Let us ponder that reassertion of artistic conservatism after the First World War for a moment. Some readers might welcome that as they read it, but what if Lewis and the Vorticists were right? What if Victorian aesthetics was an exhausted force by 1914? One only needs to consider how interchangeable the Victorian and Edwardian periods are in popular memory. Another World War and its even greater trauma later, the conservative establishment of the 1950s across British life was utterly brittle. The modern Left then began its grand project of sweeping all of it aside to little resistance from the 1960s onwards. The tired force before the World Wars suffered greatly during its course only to be killed by its ungrateful offspring.
Vorticism opposed the tradition of its time because it indeed was an exhausted one. It did not wish to destroy the world or what was prior, just transfer its energy and vigour from a point of status into bold new expressions of meaning. In their words, “the nearest thing in England to a great traditional French artist, is a great revolutionary English one.” Their vision of progress was one of creation over contentment since no force can make the world stop in one exact state of being. Refining one tradition forever is pointless if there are forces hacking away at its foundations. New traditions must develop to prevent the world falling apart under the weight of self-criticism.
Vorticism was an unapologetically ferocious formative stage of a Modernist tradition which has only ‘progressed’ through incorrect associations with its counterpart on the Left. Given its youth and combativeness, it almost had to court offence from the intensity of the energy it discharged. I think I have conveyed the exciting potential of it to have snatched the course of modernity away from its present trajectory towards rootlessness and oblivion in this overview. The Rebel Art Centre and its comrades were not granted the time to see the movement reach any measure of maturity, nor the time to discern whether it could resonate as intended.
This is an excerpt from “Progress”. To continue reading, visit The Mallard’s Shopify.
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By Adam Limb — 9 months ago
Driving may well be the biggest psy-op in modern history. The car has often been depicted as the symbol of freedom, the ability to go wherever one pleases – to emancipate oneself from the circumstances they find themselves in, and to strike up a new existence elsewhere. There’s a reason they talk of the ‘open highway’. Maybe in America this imagery resonates. After all, America has the size necessary for road trips to take you to genuinely isolated places. But America is America, and Britain is Britain. If you woke up at a random place on the British Isles, you could walk in any direction and find a marker of civilisation and follow it to safety before you were seriously close to death.
This fact is part of Britain’s charm, we really are the national equivalent of The Shire. A place where just the natural landscape lends itself to safety. Our island status makes it easy to defend, and our size allows us to grow, but not isolate ourselves from one another. Considering this, there really is no escape from civilisation in Britain. This may well be why exploration and adventure are such a large part of our culture: the only way to experience these things was to leave the country.
These facts make cars not so much a freedom, but a restriction. There is no ‘open road’ in Britain, just congested highways and country lanes that were fit for horses and carriages, not Land Rovers and BMWs. Driving in modern Britain means going from your box apartment to your box office, all facilitated by your box car. What do you get for the privilege of this freedom? More paperwork, bills, and another thing to look after. These are just the personal costs, the social costs are much greater. Huge swathes of land have to be taken up to facilitate cars. Roads are just the beginning, parking, driveways, motorways and car-related services such as petrol stations and garages all take up space that could otherwise be allocated for residential use. Cities such as Rome enchant those who visit because they were structured around the human and not the car. The streets of Rome have natural, organic arcs to them which obscure the street ahead. Cars don’t do well with too many turns, and so roads become long stretches that give the eyes nothing to feast upon but the gruelling monotonous journey ahead, often accompanied by ‘humorous’ bumper stickers or, God forbid, billboard emblazoned with advertisements – turning your commute into an advertisement break between your diminishing private life, and your gruelling work life.
So what should replace the roads? Surely we still need all of the creature comforts of the modern world, and if we don’t have roads between towns or within them, we can’t have any trade. First and foremost, people will not simply sit in their homes and starve because the A419 has been ripped up and they cannot reach a Tesco. Where there’s mouths to feed, there’s money to be made, and a new wave of farm-to-table markets would be incentivised to emerge locally. Now that walking is the main way of navigating towns and cities, commerce has to spread out to accommodate. No longer will there be massive central hubs of consumption, but small decentralised centres catering to the bespoke needs of communities on the most elemental level. For transport between these centres, the newfound cash not spent on road maintenance can be used to build trams to move people between these different centres allowing cross-pollination of consumers without the homogenisation of products that comes with shoving those products in vans and moving them across towns.
