The following text is a transcript by V. S. of part of Jonathan Bowden’s interview at the Union Jack Club in London on Saturday, November 21, 2009, after his famous lecture/performance on Punch and Judy. The title is editorial.
Jonathan Bowden: Right. So, it’s sort of like a Star Chamber, isn’t it? Oh dear, they’re all waiting, hungry to feed upon the carcass.
Q: So, Jonathan, why aren’t you a liberal?
JB: I think, basically, because liberalism is not a three-dimensional view of life. I don’t think it’s at all deep or at all sincere.
The real reason is quite personal, actually, because my mother died when I was 16, and was insane before she died, and it struck me that the ways in which people would talk about this and deal with anything profound or anything tragic or anything real or that punctures through the superficial mask that people wear about things in our society now, was so trivial and materialistic and silly that I couldn’t go along with it.
And so, my first views, even the liberal sort, were a reaction against the tendentious propositions that liberalism enfolds: everything’s material; all people are equal; all lives are equally important; tragedy is largely fictional; “grin and bear it.” Do you remember the Panglossian sort of attitude that you get in Voltaire’s Candide? You know, everything’s always for the best and this sort of utterly trivial and, in one sense, irreligious attitude towards life just sort of nauseated and appalled me. I thought that there has to be something better than this.
Q: Many people who aren’t liberals become communists, Marxists. You didn’t feel drawn towards those ideologies?
JB: No, because I’ve always believed in human inequality. I believe human inequality is the basis of life, but also the basis of morality, because I believe inequality is a moral force. The real division between the Left and Right is not about people who support socialized medicine or even much more harsh measures, if you like, or divisive measures like ethnicity or abortion or whatever. The real division, philosophically, is those who believe that equality, enforced or otherwise, is a moral good (broadly the general Left) and those who believe—and are often are too frightened to say so—that inequality is a moral good, which is what the philosophical Right really believes in.
Even the most moderate center-Right figure, the John Majors of this world, talk about freedom, opportunity. If you have opportunity, you’ll have inequality even in a Marxian system. So, although they’re frightened to mention the I-word, if you like, all Rightist movements from the most moderate to the most radical, right across the spectrum, believe that inequality is inescapable, is a fact, has to be lived through, has to be dealt with, and is actually the way things should be.
So, the idea that you can engineer society through radical shifts or change, so as to create more equality, is to me completely counter-propositional. I remember Trotsky once said, before he teamed up with Lenin again just prior to the Bolshevik coup—which is what it really was—that once socialism has been established, once there’s a reign of equality for all at the level of material subsistence and beyond (education, health, and other matters) there will be a Goethe on every street corner; he said there will be a Kant on every street corner; there’ll be a Strindberg on every corner. Notice all these more gentile, Caucasian cultural heroes. There will be one of these on every street corner.
That’s utter nonsense. Genius like that is against the grain, is largely hated while it’s alive, by many people, but revered after it’s gone. These people are extraordinarily difficult for others to get a handle on while they actually exist. They’re freaks of nature, sort of “special needs” the other way around. The idea that such an outcome could be pre-programmed by socially enforced engineering that presses down upon the difference between people rather than seeks to exalt is completely counter-propositional.
So, the moral ideas that lie behind Marxism and socialism, Left-democratic socialism, Left-liberalism, and so on as you come in from the ultra-Left to the center, never interested me.
Anarchism or individualistic ideas sort of, in a Nietzschean way, would interest me a bit more, but the idea of the moral goodness of equality never interested me at all.
So, Marxism and its offshoots would never be for me, although there is one area where I respect them and that’s their commitment to theory, their commitment, not to debate, but to ideas, and their belief that the world can be changed, and their seriousness of purpose, because all Tories in the world, and ninnies and fools, they never believed that these people are serious, they never believed that they were deadly serious in their humorlessness, in their ranting, in their dialectic, in what they wanted to enforce. They were completely serious, and the sort of “reactionary” view that they could be laughed at and scorned, which was largely the reaction to the 1960s for example, in certain respects, has been proved to be totally false. The cultural values are such that these people have taken over, and people who call themselves conservative are all at sea and don’t even know what’s happened.
