The Tragedy of the Praying Indians

A generation after the first Thanksgiving, colonial Massachusetts experienced the single deadliest per capita war in North American recorded history. Though the famed declaration of friendship between White settlers and Native tribes was within living memory for many of the fighters in this war, it did not in any way soften the animosity nor stay the violent hands of either side. This was King Philip’s War, a turning point for American history, the war that set the precedent for Anglo/Native relations for centuries to come, and yet one that is woefully unknown and underdiscussed even West of the Atlantic. It left all parties involved scarred, traumatised, and for one group even less understood than this forgotten war, a betrayal never to be overcome.

It is 1675, and the titular King Philip, Christian name of the Sachem (chief) of the Wampanoag, Metacomet, has lead a raid on the New England colony town of Swansea in retaliation for the English executing three of his countrymen for the murder of one John Sassamon. Despite his European name, Sassamon was a Harvard-educated Praying Indian, the name given by the Puritan colonists to the groups of Native Americans that had adopted the faith and customs of their new neighbours. He was a respected member of Metacomet’s court and a cultural mediator who had recently informed the Plymouth governor of the Sachem’s intention to gather tribes for war. His murder was seen as revenge for this betrayal by the English, but this perceived overreach of the colonial authorities, in killing his kinfolk without consultation, was the pretext Metacomet was waiting for to being this war he had been so wanting.

The raid on Swansea was a horrible affair. The Wampanoag laid siege to the town before overcoming the militiamen defenders and laid a terrible waist upon the hapless civilians. Many women and children were butchered neath the tomahawk that day, and the other colonies were quick to respond to the massacre. The Praying Indian warriors were keen to come to the assistance of their European allies to meet this aggression, and expected naturally to be accepted as a welcome aid by their dear friends. They were in this, and in much else, utterly and tragically mistaken. Though the Praying folk saw the English as firm allies, this was a decidedly one-sided relationship. That these natives had taken as their own European clothes and custom, and English tongue and English Bibles, mattered little, for to the Europeans the Praying Indian inescapably remained, above all, an Indian. An outsider worthy always of suspicion over trust.

The early stages of King Philip’s war were not good for the English. Despite the common contemporary view of the various North American colonial conflicts as being between technologically advanced musket-wielding Europeans versus bow and hatchet-armed Natives, there were a lot of shared weaponry and tactics between them. This makes sense when considering that by the late 17th Century Natives and colonials had known of and been trading with one other for decades, and many groups had enthusiastically adopted firearms to fight their tribal rivals in wars over fur-trapping land. These years using European technology served the Wampanoag well in the first engagements of the war, and using them they beat the English militias in a number of battles up and down Massachusetts Bay. An opportunity of spiritual warfare was also presented; when a near total eclipse of the moon one night allowed the tribal warband to slip out of the colonial noose tightening on their swampland capital and make for the wilds. Such a freak lunar event at such a crucial time was seen as a divine blessing by the Wampanoag, and an ominous sign of heretical magic by the English, who were thoroughly demoralised by the affair.

Native successes in the war made the situation for the Praying Indians deteriorate rapidly. The English feared uprisings amongst the settled natives, and in a grim turn, dissolved the praying towns that had until then served as a shield for the colonies, and moved thousands of Indian civilians into  internment camps, with over 1,000 being crammed into just one at Deer Island. Conditions in the camp were dreadful, and the families kept there doubled as hostages to ensure the loyalty of the Indian scouts fighting with the English. Many hundreds would die over the cruel winter of 1675-6. Puritan minister John Elliot would fight hard against this policy, but by this time it was dangerous to say anything to the defence of Native Americans, no matter the tribe or custom, and he was powerless to stop it.

As for the success of the Wampanoag and their allies, it would not be the English that finally overcame them, but their own kin. Upon hearing that the Mohawk tribe to the West were moving in force towards Massachusetts Bay, Metacomet and his men eagerly turned to await these new allies in their fight against the White man. He was, however, gravely mistaken. In a single action the Mohawk warriors fell upon the Wampanoag, upon the Narragansett, upon all the troublesome Algonquin Confederation and massacred them almost to a man. Metacomet’s power was in a single night broken, and broken by his own kind. He fled to the wilderness, shattered and alone, and would be later slain by the musket shot of one of those who had been, despite everything, loyal to the end; a Praying Indian called John Alderman. The war continued for a further two years in scattered skirmishes, but hope for victory died with Metacomet, King Philip himself, in the Massachusetts swamplands.

King Philip’s War devastated all involved. It resulted in the deaths of 2,000 Natives and 2,800 colonists, the near total annihilation of the Wampanoag and their allies, and of the English settlements nearly half were attacked with hundreds of civilian deaths. The Praying Indians suffered perhaps more than any; hundreds of their already small population had died, and the discrimination and suspicion they had suffered from the English before the war had metamorphosed into open hostility and hatred. They had considered the Europeans their brothers, in culture and Christ. They had adopted their ways and their God, severing themselves from their Algonquin brothers of Old in favour of the civilised and energetic New.

It did not save them.

The newcomers did not see brothers, they saw Indians.                                                                            They did not see Christians, they saw Indians.                                                                                                      They did not see allies, they saw Indians.

When it came down to it, ingratiating themselves to their new neighbours did not save the Praying Indians. For their efforts and their loyalty, they received only tragedy and betrayal, they died like the rest.

Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here.

Photo Credit.

So What?

At the end of last month, the first results of the 2021 UK Census were published. As many will recall, the results were simultaneously, although not quite paradoxically, shocking and expected. The information published showed that 1 in 6 UK citizens are born in another country – ten million of the UK’s 69 million; a 33% increase from the 7.5 million a mere decade ago.

The details were shocking insofar that few expected a demographic shift of such extreme proportions, even when compared to the last census in 2011. Nevertheless, they were expected. As anyone with an elementary understanding of British politics knows, the political system has pursued, less-so out of empirical consideration and moreso out of humanitarian (“it’s our moral obligation!”), diveristiarian (“diversity is our strength!”), and utilitarian (“immigration grows the economy!”) dogma(s), a policy of mass immigration since the late 1990s.

Just last week, data from the ONS showed that migration into Britain had reached a new record of 504,000 – a net increase of over 331,000 from the year prior. Keep in mind, all of this has happened despite the public’s clear and consistent opposition to immigration, nevermind the magnitudinous demographic change it has caused.

As soon as the data went public, one could piece together the overarching division of attitudes. Some welcomed the rapid erosion of Britain’s native-born citizenry. By contrast, the murmurs of the moderate-minded indicated a sense of foreboding. If the data on citizenship is this demographically untenable, what on Earth is the data regarding national identity going to look like?

Well, now we know. Reported by the ONS, the UK 2021 Census showed:

“81.7% of residents in England and Wales identified their ethnic group as within the high-level “White” category in 2021. A decrease from 86.0% in 2011.

As part of the “White” ethnic group, 74.4% of the population in England and Wales identified their ethnic group as “English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish or British.  This is a continued decrease from: 80.5% in 2011 and 87.5% in 2001.”

As with the initial citizenship data, many celebrated this seismic change, suggesting that fewer white British Christians in Britain amounted to a moral improvement.

On the other hand, some deemed the largest demographic shift since late antiquity to be completely ineffectual. Directed at Nigel Farage’s reaction to the census, which underscored the shrinking ethnic British population in London, Conservative MP Sajid Javid tweeted a forthright and mask-off response: “So what?”.