Of course, there are those goods which simply cannot be manufactured locally, and certain goods like fish are quite obviously not easy to come by if you’re not on the coast. To this end, a massive expansion and upgrade to the railways is needed. Expansion to offset the now-defunct road freight industry, and upgrades to ensure timely delivery of goods. This would mean moving away from much of the Victorian-era railway, but returning In full force to the Victorian-era spirit of industrialisation and progress. Rail freight is often cheaper per-mile than road freight, and allows for quick loading and unloading of containers, rather than manual loading and unloading from the back of lorries.
In order for rail to dominate the British landscape, the failures of the British state can no longer be tolerated. It shouldn’t take a decade to open a railway for public consultation, only to downscale it before any serious construction has taken place. Instead, a reactive and dynamic centralised infrastructure is required that clears out the dead weight who would stand in the way of a new vision of Britain – one in which the countryside is reclaimed from the concrete mess of roads, and the rewilded landscape tears past the window of your maglev as you travel from Plymouth to Edinburgh in four hours, rather than ten.
However, the removal of roads doesn’t require the end of private travel. Instead, we can simply take paramotors to the skies and fly to any number of open fields. Paramotors are statistically safer than cars, and can go at around 60mph. Private travel in Neo-Britain would mean the removal of box cars to open skies, overlooking a renewed landscape. For those who prefer to remain grounded, the reclaimed land doesn’t need to be privatised, it can be kept public and traversed by anyone who rents a quad bike and decides to drive through the wilderness to visit their friend a town over, or anyone who just wants to to ramp around the countryside for the day.
Roads are an ugly blight on Britain, they turn a once green and beautiful isle into a grey, dead landmass full of grey, dead people. They facilitate a society built around machinery and not around the character of the people who compose it. There are those who want to end the growth of technology where it stands. These people will lose out to those who wield the weapon of tech. There are also those who wish to simply allow tech to override their humanity. Indeed, we see this in the fact most of our cultural events (including Project 22) are experienced through a screen. Instead, I propose a third way: that technology is a tool in the hands of those who wield it, and through a great strength of will, we can adapt it to the world we live in. We ought not to see technology as an escape from nature, nor as a means to become stewards of nature. We are a part of nature, and must shape ourselves and our societies to work in tandem with it. To that end, we must rip up the roads.
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By Jake Scott — 9 months ago
‘The idea is like a pair of glasses on our nose through which we see whatever we look at. It never occurs to us to take them off’Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations
We are all Blairites now. It is a horrible thought, especially to those of us who despise the Blairite constitutional project: from gutting the Lords to the creation of the devolved assemblies, and the paradoxical tension between the move towards localism and the edictal erasure of British ways of life. The sad reality is that we live in Blairite Britain, more than we live in Thatcherite Britain.
Such a thought, as uncomfortable as it is, must be the starting point of all conservative discussions, whether they are concerned with strategy, identity, or even over what we aim to ‘conserve’, because we can only begin to know where to go by knowing where we are. David Foster Wallace once gave a talk to a graduating class in which he told the following story:
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “morning boys, how’s the water?” and the two young fish swim on for a bit and eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “what the hell is water?”
The story is intended to remind us of a simple truth: that the most obvious realities are the hardest to talk about, because they are so essential and taken for granted in our daily lives. Blairism is the cultural water we swim in, and the current that drives us inexorably towards the next crisis we cannot resolve, because Blairism holds the conflictual beliefs that government should be in every part of our lives, but that it should be so completely and utterly impotent. Think about how difficult it is to do anything in modern Britain, but that you absolutely must do it whilst holding the hand of the government.
Regardless of Blairism’s inherent contradictions, we must not ignore the tide, even if only to swim against it. How do we do this? In Modern Culture, Sir Roger Scruton wrote that we cannot
return to a pre-Enlightenment world because the Enlightenment is so inherent to how we think about society, Man, government, culture and so on. Even those of us who are believers in faith must accept that the draperies were torn down; but only by realising they were torn down can you put them back up. So, rather than deny the legacies of the Enlightenment, Sir Roger says, we must accept that they are with us, and instead ‘live as if it matters eternally what we do: to obey the rites, the ceremonies and the customs that lend dignity to our actions and which lift them above the natural sphere’.
