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The Impossible as Motivation

“I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.”

– Antonio Gramsci

Like all disaffected individuals who supported the Conservatives in 2019, I too find solace in the work of a certain Italian Marxist philosopher and his insights. The simplicity of that quote often speaks to a dormant impulse in the human condition, the belief that things really can change; that, when everything is said and done, we will win. We must, as President Trump once said: “…treat the word ‘impossible’ as motivation.”

In the history of Great Britain, this nation has faced many challenges and many dark days. Those dark days still lay ahead, for that can be assured. Those obstacles within our national politics seem numerous: civil servants, fifth columnists, various media establishments and even entire political parties which claim to represent the interests of the country. Out of this election, it is plain as day. Labour will win, through sheer dullness and the fact that Sunak has clearly given up and not even attempted to try during this race for his own premiership. The reason why people do not like Sunak is because, at his core, he represents ultimately why people do not like Conservatives or politicians in general. They are mostly losers who want to be liked and be seen as important by others; they want to be winner but have never fought truly for anything in their lives. It is for this reason, they are not worthy of any votes or seats. It is not because they have fought and failed, it is that they have never even tried or put up a fight.

From this, the only cure that needs to be given is that of Zero Votes and Zero Seats. Vote Reform now, Cummings later. This can be summarised as voting Reform now to give the Conservatives zero seats, thus ending them (at least, as much as possible) as a political force within Great Britain. Out of this, we should unite around a different right-wing party, one that genuinely seeks to change the direction of the country and prepared to ask and answer the questions that matter. Why are we having these problems? Why are people struggling to buy a house? Why is this country declining?

Following on from this, it is clear that Farage is here to stay and can become a massive nuisance for the administrative state, the state that is allergic to change and remains prestige-orientated. As such, Farage is not the man who will do these things; he is a media personality, not someone who is interested in the nitty gritty of continuing (starting with Brexit) a decade-long (if not century-long) process of fixing the foundational issues of this country. Farage is an Einstein in an Oppenheimer world, it would seem.

Farage understands the need for generating a new excitement around a political issue, he understands that nothing is impossible, even that the mere usage of the word should be taken as motivation. Indeed, his lifelong struggle to get Britain to leave the EU is one such endeavour which, even at the best of times, felt like an ultimately impossible task until it wasn’t. This is not dissimilar to Trump, a figure who isn’t sensitive to the nuance of details, but fundamentally understands the broad picture, why things needs to change, and how to go about doing it.

As such, one hopes that if Reform becomes akin to UKIP, they can become a political force that asks the big questions that the majority of the population want asked. Additionally, Reform should be able to shift the Overton window on a series of issues, bringing them to the forefront of politics from outside of the mainstream political parties. These should range from immigration, the economy, the housing crisis, and the need to dismantle the administrative state.

This being said, like UKIP and the Brexit Party before, when Reform has kicked through the door, it should again vanish. By the end of the decade, Reform should be as important as UKIP is in 2024. Reform should not be here to stay in the long term. Now that it seems possible that Reform will replace the Conservatives, just as the Labour replaced the Liberals throughout the 1920s, allowing them to fully turn their guns on Labour, exposing them as being no better. Of course, Labour is not up to the task of governing and will almost certainly do damage to Britain. Given that Starmer is a wet lettuce of a man, unlikely to last long in post, they’ll have plenty of material to work with.

From this, Reform can generate space for something to be built for the 21st Century, something with real long term vision and purpose. Insert “assorted weirdos” reference here. Indeed, it is rather fitting that the two individuals that are attempting to offer real alternatives to the current issues facing this country are the same two which brought Brexit home (twice if you count the 2019 general election). Now we could realistically see this occur again. Farage’s media personality pushing the core issues into the forefront of British political life, while Cummings dominates the nitty gritty of how to get from ‘A’ to ‘B’ and securing the real victories. Additionally, both men want the complete destruction of the gate keeping Conservatives and are radically anti-establishment and Westminster, something the vast majority of the electorate share.

Although Cummings has modelled his work on Singapore’s People’s Action Party (I would encourage all to read ‘From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000’), and its stewardship under Lee Kuan Yew, it is another Southeast Asian leader that he should also look at too. Ho Chi Minh (hear me out), and his leadership of North Vietnam, can be summarised as that of revolutionary self-belief and determination. The clinical and principled nature of Singapore, combined with the zealous optimism of Vietnam, would propel the country back into a forward-thinking, functioning 21st Century nation state. It should be hoped that, when Cumming’s Party is ready and the door has been blown open by Farage’s Reform, it too should move into place. A tech-focused, big tent, anti-establishment party that seeks to radically fix the core issues within the country. Radically reduce immigration, tackle the wealth disparity and tax avoidance, and dismantle the permanent administrative state.

In conclusion, Politics is Never Over. Things have returned to being interesting – we could witness another realignment in our national discourse. This should be motivating for people like Farage and Cummings. We can smell blood right now on both Starmer and Sunak, so we must take this chance to end the declinist duopoly once and for all, and scramble to build something in its place thereafter. As Farage stated in a mere four words: “We’re just getting started.”


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The Century of Steel

Imagine a world in which there is no central structure, imagine a world where both the United States and China have fallen from a state of global hegemony to struggling to maintain any internal resemblance of order. This could occur independently of the other nation’s collapse or in tandem with it. What would the world look like? Would another world order emerge or would complete anarchy befall the world writ large? If there isn’t the time or conditions for another unipolar nation to fill this void, in part or in full, we must look for a more divided and unstable world structure. This core concept can be understood as non-polarity, where states cannot order themselves according to any traditional structure. Out of this concept, we could be entering a world of widespread turmoil and interstate violence. This can be understood as the Century of Steel (CoS), a term to help describe and articulate what we could be going through.

