Erdogan: Modern Sultan?

Merkel, a behemoth of European politics for the last sixteen years, will soon retire from office leaving big shoes to fill – shoes that Olaf Scholz, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), will find spacious. With the SPD gaining the most electoral votes, it is likely they will be the principal partner in a ‘traffic-light’ coalition that sees Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) out of the federal government for the first time since 2005.

With the SPD historically being the party of Turkish-Germans, this critical voter constituency is one that will attract even greater attention. Will Olaf Scholz be able to force himself into the chasm left by Merkel, or will the ‘New Sultan’ Recep Tayyip Erdogan aim to fill the vacuum left in her wake instead? History suggests that Erdogan is seen as the chief political authority for many Turkish-origin people in Germany and other European nations.

Erdogan has consistently exploited a lack of social cohesion in Germany and Western Europe at large. Aiming to place Turkish-Europeans against their governments; the Nationalist-Islamist rhetoric he purports is incompatible with liberal democratic norms. Indeed, he has managed to foster a Turkish-German identity with himself at the fore. Although there is a great deal of importance attached to Turkish cultural maintenance, it is Erdogan’s leverage of faith that ultimately holds the key. Much has been noted of the Turkish-state efforts to consolidate a robust Turkish identity within Germany. This strategy is implemented through entities such as the ‘Diyanet İsleri Türk İslam Birligi’, an Islamic Turkish Muslim identity organisation that is prevalent in mosques across Germany and espouses Turkish Islamist nationalism. Another organisation of this sort is ‘Milli Gorus’, which has over 30,000 members in Germany.

It is through these behind-the-scenes organisations that Erdogan further instils his ideological preferences into the Germans he views as his subjects. Erdogan’s posturing and denunciation of ‘Eurofascism’ and ‘Nazi’ German social policy that he perceives as anti-Turkish, has irked European leaders and riled up Turkish-origin people in the EU alike. He has found most success through deeming European liberal-democratic custom as incompatible with – and often directly inflammatory towards – the Muslim faith. Perceived rampant secularism and a lack of state assistance when it comes to Muslim immigrant integration has led to Erdogan labelling Germany as an ‘enemy of Turkey’. He has willed on Turkish-Germans to not vote for German political parties, have more children, and crucially, not to culturally assimilate. Through this interference he has succeeded in setting Turkish-Germans against the German state – placing himself as the foremost political figure for many of them.

Erdogan’s posturing, along with his work behind the scenes, has had a palpable effect. Polling and statistics have shown ever increasing disillusionment with Germany. Brookings data has shown that Turkish-German attachment to Turkey rose from 40 percent in 2010 to 49 percent in 2015. During this period, attachment to Germany fell from 26 percent to 19 percent. 2018 data from the University of Duisberg-Essen also showed a lack of interest in German politics compared to Turkish politics, among Turkish-origin Germans. This is further echoed by DATA4U survey data from 2020.  On a scale of 1-10, ‘Turkishness’ ranked 8.10 in importance among Turkish-heritage Germans – as opposed to a German identity importance score of just 5.37. It is clear as day that there is an uncomfortable degree of disillusionment amongst Turkish Germans – a form of national detachment that should worry those in Germany who prioritise social cohesion and migrant political incorporation.

2016 Münster University data also shows that 47 percent of Turkish-Germans believe that following the core tenets of Islam are more important than the laws of Germany. This is striking considering the role Islamist rhetoric plays in Erdogan’s appeal. Further compounding this, the same 2020 DATA4U survey also showed German political figure favourability. Merkel averaged a rating of 5.32 out of 10, overshadowing the likely incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s dismal rating 3.65.

Scholz’s low rating indicates a lack of respect for him among Turkish-Germans. With Merkel’s exit, the data suggests that more Turkish-Germans will soon pledge their political loyalty to Ankara than Berlin. Unfortunately for Scholz, with the SPD’s current coalition plans, his grasp on power is minimal. He will have no choice but to rely on Turkish-German votes. Given this, if Erdogan were to term Scholz an enemy of his diaspora – as he has with other European political leaders – Scholz could find votes swinging against him, with Erdogan seeing the balance of power swinging towards him.

The neo-Ottoman aspirations of the ‘New Sultan’ could be the solution to economic and political stagnation at home. Just as the Sultans of old looked westward with glee, Erdogan could look to re-establish his hegemony over Anatolia with a push west. Erdogan knows he can threaten social cohesion in European countries such as Germany through his Islamist-nationalist rhetoric which resonates with Turkish-origin people in Europe who feel disconnected from their domestic political institutions. Erdogan has a veritable toolbox of political mischief ready to unpack to exert further influence in Europe and to catalyse anti-authority sentiments in Turkish-origin communities in major European countries.

As the sun sets on Merkel’s Germany, Erdogan will see Scholz’s accession as a new dawn for pan-Turkish aspirations.

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A Toast to the Luddites

Are the kids alright? 30 years ago, the news that two children had taken it upon themselves to murder a third was a moment in the national consciousness that stopped us in our tracks. Nowadays, it appears that we’ve either gone numb or deaf to the phenomena.

I have in the last few years lost track of how many teenagers and young people appear to die at the hands of others. Just this month, I can think of three; but it seems week in and out we see minor headlines on the BBC about another stabbing victim somewhere (who invariably ends up being a minor) and nothing more is said or done.

The causes are difficult to diagnose and difficult to treat. “Community centres” have become the go-to meme response as people – left and right-wing alike – debate whether a community centre or a skate park could have prevented these deaths, but none seem to grasp the wider issues that feed into these unfortunate and tragic outcomes.

Since 2010, almost 25,000 police officers were slashed, as were their budgets. The effects could not have been felt harder: crime feels almost decriminalised in Britain as thefts and burglaries go uninvestigated, and conviction rates for serious crimes dwindle. The prison system invariably is also under strain as a lack of infrastructure, staff, and adequate sentencing leads offenders to be often out and back on our streets sooner than is necessary for community protection. What is the result? Police forces pursue “easy” victories that use limited resources, and you end up being investigated over offensive tweets whilst the assailant who robbed you at knifepoint the night before is left to slink into the shadows. Reporting a crime to the police now seems more of a formality for the sake of your insurance, rather than anything else.

