Month: March 2024

Cycling Around Japan

In early 2023, I began watching NHK (Japan’s state broadcaster, akin to the BBC) and discovered a breath of fresh air. A news channel that tells the news in English and has no weird politics or stances it pushes onto you. It was from this, that I noticed that a lot of their programs were different documentaries, mostly which were short that depicted various aspects of the nation’s culture and history. These often ranged from showcasing different cuisines to local history and sports from across Japan. It was from this, that I ended up on a show called ‘Cycling around Japan’, a simple show I must admit of individuals as the name would suggest, that cycle around Japan. A typical episode can be found here

Its format is simple: follow a non-native individual on a bike around Japan, watching them interact with and appreciate the different locations across the country. As someone who has never been to Japan, nor bikes, why should I be drawn to such programming especially as it is something that would not attract an individual like myself? To understand that question, we must first look closer to home as to why I do not watch my country’s state broadcaster.

Although criticism of the BBC has always really existed, it has become heightened in the last twenty years regarding the content it produces and its lack of impartiality. What the BBC typically used to do well in was its long-form documentaries, we can think of these being narrated by individuals like David Attenborough. Additionally, there are also short formatted programs that showcase the beauty and appreciation for the country we call home. From this great catalog of work, we now look at the BBC and its programs. A recurring trend we have seen emerge is that of the widespread self-hatred that makes up the BBC and often its presenting class. In recent years numerous programming and shows have been produced on the failings and detractions of Great Britain and the British people. Of course, the BBC still does produce great work and shows for all, but the rest of the time it suffers from an oikophobic disease which is particular to the modern West. But NHK does not have/ hold this problem, the programming is largely these very respectful documentaries that promote Japan and its people. 

The real question should be this, why does NHK work and the BBC receive widespread criticism? Well, I would argue it is because of shows like Cycling Around Japan, which we can contrast with other shows. How many times have you watched a show or a piece of media from the BBC, which has either been presented by someone who does not like the country they call home or completely misrepresents the nation as a whole? There is no Afua Hirsch, no David Olusoga and no Kehinde Andrews. I would argue this is part of a wider historical trend of showing only one side of a story, portraying the West/Europe in an ultimately negative light.

So why is Cycling around Japan different? 

Firstly, this is common across all NHK shows. Nearly all the presenters have a deep love and interest in Japan, the subject matter they are dealing with. Moreover, all the non-Japanese who do the cycling speak fluent Japanese, having lived in the country for a decade-plus, possessing an already basic level of respect and appreciation for the culture they are traveling through and exploring. There are times when BBC presenters are not too interested in presenting Britain at all, opting to address their subjects at an arms-length with a slight hint of embarrassment. NHK does the complete opposite. 

A show like Cycling Around Japan, works due to its simplicity and its appeal to traditional life, which for many makes the country a place of envy. From meeting furniture makers and sake brewers, we are constantly seeing and interacting with individuals dedicated to the perfection of their craft. It is this focus and interest in a wide range of activities all across the country, that creates this understanding and love of the little things in life. Combined with the added interest in beautiful scenery, clean peaceful streets, and rich history, we cannot help but fall in love with such a nation. A wholesome slice of life shown to us through the eyes of an English-speaking, non-Japanese person who throws themselves into every interaction and encounter. 

This is partly why NHK works and the BBC does not; its state broadcaster has lost this love and appreciation for the country it calls home and subsequently cannot produce anything like this of substance. What we can observe is something rather achievable, a national broadcaster that produces simplistic but enjoyable content that is not self-loathing. Indeed, content can be as simple as allowing a non-native to cycle around the country, meeting and learning about the nation as they go, and make for an excellent watching experience. Meeting artisans, farmers, and musical instrument makers, we are presented with a truer reflection of the country and its many inhabitants.

Photo Credit.

Let’s Talk About Sex (Work)

This tweet from @GraffitiRadical invoked quite the conversation. Well, as much conversation as you can have on Twitter. Some argued that it is empowering and that it’s a legitimate profession. Others argued that it’s exploitative and damaging. Some refuse to even use the term ‘sex work,’ favouring language such as prostitution. To others, it’s interchangeable.

However, currently and historically, the technical and legal term for sex work is prostitution, something many advocates wish to see changed, arguing the term creates stigma. Opponents of the practice would say this is rightly so, given the nature of the practice.

However angry the arguments, however poor, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s something that exists. It may be tucked away in the shadows of the night or blatantly advertised on OnlyFans, but it exists. They don’t call it the world’s oldest profession for nothing. Pictures and paintings showing prostitution still exist from the times of Ancient Rome. Courtesans could make a lot of money by being chosen by a rich benefactor. The 90s film Pretty Woman showed the profession in a new light.

Whatever you want to call it, there’s still a major debate about the morality and legality of prostitution. One only must look across the world to see how different cultures tolerate the practice-or if they do at all. That being said, laws do not always impact supply and demand. Prostitution exists in liberal secular nations as well as conservative religious ones. It happens in peacetime and in wartime. Prostitutes and clients come from all walks of life.

So, what is it really?

The Whos and the Whats

When we think of prostitution, we often think of ladies in revealing clothing on street corners. That may be true, but streetwalkers aren’t the only type of prostitute. There are those who work in brothels, massage parlours and bars, or as escorts or cam girls. One may think of the window and door girls in Amsterdam. Other forms exist but are rarer.

Statistically, it’s thought that the vast majority of prostitutes are women. According to Streetwalker, 88% of prostitutes in the UK. That percentage is likely applicable worldwide give or take, but we will never truly know given the taboo nature. Sadly, child prostitution is not unheard of and is indeed common, with some areas being tourist hotspots for those interested in that.

Entry into prostitution also varies.

Types of Legislation

There are five types of legislation regarding prostitution.


In legalisation, prostitution itself is both legal and regulated, as are associated activities such as pimping and earning money. Countries with this framework include The Netherlands, Argentina, Turkey, Bangladesh, and Germany.

The Netherlands is probably the most infamous example of legalised prostitution. Its capital of Amsterdam is a hotspot for prostitution, and its red-light district is equally well known. There is strict regulation of the trade as with any ordinary profession, and prostitutes have been required to pay income tax and register with the Chamber of Commerce since 2010. While they are taxed, they may also receive unemployment benefits, though they do not if they work through the opt-in system.

Some limits do exist to protect the vulnerable. The hire or use of prostitutes under 21 is illegal, as is purchasing sex from someone you know, or suspect has been trafficked. 

Despite benefits for the parties involved and protections for vulnerable people, it’s no cakewalk. The Netherlands still remains a top destination for human trafficking due to the demand for prostitution. Most prostitutes in The Netherlands are not native, giving credence to the narrative of human trafficking. Meanwhile, prostitutes themselves feel as though the government is not on their side. The majority of those who apply for registration do not get it, whilst local authorities are closing windows and do not allow prostitutes to book clients online. In response, prostitutes are complaining that the restrictions reduce demand and make it harder for them to find work.


New Zealand, Belgium, New South Wales and Northern Territory

Decriminalisation means that there are no legal penalties for prostitution but that it is not legal itself, nor anything associated with it. Countries with this framework include New Zealand, Belgium and parts of Australia, such as New South Wales and the Northern Territory.

New Zealand became a model for decriminalisation following legislative changes in 2003. Prostitution, living off earnings, soliciting and contracts are all legal. The government recognises it as work but does not promote it. Limitations do exist, such as using girls under 18, those on short-term visas entering the trade and non-Kiwis or Aussies owning brothels.

Whether or not this has succeeded in helping prostitutes depends wildly on opinion. Anecdotal evidence varies- the lady in this piece feels much safer, whilst another argues it’s still incredibly dangerous. A report from July 2012 by the New Zealand government concluded that whilst it was far from perfect, it had made steps in the right direction. This report says otherwise.

In terms of advocacy, the New Zealand Sex Prostitutes Collective (or NZPC) is the largest in the country. They help any prostitute and advocate for all types. Their website explains the New Zealand model and their case for why decriminalisation must stay.


In abolitionist legislation, the act of prostitution is legal, but everything else related to it is against the law. Countries with this framework include Madagascar, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico, Brazil, and Great Britain.

Great Britain has long had an abolitionist model. Like the Netherlands, it’s illegal to have sex with a prostitute who has been trafficked. The age of prostitutes is also set at eighteen, higher than the age of consent of sixteen. All other parts of prostitution, such as living off wages and brothels, are illegal.

Groups both for and against prostitution exist. Both the English Collective of Prostitutes and the Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM) support full decriminalisation. Streetlight U.K. and Beyond the Streets. Meanwhile, the safety of prostitutes in the U.K. is precarious. One 2018 article states that the mortality rate for prostitutes is twelve times the national average for example. Those with opposing views are at odds on what would help.


In neo-abolitionism, the act of selling sex is not a crime, but buying it is, along with other associated acts. This is often called ‘The Nordic Model.’ Countries with this framework include Canada, Spain, Ireland, Sweden and Norway.

Sweden’s lurch towards neo-abolitionism at the turn of the century was the first of its kind. In 1999, they made the act of selling sex illegal, with everything else remaining against the law.

A 2010 investigation from the Swedish government came to this conclusion:

  • Street prostitution had decreased.
  • The law had acted as a deterrent to prospective buyers of sexual services, reducing demand.
  • The law had deterred trafficking, as criminals had not so readily sought to establish organised trafficking networks in Sweden.
  • The number of foreign women in prostitution had increased, but not to the extent noticed in neighbouring countries.
  • Online prostitution had increased in line with all other sold services since 1999, but not to the extent that it could be said that street prostitution had simply migrated.
  • Exit strategies and alternatives had been developed.
  • There had been a significant change of attitude and mindset in society.
  • Adoption of the law had served as a pioneering model for other countries.

Street prostitution has also decreased by 50% since 1995. A 2021 report also showed that the use of online services has increased, particularly among young people.

As of 2023, prostitutes are taxed on their income.

Unfortunately, Sweden remains a top destination for sex trafficking. The number of those trafficked into the country has steadily increased over the years, particularly children. Sweden tends to be very proactive in combating trafficking, but opponents may point to this as an example as to why their laws do not work.

Red Umbrella Sweden, a group made up of current and former prostitutes, is one example of advocacy. They oppose the Nordic model and push for full decriminalisation.


In Prohibitionism, anything to do with prostitution, including the act itself, is illegal. Countries with this framework include Egypt, South Africa, the USA outside of parts of Nevada, China and Russia.

Prohibitionist Egypt actively prosecutes those who partake in prostitution. One can receive between six months and three years in prison for the crime, as well as a fine. All other acts linked to prostitution, including facilitating it and profiting from proceeds can get a person up to three years in jail. Adultery is also a crime, but one that unfairly penalises women more. Women who commit adultery can receive three years in prison, but for men it is six months, and only if it is done inside the home.

One way in which charges of prostitution can be avoided is through a temporary marriage-or nikah mut’ah. It is common in Muslim countries. For a specified period of time, which can be between hours and years, a couple is said to be married. This allows any sexual activity done in this time to be ‘legitimate.’ Payment is often involved, as is a dowry. The length of time of the marriage must be chosen beforehand and the father of the girl must give his consent if she has not been married before. It is said that Arab men often travel to Egypt for the summer and engage in these marriages. Both Western and Muslim feminists argue that this facilitates prostitution.

Arguments For and Against

Prostitution has its supporters and its critics. They make varying points based on personal views, religion, ideas of women’s rights, economics, and other things.