In order to understand the CoS, we first must look at Italian politics in the postwar years. The Years of Lead refers to a period of widespread social and political instability and violence in Italy. This period saw terrorism and assassinations become normalised from the 1960s to 1980s, the outcome of which saw government forces triumph and various far-right and far-left organisations disbanded. Notable and symbolic examples of this period include the Bologna Bombing in 1980 and the assassination of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro. A lengthy explanation of this period can be found here.

Now, imagine a globalised version of the Italian Years of Lead taking place through a deglobalising world. Widespread interstate turmoil across nearly all regions of the world could occur. Following this, in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, we have seen the rise of old tensions occur once more from across the Eurasian Steppe and the Middle East. From the ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine to the thinning of the Palestinian herd by Israel. The outcomes of this will look like Russia beating Ukraine, with them annexing half the country, followed by Israel becoming a pariah within the Middle East again, ending decades of peace efforts. With the collapse of the current ‘rules-based’ world order and the potential joint collapse of both major superpowers in the not-so-distant future, another avenue of what could happen needs to be explored. 

One of the most underrated academics currently working is that of Yi Fuxian, who has contributed considerably to the topic of demography, especially within the context of the Asia-Pacific. In a recent Diplomat article, Yi argued that any conflict will only exacerbate the ongoing demographic issues between the aforementioned warring nations. As noted with the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War, both nations have seen their respective fertility rates drop substantially. Likewise, if war were to break out between China and Taiwan (both nations are in considerably worse demographic situations), this would have disastrous consequences for both nations, regardless of the outcome of the conflict.

“If a Taiwan war breaks out, it will hasten these trends, leading to global instability and even the collapse of the U.S.-led world order… Time is not on the side of China or Taiwan, nor on the side of the United States. The three parties need to show sufficient wisdom and courage to achieve permanent peace across the Taiwan Strait – and avoid dropping off a demographic cliff.”

-Yi Fuxian, The Demographic Costs of a War Over Taiwan, The Diplomat (10/04/2024)

With most of the world now residing in a ‘post-fertile’ world, being below replacement level, there are fewer ‘new’ people entering into this increasingly conflictual world. What a lot of nations have now in terms of manpower is all they will have for many years to come, and when it goes, it goes. If you choose to spend it on conflict, you must accept the fact you will most likely not have anyone to replace them, creating various problems down the line. Moreover, the potential conflicts will only further perpetuate the conditions that caused states to fall into such a demographic rut in the first place.

If we are indeed becoming truly deglobalised, we could see the emergence of a new epoch. Just as the Cold War defined much of the 20th Century, the CoS may define much of the 21st. A ‘century’ of no centralised control being exerted within the world, incapable of regulating and mediating beyond a very narrow and constricted sphere of influence. This will only compound the ongoing issues being faced across the planet. We are entering very dangerous and complex times ahead for every single individual in the world and more conflicts will most likely arise in the following years as a result.


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A Brief History of US Student Politics

‘Hey, hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?’

These chants outside of the White House haunted Lyndon B. Johnson throughout his presidency. He would sit in the Oval Office with his head in his hands as the chants wafted through the walls. When his son-in-law Charles Robb sent in a tape from Vietnam, Johnson buckled against the table and looked as though he was in tears. For the loud Southern Jackson, who took great pleasure in towering over and intimidating others, this seemed like quite a big deal. 

This is not about Johnson, however. This is about the students who protested him and the Vietnam War. This is about the students who protest now and any time.

An American Education

Harvard University was founded in 1636 and is classed by many as the oldest institute of higher education in the United States. Throughout history, the Ivy League colleges (Harvard, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth and Cornell) have been considered the most elite, though others have made quite the showing. Between them, the Ivy League colleges have educated fifteen US presidents. They’ve also educated many Supreme Court Justices, Governors and members of Congress.

Throughout early American history, the Ivy League and other elite colleges were almost exclusively for white, wealthy men. Colleges for women did exist, such as the female equivalent of the Ivies, the Seven Sisters, though they came far later. Colleges for African-Americans also came later, such as Howard and Tuskegee.

Cornell began to accept women in 1870, but it took until 1983 for all of them to admit women, with Columbia being the last.

Minority men were able to attend earlier and more frequently, with Yale being the last to accept black students in 1964.

Despite more diversity in terms of the student body, Ivy League colleges see students of the wealthy 1% overrepresented. One in six Ivy students have parents from the top 1%, and they are 34% more likely to be accepted than students with the same scores but from less wealthy backgrounds. The children of these parents are also more than twice as likely to attend elite universities- the Ivies, Stanford, MIT, Duke and Chicago.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Whilst protests and activism were not unknown prior, the 1960s saw an explosion in it.

The decade was one of great social change, perhaps the greatest since the 1860s. Firstly, there was more of a focus on youth. TV, radio and movies began to cater to teenagers. Bands like the wholesome Beach Boys and sassy Beatles saw teenage screaming along. As incomes expanded, college enrollment doubled between 1945 and 1960, doubling once again by 1970.

There was also less social and cultural hegemony than before, something that Richard Nixon and his Silent Majority sought to exploit. The Civil Rights movement was at an apex as students sat at segregated café counters and took integrated buses to register African-American voters in the Deep South. Second-wave feminism saw women demand access to birth control, abortion and equality in the workplace. As students moved away from their generally conservative homes, many became embroiled in a more progressive political atmosphere.

Perhaps most impactful in terms of lives was the Vietnam War. Action in the Asian nation had significantly escalated, particularly after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964.

Students in particular were opposed to the draft. College students could receive deferments, but they were in the target conscription demographic of being young and healthy and unmarried, though the marriage deferment ended in summer 1965. One of the most notable forms of protests saw students burning their draft cards.

They were also active in the protest movement as a whole. College campuses became hotbeds of political activity. Students also joined protests and demonstrations.