However, the structural issues – policing, prisons, courts – only explain the proliferation of crime itself; not this apparent uptick in youth criminality. How have we reached a position whereby two 15-year-old children feel capable of stabbing another to death? At the risk of becoming a jaded geriatric, I fear the cause of the issue lies in the technology itself, and the way we now socialise children. In the 24 years since David Bowie said that the internet would become both exhilarating and terrifying, his words could not have come truer. In my pocket, I now carry the means to communicate instantly with anyone I want; to scroll page after page of Wikipedia and see what the people I care about are up to. I also have access to the social undercurrents that pre-internet were confined to alleys and abandoned warehouses, and those undercurrents have access to me.

The internet has ended childhood as we know it. The mistakes and foibles of adolescence, which previously were left on playgrounds, are now a part of your digital footprint that will follow you into adulthood. You are exposed to predators, pornographers, peddlers and perverts far easier and more conveniently than our parents were, and you as a child are expected to negotiate a culture where sex, drugs and criminality in adulthood is now available – dare I say made attractive – to you.

How does a 15-year-old find themselves carrying a knife with the intention of using it on another person? How does a 15-year-old find themselves crossing national borders to join a terrorist organisation? How does a 15-year-old find themselves escorting illegal substances on behalf of older, organised criminal gangs? Because they have been left online and found – or been found by – people that have groomed them to do so. Parents who would not dream of leaving their child alone in a shopping centre, leave them on the internet for hours at a time with the same level of vulnerability because they do not understand, or do not care to understand, the internet and the threats it can pose.

This is not to say that the internet does not bring benefits. This topic is so thorny because of that truth: that to restrict children from the internet in their entirety would be impossible in a world where adults have made technology and tech literacy a core component of civilisation. Government legislation has attempted to strike a balance and thrown up more issues as adults have to contend with how methods of protecting children may negatively impact their own ability to use the internet the way that we do.

Internet usage is perhaps going to end up being a topic that, like sex, drugs, and alcohol, parents will have to talk to their children about moderation and limits. You only have to scratch a 20-something with a presence in online spaces to realise the extent of the issue: whether that be people joking about liveleak videos of ISIS executions, the prevalence of self-harm and the culture around it on tumblr in the last decade, all the way through to online communities that eventually breed terrorists – some as young as 13.

We cannot begin to understand why children commit crimes as shockingly as adults without understanding that in the age of the internet we have abolished childhood. Children grow up faster now but with all the instability and recklessness that marks adolescence, and unfortunately this leads to some slipping through the cracks and into things that lead to negative outcomes for all involved. If Conservatives seek to protect children, and build functioning and cohesive communities, they must accept this reality and begin to understand how we can preserve some semblance of childhood for generations which have no understanding of a world without the internet. 

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The Dark Triad of Progressivism (Magazine Excerpt)

Those of a progressive disposition have differing moral foundations to those on the right. Moral foundations theory was first proposed by Jonathan Haidt and subsequently developed in his 2012 book, The Righteous Mind. The theory’s intention is to explain human variation in moral reasoning based on innate moral foundations. Right-wing foundations would be best characterised as group-oriented values centred around order and hierarchy; left-wing foundations would be best characterised as individualistic values.

Rightists value all five moral foundations, but uniquely value in-group loyalty, purity and obedience to authority.  Right-wingers care about harm avoidance and fairness, but to a lesser extent than their left-wing counterparts — leftists only care about these foundations. This creates a situation of asymmetric empathy. The right can empathise with the left, as they share the two individualistic foundations; the left can’t empathise with the right, as they don’t share the three group-oriented foundations. As a result, the left perceives the right as fundamentally nasty and wicked, whereas the right views the left as misguided and ignorant. This asymmetric empathy has been a persistent factor throughout time and allows the left to seize control of culture, pushing ever leftward as they take advantage of the right’s empathy for them. This condition persists until a point of such disorder is reached that a conservative backlash takes place within the society’s elite. A clear historic example of this backlashing tendency would be the social conservatism of the Victorian era juxtaposed with the decadence of 18th century England.

Psychologically speaking, progressives lack a full set of moral foundations, but leftism also correlates with mental illness. Slate Star Codex carried out a survey of more than 8,000 people which showed that those on the further left are more likely to be “formally diagnosed with depression, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia”.

This is an excerpt from “Progress”. To continue reading, visit The Mallard’s Shopify.

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We Need a Che Guevara of Our Own

The title might be misleading at first, but there is a good reason for that. To understand the needs and opportunities for the contemporary Right, we first need to understand what got the Left into power at first.

Enter Che Guevara, or more exactly, enter Ernesto Guevara de la Serna.

For anyone in either the free-market or the classical conservative sphere, the travel log of his motorcycle trip around Latin America should be a required reading. Not because it is an historical account of the radicalization of one man, who from well-educated Argentinian bourgeois doctor went to terrorist, revolutionary and guerrilla leader, but because it shows the seeds of how a simple man with ideas (albeit in his case, the worst ones) can become an archetype, a religious icon for a set of beliefs.

Even for someone like Murray Rothbard himself, Che Guevara was someone worth of interest, to the point of writing a highly critical but yet prophetic obituary for him, and Rothbard, of course, was right, because Che Guevara has probably become the most well-known political figure in recent Latin American history, and outside of the developed West, that is, the US-led Anglosphere and Western Europe, his face and his name have become synonymous with armed struggle, with guerrilla warfare, with an utopian socialist ideal that knows no limits nor boundaries.

His death at the hands of the Bolivian Army, helped by the CIA, in a failed attempt to spark an agrarian Marxist revolution in the Andean Altiplano, only contributed more to his already legendary status among those who oppose the ideas of freedom and civilization.

In practice, his death made him a martyr of the Left, a religious symbol of a revolution that never came but is always presented as the gospel of egalitarianism. Say what you want about Che Guevara, say he was a killer and a terrorist, and you will be right. But that doesn’t take away the fact that Che was ready to die for his ideas, and in fact did so.

The Right, neither conservative nor libertarian, doesn’t have a single person who has gone to such extents. We don’t have martyrs, and our beliefs are not religious. We may think of the self-immolating acts committed by the likes of Alex Jones or Kanye West as martyrdom for our causes, like free speech, but they are nothing but counterproductive folk activism.

In fact, our beliefs, are quite the opposite to a religious fanatism, for they are rooted in the reasonable analysis of history, nature and society, and as such, the results of our ideas, even if adequate on a long term, are not easy to sell to high-time preference masses, who have become used to receive subsidies from governments and have internalized the propaganda created by the corporate-managerial class that works in tandem with policy-makers.

Our society is deadlocked between an individual struggle for freedom and an organized struggle for power, and our times are stranger than ever, for they represent what Francis Fukuyama still insists is the End of History, but look closer to the civilization end stage described by Oswald Spengler in his Decline of the West magnum opus.

