25 June 2010

England their England

During the darkest days of World War II, George Orwell wrote an essay with the above title. Most of it, in fact and in spirit, is of only historical interest. Only one passage rings as true today as it did then:
England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during ‘God save the King’ than of stealing from a poor box. All through the critical years [in the 1930s] many left-wingers were chipping away at English morale, trying to spread an outlook that was sometimes squashily pacifist, sometimes violently pro-Russian, but always anti-British. It is questionable how much effect this had, but it certainly had some. If the English people suffered for several years a real weakening of morale, so that the Fascist nations judged that they were ‘decadent’ and that it was safe to plunge into war, the intellectual sabotage from the Left was partly responsible.
There is also some, although not much, abiding truth in the following generalization:
. . . the English are not intellectual. They have a horror of abstract thought, they feel no need for any philosophy or systematic ‘world-view’. Nor is this because they are ‘practical’, as they are so fond of claiming for themselves. One has only to look at their methods of town planning and water supply, their obstinate clinging to everything that is out of date and a nuisance, a spelling system that defies analysis, and a system of weights and measures that is intelligible only to the compilers of arithmetic books, to see how little they care about mere efficiency.
Orwell clearly did not - could not - anticipate that the world-view of the anti-British 'sniggerers' would remain unchanged by the titanic events through which the nation was living as he wrote, still less that it would still, dimly, illuminate the outlook of supposedly 'progressive' British intellectuals seventy years later. Yet it does, as I have highlighted in some of my earlier posts.

Nor could he have anticipated that the 'obstinate clinging to everything that is out of date and a nuisance' would so rapidly apply to all the means he envisaged for creating a more rational post-war society, tying them like an albatross around the neck of the Labour Party long after they were abandoned by every other major leftist party in the rest of Europe.

What he did not address, and what nobody else (that I know of) has been able to explain is why the British 'progressives' should be so alienated from their own society and culture as to bear comparison only with the better known stereotype of the self-hating Jew.

Maybe we are the lost tribe of Israel, after all.


  1. I have been trying to parse this moral devolution myself - how, finally liberated from the lively Elizabethans, the jolly Capitalists and poetic Romantics, the wartime Patriots as well, the English have now embraced a guilt-inducing ideology of victim-worship and Multi-Culti self-disgust, bowing before the unachievable socialist ideal of 'psychological equality.'

    Talk about Orwellian.

    Nietzsche and Dawkins would perhaps blame it all on the church. Any church. But the church of
    Socialism/Positivism/ somehow escapes their notice. And it is, in a deeper sense than the traditional churches, anti-human.

  2. Well, if you hate yourself, you are not likely to be capable of affection for anybody else. What is simply fantastic is how communism, a creed born of hate, commands such a strong following among those who like to style themselves 'progressive'.