There were varied reasons as to why students in particular were opposed to the war. Some echoed the popular sentiment of many that it was war thousands of miles away that did not have anything to do with America. Others believed that American soldiers were killing innocent civilians. Some thought that the money would be better spent elsewhere or that war in general was wrong.

One college that became a centre of counterculture politics was UC Berkeley. The California university became a hub of activism and protests regarding Civil Rights, free speech and Vietnam.

Most of the decade saw passionate but peaceful protests in the area, but this changed. In April 1969, students at Berkeley set up an informal encampment in People’s Park, scuppering a plan to turn it into a public space. On the 15th May 1969, police arrived to turf the squatters out. This, combined with a nearby college protest, saw around 6,000 people turn out at the park. The police eventually opened fire, killing San Jose resident James Rector as he watched from the roof. Many others were injured; one man was blinded. California Governor Ronald Reagan called in the California National Guard.

There had been a notable protest at New York’s Columbia University a year before. Black student protestors had asked white protestors to protest separately, which they did, segregating it on racial lines. Some of the students occupied the administrative Hamilton Hall, holding Acting Dean Henry S. Coleman hostage.

In another protest that year, students at Morehouse in Atlanta held the board of trustees. One of those students was a young Samuel L. Jackson.

Sixties Assassinations

Adding to the students’ cynicism were the assassinations of four famous men, all of whom were generally admired by students.

The first was John F. Kennedy in November 1963. Kennedy had been a proponent of college education and had been a point of fascination for young people, mainly due to his relative youth compared to other politicians.

The second was Malcolm X, the firebrand minister for the Nation of Islam and advocate of civil rights. He was slain in February 1965.

The third was Martin Luther King Jr, the well-known minister who advocated for civil rights via peaceful means. He was killed in April 1968.

The fourth and final one was Robert Kennedy in June 1968. He had entered the Democratic race for president as an anti-war and liberal alternative to unpopular incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson.

Death At Kent State

One of the most tragic events of the student protest movement came in May 1970.

The Sixties was over and new president Richard Nixon had promised law and order. Meanwhile, America was expanding military operations in Vietnam by entering neighbouring Cambodia. This caused immediate controversy in the anti-war movement. Several hundred students at Kent State in Ohio were protesting this. Residents and police officers had been concerned about potential repercussions in the community, and the Ohio National Guard was called.

The National Guard attempted to disperse the crowd through tear gas and other means, but this failed. Protestors began to throw rocks and other projectiles at them before being herded away. Near a hill, some of the officers started to open fire. Four students- two men and two women- were killed. Nine others were wounded, one of whom was permanently paralysed.

Images of the event, including the famous picture of a horrified teenager standing over one of the bodies, caused even more riots and protests across the nation. 100,000 people marched on Washington a few days later, leading to Richard Nixon famously talking to protestors in the middle of the night at the Lincoln Memorial.

Post-Sixties

Whilst the chaos of the 1960s gave way to a relatively more peaceful 20th century, activism and protests still remained. College Democrats and College Republicans have both been popular hubs for the partisan-minded students. Politicians regularly attend speeches and rallies, especially when they’re supported by the students.

As a rule, colleges tend to be on the left of the spectrum, in both faculty and students. Exceptions to this tend to be religious institutions like Bob Jones and Liberty University.

Issues that have arisen include the Iraq War, climate change, school shootings, race, gender, sexual assault and rape and military engagement in general.

The Current Protests

On the 7th October 2023, Israel was surprised by an attack by Hamas. People were murdered, missiles were fired and civilians taken hostage. In response, Israel had gone all out on Hamas. As a result, there have been numerous deaths and injuries in Palestine. Many people have been made homeless or have needed to evacuate from their homes. Some have flooded into neighbouring Egypt. Neither Palestine or Israel are safe.

Sympathy for the deaths of innocents have been widespread, but there is a huge difference in opinion regarding Israel. Protests have happened in major cities across the world, with the pro-Palestine side occupying most of that space. London for example has seen weekly protests since October.

The issue has become a massive one in America. Historically, the American government has been a strong supporter of Israel. Joe Biden has given assistance to Israel, but seems to want incumbent Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu out. Internally, there is debate amongst the legislative branch. Pro-Palestine and anti-interventionist politicians have come together to stop aid to Israel. Others wish to help it more.

It’s also been dynamite for college campuses. Coast to coast, north to south, university students have been protesting non-stop since October. The Ivy League colleges have been the centre of the protests, but other elite and notable colleges such as Stanford, Berkeley, Northeastern, NYU, Ohio State, and Emerson have seen student activism.

Students have been calling for an immediate ceasefire in the area. Regarding their own colleges, they ask for the institutions to break all ties to Israel, especially regarding financial gifts.

The protests themselves have been controversial. The shouting of ‘from the river to the sea’ is seen as a call to action against Jews, as well as the calling of a global intifada. Flickers of anti-semitism have allegedly been seen in these protests, despite the bulk of participants proclaiming they oppose Zionism, not Jews. Some Jewish students have participated in the protests, whilst others feel unsafe. Classes have been called off and students have been forced to study online.

Encampments have been put up on several campuses. Some have been cleared by police whilst others remain. These encampments are made up of tents, donated food and other communal activities, all of which are subject to rules. Whilst the protests remain mainly about Israel and Palestine, they tend to bend towards anti-capitalism and progressive ideology.

New York’s Columbia University has been the establishment most in the news. On the 17th April, a number of Columbia students started an encampment. Whilst the encampment was torn down by police the next day, it was rebuilt and protests continue. Students report difficulty getting to class. Arrests and suspensions have also been made.

Student Kyhmani James became the subject of media attention following comments regarding the murder of Zionists. He filmed a video of himself talking to the administration in an attempt to get his views across. Unfortunately for Mr. James, he has been kicked out of Columbia.

