Britain is in decline. This much is true. Nobody would dare suggest otherwise – unless, of course, they wish to attest to pure ignorance or twisted glee.
Given this, we are very much in need of sweeping reform. Yet reform is not the product of drawn-out pontification. Ultimately, it is the sum of action: action moulded by proposition.
As such, dear reader, allow me to do just that. May I present to you: A Sensible Proposal.
Shrink the cabinet to its 5 or 6 most capable members, empower ministers to fire civil servants at will, and slash the civil service by at least 75% – it’s not technically Moldbuggian RAGE (Retire All Government Employees), but it’s of the same spirit.
Take the Civil Service Code and throw it on the regulatory bonfire, along with every obstructive procurement rule preventing us from becoming the AI capital of Europe.
Implement mandatory IQ tests for all new civil service hires and scrap the counter-intuitive stakeholder model of policy-making; ensuring government bureaucrats literally, not figuratively, live in The Real World.
Double the length of every sentence, especially for crimes which make civilised society impossible (murder, rape, theft, schmonking weed, etc.). Freedom, if nothing else, should mean the ability to go from A to B without being mugged, molested, or murdered.
Repeat offenders should receive at least one of the following: an extended sentence, a life sentence, chemical castration, or the death penalty. Tough on Crime, Tough on The Causes of Crime.
Abolish the Communication Act and its statutory predecessors to make speech free again. The less time the plod can spend harassing you for tweeting facts and logic, the more time they’ll dedicate to brutalising groomers of our nation’s children, vandals of our nation’s heritage, and abusers of animals.
Furthermore, abolish the Supreme Court and bring back the Law Lords – Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, eat your precious ‘modernising’ hearts out!
Speaking of which, if we can hand out titles to cronies, half-wits, and dodgy sorts, I’m sure we can take them away – put some actual aristocrats in Parliament; of spirit in the Commons and of blood in the Lords.
Abolish the TV licence fee and replace it with nothing. That or broadcast stuff worth watching – like reruns of Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation series or Spy x Family.
This is an excerpt from “Mayday! Mayday!”. To continue reading, visit The Mallard’s Shopify.
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Where do we go from Here? The paths to Liberty and Heritage – Book reviewBy Dinah Kolka — 5 months ago
Last August, a group of leading dissident right thinkers have gathered at a conference titled ‘Where do we go from Here? The paths to Liberty and Heritage’. Each speaker discussed in detail their own idea and concept of how to get the future they want – be it a libertarian pipe dream, an idyllic Hobbiton-like quasi-communist Trumpton, or a reactionary haven. Despite the speakers coming from a vast variety of backgrounds, they were all united by a few common goals – the desire for change, an appreciation for tradition, love for aesthetics and liberty.
Despite not being able to attend the event in person, I had the privilege of reading and reviewing the book that contained all the speeches from the event. I humbly, and not so modestly believe that the choice of the reviewer (me) was perfect – as I can cast an outsider’s eye into the book and review it from the outside as someone who hasn’t even stepped foot in the Warwick University, where the event took place.
The concept of the PATH FORWARD was a brilliant idea to, for once, put the dissident right towards a shared goal – instead of continuous Twitter-based infighting they could all contribute and map out their vision for the future. Bring out the wholesome, squash the grim and bleak.
There was a fair share of similarities – the themes of community, aesthetics, and traditionalism shone forth, which was only a good thing – it showed that despite any apparent differences, there is a common goal.
There were a few notable speakers that many of us have heard names of more than once – our very own Mallardite – Samuel Martin, the famed Academic Agent, and even Carl Benjamin – the creator of the popular Lotus Eaters Podcast.
Many speakers have mapped out the problems with the current world, to then proceed to explaining how to move on forward.
Naturally, one of the most hard-hitting speeches was the one written by Academic Agent, who decided to cover one of the subjects he seems to often hyper-fixate on – ‘Culture is Downstream from law’. Using many studies, research and quoting Caldwell, AA has elaborated on the subject which, I believe, links to the main theme of the event by expressing the need to be in power in order to legislate in order to enforce your own positive vision of reality in the form of Trumpton – an idea which was generally critiqued in the later speech done by Carl Benjamin.
It felt like AA’s essay hasn’t delved too much into the concept of the ‘where do we go from here’ as he already touched on this point many a time in his own YouTube channel – building a network of 10s, the new elite who are best in everything they do, the elite of the new Ubermensch, so to speak.
