Watching the queues leading to Westminster Hall and the scenes within, I was struck by the overwhelming goodwill evident, while simultaneously feeling pride in the nation, and it’s no matter that many in the queue may not have been British subjects, because the feeling isn’t one of exclusion. It’s similar to the Last Night at the Proms, where the flags of other nations can be seen waved amongst the Union Flags.
And I felt that there is a significant gap between these ‘ordinary’ people, and the very small number who dominate the BBC, ITN, Sky, and other outlets, and who seem to be dedicated to convincing us all that we live in an evil country with an evil past.
I’m perplexed as to why these people think as they do. I’ve no doubt they feel a superior virtue, and it seems to assist them to a lucrative career, but it leads to a country no longer at ease with itself, except at exceptional moments such as now.
At approximately 10pm last night a man marched right up to the Queen’s coffin and dragged at the flag draping it. We don’t know anything about him yet; one photo in the DM looks to me like a man from foreign parts. Of course social media would be awash with closeups of him but no filming was allowed, and while we’re on the subject of overuse of mobile cameras during these last few days, it’s nice to see people viewing directly the unique spectacle they’d queued for 13 hours to see, instead of distractedly holding up a mobile phone to catch the image on a tiny screen which they’d see later on TV anyway.
He was a ROPer from Tower Hamlets. ‘Nuff said.
Switch to GbNews for a breath of fresh air. They certainly have their ear to the ground. You won’t hear them denigrating our past & at least you get both sides to an argument.
Excellent, I shall do so immediately, thank you.
Let’s be fair, the real problem is, by comparative analysis with everyone else, our historical records is just too blo*dy good.
Of course the “modernists” will be back at it in their arrogant and ignorant conviction of their rectitude. But they do look much diminished. Tens of millions have mobilised from Lands End to John o’Groats. We have to wipe the modernists nose in their own mess.
Mess? May I suggest excrement would have been a better word?
Dedicated to convincing us we live in an evil country? Really? Firstly, I don’t believe the evidence reflects that proposition. Secondly, that sounds almost Putinesque. Perhaps we should have the government start censoring our media?
“dedicated to convincing us all that we live in an evil country with an evil past”
A somewhat hyperbolic straw-man, methinks … many European countries had empires, and they were good for the colonising country, pretty good for the bigwigs in the colonised country, but pretty grim for the colonised hoi polloi. Let’s retain some balance here, and avoid the polarised narratives averring either that the British Empire was an unalloyed wonderful achievement or something uniquely heinous. It was neither.
This is true of many major European countries who had empires. The challenge is to retain some objectivity, and to admit the bad with the good, without it degenerating into a defensive slanging match.
Frankly, by this stage, most people in former colonies couldn’t care less anyway. I can trace my local family history back generations, and I could show you where my ancestors were dispossessed in the Ulster Plantation. But, frankly, after all this time, so what? I merely find such it historically interesting, little more. Doubtless, hundreds, thousands of years before that, my lot had kicked out someone else. The descendants of the folks who displaced my long-dead ancestors are my well-liked neighbours and 100% entitled to their place by this stage. It’s only people with a shallow understanding of history who become emotional about it. Let all history remain, statues included – once you sanction retrospective rewrites, parts of history become lost, and we all start to live in an ahistorical comfort bubble.
Very well said. But, if it is a but, we should also note that the supposedly pro-nation Right are also endlessly purloining a highly politicised notion of ‘ the people’ – who are either applauded (Brexit) or demonised (covid sheeple) according to the case in question!
Thankyou so much for clarity. The best article I’ve read on these times. Complete agreement and understanding from me.
For the movie version of this article, watch Jaque Tati ‘Mon Oncle’. Cheers
“In times when nothing stood
But worsened, or grew strange,
There was one constant good:
She did not change.”
“Western civilisation will have to disappear completely” is the guiding philosophy behind such movements as Black Lives Matter and is a narrative increasingly being spread in the schools/universities and British state institutions, including the police.
The armed forces are not immune from this traitorous propaganda either – a reminder that the government is not a friend of the people.
Over dramatic headline for an excellent and very thoughtful essay.
As usual…the headline and pull quotes drive the SEO and driving the SEO and through that,clicks, is the sine qua non of legacy media business models, indeed any media model today.
My thought as well.
Clickbait. The more comments the better the author’s cred, the better the editor looks to his masters.
Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines
Very thoughtful but no answers.
Hilarious. I refused to read it because of the headline. Seems that lots of others did the same. So they changed the title. Read the room chaps.
It’s also way too long. Always is on Unherd.
Sadly, click-bait headlines do work though. There is a theme though of seeing a headline, thinking “what!”; and then, on reading it, finding that the article was much more sensible than the headline …
I see Paul Kingsnorth as author, I read. The headline is of lesser import, if I’m honest.
A politically emasculated monarchy seems a pretty harmless way of remaining in touch with your national identity and history in a fast changing and globalised world. Everybody needs to have a feeling of rootedness and belonging, and for many of the British the monarchy is an ideal and really quite benign touchstone for that. People should think very very carefully about what they would lose with its abolition.
The current monarchy, like Turkey and trees at Christmas is a creation of Victoria and Albert, that was part of their quite amazing influence in Britain managing to avoid the revolutions that affected Europe at that time, as Britain moved from am agrarian to an industrial economy. Suddenly large parts of the populus were working in offices, and so a burgeoning new lower middle calls was being created, and a new upper class as entrepreneurial families, often from very ordinary and Quaker and Jewish backgrounds were enobled.
The new Royal ” Ruritania” became a focus of loyalty, and duty to provide an example to the new lower middles, cleverly excluding the need for them to be financially ambitious- a stroke of genius in is creation and effectiveness! With all newspaper proprietors conveniently enobled, the ” was forever thus” misbehaviour of some the royals went on unseen.
The reaction to the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II has actually clearly displayed that Boris and other politicians bowing to the perceived and media/ internet driven woke climate change/ racism/LBGT ” demand” have not done their research diligently, and that the vast majority of the voters want loyalty, honesty and duty, not woke.
Perhaps a chance for a true Tory Government (eg: one with actual Tories in it!) but of not if Mr Kingsnorth and his seditious ilk have their way.
To obtain the right sort of Tory MP, One would have to ban triangular tie knots, polyester draylon clothing, and , corfam shoes as a starter…
Then perhaps removing any emolument whatsoever, and some form of 3 day test like the old Army RCB, run by Stanhope and I….
Agreed, finding a Tory MP who is properly potty-trained will be a Herculean task.
I like your idea of the RCB*, in fact it should be axiomatic that all potential MPs undergo such rigorous evaluation.
Frankly governing this wonderful ‘sceptered isle’ of ours is far too important to be left to current bunch of cretins on offer.
Given the state of immaturity of most of the demos, perhaps we should also follow the Ancient Roman policy of not allowing anyone under the age of 24 to stand for public office? (In their case The Senate, in ours Parliament.)
(*Regular Commissions Board.)
Stanhope and me … surely
You jest Sir?
Or where did you go to school?
Actually, he is correct. ‘Run by Stanhope’ plus ‘Run by me’ equals ‘Run by Stanhope and me’. Where did you go to school (or university – or indeed primary school). One of my contemporaries at college (not a redbrick) ran a personal crusade agaist this particular, most egregious, solecism.
Surely it is matter of formality? Would you really say the Queen and me rather than the Queen and I?
Anyway as we fortunately don’t have an Academie Anglaise, this battle of the pronouns is likely to continue….. to the death!
Yes it is isn’t it.
Yes, it’s “the Queen and me” in this context.
Do you know, sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and say “I was wrong”.
My erstwhile friend used to blame the “Queen and I” error on the nation’s mothers. When little Jimmy used to say “Me and Fred are going to the cinema” mothers would shout “It’s Fred and I”, so small children with no real grammatical sense (no personal criticism intended!) had that phrasal structure imprinted on their brains. And to answer your question, I would always say “the Queen and me” when the grammar would dictate it (i.e. when it is not the subject of the verb hence “The Queen and I are going to the cathdral” but “The archbishop is going to the cathedral with the Queen and me” – or in other circumstances would you expect to say “The archbishop is going to the cathdral with I” just because of formality? That would be absurd.)