“It’s not happening and that’s why it’s a good thing” as the saying goes.

Nevertheless… So what? Well, for a start, it shows that the 2011 Census wasn’t a one off, but signified the start of an unprecedented trajectory: the continuous decline of the ethnically British population. On its own, this should be alarming, but the fact this demographic shift has occurred within a single generation makes it even moreso.  Needless to say, but worth saying nonetheless, to do so without consultation from or consideration of those implicated is, to put it moderately, extremely irresponsible.

Moreover, what good is talk of “integration”, the oft-proposed silver-bullet to the consequences of immigration, if the historical ethnocultural in-group, the one which immigrants are supposed to integrate, cannot sustain its hegemony? At most, they’ll “integrate into” (perpetuate) a godless ratrace; a demoralising sluggish existence against the world’s richest on the housing market and the world’s poorest on the labour market. As Morrissey says: shelve your Western plans… Life is hard enough when you belong here.

As it stands, numerous communities across England and Wales are majority-minority – where the national majority group constitutes a local minority – a fact which makes panicked rhetoric about rhetorical divisiveness all the more out-of-touch. Mutually-segregating, and often mutually-loathing, communities have been around for decades, the census just reaffirms this reality.

More to the point, who could expect integration? Flimsy abstractions of Britishness aren’t holding British society together. Having a cuppa, forming an orderly queue, and appealing to vague, arbitrary, and contradictory notions of “tolerance” and “inclusion” and so on just doesn’t cut it. What is a nation, especially a democratic one, if it cannot inspire loyalty?

The rate of immigration and concentration of immigrant and immigrant-descended populations diminishes any incentive or expectation of integration, no matter how willing the native population is to water down the criteria of national belonging. If people can choose to associate and live amongst their kind, they shall do so – as has been the case since the dawn of time. Blood is thicker than water, even if the water is boiled, milked, and caffeinated.

But beyond a debate of causation, whether it’s a case of “can’t integrate” or “won’t integrate”, both instances point to the same overarching problem: Britain is fragmenting.

In order to accommodate the contradictory complexities of the world, primarily a consequence of the similarly unwanted reimagination of Britain as a “global” entity, “Britishness” has been reconfigured from a distinct identity – something that people indivisibly are, that their parents are, that their parents’ parents are – into a bureaucratic technicality – something that people can have, should and whenever they be so inclined; from a complex and unique ethnocultural particularity to a two-dimensional universality.

This fact, combined with evidently unmanageable and unpopular immigration numbers, is not a good omen. Rather, it risks gradually wiping Britain from the face of the Earth; from its unique and beautiful place in relation to a global diversity of similarly unique and beautiful ethnocultural organisms to a crude amalgamation of all-else, pathetically bound though an appeal to inoffensive all-inclusive emptiness.

All the more fitting then that the census should also reveal a collapse in religiosity. In a nation where church and state are bound, less than 50% (46.2%) of the population identifies as Christian – down from 59.3% in 2011. Simultaneously, those self-identifying as having “no religion” surged from 25.2% to 37.2%. This is the first time in 1000 years that Christainity is not the majority faith.

Of all the census details, this is perhaps the least surprising. For decades, we’ve barely considered ourselves “Cultural Christians” – those that tick the box, but don’t attend the service. In this regard, the 2021 Census is merely a formal confirmation of long-waning Christainity.

Who could have seen any of this coming? Actually, quite a few people. Back in 2011, then-UKIP leader Nigel Farage, citing statistics published by Migration Watch, said that the UK could expect 50,000 Romanians every year over the course of ten years. 

At the time, these numbers – as well as millions of ordinary people – were lampooned and ridiculed by the media, politicians, comedians, and (most damning of all) the Experts (the Serious People that Know Things), as delusional racists, fruitcakes, loonies, and so on.

Nevertheless, a decade later, that is exactly what has transpired. The census revealed that the number of Romania-born people living in the UK amounted to 539,000 – a 576% increase from 2011.

It’s no secret that Farage’s acknowledgement of immigration-led displacement of white Britons was one of his early selling points. Indeed, it was arguably as important (if not more important) than his euroscepticism. As has been established time and again, the latter is very much a product of the former. As such, it’s rather uncharitable to interpret his aforementioned comments with regard to London as anything but a reiteration.

Additionally, there’s David Coleman, former Professor of Demography at Oxford University, who predicted back in 2013 that, if demographic trends continued, “white Britons could be a minority by 2066” – a prediction which not only remains valid after the 2021 census but, evidently, did not assist him in retaining his then-already under-pressure position.

Granted, these are only notable examples. I cannot begin to imagine the number of normal people that have lost their livelihoods for concurring with such predictions, nevermind articulating the sentiment that they spelt trouble. Not even then does this account for those who have been scared into silence by active legislation and the fear of a vitriolic social death. You can be targeted for far less.

The inability to talk about matters in a frank, open, and civilised manner compounds problems which arise from matters which provoke the desire to discuss them in the first place.

On the religious front, Peter Hitchens has written and spoken about Britain’s post-Christainity on multiple occasions. Ever since WW1, Britain’s religiosity ceased to be sincere, instead being a series of motions undertaken without spiritual, theological, or moral investment. Now that there’s no room for doubt, one can expect the iconoclasts of Diversity and Inclusion to erase whatever hollow secularised traces of Britain’s Christian identity still exist in public life.

Put diplomatically, none of this is sensible. Quite the contrary, all these convergences spell catastrophe. Over the past few years alone, we’ve seen the fledglings of a nihilistic balkanised Britain.

Back in September, the now white British minority city of Leicester – a so-called “model” for a ‘diverse but cohesive’ Britain – fell victim to ethnoreligious rioting between Indian-descent Hindus and Pakistani-descent Muslims. Far from ‘diverse’, the riots were a replication of pre-existing global troubles.

To bare witness to the impotent, ahistorical, buzzword-laden gush of no-name ‘community leaders’, drowned out by an eruption of third-world carnage in Britain’s oldest settlements, as the mainstream press obfuscate the essence of the problem, is to bare witness to the self-deluding and short-sighted nature of Britain’s post-war political establishment.

Throughout various towns and cities across England, South-Asian grooming gangs have targeted white children since the 1980s. The police, more concerned about causing offence than networks of child prostitution, ignored the plight of the victims for several decades. Not even MPs could discuss the matter without facing repercussions.

Along the south-east, the perpetual tide of migrants (legal and illegal) has caused social unrest, so much so that coastal residents have taken to barricading their homes. The rate of immigration has skyrocketed housing costs, led to panicked hotel cramming by the Home Office, as well as an explosion of council-sanctioned homelessness.

Immediately following the release of the ethnicity data, tweets taunting white Britons to “come get your capital back” go viral, along with recorded procolations that Britain “is our country now”. Erstwhile, those of immigrant backgrounds descend on the capital, declaring their undying allegiance to a country that isn’t the one that houses them.

As for the sainted discourse, the goalposts of debate are shifted from “relax, you’re a local majority” to “relax, you’re the largest minority group” and pieces bemoaning “gentrification” are replaced by pieces celebrating “diversification”.

In the case of London, now 36.8% (down from 42.7% in 2011), some have tried to deflect any and all discussion of this matter by appealing to insinuations of white nationalism, forgetting that this entire question is, in essence, an ethnocultural one.