Following AA, we had speeches/essays by Alexander Adams and Edward Slingsby, both focusing more on the concept of aesthetics. Slingsby was concerned with the matter of architecture and how far it has been bureaucratised. He outlined a few clever ways of how to retake the architecture and return it to traditionalists. He suggests that the architects should try to build their networks with the likeminded individuals and find other creatives who would do the same. This was generally a very strong theme that permeated the entire book – the need for a strong community of likeminded men who can ensure the success and preservation of the values and ideas.
Adams, however, structuring his essay in a highly academic manner, debated the concept of choosing your opponents wisely and ensuring that you don’t alienate people who could help you which was a nice touch. Adams focused on the current tendency to censorship and how to avoid it. Adams is likely one of the best people to talk on this subject considering he published a book last year that discusses a similar subject titled Iconoclasm, Identity Politics and the Erasure of History. He also suggested that we need to steer clear from accelerationism advising that ‘you can’t take the Canterbury Cathedral and move it to Idaho’, as you lose the people and the atmosphere in the process. I disagree with this statement – one could make a very similar argument for returning the artifacts to their original place. You can and you SHOULD dismantle and take the Canterbury Cathedral with you. At least you saved it from the imminent ruin. It’s a tribute to the great of the past. But let’s not go on a tangent here because other than this, Adams certainly has a point – He continues by advising of the need of the preservation of the texts in the form of physical copies as well as the return to traditional means of communication – letters and email (how far we’ve fallen since email feels like a ‘traditional’ concept).
One of my favourite essays in the entire book was the one done by Samuel Martin (and I am not saying this because he is literally publishing this piece and he agreed to postpone my deadline on multiple occasions). Sam added a Zoomer-like breath of fresh air to the conference and a passion I have not sensed from other speakers. He decided to talk about the Utopia project. Utopia Project did specifically that – attempted to sketch out a positive idea for the future. Martin goes on to explain:
‘I have never understood why the right focuses so much on strategy. It’s not an irrelevancy, it’s very important. But surely you can only construct an effective strategy if you have a cohesive idea about what you want to achieve. You don’t build strategy first in the hope that you will get somewhere.’
And this captured the pure essence of the book – the creation of the cohesive idea of where we are going.
Ferro decided to dissect and deconstruct Klaus Schwab’s book titled ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and explain why it’s of the utmost importance that we ought to reject the kind of globalist technology he is proposing and ensure we return to tradition.
What I really liked was Not So Obvious’s article, very grounded, very focused on authenticity. He brought up something a lot of us don’t even realise sometimes, I think – how far we are removed from authenticity. The fact that money isn’t physical, the digitalisation of society, friendship, and romance. He offers a cure – by ensuring that we do more authentic friendship-building and doing more things in the real world.
One of the most wholesome elements of the book was the call for getting involved on the local scale in whatever way you can do it. Buy art from your fellow dissidents, read their magazines (worth noting, the Mallard was mentioned), start businesses, make meaningful friendships, find yourself a Twitter autist waifu. Some (Po the Person) even suggested that we should get involved in our local Conservative community and go drink wine with dusty old men who care about housing in your local area. Others advised learning a skill.
What I feel was very important that came across from it was that the path to liberty and heritage really starts from us. If you dislike the modern world, you must take steps to change something. First, you may need to change your outlook (Po the Person, Jogging to get somewhere), look to God for hope (Lambda, What Reactionaries can learn from the Bible), or if you’re a female, quit birth control (Aydin Paladin).
Once you’ve worked on yourself, you can try to tackle issues on the small, local scale, such as rejecting globalist technology and starting your own thing (Ferro, The Technology Problem), institution-building and networking (Samuel Martin), or doing things out in the real world (Not So Obvious).
The essays were all very well done with the speakers clearly highly knowledgeable within their chosen areas of discussion. The calls to change show that there are so many of us so strongly disaffected with the current reality. And this book and these essays map out of how we can disentangle this messy path of intertwined ideas and concepts and find a common goal we can all go towards – maybe not a utopian one but something clearer and more down to earth – a preservation of beliefs and values and passing them on to more people so we could make a meaningful change one at a time. If you’re interested, there is another event coming up relatively soon – if you’re interested – check out the website.
