I’ve been reading Melanie Phillips’s Londonistan and so far it is excellent. This is a seriously intelligent and seriously alarming book about the cultural and moral catastrophe that has overtaken Britain in particular and the West in general. What is most remarkable is that what Phillips presents here is not a liberal critique of Islam and of Western surrender, and it is not a neoconservative critique. It is a traditionalist critique. Over and over Phillips says that what is threatened by Islamization is the British nation, its majority culture, its established Christian religion, its Judeo-Christian morality, and Western civilization. When she mentions our “values,” it is not just liberal values, but the values of the historic British nation, including but not limited to its liberal values, of which she speaks. Furthermore, she describes Muslim immigration (a phrase she does not qualify) as one of two “lethal” developments in contemporary Britain, the other being the decadence of British society itself.

Needless to say, these are not themes and ideas familiar from Phillips’s columns, where she has emphasized the idea that Islamization threatened British liberalism. It is as though, when she wrote the book, she adopted a conceptual framework and vocabulary different from any she had used before, perhaps as a result of reading traditionalist conservative writers. However, I’m not sure if she herself yet realizes the significance of her new traditionalist vocabulary and its incompatibility with the liberal vocabulary she has continued to use since the book was published, for example when she criticized a proposal to end and reverse Muslim immigration into Britain, on the basis that Britain is a “liberal pluralist society.” Phillips cannot go on defending the primacy of the historic British majority culture, as she does repeatedly in this book, and keep describing Britain as a liberal pluralist society. If it is the latter, then it has no right to a majority culture. This is a contradiction in Phillips’s thought that she is going to have to work out.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 28, 2006 09:41 AM | Send

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