The idea that an unprecedented, unasked for, and potentially irreversible shift in the composition of a major city, nevermind an entire country, would not matter to the people insofar the shift was driven by those identifying “White Other” is obtuse and arrogant. Indeed, even when such a racial commonality exists between ethnically native and foreign-descended populace, there are still longstanding consequences.

As mentioned at the start, all of this boils down to mass immigration. The old and moneyed, addicted like junkies to the coursing streams of cheap foreign labour, are prepared to carve Britain’s youth out of the social contract in order to get their fill. Big business, professional activists, bureaucratic functionaries, and main-party politicians have locked arms and tirelessly marched in lock-step against my generation, their national belonging, and their prospect of a better future.

Both Labour and the Conservatives have demonstrated their indifference towards the problem of large-scale immigration-led demographic change. If anything, they have encouraged it, despite the pleas of their core voters.

Under Blair, Labour pursued a policy of mass-immigration to “rub the right’s nose in diversity”, simultaneously creating a pool of votes on which the party could rely in future elections, and accelerated Britain’s descent into ‘humanitarian’ quangocracy.

By not-so-much contrast, the Conservatives, having promised for decades to reduce immigration, won a landslide majority with the aid of traditional Labour voters (distinctly opposed to immigration) with a pledge to fulfil the spirit of Brexit – retainment of the sovereign control of borders to reduce the mass influx of people – only to do the exact opposite once in power. Don’t attribute to “failure” what is, in every respect, a design choice.

In the media, the Sensible umpires of political discourse, with clear-minded sobriety and transparent neutrality, insist that mass immigration is completely unstoppable and that we should shut up and make-do.

Likewise, in the equally Sensible world of think-tanks, mass immigration is supposedly the magical solution to all of Britain’s economic woes; everything from unprecedented high-tax levels to Britain’s economic  stagnation. Even a general overview of Britain’s economic performance these past few decades is enough to clock that such “expertise” is merely an officialised delusion.

More than mere snark, “So What?” perfectly encapsulates the underlying problem of our entire political system. Everything, from the political media to think-tanks to sitting MPs, pushes depoliticisation. The art of the possible is replaced with the art of the impossible. A decision of indecision, democratic deliberation, and the alternatives it affords, is supplanted by the arbitrary apolitical confines of authoritarian managerialism.

By opening up a multitude of historically unprecedented political fronts (tension between ethnocultural groups) whilst depoliticising the policy areas pertaining to their creation (post-war immigration policy) the British political system has manufactured an increasingly unsustainable ethnocultural divide.

In a scrambled effort to feign unity, schools across the country are mandated to teach the British state’s reinvention of its foundational identity, utilising empty appeals, laden with contradiction and irony, to “democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs“.

It does not occur to our leaders that democracy is the conduit by which identity groups will compete against others, that high social trust is prerequisite to liberty, or that mutual respect and tolerance can be hard enough within predominantly monoethnic/monocultural societies, nevermind increasingly multiethnic/cultural ones. In the end, all that is left is the brute force of authority.

Being the only politician with sizable political support that is prepared to deliberate this fundamental matter, Farage’s hour of decision is upon us. If he does re-enter politics, he must do so on the back of these census results. The stalwart indifference of the political class, and all that has transpired as a consequence of their dogmatic recklessness, must not be allowed to continue.

If he does create a new party, there’s every reason to believe he’ll be rewarded handsomely at the ballot box. The Conservatives face electoral annihilation. Javid, fully aware of this fact, is not standing at the next election; presumably why he felt comfortable telling his constituents (96% white British) that their survival, in their own native land, never meant anything to him.

That said, few expect things to improve under a Labour government. Having never promised a precise number on immigration, one could safely bet, if they ever did, that a) it wouldn’t be sufficient or, if it was, b) they’d u-turn on their promise once in power – just like the Tories.

However, should Farage decide against a new party (or leadership of an already existing party), he must stand aside for an alternative to manifest. Whether we like it or not, as Britain’s demographics continue to change, especially at the current rate, ethnicity, identity, and all things in-between will become a far more prevalent part of our politics. We must be prepared to address these matters – for our own good and for the good of others. The only thing worse than an insufficient answer to the demographic question is to never answer it at all.

Photo Credit.

What the reaction to the Ukraine conflict reveals about national identity

A country is first and foremost its people.

Despite my best efforts I cannot remember where I came across that phrase, nor will I be so brazen to claim it as my own. Nonetheless, it has always struck me as being axiomatic, and current events in Eastern Europe have given me reason to reflect on it further.

The West, including our own country, has since the end of World War II (and in some circles even before then) eschewed notions of national identity and even the concept of the nation itself. Borders are seen by many as a physical expression of violent exclusion and “othering” of fellow human beings, who should be given immediate and untrammelled access to any society they wish; free at any point to up and leave for another.

Politicians, organisations and members of the public alike, particularly those on the Left, are quick to espouse the idea that migration and asylum are human rights, which sit above the rights and privileges that attach to existing citizens.

A cursory glance through the Guardian’s migration articles tells you everything you need to know about how the Left views borders and the right to self-determination in 99% of cases involving the West. They unceasingly extol the supposed virtues of multiculturalism and appear to truly believe in the idea of open borders, with scant regard to the existing people of a nation.

Yet on one matter, the notions of inviolable borders, the nation, its people and the right to self-determination have come flooding back into consciousness and are being defended vociferously by those who otherwise have spent the last 80 years denigrating them and holding in contempt those who seek to re-establish them as common sense norms.

What is it about the ensuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine that has stoked the fires of righteous indignation in defence of a nation presently undergoing a hostile invasion by another?

Surely the mounting death toll plays its part in this reaction. But I am not convinced that is all.

What we are witnessing, it seems to me, is on some level a tacit realisation and acknowledgement that there is after all such a thing as a nation state, a specified people attached to and belonging in that nation state, and the right of that people to remain distinct, separate, independent and free to maintain their own homeland. It is tacit, not because those who express dismay at the current situation do so silently, but because they do not openly admit the source of their opposition to Putin’s aggression.

Back in July 2021, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin wrote an article, published on the Kremlin’s official website – On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians – in which he outlines the common bonds that ultimately make Russians, Ukrainians and indeed Belarusians one and the same people.

“Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians are all descendants of Ancient Rus” he writes, “bound together by one language (which we now refer to as Old Russian), economic ties, the rule of the princes of the Rurik dynasty, and – after the baptism of Rus – the Orthodox faith…[which] still largely determines our affinity today.”

Of the constituent republics of the now defunct USSR, he says “Of course, inside the USSR, borders between republics were never seen as state borders; they were nominal within a single country.”

Mr Putin argues that “some part of a people in the process of its development…can become aware of itself as a separate nation” who should be treated “with respect.” He even goes as far as to suggest that those people should be welcome to establish a state of their own, but only after a satisfactory answer has been proffered to the question “But on what terms?”

It is clear that he does not truly believe the Ukrainians (or Belarusians for that matter) are as distinct from Russians as they like to believe. This he confirms later, essentially repealing his earlier platitudes, when he writes “But the fact is that the situation in Ukraine today is completely different because it involves a forced change of identity.” In other words, whilst some people undergo a change in identity and should be allowed to go their own way, this is not the case in Ukraine who have had such a change imposed upon them; a change it appears Mr Putin feels is incumbent upon him to help them resist.

Leaving aside the moral questions surrounding Mr Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine and whether he is justified in his view of the Ukrainians being fundamentally Russian, let us explore the principles he is applying.

