Monday, 31 July 2006

Left And Right Must Unite And Fight: Part II

Do you wish to conserve or restore such good things such good things as national self-government (the only basis for international co-operation, and including the United Kingdom as greater than the sum of its parts), local variation, historical consciousness, religion, family life, agriculture, manufacturing, small business, close-knit communities, law and order, civil liberties, academic standards, all forms of art, mass political participation within a constitutional framework? In short, are you a conservative, and respect for the sanctity of each individual human life from the point of fertilisation to the point of natural death? In short, are you a conservative?

If so, then you cannot be in favour of “free” market capitalism, which corrodes to nought all these things and more, both directly and by driving despairing millions into the arms of Jacobinism, Marxism, anarchism or Fascism.

Rather, we need the universal Welfare State (including farm subsidies), and the strong statutory and other (including trade union) protection of workers, consumers, communities and the environment, the former paid for by progressive taxation, the whole underwritten by full employment, and all these good things delivered by the partnership between a strong Parliament and strong local government. In a word, Socialism.

For, if you rightly oppose the unregulated movement of labour, then you must also oppose the unregulated movement of goods, services and capital; and vice versa. This is in no sense the same as saying that there should be none.

If you rightly oppose the decadent social libertinism deriving from the 1960s, then you must also oppose its logically inevitable, and not unwitting, development into the decadent economic libertinism deriving from the 1980s; and vice versa.

And if you rightly oppose the erosion of our self-government and culture (and other countries’, of course) by the European Union, then you must also oppose that erosion by American hegemony and global capital, closely connected as all these three are; and vice versa. Anyone disputing this should consider the new “independence” of Montenegro, defined in terms of intended accession to the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, all correctly identified as forming an indivisible whole. Some “independence”! Meanwhile, the two Labour MPs associated with the fiercely pro-market and pro-Bush Henry Jackson Society are both noted Eurofanatics, while that Society’s Statement of Principles, to which many prominent Conservatives have subscribed, also presupposes the connections referred to here.

Just as there is no other means of defending the conservative values against capitalism (for what other means are there?), so those values provide the only grounds for needing or wanting those Socialist means (for what other grounds are there?). If you have conservative values, then you can only want Socialism, even if you will not yet own the S-word; likewise, if you want Socialism, then you can only have conservative values, even if you will not yet own the c-word. It is high time for One Nation politics, with an equal emphasis on the One and on the Nation, on the S and on the c, on the c and on the S.

Disraeli’s term “One Nation” points to the fact that British politics is still split between Gladstonians and Disraelians. Each of the three parties struggles constantly to hold together these competing tendencies. Gladstonians favour unregulated markets, and therefore the use of armed force to secure this global state of affairs, which they see as necessary for the emergence and defence of democratic institutions.

By contrast, we Disraelians see such economic arrangements as subversive both of those institutions and of the values that, among other good things, sustain them; accordingly, we are immensely cautious about adventures abroad. The rising Chinese superpower confirms our belief that the “free” market not only subverts democratic institutions and their necessary underlying values, but prevents those institutions from developing where they do not already exist.

It is simply not possible or desirable to be Disraelian at home and Gladstonian abroad, any more than vice versa.

The Conservative Party has long been hoovering up disaffected Gladstonians: Liberal Unionists, Liberal Imperialists, National Liberals, and so on. Alderman Alfred Roberts, Margaret Thatcher’s father and the pre-eminent influence on such political philosophy as she ever had, was a text-book Gladstonian: a shopkeeper and Methodist preacher who sat as an Independent Councillor while his party collapsed around him, who never joined the Tories to his dying day, and who never seemed to see how the “free” market was ultimately ruinous both of his small businessman’s interests and of his preacher’s beliefs.

The late Arthur Seldon, of the proto-“Thatcherite” Institute for Economic Affairs, always regarded himself as a Gladstonian Liberal, for so he was; while his co-founder of that Institute, Lord (Ralph) Harris of High Cross, although he eventually stood as a Conservative candidate in 1955, originally put up, even as late as 1951, as a Liberal Unionist, and has always sat as a Crossbencher since being ennobled in 1979.

Those who founded the Labour Party were firmly in the Disraelian mould, and much of the new party’s base of support had previously been attached to the working-class Toryism invented by the combination of Disraeli’s social reforms and his doubling of the electorate through the extension of the franchise.