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In Defence of the Profits of Oil and Gas CompaniesBy Charles Amos — 5 months ago
Few companies today are less popular than those in the oil and gas industry. Shell, ExxonMobil and British Petroleum are all resented for the great profits they are now making. 79% of the public back yet another windfall tax to get these profiteering companies to subsidise their bills. This is despite the fact the existing levy, with pre-existing taxation, is already an extortionate 65%, following Rishi Sunak’s increase to it in May. No doubt, with the forthcoming £130bn plus price cap, further increases to the windfall tax will be touted as the means to pay for it.
Increasing the windfall tax on oil and gas companies’ profits would be wrong: any windfall tax on these companies’ profits is wrong. Individuals, and the companies they constitute, have a right to the windfall gains of their labour or property, even if they haven’t done anything to earn them. To seize these gains is to violate their rights, to use them unjustifiably. Any such levy must therefore be abolished, and any increase in them opposed.
Let us proceed to bolster the truth of this liberal position by refuting the principal argument for the existing windfall tax, and by deduction all increases too. We start with the contention that the profits of energy companies are ‘undeserved’. When Sunak increased the levy in May he argued it was fair because the companies’ increased profits have not come through “changes to risk-taking or innovation or efficiency”, but rather, have come as a “result of surging global commodity prices”. The essence of this argument is that individuals are not entitled to the income they have not had to do anything for. Although not Marx’s, Sunak’s reasoning shares with his the idea entitlements to incomes cannot be legitimised simply because they have arisen through free exchange. Some work needs to be done to confer deservedness.
It is then argued that the poor need support to get through the cost of living crisis, more than the companies’ shareholders need dividends, and this is a reason for the government to seize their profits via windfall taxation. Indeed it is predicted two-thirds of households could be in fuel poverty by January of 2023 (without further intervention). Together, the undeserved profits of oil and gas companies, and the needs of the poor, allow for a windfall tax for increased benefits to help the impoverished with their energy bills.
The problem with this argument for the windfall tax is it proves far too much. Consider this example: across the country the average salary of a plumber is £35,862, putting such tradesmen’s earnings 14% above the median. Now imagine for some reason half of all plumbers quit the trade and decide to become waiters instead. The remaining plumbers would see their wages increase significantly, even though they’re doing the same hours and work as before. Let us assume our plumber ends up being paid a wage, such that his household expenditure is £45,437.60, putting him in the ninth decile of spenders. This allows his household to spend about £11,117.60 on restaurants, hotels, recreation and culture, as of 2019.
According to Sunak’s argument, the plumber should be subject to a windfall tax. Both criteria are satisfied. First, the plumber has done nothing to see his salary increase. Second, the poorest households, who really struggle to pay for their food and increasingly large fuel bills, clearly could do with the money more. Indeed, the poorest decile spends only about £1,705.60 a year on food and non-alcoholic drinks, less than a fifth of the plumbers’ spending on leisure, and that was in 2019!
This is an unacceptable conclusion. Individuals have a right to the windfalls they derive from the voluntary exchange with customers and employers. To deny such a proposition is to accept whenever there is a shortage of labour in your trade or profession you are not entitled to bargain for a higher salary, or rather that the government is entitled to tax away all the additional income you may receive. Or at least it may tax it away insofar as others’ needs are greater than your own. I doubt my reader will want to embrace this. I believe this is because most of us implicitly reject the idea that individuals are only entitled to money they have worked for, or rather are only entitled to money insofar as it was proportionately worked for.
Consider the man who stumbles across truffles in his garden, he hasn’t worked for the money he receives on their sale; it’s sheer luck. Nonetheless, we accept he is entitled to their windfalls and should pay no more tax than anyone else with the same income. Equally, we accept people are entitled to the windfall on their car if it has become very popular, despite it being sheer luck such conditions have arisen. Indeed, it is sheer luck that beauty models are born beautiful. Yet no one is proposing taxing away their genetic-based windfall, with the bar being the income the average person would get going down the catwalk. I contend that the root of these beliefs is a commitment to defending the freedom of the individual to make as much money as he so can, in whatever activity he so chooses – even if sheer luck is the cause.
By analogy then, if individuals, e.g. our plumber, are entitled to their incomes from sheer luck, then so too must the oil and gas companies be entitled to their profits from sheer luck too (from globally higher commodity prices). The alternative would be to live in a dystopian world where each job, trade, profession and commodity market has a differential tax rate to eliminate all windfalls (for why allow a part to be kept). To a few this may appear but a minor inconvenience. However, as F. A. Hayek has explained, this would lead to the impoverishment of society, as prices would be unable to direct resources to their most efficient uses.