The Response

America’s 1st Amendment is very strict on the freedom of speech and assembly. That being said, law enforcement and university officials are more than a little tired of it. Students have been arrested, suspended and even expelled. Three college presidents have sat before Congress- Mary Magill of UPenn, Sally Kornbluth of MIT and Claudia Gay of Harvard. Magill resigned in December 2023, and Gay followed in January 2024 after a plagiarism scandal.

Some presidents have been tough. The University of Florida sent out a very clear letter to protestors telling them which behaviour was appropriate and what would get them kicked out. Florida State turned on the sprinklers. Northeastern University got the police to clear the encampment, saying that the use of ‘Kill the Jews’ crossed the line. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis promised to expel any protestors who joined mobs. Even Columbia, the home of the most infamous protests, allowed the police in to tear down the encampment.

It doesn’t look like this is going to go away anytime soon. What some call a win for free speech is what others call going ‘too far’. As parents look away from the Ivy League to less elite but still reputable universities, one wonders if it’s a case of rich kids with too much time on their hands and no problems of their own. Is it that or a genuine example of solidarity with Palestine? Whatever the case, America’s campuses remain on metaphorical fire.


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The War on Pubs, Part I: Taylor’s Conquest

The war on British pubs is as old as the British pub itself, so much so it can barely be classed as an emerging tendency. The government’s dislike of the pub is a fact of life and measures to undermine its prosperity and role in society are widely disliked but are rarely contextualised in political commentary beyond the Covid pandemic, relatively recent demographic changes, and the last fourteen years of government.

After the end of WW2, Britain seemed to be largely self-sufficient when it came to producing ingredients for beer, something it hadn’t achieved for the best part of a century. Protectionist measures enabled near-autarkic levels of barley production whilst wartime reserves of hops were sold for cheap on the domestic market. Of course, post-war economic pressures made investments more necessary and demanding, whilst imports (especially from Denmark, the Netherlands, and Ireland) were set to become more frequent. Nevertheless, an end to rationing, combined with the implementation of tax cuts in the mid-to-late 50s, one of the few helping hands to pubs since the birth of Modern Britain, which contribute to an increase in beer production and consumption. All things being far from perfect, Britain’s pubs could’ve expected much worse coming out of the most destructive war in history.

Indeed, Britain’s flourishing post-war beer market hadn’t escaped the notice of Edward Plunket Taylor. Famously a breeder of racehorses, coming to be recognised as a major force behind the development of the Canadian horse-racing industry, the tycoon’s family also owned Brading, a brewery in Ottawa founded in 1867. Using the loosely coinciding repeals of prohibition throughout various parts of the US and Canada as a springboard, Taylor merged Brading with another Canadian brewery to form Canadian Breweries in 1930. In pursuit of sheer scale, Taylor consolidated several smaller plants into a handful of larger plants and standardised his line of products, whittling his number of brands down from roughly 100 to six. By 1950, Canadian Breweries controlled 50% of Ontario’s beer market. Having subdued most competition at home, Taylor was well-positioned to turn his focus to foreign conquest.

Being well over 200 years old at this point in history, criticisms of the tie system weren’t new, and they weren’t to vanish in the coming decades, but it did provide an initial barrier to Taylor’s imperial aspirations. As pubs could only sell beer produced by the brewery they were tied to, Taylor realised he’d have to infiltrate Britain’s breweries before he could infiltrate its beer market. Aiming to acquire a 25% stake in every publicly traded brewery in Britain, Taylor sought to gain a foothold in the same way he had come to dominate the Canadian market: through the purchase and merging of smaller and unprofitable breweries. In 1967, Taylor merged Bass Brewery and Charrington United to form Bass Charrington, then the largest brewery in Britain with 19% of the beer market.

Taylor’s aspirations and manifesting success sparked a merging frenzy not seen since the relaxation of beerhouse regulations in the late 19th century and the emergent ‘Beerage’, leading to the rise of ‘The Big Six’, Britain’s six largest brewing companies: Allied Breweries, Bass Charrington, Courage, Scottish and Newcastle, Watney Mann (also known as Grand Metropolitan), and Whitbread.

Whilst Taylor had managed to upend Britain’s brewing market, the tie system continued to incentivise against territorial trespassing between brewers. As such, the mergers occurred largely (albeit far from exclusively) along geographic lines. Allied Breweries and Bass Charrington were more concentrated in the Midlands and the North, both having central breweries in Burton-upon-Trent. Courage originated in Southwark with properties across the South, whilst Watney Mann originated in London with clusters in and around the capital. Fittingly, Scottish and Newcastle were based in Scotland and the Northeast, especially Edinburgh and Newcastle, whilst Whitbread originated in central London, maintaining a sizeable presence in the West End, stretching off into the southwest and much of Wales.

Counterbalancing the instinctual desire to compare The Big Six to feudal barons, their pubs were more clustered than rigidly delineated. Indeed, each brewer was a national entity and desired to expand their control of the overall market. Still, it was the emergence of these large-scale brewers which sparked concerns among small business of a cartelised industry, one in which independent brewers were fighting for an increasingly austere slice of the market.

Initial attempts to curtail the growth of these large brewers lacked momentum. Both with the government and most of the public considering the size of these brewers to be a non-issue. At the very least, it was ‘small beer’ compared to other matters which directly affected pubs and breweries in more gruesome ways. A survey carried out by the Consumers Association showed only 1% of consumers factored in beer prices when it came down to choosing a pub. Simply put, pubs were (and remain to be) more than economic hubs of rational decision-making, but markers of communal identity which provide a sense of place and evoke a sense of loyalty; something to support in a period of inept and lacklustre political leadership.

As for pub owners, many valued The Big Six (and the tie system more generally) as a way of ensuring a steady supply of beer, business, and a livelihood. Far from a barrier to entry, it was seen as the exact opposite, acting as an extension of the quasi-paternalist system which had existed prior to Taylor’s landing on English shores.