The problem is that if we take either Fukuyama’s or Spengler’s words for granted, we’re still left without some key elements to understand the mechanics of our age: liberal democracy is indeed the dominant system all around the world, but it is not liberal (for it is not generous, as defined by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, and because it creates false, unstable prosperity out of heavy taxation, inorganic monetary emission and general government intervention of the economy), nor it is democratic (for it allows everyone to vote, no matter who or what “the People” is or is intended to be, and reserves power only for an unelected managerial class.)

If this account of facts is remindful of James Burnham’s ideas, it is because he, like Spengler, identified elements of our current collapse, and tried to predict its future by equating the imminent managerialism of the West with Soviet Stalinism and Italian fascism, and in many senses, Burnham was right, and Western managerialism has indeed become something akin to fascism, although without the nationalism, as Lew Rockwell has repeatedly warned us.

But where does that leave us and how is Che Guevara connected to all of this?

Simple: for Burnham, as well as for Spengler, as theorists of Western collapse, the system that would be in place in the endgame of civilization would depend on strongmen like Cecil Rhodes to work smoothly, for they, as the Great Men in History described by Thomas Carlyle, would be the only ones able to take the reins of power to direct society.

This mention of Cecil Rhodes is not random, because he could probably be considered the best example of how a Great Man idea must be compensated with a sound understanding of historical processes, and because Rhodes, like Che Guevara, was strongman, a tactician and a born leader. In Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s words, he was a natural elite.

From an English boy with poor health, the son of an Anglican priest, he became a mining magnate and then an important politician in South Africa. His talent for business allowed to thrive and prosper, and his short stay in Oxford University shaped his worldview into one of British dominance and influence.

In the same fashion as other strongmen before him, Rhodes was elevated into the highest prestige in his last years and after his death, with the British colonies he helped to acquire getting named after him (not unlike Bolivia being named after Simón Bolívar), with his South African estate becoming the campus for the University of Cape Town, and with his large fortune left to fund the Oxford scholarship named in his honor, which has helped educated thousands of politicians and enterprise heads from all around the Anglosphere, with the original intent of shaping them to think in the same way Rhodes himself thought about a British-dominated world.

But his legacy hasn’t prospered as much as the almost religious veneration Che Guevara has acquired, for the idea of Rhodes, the imperial businessman and politician, once respected as an ideal of the British Empire, has now become anathema even in the very institution he attended and donated his fortune to, for the gospel of egalitarianism cannot allow the veneration of natural elites, in their own times and contexts.

Che Guevara, on the other side, by living fast and dying young, by focusing and sacrificing himself to his ideas, created a myth around and about himself, a myth that men like Cecil Rhodes could have never even achieved.

And now, in our Populist age, where political and business leaders emerge out of the polarization of ideas and beliefs, where strongmen and magnates like Ron DeSantis and Elon Musk can lead thousands of supporters and yet still have troubles to hold or exercise power in their own spheres of influence, the question remains: what are we missing that the Left does have?

We may not realize it, but the Left is currently lacking this key element: they don’t have natural elites, they don’t have caudillos, they don’t have true leaders.

In their inflation of their egos, they have elevated the likes of Klaus Schwab and Samuel Bankman-Fried into their demigods, and when the societal collapse they have caused themselves may finally come, they won’t be able to prevent it or to mitigate it.

But here is where and when our duty becomes clear: if the Left is a fanatic religious movement focused on enforcing egalitarianism, and if the Left has had its martyrs like Che Guevara, then our fight, just as Rothbard said, must also be a religious crusade, one for the defense of freedom and civilization.

But to fight such a fight you don’t only need fighters, you need leaders, tacticians, strategists. Not everyone can be one, because our natural differences make us spontaneously inclined to different activities and positions in life, but extreme circumstances do create extreme leaders.

Ernesto Guevara did not become El Che from day to night, he was transformed by his trip around Latin American, radicalized by the poor living conditions of his fellow men, and engaged by the common identity of a single continent from the Rio Grande to Patagonia. It just happens he took to wrong path and he fought for the wrong ideas, and instead of prosperity to the masses, the only things he brought were death and misery, in Cuba, in Angola, and in Bolivia.

His face, now a symbol, still represents carnage and poverty wrapped around an utopian ideal, but ultimately proves the point of this essay: Che was, and still is, a symbol.

We, in the Right, cannot take him for our side, because it would be incoherent and counterproductive, but we must understand what made him as such. Che emerged under the most unlikely conditions and circumstances. Our Che will probably emerge from the most unlikely of the places as well.

Because if one thing is true, that our conflict with the left is indeed a religious fight against a fanatic progressive dogma, then we will also need leaders and martyrs, just like Che was for the Left in the past. We need a Che Guevara of our own.

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Will The Amish Become Fashionable?

America is still young and, so far, remains the core of the proverbial ‘New World’. A brand-new world might, for some, require new thoughts and ideas taken from the ‘Old World’, or potentially, nearly new and separate religions. One might think of Mormonism or Scientology, but the rise of the Old World, emerging in the New, has found a solid foundation from the Anabaptists in the form of the Amish.

Finding their origins in the world of Dutch Calvinism, the Amish started as a series of small communities that spread rapidly. These communities were found within the Midwestern states, but in recent years, due to rapid population growth, have spread to over thirty states. This population growth in such a short space of time has left many wondering just how big the Amish population will be within the next few years across the United States.

As noted by Lyman Stone in 2018, it remains highly unlikely that the Amish will ever become a majority within the US largely due to structural factors relating to modernisation within certain groups and shifts from farming towards manufacturing. This is compounded by a lack of available farming areas for which they can use to move across the US. Most likely, in the coming decades, they will slowly become significant minority groups within many states, with Holmes County, Ohio most likely to become the first majority Amish County in the US this year, which will soon be followed by LaGrange County, Indiana.

For the Amish, all non-Amish are called ‘the English’. For the rest of this article, I will use the Amish’s own terminology (for my own sick amusement, knowing this article’s intended audience). The importance of this is because, at its core, what remains important is the examination of whether the Amish will bend to the knee to the English World or if the English World will learn anything from the Amish.

Will the Amish become fashionable as a cultural force that the English in America can rally around? Will they become fashionable, and can they not offer to help guide America back to its traditional roots? These are all important questions, which I hope might spark some debate amongst people and The Mallard readership. The good thing about writing online about the Amish, is knowing they will probably never see this.