So, to be fair, the error is understandable, but still an error. (If you still doubt it’s an error, try translating it into another language! I find that is often a useful check of grammatical structure.)
By the way I love the concept of an “Académie Anglaise” (note accent) – but I don’t think it would be called that, unless you are the sort of person who always calls custard crème anglaise!
Thanks for an enjoyable exchange ; it would be a good one to conduct in the pub (and we could explore my own personal bugbear, the fact that many English speakers cannot correctly use the verbs “to lay” (transitive) and “to lie” (intransitive), particularly in the past tenses!) That one, to the annoyance of my wife and amusement of my children, often has me shouting at the television screen.)
Many thanks for that erudite explanation, and I stand corrected. It must be something to do with my advanced years! Other age related horrors being my detestation of the dreaded T word: toilet, or that terrible affliction of HKLP: )Holds knife like pen.)
I’m afraid the gremlin within my I pad doesn’t do acute accents, or at least not for Academie. Oddly it does for touché!
I have enjoyed this brief conversation and the previous one about Scotch and Scots.Thank you.
Yes, guilty as charged!
An interesting article. Of course, Britain has been foremost in reshaping and dissolving nations in the interests of commerce.
The various nations and principalities that existed under the cover of the Mughal Empire were disrupted by the East India Company that ended up ruling India until it was replaced by Imperial crown rule and Nigerian tribal nations were disrupted by Britains conquest motivated by the twin objectives of the suppression of the slave trade and opening the area up to trade. The Caribbean islands were essentially commercial trading hubs for the production of sugar, tobacco, coffee etc.
The legacy of that commercial empire is the influx of former subject people that tends to disrupt our sense of belonging to a unified nation but at the same time my DNA is scattered throughout Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica and the US as a result of this diaspora, as will be that of many traditional British families.
Unfortunately, our Imperial legacy infects many of the institutions that should bind us together as a nation. Our religious institutions are like Mrs Jellaby more interested in charitable endeavour abroad rather than strengthening the roots at home. While the Methodist Church expands abroad it shrinks at home.
Another hugely interesting and timely reflection on the fate of nations and this moment. We surely all can agree that the death of so great a Queen has made possible the expression in the silent majority of many good things; respect for her values, a hunger for unity, togetherness, and the proud connection to our national past. But very soon The silent Queue will vanish from BBC screens. Sermons of Hate will resume there. The transition back to realities of life in the globalised Grid will be abrupt and painful. For foremost amongst the credos adopted by our Elite these last 30 years sits toxic identitarianism, the most socially divisive cult imaginable and with it contempt for the nation and its History. Their calamitous near criminal commitment to Net Zero and Degrowth – wilfully denying our society energy and power security – will unleash unimaginable stresses upon a society (and Treasury) rocking still from hard lockdown and the global crash of 2008. These magical days may fortify us briefly. But the unfolding economic chaos made deeper by life in the Global Grid and the criminal incompetence of our ruling political class will surely override and smother this fleeting sense of good and hope.
In other words theres a battle that still needs to be fought.
Unfortunately I think you may be right. Which suggests that in our general day to day lives we have no unifying force, except to survive.
I very much agree. How I wish that our elites were better educated and with time to read and digest an analysis like this. As it is I see no evidence that they are even conscious of the incompatibility of grid and nation.
If we don’t work towards ‘net zero’ there will be few habitable parts of the globe to accommodate our idealised ‘Nations’
Dear God, I hope this is sarcasm.
Our world is extremely habitable, and crop yields are at record highs. We just need plentiful energy to keep the prosperity growing.
“Connemara in the Irish west” will remain rather salubrious I suspect.
That’s very pessimistic but you may be right. The Grid marches on. Most people under 30 gave also been indoctrinated by the new dogmas. The religions that connects us through time and place are also much diminished.
“our Imperial legacy infects many of the institutions that should bind us together as a nation. “
What institutions did you have in mind here?
If ethnicity is increasingly meaningless, why is everything “racist”?
Probably one is not unrelated to the other. The empty drum sounds the loudest.
Racist is rubbish. Prejudice is the proper word and always has been.
No doubt the word racist was dreamt up by some idiotic academic at the University of Linton-under- F*ckwood or some such place.
Often, the word ‘xenophobia’ is appropriate.
Agreed, as should it’s ‘sister’ OIKOPHOBIA.
Those wonderful Ancient Greeks thought of everything.
The word “republican” is used with great abandon these days. Republican is not necessarily the opposite of monarchist. Many people are not pro-monarchy, nor royalist, nor are they republican.
Some of us do take umbrage at being labelled republican because we don’t fit the alternative label. Some of us can also live with a more nuanced version of reality that the binary stuff the (awful) media and banal journalists throw at us.
This is still a good article and present writer excepted.
Well said – totally agree
“Right wants to defend the traditional ethnic makeup of nations without acknowledging that ethnicity is increasingly meaningless in a globalised world.”
An excellent essay but I think the above is backwards. The more we become submerged in the faceless non-culture of globalism the more ethnicity seems to matter. Growing up in the 60s I was technically aware of my race, nationality and religion, but I paid them no attention, they didn’t matter — like The Queen, they ‘just were’. But now that Canadian Canadians are becoming strangers in their own native land, I find that race, nationality and religion matter to me. As Joni said: “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”
I disagreed with the author’s line for a different reason. To me, what “the right” wants is what the author also described: “The connecting tissue, though, is that a nation is a group of people with a shared sense of self, forged through time.” This does not reflect ethnicity per se, but rather a belief in the American systems of government and values.
“You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” I’m afraid we’re about to find out….
When I read “ …you can’t deny Britain’s downward trajectory over her reign: steep, dizzying, painful” you know the author is coming at things from a particular and very subjective perspective. No harm in that but I persevered and read on and was astonished to see at the end there was a note saying there was an even longer version of the article available. Astonished because I was left wondering what the point being made actually was by the shorter version. Yes the challenges created by a digital age breaking down borders and the globalisation of capital markets are very significant but surely the underlying issue is society learning how to communicate and tolerate different points of view when digital communication and social media enable if not encourage divisive toxic and anonymous viewpoints and insults to be hurled across a no man’s wasteland of the vacuum of informed public debate.
Where we have found ourselves is the product of a combination of an agricultural revolution over approximately a century, followed by an industrial revolution over roughly half a century and more recently a digital revolution of a quarter of a century. The huge benefits of each have been accompanied by unintended side effects. For example the democratic and economic emancipation of suppressed nations has brought with it overpopulation, intensive genetically engineered food production, the fast track industrialisation of developing countries contributing to environmental problems and aggressive territorial ambitions of authoritarian regimes. The list of pluses and minuses goes on.
We now need a societal revolution and quickly, perhaps over ten years. We must learn how to tolerate viewpoints which are different to ours without being obliged to respect them. And if you believe in democracy (in whatever shape it takes with but with a confidential ballot box being the only common denominator) the change has to start at home and the concept of nation states deciding their priorities and cooperating together when they decide to concede some sovereignty but only if necessary to achieve a greater good.
That too is a subjective view and there is not a longer version of this article but hopefully a longer civilised debate about it.
“you know the author is coming at things from a particular and very subjective perspective.”
My god, what a shock, a subjective perspective, today, now? Where would someone get the idea they’re permitted to say what they think. Thanks god someone like you has come along with an objective perspective.
Didn’t John May refer to insults being hurled across a wasteland of digital media?
How swiftly it came to pass.
Yes, I concede that. My apologies, John. Actually it’s not my fault. I think I was channeling Basil Fawlty.
The hyper tone.
“We must learn how to tolerate viewpoints which are different to ours without being obliged to respect them.” Actually,we don’t need to learn that so much as remember how we did that for a long time. I think what does need to be learned is the obverse: each citizen must be able to express different views without the expectation of affirmation or support and live and participate within a nation that does not align perfectly with one’s views. Societal “tolerance” has been replaced with a demand for “affirmation” in a relatively short period of time (a few decades at most), with the terms of that affirmation being defined by the one making the demands (the demand to be an “anti-racist” rather than a “non-racist” being a recent example, as those terms are defined by a highly politicized group)
Wonderful article which I largely agree with but I sense won’t be heard by many .” It seems to me that if you hold your country lightly, it will nourish you, even complete you. Attach yourself to it needily or defensively or angrily, though, and it will make mincemeat of you”.