Nevertheless, the fears of independent brewers were far from unfounded. By the 1970s, roughly 80% of Britain’s beer supply was controlled by The Big Six, along with roughly 75% of brewer-owned retail, and 85% of ‘loan ties’ – arrangements in which pubs that aren’t directly owned by a Big Six brewer exclusively stock their products and other supplies for discounts and loans. By 1989, the top five best-selling beers had 20% of the total market whilst the top ten had a comfortable 30%.

Also, it became increasingly clear to many pubs that large, cut-throat corporations were not spiritual successors to small, local, historically rooted breweries. The sense of mutual dependency which existed between pubs and the latter was practically non-existent between pubs and the former. Needless to say, an individual pub had more to lose from being untied than any one of The Big Six.

Inflated beer prices were a direct consequence of this arrangement. Between 1979 and 1989, beer prices increased by 15% above the retails’ price index and the tax cuts of the immediate post-war period had long been offset by some of the highest beer duties in Europe. Even if the price of beer was comparatively less important to consumers than the social element of pubs, the financial pressure on customers to buy beer from their local’s tied brewer was far from ideal in a period of stagnating wages and rising inflation.

Pubs which weren’t tied to The Big Six were also routinely shafted by predatory pricing, in which the major brewers would temporarily lower their prices to undercut and destroy independent establishments before increasing their prices to consolidate their financial dominance in particular area. This practice was especially harmful to rural pubs, which were more likely to be independent and less economically secure than urban pubs, courtesy of a continuing trend of rural depopulation.

However, whilst the cost of beer wasn’t a pivotal concern, the wavering quality of beer was a growing source of frustration for pubgoers. Practically impervious to market forces, The Big Six were able to push less-than-appealing products onto the consumer through advertising backed by a steady and plentiful flow of cash. Courtesy of organisations like CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), Watney’s Red Barrel became shorthand for the extortionately priced yet wholly unremarkable (if not always terrible) concoctions one could expect from companies perceived as too big to care about the quality of their products.

Overall, the relationship between breweries and pubs was less comparable to ‘aristocratic’ noblesse oblige and more akin to the terror of mobsters and strongmen, whose promise of security wore thin as they threatened pub owners with financial ruin should they defy their heavy-handed demands. In Hobbesian terms, they were demanding obedience from people they were increasingly disinterested in protecting. This state of affairs created a seismic reaction which would change the trajectory of Britain’s pub and brewing industry, albeit not necessarily for the better; a reaction not from the market, but from the state.


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With Friends Like These…

“We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

Lord Palmerston’s famous adage is typically divorced from its context, especially when used in discussions regarding Britain’s foreign policy, or lack thereof. Delivered as part of a speech in the House of Commons in 1848, the then Foreign Secretary was responding to an argument put forward by one of his most consistent and outspoken opponents, Thomas Anstey, Irish Confederate MP for Youghal.

Over a decade after Poland’s incorporation into the Russian Empire, Anstey maintained intervention in support of the rebels, seeking to establish an independent Polish state, was both a feasible operation and a moral imperative which the government of the day – especially Palmerston, who was still foreign secretary during this period – absconded in favour of non-interference, despite previous suggestions to the contrary. According to Anstey, this amounted to, among other things, a betrayal of Poland and, by extension, their sympathetic ideals.

Accounting for the particular circumstances in which Palmerston was operating, primarily seeking a basic balance of power across the continent, maintaining a preference for less-absolutist models of government without a frothing desire to see them imposed at the drop of a hat, the essence of his shrewd foreign policy stems from the realisation there is no equivalence between interpersonal and international relations, due to the second-order consequences which come with maintaining such agreements:

“…When we are asked why the British Government have not enforced treaty rights in every case, my answer is, that the only method of enforcing them would have been by methods of hostility; and that I do not think those questions were questions of sufficient magnitude in their bearing on the interests of England, to justify any Government in calling on the people of this country to encounter the burdens and hazards of war for the purpose of maintaining those opinions.”

“It does not follow, when a Minister announces in Parliament an intention to perform a public act, that it is to be considered like a promise made to an individual, or by one private man to another, and that it is to be made a reproach to him if the intention be not carried out.”

Indeed, the maintenance of certain opinions under specific circumstances simply isn’t worth it. The opinions we value, whether written in parchment or spoken over the airwaves, and what we are prepared to do to maintain them, form the essence of our political loyalty. Unfortunately for many in Britain’s political class, even its nominally right-wing constituents, their political loyalty seems to lie with Israel. Berating any criticism or lack of enthusiasm as an act of betrayal, the British people are expected to view their interests as secondary to the interests of the Israeli government, all else being unthinkable.

However, much to their aggravation, Britain’s cooling support for Israel has only accelerated these past few days after a convoy of three vehicles, each displaying the World Central Kitchen (WCK) logo, was attacked whilst returning from a humanitarian mission to Gaza through a deconflicted zone; a route agreed with the knowledge and consent of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). The affected British nationals were working as private military contractors tasked with protecting the convoy and providing medical support. By all estimations, not exactly frothing Hamas-adjacent anti-semites motivated by Islamism or Palestinian nationalism. Worse still, the convoy contacted the IDF after the first vehicle was hit, but to no self-preserving avail.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Israelis has taken liberty with the lives of British nationals, although it’s perhaps the first instance in which the disregard of the Israeli government and its supporters has been made so blatant. The IDF’s chief of staff released a less-than-sincere-sounding apology, claiming the attack was an accident, which chef José Andrés, WCK’s director and co-founder, evidently didn’t find convincing, noting the attack took place over considerable distance, never mind in an area tightly controlled by the IDF.

Benjamin Netanyahu responded in a similar vein, stating occasional civilian casualties were part-and-parcel of war and the overarching mission to keep Israel safe. Whilst not technically untrue, it’s also part-and-parcel – even if not an iron law of reality – for states to alter their relations in accordance with their interests, often in unexpected ways; those who are allies one day are rivals the next. As such, I’m sure Netanyahu would be very understanding if Britain ceased all arms exports to Israel, especially if we had a few security concerns, so to speak.

