A Tyro, defined by Lewis, is ‘an elementary person; an Elemental, in short.’ This was descriptive of his view of the artist in a post-war world, a being even more primitive and vital than the avant-garde mercenaries of Blast. The illustrations of Tyros provided by Lewis are haunting apparitions, truly wanderers of the shadow he saw cast over the world. In black and white, they dominate the pages on which they appear with absolution, and in turn an unwavering devilish grin dominates them. The near abstraction of many Vorticist works is superseded once again by representation, but this makes the Tyros’ presence all the more convincing. First there is the Cept, on the cover of the first issue of The Tyro, drawing the eyes of the reader to its piercing stare and eternal laugh. It rests halfway between a North American totem pole and Lewis’s self-depiction as a Tyro, and there it revels. Next arrives the stout Brombroosh, facing to the left but with one eye still watching ahead. Lewis does not declare this entity a Tyro, but it is not far off. Behind its teeth, it mocks you with words you will never hear. Lastly, the Tyros Mr. Segando and Phillip in conversation. These two are parodies of sentimentalism in contemporary art and the broader aesthetic stagnation which Lewis had failed to overturn before the Great War. ‘These partly religious explosions of laughing Elementals are at once satires, pictures, and stories’ according to Lewis, so the baffling short story Mr. Segando in the Fifth Cataclysm by John Rodker accompanies the Tyro on the next page.
In surveying the Tyros, much of the first issue of The Tyro has been covered, but the journal was not Lewis’s latest artistic fascination alone. Without Pound, T.S. Eliot became the other central figure of this project, having previously been published by Lewis in the second issue of Blast. Vorticists dominated the graphical submissions in both issues: William Roberts, David Bomberg, Jessica Dismorr, Edward Wadsworth, Frederick Etchells and Lewis himself. The written side of the journals saw notable output from a few new figures: the novelist Sidney Schiff, who financed the endeavour and published under his pseudonym Stephen Hudson, the aforementioned Rodker, Herbert Read and Robert McAlmon. Rodker and McAlmon both ran small presses, whereas Read was a poet and art critic.
The design of The Tyro reflected a general attenuation away from the purposeful outrage of Blast. Sans-serif was now reserved to the cover, leading to a more conventional appearance in the interior pages. There was no bold opening manifesto either; the age of that in art had passed. Tyros as a centrepiece were impressive on the cover but otherwise an uncertain and experimental installation in the context of their calmer and often un-satirical surroundings. For the first issue, this was salvaged by the fact it was released alongside Lewis’s exhibition Tyros and Portraits in April 1921. The subtitle of both issues, A Review of the Arts of Painting [,] Sculpture and Design, was less sympathetic to Tyros’ idiosyncrasy.
This is an excerpt from “Blast!”. To continue reading, visit The Mallard’s Shopify.
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Rishi Sunak Was a Worse Chancellor Than Gordon BrownBy Matt Snape — 5 months ago
2020 was awful and most people would agree that they never want to experience that year’s events ever again. For Rishi Sunak, though, it was the highlight of his career as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
He was smooth and slick during those COVID press conferences and he just presided over the furlough scheme that ensured people could live off government money comfortably whilst the nation was locked down. Sunak quickly became regarded as future leadership material and those must have been the glory days of his career. 2020 was a nightmare for ‘ordinary’ people, but for Sunak, it was the start of a promising future.
But a week is a long time in politics. Things have quickly changed for this Tory hopeful; he stabbed Boris in the back recently and put himself forward to replace his former boss as Prime Minister. In fact, it is somewhat laughable that Sunak claims he would ‘govern like Thatcher.’ But that is because many of us who remember his time as Chancellor were not so fooled by the way the media portrayed his handling of the Government’s response to COVID. The price of lockdown is becoming all too clear now, and Sunak should be remembered as a Chancellor who was worse than Gordon Brown.
This comparison may not seem fair to some readers. Brown was Chancellor during an economic boom, and he occupied the role for ten years. Yet Brown also made terrible decisions that failed to prepare us for 2008’s events like selling our gold, failing to build enough homes, and ruining the UK’s pension system. As Tejvan Pettinger explained for Economics Help, the last Labour government made the mistake of running a budget deficit of 3 per cent towards the end of the 1997-2007 boom under Blair. If Labour had reduced public debt further, this would have given them more room for manoeuvre during the 2008-12 financial crisis.