An appeal to a smaller anarchic less defined tribe really will require that passage of darkness first. I connect with love wherever I find it and have a sense of belonging from what is left of my native flora and fauna and traditions connected to the land which are largely forgotten amidst the grid, hard edges of the nation and nostalgia rather than living tradition. More power to your voice Paul!
An unduly pessimistic article. The benefit of a hereditary head of state is continuity, it teaches its successors to continue on the same path. It looks as though making Charles wait was a good thing and his slim down will reduce the number of possible upsets from poor personal judgements. The benefit of it combined with parliamentary government is that the electors can change the government without disturbing the head of state. The hereditary head of state is very nearly redundant but still serves two important purposes, curtailing the egos of prime ministers and perpetuating the ephemeral values of the British. Even a republican would have to admit that the death of an elected president would not attract the attendance of so many world leaders at the funeral service. More people will attend the lying in state than have bothered to join the Tory party.
Life will go on as before, at a quite small cost the museums they occupy will have a lived in feeling, the tourists will enjoy it and the embarrassments will be less than a wayward elected President, who would be bored to tears.
I agree. It’s a thoughtful piece, but the impression i was left with was an example of over-intellectualising, impressive to those who aren’t capable of thinking through the events and consequences for themselves.
In drawing on terms such as the Grid (presumably created by the Blob), i feel Paul does himself no favours. I also feel that, as Paul warmed to his task, he got carried away with his erudition. The most interesting thing for me was the beginning – the escape to a wilderness interrupted by the ping of his mobile phone, and his sudden need to be back amongst his fellow countryfolk. That told me more than much of the theorising that followed.
“an example of over-intellectualising, impressive to those who aren’t capable of thinking through the events and consequences for themselves.”
Thats seems a very odd thing to say. So by agreeing with and appreciating his perspective I’m obviously incapable of thinking for myself. I’d wondered what response the article would get, but i’d not expected that. It’s not even clear what you disagree with except that you feel it’s over intellectualised. So anyway, “thoughtful” in what way?
I haven’t got the time to indulge your need for incessant querying beyond saying that Paul at least put a lot of thought into it, but then got carried away. Better than knee-jerking, i’d say…
Many of my queries are genuine questions asking for a bit more clarity. I know that many people here take a question as some sort of sarcastic response, or a carefully laid trap, but that’s not always the case, and I notice many questions are ignored. Which is a shame. Question lead to response that sometimes proves enlightening. That’s what sharing is I guess. So, even though I commented on you describing it as “over intellectualising” I did wonder what you saw in it that you still regarded as “thoughtful”.
Mr. Kingsnorth’s solution to the problem is a bigger problem than the original. The UK is not a ‘nation’. A ‘nation’ is ethnically exclusive, privileging those who were born (the ‘nat’ part of ‘nation’) within its borders. The UK is not at all like that.
The UK is a ‘Union of Monarchies’, those of Scotland and England & Wales, plus the dependent Territory of Northern Ireland and other realms and territories. The Union Jack is not a ‘nationalist’ flag. It is composed of the three colours found on the English and Scottish flags, Red, White and Blue. The extra Green of Wales is not there because Wales has never had a national Monarchy as such (the Welsh Princes never ruled a unified Wales). There are no land borders on the island of Great Britain, and the sole land border is with Eire. Nationalists want to create these borders again anew.
What distinguishes Britain from its component geographical parts is its establishment of a vertical chain of symbolic, but also actual, ‘authority’ (God at the top, the police (and formerly parents) at the bottom).
The First Human under ‘God’ is the Monarch who gets his/her authority from ‘God’. And thereafter authority descends from the Monarch through various offices (none of which is an ‘authority’ in its own right. The Prime Minister gets his/her authority from the Monarch in Parliament. Laws passed are taken as authoritative by the mass of the people, who routinely obey the laws without ever feeling the need to break them, nor do they feel that the Laws are ‘imposed’ on them, because most do not want to act unlawfully in the first place.
There is compulsion at the inital stage of this process, but there could never be a lack of compulsion, since to aver something as truthful and thus ‘good’, one must be compelled to believe it. It is not a matter of choice. However the spreading of authority and power to punish between agents, none of whom can on their own account compel the subject (that authority is derivative) makes most people happy to accept the compulsion. In the old days the things prohibited by laws would have drawn almost no demurring from any subject. Most people see murder, theft, fraud, cruelty, bullying and physical attack out of anger or cupidity as utterly wrong anyway. A vanishingly small few would approve of murder or physical violence. Such laws are really few in number.
However the left have proposed an alternative system of laws, which promotes positive behaviours (one MUST behave in such and such a way, e.g. towards various groups or individuals, selected on a completely unclear basis). However it is not clear where the authority to make these laws derives from. A leftist atheist anti-monarchist cannot offer any explanation as to why anyone else must obey this or that law, since they increasingly reject divine, monarchic or ministerial authority. But without such authority who can legitimately compel others? Well, there’s where it gets rough, because essentially every law is now prosecuted by people who do not require to state the authority under which they act and its derivation. The method moves from abstract compulsion, and distributed authority, to either elite or mob rule, shaming and personal offensiveness and often violence, with an ‘activist’ legislature. A new ‘moral’ set of laws (made up from where?) is imposed on entire populations, who might fall foul of the system at any moment, as the ‘offences’ are continually re-defined (by which I mean ‘invented’) or dumped. That is the position in which we are, now.
Very interesting comment, Arnold.
” A leftist atheist anti-monarchist cannot offer any explanation as to why anyone else must obey this or that law,”
I only satisfy one out of three requirements Arnold, but my explanation is that authority comes from the group. Looking back a long way, the tribe had to cooperate to survive, so that instinct is there – the welfare of the tribe has to be maintained. Today we have a range of models of ‘cooperation’, from dictators to very democratic methods of arriving at ‘the rules’, but some form of agreement about the rules is usually behind any flourishing community because ultimately we all depend on community for survival.
“A new ‘moral’ set of laws (made up from where?) is imposed on entire populations”
The morality isn’t really new, it’s just a group trying to redefine our (also partly instinctive) concept of justice. Redefining concepts like this is often accompanied by ‘judging & punishing’ – that’s the stage we’re at now. The battle is to show that their definitions are falsely drawn and based on, let’s say, misunderstandings of history … and don’t contribute to a flourishing community.
i think you’re right about trying to demonstrate to the new group that their definitions are falsely drawn. And it makes sense that authority and co-operation comes from the group; it’s the way they’ve learned to survive. But I don’t think we have groups/tribes/ communities like that any more. There’s too much disagreement on what we need to survive. This is not just because of immigration but also because of the differences between generations. What is under attack, it seems to me, is Arnold’s “Vertical chain of symbolic authority”. Without it there’s possible chaos. It feels like we’re entering that chaos already. If the vertical chain of authority is to work then the Crown must remain and must be regarded as crucial to the health of the country? Even if one of those links in the chain was broken things would start to fall apart. This might seem very old fashioned and conservative, but that’s because it has a very long evolutionary tail and its the foundation of our development as successful communities.
“Arnold’s “Vertical chain of symbolic authority”. Without it there’s possible chaos ..”
But we’ve had plenty of chaotic periods in history when we did have that vertical chain of symbolic authority in place. The chaotic period ends by domination, then negotiation, by the people involved. Anyway, since God died, our communities have become ‘diverse’, and the mystique of the Crown is being destroyed by exposure, we have to experiment with identifying other sources of authority … it’s early days yet.
I don’t know what periods you mean. But did those periods of chaos eventually right themselves, and why did they? Was it the vertical chain of authority that brought the country through? Interested to hear what you think.
I was going to write “the sixties” but let’s say the 1920s. The disillusionment following WW1, followed by The Great Depression. The strikes, the cultural ‘degradation’ reflected in the theatre & fashion (what did Christopher Isherwood care for the ‘vertical chain of authority’?), fascism … then WW11, which ended in victory for one side and a period of stability. I think it was other forces which were mainly driving things, not anything flowing from the Crown.