Even prior to Covid, we have seen vast internal migration from around the US, from people fleeing states like California and New York towards that of Florida and Texas. Additionally, we are seeing a gradual return from the major built up cities towards the countryside. These trends are not unique to the US but it would seem that some kind of return to a more ‘tranquil’ and, dare I say, ‘traditional’ lifestyle has applied to many. Alongside this return to the countryside, the Amish have always, in one form or another, received attention from the body politic and general cultural zeitgeist of America. A friendly, devout, and non-violent group of Christians that merely wish to be left alone.

Following this, knowing that you have a high-trust, self-sustaining, and low crime faction of the population, may start paying dividends within certain states that have large major cities which suffer from various modern social ills (crime, drug abuse, etc.). As the Amish population grows, so too will the cultural weight they can throw around locally. Of course, we will never see Amish Congressman or Presidents. Instead, we will see a strong and firm cultural base in which a growing traditionalism-seeking group of people can find support within.

Will the Amish way of life ever become, by contemporary definitions, ‘popular’? Certainly not. However, similar to how people become Priests or Nuns, such paths may not be for them, but can be respected and admired. That admiration, the idea that such a group can do so much, may itself become fashionable; the Amish may come to symbolise a desirable form of of social stability, one situated in contrast to increasingly stormy issues emerging within American cities. As such, whilst the ‘full’ Amish way of life is not purely feasible for much of the population, elements may be worth emulating. A strong sense of local community identity, sustainability, and solidarity, as well as emphasising family and family-building; something that most agree is drastically needed.

In summary, will the Amish become a massive cultural force? It’s too soon to say. If demographic trends continue on their current trajectory, then within the next few decades, we may see the Amish become, not just a major cultural force, but the foundation of a parallel society; one providing an alternative to the excesses and drawbacks of globalised modernity.

It is entirely possible that the Amish, more than just playing a role as an increasingly culturally-influential Christian group within America, will come to provide a full-bodied blueprint for revitalising American ‘rugged individualism’. However, what is known for certain is that, in some distant rural parts of America, there still exist those who believe in the core values which made America into America – the will to flourish on the frontier of a new world.

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Environmentalism: The Quintessential Conservative Cause

Over the past few weeks, a single topic has dominated the German media and has meanwhile made its way into the international media: The removal of climate activists from the village of Lützerath, which they occupy to stop the mining of lignite there.

Activists had already demonstrated in 2020 against the resettlement of the village for the Garzweiler open pit mine and subsequently occupied the village. Beginning on January 11, more than 1,000 police officers went on the offensive and began driving the activists out of the village, resulting in large-scale unrest that lasted for nearly a full week. The locality has not been cleared to this day, in part because activists have tunneled themselves into the ground and barricaded themselves in tree houses. After police officers were pelted with stones and even Molotov cocktails, the reaction of politicians on the right-wing spectrum has been concentrated on these acts. Of course, this is not surprising, but none of these politicians have really been critical of the issue of relocation and demolition of villages, their community and history itself. It seems that only left-wing people ever stand up for environmental protection and, in this case, for saving the village as well as, indirectly, its history (even though this is probably not a motivation for them). But the fact is that environmental protection should also be something important for conservatives, and it is the relationship between the two things that I intend to examine here.

Parts of the small village, first mentioned in the annals of history in the 12th century, belonged to the Cistercian Abbey of Duissern for many centuries. After more than 900 years, the village, like many villages before it, must now make way for the Garzweiler open pit mine and its owner RWE AG. As a result, the Duisserner Hof, for example, which is on the list of monuments of the city of Erkelenz because of its historical and cultural significance, has to be demolished. 

A similar fate befell the village of Immerath in 2018, when the neo-Romanesque St. Lambertus Church was demolished. As art historian Annette Jansen-Winkeln noted before the demolition, it was quite dramatic that the church was partially destroyed during World War II and the community then had to invest heavily in rebuilding it, only to have it demolished for the expansion of the open-pit lignite mine. The congregation had invested in large ornamental windows during the reconstruction period, which she was able to save from demolition. The diocese of Aachen had sold the church to RWE AG “with the proviso that the [windows] be treated in the same way as the wall.”

The St. Lambertus Church was a symbol of identity from the very beginning, according to the art historian. In 1886, the village’s approximately one thousand inhabitants decided to build this new church. “For such a small community to produce such great things – there must have been a lot of social competence.” 

This situation should cause an unpleasant emotion in every conservative. What is being destroyed in these cases is the active life of a village, its community, and its history, all things that should be central to the conservative view of society. Not only that, but it is being done for a purpose that is detrimental to the environment, that is, contrary to a cause that conservatives should champion: Environmentalism.

Roger Scruton captured this sentiment perfectly when he famously wrote

‘We must make the environment, the countryside, and the settled communities of our nation into priorities of government. Conservatism is a philosophy of inheritance and stewardship; it does not squander resources but conserves and enhances them. Environmental politics therefore needs to be rescued from the phony expertise of the scare-mongers and from the top-down manipulation of the activists. Properly understood, environmental protection is not a left-wing but a conservative cause.’

Now, as Scruton correctly points out, environmentalism is seen as a core issue of the left political spectrum. Climate change organizations like Greenpeace and social movements like Fridays for Future have uniformly adopted a progressive stance on sociocultural issues, making it almost impossible to support them as a conservative. The reason that the issue of environmentalism has found particular appeal on the left is because of the way they frame the fundamental nature of the problem. The movement, according to Scruton, has

‘acquired all the hall-marks of a left-wing cause: a class of victims (future generations), an enlightened vanguard who fights for them (the eco-warriors), powerful philistines who exploit them (the capitalists), and endless opportunities to express resentment against the successful, the wealthy and the West.’

Meanwhile, for a long time, little to no real engagement with the issue was made in conservative circles, thus surrendering an issue to political rivals that is now key to due electoral decision-making. In the 2021 German federal election, the environment and climate played the second-largest role for voters in their election decision.The Christian Democratic Union of Germany’s (CDU) internal election report shows that almost one million voters switched from them to the Green Party. For the Greens, 82% of voters named the environment and climate as the most important issue for their election decision. It stands to reason that for many of those who switched their votes, the lack of climate policy competence on the part of the CDU was at the forefront of their minds.

Far from being a foreshadowing of the years to come, this situation offers an ideal opportunity for conservative politicians and movements to reflect on the principles of conservatism. Environmentalism should be an issue that conservative politicians ought to make an important part of their election platforms if they want to win. It is not the case that this is to be done for opportunistic reasons. In fact, for Roger Scruton, environmentalism represents “the quintessential conservative cause”.  