In the Conservative Party, many Tory members and MPs make the mistake of thinking the 2008 recession was caused by Labour’s ‘reckless borrowing.’ Though it was an argument I supported during my early days of political activism, Brown did nothing in hindsight to cause the global housing collapse; that was caused by the irresponsible housing policy of the Clinton administration, and the consequences of subprime borrowing spread throughout the rest of the world as the global economy is hugely interconnected.
But did the ‘Conservative’ Party’s economic policies help cushion the blow of the Great Recession? Pettinger’s piece explains how borrowing levels actually got worse once the Tories gained power in 2010 onwards. That hardly sounds fiscally conservative, does it? View Pettinger’s article here if you do not believe me.
However, Sunak’s record no doubt makes Brown blush. Government borrowing during the 2020/21 fiscal year was predicted to hit around 400 billion pounds, the equivalent of between 17-20 per cent GDP, well above its 10 per cent peak at the height of the global financial crisis (which was when Brown was Prime Minister).
Of course, Sunak would argue his decisions were necessary to finance Britain’s lockdown during a global pandemic. Nonetheless, John Hopkins University found that global lockdowns failed to prevent the spread of COVID and recommended that they should not be used as an instrument to tackle pandemics in the future. Even The Daily Telegraph was reporting in August 2020 that lockdown itself killed more people than COVID. With stories now surfacing of children who failed to receive support from social services during lockdown, and people having missed cancer appointments in 2020-21, it is apparent that locking down the country, and the world, was a deadly, self-inflicted mistake.
Sweden and Florida are two useful case studies for parts of the world that did not lock themselves down and still tackled the spread of COVID. Sweden’s COVID death rate currently stands at 19,144, and though its population is smaller than the UK’s, which locked down hard, they were praised for not locking down by mainstream outlets like Germany’s DW, despite being a nation that is 88 per cent urbanised, but then again Britain’s urbanisation numbers are very similar. Sweden’s leading epidemiologist, Anders Tagnell, argued his country’s approach to the coronavirus should be based on evidence, and there was none to prove that lockdowns were working. That we will come to later.
Florida’s infection levels, meanwhile, were no different to California’s, which locked down hard, and now the state has been ranked as one of the best when it came to handling the pandemic, according to The Committee To Unleash Prosperity. In fact, Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, recently said his state’s economy is experiencing a record surplus. This shows Sunak and Boris did not have to fund an economically catastrophic lockdown to tackle the coronavirus; they chose to go down this path.
In Brown’s defence, he had no control over America’s subprime housing bubble exploding, which wrecked the former Labour Chancellor’s budget plans, though he should have been more financially prudent in anticipation of a crash. That is his only mistake.
And now, Britain is literally paying the price for Sunak’s record borrowing. Sure, the unemployment rate currently stands at 3.8 per cent, one of the lowest rates since 1974, but that does not help those on low incomes in the face of surging inflation and high interest rates.
Interest rates were at a record low during the height of the pandemic in 2020, and as Norton Finance explains, when interest rates decrease, there’s an increase in borrowing. The Bank of England has a 2 per cent inflation target (a rule set by Gordon Brown, funnily enough), yet it has now exceeded 9.1 per cent. This means interest rates will have to rise to levels not seen since the 1980s to bring inflationary levels back down, which affects small businesses with large loans and provides consumers with less discretionary income, both of which will harm the economy in the short-term at least. Inflation itself has a huge impact on consumer spending levels, many of which are already being felt with surging prices in shops, etc.
Under New Labour, inflation hit 1.9 per cent in 2005, just below Brown’s target, and this was the highest level it got to before the crash. As expected during a recession, inflation climbed to 3.99 per cent in Britain during the 2008 crisis, but that is still far lower than it is now.
It pains me as a former Conservative Party member to write that a Tory Chancellor did a worse job at handling the economy in two years than a former Labour Chancellor who was in office for ten years did. However, as the Conservatives look to the future, they need to regain their reputation for economic prudence. That has been destroyed by Sunak’s financing of Boris’s overreaction to COVID. Sunak should not only be remembered as a worse Chancellor than Brown, but he should be regarded as the worst Chancellor in history in years to come.
