Why The Tories Should Be Afraid of the Australian Labor Party’s Victory

The Australian Labor Party’s victory in Australia marks the end of almost a decade of Liberal Party rule. Indeed, the Liberal Party bears many similarities and its philosophy and ideology derived from the Conservative Party in their mother country. Having just scraped a majority in 2019, Scott Morrison has led the Liberal Party to its worst defeat since 1944. This claim however isn’t based on losing government but more critically losing its affluent seats like Goldstein, Higgins, North Sydney, Mackeller and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah failing to be won by the Liberals again. But with the shock victory of independent Dr Monique Ryan in Kooyong suggests a worrying foreshadowing of what is yet to come in Britain.

Poor Leadership, Good Results

Firstly, the presumptive narrative that ‘Keir Starmer is an awful leader, so we’ll get back in’ is to be questioned due to the Australian election. Net satisfaction with Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s performance fell to a record low of minus 14 per cent – the worst for an opposition leader since Bill Shorten – just in mid-April. Starmer too shares an abysmal rating with 53 per cent of respondents to a YouGov poll in April judging him to be ‘doing badly’ as Labour leader in Britain. Nevertheless, with a shared cost of living crisis due to high inflation and rampant house price increases, both conservative parties have failed on their perceived core mission of safeguarding the economy.

The Wavering Middle-Classes

May’s local election results in the UK display signs of dissatisfaction with the current Tory government. The Liberal Democrats (not to be confused with the Australian Liberal Party) exploited the dissatisfaction among middle-class Tory voters in historically safe Tory areas. Australian Labor too exploited this dissatisfaction with middle-class Liberal voters. Being dubbed the ‘teal independents’, predominantly female, middle-class, wealthy, small-l liberal and climate-conscious candidates swept through solid Liberal seats. Teal itself being a mixture of green and blue (the Liberal Party’s colour) displays similarities with NIMBY-minded candidates in solid Tory wards during the UK May election. England’s results saw a net increase of 194 councillors for the Lib Dems and 63 for the Green Party with Labour seeing an increase of only 22 councillors at the expense of a loss of over 336 councillors for the Tories.

Forget the ‘Red Wall’ concept in Britain and in Australia, the Tory Party and the Liberal Party are seeing their core base desert them before their very eyes.

Repercussions for Australia and Dangers for Britain

Republicanism is strong in Australia and the return of the Labor Party with outspoken republican Albanese at the helm, coupled with the culture war heating up over trans rights during the election, this presents danger to the future of the monarchy in Australia once again. For Britain, the story is already well understood since Blair that a Labour government (no matter how appealing to traditional middle-class Conservative voters) will irrevocably vandalise the British constitution once more.

One key lesson learned from this election is that it is a massive challenge to hold onto the prosperous middle classes (which are a core rightist constituency) without compromising on conservative social values. Values of ambition and enterprise have been consistently championed by each Tory government since around the 1860s, yet this current Tory government is the first to not encourage – or even boldly talk – about these values. To fight the culture war without a sound handling of the economy risks losing both to left wing manipulation and thus conservatives are once again in opposition dominated by a left-wing hegemony in economy and culture. 

The implication of defending traditional values by the Liberal Party and – supposedly – by the Tory Party without the confidence of the middle-classes on the economy is to pave the way for a leftist victory. Due to the shared Anglo traditions of parliamentary sovereignty, this leaves Australia’s institutions open to vandalism and destruction.


With the end of almost a decade of Liberal rule in Australia marks the beginning of a new era of Labor government. The recriminations inside the Liberal-National Coalition will begin as the moderates seek to flex their dwindling muscle to make the case that the 2022 electoral strategy of chasing ‘Red Wall’ voters cost them their heartlands. Right wing Liberals who protested Scott Morrison’s party by voting for the United Australia Party or Pauline Hanson’s One Nation may return home, but this election has marked the end of solid conservative dominance in Australia.

The Conservative Party in Britain should be worrying. The long-held belief that the Tories will stay in government due to Labour being unable to produce a competent-enough leader has been proven wrong. Ineptitude in optics over Partygate and 40-year high inflation (the highest among G7 countries, currently) is cutting away the Tory Party’s electoral backbone. Forget the insipid ping-pong of which party leaders held illegal gatherings during lockdown and focus on the disastrous state of the economy. If the awful May local election results weren’t a warning of what is yet to come for the Tories, this Australian election result should scare the Tories to death beyond the years of Brexit. 

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This Great Stage of Fools: Thoughts on the Church of England

There was a time not very long ago when I wanted to become an Anglican priest. I thought I had discovered my vocation; it filled me with hope for the future. Now, however, I cannot think of a more unattractive prospect.

I was warned. At a book signing a couple of years ago, a non-stipendiary priest looked at me and said that the Church of England would eat me up. Another priest expressed such a lack of enthusiasm for his role that he might as well have told me to convert to atheism. I could hardly gainsay them. It wasn’t my place to claim that I would have been a moral, spiritual or intellectual asset to the Anglican fold – though, admittedly, I did wish to ape those clever, eccentric country parsons who so enriched the culture. As Bill Bryson wrote in his book Home:

“Never in history have a group of people engaged in a broader range of creditable activities for which they were not in any sense actually employed.”

The first history of dirty jokes, the Jack Russell terrier, Bayes’ Theorem, the power loom, Tristram Shandy, and even the submarine were all products of bored clergymen.

Of course, to believe that today’s Church of England resembled yesterday’s was my own, rose-tinted failing. Deep down, I knew it had changed almost beyond recognition. But change is inevitable – and often salutary. I could perhaps have embraced the 21st century Church of England. Unfortunately, I doubt it would embrace me. Its recent “yeeting” (to use the scientific term) of Calvin Robinson alerted me to just how far the Church has fallen. Robinson’s politics comport with my own as do his convictions: pride is a sin, marriage is between a man and a woman, and the Gospel is rather more significant than an imported racial ideology, of which Black Lives Matter is the conduit. Robinson’s treatment showed that the Church of England’s hierarchy is committing slow-motion idolatry.

When Robinson rails against what has happened to him, I have no doubt that he speaks for many, if not the majority, of churchgoers, who all but despair of what has happened to our national Church. But Robinson has a platform. We hear less often from young Anglicans, for whom the Church’s every statement seems designed to cater. Thus we get mini-golf courses and helter-skelters in our cathedrals, pride and NHS flags draped over our altars, and statements to the effect that the Church is racist but you should join it anyway. My own local church recently played host to a rock concert, for which the altar was whisked embarrassedly out of sight. Would a mosque tolerate such a thing? No, and nor should it. And of course, the Church hierarchy announced only a couple of weeks ago that they, too, couldn’t make heads or tails of what a woman was – undoing centuries of dogma and theology, not to mention insulting women.

It would be remiss of me to claim to be able to speak on behalf of all young Anglicans, especially given my continuing attraction to both Rome and Constantinople. But, after years of contact with other young Anglicans, I am confident that what I have to say now would attract something close to a consensus. So, Mr Welby, if you’re listening (which I suspect you’re not): we don’t want what you’re offering. We want heaven and hell. We want angels, powers and principalities. We want prayer, orthodoxy and conviction. We want good and evil, right and wrong. Above all, we want Christ. Your generation – the children of the 1960s – became enamoured by the secular. You think that heaven on earth is possible, if only we join the right causes and shun the wrong politic – you have surrendered to the world. But the Kingdom is not of this world. As T.S. wrote in Thoughts After Lambeth:

“Thought, study, mortification, sacrifice: it is such notions as these that should be impressed upon the young—who differ from the young of other times merely in having a different middle-aged generation behind them. You will never attract the young by making Christianity easy; but a good many can be attracted by finding it difficult: difficult both to the disorderly mind and to the unruly passions.”

If this truth isn’t soon heeded, I fear that the Church of England will be all but extinct in a decade or two. It will linger on in London and Birmingham, perhaps, where immigrant Christians still take seriously what the English do not. But it will no longer be the spiritual organ of the nation. Possibly the Catholic Church will fill the vacuum. Who knows?

I say all this as someone who is, technically, a member of the newly established religion: LGBT. It is said to be a community, though I’ve never seen it except when it rears its sponsored head to bully some poor recalcitrant for saying the wrong thing about gay marriage. Exactly this was what happened in my town last year. A Christian councilman said to some committee or other that, while he supported the right of gay people to live happy lives, he could not condone gay marriage. It has become a cliche to compare cancel culture to witch hunts, for good reason but the councilman was subjected to weeks of bullying and the foulest of threats and insults all, of course, in the name of tolerance and compassion. It upset me that the local Anglican church did nothing to snuff the flames – and may even have wished secretly to fan them.

There is, I believe, a ground swell of small-o orthodoxy among the young. New atheism (of which I was a devotee) proved insufficient in answering our moral, spiritual and intellectual needs. Many of us turned to God, whatever our politics. But if we were conservative, we naturally sought sustenance in the Church of England. I cannot be alone in saying that to find it so debased has been one of the great sadnesses of my early life. As Lear says, “we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools”.

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Britain Is A Dump

I am sure that you, along with literally millions of others, have by now seen the infamous tweet from Daniel Grainger calling Birmingham a ‘dump’. I found his tweet very strange, not because I have a particular fondness towards Birmingham, but because the design and aesthetics of the place are fairly standard for a large British city. The cream coloured flagstones near the train station, strange metallic water features, beggars sat on most corners of the main high street etc. These are all scenes that are probably familiar to anyone who has ever been outside.

Herein lies the problem, not that Birmingham specifically is a dump, but that every British city is a dump. We live on an island of rolling fields, dramatic coastlines, and precious woodland. However, this land is marked and stained by some of the most disgusting examples of urbanism in Europe, only occasionally pinpricked by a fine example of pre-war architecture which the local council has not yet found a reason to knock down and turn into a car park.

Please, you must believe me when I say that I am no enemy of urbanism. Many ‘trads’ and ‘LARPers’ feel as though the only part of this country with the ability to be beautiful is its countryside. I think this is a fallacy; cities have the amazing potential to be well crafted and beautiful spaces which lift the spirits, and demonstrate the finest achievements of culture and civilisation. Of course we have the ability to build beautiful spaces, instead we decided to turn these areas over to the managerial classes who seek only function.

