An elegy to murdered England

Over the last two months I have been saying a terrible thing I had never said before, that Britain, our Mother Country, is dead. I always add that this is so far a spiritual death, which is potentially reversible, not a physical death, which is irreversible. But, I’ve nevertheless insisted, Britain, as she now is, is dead.

This is a view for which James Wolcott in his blog at Vanity Fair thinks me some kind of weirdo.

But in Monday’s Daily Express, Leo McKinstry, one of the best conservative-leaning columnists in Britain,—or, rather, in Englandwrites of England as though she has already died:

ST GEORGE’S Day should be an occasion for patriotic celebration.

But for those of us who love this land, today has the tone of a funeral wake.

The England that we cherished has disappeared. We can only raise our glasses to the memory of a once great country whose spirit has been broken by her own rulers, its fabric torn apart by social revolution.

That’s only the start. The rest of the column is a soul-wrenching, almost unbearably painful hymn to the passing of the country—the real country, the real England, not the America-type collection of political abstractions known as “Britain”—that McKinstry, an immigrant from Northern Ireland, has deeply loved but now feels he has lost. What he says is ineffably sad and tragic and beyond commentary, except for one point. McKinstry speaks of immigration as a leading, probably the leading cause of the death of Britain, but he still fails to criticize immigration policy itself or call for any changes in it. How disheartening that even a true “conservative of the heart” like McKinstry, at this late stage of the civilizational disaster brought on by liberalism, is still unwilling to break the liberal bands asunder and cast away their cords from him.

I reproduce this beautiful article in its entirety below. (I am not reproducing the readers’ comments, but you should read them as well.)

Monday April 23,2007
By Leo McKinstry

ST GEORGE’S Day should be an occasion for patriotic celebration.

But for those of us who love this land, today has the tone of a funeral wake.

The England that we cherished has disappeared.We can only raise our glasses to the memory of a once great country whose spirit has been broken by her own rulers, its fabric torn apart by social revolution.

The words of that stirring wartime song There’ll Always Be An England have acquired a tragic poignancy. For there is no longer a real England—not the England that was once renowned for its gentleness and humour, its decency and sense of history, its rich language and inspiring landscape.

The relics of our past are still around us—such as the monarchy or the village green—but they have been robbed of all meaning and vitality, becoming little more than heritage landmarks in a place without a soul.

We are becoming a mass of conflicting minorities

The country of Shakespeare echoes to the babble of a thousand foreign tongues. The land of Elgar is held hostage by the thud of the rapper’s boom-box. The stiff upper lip has been replaced by the wail of victimhood. A land that used to be known for its lack of crime is now scourged by gang violence, shootings and stabbings.

The English traits of modesty and moderation have been lost to a tidal wave of extremism, terrorism, obscenity and cruelty. Our political system, once the least corrupt in the world, is riddled with ballot-box fraud. A national sense of belonging has given way to mutual distrust.

As an outsider but a passionate Anglophile I have been disturbed by these changes to England’s character. I was born and brought up in Northern Ireland but to me England seemed like the promised land—a feeling that was reinforced by family holidays across the water.

As a wide-eyed youth I loved everything about England—from the metallic hiss of a London Underground train to the tender ringing of the bells in a Dorset abbey. It seemed a world so different from the bigotry, insecurity and ethnic strife of my native Belfast.

In my mid-20s I fulfilled my dream of starting a new life in England and settling here only strengthened my devotion to my adopted country.

For my love of England was inspired not just by those icons of English life such as warm beer and cricket but also by other images which resonated for me: a Suffolk wood on a October afternoon, the ravens croaking in the leafless trees; a Jack Russell terrier bounding through the daffodils in an Essex park; the sun catching the dramatic skyline of London on a summer’s morning.

But in recent years my attachment to England has faded. My sense of connection, so powerful 20 years ago, has become frayed. I increasingly feel as if I am living in a foreign land, having nothing in common with large numbers of my fellow citizens—not even a language or a shared set of values.

When I go to parts of London, Manchester or Birmingham I am struck by a sense of being in the Third World, with all its attendant chaos and tension. This is not the England that I once loved.

Yet I am told by Government and civic institutions that I am not allowed to harbour such dangerous sentiments. Instead, I should be overjoyed at the changing face of our country. In the twisted logic of the modern British state, my devotion to England—the reason I settled here—is a cause for suspicion. I should be embracing cultural diversity, not clinging to an England that is being systematically demolished.

To me this is a morally reprehensible argument. If you genuinely love something then it is grotesque to be asked to celebrate its demise. Furthermore, the demand for change only ever works one way. The indigenous population is constantly urged to adapt to the ways of migrants, who seem allowed to import their lifestyles, customs and languages wholesale into Britain without any official challenge or disapproval.

