded hour of glorious life; and it is to be feared that a smattering of trigonometry and physics and chemistry is not sufficient to make the mind liberal. The physical sciences have their place, a respectable one; but they, primarily, do not win wars; the human spirit still does that; and physical sciences certainly cannot suffice for the men who are to make and maintain a peace, who are to establish liberty and justice, who are to set free the body and the mind.
Some things never change. A few years back I was teaching English literature at a junior college. On my first day on the job, I walked from the parking lot to the main building with another professor. Having ascertained that I was a new instructor, but not having ascertained what subject I taught, he launched into his apologia for the “hard sciences” and the elimination of the liberal arts.

As we parted, each to our respective classrooms, he asked me, “What subject do you teach?”

“English literature.”

He never spoke to me after that. I actually agree with him about abolishing the liberal arts, but not for the same reason that he wanted to abolish them. I think liberal arts courses, such as English literature, should be abolished because they have become mere adjuncts of the psychology and sociology departments. The liberal arts, especially literature, deals with the soul. If they are scientized, they become demonic.

(2) I think the author P. G. Wodehouse, whom the English ladies quote approvingly, illustrates the plusses and minuses of The English Magazine’s stance. Wodehouse was put under house arrest during World War II for suspicion of being a German spy, which was of course utter nonsense. The real reason for his house arrest was that the Brits in the War Office were miffed with him because of his complete indifference to the war effort. He cared about Bertie, Jeeves, Blanding’s Castle, and nothing else. Certainly in the grand scheme of things, Blanding’s Castle was more important than the British War Office, but if one grants the greater importance of Blanding’s Castle, can we not at least see why the War Office was upset with Wodehouse? Even if the war was an absurdity, with no clearly delineated right side to be on, Britain was fighting ‘in defense of.’ The nation’s survival was at stake, and therefore Wodehouse had a stake in the war.

I can identify with the feelings of the War Office more now than I could have some thirty years ago, when I was a single man. During the recent election primaries it meant a great deal to me whether McCain or Ron Paul (and when Ron Paul failed to gain votes, whether Romney or McCain) won the Republican nomination for President. Yes, I realized all the men were terribly modern, and terribly flawed, but the difference between the contenders and McCain were significant enough to make me passionately in favor of either contender against McCain. I was extremely annoyed with some friends who expressed a Wodehousian indifference to the whole election. They had no children, so one hundred years of war didn’t bother them. Like Mercutio, they were able to jest at scars, having never felt a wound.

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