What caused this? The most obvious answer is the Second World War. Thousands of tonnes of high explosives being dropped onto dense urban areas do tend to have the habit of leaving buildings destroyed, and we found most of our cities completely ruined. After the war, a fleet of urban planners and architects took it upon themselves to rebuild the United Kingdom. A lot of these planners and architects came from new schools of thought on design, and wanted to demonstrate this. It is indeed true that some examples of early post war brutalism are genuinely impressive, but cheap imitation after cheap imitation has sought to destroy this legacy. Now we are left with miserably grey spaces with no room for beauty and flare.

Worst of all, a lot of these areas are not maintained very well. Stroll through the city centre and buildings are normally kept in a somewhat decent condition. But venture past these and you will find endless graffiti, crumbling masonry, cracked pavements, and large dangling electrical cables. The people who live in these spaces do not have the money or the justification to keep these areas looking nice, and why would they? They never really looked that good to begin with.

If these spaces were at least affordable to live in, it would be somewhat justifiable to have them look like this, but that is not true. Disastrous planning policy (mainly the Town and Country Planning Act 1947) has left our most industrious cities with nowhere to grow, and no ability to destroy ugly monuments to the post war consensus and put up something better. These spaces are ridiculously expensive and still look appalling (with the few remaining beautiful areas costing unimaginable sums to even shop in, let alone buy). We are therefore left with the worst of both worlds: sky high property price, and terrible looking buildings. 

For the trads in the audience who endlessly harp on about rural life whilst never leaving Manchester, the countryside is not much better. Yes, the fields and hedgerows are beautiful, but drive around any rural community for a few minutes and you will find the most depressing and ugly looking council bungalow estates you could imagine. Rural councils have a genuine need to house elderly people affordably (otherwise they would never downsize and allow young people into their 5 bedroom houses), but they choose to do so in the worst types of buildings fathomable. Damp, cold, and smelly bungalows with pebble dashed exteriors. No wonder your granny from the village is desperate to hold onto her 3 bed Victorian farmers cottage when that is the alternative.

Culturally and economically, we are stuck. We haven’t the imagination and courage to propose something new and aesthetically pleasing, the wisdom to go back to old styles and designs, or the money to action those proposals anyway. We are instead cut off to drift into stifling mediocrity. The only crumb of consolation being that most of the western world also seems to have this problem.

As ever, I would like to propose some solutions to these problems:

Firstly, as everyone seems to be saying, we need to abolish the Town and Country Planning Act 1947. This is not a particularly imaginative or bold position to take as an under-30, but it will arguably be the most difficult to do.

Secondly, universities should teach a broader curriculum on architecture and urban planning. I am fortunate enough to have some friends who have taken degrees in both architecture and planning at a range of institutions, and they all come back with similar stories. Lecturers seem to focus entirely on modernism, recyclable buildings, and the temporary. Few focus on beauty and traditional design.

Thirdly, people need to be given a reason to look after the places where they live and the means to do so. The means is easy: they need more spare income. This can be achieved by making houses more affordable by building more of them (see point one). The reason is more difficult, they need to be living in areas genuinely worth keeping nice (see point two).

Unfortunately, I do not foresee any of this happening any time soon. The tweet by Grainger received immeasurable amounts of criticism and made national headlines. Yes, his tweet was rude and careless, but serves to show the difficulty in having this conversation. British people seem to be perfectly happy living in hell world and are absolutely immune to all criticism of it. We need to face facts: Britain is a dump.

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Why Culture Matters

In 1996 AD, Samuel P. Huntington wrote and published his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order.The main thesis of this American political scientist is that unlike the wars of the past, fought over nation and ideology, the wars of the future will be fought between cultures. This book represented a different Western view of future world history after the end of the Cold War, contrasting the liberal thesis of the Japanese-American political analyst Francis Fukuyama and his The End of History and the Last Man. Fukuyama’s vision of the coming of ‘the end of history’ proved to be an arrogant liberal illusion. Even Fukuyama himself abandoned this position.

On the other hand, Huntington’s vision was criticized by various spheres of the political spectrum. Major criticism of Huntington’s thesis was laid out by two schools of thought: Marxism and post-colonialism. The Marxist critique was based on the lack of an economic analysis within Huntington’s book, especially when compared to the neo-Marxist world-systems analysis of Immanuel Wallerstein. The post-colonial reaction to The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order was based upon the works of Edward Said, such as his masterpiece Orientalism.. Both criticisms are legitimate, even justified. However, they are missing the point.

The point of Samuel P. Huntington’s thesis was to stress the important role culture will inevitably play in the future of international relations. The author of this text, however, would add an even bolder statement – that culture always played an important role within the actual practice of not only international relations, but world history as well. That the ‘clash of civilizations’ was, and is, an inevitability.

However, Samuel P. Huntington’s work should be understood not as a manual or some sort of a holy scripture, but as a reorientation towards older, now forgotten schools of historical thought. His own, extremely simplistic view of civilizations has been influenced by the much more complex and nuanced historical analysis of civilizations offered by the great Irish-American professor, Carroll Quigley. Quigley, was in turn, under the influence of the quintessential British historian, Arnold J. Toynbee – who was himself under the influence of the legendary German philosopher of history, Oswald Spengler.

That is why political analysts of today should go beyond the works of Huntington, and his oversimplified cultural model – but they should bear in mind the political importance that abstract notions, such as culture and civilization, actually play. The current problems and crises of the modern West are, among other things, a direct result of cultural decay. Of course, there are many causes to the conflicts of our age, which have been studied in more detail by countless academics and philosophers, but the loss of cultural identity of the Western man is often neglected. Any form of collectivism, left or right, has been atomized by the forces of neo-liberalism – the final stage of capitalism. Capitalism – especially in its globalist form – is individual, as well as societal, schizophrenia.

Globalism seeks to undo all cultures and civilizations across the entirety of Earth. Although it is a creation of Western civilization, it lacks all of its values. Older civilizations, such as China, India and Islam, are no exception to this. Their values and world-views are challenged by the global forces of Capital, which lacks any and all morals – traditional, religious, ethnic. Even the secular morality of the Enlightenment has been compromised by Capital – all that has been left of them is an empty shell, mere words to be used by mainstream media pundits and opportunistic politicians. Younger cultures, such as Russia, Africa, Latin America or the Malay World are no exception, as well.

One day, a truly global civilization will emerge. But that day has not yet come. Such a culture can only arise naturally, through the endless cycles of cultural death and rebirth. It certainly shall not be born through soulless accumulation of Capital for the oligarchic elites. And it is certainly not the West’s duty to seek the establishment of this ecumenical civilization. The duty of the West is to survive. And in order to survive, the West needs to abandon the globalist project and restore the cultural values which brought its Gothic Springtime. If Caesarism is the inevitable future of the modern West, it is the duty of Western intellectuals to lay the foundations of a more enlightened, yet conservative society.

Caesarism, with its coming, brings destruction – as countless strongmen and charismatic leaders compete for power. At the same time, it is the advent of the Universal State, the final cultural form which brings about the last Golden Age. In order to establish a society which would allow for a more stable transition towards Caesarism and the Universal State, the modern West needs to establish a just society – where working men are awarded for the Labour – as well as a conservative one – where Western traditions are held high. A conservative socialism, where there is a strong sense of spiritual and political hierarchy.

An argument could be made that Capitalism is a product of Western Culture, appearing during the later Middle Ages – what are called by most historians at least, because every connoisseur of the West knows that the period was a truly marvelous birth of a new spirituality. This argument is justified, of course. Evidence for this claim was brought about by the books of Carroll Quigley, Immanuel Wallerstein and Fernand Braudel. Only Japan, as well as Chinese merchants living outside the Middle Kingdom, had the potential to bring about Capitalism – independently from the West. Professor Quigley would add the Canaanites, but that is a topic of its own.

Capitalism is a product of the West, but as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels  in the Communist Manifesto once poetically put it – the sorcerer is no longer able to control the powers of the netherworld he has summoned by his spells. This quite interesting allegory brought forth by Marx and Engels strongly resembles Spengler’s Faustian Man – a term which he uses to describe Western High Culture. Capitalism plays an interesting role in Western history, one quite similar to the role of Mephistopheles in Goethe’s Faust. Capitalism tempts the West, as well as the rest of Mankind. It remains to be seen how and when will the West surpass this historical trial. Although it has created Capitalism (or summoned it, if one subscribes to the philosophy of Nick Land), the West is not Capitalism.

However, the creation of Capitalism is an interesting story by itself. When all societies, which can be deemed as Great Cultures, start – each begins with some sort of hierarchy. India was governed by a strict caste-system (varna), ruled by elite warriors (kshatriya) of Aryan descent, although the clergy (brahmin), also of Aryan descent, were held in high esteem. In the West, a similar system was established. Three estates: the Catholic priesthood, the Germanic nobility, and the Third Estate – consisting of various commoners. Among them rose the merchants, the bourgeoisie. It is among these merchants that the Protestant Reformation caught wind. Max Weber sees Protestantism as one of the foundations of Capitalism. It certainly is, but by itself it is not enough.

The Catholic priesthood represented a cultural Symbol – they were the axis mundi between the sinful world of Men and the Ten Heavens above. Politically, but not spiritually, above them were the Germanic warrior-nobles, usually of Norman descent, who represented power and the divine right of kings. The Third Estate lacked symbolism, they existed to be ruled by their betters. This lack of symbolism will prove essential to the advent of Capitalism as a political force.

Capitalism as a true, naked political force starts with two great revolutions of the late XVII century: the American Revolution and the French Revolution. Before these revolutions, Capitalism did exist as an economic force, but it has not yet replaced the feudal political structure of the so-called “Middle Ages”. The nominal protagonists of these revolutions, especially the French one, were the lower classes – often called sans-culottes (those without breeches). They were the men and women who bled for the revolution and fought against an old, now decrepit system. The decadence of the French nobility, which at the time consisted mostly of uplifted merchants loyal to the absolutist monarchs, became insufferable. However, there was more to it than this simple dialectic.