It wasn’t so much the Crown I was thinking of as the whole vertical chain of authority as a structure that survived and by doing so stabilised things.
Could be, but I think the vertical chain of authority was very much discredited by WW1 and its aftermath. The fact that order was restored after the chaos of the 20’s, 30’s & 40’s just reflects the fact that order is always restored somehow or other by the group that emerges with the most power, that humans fall naturally into hierarchies, and that, as Churchill observed, we’ve found that parliamentary democracy is better than any alternatives, so we hang on to it.
“we have to experiment with identifying other sources of authority”
So do you think that this is a question of authority?
Just a second thought on authority. It’s often interpreted as something that controls you, which, I don’t think, is necessarily the case.
I was thinking of authority as Arnold had used it, but ‘meaning’, ‘basis’, ‘justification’ – those are the things we’re searching for – and coming up with existentialism and the like. Well, we were coming up with serious ideas, like existentialism, but now we’re apparently satisfied with ‘luxury communism’, which is, like, so much easier.
The thing about authority is that it has to be embraced by the people. Which seems like a contradiction, but I think you’ll agree.
“How many Brexit voters felt their country was changing in ways they didn’t understand and couldn’t control?”
Many Brexit voters knew full well how and why their country is changing. It’s why in Leicester this week we have Pakistani Muslim and Indian Hindu heritage mobs battling in the streets.
It was openly pointing out these newly hatched cultural bombs that could get you fired or a visit from plod.
Hence the reticence.
I had to google that. I’ve been aware for many years that the Sikh community rail against the darker side of the Muslim world, grooming, treatment of women, postal voting etc. Deeper than that I worked with a young Sikh 25 years ago. He and his young friends were keen on the gym and martial arts, more than ready with a fierce attitude to take on a perceived enemy. Noticeable, their culture combined with a sense of British fairplay, is they are amazed at our ‘cross the road, look the other way’ attitude to an invasive culture.
It has been reported on the BBC, but they’ve downplayed it and bent over backwards to avoid mentioning the identities of the groups involved. Which is telling as they’re usually obsessed with indentity.
Wow. Such an excellent article. As an old person who soa d the decades of decline, yet who who welcomed the new technologies, I felt both sad and guilty.
A brilliant article. Thankyou
Hmmm. Strictly Come Dancing. Eastenders, Gogglebox. Police and military with beards and rainbow flags, republican activists at royal funerals, London an apocalyptic multicultural wasteland headed by a Marxist; the BBC. Add the death of Philip and H&M antics. She died of a broken heart. I see a glimmer of hope with the public reaction but the enemy is within, its feet under the table like your Mum’s new drug dealer boyfriend.
I recommend building a legacy around the one person who lived, two millennia ago, whose revolutionary teachings drove him to an ordeal of suffering death, which he then overcame by resurrection.
He lived, taught, organized people, died and then lived to tell about it.
Can there be a more potent gathering principal than victory over Death itself?
This is the legacy of the man who taught. . . Blessed are the peacemakers: Victory over death itself, if you merely believe it.
Surely, surely, he has borne our Grid griefs!, which is a far simpler prospect than his already-manifested defeating death itself.
A long and interesting distillation of thought that has run through my mind frequently, an interesting perspective on neo liberalism.
Nations are peoples. We have many nations in Britain who are peoples as the Europeans are a people of which traditionally the British are a part. Is it possible to live as a multi nation people in the same country? Outwardly it may be possible but people tend to relate to their old home countries which countries are not becoming multi racial unlike the west and therefore gives them a sense of identity which we seem to be losing.
Very insightful. On the American side, the public culture has become so toxic that if you desire a reasonable immigration policy, you’re a xenophobe, and if you have a measure of respect for the nation’s history, you’re a white nationalist. Progressive elites desire to control airwaves and educational curricula alike, with a fuzzy globalism and multiculturalism held up as the ultimate antidote to Trump’s MAGA-ism. It’s a confused state of affairs in a country obsessed publicly and individually with “identity,” which now seems to be something you can create ex nihilo (or without any meaningful past).
“Now we have a new monarch, we British”
Don’t forget the colonies, Paul.
“you can’t deny Britain’s downward trajectory over her reign: steep, dizzying, painful.” Yes and no. How many more British people live with an indoor bathroom now than in 1952? Own a car? Have travelled abroad?
Is Britain now without literary festivals? The Proms? Garden shows? Radio 4? Is the name Jane Austen unknown throughout the land?
The things Paul writes about are all true and very worrying. But I’m sure the past has not been totally obliterated and that there are green shoots here and there. The danger in accepting an ‘Old Testament prophet’ view that everything is heading for ruin is that we feel powerless to make changes. Little, but definite changes, that can add up to better things. Almost certainly that requires organising people to fight for the change.
I was just listening to an interview with Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason, and hers is a fantastic British story. One thing she said was how lucky she was, going to a very ordinary state school, that the school had (as many did then) a free music program: they lent you the instrument and provided free lessons. She, and her husband, both benefitted from that. Apparently this has become rare – so that’s a specific thing to fight for. Bring back free music lessons in state schools!
And could someone please arrange a subscription to Country Life magazine for Paul for Christmas?
There is an unholy alliance between post modernism and corporate capitalism. Right and left no longer signify. The postmodernists talk of ‘late’ capitalism: how misguided, with the help of ‘critical theory’ the capitalist journey has only just begun…
Great article Paul.
Some comments from me:
The Queen’s passing is mystical because no one was ready for it, or expected it to be, she was just a lovely old lady a week or so ago, at least for many people. As a once in a lifetime event, we are reminded of the discrete instantaneous flip flop of history, how epochs change in an instant and individual people can define that. It’s ludicrous but true.
She passed at a time of crisis, and somehow we know that she is both of incredible value (Mum and gran to all; sweetest lady with nothing truly exceptional, but nothing detracting her either) but also that she was powerless to stem the decline of this country, because of the forces you mention and her stoicism as a kind of rock. As such, we find some curiosity in it, the same curiosity Shakespeare found, the reason he wrote about leaders and monarchs, for example.
It is perhaps a sign, that amongst all this collapse, the most meaningful, perhaps reaching spiritual-religous event of the century, is the passing of a ‘unelected’ monarch. The deep sense of history felt here is a gaping wound to all this globalist drivel, but we know it only means something if we feel it and live it in the pomping heart.
Your reference to The Dao De Jing is pertinent but you forgot to add that to the Daoists the leader actually was everything in terms of this small stable continuous ‘nation’ you describe, it wasn’t some communist type philosophy either, but instead one that accepted the organic reality of hierarchy and that without trust in the possibility of a peaceful pact between people and leaders, war and suffering would always be inevitable:
“When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists.
Next best is a leader who is loved.
Next, one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.
If you don’t trust people,
you make them untrustworthy.
The Master doesn’t talk, he acts.
When his work is done,
the people say, “Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!”
Finally, we know people on the ground are trembling. Many of us have not the resources to survive in the coming collapse. What we do have though is the belief in truth and possibilities. Perhaps this event finally signals that there is meaning latent in our reality, that there is something more to dream about than tomorrow’s bank balance, the state of the economy and who wins the culture war. In a word, change is still possible, there is still a world of imagination
Nice comment James. I wonder, hope, that this experience might wake people up to the idea that they are not alone, that the things they believe in, silently, others also believe in. There seems to be a tough winter coming up. I hope they can maintain this unity and direct it against those who try to silence them,
As shared in my longer post a day or two ago, John 3:16 fulfils all our longings…
As Guénon … wrote, “the passage from one cycle to another can take place only in darkness”.
Sadly, like political and social commentators, however intellectually stimulating and however partially right, even those who allude to past stabilising spiritual and social longings, they all avoid one who predicted and prophesied all that has happened throughout all history. If the churches had stayed true to their own faith they would now be preaching from the house-tops that the Jesus that first century elites crucified, promised to return and accurately prophesied the exact conditions that are taking place before our very eyes. Jesus Christ promised to come back and set up His Kingdom in Jerusalem for 1000 years, the biblical Millenium, not sticking plaster for this rapidly failing world. And an open-minded and open-hearted reading of Matthew 24 and Luke 21 plus the apocalyptic books of Revelation, Daniel and the prophets are the only source of hope now and for our eternal state. John 3:16 is still the only way of salvation from what many do see coming. But, as Isaiah said of the Israelites, “Do they have eyes to see?” Jesus himself pre-empted Guenon et al. when he warned that “the darkness comes” but added “when no man can work”.