Consider, due to potato blight, the price of wheat increases dramatically as consumers switch to pasta. Today farmers of wheat would receive far larger profits as a result, due to the high price, despite having done no more work. This incentivises other farmers to shift to wheat production, from less urgently demanded crops, eventually pushing supply out, bringing the price of pasta back down. Resources are shifted from less valued to more valued uses and thus consumers are better off. If the state insisted, since wheat farmers are conducting no more work, efficiency-savings, investing or risk-taking, they should receive no higher price for their crop, the market would take far, far longer to adjust, and in the meantime, people would be worse off. Given these adjustments are always occurring across the economy, consumers would be permanently worse off if all windfall gains were taxed away.
Indeed it is even worse than this concerning the labour market. If half of the existing bin men decided to leave their jobs today the remaining bin men would see their wages go up, which would encourage new individuals into the role. If this wage weren’t allowed to go up though there would be shortages of bin men. To stop rubbish from going uncollected the state would have to conscript people into the position: These bin men would be slaves. Such is the conclusion one is forced to, as Hayek maintained, if rewards correspond not to the value which their services have for their fellows, but to the moral merit or desert the persons are deemed to have earned.
Clearly, if applied consistently, the principle no one should receive windfalls would impoverish the people, and require the conscription of individuals into many jobs. No man committed to living in a free society can thus permit the state to operate on such reasoning. Individuals have a right to their windfall gains, whether they be plumbers, or indeed the owners of oil and gas companies. The windfall tax must therefore be abolished, and failing that any attempts to increase it must be resisted every step of the way. Only then will the extraordinary profits of oil and gas companies remain where they should have always rightfully belonged: In the bank accounts of the shareholders.
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What the reaction to the Ukraine conflict reveals about national identityBy Lee Marshall — 5 months ago
A country is first and foremost its people.
Despite my best efforts I cannot remember where I came across that phrase, nor will I be so brazen to claim it as my own. Nonetheless, it has always struck me as being axiomatic, and current events in Eastern Europe have given me reason to reflect on it further.
The West, including our own country, has since the end of World War II (and in some circles even before then) eschewed notions of national identity and even the concept of the nation itself. Borders are seen by many as a physical expression of violent exclusion and “othering” of fellow human beings, who should be given immediate and untrammelled access to any society they wish; free at any point to up and leave for another.
Politicians, organisations and members of the public alike, particularly those on the Left, are quick to espouse the idea that migration and asylum are human rights, which sit above the rights and privileges that attach to existing citizens.
A cursory glance through the Guardian’s migration articles tells you everything you need to know about how the Left views borders and the right to self-determination in 99% of cases involving the West. They unceasingly extol the supposed virtues of multiculturalism and appear to truly believe in the idea of open borders, with scant regard to the existing people of a nation.
Yet on one matter, the notions of inviolable borders, the nation, its people and the right to self-determination have come flooding back into consciousness and are being defended vociferously by those who otherwise have spent the last 80 years denigrating them and holding in contempt those who seek to re-establish them as common sense norms.
What is it about the ensuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine that has stoked the fires of righteous indignation in defence of a nation presently undergoing a hostile invasion by another?
Surely the mounting death toll plays its part in this reaction. But I am not convinced that is all.
What we are witnessing, it seems to me, is on some level a tacit realisation and acknowledgement that there is after all such a thing as a nation state, a specified people attached to and belonging in that nation state, and the right of that people to remain distinct, separate, independent and free to maintain their own homeland. It is tacit, not because those who express dismay at the current situation do so silently, but because they do not openly admit the source of their opposition to Putin’s aggression.
Back in July 2021, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin wrote an article, published on the Kremlin’s official website – On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians – in which he outlines the common bonds that ultimately make Russians, Ukrainians and indeed Belarusians one and the same people.
“Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians are all descendants of Ancient Rus” he writes, “bound together by one language (which we now refer to as Old Russian), economic ties, the rule of the princes of the Rurik dynasty, and – after the baptism of Rus – the Orthodox faith…[which] still largely determines our affinity today.”
Of the constituent republics of the now defunct USSR, he says “Of course, inside the USSR, borders between republics were never seen as state borders; they were nominal within a single country.”
Mr Putin argues that “some part of a people in the process of its development…can become aware of itself as a separate nation” who should be treated “with respect.” He even goes as far as to suggest that those people should be welcome to establish a state of their own, but only after a satisfactory answer has been proffered to the question “But on what terms?”