The peasantry was used. It was used by the richest among the common folk, the rising bourgeoisie, as well as the old nobility which turned to mercantile endeavors, to overthrow the monarchy and establish a new system which would suit their needs. It is here that Capitalism finally manifests itself in the political realm, using Liberalism – and eventually nationalism – as its “religious” justification. The once mighty cultural symbols brought forth by the Gothic Springtime of Western Culture were no more, replaced by the “symbols” of civilization. Where once stood the icons and statues of saints and kings serving an infinite God, representing the spiritual needs of Western Culture, now stood the false idols of money and modernity, clear manifestations of the dawn of Civilization.

Lacking all symbols, the Third Estate soon became anti-symbolic – a trait which has intensified since the end of the Cold War and can be observed when analyzing the various “cancel culture” movements which have appeared in the last decade. The revolutionary fervor started erasing all traces of traditional society, in order to make way for Civilization. Soon, however, Civilization found its enemies among two groups of intellectuals opposed to Liberalism: the conservatives and the radicals.

Conservatives, in the European sense of the word as defined by Immanuel Wallerstein, were nostalgic about the lost world many of them grew up in, or at least heard about from those who lived in it. They fought to stop the endless march of History. On the other side of the political spectrum stood the radicals, who saw Liberalism as too slow and quite unjust towards the proletariat – a new social phenomenon of exploited workers and laborers, serving the bourgeoisie. They wanted to speed up the Wheel of History, through any and all means necessary.

In the end, however, Capitalism defeated them both. Conservatives were defeated by Capitalism’s ability to commodify anything – including older cultural symbols, such as religion. Not just religion. Anything most European conservatives held dear. The symbols of Old Europe became commodities, to be sold and bought like common goods. Others became instruments of the Capitalist Reaction – known to us as fascism – and were used to combat the various forms of radicalism which sought to destroy Capitalism. There was a third group of conservatives, thinkers such as Oswald Spengler, G.K. Chesterton, Rene Guenon, Roger Scruton and many others, which did not fall under the temptations of Capitalism. These thinkers, however, are considered marginal, even by the mainstream Right, as their theories and thoughts are considered “outdated”. The mainstream Right fights only for private property, serving as the “conservative” wing of Capitalism.

The radicals were initially fought against by all means available to the liberal elites. They were used, in rare cases, when a new market needed to be opened for the interests of Wall Street – as was in the case of Russia. However, these Russian radicals were quite different from Western ones, in spirit and culture – if anything else, that is an altogether different topic. Be as it may, the radicals failed to establish the society they have envisioned – and the causes of such failure are many: imperialist sabotage, the formation of securitocracies, left-wing sectarianism, ideological dogmatism, the formation of new classes such as the nomenklatura, and many other contradictions. What remained of the radical movements by the end of the Cold War was also assimilated by the power of Capital, becoming the “progressive” wing of Capitalism. Instead of defending worker’s rights, these new “radicals” turned towards promoting the rights of minorities – especially more controversial ones, such as sexual, and so-called “gender”, minorities. Only a few intellectuals in the West still promote old-school left-wing ideals, but they are quite marginal – usually seen as “red fascists” by the mainstream Left.

The proletarian masses have been stupefied by the power of media, which has lulled the Western working class into a state of consumerist torpor in order to protect the interests of Capital. This transformation has given birth to the Fourth Estate. The Fourth Estate however transcends all boundaries as well, creeping its way across the entirety of Western society. It is anti-symbolic, consumerist to the core, easily appeased by the superficial. They are the people of the panem et circenses described by the Roman poet, Juvenal. However, what the liberal elites have forgotten, is that, unlike the working class of yesteryear, the Fourth Estate lacks any semblance of civic duty. They will follow anyone, authoritarian or liberal, who can satisfy their needs.

Now all that is left for Capitalism is global domination and the destruction of not only Western cultural symbols, or their remnants, but all cultures and civilizations across the globe. They must all be commodified, as there can only be “One Market under God”. Morality and tradition must bend before the laws of the Market, as Humanity gives way to the Machine. Consumerism has grown out of proportions, transcending the economic sphere, slowly dominating both politics and culture – while extinguishing true faith. Like a thousand flowers blooming, various cults and sects rise across the Western world – their “spirituality” nothing more than a shadow on the wall. Dark days are ahead for not only the West, as the Earth’s ruling Civilization, but for the rest of the world as well.

But it is in the darkest of days that the brightest light can shine.

Capitalism, as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels predicted, began eating itself. Once it falls, the forces of Chaos shall be unchained as the World Order crumbles. However, as in the Western legends of old, chivalrous heroes, egalitarian aristocrats of the soul, shall rise against Chaos and establish a new world – the final Golden Age of the West.

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An Interview with the JFvD

In late September, a few members of the Mallard team were fortunate to get the opportunity to sit down with representatives of the JFvD, the youth wing of the Dutch ‘Forum for Democracy’ (FvD) party. We discussed the incredible success of their political and cultural youth movement; the founding and future of their party; and their views on what the future of the Netherlands and Europe should be. 

The Mallard (TM): We want to get a sense of what the FvD is; what it stands for; and what the JFvD does within that.

Massimo Etalle (ME): So the FvD was founded in 2015 as a think tank. Our party leader (Thierry Baudet) was a journalist, and he had a critique on the world around him but did not believe that these problems could be solved through politics. So, he founded this think tank to influence the ideas in our society. Politics is downstream from culture, so to influence politics you have to influence culture. We had a unique opportunity at the time due to the referendum with Ukraine [the 2016 Dutch advisory referendum on the proposed Ukraine – European Union Association Agreement]. The FvD has always been a very Eurosceptic organisation, so when the association agreement was proposed in a referendum, we campaigned against it. When the referendum was held, it was overwhelmingly opposed by 62% of the Dutch people. In response, the government ignored it and signed the agreement anyway. At this moment we realised we needed to do more than just influence ideas. You have to get closer to power to influence society. So we started a political party and we won 2 seats out of 150 in parliament. The energy was unmatched and, as soon as we started, we flew through the polls. The youth movement (JFvD) was founded in March 2017. Due to the lateness of its founding, we had to have 100 members before midnight to secure subsidies and funding. Before midnight we had over 1000 members and by the next day we had 2000 members. We were the fastest growing youth movement ever in the history of the Netherlands. 

Iem Al Biyati (IAB): So we (The JFvD) know we are a youth political movement but we don’t see politics as the number one way to change stuff. It’s a part of it but not the most important thing. We believe in transforming peoples mentality and influencing culture from bottom-to-top instead of top-to-bottom. We want to bind them to history and culture; identity and family instead of the modern view of the Dutch people which is to hate themselves and their culture – we want to oppose that. We think a lot of young people are aimless with no sense of identity anymore, and we are trying to make them see this and give them an opportunity to evolve this feeling and better themselves. We have a culture of losers who are afraid of risks and not being part of ‘the group’. We embrace these things, and we are proud of it. We stand totally against the modern degenerate culture.

ME: Exactly. I wouldn’t describe us as a counter-movement. The modern world is the counter-movement. Ugly buildings are the counter-movement. They are anti-European. We embrace who we are, and all we see around us is opposition to who we are. This starts at the first day of school when we are taught things like participation being more important than winning. This is a total inversion of truth. There is no point in human history when this was true. It breeds a country of losers who don’t want to excel, instead they want to be equal. We want to return to this truth and to who we are. We want to go back to what we have always been and to what is our ‘eternal fate’. That is what we do. We want to mentally and physically challenge our members to become who they truly are.

TM: Do you think that young people in the Netherlands are becoming more radical?

IAB: I think that the youth are becoming more radical, but it goes two ways. I see that there are less centrist people and they go towards the ends. We have more communists and left-wingers and more radical right-wingers. Maybe this is a good thing or not, I’m not sure. But it’s because everyone feels that there is something not right. We no longer live in harmony, and I feel that that is the similarity between the radical left and radical right. We both feel something is off but the left have a different solution and cause. They think that lack of equality is a problem and want to form the world to eliminate stress and struggle. We believe in embracing struggle and accepting that life is this way instead of complaining and whining.

TM: Would you say that you prioritise changing the way people think over advocating for certain political policies?

IAB: Yeah. Policy changes aren’t even possible in our party’s current position. Maybe we never will be. We see it more as a metaphysical and philosophical struggle.

ME: Whilst you cannot change a policy, you can change your resilience to a bad policy. You can become more immune to things that the government does to hurt you. 

TM: It’s interesting you say that because, in the UK, a lot of right-wing movements focus entirely on policy. Maybe it’s due to the homogenous nature of our politics. We don’t really have a movement that tries to affect culture instead of specific policies.

ME: The failure of Brexit proved the irrelevance of policy. Whilst you left the European Union, your politicians are now proud to say that your immigrants don’t come from Poland any more, instead they come from Pakistan. The problem you had wasn’t just the European Union, it was that your mentality was wrong. If you could change that mentality even a slight amount, the influence would be bigger in every new policy. Whilst if you change one policy, everything that will be built around it will still be rooted in perverse thought.

IAB: The most important thing to do is to implant those ideas in people to make them feel as though they are good and true because they are. That is what the JFvD and FvD is trying to do. We still participate in politics of course and try our best but the ideas are what is important. We had the state opening of parliament a few days ago when all the politicians came and met up. This is quite rare in the Netherlands. Two days of debate and all they talk about are the same boring stories: rising energy prices and cost of living. They are too afraid to tell a different story. We got our opportunity to speak for about 15 minutes, but after about 10 minutes our party leader made a criticism of one of the other members of parliament, and our speaker of the house turned his microphone off after members of the government signalled her to do so. The entire government stood up and walked out to avoid listening to him. After this stunt the Prime Minister came back to act upset about it and, when Thierry came back to speak he was only allowed to do so if he apologised. He refused to apologise and his right to speak was taken away. He had to leave.

TM: Yes that happens in this country as well. A lot of politicians have cottoned on to the fact that, if you get kicked out, it makes headlines. So, people will say things that they want in the newspapers and then they will accuse someone of lying which will result in them being kicked out. This gets them in the papers and videos of it go online.

IAB: That’s actually pretty funny but of course it goes to show that it’s a theatre. It’s all a show.

ME: Just to be clear, our youth movement doesn’t focus on policy, but the main party does. We have ideas on how to solve the energy crisis, for example. We have the largest gas reserve in Europe and we give it away to the Belgians. We do propose and fight for policies but, especially as a youth movement, we have a very cultural and ideological task. Everyone is in the process of becoming an adult.