A remnant of Christianity does believe in the blessed hope of Titus 2:13, the return of their risen Saviour – and very soon! I trust you will print this and open up the discussion to include the maker’s instruction manual!
Great essay, very interesting, and more so in the parts where I differ. But really, I have to comment – again – on the fact that journalists don’t write headlines, editors do, and this is a particularly jarring example. The headline of this article is so off-point that the essay amounts to a non-sequitur.
This reads rather like poetry. Prose Poems borders that twilight ground between poetry and speech. In the best traditions of Robert Frost, this author blends big ideas and mastery of language into one seamless whole.
Very glad to find someone that recognises it.
Thanks for such a clear sighted account of what many people, I’m sure, sense about but can’t make sense of our own national and individual place in “The Grid”.
And expressed with evident concern for us all in this ‘globalised’ world. Feel a need to read full article as recommended before offering any response.
Thanks again for pointing me in a “sought after’ direction.
Extremely good essay which I really enjoyed. The only slight criticism: having spoken at length about the ‘nation’, suddenly, with “Whatever happens, I suspect we will always need countries” he switches to ‘countries’ and I the very next paragraph he is back to ‘nations’. The two are very different concepts.
If western countries fund the reconstruction of Ukraine in the manner that Ukrainians desire, they will be funding and establishing ethnic nationalism, “a Ukraine without any Russia in it”, as President Zelensky has been quoted as saying.
That would be a useful measure – a reason of state, as such things were once called – to ensure that the country couldn’t easily be absorbed into Russia. But it wouldn’t be principled. It would be the opposite of the diversity and inclusion that western polities prize so much. The 1.9 million Ukrainian refugees that have gone to Russia – presumably the Russian speakers – would be unlikely to return.
I see Zelensky has started targetting local council offices in the Donbass with rockets and terrorist car bombs now that his latest offensive has failed. It’s pathetic to use these CIA anti-Syria tactics against civilian establishments in East Ukraine, even if they are pro-Russian.
You are quoting Zelensky out of context, which was a speech using rhetorical terms.
However, it is true that there are two relevant factors. The first is that Russia’s actions will have had the directly opposite effect of their objectives, namely reintegration of Ukraine within Russia, and are likely to have increased any alleged discrimination against ethnic Russians.
The second is that the presence of a significant Russian-speaking minority has been a danger, a kind of Trojan horse, and that it would be wise to adopt policies to counter it. Would it be right or wrong to include Russian as an official language?
However, it should be borne in mind that very many Russian speakers, including Zemensky, are loyal Ukrainians. Putin, of course, chooses to believe otherwise, despite the evidence.
Fantastic essay, thank you. It puts our modern age beautifully into the context of history. We are nothing more or less than history in the making.
The mistake people commonly make is to assume that nations are organic, primordial entities that existed long before the modern world and are in tension with modern capitalism, rationality, and so on. Call it the Braveheart view of the past.
The reality is that nations are the products of states just as much as states are the products of nations. The idea that someone was English or Scottish would have sounded strange to medieval peasants, who would have identified according to clan, region, trade, religion, etc., but not as a nation. It’s only once the state got involved and started instituting common weights and measures, a common language and system of names (usually to maximise tax revenue), that peoples began to conceive of themselves as peoples.
Similarly, nationalism as a political ideology only really took off in the 19th century as a response to the industrial revolution and the consequent dislocations experienced by the majority of the population. You don’t just use and abuse your fellow countrymen, the argument goes; at least not without giving up something in return, e.g., the welfare state.
So, even in the register of nations and nationalism, the modern world is here to stay. We can’t escape from modernity any more than our ancestors could escape the Roman Empire or, later, the social hierarchy of the church. To do so would be a quantum leap we can’t yet conceive of. Maybe the only way human beings can escape into a post-modern, post-national future will be to reach into space and colonise other worlds, becoming a post-terrestrial species. Who knows?
You’re mostly right, and of course in the ‘Braveheart’ era, the elites had more in common with each other than with their peasants. However, England became conscious of being one nation early, probably because as an island, its borders are more constant than most others, it was unusually centralised, and it had a comparatively homogenous language, despite its multiple origins.
The nineteenth century was indeed the century of nationalism, affecting the stability of existing states, and creating problems for the many borders inhabited by people with identifiable traditions such as language.
Nationalism came even later to Africa. Indeed, one wonders what would have happened with the passage of time if Europeans hadn’t imported the concept.
Surely, just as there are states within unions and federations, there are quasi nations within amalgam nations? Perhaps the oddest is the notion of ‘British’ with its 4 subnations and within each the multi-generationals such as the diehard white English (well represented here I think?) and the other 3 of similar hue and hubris perhaps. Even these split into Left v Right and monarchist v republican..
Then you have your multi-generational non whites such as many of the current Tory tops. All the aforementioned have assimilated well but then there are those who haven’t.
What therefore holds the larger nation together? A queen? Maybe ..except for the modernists and republicans. A history? Nope: also fractured into the truth seekers v denialists. It’s a mystery to me.. but wait: I know: xenophobia is the answer!
If GB was the only ‘country’ in the world it would split up into many smaller territories for sure.
Great piece, thoughtful and well written. I think the only solution is to find the middle way. We can’t avoid progress, but we can only survive if we preserve our belonging. History, identity, belonging, family are more important than ever.
I’m beginning to think that the thread running through this story and the comments is about authority. It seems to me that many people are refusing any form of authority. Rejecting the Crown is a symbolic gesture of throwing off authority. The vertical chain of authority is being challenged. The word for all this is anarchy. Of course the existing authorities won’t stand for that. As a result we get even harsher versions of authority. Which, of course, is the basis of this article, the Machine. It’s a metaphor, but it’s actions and consequences are real.
More relevant to this article is the endorsement given to the political institutional design every time a vote is made, a design that supports adversity over deliberation, and party allegiance and power over good governance. Who or what is voted for is secondary which inadequately represents the electorate. The primary action of voting is one of design endorsement – this is why nothing changes. It is our political institutional design that has been the ‘wrecking ball’ , the ‘wasteland’ for this countries identity and economics, aided by an archaic, dysunfuctional honours system.
Thank you for this excellent essay, it has helped me understand why I have felt so emotional by events from this past week and I have always considered myself a Republican.
“As Guénon also wrote, “the passage from one cycle to another can take place only in darkness”. Some of us are just starting to see the shadow early. One of the best essays of our time.
This wandering view of history and nation is saying quietly that we are at the end of the era of megapolitics. Big government has overreached and overspent and is imploding, as people simultaneously try to work out how we unglue ourselves from cyberspace and back to communicating as a collection of communities. A national identity is something of an oddity in a so-called United Kingdom. We want something outside ourselves to look up to and a metaphysical realism that modernity has destroyed. The only thing that will save us is a return to the Christian values that formed our heritage, values and our laws.
Just want to throw in some recent work by the other René – this is aimed more at the headline, rather than the thoughtful article. If one googles ‘ Renie “the centre holds” ‘ there is a 2022 study finding that far from being divided into “furiously battling” culture war camps, Briton remains a nation largely united by common values. E.g. , they found that event among those who voted ‘Leave’ in Brexit , 75% agreed “it is important to be attentive to issues of race and social justice”. While even among Remainers and those who last voted for the Labour party, there was moderately strong support for several socially conservative positions. PS – dont be confused by the report being hosted by the ‘Global Futures’ think tank. Renie’s actually the protege of a Blue Labour person well connected to Unherd, he’s very much on the side of Team Organic, not the Machine team.
An excellent essay.
“A monarch has sat on the throne of England for 1,500 years. The meaning of this is mostly inaccessible to our argumentative modern minds.”
Think about this before you type.
Stop being so miserable, he’s only out by about four hundred years.
I was really thinking about the modern mind.
Is there such a thing? I don’t think evolution moves that quickly.
I think you prove his point.