Q: You yourself were a conservative for a while or at least were in the Conservative Party. Tell us about those times.
JB: There’s a two-party system in Britain. My view is it’s one party with two wings and a fulcrum, and the two wings (bourgeois proletarian, center-Left, center-Right, red and blue) switch around it. Nevertheless, from the south of England the bourgeois party of power, the mechanism of government, a semi-totalitarian power in parts of the southeast, is the Conservative Party, so I joined that and was attracted to things like the Monday Club on its Right wing.
The one thing I’ve noticed about that type of conservatism though is, as Revilo P. Oliver once said, “Conservatism is not enough.” And the problem with it is manifold. In the British tradition in particular, it’s very philistine; it’s very anti-intellectual; it’s a-theoretical; it’s pragmatic. It’s also quite afraid. It’s afraid of the doctrine of respectability. Tories are obsessed with being respectable, obsessed with being thought nice. It’s of no moment as far as I’m concerned. They’ve got a fear of the disapproval of their bourgeois peers which is semi-traumatic.
The center-Left would always use the ideas of the extreme Left even if it repudiates the politics. You can repudiate Leninism and the ideas of utter ruthlessness and the ends justify the means, and yet at the same time you can believe in radical socialist postulates, whereas the moderate Right is terrified, libertarianism aside, from using the ideas of the radical Right. I think that’s its great weakness, that it won’t even accept the ideas that would allow one to fight back, and that’s why they’ve been completely outmaneuvered and virtually culturally destroyed.
What’s left of intellectual conservatism now? It’s almost done. Michael Oakeshott and these sorts of people are a distant memory; Professor Maurice Cowling is dead; Scruton has partly fallen silent at least in terms of media exposure in comparison to when I was younger. Because, you see, if you were to confront this society now as a radical conservative–if such a thing is possible–you would have to use radical Right ideas, and they won’t go there. They won’t touch them, and they’re deeply frightened. Even if they put it in the form of Guillaume Faye, Alain de Benoist, or whatever. Even that is too much.
What will inevitably follow is that certainly the realm with ideas they’ve gone now, in a confused way, just sort of collapsed into the general liberal slough, and more radical forces will have to represent the sorts of views that you would have expected them to uphold in the past. But maybe it was always a fallacy to believe that they would uphold them.
Q: Why have they not fought back? Why have they had this problem with not accepting the ideas of the radical Right and using them?
JB: Too conformist, too bourgeois, too afraid, too unintellectual, too snobbish, too materially comfortable. All those sorts of views. Different for each individual within the spectrum, of course. Somebody else will always do it. Reversing many of the processes of decline will involve roughness and a degree of possible nastiness. Such politics will inevitably involve the working class and involve a large swathe of the population that they would rather not associate with, politicize in relation to. The whole point of much of their politics is in a sense to keep that group out of the political process to a degree. Therefore, to deal with the decline on their watch involves such radical reshaping of one’s mind that, in a way, they’re not up for it.
Q: Is it not also the case that cultural controllers, being at the Left, have got the means of demonizing them so much that they fear being isolated.
JB: Yes, there’s also that, but the idea of respectability is part and parcel of the avoidance of demonization. I think I once said in a talk that the Tory leader when I was born was Douglas-Home. You couldn’t imagine him being a member, no matter how honorary, of United Against Fascism. Cameron is alleged to be a member of United Against Fascism. I have no idea whether he is or not or whether it’s just a powerful media spin. Nevertheless, the very idea that he could even be thought of as a member of that group in comparison to conservative leaders of the past, even just for social reasons, is totally absurd. And that shows you that they’re riven with fear about the things which 50 years ago they would have regarded as normal and natural.
Q: Are there any conservative members, any conservative leaders, members of parliament that you met in your time with them who impressed you?