The Israeli government’s sense of entitlement when it comes to Western support is hard to ignore. David Mencer, Israeli government spokesman and former director of Labour Friends of Israel, affectively stated Britain was obliged to continue supporting Israel as doing otherwise would constitute a betrayal of liberal democratic values. In Mencer’s own words: “You’ve got to take our side.”

Indeed, Britain had great sympathy for the Israelis following the attack on October 7th and a military response from Israel was thought to be expected and justified. It is essentially different to claim Britain has a moral and political responsibility to secure the existence of the Israeli state from its enemies, whatever that entails. In any case, this whole debacle suggests two things about Israel, both of which should inform the UK’s future relationship. Either Israel is too incompetent to be considered a reliable ally or too malicious to be considered an ally at all.

However, despite growing suspicion, mainstream criticism of the Israeli government and its agencies has yet to attach itself to the national interest or any loosely-related concept. Sir Alan Duncan’s comments on “pro-Israel extremism” at the highest echelons of government, citing the conduct of various ministers and politicians, resulted in accusations of anti-semitism and a near-immediate disciplinary inquiry from the Conservative Party. At first glance, this looks like one of several increasingly confident pockets of dissent at the heart of the establishment. In reality, it’s the more puritanical believers in the liberal rules-based international order pointing out the internal contradictions of the status quo.

The likes of Lord Dave and Sir Alan aren’t posturing against Israel out of ‘realpolitik’; they aren’t aligning against the Israeli government for nationalist reasons, but for internationalist ones. In their mind, Britain should distance itself from Israel for the sake of conforming to international law to a greater extent than it already does; it has very little to do with a state being so entwined with a foreign government that it can barely condemn attacks on its own citizens, undermining the most basic interest of any modern state: the protection of its people.

At bottom-level, their understanding is an extension of their bizarre idea of domestic affairs. Parliament amending and breaking the law are one in the same; as an entity, law is stagnant and cannot be ‘constitutionally’ changed, at least not to any political degree. Likewise, the breaking of treaties, for whatever reason, is a violation of international law and therefore necessarily bad. Alas, just as men must tear muscle to build more to gain bodily strength, states must tear laws and treaties to create new ones to gain political strength, at home and abroad.

This line of thought is straightforward and popular enough. In fact, it may explain some of the strongest support for Israel among certain sections of the public; older, Conservative and Reform-voting types with the Union Jack and the Star of David in their Twitter bio.

Accounting for the obvious fact many use support for Israel as proxy for domestic concerns pertaining to the rapid growth of Britain’s Muslim population, doubling as an implicit anti-racist credential by aligning with a historically-persecuted minority group, I suspect a considerable amount of Israelophilia among Britain’s old can be attributed to Mossad’s response to the 1972 Munich Massacre; a 20-year global hunt for Black September soberly titled Operation Wrath of God. Their first impression of Israel, as portrayed by a sensationalist mass-media machine at the height of an international event, is that of a rabidly nationalist state which spares no expense when it comes to pursuing its goal and eradicating its enemies.

The fact Israel didn’t catch the main culprit of the massacre is of secondary importance, what matters is the will and perception of the Israelis was evidently more attractive than whatever the British state was doing. At this time, Britain was enduring some of the worst years of its post-war history, encumbered with economic stagnation, social unrest, and an impotent political class with no perceivable willpower or solution. Sound familiar? As many will recall, similar flickers of admiration were visible following the early response of Israel to the October 7th attack, reigniting a love for a certain determination which our own foreign policy lacks.

Of course, this only accounts for the inclinations of a broadly defined, misguided but well-intentioned demographic of everymen. The political fetishism of Israel among Britain’s centre-right commentariat and policymakers (literal fetishism in some cases) defies any comparable justification. Outside of building the largest possible electoral coalition against Islamism, it seems to be a bizarre fixation.

In short, condemning the actions of Israel committed against our country may feel like a condemnation of the type of politics many of us desire, but it isn’t. As a matter of fact, the opposite is true: it is one of many steps required towards the realisation of a sovereign, self-interested foreign policy.

Palmerston was right, there is no fundamental equivalence between interpersonal and international relations, but there is one similarity worth remembering: trust is the basis of all relations. We trust based on our perceptions of others, our experiences with them and others like them; we make informed guesses, leaps in the dark, as to whether or not we should make ourselves open and vulnerable for the purposes of co-operation and friendship. If our knowledge of another changes, it impacts our ability to trust them. Sometimes this strengthens trust, sometimes it weakens it, and if trust is weakened to such an extent, whether chipped away by routine transgressions or destroyed outright by a single, deeply callous act, one is forced to reconsider their relations.

This is true of both people and states, and following the most severe form of disregard from our so-called ally, after all we felt and done for them, without expectation of reimbursement or lavish praise, it is time we reconsider our relationship with Israel; not towards Palestine, but to our own, independent national interest. They haven’t allowed our co-operation and friendship to disrupt the pursuit of their perpetual interests, it’s about time we do the same.


Photo Credit.

On Conservatism and Art

A few weeks ago, another tweet claiming that it was impossible for conservatives to make art made the rounds of Twitter. Like too many in the mainstream culture, its sender erroneously assumed that because art inherently involves edgy innovation, and since conservatives categorically hate and/or fear both extremes and change, art must be the obvious property of the left. The thread received enough attention that I don’t need to invite more here. The Mallard hosted a Space on the topic—not necessarily on whether its message had merit (quote threads were rife with examples contradicting it, from Dostoevsky to Dali to Stevie Ray Vaughan), but rather to discuss the question of how conservatives could most effectively make art. 