What Putin is suggesting here is that the Russians and Ukrainians, though occupying separate, autonomous territories, comprise the same people, united by a common ancestry, language and heritage. In other words, the lineage of Ancient Rus endures, despite some fragmentation here and there along with the establishment of states independent from one another.

Such a set-up has historical precedent. The Ancient Greek City States were seen as being inhabited by fundamentally the same people – Greeks – yet each with their own independent territories, the citizens of which took on an identity derived therefrom whilst simultaneously maintaining their overarching Greek identity. One could be a Spartan and a Greek, or an Athenian and a Greek. Either way, one was still a Greek.

This shines light on something quite interesting in terms of the conception of a people. For, and I have long been aware of this, one’s citizenship merely denotes one’s rights and status within a state, not one’s membership of a people.

In other words, membership of a people, whilst it could be enshrined in law (and I think there are good arguments it should be – this appears to have been the impetus behind the idea of the nation state to being with, now weakened by lax immigration policy and the doctrine of multiculturalism), ultimately pre-exists that law and the citizenship that might formalise it. As Sir Roger Scruton wrote: “Nations emerged as forms of pre-political order that contain within themselves the principles that would legitimise sovereign government.”

This idea of pre-existence is quite clear in Putin’s understanding of the underlying indivisibility of Russians and Ukrainians. Yes, they occupy different states and maintain distinct citizenship. But, crucially, just like the Greeks, they share an overarching identity and membership otherwise not indicated by co-habitation of the same land.

No doubt millions of Ukrainians would reject this view point. Yet, in doing so, they too would be applying the same principle – namely that their being Ukrainian pre-exists the Ukrainian state. In fact they could reasonably argue, in contradistinction to Putin’s claims, that it is this very pre-existence which endows the Ukrainian state with its right to exist separately from Russia. Their very sense of themselves as a nation acts as the motivation behind their dogged defence of their national territory.

When it is said that a people have the right to self-determination, as many are now saying of the Ukrainians, which “people” do they mean? I think they can only reasonably point to a people who would in the absence of a state to call their own continue to be extant and identifiable.

If, for example, the state of Ukraine underwent a sea-change in its population such that the members of Ukrainian society, Ukrainian citizens, were largely Germans or Somalis or indeed a farrago of peoples of widely varying languages, cultures, customs, religions and historical descent/heritage, they would be Ukrainian in name only, solely by virtue of their citizenship. Assuming those who we presently know and recognise to be Ukrainian people occupy another region of the world, would they not continue to be Ukrainian notwithstanding that the territory of Ukraine would have been abandoned?

In fact it is quite obvious that Ukrainians are considered a people in their own right by the intention of the International Court of Justice to investigate claims of genocide as a result of the conflict.

According to Article II of the United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, genocide is defined as specified acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.”

I would submit that an awareness of a pre-existing membership of a particular and identifiable people has long been found in those of us who believe in nation states and borders. But I would also argue that that same awareness can be found in those on the Left who are denouncing the Russian invasion. For if Ukrainians are not a people in their own right, why should they have self-determination? If, as Putin holds, they are Russians, does it make sense to say that they are entitled to that determination? It would be tantamount to asserting that Russians are entitled to self-determination from Russians. Applying that logic, there should be no opposition to Surrey declaring a bona fide independence from the rest of England.

If those crying out in defence of Ukraine do not see a people that pre-exists its nation state, but rather a people identified only by the continued existence of that state, they nonetheless do acknowledge that Ukrainians are a distinct and separate people albeit merely by virtue of citizenship, irrespective of background.

Let us assume for a moment that is the correct view. This does not change the fact that Ukrainians, even by admission of the Left, have the right to decide for themselves their own future. Such a freedom must surely be unfettered, meaning that any and all decisions that could affect them within their borders should be within their exercise of control.

I think the notion of a people based on pre-existence to a state, though manifested and formalised by the creation of a state – a homeland – is the better one, without which the nation state is less well-grounded and defensible. Another reason is that if a people are identified by the existence of the state they occupy, what happens if that state ceases to exist?

None of this is to diminish the role that territory plays in the identity of a people. On the contrary, and as alluded to above, that role is of paramount importance.

The occupation of territory, together with the establishment of institutions endowed with a sense of identity and which reflect the culture of its people, is a direct manifestation of that pre-existing status that subsists in the absence of a law that enshrines and protects it.

Scruton put it thus: “National loyalty marginalises loyalties of family, tribe and faith… [placing] before the citizen’s eyes…a country…defined by a territory, and by the history, culture and law that have made that territory ours.” He goes on to say that “Nationality is composed of land, together with the narrative of its possession.”

As such, the nation state of a people – their homeland – becomes as much a part of their identity as their cultural practices. The loss of that homeland does not to my mind destroy them as a people but it is certainly a gross offence against their identity which serves to alienate them from themselves, even if not completely.

In this way, and as now brought to our attention in the most alarming of ways, borders matter. But more than that: the reaction to the invasion of Ukraine proves to us we already knew that, including those who ceaselessly advocate for the right of all and sundry to enter a Western country as if it were more their right to do so than our right to preserve our sense of who we are by exercising full control over our borders.

Russia might be invading Ukraine with tanks; the United Kingdom has been invaded by other means – unwanted mass immigration which has encouraged millions to arrive with their own cultures and sense of who they are in distinction to us who were already here and whose sense of ourselves is intimately bound up in our own homeland, its institutions and its history – now all under assault for being less than perfect and not reflective (rightly so) of peoples whose cultures and identities evolved thousands of miles from our shores.

It is time we recognised that if, as I would agree, Ukraine has a right to exist for the benefit of Ukrainians, detached from Russia and free to determine its own future, we in the West and in particular Great Britain, have that right also. We, too, are a people. Our state, our kingdom, might be the result of a unification of the English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish peoples, but each of us retains our own unique character and, importantly, homeland. Although there is some agitation to dissolve the union in Scotland (and in some parts of England), the preservation thereof derives from continuing mutual agreement without impinging on that uniqueness.

The same cannot be said for the results of mass immigration and multiculturalism which, whilst allowing newcomers to preserve their identities, serves to undermine ours whose is expressed in the country we have for a thousand years called home, but is now threatened with having to accommodate increasingly vast differences while losing the benefit of a retreat to somewhere recognisably ours such as was available to Englishmen and Scotsmen alike prior to 1945.

Any student of history can point to numerous examples of the inherent difficulties in establishing territorial dominion over multitudinous peoples who differ so widely in matters of culture and identity that open conflict eventually bursts out and engulfs the region. The situation as we face it in Great Britain, brought about by absurd notions of cultural relativity, is unsustainable.

The circumstances in which Ukraine now finds itself are objectively much more urgent and dire and, admittedly, have come about in a different manner: but the intended outcome is the same. Putin is, after all, making an attempt to reabsorb the Ukrainian people into a Greater Russian family, thereby extinguishing their identity. He will fail to do this absolutely, but if he succeeds in establishing dominion over the territory that otherwise acts as a significant expression of who they are, their identity will be materially reduced.

Such a loss would not necessarily mean a displacement of the Ukrainians to other lands, but the incursion of other peoples’ customs and laws, however similar Putin might hold Ukrainians and Russians to be. In this way, the expression of the Ukrainian people via a country and institutions that becomes less recognisable to them will serve to alienate them and prevent them from self-realisation and determination.

The Left knows this. They know that borders provide a delineation between “us” and “them” – this is of course why they hate borders. Yet in the case of Ukraine that same knowledge prompts them to defend, at least in word if not deed, the rights of the Ukrainian people to maintain a homeland for themselves.