JB: Yes, there was some of that old British generation, partly because politics is generational, and before the war there was a generation of people who were around well into the ’60s; a few didn’t die until late in the ’70s; there’s a few around even into the early 1980s, but they were very old men then. Some people like Julian Amery and so on who would never have known me, although I attended meetings where he spoke back when I was a teenager and he was a very old man. Ronald Bell. These sorts of people. Amery’s an interesting man, related to Louis Amery, who wrote the six-volume biography of Joseph Chamberlain. They were quite close to Enoch Powell. John Amery, of course, was hanged for treason at the end of the war and was a member of his family. He invited Giorgio Almirante when Almirante was the leader of the Italian Social Movement over to the Tory conference once. That caused a bit of a stir. So, that element was there, but it was a dying element. It was essentially anti-communist, and the Cold War was raging, so it’s understandable. But they didn’t want to think out of the box.
Again, there’s an absence of radicalism in the thinking, undue concern with respectability and being thought to be on the right side, the view that if capitalism triumphs everything will be all right and the view that if Soviet Communism was defeated everything would be all right. You can see why many would think that, but also as things have turned out those were very, very shallow views, and the world that they really believed in has disappeared, because they were not prepared to think more radically about the world that they were in and the fact that it was changing all around them even when they were still middle-aged to early old age and could still be mentally youthful.
So, the death of conservatism is intellectual and moral death whether the center-Right here or Christian Democracy in Europe or any intellectuality within the Republican Party in the United States. It’s all part of a package. The center-Right is bereft and valueless. If Cameron could be honestly debated with, if such a thing is possible, what does he actually stand for above spinning and being a Tory Blair and managing the decline a bit more efficaciously than Brown?
Q: What’s your view of UKIP?
JB: Politically, it’s quite important. Ideologically, I despise UKIP, but politically it’s quite important because they’ve broken the middle class bloc. For many conservative, middle class southern English people in particular, voting UKIP is a radical gesture, and although many hardliners would sneer at that, for them it’s a truth. To break away from the blue to the purple and yellow is not insignificant.
UKIP’s divided into two sections as far as I can see. A half of them are Right-wing liberals who are libertarians, who are fanatically pro-market and pro-United States, who would like to leave the European Union and join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and would therefore really just swap one federation for another. Half of them are sympathetic to the far Right, often in a sort of bourgeois way, but they are. So, I think it’s half and half and you ought to take the half that is. If you can break them off you will get more populist far Right Euro-MPs, you will get much more influence, you will push further into the right flank of where the Tories were. You will also combine middle class votes with working class votes. So, they are part of the synthesis.
Q: How is that done? Could it be done?
JB: The middle class has to see people who are like themselves, and they will not vote for a working class movement in my opinion. It’s not so much that they want to see soft or reflexive or nice people, but they want to see people that they can identify with. My view is that as long as they’re not seen to be insane, how radical they are is less important.
Q: European countries have a far Right tradition, respectable far Right tradition, but Britain does not have this. Why, in your opinion, is this so?
JB: I think there is such a tradition, but it’s virtually got lost, and there was nothing really to continue it. In France, you have this range of intellectuals in a very radical environment. Don’t forget, these people either collaborated during the war with Vichy or did not, they were rather pure nationalists like Maurras, who stayed in his house and even the Resistance couldn’t guillotine him at the end of the war because he detested the Germans and didn’t collaborate. But most of them did collaborate and Robert Brasillach was guillotined for collaborating, and Drieu La Rochelle committed suicide for collaborating, and so on.
But the intellectual tradition in France survived partly because of a greater degree of intellectual radicalism. You have a culture that teaches philosophy from the age of 6, whereas most British people would be pushed to tell you what philosophy was. Therefore, there’s a degree to which you’re dealing with a different sort of culturalization. You also have extreme Leftists become extreme Rightists in a way that’s very rare in Britain.
It’s not an anti-intellectual or philistine culture at all. It’s just that it has a different attitude towards intellectuality. It privatized it a long time ago. Intellectuals do what they do over there in this little zone, and as long as they don’t cause trouble you can almost have as much freedom of speech as you want.
All of these laws that have been passed to prevent freedom of speech: if you put things in an abstract way, no one can touch you. But the masses don’t even know what you’re talking about and so you just talk to tiny little groups on your own. But that’s the definition of British intellectuality.