‘He’ unfortunately went to the wrong College in Oxford. St Anne’s is a parvenu institution originally founded exclusively for ‘Hildabeasts’ (women), although that has now changed.
Situated far from the ‘centre of the known world’ a long way up the Woodstock Rd, it lacks the cachet of more robust institutions such as New, Oriel, Magdalen, Balliol etc, and this is reflected in the behaviour of its alumni.
So, just out of interest, what is your view on the “modern mind”? Do you think he has a point?
An empty vessel.
Thank the heavens for the title change
“you can’t deny Britain’s downward trajectory over her reign: steep, dizzying, painful.” I think a more objective appraisal is that Britain has been treading water since 1952; still the 6th largest economy in the world, and more influential than that rank would imply.
It would be interesting to find out how this feeling plays out according to age. Does the older generation, who have seen more change, feel this downward trajectory more than the millennials for instance? Each generation seems to have its own dissatisfaction, but are they all rooted in the same thing?
“Perhaps we will live in real nations again. Perhaps we will build them.”
I’m afraid this is what the “Metaverse” is seeking to do. God save us all!
Rather thin gruel, I thought. And it could have made the point well enough in about a quarter of its word-count.
This is Unherd remember, they pay by the word.
Great essay, although I recoiled somewhat at the paragraph about what “Nationalists, Liberals, the Left, the Right” ostensibly want. Surely part of today’s confusion is that such labels have ceased to have any real meaning? Look at the new cabinet and it is clear that ethnicity is not an issue for (most) conservatives. For them it is all about values. Meanwhile “the Left” is peddling policies that give preferential treatment to one race over another, and “Liberals” are hailing globalists while at the same time scouring the supermarkets for locally sourced food… The one thing that we look for in vain is coherence.
My soul, there is a country.
Song by Hubert Parry
Like a butterfly chrysalis we are watching a process of change within our society – who knows what the end product will be like? For everything there is a season and the Queen held the country together as a symbol of hope through constancy (service, not self service). Even Andrew felt her loss because she turned her cheek to his indiscretions. As for Meghan, were these the tears of guilt as she hardly knew the woman, unlike Sophie Wessex? The nation mourned but only the selfish wallowed in self pity over her loss and still do.
Ah! Paul Kingsnorth, you turn prose into verse….. we have no finer writer than you. Every time I read something of yours I think: ‘Now, that’s what I mean’. Thank you for your eloquence.
I will pass this on to my friends in “Yes Cymru”.
My now elderly sister (we have polarised political views) when asked her views of the funeral – “No comment.The RF are a fact of life.” Diplomacy? Or damning with faint praise?
I met an anarcho-syndicalist once. Another fact of life?
How old is your sister?
I’m surprised no one pointed put that Paul now lives in Ireland and is well assimilated into Irish ways: and also has, to some extent dropped out of ‘nationhood’ preferring as I do, a more citizen of the world outlook. I guess it gives him objectivity?
Missing from this analysis is any mention of the ‘globalist’ dream starting to collapse as the world splits into two blocs led by China and the US. Or of the coming financial crisis as interest rates rise.
One important point is that the Queens reign coincided with the post war period when Britain required completely rebuilding but we had spent all our treasure defending the world against Nazism
Ftom that starts my point Britain’s decline has not been precipitous but actually not decline at all
ig you change to starting point a lot of this article turns out to be meaningleds
There’s a LONGER version of this? Dear God, masochism in print!
Monarchy. In the 21st century. Seriously?
Well here we are.
“I was camping by a lake when I heard the news. My son and I were off fishing and hiking in Connemara in the Irish west, hunting down pollock and wrasse and trout, and plunging into bogs on the slopes of the Twelve Bens. I’d do this most days if I were allowed.”
What a poseur opening – modern man in touch with nature. Didn’t read the rest after seeing such a pretentious opening.
“Didn’t read the rest after seeing such a pretentious opening.”
What a brilliant decision.
Agreed a classic ‘poseur’ opening. Mind you the author has been a bit of a menace for much of his adult life, as he will joyfully no doubt admit.
Perhaps, as a writer, he was setting up a state of mind, a mind free of “The Machine”, a mind then invaded by the complexities of living in the modern world. You really should pay closer attention to nuance.
We have never lived in such benign times, at least not since the great days of the Pax Romana. It really is a case of “dives in omnia”.
However obsessing about such nonsense as ‘The Machine’ is a clear sign of decadence, vacuous minds struggling to find ‘meaning’, or purpose. The only thing worse is the epidemic of gluttony that has led to record obesity levels.
No, the only thing that really matters as the Ancients so succinctly put it is: Venari, Lavari, Ludere, Ridere, OCC EST VIVERE!
(To Hunt, To Bathe, To Play,To Laugh, THAT IS TO LIVE.
And yet you hung around to post your view of the piece
It’s a lifelong habit, pointing at naked emperors.
Interesting essay. But, on balance, I still think I’d rather be a subject of “The Grid” (whatever that actually is) than a subject of an ancient feudal monarchy. I certainly don’t feel like a citizen at the moment – more a tyrannised serf in a totalitarian irrational clusterf*** of mass hysteria.
But you’ve yet to experience the full force of “The Grid”. Then you will truly be a citizen, but nothing else.
Interesting that you are mourning the death of a strong female monarch, whose last public act was to appoint a female prime minister, when you clearly believe that all other women should be brood mares, domestic servants and financial dependants.
Years ago I was appointed to a working role that involved meeting farmers on a daily basis. I commented at the time that they coped by treating me like an honorary man, ‘like the Queen in Saudi Arabia’. Presumably, in accepting the right of a woman to be a monarch, you thought of her in the same way.
“when you clearly believe that all other women should be brood mares, domestic servants and financial dependants.”
Help me understand where this belief is made clear.
attributed to T.O.Ilets
found & curated by R.C.
I. COMAS, AND LIKES, AND CIDER
Avril was a feckless cnut, breeding
ankle-biters with some deadbeat, mixing
heroin and cheap crack, listening
to dull grime with no brain.
White Ace kept them warm, shivering
on a stained mattress in a filthy squat, needing
penicillin to kill off the crabs.
Their type never surprised us, sidling down Stokes Croft,
the rigmarole always the same: waver outside the Canteen,
skulk onto the terrace, panhandling the hipsters you’d see there
drinking artisanal coffee, jabbering for hours.
Like it’s not like I’m like bipolar, more like a farkin’ Celiac.
Permanent children, stuck in a toddler loop.
Like my buddy like took me out on his like fixie,
and I like farkin’ shat myself. He was like, like
like farkin’ hold on – yeah? – and like down we went,
into the like Bearpit – yeah? – where like there’s like no restraint at all.
She stayed up all night, and went down on her dealer next morning.
What is this stream of consciousness, what does it signify,
this dreary stoner carp? Weed advocate,
you cannot argue, only speculate,
poison the well of discourse with your drone.
There is no respite from your unforgiving speciousness
The very walls echo your unreason back.
Cannabis doth not the tumour shrink.
Science says it: cannabis is not the cure.
How can I still your whining, wheedling plaint,
which cranks up in the morning with your breakfast blunt
and hangs around till vesper like the worst of smells?
I’ll show you boredom in an ounce of bud.
Der Tag für Freiheit und für Brot bricht an!
Zum letzten Mal wird Sturmalarm geblasen!
Zum Kampfe steh’n wir alle schon bereit!
“You gave me chlamydia first a year ago;
They called me the chlamydia w***e.”
And, when from the clap clinic we at last returned,
clutching our scripts and our itching groins, we could not
speak, our brains being maggoty and foul,
we were in truth the walking dead,
looking forward only to a twilit meagre life.
Die Knechtschaft dauert nur noch kurze Zeit!
That cupidinous creepy Mr L,
ticker on the blink, yet in despite of this
contrives to be the slickest masseur in St Ag’s,
With lubricated slightly sweaty hands.
Which now slide, palms down, brush thy cringing mound.
The dirty goat, (that glassy distant look
– so primal! – in his eyes) his slimy beard
tickling, his hoary breath murmurs in your shell
some coarse fatuity: the awkwardness.
Here is the man and heimlich frau, and here,
which we don’t say, bleibt Einäugigerhoseschlange.
