Monday, April 09, 2007

Not that there is anything to be proud of in being called a sleep-walker

Being slightly drunk, I give you this: The Lion And The Unicorn.
AS I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.
They do not feel any enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. They are 'only doing their duty', as the saying goes. Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life. On the other hand, if one of them succeeds in blowing me to pieces with a well-placed bomb, he will never sleep any the worse for it. He is serving his country, which has the power to absolve him from evil.
One cannot see the modern world as it is unless one recognizes the overwhelming strength of patriotism, national loyalty. In certain circumstances it can break down, at certain levels of civilization it does not exist, but as a positive force there is nothing to set beside it. Christianity and international Socialism are as weak as straw in comparison with it. Hitler and Mussolini rose to power in their own countries very largely because they could grasp this fact and their opponents could not.
Also, one must admit that the divisions between nation and nation are founded on real differences of outlook. Till recently it was thought proper to pretend that all human beings are very much alike, but in fact anyone able to use his eyes knows that the average of human behaviour differs enormously from country to country. Things that could happen in one country could not happen in another. Hitler's June purge, for instance, could not have happened in England. And, as western peoples go, the English are very highly differentiated. There is a sort of back-handed admission of this in the dislike which nearly all foreigners feel for our national way of life. Few Europeans can endure living in England, and even Americans often feel more at home in Europe.
When you come back to England from any foreign country, you have immediately the sensation of breathing a different air. Even in the first few minutes dozens of small things conspire to give you this feeling. The beer is bitterer, the coins are heavier, the grass is greener, the advertisements are more blatant. The crowds in the big towns, with their mild knobby faces, their bad teeth and gentle manners, are different from a European crowd. Then the vastness of England swallows you up, and you lose for a while your feeling that the whole nation has a single identifiable character. Are there really such things as nations? Are we not forty-six million individuals, all different? And the diversity of it, the chaos! The clatter of clogs in the Lancashire mill towns, the to-and-fro of the lorries on the Great North Road, the queues outside the Labour Exchanges, the rattle of pin-tables in the Soho pubs, the old maids hiking to Holy Communion through the mists of the autumn morning—all these are not only fragments, but characteristic fragments, of the English scene. How can one make a pattern out of this muddle?
But talk to foreigners, read foreign books or newspapers, and you are brought back to the same thought. Yes, there is something distinctive and recognizable in English civilization. It is a culture as individual as that of Spain. It is somehow bound up with solid breakfasts and gloomy Sundays, smoky towns and winding roads, green fields and red pillar-boxes. It has a flavour of its own. Moreover it is continuous, it stretches into the future and the past, there is something in it that persists, as in a living creature. What can the England of 1940 have in common with the England of 1840? But then, what have you in common with the child of five whose photograph your mother keeps on the mantelpiece? Nothing, except that you happen to be the same person.

Regular reader will have already seen the implicit racism in this disgraceful article. Instead of affirming universal brotherhood, the writer (I shudder to name him) positively affirms national differences. Next thing you know, he'll be condoning the stoning of women. We are all made from the same DNA, ergo, we are all the same. Whoever wrote this trash (English word, in Shakespeare) is a racist hypogriff, er, crite.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Goldstein said...

Hopefully i'm missing the point of what is hopefully an ironic post, but you're not surely suggesting Orwell was racist are you?

You realise the context of that piece? Written after having recently returned from Spain, seeing Hitler dominant in Europe and apparently poised to win all?

And did you read the rest of the article?

I'm confused....

4/09/2007 10:58:00 PM  
Anonymous pesto pete said...

It's satire: CC imagines the response of a decent leftist to the Orwell essay.

And now I've explained it, it's not funny any more.

4/09/2007 11:22:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Funny book, The Lion And The Unicorn. There's some really clumsy stuff in there - the attempts to define the English national character, for instance. But I read it again quite recently and was surprised by how good I thought much of it was. (Of course anybody can find in it much to quarrel with, because Orwell was nothing if not inconsistent, but aren't we all?)

4/10/2007 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger roGER said...

"The Lion and the Unicorn" is far too subversive for today's post 9/11 world.

It's lively, provocative, easy to read, and speaks for social revolution.

It should be banned at once.

We can't have our young people exposed to such ideas. They should be reading Nick and Dave and Mel Philips instead.

4/10/2007 10:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CC imagines the response of a decent leftist to the Orwell essay.

What an obsessive narcissist he demonstrates himself to be in the process.

4/14/2007 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Whereas his accuser is too modest even to mention their name!

4/14/2007 08:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Belgian Bruschetta said...

What an obsessive narcissist he demonstrates himself to be in the process.

Given that rather odd syntax, and the sneering tone, it could be Oliver Kamm, owner of the most punchable face in British journalism.

4/18/2007 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I wish, I wish, people would stop talking about Oliver Fucking Kamm.

He's a self-publicist who's done very well ndeed out of the war and there's nothing a self-publicist likes more than to be talked about.

Which I've now just done myself.

4/19/2007 08:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Granola Git said...

Yeah, but you've done it on a blog, and therefore to a tiny audience. We should encourage him and his ilk to indulge themselves in the blogosphere rather than somewhere that matters.

It seems even our watchers have realised how futile blogging is....

4/20/2007 04:25:00 PM  

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