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Bureaucracy and FateBy Philip Diaz-Lewis — 5 months ago
Among those who detest bureaucracy, there is a common criticism. Theodore Dalrymple indicts the British bureaucratic machine with these words:
“… Anthony Blair, with the cunning of the natural born swindler, seized his chance and created a loyal, corrupt, self-seeking nomenklatura class that remains extremely influential and easily able to outwit the blancmange-like David Cameron, who in any case so easily moulds himself to any shape going.”
The idea is simple enough. Bureaucracies represent the interests of the class from which they are drawn. Over time they ossify into a lobby for that class, at the expense of society at large. In Britain’s case, there’s a caste of people most attracted to Blairite ideology, who form the core of the public service. Their predominance explains why Britain is incapable of moving beyond a collection of stale centre-left notions, regardless of the stance of the government in power.
The analysis is a classic one. Aristotle (Politics, 4.1294a; 6.6.1320b18; 6.1.1316bb39-1317a10) and Polybius (Histories, 6.10.4-11; 6.12.4) both see the balancing of different social groups as vital for social justice. It’s not just that there are executive, judiciary and legislative branches of government. These must be staffed with the right combination of groups in order to properly represent the interests of society. If a single class monopolises an institution, the results are bad, regardless of other separations of powers.
But there’s a further perception which, I think, has escaped Dalrymple. Implicit in his criticism is the idea, conscious to him or not, that were British bureaucrats something other than a Blairite nomenklatura caste, that things would be better. That a bureaucracy can be balanced between social groups, just like a parliament, and all will be well.
The training of a bureaucrat necessarily excludes any political virtue. A bureaucrat is a cog in a political machine. His job is to maintain the state’s will despite any turmoil or emergency the country may face.
In this sense the bureaucrat isn’t dissimilar to a soldier. The conservative French philosopher Yves Simon analysed the nature of authority in 1962, sometimes using the army as a metaphor. Much of what he says can be translated over to bureaucracy. Any association of people has a common good and a common action which enables it. The common good of the army is defending the national interest against enemies, so its common action is armed campaign to defeat the enemy. To do this, it must have unanimity: every soldier must know what he’s supposed to do and how to do it.
Now, every soldier is a rational individual with his own opinions and ideas. In an ideal world, each soldier would immediately understand the why and wherefore of an order, and assent to it through reasoned argument. But the reality is that the circumstances of war are so confused, cloudy and ambiguous, that were the army to expect rational assent from every individual to every strategy, nothing would get done. There would always be a cause of doubt; always a valid motive for dissent from a plan. So, there must be a threshold where deliberation stops, and opinion becomes an order. At this point, the soldier substitutes the reasoning of a superior officer for his own. Not because he’s stupid or unable to reason, but because common action demands it.
In the military the stakes are very high: destruction, death, and annihilation. Therefore, the threshold where opinion becomes an order is low, in comparison to other organisations. In a government bureaucracy the stakes are high, if not quite so high: shortage of goods, mass hunger, economic paralysis. This is why, I contend, the bureaucrat isn’t that different from a soldier. The common action of bureaucracy is to keep the country running. Like with war, the task is loaded with ambiguity and unpredictability. So, the bureaucrat is required to frequently substitute the deliberations of superiors for his own.
But this means that an excess of bureaucracy in a country will have similar cultural effects to an excess of militarisation, but without any of the martial vigour. The training of a bureaucrat isn’t to think deeply; it’s to internalise the state’s ideology to keep the country running at all costs. A bureaucrat who thinks deeply is a liability because he’s someone who will constantly express doubts and interrupt the state’s ability to act or respond to problems. So, a society that’s dominated by bureaucrats at every level will be radically conformist, incapable of self-reflection, and unable to undertake serious reform.
The city of Sparta, because it was narrowly focused on warlike virtue, excluded all other virtues and went into decline (Aristotle, Politics, 2.1271b). Sparta made all citizens into soldiers, and so rendered them unable to act as independent rational agents in times of leisure. Once the battle was over, Spartans couldn’t think without orders to follow. Sparta stopped innovating and was outcompeted by her neighbours. Isn’t a bureaucratic state like Britain prey to a similar fate of death by ideological conformity? If the bureaucrat is the model citizen, and not the statesman, artist, philosopher, or craftsman, shall our society not also become a self-regulating idiocy?