TM: So what do you do to promote cultural things?

ME: So we have a few things that we do. We have a summer camp and some other events which Iem will talk about and then we also have a magazine ‘The Dissident’ which I will talk about.

IAB: So we have so many young members, and it’s very uncommon to be a member of a political party as a young person in the Netherlands. So, the first step was to attract the members and then we had to do something with them. We can’t just take 5 Euros from them a year and then not do anything with them. We want to select and train people how to be potential members of the future party as a nurturing role. We have a summer camp which takes about 80 people. It’s a shame because hundreds apply but we don’t have the space to take any more than 80. But we also want to connect with people on an individual level which is hard to do as a massive group. We engage in sport and physical activity and also lectures. We try to attract a different range of people. 

ME: We don’t want to do just lectures. We believe in the unity of mind and body. It’s not just who is the smartest or the strongest. It’s the person who is expressing his desire to fight on all fronts. 

IAB: Someone who can write stuff should also be able to express things physically in their lifestyle and not just academically. We look for these people and try to give them ideas in the lectures about politics, philosophy, health etc. We even do singing lessons and things. We try to challenge individuals and the group to create the ‘aristocrat’. We scout talents and we invite them to more exclusive academic training weekends. We obviously have other events but those are smaller and more specific. That’s how we try to make our ideas true. 

TM: And the magazine?

ME: So, people can have a certain feeling about ideas but struggle to express them. They know the FvD is what they want, but the ideas are a struggle. Everything is so fast and changes all the time and your brain can get completely overloaded with information. To do something about that we started our magazine. It talks about all aspects of who we are. Our ideals, our actions, our history. You name it, we do it. It’s a very open platform which we allow people to pitch to. It’s our testament of who we are as a permanent record. Hopefully it will inspire people for a long time. It declines the chaos of every moment; we have no articles about quick news. Everything we talk about is timeless and we strive to keep it eternal.

IAB: We didn’t have this before and we don’t want to lose the ideas that we have. We believe in action. We should try to make these ideas physical and then do things about these ideas. Putting the ideas into a physical record helps this. What I see a lot on the internet are people who have ideas that are similar to ours. They really believe in the traditional idea but they are a bit stuffy and get upset about more modern things. They make things like magazines, but their covers are old school. They are trying to hold on to ash. 

TM: Like LARPing?

IAB: Yeah, just like LARPing. It’s not real. It needs to be more real. They like to pretend it’s the 1950’s.

ME: We went to Trafalgar square earlier and it felt a lot like being in a very very big museum. We were surrounded by all this beautiful art, but it felt like being in-between a museum and Pompeii. The volcano is erupting but the guard is still standing on duty. The monuments in Trafalgar square are still being cleaned but they are monuments to an idea, a people, and an empire that aren’t there anymore. That feels a lot like a museum. It was the main impression we got from Trafalgar Square.

TM: To focus more on the Netherlands in particular. How do you feel about the farmers’ strikes? What do you think is going to happen with that?

IAB: They have obviously been angry for a long time now and with the visits to ministers houses it’s getting more radical. I’m not really sure what will come out of it.

ME: I think the government has a trick up its sleeve, honestly. Obviously, I fully understand and support the farmers. The big problem that caused this is the nitrogen storage and emissions laws. It’s a rule that they only apply when they want to hurt someone. The land the farmers have is valuable and it’s worth only a tenth as much as a farm when compared to housing. There is a very strong economic impulse to build on it and move the farmers elsewhere. Our land is too valuable. The farmers obviously don’t want to leave but the government is trying to use these economic sanctions to get them to leave. I don’t know what tricks they have up their sleeves. This will escalate and the rules will become more stringent. So, they have our full support and I hope they manage to resist this.

TM: I’ve been reading the FvD’s views on the Netherlands’ future in Europe. What do you think the future will be like for Dutch people and the Dutch nation in Europe at the moment if nothing changes, and what would you like the future to be?

ME: I think at the moment we are on the way to becoming a big metropole. There is a plan called the ‘Three State City’ which seeks to unite most of the big cities in the Netherlands with some cities in the Ruhr in Germany and the port of Antwerp in north Belgium. It would be a massive 50 million population city. That’s why they want to hurt the farmers to take their land. 

IAB: I hope that our party will have a leading role in Europe to try and stop this. We have seen what has happened in Sweden and the trends in Italy and France. Maybe soon there will be a topple. Hopefully this will happen in the Netherlands, but our government has always been the leader of liberalism. I think this is the opposite of the Dutch soul. I hope that we can change this and become a leader in Europe in a more traditionalist way.

TM: So earlier you said that you think Brexit has been a failure. Does that imply that you want the Netherlands to stay in the European Union? 

ME: I totally oppose the so-called ‘European Union’. It is very anti-European. It is built to castrate Europe and to keep it small and weak. It blocks everything Europe is good at. They promote the idea that participation is worth more than winning. This keeps everyone down and from excelling. Our ideal is a country where the people on every scale from individual to collective can express their fate and the European Union crushed it. 

TM: It feels as though your opinion is that the wrong people carried out Brexit. Would you agree with that?

ME: Yes, definitely. After Brexit they built a structure around it that was done by the wrong people. 

IAB: This is why changing policy doesn’t change anything. Our countries are run by managers, they are not leaders. They are people who were bullied at school and now that they have the taste of power, they use it to bully successful people. They have no idea how to run a country and should be managing a Tesco instead.

ME: The civil servants are the ones who actually tell politicians what to do. The politicians come up with general policy ideas and then the civil servants are the ones who tell them what to do.

TM: There are generally two different schools of thought in the UK about influencing power. Either you infiltrate existing structures, or you set up parallel structures. Obviously, your party isn’t in power but you do sit parallel to it. Do you think there is any use in infiltration into institutions?

IAB: If there is a war, you don’t just use one tactic. You use land, air, and sea. You also use spies and infiltration. It’s a combined offensive. That is how I view politics. This is a sort of war and you have to fight it on all fronts. You have to infiltrate and also set up parallel societies and organisations. We are in the process of setting up schools and apps and other things. Our planned app for example allows people to do commerce and provides alternatives for maps and things. You can also use it to see what businesses are run by FvD supporters. They get discounts at these shops and things. You don’t have to go to a leftist’s or a communist’s pub or shop by accident anymore. You can support people who agree with you and who are like you and stop helping people who hate you.

TM: Yeah, that would probably be illegal in the UK. We have a few acts of parliament that would make that not even an option.

ME: Wouldn’t you say that that actually makes you sort of stateless? I mean, you can say you are fighting for a state which defends your ideals and who you are. Your current state doesn’t just not have a place for you, it actively opposes who you are. It stops you from expressing yourself. I would think that you are stateless and that you should orient your actions as a stateless person.

TM: In the UK we talk a lot about how a fair amount of our problems are caused by older people. They were the recipients of low house prices and a well-funded welfare state. Now that they are in a position of money and power, they have pulled the ladder up and made it harder for young people. We call it the ‘gerontocracy’. Do you agree with that? Do you have something similar?

IAB: That group was very mediocre throughout their lives too.

ME: Are they really that united against you though? It feels sort of like a false dichotomy. Think of a company like Blackrock which buys up huge amounts of land and property to turn it into rental property in Amsterdam and here too. The influence of one such company is vastly superior to one group of Baby Boomers who, to some extent, have taken actions to hold on to their wealth. I don’t think it’s necessarily the Boomers fault, they are a product of the world around them. They were posed different challenges than us. That’s life, I think.

IAB: Being a Boomer is of course an age thing but I think it can be a part of someone’s soul. People can have a Boomer mentality even if they are young. They believed that we are able to become anything we want. My parents said to me that I can just go to school and get a diploma and just do whatever I wanted. They gave us this box with all these things we could achieve and when we opened it, it was actually full of nothing. We had to work with that. Old people will complain about young people but that’s because they just don’t know what the reality is. I agree with Massimo though that a lot of these problems are actually caused by big companies like Blackrock.

ME: The greatest crime of the Boomer is raising a generation of spoiled kids. It’s the reason why people don’t understand that things are hard and that you have to struggle to get things. They didn’t have to fight in wars or do anything. Our greatest challenge is undoing this mindset and bringing struggle back to people’s lives.

TM: Yeah I think a lot of these older people, the Boomers, were raised in a more harsh or ‘Victorian’ way. They reacted to that by raising their children in a very hands-off and spoiled kind of way. 

ME: They get their kids spoiled and then they scream when they grow up and find out that life is not as easy as they thought. 

IAB: The weakest people are praised for it all the time. They are drained in the face, and they are rewarded for it. The few people who are actually struggling to carry everything and fight for things are seen as dangerous. 

ME: Life in the end turns out to be hard and it implodes a lot of people. This is a renunciation of real life and it never had to be like this.

TM: Especially in the short-term things are seemingly getting worse with the war and the strikes and the prices of things rocketing. As things get harder, do you think maybe people will embrace struggle?

ME: It can go one of two ways. People are either going to rely much more on the state for handouts and welfare to make their lives easier. If there is no support offered and people start having to struggle, that may awaken something in people that shifts them.IAB: The whole ‘Build Back Better’ thing implies that something has to be destroyed. Things like social credit may be actually destroyed by this. We may end up going down the communist path of trying to make the world malleable and changeable. Or you can accept life as it is and build back something that’s true. You can’t avoid struggle and I don’t think our current artificial way of life is sustainable. There will be a time maybe in 10, 100, or 200 years where it does collapse and we might not even realise until after it’s happened. We think we probably aren’t going to be the generation that goes through that and turns it all around, but we will be the first people to lay foundations and make way for it so that future generations can continue this project and we can return to who we are.

Photo Credit.

Charles Will Be a Good King

The longevity of her majesties reign lulled most of us into this false sense that she may well last forever. Alas; whilst she reigned over 15 prime ministers, 6 popes, and was just 2 years shy of breaking King Louise XIV’s record of the longest reigning monarch; she was ultimately mortal like the rest of us. Losing Elizabeth is like losing a relative in a way: she was effectively the spiritual grandmother of the nation. One does not have to have met her in person to realise the gravity of the situation and feel a sudden emptiness in ones soul. Regardless, there will be constant streaming in the news about the queen’s reign and whilst this is fully justified considering her extraordinary life; I think it’s equally important for us to look to the immediate future, regarding her heir and now king Charles III.