Fundamental to this view is the conservative attitude toward society best captured by Edmund Burke, who speaks of society as a social contract, but ‘not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.’ The preservation (and amelioration) of nature and the Countryside is considered a duty for those who are aware that they have received everything from previous generations and must conserve it for future generations. As the great American poet and farmer Wendell Berry puts it: “The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.’

This awareness gives rise to a natural preference for the local over the distant. Which manifests itself best in Roger Scruton’s notion of oikophilia: ‘[T]he love of the oikos, which means not only the home but the people contained in it, and the surrounding settlements that endow that home with lasting contours and an enduring smile.’ American legal scholar Robert P. George aptly summarized this position when he stated “that one naturally and rightly has a special love for, and duties toward, members of one’s family, tradition of faith, local community and region, and fellow citizens.”

This love for the familial and social environment, traditions and nature is naturally linked to a sense of identity. We recognize the need for a “We” that cherishes traditions and evokes a sense of home, a place that is “Ours”. This notion of oikophilia is thereby something that is animated only because we are located in such a place. There exists a deep connection with environmentalism, since this notion has a great impact on the way we treat the environment. It is simply a fact that man tries to protect what belongs to him more than what is not his own. Now, with the environment, man receives a communal inheritance from which responsibility for the inheritance arises.

Accordingly, it is also a profoundly intergenerational view, consistent with the Burkean social contract, for thus one is not master of the land but a tenant who is but one person in a long line of tenants who are all equally entitled to receive that inheritance. One might object that this means that you may not change anything about the environment or use its natural resources, but therein I would say with Theodore Roosevelt, ‘I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.’

With all that said, it does seem that a brief consideration of policy implications is needed. From the view of conservative environmentalism that has been presented, there are attitudes that conservatives should have toward economic and technological policies and practices. 

It seems that conservatives in this case must be completely opposed to an unregulated free market, not conservative in the first place, and regulations regarding the extraction of natural resources should be supported. In this, again, it may be said with Roosevelt, “I believe that the natural resources must be used for the benefit of all our people, and not monopolized for the benefit of the few, and here again is another case in which I am accused of taking a revolutionary attitude.” (1910 speech on “New Nationalism) What seems obvious to me is that a rethinking of ecological issues should also include a rethinking of economic issues. 

Conservatives should also stand up for domestic producers, discouraging them from taking production overseas, and oppose the globalization of industries, if possible. Restricting the import of certain products might also be worth considering, instead supporting local farmers and passing laws that encourage people to buy locally, which saves a lot of shipment mileage, automatically helping the environment and strengthening the local economy. 

It also seems as if many conservative movements ought to change their language on the subject of environmental protection. Often excessive opposition within conservative circles creates the feeling that you can’t be conservative if you are pro-environment or you feel that you have to deny climate change to be conservative, which is wrong. It is necessary to emphasize more often that environmental protection is not only about climate change, but also about the degradation of natural resources and the preservation of the beauty of our home.

However, the most important thing remains something that politics cannot do and must come from the citizens themselves: Taking personal responsibility, which comes from rational self-interest that encourages the people to look after the environment themselves. The key for this is for people to realize that we are inheritors of this world and like a good farmer we have to cultivate this land and pass it on better to our inheritors.

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Britain needs to be more family-friendly – but not on Corbyn’s model

Jeremy Corbyn is back in the news, though for admirable and respectable reasons this time. In a speech to the Commons on Tuesday, Corbyn argued that the current two-child limit to parental support benefits is immoral, specifically immoral to the 3rd, 4th or 5th child born to that parent, and instead it’s time “to scrap the two-child limit on benefits, and create a social security system that treats people with dignity, care and respect.”

It is quite common for socialists to claim that “it’s time” for the measures they propose, thus implying it has been a deliberate, cruel choice thus far to not pursue the measures, rather than caused by any practical limits. Nonetheless, stopped clocks and all that, and Corbyn has actually managed to touch on a problem quite serious in the British polity: we have an aging population and a declining birth rate, a combination which is, put nicely, a demographic time-bomb. 

It was not that long ago that a Tory minister received quite substantial criticism for proposing a pro-natalist policy, which must of course raise eyebrows as to why Corbyn is being lauded for proposing something so similar. I think we can chalk that one up to a mistaken belief that the unnamed minister was attempting to “engineer” a birth rate change whilst Corbyn just wants to support the children born anyway. 

Corbyn is, fundamentally, correct. The British state needs to do more to support children, but the focus should be on families, rather than children alone. By focusing on “children”, Corbyn is – unintentionally, I think we need to admit – neglecting the role parents play in both the creation and support of children. An avalanche of studies show the advantage children experience when both of their biological parents are involved in their childhood. Most importantly, the family is the finest form of welfare available in the world, and thinking the state can ever do more than supplement that welfare is misguided at best.

Since Corbyn has wandered into normative questions, we also need to clarify what is actually “immoral” in his eyes. Is it that further children would not get any support from the state? Perhaps, but then the immorality is not caused by the state, it is caused by nature as a rule and ameliorated by the state as an exception. Is it that, in providing support for the first two children but not any subsequent children? Maybe, but it is a dubious claim that state welfare is an expression of moral worth, though I appreciate I am battling with a socialist on this. 

Moreover, this might be a typical “nasty party” attitude to take, but why does Corbyn stop at the 5th child? Why not make the point regarding the 10th, or 20th child? Pro-natalist policies are good, when they support the lives of children already in the world, but if we are not careful we can generate a trap in which it pays to have children, and not work. Incentivising parents to have more children when it is the state supporting them and not their own employment is risky business.

What it should be doing instead is less direct. Instead, the British state needs to foster an environment that is more supportive of families, both in the material and in the attitudinal sense, which I explored in a recent paper with the think tank Civitas. What is an unfortunate truth of this situation is that birth rates are almost uniformly a symptom of the social environment, with a positive correlation between economic development and falling birth rates. As far as I know, no developed nation has successfully broken this link, but that does not mean it cannot be done. 

If the economic development of a nation has a bearing on birth rates, but birth rates are not the primary concern of national governments in their economic policies, then we cannot rely on the economic argument only, but there is still the possibility that economic policies could be shaped around families more. For one, as the Tory minister suggested, reforming the tax system to offer tax breaks in proportion to children (in both number and age) is an obvious option. The fact that Hungary has pursued such policies suggests it is possible, so the political will is all that stands in the way.

Inevitably, we need to think about housing. Property offers the most secure physical environment for parents to raise children in, especially as they make the transition from tenants to owner-occupiers, with which comes a greater degree of security. As has become common to remark on, millennials and Generation Z are facing crises of home-ownership, and without the security that can offer, families will start later and later, which not only has an effect on birth rates, but will mean those children born will be born into a world of insecurity. 