If Putin does manage to subdue Ukraine in the immediate term, the longer term will be much more difficult. The Ukrainian people’s conception of themselves – a conception that pre-exists their own nation state – will likely prompt them to persevere in re-establishing it.

A country is first and foremost its people. But we in the West would do well to remember that if a people lose entitlement and independent jurisdiction over their homeland, whilst they might continue to endure in some form or other, their destiny will no longer be in their hands.

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We Need a New Edward Watkin

This current period of postmodernity lacks a certain idea of permanence which our forebears once possessed. So much of what this civilisation produces, if one could still deem it such in its hyper-atomisation, is ethereal and consumable in a way that amounts to a sort of permanent revolution. Even those who still build tangible things in this society risk having no legacy. One only needs to think about all the mid-twentieth century modernist and brutalist architecture we destroy, to replace with not too dissimilar glass boxes, when considering the lifespan of today’s skylines or infrastructure.

If civilisation is to thrive once again, we could do worse than looking to a great visionary in our past as inspiration for a better future. I therefore propose Sir Edward Watkin (1819-1901) as an ideal role model for both his repeated proposals of grand projects and the almost surprising feasibility of all of them. I think it is worth first to give a historical account of him, then suggest a grand project based on his ideas.

In short, Watkin was the quintessential Victorian railway baron, yet so much more. The energy he possessed during his life was nothing short of astounding and went far beyond the railways for which he is mainly remembered today, but those achievements remain a good place to start.

From his first position in the industry as Secretary of the Trent Valley Railway in 1845 until the completion of the Great Central Main Line in 1899, Watkin’s presence was felt just about everywhere. ‘The Railway Doctor’ rescued the bankrupt Grand Trunk Railway in British North America and transformed it into the then longest railway in the world. His chairmanship of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway forged a vast network of lines across the industrial North West and North Midlands. He drove the Metropolitan Railway deep into the Middlesex countryside and beyond, ultimately creating swathes of London suburbia and a bevy of other towns. He steered the South Eastern Railway through the Panic of 1866 and further expanded it through that part of England. He became director of the Great Eastern Railway in 1868 and drove it out of bankruptcy, employing the help of fellow MP Viscount Cranbourne, later the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury and Prime Minister. He advised on railways in four continents and built the last main line in Great Britain until High Speed One over a century later. I might add that this list, however impressive it might be, is not exhaustive.

The ever-restless Watkin was not content with merely the above. Whilst saving the Grand Trunk Railway, he was enlisted by the Cabinet to take part in talks to create the Dominion of Canada. This resulted in a buyout of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which he personally negotiated after the British and colonial governments refused to do so. Elsewhere, he pioneered the first public parks in Salford and Manchester, as well as the first footpath in Britain dedicated for public use going up Mount Snowdon. Watkin developed Grimsby into the largest fishing port in the world and neighbouring Cleethorpes into a major Victorian resort. In 1894, he opened a large pleasure garden with a football pitch in a rural parish where the sheep outnumbered the people called Wembley. Readers might have heard of it. Again, this list of achievements is not exhaustive, and I am omitting most of Watkin’s political work in this article for the sake of brevity.

However, Watkin’s life and works were not without their faults, of which he is best known for two. The first was the Channel Tunnel, the only link in his envisioned railway from Manchester to Paris which was not built during his lifetime. He and his French counterpart successfully tunnelled 3.6 miles out of 22 under the English Channel before the British government forbade further work in 1882. This was the point when his contemporary critics pointed and said ‘now he really has gone mad’, but Watkin proved it was entirely possible over a century before the modern tunnel commenced digging. The site under Shakespeare Cliff and his twin tunnel design were both adopted in the 1980s. When the machine drilling the current tunnel broke into Watkin’s forcibly abandoned project, the engineers found it was dry after over a century of sitting abandoned.

The second mark against his reputation was the Metropolitan Tower, intended as London’s answer to the Eiffel Tower and the centrepiece of the aforementioned Wembley Park. The winning design from Watkin’s competition was to be 1,200 feet tall, 150 feet taller than the Eiffel Tower at the time, and the tallest structure in the world until the completion of the Empire State Building in 1931. If it had been completed, it would still be the tallest building in the United Kingdom today. Unfortunately, this would-be monument to heroic materialism was scuppered by a lack of willingness from investors to fund such an extravagant speculation. The first stage was finished in 1895 at a height of 154 feet, but a redesign several years prior to cut costs had already sealed its fate. Only four of the planned eight legs of the tower were built, putting too much pressure on the ground and leading to subsidence. Watkin’s Folly, as it had become known, met its fate via dynamite in 1907. Wembley Stadium now stands on the site, with its arch rising to 436 feet to serve as the constant advertisement Watkin had once hoped for his tower.

It is safe to say that if Watkin were on the parts of Twitter frequented by many readers of this publication today, he would be regarded as a radical Anglofuturist. His manifold ambitions demonstrate an absolute faith in the United Kingdom and its future at the forefront of global civilisation. With knowledge of some of his ideas, energy and determination, one can now imagine a grandiose yet entirely feasible project to strike a course away from national stagnation and decline.

We shall call it the Great Central Railway Company, a fitting revival of a name for what one can foresee as the backbone of a coherent and comprehensive railway system for modern Britain. This cannot be a state venture as most modern railway projects have become, subject as they are to hordes of overpaid bureaucrats and special interests. The GCRC would be a private company naturally responsible for every part of its operations and with the logical aim of out-competing Grant Shapps’s reheated British Rail in every way.

It would first be useful to lay out the technical and aesthetic quirks of this company’s core railways. China has been extremely industrious in its construction of very high-speed lines over the past decade or so, thus Britain can and should do the same. Our trains would be the old British-made InterCity stock on steroids, which one shall call the InterCity 325, with a top speed of 325kmh. It might be pandering, but perhaps we should also incorporate some ideas from the Mallard steam locomotive in these trains; it relates nicely that the refurbishment program for the InterCity 225 carriages was called Project Mallard. Aside from being a rather nice shade of blue, its curved front still maintains a surprisingly modern appearance despite it being over 80 years old.

Infrastructurally, this company would not mess around with glass boxes or minor ventures. GCRC main lines would have four tracks as a minimum to separate the local and freight trains from express services. Stations would be of a two-platform island design, plus as many more platforms as needed for express and branch line services. Smaller stations would be built with a dignified but cosy atmosphere in mind, whilst the larger stations would be designed akin to a palace for the people as the Great Central Railway’s Nottingham Victoria once was. I am quite sure this would actually turn out to be cheaper and more visually appealing than doing something artsy with glass and/or steel for the millionth time.

Now for some actual railway lines, of which I shall discuss two focussed around tunnels once thought of by Watkin. We shall start with what could be called the New Eastern Main Line at Dungeness, which Watkin once wanted to turn into a resort town like Cleethorpes, and strike northwest by ‘borrowing’ a rather straight freight line across the Romney Marsh. We shall carry on until Tenterden, whence it would curve slightly to brush by the east of Headcorn and then go on to Maidstone. There would have to be some urban negotiation by viaduct, as there would be in the Medway conurbation, before emerging into the open countryside of northern Kent around Wainscott. It would then move north, go under the Thames to Canvey Island, and begin its whistlestop tour of eastern English towns. It would travel past Benfleet, Hadleigh and Rayleigh (with interchange for London), then Woodham Ferrers, Chelmsford and Great Dunmow before reaching Stansted Airport to its east. Onwards it would go to Royston, Godmanchester and Huntingdon, then Peterborough (with a complete rebuild of its station) before reaching Spalding. In Lincolnshire, it would follow several mostly abandoned lines to Boston, Louth and Grimsby before ‘borrowing’ a couple more lines to reach a tunnel under the Humber at New Holland. We shall stop discussing this line in detail with Hull, with it having achieved Watkin’s plan of connecting Hull with the south, but from there it could easily go deeper into Yorkshire and beyond.