Like Moyes taking over from Ferguson, taking the reigns over such a distinguished and legendary predecessor in the form of Elizabeth II was always going to be a mammoth task for Charles III. Unlike Moyes though, I do believe Charles III will succeed in his role and will not only steady the ship and keep things stable for when William takes over but I also think he will be a decent king in his own right. There is the historical precedent to believe this will be the case as well if we look at the reign of King Edward VII.

King Edward VII also had the unenviable task of taking over from a long reigning and highly respected monarch. That being his mother Queen Victoria. Not only this though but there were those who thought he’d be unsuited for the crown considering his extramarital affairs, serial womanising, as well as his other hedonistic vices which he indulged in (particularly his gambling habit). Yet, despite all of this, once he became king, he took on the role dutifully and he over time, garnered the respect and admiration of the public at large. He had in fairness a good foundation to begin with. He even became to be known as the ‘Uncle of Europe’, being seen as a breadth of fresh air after his mothers stuffy and stern rule. Charles III faces similar challenges. His past with Diana for instance has far from gone away and there are still rumblings from those who’d prefer the crown skip Charles III entirely and go to William instead. Ultimately though, I think Charles III reign will go much the same way as Edwards VII’s reign.

*Use any picture of King Edward VII here*

He will certainly not match his mothers longevity, but I imagine he’ll do much in his comparatively short reign. He may not be able to match her regality, but he’ll do his duty. He may not command the same love and affection, but with time, I imagine he’ll garner the publics respect.

Detractors of Charles III would also do well to remember that ultimately it’s not about the person but about the institution of monarchy that matters the most. This has been lost on people because of the wider publics affection for Elizabeth II. If you were to ask most people in the street, most would say that they’re much more pro Elizabeth II than they are pro monarchy. Elizabeth was certainly an exceptional public servant but again, it’s about the crown, not the induvial. It is the crown that forms as the cultural nexus point for our nation. It is the crown that serves as the constitutional foundation of this country. It is the crown that forms the last line of defence when everything goes south. Even if you (harshly) think Charles III will be a bad king, we must not be so short-sighted to put the institution of monarchy into question. Either because they think the institution should die with his mother out of principle or because of their personal dislike of Charles III.

To be frank as well, I really fail to see how Charles III will serve as a catalyst for the undoing of the monarchy. The monarchy has survived the disastrous reign of King John, The Peasants Revolt, The War of the Roses, was abolished after the civil war but restored after the tyranny of Cromwell, The Glorious Revolution, anti-monarchical (more specifically anti Hanoverian/Georgian) intrigue from whiggish elements in the 18th century; the crown has survived it all. Those who fear Charles III will or want Charles III to fail would do good to remember their history.

The coming days and weeks will be beset by mourning for our late monarch and I hope that everyone – regardless of political affiliation – can at least raise a toast to her majesty at a minimum. But at least where the monarchy is concerned, we should be more optimistic in this country: we have precious little else to be optimistic about. The reign of Charles III will, I think, prove fruitful for the nation. Time will tell, this piece may come back to bite me at a later date, but I fairly confident that I will be proven correct in thinking that Charles will turn out fine.

The Queen is dead: long live the King!

Rest in Perfect Peace Your Majesty, your son has it from here.

Image Credit

On The Nature of Monarchy

In 1957, Ernst Kantorowicz published The King’s Two Bodies (KTB), a deep and penetrating analysis of the relationship between monarchy and the public realm. In this magisterial work, Kantorowicz explained with unmatched clarity the language of the medieval theologians and jurists, from dignitas to fisc to corpus mysticum, all of which have passed out of the bounds of our quite technocratic political language, but have, in many ways, shaped and laid the foundations for its articulation. The corpus mysticum, for instance, made the very notion of ‘popular sovereignty’ even thinkable, not merely conceivable. This article is an attempt to distill my research into Kantorowicz’s theory of the ‘King’s Two Bodies’, of the corporeal function that kingship played, in both the continuity of a people and in the question of the acting body, to show what the nature of monarchy actually is, beyond a simple constitutional component. 

In Kantorowicz’s analysis, there are three consistent themes: first, the synecdochical relationship assumed between the physical body of the king and the unphysical ‘body’ of the people over whom he ruled; second, the important function of continuity that the office performed; and third, the normative relationship between ruler and ruled. However, before turning to these three themes, it is important to note that Kantorowicz’s analysis revolves around two significant observations: first, that there was an awareness of the difference between ‘the King’, meaning of the office of monarch, and ‘the king’, meaning the actual person who occupied that office. This is the origin of Kantorowicz’s chosen title: ‘that by the Common Law no Act which the King does as King, shall be defeated by his Nonage. For the King has in him two bodies, viz., a Body natural, and a Body politic’, a juridical fiction which, logically, ‘conveys “immortality” to the individual king as King, that is, with regard to his superbody’ in such a way that, in one court case, loyalty to King Henry VIII could be demanded as if he were ‘still “alive” though Henry Tudor had been dead for ten years’ (KTB:: 7, 13-14).

The second significant observation is that of the role played by Christian theology in the creation of a language of organic unity between ruler and ruled. It was St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians (chapter 12, verses 12 and 27) that affirmed the image of the Church as a single body, with Christ as the head, with whom the laity enjoyed unity, but the systematic expression of such a unity was St. Augustine’s to make. He referred only ever to the Church as the ‘Body of Christ’, or in his native Latin, Corpus Christi – though interestingly, the phrase the ‘mystical body of Christ’ was not St. Augustine’s but was coined much later. Regardless, Corpus Christi refers to the idea that Christ ‘is to be taken no longer as an individual, but in His fullness, that is, with the whole Church, with all of the members, of whom He is the Head, as constituting one unit, one whole, one person’ (Grabowski, 1946: 73-75). It is important, however, to bear in mind how one individual person might join the body of the Church: through confirmation, and communion; in other words, through express desire, and continual affirmation of membership. Such an act ‘constitutes a spiritual entity which is [Christ’s] Body here on earth’ that results in ‘the incorporation into the Body of Christ’ (Grabowski, 1946: 84-85). As Kantorowicz shows, such doctrine was used as the basis for the relationship between people and k/King. Though Pope Boniface VIII intended to reassert the Papacy above secular powers, and remind them of their ‘purely functional character within the world community of the corpus mysticum Christi’ [the spiritual body of Christ],  it was the implication of ‘the Lord’s two bodies’ that would inform the emergent doctrine of the k/King’s two bodies, to such an extent that Kantorowicz considered it to mold ‘most significantly and decisively the political thinking in the high and late Middle Ages’ (KTB, 194-206):

To summarize, the notion of corpus mysticum, designating originally the Sacrament of the Altar, served after the twelfth century to describe the body politic, or corpus iuridicum, of the Church, which does not exclude the lingering on of some of the earlier connotations. Moreover, the classical christological distinction of the Two Natures in Christ… has been replaced by the corporational, non-christological concept of the Two Bodies of Christ. 

It was in the wake of this theoretical shift that the secular powers, competing with the Church for supremacy, were able to adopt the language of the state as a body, with such phrases as corpus Reipublicae mysticum, which allowed the jurists to arrive ‘like the theologians, at a distinction between corpus verum – the tangible body of an individual person – and corpus fictum, the corporate collective which was intangible and existed only as a fiction of jurisprudence (KTB: 207-209). It is important to note here that the unique transformation brought about by the turn to the Christological terminology is specifically the idea of the body politic as a mystical body, not merely a body coterminous with the physical individuals that composed a political community. With this theoretical and theological background informing both the emergence of the doctrine of the k/King’s two bodies, and the internal relationship between them, this creates much of the intellectual condition for the emergence of ‘the people’ as a mystical body abstracted from its component parts.

Focusing, however, on the k/King’s two bodies, the synecdochical relationship between the King and the people was a fiction well-theorised in medieval theology. In the mid-fifteenth century, it was generally acknowledged that ‘an attack against the king’s natural [physical] person was, at the same time, an attack against the body corporate of the realm’, with a qualifying difference of ‘“one [body] descending from nature, the other from the polity”’ (KTB: 15, 46). Drawing on Anthony Black’s comments that legality relied on a certain conception of a people as both a trans-temporal entity that those laws applied to, as well as the source of the authority of laws, the relevance of a people’s corporality makes sense when we observe that ‘“Laws, and not the person, make the king”… a statement well known to Canonists; and according to the lex Digna itself the emperors confess: “On authority of the Law our authority depends”’ (KTB: 150). 

If the King is a part committed to the whole of ‘the people’ as a single entity, then it must be remembered the authority of the King is derived from – whilst also being somewhat concurrent with – that entity’s will. After all, as one French jurist claimed, ‘the French king, like the Roman emperor, “had all the rights, especially the right pertaining to his kingdom, shut in his breast”’ (KTB: 153). Of course, this manifested differently across peoples: famously, in England, ‘the people’ was present in specifically in the King in Parliament; just as ‘the comitatus or county took visible form in the comitatus or county court, so the realm took visible form in a parliament’ (Maitland, 1901: 133). This held, however, for the English jurist Henry de Bracton (1210-1268) a paradox: ‘either the king is sovereign or no; if he be sovereign then he is not legally below the law, his obligation to obey the law is at most a moral obligation; on the other hand if he is below the law, then he is not sovereign, he is below some man or some body of men’ (cited in Maitland, 2015: 101). Although this was mostly resolved by the juridical separation between king-as-person and King-as-office, as noted above, it did eventually lead to the question of where sovereignty lay.

Of course, all of this relies on the recognition that there is an entity of ‘the people’ that is physically separate from the king, but ‘the king’s body politic could be the realm as a body politic – with the king as the head and the subjects as the members – or it could be the office of kingship – the dignity’ (Fortin, 2021: 5), . Joseph Canning has also noted the rise in medieval political thought of the distinction between the king and the people over whom he ruled: ‘notions according the kingdom an existence distinct from that of its king, organological views of society organised into a corporate body, and views of rulership as public office’ created the capacity to think that ‘the concept of a royal office, whose purpose was to serve the common good, involved the notion that the regnum or populus had a separate existence from that of its monarch’ (Canning, 2009: 64-65). This especially became emphasised in the later Middle Ages when (KTB: 193):

the centre of gravity shifted, as it were, from the ruling personages to the ruled collectivities, the new national monarchies, and the other political aggregates of human society. In other words, the exchanges between Church and State continued; but in the field of mutual influence, expanding from individual dignitaries to compact communities, henceforth was determined by legal and constitutional problems concerning the structure and interpretation of the bodies politic.