Corbyn is right that the British state needs to support children more, but he has missed the key point: the British state is not hospitable to families, and needs to be restructured to be so.

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A Response to Polly Toynbee

“Know thyself” is a most fundamental axiom of Greek philosophy that has been repeated into cliche in philosophy and religious studies classrooms around the world. And yet it is a concept that many seem to forget. To ignore our fundamental presuppositions and the grounding of our beliefs is foolish and to unwittingly seek to undercut them is ideological suicide. 

These thoughts follow my reading of Polly Toynbee’s recent article in the Guardian which seeks to essentially de-Christianise Christmas celebrations and throws around the terms ‘cultural Christianity’ and ‘humanism’ as a way to legitimise her thoroughly anti-Christian position as some kind of reasonable middle ground/self-critique. A contradiction for sure, as she lampoons the foundations of Christian belief and excoriates the actions of early Christians. If we attached power cables to Friedrich Nietzsche’s grave, his rolling would probably solve the present energy crisis our country is currently undergoing. 

Cultural Christianity, at the very least, demands an adoption of Christian morality and admiration for Christian tradition and history that is ridiculous to maintain in lieu of actual religious belief and makes me wonder why one doesn’t go all the way to believe in God too. Perhaps we consider the morality of ‘love thy neighbour’ as not necessarily an exclusively Christian belief but the very mindset that the European and American lives in are framed by Christianity – from the Protestant work ethic to our preference for monogamous relationships. Believing in the morality, mindset and general worldview of Christianity without its origin and basis, the teachings of Christ and the existence of God is vapid and naive. Why is marriage a sacred, inviolable contract if its primary advocate is not even real? (or dead).

This mindset is ultimately pointless and shallow and seeks to provide its own moral foundation with an appeal to some kind of tradition, popularity, or history – merely copying a greater tradition than itself. Ms Toynbee’s self-critical cultural Christianity is further called into question as nothing more than a veneer in her decidedly un-historical diagnosis of Christianity as anti-philosophical, anti-mathematical and anti-intellectual. The church is aware of its failings as a human institution, our own doctrine expects this and our scripture reminds us to be constantly vigilant against sin and our nature. Unfortunately, examples in history can be dragged into scrutiny to illustrate the failures of our forefathers. Maybe certain Popes and church leaders resisted the progress of science, or maybe the condemnations of 1277 sought to strangle ‘heretical’ elements of Aristotelianism out of medieval philosophy, but it isn’t appropriate to attribute particular mistakes by fallible humans to the wider religion. To do so is to be blinkered to what Christianity has provided and what it stands for.

Many of the greatest leaps in mathematics and science were accomplished by monotheists, algebra was pioneered and beautifully developed during the Golden Age of Islam and much of modern science owes its exposition and articulation to Christianity: Newtonian physics, Mendelian genetics and even the Big Bang Theory originate from Christian scholars. As for philosophy, while the discipline in the medieval period did develop in partnership with theology, the enlightenment saw the emergence of important secular thought among many Christian thinkers. For one example, Immanuel Kant, the father of modern philosophy, sought to use God to justify human freedom and escape relativism and nihilism; providing a philosophical framework that has shaped the European zeitgeist. There is a good case to be made that most Anglo-American philosophy that traces back to Hume is essentially a secularisation of the work of William of Occam; a Franciscan monk. Yes, certain Christians supported the barbaric practice of slavery but subsequent Christians spearheaded the abolitionist cause and rebuked their forebears. To accuse Christianity of being backwards because some nuns teaching children attempted to use theological themes to encourage good behaviour is intellectually immature. Ms Toynbee can chase caricatures and mistakes by certain people in order to try and hurry Christianity out the door as much as she wants but her arguments are largely rebutted by a cursory reading of history. There is no real correlation between Christianity and intellectual stagnation. 

A point that is interestingly used to drive her case forward is to complain about the largely ceremonial title of Fidei Defensor, which our monarchs adopted as an ironic jest at the Papacy. It is a somewhat nickel and dime point to analyse the declaration of the Anglican church’s independence – remember that the monarch is also the (ceremonial) Supreme Governor of the CofE: a broadly ceremonial title. Surely then, in an institution that is allegedly racist and backward, we should be welcoming Charles’ declaration to defend all the faiths of all of his subjects even if he is styled with a ceremonial, historic title? Dwelling on the ‘the’ seems to be counter-productive. These nickel-and-dime points come across as the bread and butter of this article – We can see another example of these snipes in her discussion of assisted suicide. To say that life is sacred and that assisted suicide is a slippery slope somehow makes our elected officials dangerous radicals that are out of touch with the electorate. This polemic move is extremely dishonest. See the advancement of medically assisted suicide in Canada as an example of the practical risks associated with this policy. 
Maybe this response article is also rising to the nickel and dime bait. The debate could rage forever, as glib anecdotes and controversies are thrown about to illustrate the evil of the ever-vengeful skydaddy and his charlatan prophet. But let’s not forget the message of Christmas in the Gospel – a message of love, hope and the salvation of mankind by God who loves His creation and wants nothing more than to reconcile our broken relationship.

Let’s remember that the secular values we associate with Christmas – family, reconciliation, joy, giving and altruism – stem from a message of divine love and peace with a promise to end human suffering. Ms Toynbee’s vision of a secular winter holiday is not possible without the Incarnation.

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A Quasi-Defence of Classical British Education

A couple of weeks ago, enough to make this piece seem dated, our Prime Minister Rishi Sunak contended that all students should be taught mathematics to the age of eighteen. As one would expect with anyone holding a convicted belief in anything these days, such remarks were held to scant regard and I suspect that like most Toryism of the modern day, that with conviction with give way to that with expedience and this policy will be dropped by the waysides at the slightest pushback in parliament.

However, the criticism that has spawned from this rare moment of genuine conviction from our prime minister is probably far more interesting than his own aspirations of what would have manifest.

As a sidenote, I expect that should this compulsory maths to 18 intention go through, what will likely happen is that the ever-beleaguered adolescent must now come to grips with the ire of all office workers: Microsoft Excel, only too early for their time. It is infeasible in the least that people who struggled to get a 4 in their foundation papers for GCSE maths could go on to study integrals. Maths is unlike other subjects in that one must have a command of the knowledge foundational to the next level, it is not a matter like in history, of switching periods or method of analysis to an area you may find more interesting. There are limits for everyone be it in wit or will. I, much like everyone else reading this article, is likely aware of our own maths limitations, it’s all too human.

