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Salisbury Review — Winter 2004
To what politics should our civilisation aspire? The rule of law is a prerequisite, though its exiles may evolve their own lofty surrogates. Modem Poland is the supreme example, where Church, family and workers united against the anticulture, as the Samizdat phenomenon showed. In his halcyon days Bernard Crick said that without law, civilisation can collapse into mocking contradictions like perfect justice. Today even law is compromised. Policy-making also suffers when we squander the supports of the law — the duties associated with sound families, schools and churches. The pressing, daily concerns in foreign and domestic policy, what we should do and why, evoke no coherent response. As recently as the Thatcher period, they did.
For anti-socialists limitation of the state is the key aspiration. Socialism made rich countries poorer and despoiled most of Africa. Anthony Daniels rightly censures the murderous Nyerere, who ruined Tanzania, as surely as Castro ruined Cuba, once the richest society in Spanish America. Daniels is reinforced in respect of most of Africa, by Roger Sandall (article) and Elizabeth Endycott. Charles Foster by contrast, insists that law and tolerance are semi-capitalist South Africa's only hope.
In the Thatcher years there were key policy imperatives: national interest, patriotism, pride in British achievement and history and a sense of duty. Today debilitating guilt and self-censure obsess us. Too often our history is decried as plunder and pillage, for which we must now atone, through unjustified and bogus public welfare at home and promiscuous immigration.
Policy, domestic and foreign, should be mindful that the rich and free usually speak English. Why, in any case should the British, the darlings of Protestant decency, apologise to the world? Actually, most of Europe was benevolent overseas. So far from retreating from Africa, the British and French should have stayed the course. All the best Africans, often Muslims, want sanity and order for their countries, the kind which Camus' Algeria, or Gerald Hanley's Kenya had. The British achievement includes the magnificent cleaving to freedom demonstrated by India, here celebrated by S.V. Raju.
The proper sense of pride in one's country that the Thatcher period revived, should be the heart of policy, domestic and international. It is because most Americans love their country that America is still great, despite an adversarial politics very like the British. Samuel Johnson's best-known proposition, that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, sounds wiser than perhaps it is. You can have, like the Nazis or the abhorrent IRA, a debased love of country. The true love of their country manifests itself daily for the Irish in the celebration of their history, literature and music on radio and television. Indeed their dedicated pursuit of self interest in the E.U. makes more sense than our cringing abasement.
The bureaucrats and politicos who run Britain today certainly do not love their country. They are soaked in the soulless Newspeak Esther Eidenow (article) so despises, which sustains alike the attempted abolition of our civilisation and the nonsense of multiculturalism, that strange dour mix of the drab and the unwise. This elite love only failure and sentimental self-denunciation. Ruth Lea (article) is exactly right that this is why they suck up to the doomed EU project. Patriotism is never sentimental. It is the product of steady love and devotion.
It is essential to policy-making that we cultivate a sense of historical achievement. Children and policy makers alike need to know the staggering contribution the British have made to the world. Schools used to do just this. The British abolished slavery, for example, a fact which matters enormously more than their earlier participation in this universal evil. According to the great nineteenth century French economist, Frederic Bastiat, the slaves of Jamaica wept for joy, when the news of abolition came, praising Almighty God first and the British second for their deliverance. The British have often been inspired to do the right thing, out of considerations of country, church, duty and prudence. The torch has now passed to America, where such formative ideas remain more vibrant, hence the importance of the recent Presidential election. Their contemporary replacements in Britain are a miserable bunch. Political Correctness is one, and historical repentance another. We invite our readers to complete their own lists.
[doctors], subjected to an intense form of mental supervision unknown
outside of medieval monasteries, are obliged to attend tutorials in which
they watch themselves on video to curb any excessive postures or
insuperable reluctance to ask why a country of 60 million inhabitants with
high educational levels cannot manage its own health service."
"Why are those parents whose
children do turn up at school, but then stop the others from learning with
their violence and disruptiveness never jailed?"