This is a significant development, as it coincided ‘with that moment in the history of Western thought when the doctrines of corporational and organic structure of society began to pervade anew the political theories of the West and to mold most significantly and decisively the political thinking in the high and late Middle Ages’, a change capitalised on by Baldus de Ubaldis in his definition of a ‘populus, the people, as a mystical body. He held that a populus was not simply the sum of individuals of a community, but “men assembled into one mystical body” … a body or corporation to be grasped only intellectually, since it was not a real or material body’ (KTB: 199-210). Despite the emergence, however, of the body politic as an ‘intellectual body’, the k/King remained the physical representation of that body politic in the world, as ‘the polity itself, or the mystical body of the realm, could not exist without its head’ (KTB: 227); hence, whilst the trend developing was to admit that ‘a people’ was a real entity separate from the physical body of the king, it was not thought to be capable of existing or, importantly, acting without something or someone through which it can be embodied. 

Interestingly, Marie-France Fortin has recently shown that Kantorowicz’s analysis reveals that, whilst the power of dignity, dignitas, conferred upon the prince by an ‘immortal polity’ (KTB: 397), was concurrent with the office of kingship, it was ‘the Crown, on the other hand, [that] connoted a more general, public and communal sphere’ and was ‘incomplete without the other members of society’ (Fortin, 2021: 2). We can turn here to the second theme of Kantorowicz’s analysis, that of continuity and the problem that the physicality of ‘the king’s two bodies’ created; as Kantorowicz noted, ‘the concept of the “king’s two bodies” camouflaged a problem of continuity’ and it would be a ‘mistake to assume that the new philosophic tenet produced, caused or created a new belief in the perpetual continuity of political bodies’ (KTB: 273) – this was a perennial issue in political thought, and the continuity of the king’s two bodies is more of a product, than a cause, of such an issue. 

Indeed, ‘the practical needs of kingdoms and communities led to the fiction of a quasi-infinite continuity of public institutions’ and that ‘practical needs produced institutional changes presupposing, as it were, the fiction of an endless continuity of the bodies politic’ (KTB: 284, 291). This is not to say the k/King was the only source of continuity: as with above, the law was seen a particularly reliable mechanism by which ‘every plurality of men collected in one body’ could be treated as a ‘juristic person, of distinguishing that juristic person clearly from every natural person endowed with body and soul, and yet of treating a plurality of individuals juristically as one person’ (KTB: 306). 

On the topic of the relationship between law and custom as methods of continuity for a body politic, St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings are particularly revealing. He claims, for instance, that ‘when a thing is done again and again, it seems to proceed from a deliberate judgement of reason. Accordingly, custom has the force of law, abolishes the law, and is the interpreter of law’ (1988: 80). As conservatives, I think we ought to be particularly sensitive to St. Thomas’ writings on this topic, especially as our modern world often forces us to see the law and tradition in conflict. Nonetheless, in the medieval era, the law increasingly became the source of legitimacy for public actions, be they of the King or any other public office.

However, the law could not resolve the issue of action and decision in and of itself, especially as there were increasing attempts to incorporate the ‘ruler’s will’ in the legal system, to the extent that the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries tussled with this will when compared to the ‘rights of the community’, with the kingship as an office ‘established with the specific purpose of securing the preservation and well-being of the communities which the ruler served’ (Canning, 2009: 162-166). Whilst I turn to the normative relationship between ruler and ruled shortly, here we can focus on Kantorowicz’s important observation that, as a product of the belief in the continuity of the people ‘as an universitas “which never dies”’ (KTB: 314), there arose the significant question of whether the corporate realm existed between the death of one king and the coronation of another. Whilst the earlier Middle Ages imagined that, due to the intertwining between Church and State, ‘the continuity of a realm during an interregnum had been sometimes preserved by a fiction: Christ stepped into the gap as interrex and secured, through his own eternity, the continuity of kingship’, the increasing tendency of Popes to claim authority as interrex made the fiction politically dangerous. Instead, the fiction arose of the sempiternity of the Crown (KTB: 334-335, 341-342): 

In the phrase “head and Crown” the word Crown served to add something to the purely physical body of the king and to emphasise that more than the king’s “body natural” was meant; and in the phrase “realm and Crown” the word Crown served to eliminate the purely geographic-territorial aspect of regnum and to emphasise unambiguously the political character of regnum… briefly, as opposed to pure physis of the king and the pure physis of the territory, the word “Crown,” when added, indicated the political metaphysis in which both rex and regnum shared, or the body politic (to which both belonged) in its sovereign rights.

As Fortin observes, the melding of the two symbols of King and Crown allowed elements of that perpetual community that the King ought to have embodied – the people – to pass into the Crown, such as the eternity of the office, and the corporate realm of the body politic (2021: 8). As a result, ‘in the later Middle Ages the idea was current that in the Crown the whole body politic was present… in this respect indeed the Crown and the “mystical body of the realm” were comparable entities. Neither one nor the other existed all by itself “in the abstract” and separate from the constituents’ (KTB: 363). We see here, then, a similarity to the Aristotelian notion of the polis as an embodied corporeal people, as well as a comparison to John Ma’s analogy of the polis as ‘social memory’; a reliance on a physical presence, be it king, king-in-parliament, or so on, meant the continuity of a people’s acting body had to be reflected in an equally continuous physical presence. In this respect, this was part of the conflation of Crown and King that Fortin analyses, in that each symbol acted complementary to the other: whilst the Crown was the eternal symbol, the King could be embodied in the king. This theoretical move was reflected most clearly in the emergence of the phrase ‘The king is dead! Long live the king!’ which, whilst deceptively simple, ‘powerfully demonstrated the perpetuity of kingship’ by suggesting an unbroken embodiment of the King that did not ‘end’ with one king’s death (or, ‘demise’) and another king’s accession (KTB: 412). Regardless, ‘the Crown… could hardly be severed from the king as King…. It remained possible, for example, to personify the Crown which, representing something that touched all, stood in many respects for the whole body politic’ (KTB: 372, 383). 

This brings us to the third theme of Kantorowicz’s work, that of the normative relationship between ruler and ruled. We can see clearly the synecdochical relationship that arose out of the organological, ‘corporate realm’ thought, as well as the use of the office of kingship to reflect a theorisation of the ruled people as a continuous entity, but this has not really answered the question of why an embodiment of that people is necessary. Whereas Aristotle’s theory of the polis as necessary for the bios and therefore the highest expression of the common good, the concomitant principle to the theorisation of a continuous people was one in which ‘the idea of a state existing only for its own sake was foreign… the very belief in a divine Law of Nature as opposed to Positive Law, a belief then shared by every thinker, almost necessitated the ruler’s position both above and below the Law’ (Kantorowicz, 2016: 144). Though the concept of popular sovereignty was historically distant, the awareness of the separability between the ruler and the ruled, at least on a practical level, had to be balanced with the necessity of the people’s capability to act as a political body. The Divine Right of Kings was certainly one answer, as ‘the king acts for the people which has been committed to his care by God and which cannot act for itself’ (Canning, 2009: 21). Just as the idea of Christ as the interrex declined, so too did the religious foundation for kingship, but the organological concept still posited that the King was the head of the body of the people. To justify the capacity for the King to act, not on behalf of the people, but as the people, there arose a particular conception of the universitas, the body corporate, as a legal minor. Largely a product of rediscovered Roman law, the conflation of ‘madmen, children and cities’ under an edict meant that (KTB: 374):

when, in the course of the thirteenth century, the corporational doctrines were developed, the notion of “city”, civitas, was logically transferred to any universitas or any body corporate, and it became a stock-in-trade expression to say that the universitas was ever an infant and under age because it needed a curator. 

Importantly, as this idea matured, it was transferred to the symbolic entity of the Crown, to the effect that ‘as a perpetual minor, the Crown itself had corporational character – with the king as its guardian, though again not with the king alone, but with that composite body of king and magnates’ (KTB: 381). 

What matters here is the relationship given between ruler and ruled that allows for the concentration of political action in the king; the corporeal embodiment of a people in the political world in a single person in such a way that allowed the people to act was due to that people’s inability to act for itself, owing to its legal immaturity as a single corporate body, and not merely because of its physical disaggregation as a multitude of individuals. As a result, ‘the king appeared as the animate instrument of a fictitious, and therefore immortal, person called Dignity’, meaning ‘the dogma of a political Incarnation, a noetic incarnation of the Dignitas or of the Body politic’ (KTB: 445). To compare this to the polis, then, whereas the people could act as a political community through a deliberation with consideration for the common good, under kingship the people were incapable of doing so, under the prevailing legal fiction, resulting in a concentration of decisionist power in the office of King. This was developed into the sleeping sovereign thesis by early theorists of popular sovereignty, but prior to the emergence of popular sovereignty as a concept, the necessity of an acting person required the existence of the office of King and the concept of Crown.

The King, as the office, was the embodiment of the entire body politic; embodied, of course, in the physcal body of the king himself (or queen herself). This is why the political community of the people lived and died with the monarchy – not the specific monarch, because to do so would risk admitting that the people could die. This was the inspiration behind Thomas Hobbes’ famous Leviathan frontispiece, in which an enormous person was composed of the very individuals over whom he governed; Hobbes was not writing and imagining the grand body of the body politic in a vacuum, and did not create the idea from the abstract, but was speaking to a long and fruitful tradition of treating the people as a single entity with a will that would allow that people to actualise its desires. 

This tradition is, as I hope to have shown, the legal fiction that the body of the king, as a temporary and temporally-bound entity, is merely the physical embodiment of the King, which is the eternal and spiritual office of the entire body politic over which a monarch reigns. Our modern ideas of popular sovereignty would never have arisen without this fiction, of the original meaning of the phrase, Rex Est Populus: The King is the People. 

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To The Memory of My Queen

Most people would say that they have two grandmothers – the mother of their father, and the mother of their mother.