If you look at the British/English far Right tradition, you have this range of Americans at the early part of the 20th century who come over with the New English sensibility: Canadian-born Wyndham Lewis; you have Ezra Pound; you have T. S. Eliot. They’re largely literary figures, but you do have Raven Thomson, who’s a sort of fascistic theorist around Mosley; you have Mosley himself, who is quite a considerable theorist; you have people like Bill Hopkins after the war, who’s hardly known but is there and is known of inside the intelligentsia; you have the Right edge of the Angry Young Men phenomenon, which is a media created thing and is largely synthetic. But in some ways the tradition does sort of die out there. You have Henry Williamson on either side of the war. But after him there’s a gap, you see, because there’s no really coherent movement. You have the emergence of revisionist historians like David Irving. That’s true. David Irving was initially thought to have been Left-wing, of course, when Kimber published The Destruction of Dresden, because traditionally only Leftists would decry Allied activities in the war, you see, and that was actually quite a clever move by Irving as well. It was only later that people learned the “full horror,” allegedly.
But, yes, there is a gap. But then of course how many great intellectual conservatives are there? Oakeshott, Cowling, Scruton, a few sort of intermediate minds, a few literati, like the diarist Alan Clark. Most military historians are conservative, of course, because they’re slightly authoritarian psychologically and like the military. Even a moderate figure like Max Hastings, who’s made extensive work of Irving’s researches, of course, although that’s not that widely known. But there are enough people. It’s not many, admittedly. You’d fill about a shelf in terms of books, but not many.
But there is an intellectual tradition here. If there had been a lively discourse of that sort on the edge of the Conservative Party, there’d probably have been more. But many of them have hidden, they’ve denied what their views really were or they’ve gone from communism to clubland reaction like Kingsley Amis, who begins as a Leftist and ends as a bit of a clubbable bore, really, whiskey in hand, sort of Daily Mail rantings at the end.
But intellectually I don’t think that’s very important. It’s a change of mind. I remember John Braine the famous author from the ’50s wrote a pamphlet called “From the Communist Party to the Monday Club” (Note: actually Goodbye to the Left). And the Monday Club used to sell it. It was one of the pamphlets that I bought from them when I joined it as a very young man. “From the Communist Party to the Monday Club.” You see, it’s a sort of . . . It’s something, but it’s not quite enough. It’s almost symptomatic of the fact that Braine had made it, a penniless writer makes it from the north of England.
No, it’s not enough. I put it down to fear and the jaundiced palsy of conservatism. Conservatives are deeply decent people on one level, but they’re afraid, terribly afraid, and of what they’re not quite sure but they know that they’re afraid enough not to wish to be unrespectable.
Q: So, of course, the next question is why aren’t you yourself afraid?
JB: I don’t know. You’ll have to do genetic tests. But probably because I’m too extreme, because I’ve got radical attitudes. There’s an intensely conservative side to me, but I’m probably a bohemian. There’s an artistic element in me. I don’t care for bourgeois respectability. It doesn’t bother me. That’s where the leaders of the extreme Right often come from. They actually come from the arts as much as from the academy or from the intelligentsia, and the arts are a psychologically very radical part of the society, and therefore you don’t care as much for, you know, being regarded as a bit of a demon.
Q: And how can we nurture more of these people? How can we renew the radical Right?
JB: By making it exciting, by making it the oppositional force within the culture, by saying that it’s no longer the Left, that the Left has died. You know, The History Man caricatured by Bradbury and so on in the ’70s based upon a particular Jewish liberal Left academic called Laurie Taylor. That’s dead now. All that culture. Marching with your fist in the air at Essex University. All that sort of stuff. It’s all over now, and any energy of opposition will come from the other side.
And it’s true. I remember there’s a bar in Maidenhead in the middle of Berkshire, it’s gone bust now, but it used to be called the Soviet Bar and you used to be able to go in there and have a Dzerzhinsky, who was the founder of the Soviet secret police, the Cheka. Have a Dzerzhinsky! There wouldn’t be a bar where you could go in and have a Himmler! And that’s because the Soviet Union . . . You know those posters on tube stations? The masses . . . spectacles with a red banner in the background and all this. All of this Soviet iconography could be reused in the capitalist marketplace.