Consenting Adults: Probably the most libertarian argument of the bunch, some contend that as long as it’s involving consenting adults, then what’s the problem? An argument is to be made that so long as both sides are consenting to sex, then it is a victimless crime. One must also remember that they are surely consenting to risks of pregnancy and STIs by this action and are thus unable to complain about said risks. Philosophically, it’s an argument of self-ownership of the body, and thus being able to do with it as one pleases. If we circle back to those involved being consenting adults, then there’s the argument.

Taxation: In Nevada, Sweden and The Netherlands amongst others, prostitutes are subject to income tax. Brothels are also subject to business tax in Nevada. From a purely economic standpoint, some would argue that this is just good business sense. By legalising prostitution, you’re creating an income stream that can be used like any other. Those taxes may go into welfare benefits for the prostitutes themselves, or other things such as schools and healthcare.

Safety and Justice: Proponents argue that if prostitution is legal or at least decriminalised, then prostitutes who have been raped, robbed etc will be able to go to the police. This is the case in New Zealand, as police will respond to prostitutes in distress. Those for legalisation argue that by keeping prostitution underground, those who are in genuine need of help will not reach out due to fear of being arrested themselves. That is, however, assuming police will be of any help. That said, it also could reduce the risks of clients doing anything bad, as they would be aware that there are consequences.

Health: With some prostitutes having been arrested after large amounts of condoms were found on them, some argue that criminalisation may decrease the sexual health of both prostitutes and clients. If a prostitute chooses to have sex without a condom, there’s a potential spread of STIs, both treatable and more serious. Furthermore, if it is legal, then outbreaks can be more easily traced and stopped. One might point to Nevada, with its mandatory testing, condom usage and barring violent customers.

Inevitability: Prostitution is, as has been previously said, often named the world’s oldest profession. It happens in poor and rich countries, conservative and liberal places, and in both peace and wartime. One only must see how widespread it is. Thus, one might argue that seeing as prostitution is essentially an inevitability, it might as well be legal and moderated. After all, centuries of illegality haven’t stopped it. That being said- a lot of things are inevitable.


Forced Prostitution: There’s no way to determine the amount of prostitutes forced into the job by trafficking, but the amount certainly isn’t zero. Legalisation, even with law enforcement backing, does not necessarily prevent trafficking. There’s a bit of back and forth as to whether legalisation increases or decreases trafficking, but the point stands that it will always be there. By legalising it, it seems almost certain that violent pimps and traffickers will not have more of an imperative to flood the market.

Class and Sex: The vast majority of prostitutes are women. Of those in the trade itself, a number are either trafficked or come at it from an economic standpoint. Those who are most at risk of trafficking or survival sex come from minority and poorer socio-economic backgrounds. This thus puts them at a disadvantage when being put with clients who have the ability to pay for their services. Is that not taking advantage of the most vulnerable?

Normalises: Much in the same way the ‘consenting adults’ justification is a libertarian argument, the next is more conservative in nature. One might say that legalising prostitution might normalise it. For some, normalising it is not an issue. For others, they may not want to normalise casual sex with strangers. This is especially true if the clients are married as it could serve as an outlet for adultery. In a feminist twist on the argument, one might say that it normalises a more powerful person paying for the body of a marginalised one.

Doesn’t Stop the Root Causes: There are numerous reasons as to why people enter prostitution. Some want to simply work at something they enjoy or take advantage of the potentially good pay. Others are victims of trafficking, survival sex, poverty, or addiction. Some argue that legalising prostitution does not get to those root causes. People may still enter prostitution because of those reasons even if it is legal. Would it be preferable to help those most in need?

Doesn’t Stop the Violence: Proponents of legalisation and decriminalisation argue that prostitutes are safer under those methods. Whilst that may or may not be true, it doesn’t prevent violence at all. One might point to the murder of Anna Louise Wilson, a New Zealand prostitute murdered after the client refused to wear a condom. Another might point to the fact a prostitute was murdered in a German brothel, the largest in the world.

What Do We Do?

When it comes down to it, it’s clear that there isn’t much of a consensus on prostitution. Despite the trend towards legalisation and decriminalisation, there are still those who oppose it.

Prostitution isn’t just a woman- or a man- having sex for money. It’s about choice, desperation, desire, and fear. There are those who see it as a job, whilst there are those who were forced into it. Some want to leave. There are pimps, brothels, websites, street corners and clients, not by sheer accident, but because supply is often preceded by demand.

Of course, we must listen to prostitutes themselves. They are the ones with first-hand experience of selling their bodies at great risks and under varying circumstances. Many have been victims of child sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence, and addiction. For those who are comfortable in their trade, legalisation and decriminalisation is considered a comfort. For others, it’s no safety blanket. Indeed, many supporters of prostitution uniformly view prostitutes as consenting participants whilst many opponents uniformly view them as victims of manipulation. Unfortunately, things aren’t that simple.

There are some reading this who will want prostitutes to be able to freely work without governments coming down on them. There are others who may be disgusted at the idea of the state sanctioning it. Whatever the case, one hopes that this article has helped them understand the dimensions of debate which surround this controversial and complex issue.

Photo Credit.

Why Insects on an Island cannot Fly

When British biologist Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882) researched the birds and insects living on tropical islands in the 19th century, he observed that many species had gradually abandoned their wings. Insects were equipped with small legs and feet, but no flying apparatus.

The reason they were without wings was because their innate survival instinct would kill them. If the tiny, feather-light insect were to take off and – through a tandem of ocean winds and its curiosity – land on the sea, in all probability it was never to return home again. Nature has preserved these bugs from the dangers of this instinctive trait, of their deceptive curiosity. She has deprived these little critters of the weapons to accidentally, and in all their enthusiasm, kill themselves. But why didn’t nature do the same to us? Why did we get wings, with all the resulting consequences? More than a comparison, this is a metaphor. A metaphor that bespeaks the hubris and curiosity of human beings. It is also a metaphor about censorship and ill-considered decisions, but we’ll come to that at the end. Luckily this analogy simultaneously offers an antidote. An antidote that comes in the shape of conservatism, and some apolitical common sense.


Anyone who studies human behavior and its history notices that people have a fundamental fear of standing still, both physically, culturally and intellectually. As humans we – ab initio – have a reflex to think linearly, in past, present and future. This typical forward-thinking stems from the fundamental curiosity that characterises human beings. With necessity and inevitability, we search for a human nature and the principles that can construct our being. We do not only ask questions, but we also live the questions – after the spirit of Rilke. There is a constant desire to seek them out, study them, weigh them and above all conclude them. We have been doing this since the Homo sapiens developed self-awareness – years and years ago. This curiosity makes it difficult and almost unnatural for man to resign himself to his position, stand still and appreciate what he already holds.

From this curiosity, then, stems the illusion that as we progress more and more, we will eventually be able to grasp something better. Or in other words, we fly off to the perfect island where everything will be better than on the dreary island we were born on. An island-insect, if endowed with thoughts and desires similar to ours, would want to fly to another island, and might even try to do so instinctively even without these thoughts and desires. We, unlike these insects, are not held back by any natural limitations. We have managed through reason, tools and technology to make our way to any other island on the globe. This curiosity and ingenuity, however, holds significant challenges and perils for a society. The few people who seem to notice these risks are the conservatives, and they are the only ones who – often at the expense of their own image – can offer some counterweight to these innate sentiments.


Conservatism is – as the late Sir Roger Scruton (1944 – 2020) so beautifully observed – the philosophy of conservation. It is the philosophy of preservation, to protect what is good, to be grateful for what we have and to be critical of the delusion of the day. In other words, it is a philosophy born of love and appreciation. Love for a shared culture, land, language and country and appreciation for the work and sacrifices of the people who created such a place. Perhaps Austro-Bohemian composer Gustav Mahler’s comment encapsulates this very idea most succinctly, and deserves its mention: “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”

As a philosophy she seems – prima facie – rather stately and dusty, but not particularly bellicose or harmful. Yet today the majority of the so-called intellectuals seem to think of conservatism as some dubious ideology, something for old white men or a thing from a different time.

I stop writing for a moment, sip at my coffee and and wipe the ashes off my trousers. I think to myself: is this really what being conservative means? I am 24, well of this age, and do not – yet – feel like an “old white man”, however that should feel. But why do the people around me, my friends, fellow students, politicians, journalists, teachers, writers and philosophers seem so numb to these sentiments? Why the bad connotation of conserving something that is good?

After all, we conserve all sorts of things. In museums and archives, experts work every day to preserve ancient artifacts, statues, rugs, coins, drawings or paintings, to prevent them from being lost or broken, from being consumed by microscopic bugs, moisture or adverse temperatures. We value these objects. They are worth our resources, time and energy and deserve to be passed on to the next generation who will – hopefully – develop the same love for them. Conservatives who delicately, scrupulously and meticulously handle the fragile ideals on which our culture was built, are somewhat comparable to them.

However, what can be argued is that this is a skewed comparison because the conserved object is fundamentally distinct in both situations. Many people would argue that, unlike museum objects, the conservative is not trying to protect something that is worth protecting. Indeed, the opposite is often claimed, the conservative wants to conserve something that is inherently bad. Conservatism wants to perpetuate old patterns of power, inequality, hatred and oppression, preserving something that should have been destroyed and forgotten long ago. Let us not fall into this trap and assume that there are – still – a plethora of things worth preserving and cherishing.

The Open Sea

To ‘island-insects’, flying was a useful – and presumably quite ‘fun’ – quality that was being eliminated to ensure their survival. Thus, the creatures also parted with certain opportunities that existence offered them. They no longer enjoyed the freedom enjoyed by their ancestors, with the wind in their tails and their heads in the clouds, but it made something else possible, namely their survival.

The survival of a culture is less visible than the survival of an individual, a football coach in difficult waters or an Iberian bull-fighting for its life in a Madrid arena. It does not always perish in revolutions or iconoclasts, but in a quietly growing disinclination to conservation and stagnation. One only has to look at publishing house Puffin – censoring dozens of words in Roald Dahl stories last year – to see the pitfalls of such beliefs. Collectively we say: let’s make tabula rasa and finally move forward as a society”. In that same capacity however, we might leave behind something that may be more fragile and valuable than we hold it to be.

An old Russian adage can probably convey my message more adequately than my own pen can: you are born where you are needed, and that is on your own island. Let us not get lost in the endless opportunities that existence offers us, but celebrate its inherent beauty. Let us not fly too close to the sun or too far from our island, but take care of what we have been given, lest evolution eventually take away our wings too. For if we rush out to sea, we may realise that this island was not so bad after all, and will come to the painful conclusion that, so deep in the open ocean, this place may lie forever behind us.

Photo Credit.

The Burkean Dilemma – and The Need for Constitutional Vandalism

Cast your mind back to your infantile beginnings on the internet – do you remember when a mix of teenage dissent and good taste brought you upon hours and hours of Peter Hitchens clips? The talking points remain engraved in my brain at least. Scorning Elizabeth Truss for being a Liberal Democrat, lamenting the decline, smugly enjoying being the most right-wing man in the room; these old YouTube clips are foundational for many of us. It is through this canon that many reading, I’m sure, found themselves on the Right. Thereby the ideology of Hitchens and the most searing of his convictions have necessarily branded our  convictions – and made sour many aspects of reformation. 

Ironically, the Burkean is a Tory in its most visceral, honest conception. There is no mistaking the conservatism of this sort, it conserves – it is the noun made verb with very little impurities included. You know the lines, ask why the fence is there before you knock it down. You know the policies, maintain the Lords, maintain the Monarchy, maintain above all; the Constitution.