However, for the fifteen nations that make up the Commonwealth Realms, I believe it can be equally said that we all have three grandmothers. The mother of our fathers, the mother of our mothers, and the mother of nations.

Queen Elizabeth II was the nation’s grandmother, one who was dearly loved and cherished.

For many alive Elizabeth II was not just The Queen, but The Queen. A whole generation of people has been born, grown up and died only knowing Queen Elizabeth II as the Queen of the United Kingdom, the Queen of Canada, the Queen of Australia, the Queen of Jamaica, etc. She has been an almost constant presence in modern British history, from the dark and troubled days of the Second World War to the turbulent and chaotic times of the 21st century.

It’s still hard to describe just how strange everything feels now. The Queen is dead, and the world will never be the same again.

All of us will remember her unfailing service, her sincere faith, her eternal good cheer, and her unflinching desire to make good her promises to the Commonwealth so many years ago. Those who had the privilege of meeting her recall her warmth, her razor-sharp wit and dry humour, and her capacity to make you feel like you were the most important person in the room, not she. She was a giant of her times and there is not one figure in recent history who can command as much respect or adoration.

Queen Elizabeth II oversaw the transition of Empire to Commonwealth, of a war-torn society to a burgeoning modern democracy, a world riven by authoritarianism stepping into the light of liberty. She faced down apartheid in South Africa, applauded her former colonies as they embraced independence, and prayed each year for the good fortune and happiness of all her subjects.

Under her Crown, we were all one people.

It was undeniably the highest honour imaginable to have been a subject to such a monarch, and it is my keenest sorrow to witness her passing. I know that she found courage in her faith in Christ and the Church of England, and I have no doubt she we will walk with the King of Kings through the gates of Heaven.

Her son, King Charles III, has now assumed her throne. I have every confidence in him to ably succeed her in this heavy burden that he has now been called by Grace to take upon his shoulders. He has had a lifetime of tutelage under one of Britain’s most beloved and respected monarchs in her history and has demonstrated remarkable insight and wisdom that was truly ahead of its times.

He inherits a Commonwealth equally at a time of change as his mother found it, a United Kingdom facing challenges at home and abroad, and a Royal Family constantly shifting to keep up with the demands of its age. A trying time for anyone, but His Majesty is up to the challenge. I eagerly look forward to seeing the fruits of his reign.

I was honoured to have been a subject of Queen Elizabeth II. I am honoured still to now declare myself a loyal, obedient and joyful subject of His Majesty King Charles III.

God save The King.

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Rishi Sunak Was a Worse Chancellor Than Gordon Brown

2020 was awful and most people would agree that they never want to experience that year’s events ever again. For Rishi Sunak, though, it was the highlight of his career as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

He was smooth and slick during those COVID press conferences and he just presided over the furlough scheme that ensured people could live off government money comfortably whilst the nation was locked down. Sunak quickly became regarded as future leadership material and those must have been the glory days of his career. 2020 was a nightmare for ‘ordinary’ people, but for Sunak, it was the start of a promising future.

But a week is a long time in politics. Things have quickly changed for this Tory hopeful; he stabbed Boris in the back recently and put himself forward to replace his former boss as Prime Minister. In fact, it is somewhat laughable that Sunak claims he would ‘govern like Thatcher.’ But that is because many of us who remember his time as Chancellor were not so fooled by the way the media portrayed his handling of the Government’s response to COVID. The price of lockdown is becoming all too clear now, and Sunak should be remembered as a Chancellor who was worse than Gordon Brown.

This comparison may not seem fair to some readers. Brown was Chancellor during an economic boom, and he occupied the role for ten years. Yet Brown also made terrible decisions that failed to prepare us for 2008’s events like selling our gold, failing to build enough homes, and ruining the UK’s pension system. As Tejvan Pettinger explained for Economics Help, the last Labour government made the mistake of running a budget deficit of 3 per cent towards the end of the 1997-2007 boom under Blair. If Labour had reduced public debt further, this would have given them more room for manoeuvre during the 2008-12 financial crisis.

In the Conservative Party, many Tory members and MPs make the mistake of thinking the 2008 recession was caused by Labour’s ‘reckless borrowing.’ Though it was an argument I supported during my early days of political activism, Brown did nothing in hindsight to cause the global housing collapse; that was caused by the irresponsible housing policy of the Clinton administration, and the consequences of subprime borrowing spread throughout the rest of the world as the global economy is hugely interconnected.

But did the ‘Conservative’ Party’s economic policies help cushion the blow of the Great Recession? Pettinger’s piece explains how borrowing levels actually got worse once the Tories gained power in 2010 onwards. That hardly sounds fiscally conservative, does it? View Pettinger’s article here if you do not believe me.

However, Sunak’s record no doubt makes Brown blush. Government borrowing during the 2020/21 fiscal year was predicted to hit around 400 billion pounds, the equivalent of between 17-20 per cent GDP, well above its 10 per cent peak at the height of the global financial crisis (which was when Brown was Prime Minister).

Of course, Sunak would argue his decisions were necessary to finance Britain’s lockdown during a global pandemic. Nonetheless, John Hopkins University found that global lockdowns failed to prevent the spread of COVID and recommended that they should not be used as an instrument to tackle pandemics in the future. Even The Daily Telegraph was reporting in August 2020 that lockdown itself killed more people than COVID. With stories now surfacing of children who failed to receive support from social services during lockdown, and people having missed cancer appointments in 2020-21, it is apparent that locking down the country, and the world, was a deadly, self-inflicted mistake.

Sweden and Florida are two useful case studies for parts of the world that did not lock themselves down and still tackled the spread of COVID. Sweden’s COVID death rate currently stands at 19,144, and though its population is smaller than the UK’s, which locked down hard, they were praised for not locking down by mainstream outlets like Germany’s DW, despite being a nation that is 88 per cent urbanised, but then again Britain’s urbanisation numbers are very similar. Sweden’s leading epidemiologist, Anders Tagnell, argued his country’s approach to the coronavirus should be based on evidence, and there was none to prove that lockdowns were working. That we will come to later. 

Florida’s infection levels, meanwhile, were no different to California’s, which locked down hard, and now the state has been ranked as one of the best when it came to handling the pandemic, according to The Committee To Unleash Prosperity. In fact, Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, recently said his state’s economy is experiencing a record surplus. This shows Sunak and Boris did not have to fund an economically catastrophic lockdown to tackle the coronavirus; they chose to go down this path.

In Brown’s defence, he had no control over America’s subprime housing bubble exploding, which wrecked the former Labour Chancellor’s budget plans, though he should have been more financially prudent in anticipation of a crash. That is his only mistake.

And now, Britain is literally paying the price for Sunak’s record borrowing. Sure, the unemployment rate currently stands at 3.8 per cent, one of the lowest rates since 1974, but that does not help those on low incomes in the face of surging inflation and high interest rates.

Interest rates were at a record low during the height of the pandemic in 2020, and as Norton Finance explains, when interest rates decrease, there’s an increase in borrowing. The Bank of England has a 2 per cent inflation target (a rule set by Gordon Brown, funnily enough), yet it has now exceeded 9.1 per cent. This means interest rates will have to rise to levels not seen since the 1980s to bring inflationary levels back down, which affects small businesses with large loans and provides consumers with less discretionary income, both of which will harm the economy in the short-term at least. Inflation itself has a huge impact on consumer spending levels, many of which are already being felt with surging prices in shops, etc.

Under New Labour, inflation hit 1.9 per cent in 2005, just below Brown’s target, and this was the highest level it got to before the crash. As expected during a recession, inflation climbed to 3.99 per cent in Britain during the 2008 crisis, but that is still far lower than it is now.

It pains me as a former Conservative Party member to write that a Tory Chancellor did a worse job at handling the economy in two years than a former Labour Chancellor who was in office for ten years did. However, as the Conservatives look to the future, they need to regain their reputation for economic prudence. That has been destroyed by Sunak’s financing of Boris’s overreaction to COVID. Sunak should not only be remembered as a worse Chancellor than Brown, but he should be regarded as the worst Chancellor in history in years to come.

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The Conservatives Used to be the Party of Government and Ideas – Now They No Longer Are | Henry George

We are being treated to a clapping seal show presented as the Conservative leadership contest. The only candidate likely to alter Britain’s course into the iceberg of national decline and total senescence was Kemi Badenoch, so of course the MPs ejected her from the contest before the final three. For a moment it looked like it would come down to a face-off between Penny “Tory Blair” Mordaunt and Rishi “Green Card” Sunak, but instead we get Sunak vs Liz “Thatcher LARP” Truss. And of course, we are now witnessing the virus of zombie Thatcherism having colonised the brains of our prospective new prime minister. Each desperately tries to out-Thatcher the other, displaying the degeneration of the Conservative mindscape into a derivative pile of philosophical junk. It used to be that the Tories actually had ideas about how to govern and how to use the state to do this. Not anymore.

The Situation

Let’s survey the devastation of British national life. Inflation is at 9%, the highest for forty years. Energy prices are already a disaster, and are set to become truly catastrophic in the autumn and next winter. Productivity, bumping along for decades like a sea slug on the ocean floor, is falling into the Mariana Trench. Our levels of private debt are rocketing into the stratosphere. Our public debt is in orbit after the Covid-19 spend binge. Poverty rates are climbing and set to go even higher. The consequences in learning loss from Covid school closures for hundreds of thousands of children is an absolute disaster. A million immigrants settled here last year. Five million people have simply dropped out of the workforce and now subsist on benefits. Thousands of children have been abused, trafficked, raped, and even killed by grooming gangs. We lag behind other European nations for going back into the office. Quality of service from companies in the private sector and public services in the state sector has thudded face-first into the earth as a result. Our sainted health service is performing the worst it ever has, and is a black-hole of funding. The organs of the state have ceased to function: passport and driving licences are apparently a luxury rather than a necessity, while the main goal seems to be implementing ever more diversity and gender quotas. Our state capacity is therefore that of a poor south European country without the compensation of a pleasant climate.

The Solution?