But the furore about what should be taught instead of maths, or anything else for that matter, is as I’ve already said far more interesting. Of course, the first conviction of the modern vision of education, a cookie-cutter idea of turning an innocent child into the taxpaying office worker to satisfy the top-heavy pension-state is very tempting. In a world of material, the person is personified by their work, after all. Teach people about taxes! Teach them about compound interest! Teach them how to start their own businesses! Teach them about how to tie their shoes! Et cetera, et cetera. 

For someone however who normally takes a very technical view towards things, I’d like to take a moment to defend the British style of education in which people choose their A Levels and focus on honing their skills in a certain area, be it in humanities or technology, as opposed to being taught what the education cynics would prefer people learnt, which is essentially accounting 101 or what the cabinet desire, learn all the maths possible until your brain turns into C++ code.

In the first place, can we please clear up the idea that education is only, or even primarily about getting people ready for work? If you are leaving school at eighteen (good choice by the way) your job is likely going to have nothing to do with what you studied, nor has it ever been like this. The two original skills we most valued in school, maths and English, were primarily about getting people up and ready to learn information by themselves. Economists do not use a “can do their own taxes” rate when measuring educational development, they measure either literacy or time in school. Most people do not learn about their own job, or about their hobby because they were taught in school. For the degree educated among us and who retain passion for their subject, how much do you really owe your subject knowledge to the university instruction and how much to your own passion and research?

Education is, no matter how wearily and poorly it does it these days, a matter of getting people to learn things for themselves and maintain some level of function in society. Before the SNP took charge of Scotland, most state schools still taught Latin and Scotland retained a reputation as one of the premier education systems of the world (that has been dashed, you may finger point at whodunnit somewhere else). No, I’m not saying Latin is what makes a good education, but I don’t think it’s useless either if people are willing to learn it and be passionate about it.

I’m not going to pretend that a society in which everyone is a “critical thinker”, or “free thinking” Twitter user is either realistic or good. The reality is that humans are by and large not critical thinkers. But I think there is something to be said of the idea that education is not about doing your taxes (have these people never heard of PAYE?) but about rounding yourself out cognitively and figuring out who you are amongst peers.

Some of the greatest in British history studied what many would consider ‘useless’ in modern standards. The traditional British education was to go to Oxford or Cambridge and study classics or the law, after which one could study whatever one wanted, or indeed get a premium job in the civil service. All this was during the period of time in which British innovation was the envy of the world. I struggle to see how if more children were taught the properties of triangles during the 1840’s how the Industrial Revolution could have been anymore revolutionary.

I think the likely final avenue here of discussion is the frequently cited immense rise of Asian cognition in the economic space and the pre-eminence of the Chinese and Japanese companies and workers in the tech sphere. To be frank I do not think either that the rising ability of these nations need pose any threat to us in this country unless we decide it does. Liz Truss reportedly after a visit to China thought we all needed to study more maths and I’ll admit, the Chinese mathematics curriculum is terrifying. Calculus in many parts of China is taught as young as twelve, but that alone need not merit fear from anyone. Firstly, China’s economic coming dominance is vastly overstated by their own figures, but more importantly an economy isn’t just data scientists and modellers. Have people ever stopped to think that maybe too many mathematicians is also a bad thing? The most fundamental feature of all economies, the ability to produce food and water, is almost never going to feature maths beyond that which we use in Excel. Nor for that matter do most electricians, plumbers, journalists, chefs, manufacturers, technicians or even IT workers need to know how to find an eigenvector. 

Our other example, Japan, is perhaps an even more damning verdict of teaching a high number of students to eighteen mathematics than the former. Japan is a great country and I have little bad to say about them as a culture, but their economy has not been saved by maths being taught to eighteen. If you think the UK productivity figures are bad than Japan’s are lamentable. Japan lags the rest of the west in productivity despite a highly technical education. In spite of this 85% of Japanese Students will take maths to eighteen with math PISA scores that dominate the free world.

It is hard to assess the economic impact, let alone geopolitical impact of teaching everyone maths. But I’m comfortable in saying that if China or Japan are our examples of high-level STEM education, I’m not going to tie myself in knots. Britain’s productivity issue probably lies elsewhere.

I’m not attempting to be biased here, I myself have studied two different STEM subjects at higher education, but for me it seems expertise and skill is unlikely to be unearthed by your schooling. In my view then, don’t make the poor children study maths or accounting; adolescence is a strain unto itself. Let people pick their own interests, and the chips fall where they may.

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The Church has let men like Prince Harry down

The King has allegedly asked the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to mediate in the current royal drama with a view to repairing things before the Coronation. Reading extracts of Prince Harry’s ‘Spare’ I can’t but help think that though this is intervention is to be welcomed there is a sense in which Harry is typical of a lot of modern men who have been let down by the one spiritual organisation that is meant to guide them over the pitfalls and perils of this mortal coil. 

Harry’s complaint is that he is ‘spare heir’ and therefore a marginalised victim of the system, or what the royals dub ‘the Firm’. This is a difficult premise to swallow in the light of a life of opulent privilege. Anyone who takes up the daily recitation of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer will soon be confronted with a different of ‘spare’ that might as well come from another planet because it is so in-modern. “Spare thou them, O God, who confess their faults, restore thou them that are penitent.” If only Harry had been shown how to orientate his life on this concept of ‘spare’ things might have turned out differently. 

Tragically Harry’s nuggets in  ‘Spare’ betray an arid post-faith intellectual landscape where the classic virtues are absent. Humility, forgiveness, duty, sacrifice are sidelined whereas woke truisms and Californians therapy gobbledigook are at the fore. Did no one at Eton or in his confirmation classes drill in the Mosaic Ten commandments hanging up in many school chapels, least of all “Honour thy father and mother?” (Exodus 20.12) As he plotted with his ghost writer to disclose every petty family squabble did he not stop to weigh up the terrible dishonour it would bring to his father, the now present king? Perhaps those charged with his spiritual upbringing gave up too early? All indications from ‘Spare’ is that the teenage happy-go-lucky cheeky-chappy Harry was early on inhaling the wrong incense and needed a more bespoke approach to his religious instruction. As it is he now declares himself predictably as “spiritual but not religious.” Yawn! 

To borrow from the gospel of Mark, for what shall it profit a man, if he shall gaineth the biggest deals with Netflix, Spotify and Random House, and lose his own soul? It’s easy to dismiss religion and then tune out the meatier questions because they do not suit or harmonize with the confectionary lite buffet that presents itself as DIY “spirituality”.  What do I know anyway, I’m just a vicar? To Christ’s haunting question “What can he give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8.37) Harry’s industrious accountants have “done the maths” and monetized this to a balance sheet of around a quarter of a billion pounds, give or take.