The philosophical movement that took this lesson to heart the most, in my opinion, was the Romantics. They did not pretend that the legacies of the Enlightenment were so easily eradicable nor so easily deniable; instead, they accepted that they lived in a changed world, but sought to use that change to re-suture man’s relationship with himself, to correct the deficiencies of the Enlightenment and the empty rationalism that it loved so irrationally.
The Romantic movement, by virtue of its own logic, was not universalist. The Enlightenment sought to be universal, to find laws and rules that governed Man in every circumstance and every place; but Romanticism, in reaction, favoured particularism, rootedness, and the cultural significance of place and people. In fact, so many of the nationalist movements of the nineteenth century owed more to the Romantics than they did to the Enlightenment (but again, only in the sense that the Enlightenment showed us that all humans are deserving of dignity and respect, they just choose to express that dignity in varied ways).
One such example of Romanticism that has always fascinated me emerged in Russia in the 1830s, more than anything because I believe that Russia then holds a multitude of lessons for Britain now. Early-nineteenth century Russia experienced what could only be described as an existential crisis: the Napoleonic Wars had damaged Russia’s understanding of herself as the great military power of Eastern Europe, and brought many ideas of universal brotherhood into contact with a society that did not even have the intellectual framework to accommodate such thoughts. But the crisis went deeper: as much as one hundred and fifty years before, Russian society was shaken by external ideas, more than any invasion could have hoped for, under the Reforms of Tsar Peter the Great. The Petrine Era of Russia saw cultural changes from the top – governmental reforms, military reforms, and technological innovation, much of which modernised Russia and made her into a Great Power; but these changes did not go unquestioned. In fact, many of the influential groups in Russia rebelled, sometimes violently, as in the Moscow Rising of the Streltsy in 1698.
The legacy of Peter’s reforms, however, were not felt until much later. Of course, all major cultural and social changes take time to really be felt at all, but the ‘short eighteenth century’ was a time of such rapid and dislocating change – across all of Europe, but especially in Russia – that many generations found themselves intellectually and culturally cut adrift from those who came immediately before them. Peter, pursuing a programme of Westernisation insisted, for instance, that the Russian court speak French, a language thought of as ‘intellectual’ (with good reason); dress like the Prussian court; rationalised the military along the Western European lines; built an entirely new town on a North Italian design (St. Petersburg – of course); and, in one of my favourite little quirks of history, outlawed beards in that city’s borders.
Cultural issues grow like pearls grow – a single grain of sand works its way into a mollusk, and irritates the mollusk in such a way that bacteria and calcium grows around it. Cultural changes irritate the social fabric of the community it works into; but we don’t have bacteria to grow around it, we only have each other. Yet we can understand cultural issues in the same way as a pearl – an irritant works its way in, and we grow that irritant into a recognisable tangible entity, by coalescing around it and growing it in such a way that it becomes instantly recognisable.
This is what led to the Slavophiles. Petrine Russia thought it was undefeatable – and from the Great Northern War onwards, it very much was – until Napoleon came roaring in. But the Napeolonic Wars did two things for Russia, both with the same outcome; the first was importing many ideas into Russia that challenged the existing understanding of Russian political and social structures; the second was, in the same way Soviet soldiers pushed Nazi Germany back into Europe, Petrine soldiers followed Napoleon back into Europe. In both instances, educated Russian men saw the way Europeans lived, and realised that their society was not the improved form that their reforming leaders dreamt of.
And just as with a grain of sand in a pearl, the cultural dislocation of Peter’s reforms that had long irritated the reactionary elements of eighteenth-century Russia, was seized on by many of the early-nineteenth century intelligentsia as a means of explaining the situation in which they had found themselves. This fermented a series of backlashes, intellectual and cultural, that led to an explosion of political movements, such as the terrorists, the socialists, the populists (narodniki), and – most importantly – the Slavophiles. The Slavophiles looked at the state of Russia in the 1830s and considered the Petrine reforms to be an unmitigated failure: they had not kept Russia at pace with the rest of Europe; they had dislocated the cultural and social elites from the people over whom they ruled; and worst of all, they had severed the Russian people from their own past. Peter the Great had made the mistake of proto-enlightenment liberalism, that there were universal standards of humanity against which peoples’ behaviours, cultures and laws could be judged, and in doing so, he had not attempted to “reform” Russia’s venerable history, but deny its very existence, and begin from scratch.