Situationism is a theory that’s 40 years old now where everything can be reused; it can be recycled; everything’s absorbed into the system of 24-hour media. But there are two things that can’t be absorbed: the extreme Right and religious fundamentalism, as it’s called, can’t be absorbed. Those two can’t be absorbed. Everything revolves around that, and that makes them very exciting, of course, sometimes for the wrong reasons.
More people will come forward when it becomes the normal oppositional current. But what will change the view isn’t fashionability, and isn’t accessibility, it’s morality. For a significant proportion of the generations born after the Second World War, radical Right-wing positions, they believe, are instinctually immoral. Because they did not think that before 1939. It was dissident, but it was another political position. That’s not the case afterwards. The reason for people not wanting to be unrespectable is partly moral respectability. When you break through that, you will tap the idealism that goes into Green politics, that goes into anti-federalism, that goes into politics about animals, and all these other slightly peripheral things. In some ways it’s an ethical question. If you can break through that barrier the idealism of the young and others is there for you, but I don’t think you’ll get large numbers of people until that happens.
Q: Liberals, Marxists, the enemies of the radical Right control television, they control movies, they control the media, they control everything worth controlling, everything that molds the minds of the young. How do we combat this?
JB: The internet is the way to combat it, because the internet will gradually eat all those structures, and they will have to go on it in order to survive. So, the internet which couldn’t be stopped and is based on American military technology from yesteryear, is that which will come to eat the controlling methodology which now superintends media. I think there was a pop band in the 1980s called Pop Will Eat Itself, and the internet is sort of the media devouring itself and becoming something different. Under 30 years of age, the only media they look at is the internet, because they can see all the old media on the internet anyway, so they just go to the net. And you can have obscure meetings with people, and it can be seen millions of times on the internet, if you have something that is regarded as worth listening to. Now, of course, the internet contains utter trash. It’s everything that the human mind has ever encompassed. So, you’ve got the worst and the best that humans can do on it and depicted on it, but that’s just really an electronic simulacrum of the human brain and its potentials for good or ill. So, the internet will break it and has largely done already. It’s uncontrollable, even though the authorities can come down, and they can look at what’s on your hard drive even when you don’t know they’re doing it, even when you’re on the computer. Because there are no secrets in that world, you see. But at the same time it’s completely broken liberal propaganda, and in the end they know that, and they all look at it as well. You know, why does Melanie Phillips write about me in The Spectator? Because she knows. Because The Spectator is never going to employ me to write for them, not now anyway, but she knows.
Although there was a chance maybe if I had taken a different course, if I had began the process of lying from an early stage, which in order to become a major Tory you have to do. When the management committee says “Are you in favor of the death penalty?” you’ve got to say no to get to the next stage. And then they say “Are you in favor of further EU integration?” And you say “Well, you know, I’d rather keep sovereignty here.” And the old ladies on the committee–the Madame Defarges of the shires–will nod, you know, but already you’re temporizing, you’re sort of playing the game, you’re moving inside, you’re always saying what the listener wants to hear so you can go on to the next stage, because if you don’t you’ll be excluded. What’s the point of trying to be included if you behave as to make yourself excluded?
Q: What about ethnic politics? Would you say politics is ethnic?
JB: No. Yes, I remember someone on the extreme Right once said that they didn’t think I was a “racist.” Well, that’s odd isn’t it? Because that’s the worst thing you can be called in the contemporary liberal society. But my views are, I’m a Nietzschean, and my views are philosophical. Race is a primary identity out of which culture comes, and without which you can’t sustain a civilization, but I personally believe that it is the going up from that which is rooted and that which is physical, that life is really about.
So, there’s always a socialism in totally racialist movements, whereas for me it is a hierarchy that is based upon something. A tree has roots, grows out of the ground, goes up towards the sun and a healthy atmosphere, water on the tree and so on, it grows out and the branches mushroom, and it’s a healthy plant organism. But it’s growing upwards towards something. In the end, race is a materialism. But because the whole of the liberal Left consensus denies that it is foundational to create civic structure they’ve based societies on considerable lies.