His mind’s a blank load, thing he hefts about,
a burden opaque even to himself;
yet can’t, without insight, be damned. I fear
boredom, flailing in circumlocution’s net.
¿Quieres alivien el coño? Thanks for nothing.
If you pass the next one coming in
tell her I mix the aromatic oils myself.
I’m trying to be mindful about things.
Under the black flags of a false dawn,
a crowd flowed over Bristol Bridge, many
though not so many that you would despair of youth,
with much crude chanting, insults flung about
among the Antifa in gimp mask balaclavas.
Flowed up the hill and right, past Starbucks, also Greggs,
then the descent both topographical
and moral into Broadmead, that Gomorrah
where dwelt not one good man but was like known
where they came up against the line of cops with dogs.
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying: “Ouanker!
Lounging malnourished and despondent outside Pret.
That hydroponic planted in the warehouse:
Did it ever actually sprout? Will it bud this year?
Or did the thermocameras root it out?
Oh keep the Drug Squad’s sniffer dog far hence,
or he’ll engage you in lamentable expense
Minchia! Questo che pompinaro!
2. THE MAD SCIENTIST
The Old Disgrace, a very tarnished court
in which he took his unbecoming ease,
in thrall to laxatives and overwrought.
His head, on which pulsed throbbing temple vein
(another fluttered underneath his jaw)
intensified his grinning skull’s neuralgia,
making unbearable the neon light as
the perfume of his shambles rose to meet it.
From dentured gob in rich confusion,
at the same time impoverished,
poured viciousness in querulous and petty tones.
Psychotic fantasies, Zizek, Baudrillard, and Mao,
self-indulgent, fatuous, appallingly inane
and overwhelming you with jargon, galloping
perpetually off at tangents, fanning flames
obscuring facts with smoke and dim refracted glass,
cleaving to flagrant falsehood, fell deceiving lie.
Shame burned cheeks, burnished by time to scowl.
Mnemosyne by lute and lyre accompanied
with threnody – markedly devoid of charm –
regarding our souls and the worth of shaving them,
for which affront, the Senate garlanded her brow
(which is apparently on YouTube still).
Above the reclaimed fireplace was broadcast –
a low burlesque upon the silver screen –
that season’s squalid transfer window deals.
and then a replay of the morning’s game;
in which the Gas’s crude unlettered yobs
filled the Memorial with their obscenity:
Catcalls and jeers, and witless thuggery,
“Ug! Ug!” of burping chimpanzees.
And diverse weathered clumps of slime
Were sold upon the walls; local art
loaned out. Beneath, on sofas, old men gently dozed.
The dealers, making a show of zipping flies,
emerged from the pissoir, the door whereof,
ajar, made audible the toilet’s flush.
Under the palsied artificial light,
his Struwelpeter thatch in static points
stood rampant, then lay flat once more in clumps.
“Your service is schidt tonight. Farkin schidt. Tonic water!
“Ice and slice! Your service is schidt. Schidt.
“What are you thinking of? Not lemon! Lime!
“No farkin clue what you’re about. Think.”
I think it was just an accident:
chased by paparazzi, and a drunk behind the wheel.
En outre, elle a omis d’attacher sa ceinture.
“What is that racket?”
Only the soundcheck of the carppy band.
“What is that racket now? Jesus my farkin head.”
The soundcheck. Still the soundcheck.
“I won – I tell you this? – I won a prize. Young Scientist. Tomorrow’s World.”
Tomorrow’s World was yesterday. Besides
the hench is bored.
“How can you hear with all this farkin noise?
How can you hear a thing?”
I read those lips
and view as my revulsion mounts
the crude spasmodic jerkings of his jaw.
“Invited me to CERN.” A bitter pride.
You won’t ’ave ’eard of CERN of course.”
Oh, CERN. Well
Congratulations, fool. You won that prize
when you were young. Now you are old,
the glory – always tepid – has gone cold.
The ingénue, the gullible, may think you wise;
perhaps, to some, the ranting and the rags,
the carping bile, the books in plastic bags
the constant sneering and the open flies
are redolent of philosophic gold.
To us, more lustre’s lost with each retelling; still, we’re told.
We trouble deaf Heaven with our bootless cries:
will no one rid us of this knackered hag,
this flatulate, this coefficient drag?
CERN pygmy! Whenever you pontificate, a fairy dies.
We’ve heard the dentures clacking, smelt the mould,
observed the collapsing manifold.
Congratulations fool. You won that prize.
“What did I do with it? What did I do?
Mostly, I quarrelled with the grands fromages,
confected grievances, and sulked, and lastly quit,
and lived thenceforth on crime and benefits,
spunking my compo in the bookies, where
I’d fix my fellow punters with that gaze
yclept the Ancient Mariner, who shot
the albatross and wore it round his neck.
What was the point of it? D’it have a point at all?
D’it ever have a point?”
The News at Ten.
And if it rains, a cab to Barton Hill,
where we’ll indulge the dealer’s cat & mouse,
the grinding hours of waiting while we sweat.
He’s like, I play a bit of chess, I do, oh yes –
coached by a GM with a name, your ignorance
of which speaks volumes. Oh it does, does it.
So I was like, don’t feel you need to mince your words.
And he was like, alright I won’t, but like
I’m really just kibbitzing. Pea-take, nothing more.
And I was like, kibbitzing was you, like
GET OUT MY FARKEENG PUB
And all the time him giving it about some game
when Fischer was a kid and sacrificed his queen.
And while he blethered heedlessly, Reader,
I scholar’s mated him.
Then that brief
appalling hush, and the rest of us ’gan tittering,
and I was like, kibbitzing was you, like.
And he was like, like he was almost blubbing.
I’m like, grown ass man your age, int learnt to lose.
GET OUT MY FARKEENG PUB
I’m like, you can’t handle losing you can do one.
And he was like, and that’s another thing,
that whole You lost get over it! charade.
And then he dropped the gammon bomb, and grabbed
his mock plebeian knapsack and stormed out.
And I’m like, like that’s just like farkin racist,
typical activist Momentum touat
GET OUT MY FARKEENG PUB
Well, that Sunday he’s back in again, all shifty,
skulking, won’t look you in the face, and he’s
like, mumbling how by’s gammon bombinado like
was nothing signified. And I’m like, like,
like just like farkin like kibbitzing was it.
GET OUT MY FARKEENG PUB
GET OUT MY FARKEENG PUB
III. L’HEDOMANIE SANS RALENTIR
The river bank is where they’ve set up camp:
cardboard, a bucketful of syringes.
Some pots and pans, a damp mildewing tent.
A sleeping bag skidmarked with mud. The wind
skirting the gorge is keen. Joggers traipse by.
A pack of diapers, unwrapped, bubbles
in freeze-frame through the wilting buddleia.
The Avon, squeezed like pus, slithers downstream
from Babylon, slickly through channels sluiced
by centuries of loathsomeness; sphincter,
farting away our filth, our packaging,
our high strength lager cans, our Bristol Stool.
Avon, ooze slickly till I end my song.
Avon, carry downstream th’almighty pong.
On Harbourside, the endless orgy’s in
full swing: bloodcurdling shrieks of Erinyes
the ogresses all stout and bellicose
and wearing wings, and matching t-shirts, these
being scrawled with diverse choice profanities,
or other testimony of their wit.
Avon ooze slickly till I end my song
existing in the jungle of Meinong.
The Bear Pit here. Croft Shardik’s hierophants
(Tristram in dreads, Yseult in harem pants,)
in overconfident and strident tone
shall poshly panhandle Derby and Joan.
Frisch weht der Wind
St Werburgh zu
Mein hippy Kind
Wo weilest du.
Chequerboard Ursa on her hind legs rears
over (baiting by curs beyond her ply-
wood claws) the endless circulation of
the charabancs. Run soft sweet motorway
until I end my song, and go and play
down in the concrete catacombs beneath,
the haunt of lotophage with blackened teeth.
My crepitation led me through Gin Lane,
the tunnel where the scag heads crouched. Upstairs
were bodies naked on the raised damp ground:
Marcello and Anita, filmed with phones,
forsaking St Augustine’s crystal stream,
cavorted in the foro publico.
