Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Why traditions die

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I found the other day that a friend of mine, who has a Ph.D. in a subject I feel is not quite a real subject, Political Science, had not heard of Gibbon or the Decline and Fall. This is a man who wanted to be in the Commons and who would certainly be much more intelligent than most Members and not only among his intellectually undistinguished party, the Liberal Democrats. 

I told my friend once that for me the two desiderata in politics were freedom and tradition and he said only freedom mattered to him. I now realise that tradition does not matter to him because he does not know what tradition means. Or know about anything much that happened before 1945. He considers George Orwell an old writer. 

Our rulers should be marinated in sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth century books, in Chaucer and preferably Latin and Greek, not just to enlarge their minds but to give them a foothold outside their era and to let them understand what tradition means - English, British, European traditions. instead we are led mostly by people who think everything that happened in the past was wrong and only our own age is moral and just. That probably includes a lot of people like Nick Clegg (why can't I call him Nicholas, since I have no wish to be chummy with him?) who were expensively educated and should know better.

Here is an example of lack of concern for tradition, by a writer I enjoy, Suzanne Moore. This article makes me feel like the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact made Guy Crouchback, in Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy, feel: here is the enemy in full view, the modern world in arms. 

She writes:
"I live in London but I leave it often enough to know that parts of the country are pretty white, enough to scare my "white" children because they are just not used to such a monoculture and find it disturbing, unreal and, to be frank, lacking."  

Suzanne Moore speaks here for the modern British Left, but only for part of it. Others on the Left have accused the article of being racist. As Americans say, go figure. 

She also talks about:
"the ludicrous spectacle of the Tories offering gay marriage as a signifier of modernity. This might be more credible if it came from a government that has any sort of drive to equality in its other polices."
The Tories surely seem very keen on sexual equality, I'd have thought. They are talking about having quotas for women on boards of directors. We are a long way from Burke or even J.S. Mill. We have come a long way too from Churchill suggesting in Cabinet, in January 1955:
Keep England white. That would be a good election slogan.
Mono-cultures are bad, it seems. Personally, I love Romania for being mono-cultural but I like traditional societies, whether mono-cultural or otherwise. However, the long established multiracial societies have become mono-cultures while the old mono-cultures become multiracial. I mourn the Constantinople and Vienna of 1900 but they were ethnically cleansed.

Traditionalism is deadly, tradition is the source of growth. Waves of migration in very large numbers dissolve tradition in a way that is arbitrary rather than organic.

10 comments:

  1. There's lots of diversity in England outside of greater London.

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  2. Constantinople and Vienna were not multiracial in the contemporary sense. And I can think of nothing further from a traditional society than fin-de-siecle Vienna!

    Homogeneous cultures are the only healthy cultures.

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  3. For me, a very interesting case has been the Ottoman Empire, in which many ethnicities/peoples survived and had the right to live separately.

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  4. There's plenty of legitimate diversity in England without resorting to promiscuous immigration.

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  5. The Ottoman system of millets is not really a very good example in my view and was very repressive in practice.

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  6. In the end of her article, Moore says that the institutions haven't changed from being composed of the elite's white males. I wonder - is it possible that women and minorities simply aren't attracted to politics but the Left fails to see that it's in the nature and instead think it's just a leftover of the fear from "white privilege" and the patriarchy? Minorities are interested to have white British who defend their interests and women - to have men who defend them in parliament, and they don't seem to want to become really militant.

    I also wonder - if these institutions change (naturally or through social engineering), will the policies really change? Women and ethnic non-British don't seem to be to the left of Labour. And also, they will all behave *like white men* if they one day get to the institutions. Or maybe the UK will become less soft-totalitarian and more mob-rule (not completely, but just less order), but then mob-rule doesn't often last for long.

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  7. In the end of her article, Moore says that the institutions haven't changed from being composed of the elite's white males. I wonder - is it possible that women and minorities simply aren't attracted to politics but the Left fails to see that it's in the nature and instead think it's just a leftover of the fear from "white privilege" and the patriarchy? Minorities are interested to have white British who defend their interests and women - to have men who defend them in parliament, and they don't seem to want to become really militant.

    I also wonder - if these institutions change (naturally or through social engineering), will the policies really change? Women and ethnic non-British don't seem to be to the left of Labour. And also, they will all behave *like white men* if they one day get to the institutions. Or maybe the UK will become less soft-totalitarian and more mob-rule (not completely, but just less order), but then mob-rule doesn't often last for long.

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  8. Cannot institutions change over generations not in ten years? should it be so easy for one party in power for 13 years to change an entire country? does this question even need asking? It seems it does.

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  9. Change, including demographic change, is an inherent part of the human condition. But it should come naturally, and not be forced down the throat of a population as part of a social engineering-project. Nor should change seek to undermine the traditions that form an important anchor of human societies.

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  10. There was pretty little demographic change in England between 1100 and 1940- some change of course.

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