Instead, the Slavophiles urged a return to pre-Petrine, Muscovite-style Russianism, an embracing of folk styles, food, clothing, language, and so on – not to petrify them into a living museum of nostalgia, but to rectify the mistakes of the previous century, and offer an alternative direction into the future. This precipitated many of the following century’s movements: for instance, the emphasis on the folk of Russia encouraged the nascent populism into radicalism; the embracing of the Russian commune form of land management gave Russian socialism a concrete model from which to work; and the idea of Russia taking an entirely unique path of development to Europe created the intellectual condition for Lenin and the communists to believe Russia could “leapfrog” past the bourgeois liberalism of the continent and move straight to socialism. This is not to say the Slavophiles were socialists – to even say so is to misunderstand the subtle relativism that denies such universalist theories in itself. Indeed, many Slavophiles were ardent absolute monarchists, with the famous Memorandum to the Tsar by Alexei Aksakov in 1831 claiming that Russia’s unique place in history stems from its Orthodox Christianity, the invitation by the Kievan Rus to the Varangians to rule them, and the steppes shaping the Russian mindset to one of boundless opportunism (something that Berdayev later used as a comparison to the American prairies and Manifest Destiny).
The consequences of the Slavophile movement might not be palatable, but their inspiration is something that Anglo conservatives need to pay attention to. Their movement began by an important moment of clarity: the political reforming project of the previous age had failed. It is no secret that the emerging conservatism in Britain despises the Blairite consensus, and in many ways that means we are already doing as the Slavophiles did: only by recognising that we are in Blairite Britain can we undo its disastrous effects. But we need to go further; we cannot simply throw our hands up and accept Blairism as the present condition of Britain, but we need to see it for what it truly is. It is a complete and utter separation of Britain from our past, a denial of that past’s validity, and an attempt to create a new political identity on entirely alien lines.
Moving into the future requires acceptance of the present circumstance; one of the silliest phrases is that the clock cannot be wound back, when the truth is, if the clock is showing the wrong time, it is imperative that you wind it back. And just as taking the wrong turn and continuing down the wrong path will only get you further from where you want to go, so too must you turn back. We are all Blairites now; and just as alcoholics have to admit they’ll never recover from their alcoholism, we have to admit we will likely never recover from Blairism, but will always “be” recovering.
But I do not want to be defeatist; the first step of recovery is acceptance. We need to accept that we live in Blairite Britain, and only then can we begin tearing it apart. We need to start ripping out its core parts: the communications act (2003); the equality act (2010); the Supreme Court; the devolved assemblies; the abolition of the hereditary aristocracy; the fox hunting ban; the smoking ban; in short, all of the components of a foreign way of life that have been foisted upon the British people by our own misguided maniacal reformers. It is time to go to war; but you can only do that if you accept the war is already going on.
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By Juanita Galea — 8 months ago
As much as I have gotten tired of talking about this virus, it is important to address the following; Covid-19 has had disastrous impacts on Generation Z. Whether we like to admit it or not, Gen Z is based on a culture of avoiding social interaction, virtual relationships and a general pessimistic outview of life.
The confinements we found ourselves in due to the pandemic, led us to migrate from real human life, to the material world of virtual interaction. Although this might not have seemed to be such a problem for a generation which shows great aversion to in-person interaction, however this was anything but the case.
The best way one could analyse and scrutinise the essence which makes up a millennial, one wouldn’t have to look further than from the structureless abyss which we know as the internet.
This period of lockdown has in a weird way reversed some of the progressive stirrings taking place within the subconscious of a Gen-z individual. This overload of isolation– encompassed by a general lack of social gatherings, in-person learning and cultural legacy has led this generation to ever so slightly and in a gradual manner, become more sensitive to the present late-civilisational decay which is surrounding them.