The other line I shall discuss will be the Great Central Main Line, but with a route beyond Watkin’s achievements which shifts this project from being defined by a semi-romanticised past for the sake of the present to defining the very future of this Kingdom. I think a new terminus next door to the original Marylebone but larger is fitting, then ‘borrowing’ the London to Aylesbury line from its current custodians. It would then follow the old railway up through Rugby, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham, Sheffield and finally Manchester via the Woodhead Tunnels, but from there we must go further north. It would make its way through Salford and Bolton before reaching Blackburn and Preston. Then it would go in a straight a line as practical near the M6 to Lancaster, Kendal, Penrith and Carlisle before reaching the Scottish border at Gretna. The next leg of this line would see a rather straightforward journey through southwest Scotland, the only towns of note on the way being Dumfries and Newton Stewart. However, at Stranraer we must irrevocably change the political and economic trajectory of the British Isles with a tunnel under the Irish Sea to Larne and ultimately Belfast. There may be a large munitions dump in Beaufort’s Dyke which would merit some praying during construction, but the benefits of joining the two main islands of the United Kingdom, even those which are merely symbolic, cannot be understated.

One could envision the natural evolution of dozens of branch lines serving further towns and cities from just these two lines alone. Indeed, the entire national infrastructure network could reorient itself with just a handful of main lines inspired by Watkin’s vision, prompting a new era of construction which merges the functionality of technology with our primordial desire towards the beautiful. These railway lines would also give many counties much-needed economic relevance through the secondary emphasis on freight, a far more prevalent aim of the railways from Victorian times until Beeching, giving eastern counties in particular the opportunity to have purposes other than being London’s barracks or middle-of-nowheres.

All that is needed is the money and willpower to see this project through. With a new Watkin in our midst, I am sure that we can once again find the willpower, wherefrom the money would follow, to reassert our faith in this country by building something remarkable. I hope readers agree.

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Net Zero Versus Cost of Living

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide levels are rising – that is a fact. Before the industrial revolution, atmospheric CO2 levels steadily remained at around 280ppm (parts per million). This number had remained constant for thousands of years, with very minor increases over the years due to natural processes. In March this year, CO2 concentrations were sitting at 418.81ppm. This huge increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations has already created and will continue to create unprecedented effects on the environment globally. This daunting fact has prompted leaders across the globe to act. 

Last November in Glasgow, the COP26 summit was held which was widely regarded as an instance of the UK taking global leadership in the fight against climate change. The UK has worked hard to bring all participants of COP26 to a consensus about the actions needed to mitigate against the harmful effects of climate change and reduce global CO2 emissions as a means of lessening the damage caused by global warming in the future. In doing so, the UK government has sought to fulfil their end of the bargain and beyond, making bold promises in the hopes of accelerating the UK’s charge to becoming net carbon neutral by the year 2050. 

Energy production is one of the biggest issues regarding our drive to net zero, producing 21% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. As such, the government has placed a levy on domestic energy bills, costing the average UK household an extra £159 per year on energy bills as a means of financing subsidies for renewable energy products. In addition to this, the government has recently raised the household electricity price cap from £693 to £1,971. This will put immense strain on the budgets of many households, not even mentioning the skyrocketing inflation recorded at 7% in March 2022. This financial squeeze is not showing any signs of relenting, with disposable incomes predicted to fall by 1.9% this year – an even bigger decline in living standards than the one seen in the year prior to the Winter of Discontent. 

With all the economic doom and gloom spreading about, a question must be asked – is net zero by 2050 worth it? The UK sits on top of huge shale gas deposits which could easily be exploited by the government issuing licences for companies to begin fracking on these lands, solving the gas supply issues which drives lots of the inflation currently seen. This gas could also be used to generate electricity domestically, reducing the UK’s reliance on French electricity whilst increasing supply to the point where households’ electricity bills could be drastically reduced. The UK currently contributes to 1% of global emissions, meaning that despite being virtuous, the drive to net zero will have relatively little effect globally when countries like China and India make relatively little efforts to reduce their own carbon footprints. Moreover, exploiting domestic energy supplies will likely result in lower overall carbon emissions than the alternative of importing, as huge amounts of carbon dioxide is emitted when transporting these resources to the UK. 

As such, it is little surprise that Reform UK – the largest right-wing opposition party to the Conservative party has begun to campaign against the government’s current plans to achieve net carbon neutrality. Whilst it is a noble cause to reduce carbon emissions, the current economic reality shows that the plans currently in place will massively reduce the quality of life for millions in this country instead of being the ‘Green Revolution’ that was promised by this government. We need pragmatic, not dogmatic solutions to current issues and reviving domestic energy production is the first step to solving the cost-of-living crisis and reducing our dependence on energy imports. We still have twenty-eight years to reach our target. Making sure that people are financially safe should be the government’s priority, only then can we focus on the environment. There is no doubt that this method of mitigating the cost-of-living crisis will encounter large resistance from pressure groups such as the Extinction Rebellion, but a far larger resistance will be seen in the polls if the government does not get a handle on the situation soon.

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Nature vs Nurture: The Failing of Black Caribbean Pupils in Education

According to the race report published last year, 63% of Black caribbean households are single parent households, as opposed to the black african community who is at 43%, the UK’s rate is 14.7%. The culture for the black community in the UK is quite similar to the US which also has problems with black on black crime, low literacy rates and father absence. The larger question that has raged between left and right for centuries is nature or nurture? How much control does an ethnic minority have over their fate?

What we are discussing is not an issue exclusive to the black community. “Redneck culture” , a term used by Thomas Sowell to describe a subculture prevalent in ghettos, encourages a way of life and mentality that is not conducive to the success of any community. A quote from his book White Liberals and Black Rednecks used to describe the southern white population follows: “ proneness to violence, neglect of education, sexual promiscuity… reckless searches for excitement, lively music and dance etc” This is only a short sample from a long list of cultural behaviours that without knowing the topic of focus, would be thought exclusive to the black community.

What the leftist intelligentsia often leave out of conversations about race are the effects of culture and values within a community. Not every ill can be attributed to the supposed “effects of capitalism”. The left’s obsession with proving that racism causes inequality has meant that many problems that could be solved independent of the state, are used as incentives to garner the black vote.

With the data available by comparing the different ethnic communities in the UK we should be able to see the effect that values have on a community, which largely shows that the Black African community does much better in education and has lower rates of expulsion for pupils alongside better mental health. This is especially outstanding as the things mentioned above are named as social behavioral problems, arising from single parenthood. As the lack of a paternal and/or maternal influence are proven to negatively affect emotional control for example higher levels of aggression. Could this be why Caribbean pupils are twice as likely to get temporarily excluded at 10.2% compared to 4.2%. They also have the highest rates of detention under the mental health act.

The black community in Britain faces a large issue of knife crime where between 2017 and 2020 black people aged 15-17 made up 47% of homicide victims. Sadiq Khan even predicts a rise in violent crime in London due to the cost of living crisis.