The Constitution of England is a truly beautiful phenomena; it is our unique testament unto this world. No other people over millennia could produce such a sprawling web of good governance and sound law. Furthermore, the fact it was never sat down and written, but came forth from our historical experiences over a thousand years further adds to its splendour. Through the test of time, it has not only secured this nation but irrigated the unique liberties afforded within it. 

It is the Constitution, and adoration for it, that makes a Tory. These sentiments are in-born, and felt from a young age before one has even been acquainted with the exacts of the Constitution. Hence, Enoch Powell as a young boy would take off his cap entering the chamber wherein the first Prince of Wales was born. Such a thing is but second nature to an inherently Tory character, it is an inseparable feature of their character to revere what has come before them – thereby their politics becomes a ritual of removing one’s cap and bowing. 

It is natural then that not just a principled opposition but a genuine disgust is exhibited when the foundations of our governance and law are tinkered with. It is felt that to damage the beams built over thousands of years that have maintained Britain’s Constitution is to risk a cave falling in on itself, and a millennia’s effort being destroyed in the process. Therein, the Tory is daunted to even mutter the name Blair. 

Removing privileges of the Lords and creating an American-style Supreme Court would likely have been enough to make Enoch Powell croak ten times over – and to this day continues to drive Peter Hitchens into the ground, and it’s clear to see why. The whole Blairite infrastructure continues to allow the spectre of New Labour to linger endlessly. Almost any attempt to combat mass immigration is smashed by some grotesque machination of an early 2000s civil servant. 

We have been shown time and time again that the subversive elements of our political class have no regard for these ancient precepts. It is no vice to bend the very structure of this nation in order to inject Liberalism through it. It is for this reason, that we on the Right find ourselves within a Burkean dilemma.

Our base instincts warn us against any constitutional reform. Whether we even express this fact outwardly, this feeling that what has worked for millennia should not be fiddled with is, as mentioned, a petit-pathology of ours. However, if we are to combat a force willing to bend these rules, then we doom ourselves if we do not adapt to this landscape. There is no virtue in taking off our caps to a nation in flames, safe in the knowledge that it was the good timber set alight. 

The Blair Cabal was willing to entrench a vapid, corrosive anarcho-tyranny within the fabric of this country, and Starmer will only bolster it as he takes up the torch. On these matters, we must unfortunately get our hands dirty. 

Let us use the debate regarding first-past-the-post as an example. Our nature appreciates this institution, it works reasonably well and has done since we thought voting would be a jolly good idea. However, as the Tories and Labour are both infected with the corrosive modernity of our day – what good is the thing? Reform, despite their best efforts, poll in some indications third in terms of vote share, yet are projected to gain not a single seat. The classic UKIP effect, a deliberate design of our voting system to ensure that radical sorts and ruffians can’t steer us on a path of destruction whenever a good demagogue comes about. This is a sound principle . . . when England was a nation of civil, well-mannered people. Hitchens reminds us – ‘there is an inch between Labour and the Conservatives, but it is within that inch we all live.’ This principle rings true when the key debates of a society concern marginal tax rates and the exacts of social spending. It rings a tone of death for a nation embroiled in the debates of our day. 

This constitution of ours is unique to us. It could not have come about among any other people, no other nation has matched our wonderful system of civil existence, and those that came close certainly did not happen upon it as we did. The English Constitution is nothing without the Englishman, thereby if the Englishman be doomed then so be his systems of governance and law. 

If we can determine that the threats that face us are existential, then the truth of the matter is we must bite the bullet and do away with some of these constitutional features. What good is maintaining first-past-the-post if we are to be a minority within our own homeland by the middle of this century? Why would some among us sooner see the passing of the Englishman than the reformation of what he has produced?

It is the nature of our folk that produced these things; if we lose our nation we lose everything. If some of our dearest institutions must be cleared out it is a price worth paying for our survival. If a fence in the forest impedes us, we have no time to consult a passerby on the reason for its presence when behind us a bear looms. 

The Burkean dilemma is this – the Constitution or England. First-past-the-post or our survival. The House of Lords or English children with a future to look forward to?

Photo Credit.

Beware The British Dream

‘Dying societies accumulate laws like dying men accumulate remedies.

– Nicolás Gómez Dávila

On an economic, cultural, and political level, Britain has visibly become more American over the past few decades. Partially due to globalising processes which have occurred throughout the USA’s 30-to-40-year hegemony, the Americanisation of Britain is largely downstream from domestic decisions to ‘modernise’ the country. Possibly the most famous incident of Americanisation in recent British history was the creation of The Supreme Court, an artificial instalment of the Blair-Brown governments with precisely zero political or legal precedent, lacking any institution before it which can accurately or honestly be described as an official or spiritual predecessor.

Despite its arbitrary and fabricated existence, The Supreme Court has been reimagined as an ancient institution of Britain, and has visibly impacted the structure, practice, and direction of contemporary politics, from overriding the prorogation of Parliament to striking down the policy of an elected government as ‘unlawful’. Even basic political education has been contorted with irrelevant concepts and downright myths to assimilate this alien institution. Britain’s current and future leaders and representatives understand and articulate their nation’s political system through an American framework, believing Britain is founded on a Montesquieu-esque ‘separation of powers’ and has an ‘uncodified constitution’.

However, it’s abundantly clear the Americanisation process intends to contaminate much more than just the laws of Britain, but the spirit which said laws are meant to be derived and understood. Up until the early 2010s, the concept of ‘The British Dream’ simply did not exist. If one enters ‘The British Dream’ into Google’s Ngram Viewer, usage of the term is few and far between with static growth up until the early 2010s, throughout which the term skyrockets.

Loosely related ideas of social mobility and aspiration were well-established throughout preceding decades, but the specific notion of ‘The British Dream’ – as an explicit reference and/or equivalent to the American Dream, functioning as an integral, binding aspect of our national identity – really had no cultural, political, or academic significance. Before the 2010s, the small handful of instances in which The British Dream was mentioned usually referred to the non-existence of such a concept. In 2005, Boris Johnson said the UK had failed to articulate a British Dream comparable to the Americans, suggesting a key step towards realising such an ideal involves ensuring everyone in the UK speaks English.

Following the 7/7 Bombings, then-Conservative leader Michael Howard described The British Dream in aspirational terms, linking it to ideas of fairness, equality of opportunity, and the ‘need to break down the barriers that exist in too many people’s lives – and minds – that prevent or deter them from making a success of life.’ From what I’ve observed, a good chunk of the pre-2010 references to ‘The British Dream’ are directly referring to Michael Howard’s usage and understanding of the concept.

In 2007, the concept was described in similar terms by academic Professor George Rodosthenous, a specialist in musical theatre writing on the story of Billy Elliot. A story about a young boy escaping his Northern background, initially prevented by his uneducated, toxically masculine, Blue Labour trade unionist father, to become a London-based ballet-dancer and proud LGBTQI+ ally. Rodosthenous identified The British Dream as ‘a term which needs urgently a definition’, defining it as ‘the desire to do better than one’s own parents.’

Announcing his bid to lead UKIP in 2016, then-MEP Stephen Woolfe defined ‘The British Dream’ as ‘the chance to succeed in your life, no matter your postcode, your gender or the colour of your skin’, using his mixed heritage (Jewish mother, African-American father) and council estate upbringing as proof.

The concept is even used by high-ranking politicians. In her 2017 Conservative Party Conference speech, then-Prime Minister Theresa May promised to bring back ‘The British Dream’, defining it as the idea ‘each generation should do better than the one before it.’ Similar to Woolfe, she referenced her family background (specifically, her grandmother’s role as a domestic servant) to support the notion that upward mobility is central to Britain’s identity.

In a BBC interview discussing ‘The British Dream’ in 2017, Professor Pamela Cox, social historian at the University of Essex, reaffirmed this interpretation, stating: ‘The British Dream has come to stand for home ownership, having a secure job and a living standard higher than your parents.’

In an interview with The Telegraph in 2022, Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi declared: ‘I am living the British dream’, having gone from an Iraqi child refugee to Chancellor of the Exchequer (albeit very briefly) and becoming one of several contenders (again, albeit very briefly) for Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader.

So where does the term come from? For the most part, present usage of The British Dream can be owed to David Goodhart’s book of the same name. Published in 2013, it documents the success and failures of post-war immigration to the UK. However, for the most part, the book is an extension of the ideas produced in previous works by Goodhart, so much so that prising them apart feels like splitting hairs.These works include ‘Too Diverse?’, a widely read essay for Prospect Magazine published in 2004, and ‘Progressive Nationalism’, a follow-up pamphlet published in 2006, the latter of which is particularly important, given that it constructs a ‘solution’ to present problems whilst the former is entirely analytical.

‘Politicians of the centre-left in Britain, and elsewhere in Europe, are trying to raise the visibility of national citizenship in response to growing anxieties about identity and migration in our more fluid societies – but they often do so defensively and uncertainly. Britain does need a clearer idea of citizenship and a robust protection of the privileges and entitlements associated with it. Indeed, an inclusive, progressive, civic British nationalism – comfortable with Britain’s multiethnic and multiracial character and its place in the European Union (EU) – is the best hope for preserving the social democratic virtues embodied in a generous welfare state and a thriving public domain.

Initially directed at the British centre-left, support for Goodhart’s proposal mostly stemmed from the Tory and Tory-adjacent right. Since 2017, Goodhart has been Head of the Demography, Immigration, and Integration Unit at Policy Exchange, one of several free market, centre-right think tanks. However, this shouldn’t be surprising. Despite hailing the ‘social democratic virtues’ of Britain, the thrust of Goodhart’s proposal is considerably (albeit, not entirely) Thatcherite in nature, making Trevor Phillips’ ‘liberal Powellite’ accusation correct in at least one regard.

Goodhart identifies himself as part of the broader post-liberal movement, of which Progressive Nationalism is but one of several ideological tendencies. I shall elaborate on post-liberalism (and my own personal issues with it) in a longer piece. The important point here is that post-liberalism is not anti-liberalism (as post-liberals will eagerly remind you) and aspires to make alterations – in their words, a ‘rebalancing’ of a lop-sided political order – within the prevailing paradigm of liberal-democratic capitalism; an arrangement perceived to have triumphed over all alternatives, thereby forming the basis of any supposedly legitimate arrangement.

As such, the compatibility of a post-liberal doctrine and Thatcherism (despite their widely publicised disagreements) shouldn’t come as a shock. Thatcher herself consistently defended the free-market for its ability to generate prosperity which could be taxed as revenue to fund and improve public services – the type of institutions Goodhart encourages us to unite around in an increasingly diverse society. Thatcher’s influence on the development of The Blob also goes hand-in-hand with this point, as does the ease by which Blair built upon her legacy, but I digress.

Intuitively, Progressive Nationalism seeks to shape a ‘progressive national story… about openness and opportunity’ – that’s the progressive element, enabled largely (albeit far from exclusively) by bringing immigration ‘down to more moderate and sustainable levels’ – that’s the nationalist element. Similar to other post-liberal projects, it pulls from both the centre-left and the centre-right, aspiring to reconfigure the content of the political centre within its pre-established ideological parameters.

In specific terms, Progressive Nationalism posits a strong state can and should provide cultural and economic security for the exclusive benefit and enjoyment of its citizens, ensuring a basic degree of monoculturalism in an otherwise liberal political order and a relatively generous welfare state in a broadly globalised free-market. Indeed, this doesn’t sound too bad, but a few details should be noted before going further.