Thanks to the twin malign forces of mass immigration and multi-culturalism,the scale of England’s transformation is alarming. Though the collapse of our borders has made records unreliable, it is probable that more than 700,000 immigrants are arriving here every year.

Before the end of this decade the majority of London’s residents will be from non-white ethnic groups. Other cities will soon follow. On even a conservative estimate, the indigenous population of England will be in a minority before the end of this century. And the pace of change is being accelerated by the ruthlessly enforced official ideology of cultural diversity, which holds that any manifestation of traditional patriotism is akin to racism.

It is often said that Labour’s policy on immigration has been a failure. But for the ruling metropolitan elite it has been a huge success. The promotion of influxes of Third World and Eastern European migrants has been the central part of a deliberate strategy to change England for ever.

Full of loathing for their own country, Left-wingers recognised that they could not bring about their revolution by economic means after the downfall of communism. So instead they have cynically used mass immigration as a battering ram against old England—turning this once proud nation into little more than a landmass full of conflicting minorities.

Rupert Brooke wrote in his 1914 poem The Soldier of “some corner of a foreign field, that is forever England.” Almost a century later the foreign fields are now filling up almost every corner of England itself.

- end of initial entry -

Karen W. writes from England:

Sadly this article is true. The country has been betrayed by successive traitorous politicians for the last 100 years. First they liberalised laws regarding nationality and then they liberalised laws regarding immigration. The first Mosque was built in London in the 1920s and since then, the ease with which aliens have been allowed to gain citizenship and immigrate here has been the main factor in the destruction of the country. Of the two errors, the granting of citizenship with political rights is the biggest disaster. Immigrants without rights could be thrown out and immigration without the chance of getting citizenship and benefits would be very much less attractive. The whole thing was planned from the start.

Parts of London (and even most of it) are looking Third World, totally alien and frightening. As usual McKinstry offers no solutions and without suggesting courses of action this is just depressing.

Howard Sutherland writes:

Leo McKinstry tells it like it is. As an American of English (and Scottish) blood who lived happily in England in years past, I too was moved by McKinstry’s evocation of what the English are throwing away. (“… But they were cruel, they treated her [England, that is] like a fool; they threw it all away“—with apologies to Mr. Zimmerman.) Like you, I was disappointed McKinstry wouldn’t say anything about what the English must do to retrieve England. By NuLab British standards, he is already so far gone in political correctness I can’t see what he has to lose by calling for an end to immigration. Maybe as an Irishman he thinks he shouldn’t be telling the English their business—a very un-Irish attitude if true. (I worked in London with many Irish lawyers who had qualified in England. Most were women, and all had an insufferable attitude of moral superiority vis-à-vis the English. They were in London for bigger paycheques and better nightlife, not for love of the Sceptr’d Isle.)

I took your advice and read the Express readers’ comments. All agreed with McKinstry to some degree and all lament the loss of English England. But only two of fifteen would suggest reducing immigration or removing hostile aliens. Even those two offered no concrete suggestions about what to do. Most seemed content to moan despairingly and blame Blair. The commenters’ dismayed passivity and their wretched English grammar and syntax combined to depress me even more than McKinstry already had. If this is the level at which the good guys are operating in England, the bad guys are going to win in a walk.

LA replies:

Well, what did McKinstry give those readers to work with of a positive nature? While it is legitimate to express what England was and what it has lost, which McKinstry did eloquently, and that was why I praised the article, for him to give England up for lost, instead of fighting for it, is wrong. It amounts to crying in one’s beer.

Mr. Sutherland writes of the commenters: “But only two of fifteen would suggest reducing immigration or removing hostile aliens. Even those two offered no concrete suggestions about what to do. Most seemed content to moan despairingly and blame Blair.”

That’s “conservatism” in a nutshell: moaning about what liberalism has done, but offering no alternative. Why do these “conservatives” have no alternative to liberalism? Because they are liberals themselves, disliking certain consequences of liberalism while still accepting its basic premises. Thus their dislike of liberalism, their mourning over how liberalism has destroyed England, is an unprincipled exception to liberalism, meaning that it is an anti-liberal attitude that is not backed up by an anti-liberal principle. Their supposed anti-liberalism is no more than a feeling. It is not a concept that is to liberalism as not-A is to A.

So there’s the politics of the West. On the left—those who actively promote and celebrate the destruction of Western countries. On the “right”—those who grieve the destruction of Western countries, but have not a single idea of how to oppose or reverse that destruction, because they too are liberals.

Only a new politics, a truly anti-liberal conservatism, can save the West.

And, as I always add by way of qualification so as not to frighten people, “anti-liberal” does not mean the elimination of all ideas and values in our culture and politics that are called liberal. It means the toppling of the ideology and the regime of modern liberalism, which makes non-discrimination the ruling value of society.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 24, 2007 01:47 AM | Send

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