Correction on Enoch Powell’s immigration speech

What I said in a recent entry about Enoch Powell’s speech was incorrect and unjust. I had not read the speech in several years and did not remember it well. When I wrote the entry I was thinking not about the speech per se, but about the idea that this speech, far from initiating an effective anti-immigration movement in Britain, seemed to set off a reaction that led to the silencing of any criticism of immigration and the present extinguishing of Britain; and I was asking myself why that was. My general point about the counterproductive nature of an immigration restrictionist politics based on emotion not argument still holds, but it does not apply to Powell’s speech, which is well thought out, entirely sound, and a stirring call for Britain to save itself from national suicide.

This still leaves the question: given the soundness of the speech, was there any follow-through? Did he pursue these same vital themes in a series of speeches? Did other politicians join him? My point is: the speech could and should have sparked a movement seeking to do exactly what Powell was calling for: the end of Commonwealth immigration, and the encouragement of the departure of many recent immigrants. But it doesn’t seem as though any such movement took shape, and so the arena was left to the “anti-racists” of the Establishment. Was it because other politicians were afraid? But Powell became very popular as a result of the speech. Still, there are not many people who are willing to be called racists. At the same time, if people thought that Powell’s position was correct and necessary for national survival, fear of the charge of racism would not have silenced them to the extent it did. Which suggests that fear was not the main factor squelching immigration restrictionism, but a lack of true belief in it.

And leads me back to a modified version of the thesis in my earlier blog entry. The apparent lack of follow-through may have been due to the fact that while Powell recognized the catastrophe attendant on the coming racial de-Europeanization of Britain, he did not explain in sufficient depth why this was a problem. This made it easy for liberal politicians to say he was just expressing irrational racist fears of blacks and other non-whites. Ok, then Powell and others needed to answer such attacks by elaborating the argument further, showing in objective terms how the changing racial make-up of Britain would change Britain in a variety of negative and irreversible ways and why it was morally right to stop this and reverse it. A single speech was not enough. What was needed was a movement. And what I am suggesting here—and this is an informed guess, not knowledge—is that no one came up with the needed effective arguments against the liberal position. Simply saying that “non-whites are changing our country” was not enough, especially in a country that, like all modern Western countries, was moving toward abandoning its very sense of being a country.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 05, 2007 08:00 PM | Send

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