Firstly, Progressive Nationalism (like many post-liberal tendencies) was explicitly designed to act as a containment strategy or ‘moderating’ ideology for the political centre; a comparatively liberal, inclusive, and civic alternative to potentially more conservative, tribalistic, and ethnocultural manifestations of nationalism:

‘The alternative to a mild, progressive nationalism is not internationalism, which will always be a minority creed, but either chauvinistic nationalism or the absence of any broader solidarities at all.

Secondly, unlike the more reactionary versions of nationalism that Goodhart dissuades against, Progressive Nationalism proclaims Britain’s transformation into a multi-ethnic society is both morally neutral and a foregone conclusion. For all the differences which exist across Goodhart’s work, such as his pivot away from describing an America-style national myth as ‘probably not possible to emulate… may no longer be possible either’ to the development of The British Dream, his belief that diversity is destiny remains a reliable constant. Marking the 20-year anniversary of ‘Too Diverse?’ in The Times, Goodhart maintains the necessity of creating a post-ethnic nation state with conclusive conviction:

‘I look at what is coming our way and I think we need the galvanising and unifying power of the post-ethnic nation state more than ever. We need it to lean against fragmentation as we head towards a 40 per cent minority population by 2050.

As such, the state must be willing and able to responsibly manage this transition, which Goodhart argues can and should be assimilated to the native populous by maintaining a high degree of economic development and conformance to fundamental liberal values, even among self-described non-liberals. In anti-political fashion, this would reduce the potential for non-liberal practices and convictions to develop into actual political or cultural challenges. thereby creating Division:

‘Diversity in itself is neither good nor bad, it is fairness that matters. Clearly, a developed, liberal society such as Britain can and does sustain a huge variety of beliefs and lifestyles, all of which are compatible with an adequate sense of Britishness. We do not all have to like each other or agree with each other or live like each other for the glue to work. As the philosopher David Miller has written:

‘Liberal states do not require their citizens to believe liberal principles, since they tolerate communists, anarchists, fascists and so forth. What they require is that citizens should conform to liberal principles in practice and accept as legitimate policies that are pursued in the name of such principles, while they are left free to advocate alternative arrangements. The same must apply to immigrant groups, who can legitimately be required to abandon practices that liberalism condemns, such as the oppression of women, intolerance of other faiths and so on.

Thirdly, finally, and unsurprisingly, Progressive Nationalism (despite its name) fundamentally does not regard Britain as a nation – a particular ethnocultural group – but as a state. That is, ‘Britain is (technically) not a nation at all but a state.’

Despite this, Goodhart is perfectly aware of the demographic implications of mass immigration, accepting the existence of homophily – ‘To put it bluntly, most of us prefer our own kind’ – even when concerned with a diverse in-group – ‘those we include in our in-group could be a pretty diverse crowd, especially in a city like London’ and that demographic change has been responsible for various forms of division (ghettoization, mutual resentment, political extremism, etc.). Moreover, far from being a defender of Britain’s policy of multiculturalism, Goodhart describes it as ‘overzealous’, dismissing the establishment’s previous attempts at promoting unity in a diverse society as insufficient at best: ‘The multi-ethnic success of Team GB at the 2012 Olympics and a taste for chicken tikka are not sufficient to forge common bonds.’

In fact, it is recognition, not ignorance, of immigration’s shortcomings that has given rise to a ‘Progressive Dilemma’ – the incongruence between social solidarity, diversity, and their respective benefits, as co-existing political priorities (i.e. immigration undermining the social trust necessary for a basic welfare state). Goodhart tries to resolve this dilemma by shifting the boundary of the political community from the nation to the citizenry, as recognised by the state. In this respect, Progressive Nationalism is distinctly anti-populist, especially anti-national populism, as a matter of political strategy and in its ideological details.

Whilst Populism attempts to recreate sense of peoplehood from the bottom-up, defining its boundaries in opposition to the elite – with National Populism doing so along the lines of a national group against an international elite – Progressive Nationalism attempts to recreate a sense of peoplehood from the top-down by adjusting pre-existing bureaucratic structures; that is, mechanisms which only exist as an expression of the primordial nation, something the Progressive Nationalist framework deliberately obfuscates by ‘blurring the lines between the civic and the ethnic.’

Conceding that a degree of exclusion being necessary for the existence of a state, Progressive Nationalism centres around the exclusivity of the state’s resources and benefits to those with bureaucratically sanctioned access, rather than the survival and self-determination of a particular ethnocultural group.

Having established this, Goodhart outlines several exclusionary measures to form the basis of a Progressive Nationalist state; benefits afforded exclusively to the citizenry, underscored by rituals which foster solidarity along post-national lines. For starters, A points-based immigration system to reduce illegal and lower-skill immigration, electronic embarkation controls, and an annual migration report created by an independent migration panel, are all fairly universal proposals amongst immigration restrictionists.

Additionally, Goodhart proposes tiered citizenship, comprised of those with ‘a more formal, full’ citizenship and those with ‘British resident status with fewer rights and duties’ for temporary immigrant workers without dependants. Immigrants would not be entitled to British citizenship, only to those who ‘worked their passage’. This so-called ‘passage’ includes a probationary period for citizenship, in which new arrivals would not qualify for full political and welfare rights but would be granted on completion, assuming one hasn’t committed a crime above ‘a certain degree of seriousness’. Such a process would be accompanied by citizenship ceremonies, rigorous citizenship and language tests, and oaths of allegiance, thereby ‘belatedly bringing Britain into line with much of the rest of the developed world, including the United States.’

By definition, residents (non-citizens) would not have the benefits of citizenship, especially ‘long-term benefits’ – pensions, social housing, etc. By contrast, not only would the citizenry have access to ‘generous welfare and thriving public services’, the identity and solidarity of the citizenry would arise from their shared access (and shared investment in the success of) these public services.

‘As society becomes more diverse and more affluent, our sharing of common spaces and institutions dwindles. Those public institutions that we do still share, such as education and health services, become more important.

However, access to public institutions rests on the proviso that citizens demonstrate ‘appropriate behaviour, such as the commitment to genuinely seek a job in return for unemployment benefit’ and seek social insurance over welfare payments wherever possible. Goodhart justifies this restrictiveness on the basis that open access to such resources is no longer feasible in a globalised and mobile society. It is also on this basis that Goodhart proposes the introduction of ID cards, both to track who is and isn’t in the country and to identify who is and isn’t entitled to state welfare.

Goodhart is very fond of ID cards, seeing them almost as a silver bullet to Britain’s problems. According to Goodhart, they can be a solution to Britain’s Progressive Dilemma, something which can be ‘a badge of Britishness which transcend our more particular regional, ethnic or racial identities’, and form of economic reassurance, claiming ‘identity cards… will demonstrate a commitment to using taxpayers’ money fairly’ and ‘ensure citizens that access to public services… is based on a protected entitlement.’

Moreover, by making the line between citizen and non-citizen more visible, which supposedly enables a fairer distribution of state resources, Goodhart suggests ID cards can mitigate any mutual resentment felt between minorities, who might otherwise ask for special treatment, and those of the majority group, especially those who felt ‘left behind’ in an age of globalisation. That said, Goodhart realises ‘much integration takes place spontaneously in private life’ especially in the ‘middle-class suburbs and professional and business life.’  As such, rather than directly intervening in people’s livelihoods, public authorities should provide positive incentives to mix and disincentives to separate to ‘ensure a high degree of trust-building contact’.

Such trust-building initiatives would include a ‘British Liberty Day’ (or simply Britain Day, in later references) to celebrate ‘the post-1689 Whiggish Liberal culture’ of ‘constitutionalism, rights and commerce’ and ‘a Whiggish story… from the Magna Carta to the race discrimination laws’ being taught at every level of education; one which would contextualise the ‘gradual extension of citizenship rights’ and establish Britain’s national myth as a nation of ‘brave islanders defending freedom against domestic tyrants and continental conquerors’, building a liberal fraternity between citizens of different backgrounds.

For the same reason, Goodhart argues ‘there should be a policy bias against faith schools’ and ‘a single national religious education curriculum which applies to faith schools’. Additionally, veils should be discouraged in public spaces and strong incentives directed at the south Asian community to find spouses in Britain, rather than returning to the subcontinent, as such a practice can ‘short-circuit the process of integration by bringing in spouses who are often completely new to Britain’s norms and language.’ Goodhart concedes ‘it is not appropriate for a liberal society to interfere directly in the marriage choices of its citizens, but it is appropriate for a liberal society to control who becomes a citizen.’

If it isn’t obvious by now, Goodhart defines British culture in explicitly liberal terms. True to post-liberal form, Progressive Nationalism is an attempt (albeit grounded in often astute observation; again, like many post-liberal tendencies) to insulate and maintain what is otherwise a vacuous political structure that risks being filled by forces which are perceived to be less-than-liberal overall.

What does any of this have to do with The British Dream? Simply put, The British Dream holds the Progressive Nationalist state together. Pulling on Bhikhu Parekh, a leading proponent of multiculturalism and arguably the most influential political theorist in Modern Britain, Goodhart argues ‘a primary emotional commitment to this place andits people’ is required to hold society together:

‘Societies are not held together by common interest and justice alone. If they were, the sacrifices that their members make for each other including sharing resources and giving up their lives in wars and national emergencies would be inexplicable. They need emotional bonding . . . that in turn springs from a common sense of belonging, from the recognition of each other as members of a single community. And that requires a broadly shared sense of national identity – a sense of who they are, what binds them together and makes them members of this community rather than some other.

Surprisingly, this emotional commitment isn’t the personalistic institution of the monarchy. Whilst it is viewed as a valuable resource, it is ultimately a secondary characteristic of the state. Instead of using it as a common institution to act as a lynchpin for a diverse citizenry, Goodhart attributes the value of the monarchy to its present popularity and little else, predicting the emergence of a ‘national republicanism with British characteristics’ which will hollow it out to a greater extent.

Rather, this emotional commitment is to the meritocratic power myth of The British Dream. Having failed to handle post-war immigration effectively, Goodhart argues we require ‘a national identity that feels meaningful, that is open to settled minorities and to newcomers and is completely ordinary – The British Dream in practice.’ In summary, it is a retroactive measure to an unwanted policy of mass immigration; an opportunity for the political class to save face and make the indigenous nation comfortable with an inherently uncomfortable arrangement by appealing to a universal desire for intergenerational progress; paradoxically, a specific place defined by its universalism.

In the small handful of references to ‘The British Dream’ throughout The British Dream in, Goodhart explicitly refers to the ability of Chinese and Indian individuals to enter high-status professional roles from low-status family backgrounds as the essence of the concept.

‘One test of who has been upwardly mobile and who hasn’t can be found on the British high street – in the corner shops and restaurants run by people of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Chinese background. All four of those groups were overrepresented in self-employment on the high street in the first generation. Today, rates of self-employment have fallen quite sharply for those of Chinese and Indian background, as the next generation have gone on to become lawyers accounts and teachers – living The British Dream – whilst many Pakistanis and Bangladeshis remain in low status self-employment.’

That’s right, the height of Britishness is not being actually British, but being non-British and succeeding in Britain… something every British person famously does and wants. The British Dream is about being born to uneducated and paranoid provincialists – uppity Brexiteers who need to be assured (civilised) that the ongoing changes (destruction) to their country will be conducted slowly and prudently – and joining the educated, mobile, cosmopolitans in The City; shedding one’s heritage to the extent it becomes a hollow ornament to liven-up the corporate rat-race. In Goodhartian terms, going from a lowly Somewhere to a respectable Anywhere… just like Billy Elliot! Indeed, by these metrics, a person of non-British descent becomes more (spiritually?) British than a person of British background should the former be successfully dissolved into the laptop classes of London.