It is clear that he does not truly believe the Ukrainians (or Belarusians for that matter) are as distinct from Russians as they like to believe. This he confirms later, essentially repealing his earlier platitudes, when he writes “But the fact is that the situation in Ukraine today is completely different because it involves a forced change of identity.” In other words, whilst some people undergo a change in identity and should be allowed to go their own way, this is not the case in Ukraine who have had such a change imposed upon them; a change it appears Mr Putin feels is incumbent upon him to help them resist.
Leaving aside the moral questions surrounding Mr Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine and whether he is justified in his view of the Ukrainians being fundamentally Russian, let us explore the principles he is applying.
What Putin is suggesting here is that the Russians and Ukrainians, though occupying separate, autonomous territories, comprise the same people, united by a common ancestry, language and heritage. In other words, the lineage of Ancient Rus endures, despite some fragmentation here and there along with the establishment of states independent from one another.
Such a set-up has historical precedent. The Ancient Greek City States were seen as being inhabited by fundamentally the same people – Greeks – yet each with their own independent territories, the citizens of which took on an identity derived therefrom whilst simultaneously maintaining their overarching Greek identity. One could be a Spartan and a Greek, or an Athenian and a Greek. Either way, one was still a Greek.
This shines light on something quite interesting in terms of the conception of a people. For, and I have long been aware of this, one’s citizenship merely denotes one’s rights and status within a state, not one’s membership of a people.
In other words, membership of a people, whilst it could be enshrined in law (and I think there are good arguments it should be – this appears to have been the impetus behind the idea of the nation state to being with, now weakened by lax immigration policy and the doctrine of multiculturalism), ultimately pre-exists that law and the citizenship that might formalise it. As Sir Roger Scruton wrote: “Nations emerged as forms of pre-political order that contain within themselves the principles that would legitimise sovereign government.”
This idea of pre-existence is quite clear in Putin’s understanding of the underlying indivisibility of Russians and Ukrainians. Yes, they occupy different states and maintain distinct citizenship. But, crucially, just like the Greeks, they share an overarching identity and membership otherwise not indicated by co-habitation of the same land.
No doubt millions of Ukrainians would reject this view point. Yet, in doing so, they too would be applying the same principle – namely that their being Ukrainian pre-exists the Ukrainian state. In fact they could reasonably argue, in contradistinction to Putin’s claims, that it is this very pre-existence which endows the Ukrainian state with its right to exist separately from Russia. Their very sense of themselves as a nation acts as the motivation behind their dogged defence of their national territory.
When it is said that a people have the right to self-determination, as many are now saying of the Ukrainians, which “people” do they mean? I think they can only reasonably point to a people who would in the absence of a state to call their own continue to be extant and identifiable.
If, for example, the state of Ukraine underwent a sea-change in its population such that the members of Ukrainian society, Ukrainian citizens, were largely Germans or Somalis or indeed a farrago of peoples of widely varying languages, cultures, customs, religions and historical descent/heritage, they would be Ukrainian in name only, solely by virtue of their citizenship. Assuming those who we presently know and recognise to be Ukrainian people occupy another region of the world, would they not continue to be Ukrainian notwithstanding that the territory of Ukraine would have been abandoned?
In fact it is quite obvious that Ukrainians are considered a people in their own right by the intention of the International Court of Justice to investigate claims of genocide as a result of the conflict.
According to Article II of the United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, genocide is defined as specified acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.”
I would submit that an awareness of a pre-existing membership of a particular and identifiable people has long been found in those of us who believe in nation states and borders. But I would also argue that that same awareness can be found in those on the Left who are denouncing the Russian invasion. For if Ukrainians are not a people in their own right, why should they have self-determination? If, as Putin holds, they are Russians, does it make sense to say that they are entitled to that determination? It would be tantamount to asserting that Russians are entitled to self-determination from Russians. Applying that logic, there should be no opposition to Surrey declaring a bona fide independence from the rest of England.
If those crying out in defence of Ukraine do not see a people that pre-exists its nation state, but rather a people identified only by the continued existence of that state, they nonetheless do acknowledge that Ukrainians are a distinct and separate people albeit merely by virtue of citizenship, irrespective of background.
Let us assume for a moment that is the correct view. This does not change the fact that Ukrainians, even by admission of the Left, have the right to decide for themselves their own future. Such a freedom must surely be unfettered, meaning that any and all decisions that could affect them within their borders should be within their exercise of control.