Regarding these, I spake to citizens
drawn by the spectacle to cluster there
choice epithets about the fall of Rome.
Aegri somnia, vitae Bohemiae amici;
asinus asinam fricat, aliquid semper haeret;
castigat ridendo coitum utlagariae.
Sono pazzi, questi Romani!
Touat touat touat
Uggboot Uggboot Uggboot
Under the brown scrape of a cindered spoon.
Mx. Portmanteau the intersectional,
obese, with headpiece full of shocking pink
– WTF Bristol! – documents a slight,
demands, in purged and ugly doublethink,
a lynching by the Twitter thought police.
Followed by tantra with a well-waxed twink.
At the violent hour, when zis eyes turn back
to introspect the contents of zis head,
hx flicks absently through well-thumbed Balzac
and underscores some random words in red.
I’m bowdlerizing Goriot. There’s things
I’m triggered by. Recovered memories.
Zer Adam’s Apple bobs as though on strings.
That adenoidal, implacable drone’s
like something being dismembered in a hedge.
STFU! By listening atone,
and underscore zis victim privilege.
With doorbell clarion Adonis comes,
bright orange, smooth as chicken from the fridge.
Mx. Portmanteau disposes of the crumbs
and of the agency’s formalities;
a transaction somewhat unedifying
– the card machine augments the feel of sleaze.
They shed all inhibition with their clothes.
The twink proves loose and singularly vile,
commemorated by Portmanteau’s oaths
– the prolapse really isn’t quite zer style.
The quintessential SJW
surrenders soon to cold infantile rage.
It wants a staple gun and quick-dry glue,
and an attendant well-starved copraphage.
When brute unlovely fouls the privy, how’s
a gentlemx to stem the tide of beige?
Exactions more than what the law allows,
with coathangers and size eleven shoes.
Hx rings the agency. I may be woke
– still dish him out a beating in the loos.
I won’t be sold a pig wedged in a poke.
Latent sadistic tendencies emerge,
and are exacerbated by the coke.
The intersectional loses this urge
towards day-break. Adonis, traumatised,
wordlessly pulls on jeans and shirt, dry heaves
(the methamphetamine was ill-advised)
and, having long outstayed his welcome, leaves.
Mx. Portmanteau, alone, does not repine
He was a catamite, and not a Jeeves
Der Einäugigerhoseschlange’s klein,
dwarfed by that rearwood windsock. Jesus Christ!
and closes then the door on all the mess.
and drinks in Kino large chai latte spiced;
later, back home, puts on a cocktail dress,
and then perambulates round Portland Square.
“This habit crept upon me by degrees. Observe my gnashers.”
Standing upon the pavement outside Horts,
peels backs his lips, exposing blackened gums.
O schidtee city, I can always hear
at every single junction desolate
of every single dank drear dismal street,
the high-pitched whining of a troubadour,
maudlin and amplified and out of tune,
the brute cacophony of the outdoor.
sweats on black tar.
The posh kids drift
into slum life.
with methmouth sore afflicted, and
with organ failure.
in farflung pubs;
the few from which
Like like like
Like farkin like
Diane and Jeremy
bishop. The underpowered
bike. Potemkin tour
behind the Wall
George Bernard Shaw
went there before
“They lynched her effigy in Easton when
she snuffed. Quaffed her eponymous. And thus,
not making much concession to
the ocean flowing backwards, came we then
to close-knit garbage-strewn communities.
Wraiths clustered at the trench’s edge, gibbered
by pooled blood, this also in Brislington.
I can connect
Nothing with nothing.
The broken fingernails of dirty hands.
My people humble people who are
gagging for it.”
To Hareclyv then I came
Begging begging begging begging
O Lord thou lickest me out
O Lord the shame
IV. TOD DURCH KULTUR
Hassan ye Fylystyn, a quangowcratte,
fobb’d off ye skolars wyth polysh’d bromydde,
evaysioun, and heoff-troth.
And ded ynsyd:
ye vulgaryzer of ye Hows of Bokes,
who stryp’d ye shelv’s of Dykyns, Joys, and Proost,
replays’d wyth jend’r studys and
Thou, chompyngge thy sandwyge and braykyngge wynd,
Consyder Hassan who once keppt a blogge.
V. UN RUÍDO ESTÚPlDO
After the torture of no platforming
After the cranium’s chambers have been blocked
those orphan atoms haplessly congealing
after the éclat has gone off half-cocked
after the ruined orgasm, in all
its perfunctory, vulgar charmlessness,
after the breaching of the oath of spasm
after the businessman relieves his stress
after the mushroom trip in Bedminster
after the mushroom trip inside Primark
(one Tokeinesque, one more prosaic, dark –
the tie rack seemed aggressive, quite steroidal
and warped into a ghastly trapezoidal).
Here is no quiet but only noise
Doof! Doof! and mindless tinny wail
rusting nail piercing the inner ear
if there was quiet we should stop and drink
where sullen barista curls lips and sneers.
The mutual incomprehension, the cognitive
If there was quiet
and no egoist
If there was an egoist
and also quiet
a conducive peace, ok
the odd brief exchange considerate of the need
Not this circus
Not this carnival of fools
This relentless festivity
This raucous obscenity
Doof! Doof! Doof! Doof! Doof! Doof! Doof!
If there was quiet
Not this exhibitionism
But there is no quiet
Only this exhibitionism
Who is the touat who talks always beside you?
In all your selfies, there are only you and this touat.
And when I look ahead up the eternally littered path
There is always this same touat on a BMX
Spitting, shrouded in acrylic, hooded
I do not know whether a manchild or a burn-out
—But who is the touat always talking beside you?
What is that underlying sound
Only the intellectual masturbation
Who are those hooded zombies, leaning
Cantilevered at their hips, over
The Broadmead concrete, shambling in their filth
Such circumstance doth vision circumscribe
Tomorrow’s ‘jam tomorrow’ crieth wolf
What is this Tophet, this Gehenna
When did such debauchery become acceptable
Public disorder and a prelapsarian air
No new Jerusalem
Tyranny in Athens
Incineration of Alexandria
Nelböck & Schlick in Vienna
Antifa stringing up Jews in London
The woman crouching on the slimy steps
Beside the workshop, leading up to Banner Road
Despite her haunches’ exposed state, shrouded
Most modestly her head and said hello
While heedlessly she plunged the needle in
I wished her a good morning as I passed
Being observant of the niceties
Is this decadent schidt hole the gateway to Avalon
On this dank afternoon the Avon stinks
Over the tumbled waves the sewage goes
And there the portly fatberg – Disculpe, Mare! –
There are no windows on its essence
There is no insight into its dugong soul
Only that it is an agglomeration
Repository of all our sins
Salve-nos pecadores miserables
Clogging the tides
Awaiting the dispensation
Of the river deities
Ganja was being smoked, only the leaves
Weren’t bud but had been sprayed, and the black clouds
Accumulated from the South and West. Over
The Airport, over Avonmouth, over
Barrow Gurney and the reservoir
Then spewed the chunder
Data: what have we given?
Why, Friend me, and Ile bee
Thy parasite phlebotomystical
Such splatter’s but thy mark
Of K9, or thy signature or seal,
As good as wax from a solicitor.
Data: more parsimonious this time
A plasma. Ideal for a colloid, yes
Some sanguinary strands which raise concerns
Did thou of late chance heedlessly to sup
That firewater savages so love
Data: it’s best described as Keatsian
Stuff poet coughs into his pocket rag
There’s resignation, palliative calm
Here’s this, which lately was thy bronchiole
In bloody strands
Prostrated on the floor
Bu55ered, with the acrid pain flowering inside
Shall I at least set my affairs in order?
In contrast to the collapse of polity besetting us
Poi ha sviluppato un duro colpo per Antifa
Quando fiam uti larum—O herring gull
Le gilet jaune déchiré, mutilé
These fragments I have coughed up from my shambles
There’s easy slip twixt expectant and expectorant
BLEURGH! BLEURGH! BLEURGH!
It must have occurred to you that no one will read that.
T.S. Eliot it ain’t.
Yeah well – that’s two minutes of my life wasted…
Pretentiousness bores – even when presented as “verse”.