Counteracting liberalism’s crusade to the lowest common denominator of communal belonging, The British Dream reorients the political focus upwards, emphasising the shared desire for social mobility, without actively reversing the foundations on which this new orientation is constructed. In fact, besides a general concession to reduce immigration, Goodhart openly concedes to the direction of travel which has been occurring for the aforementioned 30-40 years: ‘Diversity can increasingly look after itself – the underlying drift of social and economic development favours it.’

Instead, it opts to bureaucratically insulate this new, lowly base of subsistence through moderate degrees of welfare chauvinism and social engineering. In no uncertain terms, it tries to bandage against the disintegration of the people without directly addressing the causes for such a process, wording the solution as a necessary measure, rather than a political choice:

‘It might seem odd to call a book that is in places about what a mess we have made of post-war immigration, The British Dream. But when a country is changing very fast, as Britain currently is, it needs stories to reassure and guide it. Unlike the American Dream, the British Dream is a phrase that does not trip off the tongue, the British tradition is more pragmatic than visionary. But it is time we started getting our tongue round the phrase.’

Is it? Must we change who we are to accommodate liberalism and its consequences? Bureaucratising the identity of an entire ethnocultural group to act as a barrier against social division and disorder that has been reversed countless times in other places on Earth? Is Britain’s claim to exceptionalism that it is the only country without a political class to prevent the collapse of a White British supermajority within these isles? If not for the entirely reasonable pursuit of national self-determination, then to reasonably attain any integrationist model that doesn’t run the risk of turning Britain into a larger version of London, where particularising diversity obviously hasn’t worked, despite the snobbish parochialism of self-described cosmopolitans. Indeed, this project places a lot of optimism in the state’s ability to manufacture solidarity through artificial forms of belonging which are supposedly more attractive than organic ones.

Much like the Windrush Myth, The British Dream shamelessly attempts to retroactively legitimise the growing migrant population in the minds of the masses, this much is obvious. However, even if this wasn’t the case, how do would such a myth help us understand ourselves when much of British history was absolutely not meritocratic or fluid? Needless to say, very few were living The British Dream in our own land when we built the Empire, or prior to the creation of the Union. The British Dream did not defeat the French at Trafalgar, the enemy did not cry ‘Sacre bleu! Fairness and openness have destroyed our frigates!’ – they feared men with names unlike their own, a language they did not understand, belonging to a different bloodline, flying a flag they did not recognise.

Overall, The British Dream, its related tendencies, and its consequences sound like a nightmare. Even on its own terms, what good is this ‘dream’ or any of its adjacent ideas, if it’s not something We desire, but a cackhanded imposition by sheer and supposed necessity? It is solution by comparison to malicious negligence, but a solution constructed on the concession of the British nation to its marginalisation, in the physical and the abstract, and its presumably ’inevitable’ demise. An easy, smooth, therapeutic demise, but its demise, nonetheless.

Photo Credit.

Islam as Arabism

‘Here the initiative individual […] regains his place as a formative force in history. […] If he is a prophet like Mohammed, wise in the means of inspiring men, his words may raise a poor and disadvantaged people to unpremeditated ambitions and surprising power.’

– Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History

That Islam is a sociopolitical ideology as well as a religion hardly requires demonstration. It included a political component from its very inception, since tradition has it that Muhammad was the Muslims’ worldly ruler as well as their spiritual leader. The caliphs succeeded him (‘caliph’ means ‘successor’) in that capacity: they, too, were political and religious rulers in one. If the caliphate had not been abolished in 1924, non-Muslims would likely be much less blind to Islam’s political side.

This political side is too rarely acknowledged. However, even less attention has been paid to the ethnic aspect of Islam’s politics. Hardly any commentators seem to mention the undercurrent of Arabism present in the Mohammedan creed – yet once one has noticed it, it is impossible to ignore. Islam is not just any ideology; it is a vehicle of Arab imperialism.

Some readers may not readily see any such ethnic element, but others will likely find it obvious. In Algeria, for instance, Islam is widely taken to be a facet of ‘Arabdom,’ which is why proud Berbers tend not to be passionate Muslims. It is not just non-Arabs who believe that Islam and Arabdom are intimately linked. Consider that Tunisia’s ‘Arab Muslim’ character is mentioned in the preamble to the country’s constitution. Likewise, Morocco’s constitution states that Moroccan national identity is ‘forged by the convergence of its Arab-Islamic, Amazigh and Saharan-Hassanic components.’ Such language underscores the essential connection between Arab identity and Islam. What follows is a brief overview of some aspects of this connection.

The Traditions

The traditional accounts of Islam’s early history, including the hadith, contain plenty of naked Arabism. In this context, we can largely set aside the question of whether these accounts are reliable. For the most part, it scarcely matters whether the traditions are true or fabricated; it only matters that they are believed.

Perhaps the most infamous racist hadith is the one in which Muhammad describes black people as seeming to have raisins for heads. The saying in question is Number 256 in Book 89 of volume nine of Bukhari’s anthology: ‘You should listen to and obey[…] your ruler even if he was an Ethiopian (black) slave whose head looks like a raisin.’

Some Muslims try to divert attention from the questionable physical description and onto the statement’s supposed egalitarianism. They claim this passage expresses a progressive sentiment that people of any race could be worthy rulers. However, one should bear in mind the context: the next two hadiths likewise extol obedience to rulers. For example, Number 257 has Muhammad say: ‘A Muslim has to listen to and obey (the order of his ruler) whether he likes it or not, as long as his orders involve not one in disobedience (to Allah).’ The common theme in these stories is the requirement to submit to those in power. Against this backdrop, the hypothetical Ethiopian ruler is clearly mentioned in order to emphasise how absolute this duty is: it applies even if the ruler belongs to an inferior ethnic group. Similar examples of racism in the hadith and other Islamic sources are listed by Isaac Marshall.

As Robert Spencer shows in Did Muhammad Exist?, early Arab politics under the Abbasid dynasty was marked by references to Muhammad’s example to promote various causes, notably including ‘the rapid expansion of the Arab Empire.’ This sometimes included strong ethnic undertones. As Spencer notes, Muhammad was reported to have said that Muslims would conquer ‘the palaces of the pale men in the lands of the Byzantines’ and to have announced: ‘the Greeks will stand before the brown men (the Arabs) in troops in white garments and with shorn heads, being forced to do all that they are ordered.’ Why mention the Byzantines’ lighter complexion? Presumably, this served to underscore their ethnic distinctness (non-Arabness) and, by implication, their inferiority. As for the second quote, it clearly portrays Muhammad as having wished for the Arabs specifically, rather than Muslims of any ethnicity, to dominate the Greeks.

According to tradition, having garnered only a handful of followers in Mecca, Muhammad achieved his first major success in Yathrib (later Medina). This milestone was made possible by an ethnic conflict between Arabs and Jews in which the former deemed him useful for their cause. ‘The Arabs of Yathrib,’ explains Ali Sina in Understanding Muhammad and Muslims, ‘accepted Muhammad readily, not because of the profundity of his teachings, […] but because of their rivalry with the Jews.’ It was in Medina that Islam’s trademark Jew-hatred truly began to burgeon.

Over a millennium later, the resources of Muslims worldwide are still being drained in service to an Arab struggle against Jews in Israel – and Islam is the tool through which those resources are extracted. Of course, not everyone in the Muslim world is content with this arrangement. In Iran, which is now a mostly non-Muslim country, protestors chant: ‘Forget about Palestine, forget about Gaza, think about us.’ Likewise, the Moroccan Amazigh Democrat Party (a Berber organisation now renamed ‘Moroccan Ecologist Party – Greens’) stands for both secularism and ‘normalizing relations with Israel.’ The more a group is free from Islam, it seems, the less need it feels to sacrifice its own interests in order to help Middle Eastern Arabs re-conquer Israel.

The History

Islam’s history shows it to be, from its beginnings, fundamentally intertwined with Arab identity. In Arabs: A 3,000-Year History of Peoples, Tribes and Empires, Tim Mackintosh-Smith provides such manifold examples of this pattern that it would be plagiaristic to reproduce them all here. Drawing on Muslim historian al-Baladhuri’s description of the Arab conquests of the seventh century AD, he writes that the Taghlib, despite being Christian, were made exempt from the ‘poll-tax’ which unbelievers must pay under Islamic law. The reason was that the Taghlib were Arabs, and could thus make the case that they were different from the ‘conquered barbarians’ to whom the tax was normally applied. ‘Islam in its expansive period had as much to do with economics and ethnicity as with ethics.’ During the later centuries of Islam, other groups – most notably, the Ottomans – appear to take the lead in the Muslim world. Nevertheless, ‘the centuries of “invisibility” in fact conceal an Arab expansion almost as remarkable for its extent as the first eruption of Islam,’ though this second phase occurred ‘through the Arab world’s back door, into the Indian Ocean.’

For Mackintosh-Smith, Islam should be viewed ‘as a unifying national ideology, and Muhammad as an Arab national hero.’ It may be worthwhile to mention, in this context, the theory that Muhammad never existed and was instead a character popularised decades after his supposed death. Robert Spencer summarises the case for this position in Did Muhammad Exist?. Despite dating Islam’s emergence to the early eighth century, Spencer notes that two inscriptions from Arab-ruled lands during the second half of the seventh century refer to some watershed moment which had occurred in 622. As he states, this is the traditional date of the Hijra, when Muhammad supposedly fled from Mecca to Medina. Interestingly, one of the inscriptions was made 42 years (on the lunar calendar) after 622, yet it purports to have been written in ‘the year 42 following the Arabs.’ Why the odd phrasing? Spencer argues that, in 622, the Byzantines inflicted a heavy defeat on the Persian Empire, sending it into decline. The Arabs were quick to take advantage of the resultant ‘power vacuum’ and soon conquered Persia. Consequently, he speculates: ‘What became the date of the Hijra may have originally marked the beginning of the Arabians as a political force to be reckoned with on the global scene.’ If this idea is correct – and it certainly makes sense of the strange phrase ‘the year 42 following the Arabs’ – then the very year with which the Islamic calendar begins, 622, may originally have been commemorated in celebration of Arab military expansion. This would also make it all the more ironic for anyone conquered by Arabs, and especially Iranians, to be a Muslim.

Still, the conquest of non-Arabs by Arabs is sanctified in Islam even if one utterly rejects the thesis Spencer propounds. Since the expansion of early Islam – and much of later Islam – was inseparable from Arab expansion into surrounding territories, being Muslim practically forces one to look back with approval on the conquests of non-Arabs by Arabs. (The spread of other world religions did not involve a comparable dependence on armed subjugation.) As Raymond Ibrahim has written, ‘the historic Islamic conquests are never referred to as “conquests” in Arabic and other Muslim languages; rather, they are futuhat—literally, “openings” for the light of Islam to enter.’

Throughout Islam’s history, jihadism and Islamic expansionism have gone hand in hand with Arab supremacism. This has perhaps been most apparent in Sudan and Mauritania, where Islamism has long been inextricably linked to racism and genocide against, and enslavement of, non-Arab blacks. Serge Trifkovic makes this point powerfully in The Sword of the Prophet, highlighting the irony of black Muslims in America who consider Islam a natural part of African heritage.