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Johnson’s Intermarium – A new Geopolitical Bloc?By Eino Rantanen — 5 months ago
In the closing days of May, Boris Johnson came public with a proposition that could be characterised, at the very least, as surprising, especially to us here in Eastern Europe. This proposal was the creation of a new “European Commonwealth”, which would encompass the UK, Ukraine, Poland, the Baltic States and possibly, later on, Turkey. The Italian daily Corriere della Sera quoted that this commonwealth would provide an alternative to the EU, aimed at countries that are united by their distrust of Brussels and the German response to Russian aggression. While this proposal didn’t create much public discussion in the mainstream, many in the nationalist and dissident right sphere, including yours truly, were definitely intrigued. Partly due to this idea coming completely out of the blue, but mainly because it echoed the idea of Intermarium.
The promotion of the Intermarium, Międzymorze or “between seas” idea has been a long-term geopolitical project of many nationalist organisations and activists in Eastern Europe, especially in the Baltics and Ukraine. While the details occasionally vary, Intermarium can, in general, be understood as a (con)federation of Central and Eastern European states, such as Finland, the Baltics, Ukraine, Belarus, the Visegrad Four, the states of the Caucasus and some Balkan states. These are countries, which by and large, share three important aspects: geopolitical interests, historical experience as part of the communist world and similar socio-cultural values. The aim of this project is to unite the aforementioned countries into an united bloc, which would be economically, militarily and culturally strong enough to resist both the globalist West and the imperialist East. The final goal would be this bloc becoming both a new pole of power and a new centre for Europe, eventually supplanting the declining Western European states.
This project is not really new, but rather a revival of an old idea, tailored to fit the realities of the modern world. The original idea of the Intermarium federation was the brainchild of Polish marshal and statesman Jozef Pilsudski, whose dream was a recreation of the historical Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It would have served as a basis for a “Third Europe”, countering both Soviet Russia and a revanchist Germany. Pilsudski’s project failed to materialise in the 1920s due to several reasons. Firstly, Soviet Russia proved to be too strong to overcome by the nascent Polish Republic on its own and the creation of a united anti-soviet front was hampered by a disunited Ukraine and several disputes Poland had with its neighbours. Secondly, many of the envisioned constituent states saw, somewhat justifiedly, the project as solely advancing Polish interests and domination in the region. Lastly, Poland itself experienced strong domestic opposition to the idea, mainly from the nationalist camp. There are today, however, several promising indicators that we’ve learned from the mistakes of the past. While there still is bickering stemming from historical grievances, the success of regional cooperation forums, such as the Visegrad Group and the Three Seas Initiative, indicates a positive reception towards increased regional cooperation and integration.
Coming back to the role of the UK, the involvement of HM Government in this region has an interesting and long history, especially in Estonia. After Finland, the UK can be considered to be Estonia’s largest supporter during our War of Independence. In addition to providing significant amounts of material aid (arms, ammunition etc.), the Royal Navy played a crucial role in the fight against the invading Red Army. The 6th Squadron under Rear Admiral Edwyn Alexander-Sinclair not only secured the Estonian coast from any seaborne assault into the rear, but also kickstarted the Estonian Navy by donating two captured Russian vessels. Even today, Estonia honours this contribution, with our naval jack bearing a close resemblance to the Union Jack. Later, during the opening years of the Cold War, MI6 provided extensive support to Baltic anti-communist guerrillas through Operation Jungle. This operation was unfortunately brought down by the betrayal of the infamous communist spy, Kim Philby. Nonetheless, the presence of the UK has been a strong influence over here up to this day, with units of The Welsh and the Queen’s Royal Hussars forming the strongest allied contingent of NATO troops.
Now, I’m not so naive as to claim the UK provided this support out of the kindness of its heart. Like any nation, they were advancing their own geopolitical interests. Indeed the British command was quite perturbed when instead of joining in the assault on Petrograd, the Estonian government decided to consolidate the country’s independence by making peace with Soviet Russia. As in 1918-1920, even today the UK has its own interest in making diplomatic headways into Eastern Europe. But just as before, by virtue of a common foe, our interests seem to align. The reason for our animosity towards Russia has different roots, Estonia’s being nationalism and the UK doing it, most likely, out of a desire to spread “freedom and democracy”. Nonetheless, I would still consider the enemy of my enemy to be my friend, at least to some extent. Historically and out of pure necessity, Estonians have fought alongside powers which may not have had our national survival as a priority.
