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The peasants won’t go quietly Europe ought to show them more gratitude

Dutch and Belgian protestors burning pallets last week. (ROB ENGELAAR/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

Dutch and Belgian protestors burning pallets last week. (ROB ENGELAAR/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)


February 13, 2024   5 mins

Farmers hurl eggs at the European Parliament. They dump manure wherever they go. In Spain, they burn tyres. In Occitania, office buildings. Their tractors have cursed the capital of Germany with terrible traffic. As in the Holy Roman Empire circa 1524, so in the Europe of 2024: we must beware the peasant.

In parliaments and the press, the latest peasant revolt has been met with raised eyebrows, hostility even. “This class has been spoilt by decades of copious public support,” declared La Stampa, Italy’s soi-disant “progressive” newspaper. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany’s premier conservative paper, was blunter: “Pampered farmers,” read its headline. Below, the protests were quaintly described as an “impertinence”. Europe’s politicians are likewise exasperated. Germany’s home secretary, Nancy Faeser, has pinned the blame on far-Right coup-makers, accusing them of seducing the unsuspecting subalterns.

In short, peasants appear to be not only obtuse but also obsolete in our modern world of slacktivism and semiconductors. So, this is an appropriate week for the publication of the 78-year-old social historian Patrick Joyce’s deeply sympathetic swansong to the world of his parents, Remembering Peasants.

Not that the thinking classes have ever taken peasants seriously. Even Marx thought they were morons: there’s an off-hand aside about “the idiocy of rural life” in The Communist Manifesto. Factory workers were supposed to be at the vanguard of revolution. Farmhands, by contrast, stood “outside history”; not for them the whiggish march of Progress. Generally speaking, the Left has been instinctively hostile to peasant populism, with its reactionary affection for faith and family.

And yet, conservatives haven’t tended to champion them either: their general view is that peasants’ suffering is entirely self-inflicted. This perspective was summed up by the anthropologist — and later advisor to Nixon and Reagan — Edward Banfield, who in 1958 laid into the “amoral familism” of the peasants of Basilicata. Too absorbed by the complacent parochialism of family life, they were simply incapable of thinking of their salvation — which, of course, lay in the free market. Peasants, so the argument ran, weren’t good capitalist citizens.

As landowners, peasants are unmistakably conservatives. But they are not a rich people. As smallholders, they can be classed neither as oppressors nor as the oppressed. The peasant’s politics is a quaint admixture of Left and Right, then: the state, they feel, should be kept at arm’s length, but so, too, should the free market. Change of any kind is to be resisted — and it is here that the radicalism of the peasant comes in. “The peasant is a conservative, not a progressive,” writes Joyce. “Slow to move, but once roused, unstoppable, as in the peasant revolt, the jacquerie.”

Indeed, the history of the peasantry is a history of protest. Western Sicilians, for instance, used to greet one another with cries of “cuntrastuma”: we are resisting. But this isn’t a history that is widely known. This is a world, for the better part, shunned by trade paperbacks and Beeb documentaries. How many of us have much of an inkling about, say, the German Peasants’ War of 1524, Europe’s largest uprising before the French Revolution? And it isn’t often that we commemorate the killing of 11,000 peasants by the army and police in what Joyce calls “the last great European peasant uprising”: the 1907 Romanian rebellion. Nor, for that matter, do we recall that one of the earliest and biggest challenges to Russia’s October Revolution was the Tambov Rebellion of 1920, in which peasants launched a guerrilla war against the Red Army. Put down by the Soviets, the conflict resulted in a quarter of a million deaths.

Much of Europe scarcely remembers the peasant revolts of the 20th century, perhaps because the peasants themselves are a vanishing people. As recently as 1960, 40% lived in the countryside; that figure has now almost halved. In the EU, scarcely 4% work in agriculture. What’s more, those who do aren’t stricto sensu farmers, but rather “five o’clock farmers”, who double as miners, cleaners or factory workers. Before the turn of the century, Pierre Bourdieu lamented that you’re more likely to find peasants in theme parks than villages.