This can be seen through the different aesthetic styles promoted online. Such aesthetic styles include retrowave, post-modern, steampunk, fantasy ect. The obsession with such aesthetics does not necessarily stem from visual pleasure. Rather, it offers an escapist utopia for those stuck in a dull and grey world– from a world characterised by social media expectations, lockdowns and a general nihilism which cakes like dust any aspirations present.
An aesthetic which quickly rose to popularity during the last two years was Cottage Core. In essence, as an aesthetic it is composed of greenery and flowers surrounding a traditional cottage, with women dressed in a white modest dress taking care of the house, the plants, the washing up, the children. It truly is a return to a life which Gen Zers never experienced– and given the way in which our economic structure is heading, will never have the inherent right nor pleasure to experience.
This traditionalist aesthetic takes us back to the roots of what once was the foundation of the state (the family actually has existed long before the concept of the State, I would argue it is the foundation for building communities)– a nuclear family based on distinctive parental roles, a time when marriage was based on or rather seen desirable / the main goal of a marriage was to bare children and create a legacy– offspring to whom you can pass down your faith, beliefs and nation. It brings with it a breath of neo-romanticism.
Such a fact carries with it a certain level of irony of course. The fact that the internet and technology are used to make and spread such images, is rather ironic given the fact that it is this very internet and technology which stripped this idyllic life away from us. Virtual citizens who have bloodshot eyes, social anxiety and an all around lack of will to persevere, find an escape in such aesthetics. This aesthetic comes part and parcel with an affinity for historical period dramas, a subconscious desire to leave the city and a longing for a family to nurture and raise.
As T. Howard interestingly noted, “the aesthetic is self-consciously escapist and Cottage Core can be thought of as one of many expressive forms of post-Sexual Revolution trauma in the West.”.
The Covid-19 lockdowns led many Gen Zers to realise that with the leisure of open bars, theatres and clubs being taken away from the equation, the only thing which is left is the skeletal facade of a city– one which highlights so perfectly the metamorphosis of our decaying civilisation. What was left once such establishments were shut down? A reminder of the lives Gen Z were robbed off.
The seed of cultural Marxism has undoubtedly been sowed within the hem of the 21st century. This can be witnessed through the manifestation of Cancel Culture. Being a member of Gen Z automatically prevents you from being able to criticise the western social revolution of the 20th century (in the same way a black man or woman cannot criticise the BLM movement).
No matter how far Gen Z idealogues strive to stray away from what is natural, normal and traditional, in reality human nature and desires do not change. They are constant within the subconscious– no matter how hard the fight to push against them is. This is why the number of Gen Z anti-feminists is growing. Young women across the globe are realising what they lost– or rather, what has been taken from them.
Feminism might have not been merely an organic movement which hoped to foster equality for all, but rather an orchestrated ploy by powerful men in order to reduce women’s prospects of domestic fulfilment. Going to work and building a career is now seen as the ultimate form of self-liberation. Tell me, how can feminist groups look women in the eye and tell them they are better off as wage slaves, rather than as homemakers?
For the sake of clarification, I am in no way slandering women who work. If anything, they do not have a choice as our economy does not support such roles. However, I am criticising the fact that women can no longer stay at home and raise children– a reality which only came about once women entered the workforce. Late capitalism delights as this; more labour, more production, more money.
Furthermore, women are thought to feel empowered by showing off their bodies in the quest to acquire more money. Is that really all we have to offer our young daughters? Real empowerment comes from perseverance, faith and modesty. Women have been stripped of their dignity and identity, to be replaced by gender theory which promotes the idea that any individual can be a woman– regardless of anatomy.
This idea is further fuelled by the growing number of men who appropriate womanhood in their quest to “transition” providing the world with a very sexist and misogynistic view of what womanhood really is– reducing us to shopaholic hair obsessed women who care more about their clothes and nails than the future of their societies. How incredibly offensive it is to be a woman and be told that a biological man is just as much as a woman as you are.
With a growing interest in the traditional– even within the local context you see a revival of interest in Maltese traditional architecture, in folklore music and in cuisine, one is left to wonder whether or not this will manifest in a full fledged shift within the ideological attachments of Gen Z. The harvest is indeed plentiful, yet the labourers remain few.
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