In addition to the racism already found in Islamic scriptures, the slave trade which has flourished under Islamic rule and been legitimised in conjunction with jihad ideology has also spawned racialist justifications. Trifkovic comments: ‘The Muslims’ view on their two main sources of slaves, sub-Saharan Africa and Slavic Eastern Europe, developed into the tradition epitomized by a tenth-century Islamic writer:

“The people of Iraq […] are the ones who are done to a turn in the womb. They do not come out with something between blond, blanched and leprous coloring, such as the infants dropped from the wombs of the women of the Slavs and others of similar light complexion; nor are they overdone in the womb until they are […] black, murky, malodorous, stinking, and crinkly-haired, with […] deficient minds, […] such as the Ethiopians and other blacks[.]”’

Islam’s Arab Character

Despite claims of divine revelation and the notion that the Qur’an existed from the beginning of time, Islamic doctrine is wholly permeated by mediaeval Arab culture and the paganism of pre-Islamic Arabia. Thus, Samuel Zwemer notes that the belief in jinn reflects a ‘substratum of paganism.’ Nor is this belief peripheral to Islam; numerous verses in the Qur’an discuss these supposed spirits and Muhammad is claimed, writes Zwemer, to have been ‘sent to convert the Jinn to Islam as well as the Arabs.’ It is also a well-known fact that the pilgrimage to Mecca goes back to pre-Islamic paganism.

The creed’s ethical teachings, furthermore, are deeply shaped by its origins among mediaeval Arabs. In many ways, it represents an alien culture imposed on other peoples by Arab conquest. One might object that Europe is Christian and Christianity is likewise an alien influence on it, having come from the Middle East. Yet Christianity’s Middle Eastern origins have been greatly exaggerated. It is a fundamentally European religion, having arisen in the Roman Empire and been shaped by Greek philosophy from its fount. Even pre-Christian Judaism had been heavily shaped by Hellenic thought, as Martin Hengel showed in his classic Judaism and Hellenism. In any event, Christianity is far less intrusive than Islam, which seems intent on micro-managing every aspect of the believer’s life.

An obvious example of how Islam imposes alien values on the societies it conquers is the role it mandates for women. Apostate Prophet, a German-American ex-Muslim of Turkish descent, avers that ‘the Turks […] treated their women much, much better before they converted to Islam.’ Current scholarship appears to bear this notion out. One author concludes that, in pre-Islamic times, ‘Turkish women ha[d] a much more free life than women of other communities and that women within Turkish communities [during that period] can be seen as sexless and they can take part in men’s positions.’ This is obviously far different from women’s role in Islamic societies. The difference was famously demonstrated by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, founding member of the ruling Islamist group, the Justice and Development Party (AKP). On the occasion of the Islamic holiday Eid al-Fitr, Arınç urged Turks to pay greater heed to the Qur’an and stated that women should ‘not laugh in public.’ If conditions in Turkey are not as bad as in other Islamic countries, where practices like female genital mutilation are common, that is in large part thanks to the secularising revolution of Kemalism.

However, to say that Islam’s ethics fully reflect the norms of pre-Islamic Arabia would be unfair to the Arabs of the time. For instance, Ali Sina argues that, ‘prior to Islam, women in Arabia were more respected and had more rights than at any time since’ (Understanding Muhammad and Muslims). Even within the context of that undeveloped region, it seems that Islamisation represented a step back.

Islam’s Arab character has serious practical consequences which work to Arabs’ relative advantage and other groups’ relative disadvantage – although, naturally, adherence to Islam represents a net disadvantage for all groups. As Hugh Fitzgerald observes, Islam makes people ‘pray five times a day in the direction of Arabia (Mecca), ideally take Arab names, read the Qur’an in Arabic, and sometimes even construct a false Arab ancestry (as the “Sayeeds” of Pakistan).’ The requirement to fast throughout the day during Ramadan appears tailored to the Arabian Peninsula and is ill-suited to life in certain other regions. Moreover, Islam proves highly effective at funneling money from the whole Muslim world into Arabia. The required pilgrimage to Mecca earns Saudi Arabia ten to fifteen billion US dollars per annum; added to this are another four to five billion gained through ‘the umra, a non-obligatory pilgrimage to Mecca.’ ‘Pilgrimage income,’ adds the same source, ‘also accounts for the second largest share of [Saudi] government revenue after hydrocarbon sales.’

Will the Awakening Come?

‘Although Islam presents itself as a universal religion,’ writes Robert Spencer, ‘it has a decidedly Arabic character’ which has consistently aided ‘Arabic supremacists’ in Muslim areas. As stated, Islam is detrimental to all people, but it seems especially absurd that any non-Arab would be a Muslim. Hopefully, the other nations ensnared by this ideology will find the backbone to break free of it sooner rather than later.

Some such stirrings, though faint, can already be seen. As of this writing, Apostate Prophet’s video Islam is for Arabs has garnered nearly 200,000 views in five years. We have noted the distaste for Islam among many Algerian Berbers, and a similar pattern has been recorded in Morocco: ‘for some Berbers, conversion [to Christianity] is a return to their own roots.’ Should this trend continue, it could, in theory, become quite significant. As of 2000, Arabs constituted only 44% of Morocco’s population, just under the combined share of Arabised Berbers (24%) and other Berbers (21%).

Iran is an even more promising case. As mentioned, it appears that most of the country’s population is no longer Muslim. National pride seems to have played a part in this spectacular sea change, as evidenced by the popularity of Zoroastrianism among some Iranians. Perhaps Iran, once liberated, could act as a model for other non-Arab Muslim countries with a sense of dignity.

The national issue may not prove potent enough to de-Islamise societies completely. However, that may not be required. A major tipping point could be achieved simply by reaching a point at which criticism of Islam can no longer be stifled. Islam’s success depends on fear to prevent people from opposing it. Thus, in environments where adherence to it is not socially enforced – for instance, in Western societies –, deconversion rates tend to be high. Anywhere the compulsion to obey Islam is defeated, the main battle will have been won.

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Right Place, Right Time, Wrong Movement

During an interview for the H. L. Mencken Club, writer Derek Turner described political correctness as a ‘clown with a knife’, combining more petty nanny state tendencies with a more totalitarian aim, thereby allowing it to gain considerable headway as no-one takes it seriously enough. In a previous article, the present author linked such a notion to the coverup of grooming gangs across Britain, with it being one of the most obvious epitomes of such an idea, especially for all the lives ruined because of the fears of violating that ‘principle’ being too strong to want to take action.

The other notion that was linked was that of Islamic terrorism, whereby any serious attempts to talk about it (much less respond to it in an orderly way) is hindered by violating political correctness – with both it and Islamic extremism being allowed to gain much headway in turn. Instead, the establishment falls back onto two familiar responses. At best, they treat any such event with copious amounts of sentimentality, promising that such acts won’t divide the country and we are all united in whatever communitarian spirit is convenient to the storyline. 

At worst, they aren’t discussed at all, becoming memory-holed in order to not upset the current state of play. Neither attitude does much good, especially in the former’s case as it can lead, as Theodore Dalrymple noted, to being the ‘forerunner and accomplice of brutality whenever the policies suggested by it have been put into place’. The various ineffective crackdowns on civil liberties following these attacks can attest to that.

However, while there is no serious current political challenge to radical Islam, there was for a time a serious enough alternative movement that was, and despite it not being completely mainstream, certainly left its mark.

That was Britain’s Counter-Jihad movement, a political force that definitely lived up to the name for those who could remember it. Being a loud and noisy affair, it protested (up and down the country) everything contingent with Islamism, from terrorism to grooming gangs. It combined working-class energy with militant secularism, with its supposed influences ranging as far as Winston Churchill to Christopher Hitchens. It was often reactionary in many of its viewpoints but with appeals to left-wing cultural hegemony. It was as likely to attack Islam for its undermining of women’s and LGBT rights as for its demographic ramifications through mass immigration.

While hard to imagine now, it was the real deal, with many of its faces and names becoming countercultural icons among the British right. Tommy Robinson, Anne Marie Waters, Paul Weston, Pat Condell, Jonaya English, as well as many others fitted this moniker to varying degrees of success. It had its more respectable intellectual faces like Douglas Murray and Maajid Nawaz, while even entertaining mainstream politics on occasion, most notably with Nigel Farage and UKIP (especially under the leadership of Gerard Batten) flirting with it from time to time.

While being a constant minor mainstay in British politics for the early part of the 21st century, it was in 2017 when it reached its zenith. The numerous and culminating Islamic terrorist attacks that year, from Westminster Bridge to Manchester Arena to the London Borough Market as well as the failed Parsons Green Tube bombing had (cynically or otherwise) left the movement feeling horribly vindicated in many of its concerns. Angst among the public was high and palpable, to the point that even the BBC pondered as to whether 2017 had been ‘the worst year for UK terrorism’. Douglas Murray released his magnum opus in The Strange Death of Europe, of which became an instant best-seller and critical darling, all the while being a blunt and honest examination of many issues including that of radical Islam within Britain and much of the continent itself – something that would have previously been dismissed as mere reactionary commentary. And at the end of the year, the anti-Islam populist party For Britain begun in earnest, with its founder and leader in Anne Marie Waters promising to use it as a voice for those in Britain who ‘consider Islam to be of existential significance’.  

In short, the energy was there, the timing was (unfortunately) right and the platforms were finally available to take such a concern to the mainstream. To paraphrase the Radiohead song, everything (seemed to be) in its right place.

Despite this, it would ironically never actually get better for the movement, with its steep decline and fall coming slowly but surely afterwards. This was most symbolically displayed in mid-2022 when For Britain folded, with Waters citing both far-left harassment and a lack of financial support due to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis in her decision to discontinue. This came shortly after its candidate Frankie Rufolo quite literally jumped for joy after coming last in the Tiverton and Honiton by-election, the last the party would contest. All the movement is now is a textbook case of how quickly fortunes can change.

What was once a sizeable movement within British politics is now just as much a relic of 2017 as the last hurrah of BGMedia, the several jokes about Tom Cruise’s abysmal iteration of The Mummy (half-finished trailer and film alike) and the several viral Arsenal Fan TV videos that have aged poorly for… obvious reasons. Those in its grassroots are now alienated and isolated once more, and are presumably resorting to sucking a lemon. Why its complete demise happened is debatable, but some factors are more obvious than others.

The most common explanation is one the right in general has blamed for all their woes in recent years – what Richard Spencer dubbed ‘The Great Shuttening’. This conceit contended that reactionary forces would eventually become so powerful in the political arena that the establishment would do all it could to restrict its potential reach for the future. This was an idea that played out following the populist victories of Brexit and Trump, largely (and ironically) because of the convenient seppuku that the alt-right gave to the establishment following the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, leading to much in the way of censorship (on social media especially) with that event and the death left in its wake being the pretext. 

Needless to say, it wasn’t simply Spencer and his ilk that were affected, confined to either Bitchute or obscure websites in sharp contrast from their early 2010s heyday. Counter-jihad was another casualty in the matter, with many of its orgs and figureheads being banned on social media and online payment services, limiting the potential growth that they would have had in 2017 and beyond. In turn, the only access they now had to the mainstream was the various hit pieces conducted on them, which unsurprisingly didn’t endear many to these types of characters and groups.

But if they couldn’t gain grassroots support (on social media or off it), it might be for another obvious reason for the collapse: the movement itself was not an organically developed one, of which made its downfall somewhat inevitable. This is because much of the movement’s main cheerleaders and backers were that of the conservative elite (or Conservatism Inc., for pejorative purposes), on both sides of the Atlantic, rather than the public at large. For Tommy Robinson in particular, the movement’s unofficial figurehead for the longest time, this was most apparent. 