I think the notion of a people based on pre-existence to a state, though manifested and formalised by the creation of a state – a homeland – is the better one, without which the nation state is less well-grounded and defensible. Another reason is that if a people are identified by the existence of the state they occupy, what happens if that state ceases to exist?
None of this is to diminish the role that territory plays in the identity of a people. On the contrary, and as alluded to above, that role is of paramount importance.
The occupation of territory, together with the establishment of institutions endowed with a sense of identity and which reflect the culture of its people, is a direct manifestation of that pre-existing status that subsists in the absence of a law that enshrines and protects it.
Scruton put it thus: “National loyalty marginalises loyalties of family, tribe and faith… [placing] before the citizen’s eyes…a country…defined by a territory, and by the history, culture and law that have made that territory ours.” He goes on to say that “Nationality is composed of land, together with the narrative of its possession.”
As such, the nation state of a people – their homeland – becomes as much a part of their identity as their cultural practices. The loss of that homeland does not to my mind destroy them as a people but it is certainly a gross offence against their identity which serves to alienate them from themselves, even if not completely.
In this way, and as now brought to our attention in the most alarming of ways, borders matter. But more than that: the reaction to the invasion of Ukraine proves to us we already knew that, including those who ceaselessly advocate for the right of all and sundry to enter a Western country as if it were more their right to do so than our right to preserve our sense of who we are by exercising full control over our borders.
Russia might be invading Ukraine with tanks; the United Kingdom has been invaded by other means – unwanted mass immigration which has encouraged millions to arrive with their own cultures and sense of who they are in distinction to us who were already here and whose sense of ourselves is intimately bound up in our own homeland, its institutions and its history – now all under assault for being less than perfect and not reflective (rightly so) of peoples whose cultures and identities evolved thousands of miles from our shores.
It is time we recognised that if, as I would agree, Ukraine has a right to exist for the benefit of Ukrainians, detached from Russia and free to determine its own future, we in the West and in particular Great Britain, have that right also. We, too, are a people. Our state, our kingdom, might be the result of a unification of the English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish peoples, but each of us retains our own unique character and, importantly, homeland. Although there is some agitation to dissolve the union in Scotland (and in some parts of England), the preservation thereof derives from continuing mutual agreement without impinging on that uniqueness.
The same cannot be said for the results of mass immigration and multiculturalism which, whilst allowing newcomers to preserve their identities, serves to undermine ours whose is expressed in the country we have for a thousand years called home, but is now threatened with having to accommodate increasingly vast differences while losing the benefit of a retreat to somewhere recognisably ours such as was available to Englishmen and Scotsmen alike prior to 1945.
Any student of history can point to numerous examples of the inherent difficulties in establishing territorial dominion over multitudinous peoples who differ so widely in matters of culture and identity that open conflict eventually bursts out and engulfs the region. The situation as we face it in Great Britain, brought about by absurd notions of cultural relativity, is unsustainable.
The circumstances in which Ukraine now finds itself are objectively much more urgent and dire and, admittedly, have come about in a different manner: but the intended outcome is the same. Putin is, after all, making an attempt to reabsorb the Ukrainian people into a Greater Russian family, thereby extinguishing their identity. He will fail to do this absolutely, but if he succeeds in establishing dominion over the territory that otherwise acts as a significant expression of who they are, their identity will be materially reduced.
Such a loss would not necessarily mean a displacement of the Ukrainians to other lands, but the incursion of other peoples’ customs and laws, however similar Putin might hold Ukrainians and Russians to be. In this way, the expression of the Ukrainian people via a country and institutions that becomes less recognisable to them will serve to alienate them and prevent them from self-realisation and determination.
The Left knows this. They know that borders provide a delineation between “us” and “them” – this is of course why they hate borders. Yet in the case of Ukraine that same knowledge prompts them to defend, at least in word if not deed, the rights of the Ukrainian people to maintain a homeland for themselves.
If Putin does manage to subdue Ukraine in the immediate term, the longer term will be much more difficult. The Ukrainian people’s conception of themselves – a conception that pre-exists their own nation state – will likely prompt them to persevere in re-establishing it.
A country is first and foremost its people. But we in the West would do well to remember that if a people lose entitlement and independent jurisdiction over their homeland, whilst they might continue to endure in some form or other, their destiny will no longer be in their hands.
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