Even the farm has fallen out of the hands of the farmer. Agribusinesses have trumped subsistence smallholders, with some 90% of the global grain trade controlled by five corporations. Today’s revolting peasants also complain of crippling taxation, environmental legislation, foreign competition. Ukraine, for instance, exempt from EU standards on account of the war, is dumping cheap grain across Europe, while a proposed Free Trade Agreement with South America threatens to steal a march on indigenous European meat and produce.

The result is that peasants now only properly belong to the world’s poorest societies: Somalia, Moldova, and India, that “greatest peasant nation on Earth”, as Joyce calls it in his introduction — though he has the chutzpah to then completely omit the country — and its 600 million farmers — from the rest of his book.

The English are perhaps more guilty of ignoring the peasant than other Europeans. After all, ours is the land that pioneered capitalism. In early modern England, serfdom was superseded by a tenurial system in which land was concentrated in a few hands. By 1500 or so, serfdom was nearly extinct in Britain. Russia would only get there in 1861, the US in 1863, Brazil in 1888. So it was that, in Elizabethan and Stuart England, the countryside divided into tenants and landlords, with the more astute farmers becoming large landowners and the rest their paid labourers. By 1861, Joyce writes: “almost three-quarters of the British Isles was in the hands of less than 5,000 people”. Peasants, which is to say subsistence smallholders, never had a fighting chance in such an unforgiving world.

“The English are perhaps more guilty of ignoring the peasant than other Europeans.”

It was only in the diminutive enclaves bordering England that the peasant — that great anti-capitalist subject — survived. It is no coincidence that there was no English equivalent to the Scottish Crofters’ War, Welsh Tithe War, and Irish Land War in the late-19th century. And it is not surprising that the farmers’ protests now troubling Europe have not crossed the Channel.

Peasants elsewhere did their best to resist their overlords. In South Italy, peasants rose time and again against the tyranny of their absentee landlords and the proto-Mafia, as in the Fasci Siciliani of 1893. Across the continent, landlords were punished for cupidity in acts of “expiatory violence”. So it was that Lord Leitrim, a “notorious evicting landlord” in Counties Galway and Mayo, met his just deserts in 1878. After his assassination, peasants showed up at his Dublin funeral to desecrate his corpse.

Time was when historians did not look kindly on such acts of violence. But over the years many have been rebranded. The so-called Galician Slaughter of 1846, for instance, has now been rechristened the Galician Peasant Uprising. Its moving spirit, the revolutionary Jakub Szela, is no longer seen as a fevered rabble-rouser, but rather a critic of serfdom and corvée labour. Far-right Poles may continue to vilify him, blaming Szela’s peasants for crushing the Krakow Uprising, in which Polish nationalists tried to oust Austrian overlords. But the prevailing narrative now is that the serfs saw not the Austrians but the “liberal” nationalists — most of them of noble and gentry stock — as their oppressors.

Accordingly, 5,000 nobles and landlords were “scythed, flailed, pitchforked, and sickled to death”, and 500 country manors sacked and destroyed. Szela smashed the tombstones at the Siedliska cemetery, shouting “there must be equality in this”. The peasants turned up at the Burzyn church “asking for absolution for the murders they were about to commit”. Their violence was not senseless, then. Here, the peasants appear as a sober and hard-nosed people, alert to the reality of class and admirably clear-headed about the cold comforts of nationalism.

And yet our disdain for peasants lives on, linguistically. Most of us in the West have a wide lexicon of disparagement at hand. French pejoratives include cul-terreux (earthy arse) and plouc (plebeian). The truly dense North Italian finds no lazier slur to malign his southern compatriot than terrone (literally, land person). English readers are no doubt familiar with louts, boors, yokels, dolts and clodhoppers. When defeated by argument, online trolls typically fall back on the unimaginative putdown, “shut up, peasant”.

We really ought to show more gratitude. None of those jacqueries was in vain. Without the unruly peasant of yesterday, the ordinary worker of today would have considerably less autonomy and dignity. In 2024, we might find peasants surplus to requirements, and sure enough, the current round of protests may well be their last hurrah. But it is, all the same, an instructive episode. In our quiescent age of worker passivity, the unrelenting, uncompromising peasant could show us the way forward.


Pratinav Anil is the author of two bleak assessments of 20th-century Indian history. He teaches at St Edmund Hall, Oxford.

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Daniel P
Daniel P
5 months ago

I’m for the peasant. They seem to know what life is about.