They’ve also opened the door to the demographic doom of their own group, in part or in whole, and they’ve also made a cardinal mistake about the nature of civilization, because you will inevitably water down–maybe not quite, but almost to nothingness–the culture you can create if you deny that there is a physical basis to life.
But there is a physical basis to life. A child that’s born without limbs is a physical basis to life. Madness is physiological. Perversion is physiological. Physical excellence is physiological. Beauty is physiological. People can do quite a bit with what they’ve got. Intellect is physiological. These things are primary and are prior, and life is based upon them. Mental illness is physiological. The desire to take drugs all day is physiological, at least in part. It’s socialized, it’s culturalized, but there’s a physical basis to it. So, to deny that there’s a physical basis biologically to the very nature of your own state and society is to render yourself in an impossible position.
Contemporary Western leaders believe with Obama that you can have a sort of post-racial civilization. You can have an attenuated society of groups that are partly broken down–particularly around the edges–and that always minimize and deny the strength and self-assertiveness of their own cultures, if you deny the primal ethnicity that lies underneath it. So, everyone can agree just not to differ too much so that there won’t be conflict, but that’s not a civilization. That’s just a group-based society where people paddle along and hope to avoid getting in trouble.
Q: If current trends continue in Britain, Europe and the world, where do you see society 30 to 40 years from now?
JB: Where? Here just in Britain or more generally?
Q: Here in Britain and then more generally.
JB: Well, I’ve always said that it will be the end point if there is an end point, and that’s a debate. I don’t necessarily believe life has an end point. It certainly has a start, and it has an end in death. Social death is more difficult to determine. Nevertheless, in 40 years on present trends, if nothing is done at all to reverse things, well, we’ll have gone down with a whimper, basically. We will be a tiny proportion, ethnically and racially, of this society. Liberal mores will have taken over to such a degree that large parts of the intermediate social structures such as the family and so on will have completely collapsed, and there will be total and utter atomization, and individuals will sort of be alone and bereft.
I don’t think though that it can go much further. I think the liberal curve has stopped and is negotiating its recession. But the point is: can other forces emerge to push it back further? Everyone’s managing their own decline. I think liberalism is beginning to manage the nature of its own decline as we speak. The point is what replaces it, and deep down that is a matter in many ways of courage.
A lot of the problems that face us are ethical really. Do people have the courage to do things? Can they step out of their own lives? British people have been very heroic when their establishments order them to be. They find it very difficult to self-start. They find it very difficult to stand out. They find it very difficult to stand alone, particularly when they’ve caught social disapproval or cultural disapproval or ideological disapproval. There seems to be a great individual heroism in our group, but there seems to be an element of moral timidity and extreme conservatism and conformity, and people are traumatized by liberal ideas and feel that they can’t stand against them. It’s what political correctness is. It’s just a grammar that polices people in their own mind. Most people can’t get out of that, and until you break that down other forces won’t emerge.
Many people would like to vote for the far Right but are frightened even of voting for it. They fear that in some way they are sullied, or someone will come for them, or they will lose their job, or people they know won’t like them, and so on.
Q: Do you think that as the far Right get more votes, more people elected that they will be able to shift politics more to the radical Right?
JB: Oh yes, there’s no doubt about that. It is a process. Cultural dynamic is a form of energy. There was a philosopher 2,500 years ago called Heraclitus who believed everything was based upon forms of fire, as he called it, energy. The Zoroastrian system, an old Aryan system, is partly based upon that sort of principle. The more you push in one direction the more you get. The moderate Left leads to a less moderate Left and leads to an even less moderate Left and pushes it out.
Although you have to will the thing to go on a bit and there are people who want to stick like in a card game with what they’ve got. But there is a fearsomeness to events, and the truth is that when a very moderate and rather messy populist party, say, of purported extremism bursts through and makes hay and gets big votes everything changes. Everything changes, and everyone starts adapting to it, and people start changing their positions around it, and spaces open up even for potentialities which would be regarded as worse from a liberal point of view.
So, yes, it’s a matter of energy. And there will be a few dissentient liberals who believe that perhaps a moderate far-Right party could be acclimatized to represent the dwindling proportion of indigenous persons and maybe negotiate their travel through the present multicultural stage. There are some who begin to think in those terms. They’re regarded as backsliders in the present situation, but that logic leads to other logics, of course.