Of course, among other topics we discussed the relationship between art and politics. A point made by many was the fact that, when discussing art and conservatism one should at least attempt to be clear about their terms. Furthermore, as mentioned in the conversation by Jake Scott, one must differentiate between political conservatism and metaphysical conservatism; the confusion of the two has, as the above stereotype shows, led to much confusion on the subject of conservatism and art that, so far as I can, I will attempt to nuance here. 

A refrain one hears, usually from activists on the left, is that all art is political. Such assertions are often met with frustration, generally from convervatives but also from people not explicitly on the right but who just want to be left alone when it comes to politics (and who, for such a response, are subsequently branded as right-wing by those who interpret all of life through an unconditional, against-if-not-actively-for ideology). However, the former are not wrong; all art can be interpreted as political—because all art is metaphysical.

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, art is, among other things, a concretization of abstract values. When one looks at a painting, listens to a song, takes in a sculpture, walks through a building, or reads through a novel, one is engaging with the values that the artist has given a local habitation and a name (as always, Shakespeare said it best—MND V.1); this necessarily involves, though it need not be fully bound to, the artist’s metaphysical worldview.  

Consider the two literary schools that dominated the nineteenth century and that can generally be placed within Western culture’s pendulum-like sway between the Platonic and Aristotelian: Romanticism and Naturalism. A Romantic whose work assumes that there are things higher than the material world that give this life an infinite meaning will create very different art from a Naturalist who believes the material world is all that exists and that any attempt to say differently is an artifice that will unintentionally or cynically mislead people into accepting suffering as a value. Nothing in these examples is overtly political, but one can see (indeed, we’ve had over a century of seeing) the different politics that would come from each view. This is because politics, as an expansion upon the more fundamental realm of ethics, begins with metaphysical premises from which the rest flow. Different directional degrees will lead maritime navigators to very different locations; how much more will different primary assumptions about the nature of reality and humans’ place in it?

Let’s look at an example from an author who was cited in that thread as a conservative: Dostoevsky. Rather than counter the rising atheist-socialist egotism of mid-nineteenth-century Russia with a political textbook (which, granted, would have been banned under the Tsar’s censors, who eschewed all explicitly political works—hence why the Russian novel had to take on so many roles), Dostoevsky depicts and undermines the burgeoning philosophy in the character of Crime and Punishment’s Rodion Raskalnikov. 

However, though the ideas in debate had (and are still having) political effects, Dostoevsky is not merely speaking politics in Crime and Punishment. He understood that politics was a function of one’s primary assumptions about reality—about one’s metaphysics—and their effects on one’s individual psychology. He also recognized, as Raskalnikov’s unconventional bildung shows, that one’s stated politics may actually conflict with the metaphysics underlying their beliefs. Hence, for all Rodion’s stated atheistic egotism, he finds himself preventing a woman from committing suicide, giving all his spare cash to those with less than he, and being fascinated with the downtrodden but resilient (because Christlike) Sonia. 

In Crime and Punishment and his other masterpieces, Dostoevsky juxtaposes the new generation’s radical ideas not against other ideas (i.e. on the radicals’ terms) but against the background of the broader Orthodox-Christian Russian psyche. Raskalnikov’s working out of the contradiction between his would-be Napoleon complex and his subconscious worldview (if not the fabric of reality at large—Dostoevsky rarely simplifies the distinction between the two) mimics the author’s own similar progression not only from a socialistic politic to one more consistent with his deeper Orthodox convictions but, in his view, one from madness to sanity. 

While to read Dostoevsky solely through a political lens is to not read him at all, his writing does point to the inherent relationship between an artist and the politics of his or her historical context. The norms, laws, and cultural debates of a given generation are interconnected with the art then produced, which can reinforce, undermine, or, in the case of most pre-2010s consumer art, quite simply inhabit them (which, true to form, the aforementioned leftist activist would accuse of being a complacent and complicit reinforcement). 

However, as this political layer is often based in the times, it usually passes away with them. In the coming Christmas season, few people will read A Christmas Carol with Social Darwinism in mind, though Dickens was, in part, critiquing that contemporaneous viewpoint in Ebeneezer Scrooge. Perhaps works like Dickens’s Carol were necessary to ensure Social Darwinism did not succeed—that is, perhaps their politics served the purpose intended by their authors. Nonetheless, today A Christmas Carol is virtually useless, politically (at least, for Dickens’s immediate polemical purposes), which is the beginning of a work’s infinite usefulness as art. What is left is the more general story that, for all intents and purposes, made modern Christmas. Contrary to what politivangelicals and literature majors who read through a new historicist lens (*raises hand*) might try to maintain, this is not a lessening but an enriching; it is the separation of the transient from the enduring—of the metaphysical from the physical. 

One implication of this view of art as concretized metaphysics, and one which was mentioned in our Space conversation, is that not all art that labels itself “art” qualifies as art. If the explanation of a piece contains more discernible meaning (i.e. is bigger) than the piece itself—that is, if no values have been concretized so as to be at least generally recognizable—then, sorry, it’s not art (or if it is, it’s not concretizing the values its creator thinks it is). Often the makers of such “art” believe the paramount aspect of a piece must be its radical message—the more disruptive and cryptic, the better; this conveniently offers the maker a pretext to skip out on, if not directly subvert, style and aesthetic skill, to say nothing of selectivity. It goes without saying that this is a major part of the oft-lamented degradation of aesthetics in Western culture, from “high art,” to architecture, to animation. Why devote rigor to style and skill when the point is to signal that one aligns with the correct message?

By the way, this merits a general exhortation: if you don’t like a piece of art (a building, a sculpture, a Netflix series, etc), it might not be because you, rube that you are, have no taste or understanding; it might be because it’s simply a pile of shit—which, it bears mentioning, has been tried to be passed off as art. You are under no obligation to concede the inferiority complex such pieces try to sell you in their gnostic snake oil. Because the point of art is to communicate abstract human values, one does not need a degree in art, nor in philosophy, to understand and enjoy good art. Indeed, contrary to the elitism assumed in modern art taste, it may be the mark of good art that the average person can understand and enjoy it without too much explanation; such a work will have fulfilled art’s purpose of bodying forth the forms of things unknown but which are nonetheless universal.