Aside from behavioral problems, Caribbean pupils are also far more likely than African students to do worse in education. Which should be the top priority for growth in any community as it leads to higher paid jobs. Although black pupils as a whole are more likely to go to university than white pupils. Black Caribbean students are the most likely to go into high tariff universities. Could this possibly be because there is a lack of educational importance in the Caribbean community, which means that African pupils progress further? 10.9% of black caribbean compared to 17.3% of African pupils gain 3 A’s at A Level.

Now immigrants do tend to do better in education, but not all immigrants do equally well. 42% of the Chinese population gained 3 A’s and 33.2% of Indians followed by 26% of white students. Which indicates that their fate is not fixed but contrary, and that immigrant children often outperform white students.

What the black community has is not primarily an issue of race but of culture, which requires steady homes and values to fix, that which conservatism provides.

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From Weimar to the Third Reich: the birth of a dictatorship

History has seen its fair share of wicked and corrupt leaders and regimes, from Ivan the Terrible, to Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, to Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein. These men, and others like them, desired to tightly grip the reins of power and not let go, entrenching themselves and their position within the political system. Of all the possible regimes to explore with this piece, Hitler’s Third Reich was chosen because to its dual notoriety and anonymity – Nazi Germany is known to almost everyone as a significant historical period, but the system’s context, beginning and how Hitler came to be Führer is a far more elusive story.

A solid understanding of Hitler’s time in power requires some historical context, specifically the end of the First World War and the subsequent years of the democratic Weimar Republic. The country’s crushing defeat, as part of the Central Powers, saw the victors gather to decide how both to punish and subdue Germany – the result was the Treaty of Versailles, signed by Foreign Minister Hermann Müller in 1919. The terms were far harsher than the Germans had anticipated, due mainly to France’s involvement: they accepted war guilt, had to pay 132bn marks in reparations (as well as all war pensions), their army was limited to 100,000 men, and they lost the key territories of Saar, Alsace Lorraine and Danzig. From the perspective of almost all Germans, regardless of region or class, Versailles represented the most heinous betrayal by the political elites. Having been the catalyst for the Weimar Republic, this new political system never managed to escape the Treaty’s legacy, with its dark shadow tarnishing the concept of ‘democracy’.

For conservative nationalists and monarchists however, even Germany’s military defeat couldn’t be accepted, resulting in the anti-Semitic ‘Stab in the Back’ myth, which essentially argued that, far from being the fault of the soldiers, Germany’s defeat had actually been the result of traitorous elites and politicians (many of whom were Jewish) working to undermine the country’s war effort. This was a narrative that greatly appealed to Adolf Hitler, who similarly couldn’t accept the reality of the situation – he described Germany’s defeat in Mein Kampf as “the greatest villainy of the century”, and one which anti-German propaganda greatly contributed to, “with Jewish, socialist propaganda spreading doubt and defeatism from within”.

With such widespread shared outrage following Versailles, it is no wonder that the Weimar Republic was plagued with social unrest, political violence and attempted coups from the very beginning. From the communist left, you had the Spartacist Uprising in 1919, fuelled by a desire to replace Weimar with a Soviet-style system (inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution), and from the nationalist right, you had the Kapp Putsch in 1920 (and Hitler’s Munich Putsch in 1923), who harkened back to the authoritarian monarchical style of Kaiser Wilhelm II and Bismarck. Add to this list the regularity of politically-motivated street violence, as well as the assassinations of major politicians (the finance minister in 1921, and the foreign minister in 1922), and you have a government unable to defend either itself, or it’s citizenry.

Public confidence in the Weimar regime was perhaps most seriously damaged by the country’s economic instability across the entire period, from 1918 to 1933. Already decimated by mass-printing and borrowing during the War, the German economy would suffer numerous economic crises, beginning with hyperinflation in 1923. The result of a French invasion and occupation, the government was forced to increase its borrowing, further decimating living standards – increased alcoholism and suicide rates were recorded, along with a decline in law and order, and more generally, public trust in the government. Although briefly graced with the ‘Golden Years’ (1923-29), Germany once again faced economic decimation in the form of the Great Depression, which again saw mass social unrest, as well as six million unemployed citizens (1933).

By the early 1930s therefore, extremist anti-Weimar parties were becoming increasingly popular with the angry and struggling German electorate. This is reflected in seat counts: the Nazis went from 12 seats in 1928, to 107 in 1930, before reaching their all-time high of 230 in July 1932 – similarly, the communist KPD reached an impressive 100 in November 1932. Fundamentally, what Hitler and the Nazis were offering increasingly spoke to much of the German population – ending reparations, regaining national pride, the promise of full-employment, a Kaiser-like leader, and an uncompromising stance against the boogeymen of the time, Jews and Communists.

His appointment as Chancellor wasn’t guaranteed by any means however, thanks to President Paul von Hindenburg. Having once described Hitler as a ‘bohemian corporal’, he was concerned with Hitler’s lack of government experience, although had offered Hitler the position of vice-chancellor in 1932. What forced his hand however, was the enormous influence wielded by the industry elites, who viewed Hitler as the authoritarian figure that the chancellorship needed, an opinion fuelled by their fear of communism’s increasing popularity

However, once Hitler’s appointment became necessary and inevitable, Hindenburg, along with former chancellor Papen, conspired to control a Hitler-led government, believing Hitler’s lack of experience meant he would be like a puppet who could be ‘tamed’. The two men thought that, with few Nazis in the Cabinet, and with Papen as Vice-Chancellor, true power could lie with them, with Hitler being Chancellor in name only. How wrong they were.

Having attained the chancellorship in January 1933, Hitler now set about securing his position, first through legislative changes. This came most significantly in two forms: the Reichstag Fire Decree in February 1933, and then the Enabling Act in March. Both pieces of legislation legally grounded the fledgling regime, granting them the authority and power to act as they wish, and silence those who opposed them.

The hurried passing of the emergency Reichstag Fire Decree came in the wake of a suspected Communist-led arson of the Reichstag building. Arriving at the scene alongside other leading Nazis, Hitler viewed the crime as a blatant assault on the German state, and all it stood for. In response, Hitler pressured Hindenburg to sign the Act into law, which saw the suspension of essentially all freedoms and civil liberties (e.g., the right to association, speech, freedom of the press etc). These rights wouldn’t see a revival later on. Aside from removing freedoms, the Decree also saw a brutal crackdown of political opponents (as the police no longer required cause, and could hold people indefinitely). Indeed, the first 2 weeks following the Decree’s signing saw around 10,000 people arrested in Prussia, including many prominent communist leaders. From the perspective of Richard J. Evans, “this was the first of the two fundamental documents on which the dictatorship of the Third Reich was erected”.

Even more significant, however, was the passing of the Enabling Act. Single-handedly transforming Germany into a legal dictatorship, the Act allowed the Cabinet to pass legislation without requiring the consent of either the Reichstag or the president. Indeed, this paved the way for the Nazis to further tighten their grip on the political system – for example, the founding of new parties was banned in July 1933. Fundamentally, with an unrivalled number of NSDAP Reichstag members, Hitler had made democracy into dictatorship in only a few months – in the words of Evans: “By the summer of 1933 all opposition had been crushed, more than a hundred thousand Communists, Social Democrats and other opponents of the Nazis had been sent to concentration camps, all independent political parties had been forced to dissolve themselves and the Nazi dictatorship had been firmly established”. Combining the offices of president and chancellor in 1934 (following Hindenburg’s death), Hitler’s adoption of the Führer title cemented his authority and that of his party.