It was mostly a section of Labour’s Disraelians who set off for the SDP. This accounts for the difference in approach between the warmongering Gladstonian Paddy Ashdown (late of the Liberal Party) and the anti-war Disraelian Charles Kennnedy (late of the SDP), who reportedly had to overrule his very Liberal then Foreign Affairs Spokesman, Sir Menzies Campbell, in order to oppose the war in Iraq, the latest war ultimately arising from the French Revolution.

Liberty, equality and fraternity were neither invented at, nor promoted by, the French Revolution. Rather, they depend on and lead to nationhood, family and property. The reverse also holds. These six principles may be placed in a circle, and one may begin at any point. Liberty (the freedom to be virtuous, and to do everything not specifically proscribed) depends on equality (which must never be confused with mechanical uniformity, to which it is antithetical), which depends on active expressions of fraternity (trade unions, co-operatives, and so on).

Fraternity leads naturally to nationhood (a space in which to unselfish), which leads naturally to the family as the domestic nation-in-miniature, and thence to the urgent need for every family to enjoy real property as its security both against over-mighty commercial interests and against an over-mighty State, legitimate, and indeed necessary, though both commerce and the State are in themselves. And what is thus secured? Precisely liberty, as above defined.

Engels understood this, rightly regarding the family, property and the State as having a common origin. After all, why bother having the State, if not to defend the family and property? Why bother having property, if not to defend the family and the State? And why bother having the family, if not to defend property and the State?

Those who now advocate the withering away of the State undoubtedly know that it is a Marxist term for a Marxist aspiration, and that, both in those terms and as a matter of fact, it would also be the withering away of the family and of property. That is why they want it: Tony Blair and George Bush are both surrounded by utterly unrepentant old Communists and (especially) Trotskyists, with enormous power wielded by those who venerate the memory of the American Trotskyist godfather Max Shachtman.

Their neoconservativism is in fact a Marxism which has merely changed its ending so that victory belongs to a bourgeoisie stripped of all its best characteristics (and thus to an America, that most bourgeois of countries, likewise so stripped). It retains intact its Marxist dialectical materialism, its Leninist vanguard élitism, its Trotskyist entryism and belief in the permanent revolution, and yet also its Stalinist belief that the dictatorship of the victorious class should be built in a superstate and exported (including by force of arms) throughout the world while vanguard élites owe allegiance to that superstate rather than to their own countries.

Such treasonable vanguard élites include the New Labour Project, the Tory Notting Hill set, the Liberal Democrat ‘Orange Book’ tendency, Likud, Forza Italia, the Partido Popolar, the Irish Progressive Democrats, the new governing faction in Canada, the renaissance of the Australian Liberal Party under John Howard, and the courts of Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, to name but a few. The present President of the European Commission is an old Maoist who became a rabidly “free”-marketeering and pro-Bush Prime Minister of Portugal before being eased into his present position. Watch that space.

But these have not come any closer to any conservative tradition, properly so called, in the US or elsewhere. On the contrary, the Whig, Jacobin and Marxist fallacy of human perfectibility by its own efforts and in this life alone (explicitly denied by, in and as the foundation of at least the two largest political traditions in Britain) reaches in neoconservatism the nightmare point at which people believe that that perfection has actually come to pass, with the bell-curve of American wealth distribution (and of wealth distribution in other countries in so far as it conforms to that in the US) corresponding exactly to intelligence, talent, “merit”, human worth.

So, no aristocratic social conscience and no organised labour. Yet with both of these thoroughly good things, respectively embodied by the hereditary peerage and by the Labour Party’s trade union links, Britain has probably been more blessed than any other country on earth. They have given political expression in both cases to Catholicism and to Scottish Presbyterianism, in the aristocratic case to the largely lay tradition of an Anglicanism committed to doctrinal and moral orthodoxy while unconstrained by the Anglo-Catholic or Evangelical ghetto, and in the proletarian case to the comparable tendency within Nonconformity.

The aristocratic social conscience or organised labour, the hereditary peerage or the Labour Party’s trade union links: the argument against either is the argument against the other. And we now seen have how exactly the same bourgeois-triumphalist Marxism has caused both that peerage and those links to be replaced (though not yet entirely) with something immeasurably worse.

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