 If only Harry had embraced the manly faith of his late grandmother, Her Majesty the Queen, then he wouldn’t be sinking in a quagmire of seances, quack therapists,  and crystal healers. They saw you coming, Harry!  And, to add comedy to tragedy he is stupendously oblivious  to the singular truth that is apparent to everyone else on the planet, ie, that this is not going to end well for him. The ton of cash from the books and TV series will not save his soul from disintegration. It will add to the mental inferno. He  now stands at the event horizon of an implosion, a galactic supernova which is the all consuming black hole of his fragile ego. And yet who cannot forget that when his grandmother deployed ‘spare’ it was always in the context of the misfortune of others. “Let us this Christmas spare a thought for those in the world who are less fortunate than us.” Spare indeed.

I feel sorry for Harry because he is a victim. He is a victim not of any antics at Buckingham Palace but a victim of himself and his ego.  He is his own worst oppressor. The pathetic thing is that we the plebs are all rather enjoying it. Hands up, I confess this has brightened things up from the rainy normal January blues along with the prospect of paying half my stipend on an exorbitant heating bill. That’s why Spare is flying off the shelves. It’s an Easterenderseque tittle-tattle of royal soap opera that makes our bored and wayward souls horny. 

Could the Church have helped to prevent this? My worry is that the current Anglican iteration is so panicked about appealing to wokism that Harry probably wouldn’t have been able to distinguish it from his wife’s current expensive appetite for tree hugging West Coast workshops. “Commandments? Oh, don’t concern yourself too much, they are merely ‘suggestions’ Your Highness for lifestyle enhancements. ” Here is a man displaying a profound lack of Christian catechesis. He thinks he can have God on his own terms. 

Maybe as Anglicans we should take the blame, as a religion we have failed him? Biblical fluency would have slammed the brakes on this kind of misadventure years ago. Regular and proper prayer would have constructed a spiritual fortress with a moat and a high vantage point that laughs off the psychological hobgoblins and foul fiends.  In Spare Harry talks of an RE teacher at Eton walloping him with a heavy Bible. Clearly not hard enough.

Harry is typical of a lost generation of men starved of meaning and direction. He and those on the other end of the spectrum who drool over the ridiculous Andrew Tate, are like pelicans wandering a neon wilderness tapping at leftovers and carcasses. Whereas Harry has an army of sycophants and celebs to tell him what he wants to hear, these men and boys scuttle around the cyberspace of Tik-Tok, Instagram and Youtube to collect morsels of ready made prejudices. Some of the more intellectually inquiring find solace in New Atheism, but increasingly the gleeful nihilism of Dawkins adds up to little succor these days. 

Most youngish men dropping into their Anglican parish church will soon realise that they are misfits in a club that struggles to connect with their concerns or knows what to do with them. Politically correct sermons are also a big turn off. The average vicar it seems has yet to learn from the Jordan Peterson rockstar phenomenon which points to younger generations (men and women) lining up in their thousands for a psychologically full-on wrestling of a demanding meaning to life. This is why he packs auditoriums whereas many of us have half empty churches. Key to this is inverting the victimhood narrative and saying instead “Get your house in order and be a positive force in the world, by the grace of God, you can do it.” 

Tragically the Anglican existential need to cosy up to the culture zeitgeist can put it on the wrong side of history, repeatedly. Just over a hundred years ago vicars and bishops casually deployed eye watering jingoistic rhetoric from their pulpits to rally this same constituency of young men to the trenches. The most infamous being the manipulative monster that was Arthur Winnington-Ingram, the bishop of London. He gleefully toured the country and packed churches where he signed up sixteen year olds to the Front. His crazed sermons including rants of  “Kill the Hun!” Thank God we can’t imagine Sarah Mullaly or Justin Welby doing this. But, it does at least highlight there was a period in history where young men and princes  like Harry Windsor were seen as the saviours of our civilisation even if the salvific work they were asked to shoulder was in reality a big con, an industrial scale slaughterhouse.

Having dipped my toe in the media world I now find myself at the receiving end of a mailbag of letters and emails mostly from Millennials, men (but not exclusively) around Harry’s age and lower who have found Christianity afresh. For various reasons lockdown prompted a considerable number to reevaluate the old faith. Typically they are rebels and misfits who find that the best way to dissent from the woke globalist revolution is to grasp Christianity. The gospel is for them the new anti-globalist movement.  I see in them a hunger for demanding gospel which is both generous and orthodox, intellectual and spiritual stretching. They do not want to be fobbed off with social justice platitudes and are prepared to suffer well for their faith, even job loss is necessary. This is an energized constituency that for some reason the Church is apathetic to. Please, please bishops wake up! 

So, what urgent spiritual advice could be given to the Duke of Sussex? Clergy, if the prince happens to trip into your confessional let’s not pander with the gushing words of  “there, there!”  He requires a direct approach. This is because he is like the earnest rich young man in the gospels who is strangulated by his possessions, privilege, and status and ends up walking away from Christ? Doesn’t he see that raking in millions and millions while surrounding himself with the Hollywood luvvies is the proverbial camel that he will never never never squeeze through the eye of the needle? No amount of Elizabeth Arden cream can help either. He needs to give it all up for a radically simpler quieter life.

Is any of this feasible for a royal like Harry let alone all those lost men the churches fail to inspire? Harry doesn’t need to go back to Edward the Confessor to find a role model. He could look no further than his quirky yet saintly great grandmother, the forthright Princess Alice of Battenberg, the Duke of Edinburgh’s mother. She had her troubles with mental health and ended up in and out of sanitariums. Opinion was divided over whether she was a mystic or a nut. Yet, unlike all the made up woke gongs that Harry and Meghan have received, Alice had a real award for her work in saving Jews from Nazis. Israel recognises and honours  her as a righteous gentile. She also sold everything and became an Orthodox nun. As a no nonsense woman, she would be the last person on the planet to ever describe herself as a “victim”. She rolled up her sleeves and got on with life doing endless good without fanfare or neediness. I suspect history will ‘spare’ her a bigger and more godly footnote than Harry Windsor unless he seriously and radically changes his ways.  And for bishops and archbishops maybe the lesson is that a church that preached and presented an Alice Battenberg Christianity, might not only reach out to guys like Harry but also find a remedy for its own seemingly terminal decline.                

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