Why would have Johnson proposed something like this new commonwealth? Britain’s geopolitical position in the post-WWII era can be easily summed up with the adage calling the British Isles a permanent floating aircraft carrier of the United States, destined to play second fiddle to the new preeminent global power. We must keep in mind that the early warning systems at RAF Fylingdales are solely for the benefit of the US, not the residents of Yorkshire. While the Falklands campaign was an unprecedentedly sovereign move from the UK, common wisdom would still consider it as an exception that reinforces the rule. Whether it was Iraq, Yugoslavia or Afghanistan, Britain has answered the call of the US, not vice versa. 40 years on, the rusted wreck of the General Belgrano at the bottom of the South Atlantic might occasionally invoke some pride and nostalgia in an ageing boomer, but after that, the British canon seems to lack such definitive moments. Johnson, I believe, had also noticed this lack of assertiveness.
A post-Brexit Britain, not burdened by the collective bargaining requirements of the EU, has the position and opportunity to regain some of its international clout and the new alliance proposal is definitely an attempt at that. An important aspect to remember is that this whole project is strongly tied to the war in Ukraine and while much of the EU dithers, the UK has taken a particularly strong stance in support of Ukraine, becoming one of its main supporters. This began already before the Russian invasion, with the “friend of the US”, president Poroshenko being replaced by Zelenskyy, a friend of the UK. Strategically, this move is intelligent and definitely in line with the current goals of a UK wishing to regain its international importance. Increased material and diplomatic support shows not only Ukraine, but also much of Eastern Europe, that Britain is indeed prepared to help while the big players of the EU are hesitant. Conversely, Eastern European states will start seeing the UK as a much more valuable ally. It seems that the Johnson administration, by sidestepping both the US and EU, was actively trying to improve its international standing and expand its sphere of influence into countries that may already have been somewhat sceptical of the EU. Whether this was being done to further British strategic and economic interests, spread liberal-democratic ideology, to invoke past glories, or all three simultaneously, remains to be seen.
What has the reaction been like over here in the East then? As mentioned before, the new commonwealth proposal was barely noted in the media over here, but at least in Estonia, it did create discussion in the right-wing nationalist camp. Sharing a common enemy in imperialist Russia and euroscepticism, it can’t be denied that we have aligned interests. Furthermore, we see this proposed framework as a possible stepping stone towards the dream of a modern Intermarium alliance. There are some reservations though. Firstly, just as we in Eastern Europe do not wish to be dominated by the EU or Russia, any such attempt from the UK would be received with equal disdain. Additionally, any form of deepened political, economic and military ties would inevitably lead to an increased socio-cultural influence as well. This might not be a problem automatically, but given the reticence of our national cultural establishment, I am wary. Instead of Morris dances, the UK is exporting liberal progressivism, and aggressively so.
The anglosphere and its establishment have become the vanguard of liberalism in the world. There is much talk of Russian influence in both the West and the Baltics, but the influence of large-scale propaganda campaigns of the liberal West is constantly omitted in the mainstream. The UK government, along with the US, Canada and Germany (to name a few), is funding and supporting NGOs, magazines and events that actively support a left-leaning progressive and anti-national ideology among the Estonian and broader Eastern European population. A very tangible example of this is the UK ambassador, Ross Allen, taking the stage at the US-sponsored Pride event in my home city of Tartu. While Russian imperial ideology is detestable and I wish never to live under it no matter how anti-liberal it is, the prospects for Estonian nationhood as part of the rapidly declining liberal-democratic West are equally low. If the UK would, in this new alliance, focus on strategic geopolitical and military interests instead of ideological exports, we would be more receptive.
To conclude, while Johnson’s proposal of a new European Commonwealth is definitely an interesting prospect for both Eastern Europe and the UK itself, it raises several issues. On one hand, it could prove to be a geopolitical boon to both parties, with the UK re-establishing its influence and Eastern European states moving from a peripheral position towards the core of a new international bloc. The support of an emerging powerful player such as the UK could very well be beneficial in establishing the new Intermarium alliance as a truly viable alternative to the ever-centralising and anti-national EU. However, as of yet there are no signs that this alliance would give a central role to nationalist principles which many Eastern European nations value, especially if led by the current UK political establishment. The Intermarium concept has always stressed nationalism as one of its core tenets and we certainly would not wish to replace EU liberalism with the Anglo variant. Time will tell if this proposition gains any traction and how it will evolve. Johnson’s resignation adds a whole new dimension, and perhaps this whole concept will quickly be forgotten and UK foreign policy will pivot significantly. In any case, these are developments which we should follow closely.
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