On the British end, it was a matter of promoting Robinson in differing ways. At best, they tactfully agreed with him even if disagreeing with his behaviour and antics more broadly, and at worst, they promoted him as someone who wasn’t as bad as much of the press claimed he was. That he had friendly interviews in the Spectator, puff pieces written for him in the Times, all the while having shows from This Morning and The Pledge allowing right-wing commentators to claim that he was highlighting supposed legitimate contentions of the masses demonstrated much of this promotion.

American conservative support came through similar promotion. This mostly came during his various court cases in 2018 and 2019, whereby many major networks framed him as a victim of a kangaroo court and a political prisoner (all the while failing to understand basic British contempt of court laws as they did so under ‘muh freedom’ rhetoric). However, most of the important American support was financial. This often came directly from neoconservative think tanks, mainly the Middle East Forum which gave Robinson much financial support, as did similar organisations. To what end is unknown, but given the war-hawk views of some involved (including MEF head Daniel Pipes), it is reasonable to assume something sinister was going on with that kind of help. 

This in turn compounded another central reason as to the movement’s collapse: the genuine lack of authenticity in it as a whole. This is because the movement’s pandering to secularism and left-wing thought as expressed earlier are acceptable within mainstream political discourse. This sharp contrast between the inherently left-wing Robinson and Waters and their ideologically reactionary base made the movement unstable from the get-go. Much of it was a liberal movement designed to attack Islam as undermining the West as defined by the cultural revolution of the 1960s, not a reactionary one attacking that revolution as a whole as well much to the chagrin of its supporters. 

Counter-jihad was therefore just simply a more radical version of the acceptable establishment attack on Islamism. As Paul Gottfried wrote in a recent Chronicles column, ‘Those who loudly protest that Muslims oppose feminism and discriminate against homosexuals are by no means conservative. They are simply more consistent in their progressive views than those on the woke left who treat Islamic patriarchy indulgently’. It is for this reason that the mainstream right were far kinder to counter-jihad and Robinson in the early 2010s than the likes of actual right-wingers like Nigel Farage and the Bow Group under its current leadership. 

It is no surprise then that a movement with such inauthentic leadership and contradictory ideology would collapse once such issues became too big to ignore, with Robinson himself being the main fall guy for the movement’s fate. With questions being asked about his background becoming too numerous, the consistent begging for donations becoming increasingly suspect and people eventually getting fed up of the pantomime he had set up of self-inflicted arrests and scandals, his time in the spotlight came to a swift end. His former supporters abandoned him in droves, all the while his performance in the 2019 European Elections was equally dismal, where he came in below the often-mocked Change UK in the North West region, to audible laughter. Following his surprise return to X, formerly Twitter, and his antics during Remembrance Day, scepticism regarding his motives, especially amongst people who would otherwise support him, has only increased.

Now this article isn’t designed to attack British Counter-Jihad as a movement entirely. What it is meant for is to highlight the successes and failings of the movement for better attempts in the future. For one example, as other have discussed elsewhere, when noting the failings of the 2010s right, having good leadership with a strong mass movement and sound financial backing is key. 

Those that can get this right have been successful in recent years. The Brexit campaign was able to do this through having moderate and popular characters like Nigel Farage, eccentric Tories and prominent left-wingers like George Galloway be its face, all the while having funding from millionaires like Arron Banks and Tim Martin, who could keep their noses mostly clean. The MAGA movement stateside is a similar venture, with faces like Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis and Tucker Carlson being its faces, with Peter Thiel as its (mostly) clean billionaire financier.

The British Counter-Jihad movement had none of that. Its leadership were often questionable rabble rousers, which while having some sympathy among the working class, often terrified much of the middle England vote and support needed to get anywhere. Its grassroots were often of a similar ilk, all the while being very ideologically out of step with its leadership and lacking necessary restraint, allowing for easy demonisation amongst a sneering, classist establishment. The funny money from neocon donors clearly made it a movement whose ulterior motives were troublesome to say the least. 

Hence why counter-jihad collapsed, and its main figurehead’s only use now is living rent free in the minds of the progressive left and cynical politicians (and even cringeworthy pop stars), acting as a necessary bogeyman for the regime to keep their base ever so weary of such politics reappearing in the future. 

However, this overall isn’t a good thing for Britain, as it needs some kind of movement to act as a necessary buffer against such forces in the future. As Robinson admitted in his book Enemy of the State, the problems he ‘highlighted… haven’t gone away. They aren’t going away.’ That was written all the way back in 2015 – needless to say, the situation has become much worse since then. From violent attacks, like the killing of Sir David Amess, to the failed bombing of Liverpool Women’s Hospital to the attempted assassination on Sir Salman Rushdie, to intimidation campaigns against Batley school teachers, autistic school children accidentally scuffing the Quran and the film The Lady of Heaven, such problems instead of going away have come back roaring with a vengeance. 

In turn, in the same way that the grooming gangs issue cannot simply be tackled by occasional government rhetoric, tweets of support by the likes of actress Samantha Morton and GB News specials alone, radical Islam isn’t going to be dealt with by rabble rouser organisations and suspicious overseas money single-handedly. Moves like Michael Gove firing government workers involved with the Lady of Heaven protests are welcome, but don’t go anywhere near far enough.

Without a grassroots org or a more ‘respectable’ group acting as a necessary buffer against such forces, the only alternative is to have the liberal elite control the narrative. At best, they’ll continue downplaying it at every turn, joking about ‘Muslamic Ray Guns’ and making far-left activists who disrupt peaceful protests against Islamist terror attacks into icons.

As for the political establishment, they remain committed to what Douglas Murray describes as ‘Rowleyism’, playing out a false equivalence between Islamism and the far-right in terms of the threat they pose. As such, regime propagandists continue to portray the far-right as the villains in every popular show, from No Offence to Trigger Point. Erstwhile, the Prevent program will be given license to overly focus on the far-right as opposed to Islamism, despite the findings of the Shawcross Review.

In conclusion, British Counter-Jihad was simply a case of right place, right time but wrong movement. What it doesn’t mean is that its pretences should be relegated or confined to certain corners, given what an existential threat radical Islam poses, and as Arnold Toynbee noted, any society that doesn’t solve the crises of the age is one that quickly becomes in peril. British Counter-Jihad was the wrong movement for that. It’s time to build something new, and hopefully something better will take its place.

Photo Credit.

On Setting Yourself on Fire

A man sets himself on fire on Sunday afternoon for the Palestinian cause, and by Monday morning his would-be allies are calling him a privileged white male. At the time of writing, his act of self-immolation has already dropped off the trending tab of Twitter – quickly replaced by the Willy Wonka Experience debacle in Glasgow and Kate Middelton themed conspiracy theories. 

Upsettingly, it is not uncommon for soldiers to take their own lives during and after conflict. This suicide, however, is a uniquely tragic one; Aaron Bushnell was a serving member of the US Airforce working as a software engineer radicalised by communists and libtards to not only hate his country and his military, but himself. His Reddit history shows his descent into anti-white hatred, describing Caucasians as ‘White-Brained Colonisers’. 

White guilt is nothing new, we see it pouring out of our universities and mainstream media all the time. But the fact that this man was so disturbed and affected by it as to make the conscious decision to douse petrol all over himself and set his combat fatigues ablaze reminds us of the genuine and real threat that it poses to us. Today it is an act of suicide by self-immolation, when will it be an act of suicide by bombing?

I have seen some posters from the right talking about the ‘Mishima-esque’ nature of his self-immolation, but this could not be further from the truth. Mishima knew that his cause was a hopeless one. He knew that his coup would fail. He did not enter Camp Ichigaya expecting to overthrow the Japanese government. His suicide was a methodically planned quasi-artistic act of Seppuku so that he could achieve an ‘honourable death’. Aaron Bushnell, on the other hand, decided to set himself on fire because he sincerely believed it would make a difference. Going off his many posts on Reddit, it would also be fair to assume that this act was done in some way to endear himself to his liberal counterparts and ‘atone’ for his many sins (being white). 

Of course, his liberal counterparts did not all see it this way. Whilst videos of his death began flooding the timeline, factions quickly emerged, with radicals trying to decide whether using phrases like ‘rest in power’ were appropriate. That slogan is of course only reserved for black victims of white violence. 

Some went even further, and began to criticise people in general for feeling sorry for the chap. In their view, his death was just one less ‘white-brained coloniser’ to worry about. It appears that setting yourself on fire, screaming in agony as your skin pulls away, feeling your own fat render off, and writhing and dying in complete torture was the absolute bare minimum he could do. 

There are of course those who have decided to martyr and lionise him. It is hard to discern which side is worse. At least those who ‘call him out’ are making a clear case to left leaning white boys that nothing they do will ever be enough. By contrast, people who cheer this man on and make him into some kind of hero are only helping to stoke the next bonfire and are implicitly normalising the idea of white male suicide as a form of redemption.

Pick up your phone and scroll through your friend’s Instagram stories and you will eventually find at least one person making a post about the Israel-Palestine conflict. It might be some banal infographic, or a photo carefully selected to tug at your heart strings; this kind of ‘slacktivism’ has become extremely common in the last few years. 

Dig deeper through the content accounts that produce these kinds of infographics however, and you will find post after post discussing the ‘problems’ of whiteness/being male/being heterosexual etc. These accounts, often hidden from view of the right wing by the various algorithms that curate what we see, get incredible rates of interactions. 

The mindset of westerners who champion these kinds of statements is completely suicidal. They are actively seeking out allies amongst people who would see them dead in a ditch if they had a chance. Half of them would cheer for you as you put a barrel of a gun to your forehead, and the other half would still hate you after your corpse was cold.

There are many on the right who believe that if we just ‘have conversations’ with the ‘sensible left wing’ we will be able to achieve a compromise that ‘works for everyone’. This is a complete folly. The centre left will always make gradual concessions to the extreme left – it is where they source their energy and (eventually) their ideas. Pandering to these people and making compromises is, in essence, making deals with people who hate you. If you fall into one of the previously discussed categories, you are the enemy of goodness and peace. You are eternally guilty, so guilty in fact that literally burning yourself alive won’t save you.

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On the Alabama IVF Ruling

On the 19th February 2024, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos created through IVF are “children”, and should be legally recognised as such. This issue was brought by three couples suing their IVF providers due to the destruction of their children while being cryogenically stored under an existing Death of a Minor statue in the state. This statute explicitly covered foetuses (presumably to allow for compensation to be sought by women who has suffered miscarriages or stillbirths which could have been prevented), but there was some ambiguity over whether IVF embryos were covered prior to the ruling that it applies to “all unborn children, regardless of their location”. It has since been revealed that the person responsible was a patient at the clinic in question, so while mainstream outlets have stated that the damage was ‘accidental’, I find this rather implausible given the security in place for accessing cryogenic freezers. It is the author’s own suspicion that the person responsible was in fact an activist foreseeing the consequences of successful Wrongful Death of a Minor lawsuit against the clinic for the desecration of unborn children outside the womb.

The ruling does not explicitly ban or even restrict IVF treatments; it merely states that the products thereof must be legally recognised as human beings. However, this view is incompatible with multiple stages of the IVF process, and this is what makes this step in the right direction a potentially significant victory. For those who may be (blissfully) unaware, the IVF process goes something like this. A woman is hormonally stimulated to release multiple eggs in a cycle rather than the usual one or two. These are then exacted and then fertilised with sperm in a lab. There is nothing explicitly contrary to the view that life begins at conception in these first two steps. However, as Elisabeth Smith (Director of State Policy at the Centre for Reproductive Rights) explains, not all of the embryos created can be used. Some are tossed due to genetic abnormalities, and even of those that remain usually no more than three are implanted into the womb at any given time, but they can be cryogenically stored for up to a decade and implanted at a later date or into someone else.