It’s the logic of Sinn Féin. Once they were ruthless terrorists that no one could dare speak to and their voices would be spoken by actors on the radio. But by intermediate stages–it’s taken my lifetime–they are now in government, and yet in a sense they haven’t got what they wanted even though they do have power of a sort.
Q: And now Ireland is part of the European Union, the Lisbon Treaty is ruling over Ireland, so Sinn Féin have really broken away from Britain and they’ve ended up with something just as bad. What’s your view of the European Union?
JB: Well, it is an old adage in life that people often get the opposite of what they want and no matter how much they strive for the reverse of it.
Yes, the European Union is . . . serious and yet a paper tiger, because the European Union is, in my view, an attempt at a very mild, attenuated liberal German domination, but it’s a sort of domination that even the Germans themselves are ashamed of having. Germany is the most powerful country on the continent, and power dominates. It’s morally efficacious for them to be the strongest country in Europe, but the Germans are so defeated morally and mentally and so full of self-hatred and funk that the best they can do is this attenuated customs union writ large, with its own currency which is really the Deutschmark again.
So, although many UKIP and anti-federalists see the EU as this great tyrannous engine of oppression, I think of it as a weak, bloated bureaucracy that would actually blow over if kicked really hard. It’s true that it may morph into something more aggressive if there is a major challenge to liberalism within the nation-states of the union. I think that’s true, but I think the EU is a paper tiger.
You know, the German parliament passes a law that their own troops can’t fight in Afghanistan. So, they go out to northern Afghanistan, and they’re in the north there where there is no Taliban, because they’re in the south. And the German warrior tradition is one of the elite warrior traditions of European civilization. Those troops would be excellent troops, of course, if push came to shove. But Germany is basically too morally broken to allow its own men to fight. I think that’s the sort of logic of the EU.
They could have chosen Blair, a sassy, mendacious liar and actor as a president of a new Europe. And instead they choose two bureaucrats who are the lowest common denominator of all the inherent countries who no one’s ever heard of. So, it’s a timidity. The reason that America and the Soviet Union dominated post-war Europe is because Europe was broken by the bloodbath of the 20th century. Morally broken as well. It’s not just physical loss, the ethical loss, fear and funk.
So, I don’t want the Euro, and I would wish us to leave the European Union, but in some ways the European Union is an attenuated beastie, but it’s got a bit of a kick particularly if it reaches into Britain and arrests people for words they’ve said and things they’ve written and ideas they’ve thought and drags them to the continent and put them in prison. But even that is just the working out of the reaction from the Second World War, largely based on fear.
So, leave the EU, but don’t be afraid of it, and don’t be afraid of the consequences of leaving it either, which are very minor. We would still be in EFTA, we’d still have trade with most of these countries, we’d have to obey some of their laws to trade with them, but most of them are laws that say you shouldn’t pay somebody 50 pence an hour, which I agree with up to a point. I just think we ought to pass them. It’s none of their business. But it doesn’t mean that they’re wrong.
So, no, I don’t see the European Union the way some Right-wing people do. The hard European Union, the one from Mosley’s idea, the eagle amidst the circle of stars, that’s a different thing. There are many liberals who secretly fear the EU project and believe it’s a Trojan horse and that the Right will come to power in Bulgaria, in Italy, and in other countries and enforce its will on the more moderate liberal countries within the EU.
I don’t see that, but it’s a useful bogey you can use against liberal opinion, because liberals are always afraid; they’re always worried; they’re always thinking; they’re always gestating new notions of worry and anxiety; they’re deeply anal retentive, and one of the points of Right-wing politics is to terrify them, to prey upon their minds with the new monstrousness that is coming. This is Nightmare on Elm Street, you know. One, two, three, four, five. Because a lot of politics is in the mind, and you can frighten people. I enjoy frightening liberals. I enjoy tormenting them and putting pins in their bottoms and watching them leap up and down and that sort of thing. It’s extremely amusing, and one should play upon their fears, which are very grotesque and quite real . . .
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