In consolidating Nazi power, Hitler definitely made his position within the new hierarchy very clear. This can be seen in the ‘Hitler Oath’, introduced for the judiciary, military and civil servants. Having previously sworn loyalty to ‘the German Reich’, officials now swore “unconditional obedience” to Hitler personally. This reflected the broader ruling philosophy of the Nazi regime, one in place since the party’s reorganisation in 1924, Führerprinzip (essentially that the Führer’s decisions are always correct, and that he is all-powerful and above the law). With the effective spreading of propaganda, Hitler came to encapsulate a past era of Germany’s history, one dominated by patriotic and statist authoritarians, notably the much-sentimentalized Bismarckian and Wilhelmine Reich.

Regarding institutional control, Hitler set about ensuring political conformity within branches of local government and the Civil Service. Although dominated by conservatives from the Wilhelmine Reich, a purge of ‘enemies of the State’ was still required of civil servants – this came in the form of the anti-Semitic ‘Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service’, which banned Jews, progressives and others. Germany’s Jewish community would, later on, see further exclusion from institutions, including education (both as students and as teachers). Additionally, the local government saw its own purge of dissidents, as well as an overhaul of its structure, with Reich Deputies introduced to administer the different states – in doing this, the Nazis ensured that all areas of the country were under their top-down control.

Nazi actions were similar towards the media establishment. Fearing the damaging impacts of rogue leftist reporting, the Reich Association of the German Press was set up, to review all content and keep the journalists, editors and publishers in line with the regime’s messaging. The same happened within the cultural and artistic spheres of German society – fearing the spread of ‘degenerate’ modern art (labelled as Cultural Bolshevism), it was the Reich Chamber of Culture that reversed the artistic progressivism seen in the ‘Golden Years’ of the Weimar Republic.

Whilst these two agencies monitored for anti-Nazi media sentiment, it was through the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda (headed by Joseph Goebbels) that the regime was able to most effectively spread its hateful rhetoric, with a unified radio system being established in 1934, and radios being mass-produced for the population. Allowing Hitler to more easily speak to his people, this communications technology proved vital in further cementing Nazism into the everyday lives of the citizenry. Aside from this, the agency also oversaw the production of pro-Nazi films, which praised Aryan physical qualities, all the whilst presenting Jews as parasitic, manipulative and barbaric (most famously seen with the release of The Eternal Jew in 1940).

These structural changes however, would only get Hitler’s vision for Germany so far. He could make himself the supreme leader, root out opponents in state institutions and the media, and spread the party’s ideas of racial purity all he wanted, but what the Führer really needed was a population ideologically committed to National Socialism, a concept the Nazis referred to as a Volksgemeinschaft, or ‘national/people’s community’. With the population having been divided under Weimar, Hitler aspired to rule a unified Germany, one with a populace devoted to the Fatherland. For this to work however, all social groups would have to see real life improvements.

With unemployment having reached six million by 1933, Hitler’s aim with Germany’s workers was more jobs and improving their living conditions. Emphasizing ‘recovery’ during the first few years, unemployment was indeed reduced, to a staggering 1.6m by 1936. As far as conditions went, the ‘Beauty of Work’ programme managed an overhaul of factories, including improvements to safety measures and the quality of toilets. Alongside this came the ‘Strength through Joy’ (KdF) initiative, which provided workers with cheap leisure activities, such as holidays in the country and trips to the theatre, all of which were eagerly taken advantage of. Despite these steps taken by the German Labour Front (DAF), modern historians have raised the concern that, far from being genuinely dedicated to the regime, workers simply publicly supported Nazism to continue enjoying these benefits.

Having enjoyed uniquely-progressive freedoms under the Weimar Constitution, women under the Nazi regime were reverted back to their traditional domestic childbearing role. Indeed, women under this system were granted easier access to divorce, as well as the ‘Cross of Honour of the German Mother’, to encourage them to have more and more children. With many women enamoured by the image of the Führer as the eternal bachelor, the regime saw essentially no organised opposition by women, along with emotional displays of love for Hitler at public events.

The Nazis’ approach to the youth was focused on combining physical war training with lessons in National Socialism. Achieved through both schools and the Hitler Youth (which became compulsory from 1936), young German boys went on hiking and camping trips, as well as new Nazi content, such as racial science and reading extracts of Mein Kampf. Indeed, many schoolboys became obsessed with the legendary figure of Hitler, and were successfully transformed into puppets of the regime, reporting their neighbours and family members to the authorities for anti-Nazi sentiment. However, the many opposition youth movements of the late-1930s represented a growing disillusionment with the regime and its ideology – groups like the Swingers, who adopted American fashions and jazz music, and the Edelweiss Pirates, who mingled with the opposite sex.

The extent to which a genuine Volksgemeinschaft was actually created however, is greatly debated amongst historians. Fundamentally, whilst these groups may have appeared satisfied and ideologically committed at public events, they were all terrified of what would happen if they weren’t. Everyone in the country was kept in line by the omnipresence of the Reich’s repressive terror apparatus.

Although relatively small in numbers, the Gestapo was, in the mind of the average German, around every street corner – it was this image that people had that made them so terrifying. Reading mail, making midnight arrests and utilising torture, they served to root out enemies of the regime and strike fear into the population. However effective their own methods were, the Gestapo relied even more heavily on public tip-offs and denunciations of neighbours and acquaintances, from which they received 57% of their information from. Established by Goering as the Minister President of Prussia, the Gestapo would soon be transferred over to the head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler.

The parent organisation of the Gestapo, the SS served as the regime’s key intelligence, security and terror agency. Rooting out political enemies (such as remaining party and trade union leaders), it was the SS that oversaw the Fire Decree arrests and executions. Also serving a crucial role in the neutralisation of the regime’s racial targets, the agency would later control the building and running of the concentration (and extermination) camps, as well as the death squads sent into Eastern Europe during the War.

Although these two agencies were ruthless and highly-effective at rooting out opposition, certain figures remained, both within the political and party systems, who posed a serious threat to Hitler’s growing power. This increasing paranoia would culminate in June 1934, with the ‘Night of the Long Knives’. A brutal purge of Hitler’s enemies, it was initiated by growing concern over the direction of the SA, the party’s paramilitary group – they were becoming too brutish and uncontrollable. Thus, to consolidate his position, Hitler had the leadership, including his close friend Ernst Röhm, assassinated in the dead of night. Other victims included internal party rivals, like the progressive Gregor Strasser, and remaining Weimar politicians, like former chancellor Kurt von Schleicher. Serving as a harrowing example of what would become of the regime’s enemies, the purge also guaranteed Hitler the loyalty of the Army, who’d supplied the SS with the necessary weaponry.

Hitler’s rise to power, from a minor nationalist political agitator in the 1920s, to the undisputed supreme leader of Germany a decade later, serves as an extreme example of how charismatic and intelligent figures can take advantage of a peoples’ anger towards the Establishment, coupled with dire socioeconomic circumstances. Having come to be engrossed with the anti-Semitism peddled by Richard Wagner and Pan-German groups in the 1910s, Hitler’s vehement racism, combined with his skill for passionate public speaking, would see him go from a semi-homeless failing artist in Vienna, to arguably the most infamous figure in human history, responsible for the deaths of tens of millions.

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