In this knowledge, three major problems for the IVF industry in Alabama become apparent. The first is that they will not be able to toss those which they deem to be unsuitable for implantation due to genetic abnormalities. This would massively increase the cost to IVF patients as they would have to store all the children created for an unspecified length of time. This is assuming that storing children in freezers is deemed to be acceptable at all, which is not a given as any reasonable person would say that freezing children at later stages of development was incredibly abusive. The second problem is that even if it is permitted to continue creating children outside of the womb and storing them for future implantation (perhaps by only permitting storage for a week or less), it would only be possible to create the number of children that the woman is willing to have implanted. This would further increase costs as if the first attempt at implantation fails, the patient would have to go back to the drawing board and have more eggs extracted, rather than trying again from a larger supply already in the freezer. The third problem is that, particularly if the number of stored children increases dramatically, liability insurance would have to cover any loss, destruction, or damage to said children, which would make it a totally unviable business for all but the wealthiest.

The connection between this ruling and the abortion debate has been made explicitly by both sides. Given that it already has a total ban on abortion, Alabama seems a likely state to take further steps to protect the unborn, which may spread to other Republican states if they are deemed successful. The states that currently also impose a total ban on abortion either at any time after conception or after 6 weeks gestation (where it is only possible to know of a pregnancy for 2 weeks) are Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, North Carolina, Arizona, and Utah. There are other states with an exception only for rape and incest, with some requiring that this be reported to law enforcement.

However, despite the fact that the ruling was made by Republicans appointed to their posts at the time of Donald Trump’s presidency, he has publicly criticised this decision saying that “we should be making it easier for people to have strong families, not harder”. Nikki Haley appeared initially to support the ban, but later backtracked on this commitment. In a surprisingly intellectually honest move, The Guardian made an explicit link between the medical hysteria on this topic and the prevalence of female doctors among IVF patients. Glenza (2024) wrote:

“Fertility is of special concern to female physicians. Residents typically finish training at 31.6 years of age, which are prime reproductive years. Female physicians suffer infertility at twice the rate of the general population, because demanding careers push many to delay starting a family.”

While dry and factual, this statement admits consciously that ‘infertility’ is (or at least can be) caused by lifestyle choices and priorities (i.e. prioritising one’s career over using ideal reproductive years in the 20’s and early 30’s to marry and have children), rather than genes or bad luck, and is therefore largely preventable by women making different choices.

I sincerely hope that, despite criticism of the ruling by (disproportionately female) doctors which a vested interest, the rule of law stands firm and that an honest interpretation of this ruling is manifested in reality. This would mean that for reasons stated above it will become unviable to run a profitable IVF business, and that while wealthy couples may travel out of state, a majority of those currently seeking IVF will instead adopt children, and/or face the consequences of their life decisions. Furthermore, I hope that young women on the fence about accepting a likely future proposal, pulling the goalie, or aborting a current pregnancy to focus on her career consider the long-term consequences of waiting too long to have children.

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Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth: An Examination and Review

A new film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy, Joel Coen’s 2021 The Tragedy of Macbeth is the director’s first production without his brother Ethan’s involvement. Released in select theaters on December 25, 2021, and then on Apple TV on January 14, 2022, the production has received positive critical reviews as well as awards for screen adaptation and cinematography, with many others still pending.

As with any movie review, I encourage readers who plan to see the film to do so before reading my take. While spoilers probably aren’t an issue here, I would not want to unduly influence one’s experience of Coen’s take on the play. Overall, though much of the text is omitted, some scenes are rearranged, and some roles are reduced, and others expanded, I found the adaptation to be a generally faithful one that only improved with subsequent views. Of course, the substance of the play is in the performances of Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, but their presentation of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is enhanced by both the production and supporting performances.

Production: “where nothing, | But who knows nothing, is once seen to smile” —IV.3

The Tragedy of Macbeth’s best element is its focus on the psychology of the main characters, explored below. This focus succeeds in no small part due to its minimalist aesthetic. Filmed in black and white, the play utilizes light and shadow to downplay the external historical conflicts and emphasize the characters’ inner ones.

Though primarily shown by the performances, the psychological value conflicts of the characters are concretized by the adaptation’s intended aesthetic. In a 2020 Indiewire interview, composer and long-time-Coen collaborator Carter Burwell said that Joel Coen filmed The Tragedy of Macbeth on sound stages, rather than on location, to focus more on the abstract elements of the play. “It’s more like a psychological reality,” said Burwell. “That said, it doesn’t seem stage-like either. Joel has compared it to German Expressionist film. You’re in a psychological world, and it’s pretty clear right from the beginning the way he’s shot it.”

This is made clear from the first shots’ disorienting the sense of up and down through the use of clouds and fog, which continue as a key part of the staging throughout the adaptation. Furthermore, the bareness of Inverness Castle channels the focus to the key characters’ faces, while the use of odd camera angles, unreal shadows, and distorted distances reinforce how unnatural is the play’s central tragic action, if not to the downplayed world of Scotland, then certainly to the titular couple. Even when the scene leaves Inverness to show Ross and MacDuff discussing events near a ruined building at a crossroads (Act II.4), there is a sense that, besides the Old Man in the scene, Scotland is barren and empty.

The later shift to England, where Malcolm, MacDuff, and Ross plan to retake their homeland from now King Macbeth, further emphasizes this by being shot in an enclosed but bright and fertile wood. Although many of the historical elements of the scene are cut, including the contrast between Macbeth and Edward the Confessor and the mutual testing of mettle between Malcolm and MacDuff, the contrast in setting conveys the contrast between a country with a mad Macbeth at its head and the one that presumably would be under Malcolm. The effect was calming in a way I did not expect—an experience prepared by the consistency of the previous acts’ barren aesthetic.

Yet, even in the forested England, the narrow path wherein the scene takes place foreshadows the final scenes’ being shot in a narrow walkway between the parapets of Dunsinane, which gives the sense that, whether because of fate or choice rooted in character, the end of Macbeth’s tragic deed is inevitable. The explicit geographical distance between England and Scotland is obscured as the same wood becomes Birnam, and as, in the final scenes, the stone pillars of Dunsinane open into a background of forest. This, as well as the spectacular scene where the windows of the castle are blown inward by a storm of leaves, conveys the fact that Macbeth cannot remain isolated against the tragic justice brought by Malcom and MacDuff forever, and Washington’s performance, which I’ll explore presently, consistently shows that the usurper has known it all along.

This is a brilliant, if subtle, triumph of Coen’s adaptation: it presents Duncan’s murder and the subsequent fallout as a result less of deterministic fate and prophecy and more of Macbeth’s own actions and thoughts in response to it—which, themselves, become more determined (“predestined” because “wilfull”) as Macbeth further convinces himself that “Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill” (III.2).

Performances:  “To find the mind’s construction in the face” —I.4

Film adaptations of Shakespeare can run the risk of focusing too closely on the actors’ faces, which can make keeping up with the language a chore even for experienced readers (I’m still scarred from the “How all occasions” speech from Branagh’s 1996 Hamlet); however, this is rarely, if ever, the case here, where the actors’ and actresses’ pacing and facial expressions combine with the cinematography to carry the audience along. Yet, before I give Washington and McDormand their well-deserved praise, I would like to explore the supporting roles.

In Coen’s adaptation, King Duncan is a king at war, and Brendan Gleeson plays the role well with subsequent dourness. Unfortunately, this aspect of the interpretation was, in my opinion, one of its weakest. While the film generally aligns with the Shakespearean idea that a country under a usurper is disordered, the before-and-after of Duncan’s murder—which Coen chooses to show onscreen—is not clearly delineated enough to signal it as the tragic conflict that it is. Furthermore, though many of his lines are adulatory to Macbeth and his wife, Gleeson gives them with so somber a tone that one is left emotionally uninvested in Duncan by the time he is murdered.

Though this is consistent with the production’s overall austerity, it does not lend much to the unnaturalness of the king’s death. One feels Macbeth ought not kill him simply because he is called king (a fully right reason, in itself) rather than because of any real affection between Macbeth and his wife for the man, himself. However, though I have my qualms, this may have been the right choice for a production focused on the psychological elements of the plot; by downplaying the emotional connection between the Macbeths and Duncan (albeit itself profoundly psychological), Coen focuses on the effects of murder as an abstraction.

The scene after the murder and subsequent framing of the guards—the drunken porter scene—was the one I most looked forward to in the adaptation, as it is in every performance of Macbeth I see. The scene is the most apparent comic relief in the play, and it is placed in the moment where comic relief is paradoxically least appropriate and most needed (the subject of a planned future article). When I realized, between the first (ever) “Knock, knock! Who’s there?” and the second, that the drunk porter was none other than comic actor Stephen Root (Office Space, King of the Hill, Dodgeball), I knew the part was safe.

I was not disappointed. The drunken obliviousness of Root’s porter, coming from Inverness’s basement to let in MacDuff and Lennox, pontificating along the way on souls lately gone to perdition (unaware that his king has done the same just that night) before elaborating to the new guests upon the merits and pitfalls of drink, is outstanding. With the adaptation’s other removal of arguably inessential parts and lines, I’m relieved Coen kept as much of the role as he did.

One role that Coen expanded in ways I did not expect was that of Ross, played by Alex Hassell. By subsuming other minor roles into the character, Coen makes Ross into the unexpected thread that ties much of the plot together. He is still primarily a messenger, but, as with the Weird Sisters whose crow-like costuming his resembles, he becomes an ambiguous figure by the expansion, embodying his line to Lady MacDuff that “cruel are the times, when we are traitors | And do not know ourselves” (IV.2). In Hassell’s excellent performance, Ross seems to know himself quite well; it is we, the audience, who do not know him, despite his expanded screentime. By the end, Ross was one of my favorite aspects of Coen’s adaptation.

The best part of The Tragedy of Macbeth is, of course, the joint performance by Washington and McDormand of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. The beginning of the film finds the pair later in life, with presumably few mountains left to climb. Washington plays Macbeth as a man tired and introverted, which he communicates by often pausing before reacting to dialogue, as if doing so is an afterthought. By the time McDormand comes onscreen in the first of the film’s many corridor scenes mentioned above, her reading and responding to the letter sent by Macbeth has been primed well enough for us to understand her mixed ambition yet exasperation—as if the greatest obstacle is not the actual regicide but her husband’s hesitancy.

Throughout The Tragedy of Macbeth their respective introspection and ambition reverse, with Washington eventually playing the confirmed tyrant and McDormand the woman internalized by madness. If anyone needed a reminder of Washington and McDormand’s respective abilities as actor and actress, one need only watch them portray the range of emotion and psychological depth contained in Shakespeare’s most infamous couple.

Conclusion: “With wit enough for thee”—IV.2

One way to judge a Shakespeare production is whether someone with little previous knowledge of the play and a moderate grasp of Shakespeare’s language would understand and become invested in the characters and story; I hazard one could do so with Coen’s adaptation. It does take liberties with scene placement, and the historical and religious elements are generally removed or reduced. However, although much of the psychology that Shakespeare includes in the other characters is cut, the minimalist production serves to highlight Washington and McDormand’s respective performances. The psychology of the two main characters—the backbone of the tragedy that so directly explores the nature of how thought and choice interact—is portrayed clearly and dynamically, and it is this that makes Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth an excellent and, in my opinion, ultimately true-to-the-text adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

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