The unintentional defaulting or the intentional subverting of the role of aesthetics in art by the modern and postmodern culture unwittingly reveals a possible door for conservatives who wish to make art. Rather than playing into the stereotype by simply making reactionary art with explicitly opposite meanings, “conservative art” (or, more preferably, conservatives who simply want to make good art) must begin with a return to aesthetic rigor. Just as the early church’s response to heresies was not to accept the premises of the heresies’ mind-body split but, rather, to restore the body-mind-spirit unity depicted in the Gospel and the Trinity, so the current response to artistic heresies—which involve a similar, if not the very same, split—is to reunite the physical and metaphysical. 

We must not ignore the messages of our art, but we should allow them to follow the literally more immediate role of the aesthetic experience. Indeed, we should seek to develop enough skill in conveying abstract themes and ideas through our medium such that little explanation is necessary. As conservatives, especially, we do not need to maneuver things so our audience takes away a certain message. Either the values we are trying to capture will speak for themselves, or we will learn that we need more practice. Above all, unless knowingly engaging in polemics, we should not (or at least try not to) approach art as a sermon. Doing so runs the risk of proving too much, besides turning off audiences who have probably had enough messaging and rhetoric. Instead, use your ethos, pathos, and logos to present their corresponding virtues of Goodness, Beauty, and Truth, and let the aesthetic experience stand as the message. As Jake Scott recently tweeted, underscoring his January article cited above, when making art, forget politics—seek to create heritage.

As always, it’s the conservative’s task to take his or her advice first. While I do currently have a polemical novel in pre-publication process with a clear message against the canceling in academia of Shakespeare and the tradition he represents, in A California Kid in King Henry’s Court, my serial novel for The Mallard’s print magazine, I have tried to focus solely on the aesthetic experience of the story. 

The title is, of course, a throwback to A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain’s comedy of an American who, having been knocked on his head in a factory, awakens in Arthurian England and subsequently seeks to industrialize the chivalric country, all the while becoming, himself, as much an object of Twain’s satire as medieval chivarly. My semi-autobiographical serial novel takes an opposite tack: a kid from California, having derived from Tolkien and Shakespeare a love for England’s literary past, attends modern Oxford and finds it far different from what he expects. The joke of each episode is usually on the fictional narrator, Tuck. However, though I’m a far less subtle satirist than Twain (really, my work is parody, not satire, since I am starting from a loving desire to enjoy the book’s subject, rather than a satirical desire to debase it), I’ve attempted to do something similar to Twain: unlock the dramatic and comic potential of Americans’ English past while still poking fun at elite pretensions, whether those of the narrator whose knowledge of literary references is irrelevant outside of academia, or of a modern England that keeps shattering the narrator’s romanticized ideas of Anglo tradition. 

While, beneath the parody, one of A California Kid’s thematic goals is to explore the deeper relevance of the English literary tradition, my main objective has simply been to make readers laugh—which, taking a cue from Monty Python’s discussions of comedy, starts with making myself laugh. If readers walk away from the episodes appreciating Shakespeare or Tolkien, so much the better, but it is only a secondary end to the primary one of telling a hopefully worth-reading story. 

Over the past half-century the postmodern anti-tradition has become the predominant tradition. The task of breaking open a way forward from the metaphysical assumptions of that structure—of liberating people from them—is now the job of conservatives, which, yes, does include everyone who does not want to wholly jettison, deconstruct, or “decolonize” the past, however politically or philosophically they self-identify. However, our goal should not be to merely preserve the past against the current attack and atrophy. The left’s view of art as a vehicle for political messaging can be traced back over 150 years to, among other sources, Nikolay Chernyshevsky, literary rival of Dostoevsky and writer of the utopian polemical novel What is to Be Done? As I tell my US History students, if you want to know why a generation pursues certain politics, look at what they were reading twenty or thirty years before; according to Dostoevsky biographer Joseph Frank, Chernyshevsky’s novel was the favorite book of a young Vladimir Lenin. 

Conservatives must take a similarly long view of art. We must strive, as much as we are able, to make works that will last not just for a given generation, but for several. Yes, we must look to the works and artists whose work has aesthetically endured and whose metaphysics have transcended their own times—and then we must create our own. The messages, insofar as they are necessary, will follow, the greatest of which being that the aesthetic experience is the point of the art. This has always been the point, not because of any inherent politics or lack thereof in art, but because it is the nature of art to simultaneously look backward and forward in its concretization and preservation of values. The same can be said of conservatism, which I take as a sign that we, rather than the left, are best equipped to produce the future of art. Like our philosophy, ours is not simply an art of return, but of resurrection and legacy.


Photo Credit.

Cycling Around Japan

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

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

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

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

So why is Cycling around Japan different? 

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

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

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


Photo Credit.

Let’s Talk About Sex (Work)

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

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

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

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

So, what is it really?

The Whos and the Whats

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

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

Entry into prostitution also varies.

Types of Legislation

There are five types of legislation regarding prostitution.

Legalisation

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

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

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

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

Decriminalisation

New Zealand, Belgium, New South Wales and Northern Territory

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

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

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

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

Abolitionism

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

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

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

Neo-Abolitionism

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

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

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

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

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

As of 2023, prostitutes are taxed on their income.

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

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

Prohibitionism

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

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

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

Arguments For and Against

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

For:

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

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

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

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

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

Against:

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

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

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

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

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

What Do We Do?

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

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

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

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


Photo Credit.

Beware The British Dream

‘Dying societies accumulate laws like dying men accumulate remedies.

– Nicolás Gómez Dávila

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Photo Credit.

On the Alabama IVF Ruling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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