And what is the answer presented to all of this? Why, tax cuts of course! This isn’t the sum total of either finalists’ policy proposals, but these are the prescriptions to our economic and social dis-ease that are being touted most vociferously by Liz Truss, the likely winner. And why would they not be? It’s always an attractive piece of political casuistry to tell people you’ll take less of their money one way while they’ll go on losing it in so many other ways. Given the British tax burden is the highest it’s been since the Second World War, this route to party popularity must seem like too good a golden road to electoral survival to miss. Never mind that the economic rationale for cutting taxes isn’t … completely watertight. It’s a sign of our political disconnect from economic reality that Sunak’s arguments against cutting all the taxes all the time has gone down like a lead-lined lifejacket with his prospective party voters. No, we must all hail our saviour Truss for her faith in the Laffer curve, an economic truism worked out on the back of a napkin and further distorted by politics towards the simplistic formula tax cuts always = higher tax revenue. Never mind that the ideology she adheres to represents the dissolution of social ties and the proletarianization of the middle class. Truss is a revolutionary in the mould of her hero Cromwell, a man who committed regicide. Yay, conservatism!

This tax-cut obsession underpins a religious vision where the small state is the worldly heaven towards which we must sacrifice and strain our sinews, an eternal truth applicable to all times and circumstances. The goal is to further liberate the individual from all bonds and constraints, enabling them to achieve this worldview’s highest good of maximum autonomy, never mind the social and cultural dissolution and chaos that it unleashes. Of course, since Thatcher’s time Conservatism as a party phenomenon has been seen as economically liberal, with nods towards some sort of cultural conservatism. This always amounts to little more than a rhetorical sleight-of-hand to distract from the economic preferences of the party elite, who themselves find the social conservatism of their members and those voters in the Red Wall embarrassing and morally retrograde. The Conservative vision of political-economy, culture and society is as impoverished as those it rules without governing are fast becoming.

Out of Ideas

What makes this all the worse is that when J.S. Mill epitomised the smug, self-congratulatory liberal style by calling the Conservatives “the stupidest party,” this was not actually true. But now the leadership candidates’ vague gestures at imitation Thatcherism looks set to prove Mill right. And yet it wasn’t always like this, and does not have to be like this. E.H.H. Green, in his magisterial historical survey, Ideologies of Conservatism, demonstrates that while the Conservative party may indeed not be as philosophical in a formal sense as the left, to say that Conservatives have always been an intellectually barren party is simply wrong.

As Green writes, “Study of Conservative intra-party debate throughout the party’s history, and especially over the course of the ‘Conservative century’, reveals that the controversy over Conservative ideas in the last quarter of the twentieth century was not unique in terms of either its nature or intensity.” The Conservatives at the century’s beginning debated tariff reform, social reform, land reform, industrial and agricultural productivity, Ireland and Empire. 

Intra-party debate continued up through the 20th century, carried out in books, public and private party pamphlets and papers, speeches, articles and newspaper columns, as well as two book clubs, along with the Ashridge college of political philosophy. As Green rightly argues, “it may be that the Conservatives produce fewer ‘great texts’ (although they produce and refer to more than is frequently assumed), but if one sets aside the formal, ‘canonical’ notion of the forms of expression of political thought and examines speeches, policymaking discussions, exchanges of views and opinions in correspondence, and the construction of and response to legislation, the Conservatives’ engagement with ideas is clear, rich, varied, and extensive. Politics is about argument, and arguments are about ideas.”

This intellectual ferment was driven both by an innate interest in ideas shown by significant minority, and in reaction to changing events which demanded empirical observation and adaptation. This stemmed from a sense that to govern a great nation was a weighty and serious matter, fraught with danger and risk, one’s greatness not to be taken for granted or put at risk for ideological whim or purity. Leaders of the party actually thought things through in some depth. Even Prime Ministers engaged with the questions of the day with a depth that is incomprehensible in our time. Harold Macmillan wrote books on political-economy that reduce many such contemporary efforts to toilet paper status.

Thatcherism came from the more liberal side of the Conservative tent, but as Green wrote, it grew out of a scene rich in debate and discussion and had intellectual firepower behind it, whether one agrees with the substance or not. The network of thinktanks discussed in Richard Cockett’s book Thinking the Unthinkable communicated ideas from liberal thinkers like Hayek and developed policies from them. One can see these organisations as following in the wake of earlier arguments and institutions, seeing them as an example of what could be achieved and what to achieve it for. Now the Conservatives either serve up stale neoliberal centrism or cosplay Thatcherism.

Another Way

As Aris Roussinos recently argued, the cramped vision that the Conservative party now offers is far from the full picture, and does not have to be. A series of Conservative ministers and Prime Ministers gave a more expansive view of what constitutes the Conservative vision of the state, political-economy and their relation to society (which does exist and in which we live). As Roussinos writes, figures like Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, R.A. “Rab” Butler and others argued affirmatively for the use of the state to set the course for economic action, and against unbridled, brutal laissez-faire capitalism. A strong state was not, in their view, inimical to the Conservative tradition, and was in fact integral to insuring the social, political and economic conditions that enabled the good life for families and communities.

This attempt to chart a “middle way” between the Scylla and Charybdis of totalising socialism and atomising laissez-faire capitalism is one that sits well within the Conservative tradition, among whose political ancestors we can include the true One Nation philosophy that grew out of Benjamin Disraeli. His main effort was to reconcile and unite the “Two nations; between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by a different breeding, are fed by a different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws . . . . THE RICH AND THE POOR.”

As I’ve written before, Disraeli rightly saw that what at the time was called “Manchester Liberalism,” of economic upheaval under the guise of prosperity and social turmoil presented as progress was inimical to social stability and the good life. Disraeli saw and put into words as no-one else could that “The great body of the people of this country are Conservative. I use the word in its purest and loftiest sense. I mean that the people of England, and especially the working classes of England, are proud of belonging to a great country, and wish to maintain its greatness.”

Rachel Wolf, in arguing that what is being offered now by the leadership candidates is the polar opposite of what won the party its 80-seat majority, echoes Disraeli when he declared that “The Tory party is only in its proper position when it represents popular principles. Then it is truly irresistible”. Disraeli saw rightly saw liberalism as a liquefier of social solidarity, “composed purely of wealth and toil, based on a spirit of rapacious covetousness.” As he wrote in his wonderfully scathing way, “Liberal opinions are the opinions of those who would be free from a certain dependence and duty which are deemed necessary for the general or popular welfare. Liberal opinions are very convenient opinions for the rich and powerful.” For Disraeli, the point of governing, and why Conservatism must actually govern through the state, was to “secure the social welfare of the PEOPLE.”

The Edwardian Bridge

Between Disraeli’s vision and that of Macmillan and his generation is a Conservatism of the early 20th century that arguably links the two. Green traces the development of a British Conservatism inflected by the Idealist school of philosophy espoused by T.H. Green at Balliol. The Historical school of economists grew from this scene. The group “first came to prominence in Britain in the 1880s, and from that point on developed a sustained critique of Classical economics and what it saw as its vulgarized derivatives, Manchesterism [laissez-faire liberalism] and Socialism.” The Historical school was against free trade and for protection where needed, saw nations, unions, trusts and groups in general as more important for political-economy than the isolated, supposedly rational individual of Smith and Ricardo, and supported state intervention to create the conditions for economic prosperity through industrial productivity and thereby ease social discontent and prevent unrest.

Conservative figures like Alfred Milner, Leopold Amery, J.W. Hills, and Arthur Steel-Maitland also came from this milieu, influencing more in the party. All were in favour of using the state for social and economic reform for the common good. Through the minor figure Arthur Boutwood, E.H.H. Green argues that these Conservatives saw the individual as an ethical being whose aim was the realisation of his potential, with self-realisation the sum of life. [HG2] The role of the individual and nation were inseparable: individual self-realisation was only possible through society, as citizens of the nation into which we are born, and which provides our social, cultural, political and economic context. The potential of the individual citizen and the nation were seen as realised by each other. Citizenship was “freedom for duty,” and therefore commitment to the common good.

As Green writes, “Boutwood argued that true freedom could only come through co-operative acts that were born out of a recognition and realization of mutual needs and goals.” According to Green, Boutwood saw the relationship between the individual and the nation as one where the individual and nation had a duty to each other, and if the nation “’be not effectually and equitably serviceable, it should be made so’.” The state was to enable this, and “to achieve its ‘moral conception’ by … ‘work that sustains and fosters [the nation’s] life, that builds up its people into serviceable manhood’”, to create the conditions for individual, communal and national opportunity. In other words, to govern, and to reform where needed for the reciprocal common good. 

Boutwood was, again, a minor figure, but one whose writing encapsulated a view of society and political economy that galvanised many more significant men of the time, including eminent aristocratic party members and the Historical economists. The need for politicians and economists to lay the ground for individual and national prosperity and stability was best expressed by H.S. Fox when he wrote “’The State may become social reformer without becoming Socialist, but if the State does not become social reformer it will inevitably become Socialist’.” We face similar circumstances today, and it was because of this that the Historical school and more Conservatives than one would think were in favour of social reforms including pensions and workers rights and protections. As Green writes, ‘By 1914 [the Unionist Social Reform Committee] had proposed an extension of old-age pension rights, argued for minimum wages in certain trades, sponsored several schemes for working-class housing, and was close to presenting a blueprint for a national health service.”

The central aim of this kind of Conservatism, “was to provide the basis for a socially and politically integrative strategy that could overcome tensions and divisions within Britain.” To achieve this required cultivating national unity, “which in turn required acknowledging that the nation was … an organic entity. It was here that a positive role for the State was essential, in that the State was to ensure that no particular section of society was to be systematically undervalued or over-privileged. In practical terms this meant … social reform in the domestic sphere to alleviate the privations of the poorer classes, but carried through without recourse to class-divisive rhetoric or actions.”


There is a Conservative view of the state that runs through the true One Nation tradition descended from Disraeli, which underlay the worldview and policies of Edwardian Conservatism, Macmillan’s post-war Conservatism, and was buried by Thatcherism. We obviously can’t, nor should we, replicate exactly these kinds of Conservatism for today. But we must reignite the intellectual fire that galvanised Conservatism up to Thatcher’s time, and look again at the approach of the figures above towards the use of the state in service to our political, social, economic, and national life. The country is facing a range of problems that could very well prove disastrous or even catastrophic. These will not be solved or ameliorated by pursuing small-state dogma, but by the Conservatives learning to govern again. Whether that can be done remains to be seen.

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