Besides, I am a fan of farm raised food.

If I listen to the elites and the modern nobles I will be eating bugs and chemically constructed meat patties that are not meat.

I want real beef, real eggs and lots of fresh butter. I want bacon and ham and I want loads of fresh vegetables and fruits.

I like quiet, the sounds of birds, the smell of wet leaves and of tilled soil. A nice fire pit with a cool beer on a fall evening.

No, the peasants have it right. Its the morons in the capitals and the universities that are the barbarians.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
5 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Are you willing to pay more for your food to enable domestic farmers a reasonable standard of living? Are you willing to sacrifice certain kinds of fresh fruit and vegetables and limit yourself to those that grow easily, readily and reliably domestically? That’ll be potatoes, root vegetables and cereals. Apples when they’re in season. I hope you like pickles and preserves because that’s all you’ll be eating for 30% of the year.
Are your romantic ideals of quiet, birds, leaves and tilled soil compatible with the industrial farming methods required to meet the food expectations of our populations?
You may not want to eat bugs (anyone who actually eats local organic vegetables will have!) but the birds do. That means using fewer or no pesticides. Wet leaves and nice country walks means using fewer herbicides.
The “elites and modern nobles” have for decades delivered you abundant food of all varieties at extremely affordable prices. A lot of the time they used immigrant labour to provide the food at prices you accepted.
Throughout that time locally and sustainably produced pro-environment options have always been available but they have always cost more than 2x the supermarket fare and all the people who now pretend to support the blood and soil peasants never paid for it.
The actual “peasants” in our history ate meat and dairy rarely on feast days and mostly survived on cereals or nothing because that’s what reasonably sustainable agriculture provided.
Of course with modern methods and knowledge we could make farming more efficient and better provide for the population but your romantic ideal is far removed from the peasantry. You are not for the peasant. You want to be a noble with peasants working for you.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
5 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

You should wipe your chin for that fluffing of the mighty and powerful.
The “elites and modern nobles” have for decades delivered you abundant food of all varieties at extremely affordable prices. — Have they, though? It’s as if the people who turn the dirt and do the work have nothing to do with the results.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
5 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I don’t defend the mighty and the powerful at all. I just detest the myopic hypocrisy of all these privileged westerners claiming to support farmers or more traditional food/farming but not being prepared to change their habits in any way or pay more for good domestic food. They also ignore the fact that they have willingly consumed cheap foreign produce brought in by the elite nobles for years.
This guy says he’s for the peasant (which is laughable in itself) but has no concept of what “loads of fresh fruit and vegetables” for the millions in France or Britain or anywhere in the world actually looks like.
It looks like us paying a lot more for a lot less. That’s fine by me. I actively prefer local, seasonal and organic produce and keep meat and dairy as a rare treat. It’s just very easy to say you support the peasants or farmers right up until the bill comes due.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
5 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

if you’re willing and able to find local products, why do you assume others are not? Maybe these “privileged Westerns” you hold in contempt “willingly consumed” foreign-made things because 1) that’s what was on their grocers’ shelves and 2) their govts were not openly waging war against domestic producers.

Daniel P
Daniel P
5 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I have no objection to importing foods that cannot be grown locally or are out of season. None at all. It just makes sense.

I am however a supporter of less industrialized farming run by big corporations and I support mixed use farming and practices such as pasture rotation to reduce the use of chemicals.

I do support local farming. It is one reason I live where I do and why I go to the farmers market as much as possible when it is open.

And, I am prepared to pay more for better food, organic and locally grown. That said, I recognize that there are people who cannot afford that and respect their need to get what they can afford.

I do not expect a perfect system, just one that is better than what we have had and I expect that government should do all it can to support the production of healthy, natural foods in as environmentally conscious and humanely as possible.Food is a unique product. Nobody needs an iPhone to live. Upgrades to your XBox are not going to make you healthier.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
5 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

You seem to know him fairly well. Did he pee on your tires when you were in the farmers market?

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
5 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I don’t want to pay a penny more for groceries, which have exploded here in price inflation, entirely because of a grossly exaggerated and at least partly fictional “climate crisis.”
I certainly don’t want poorer people to be forced to choose between food and heat.
Elites over the last 20-30 years have done nothing helpful for rural or urban working classes, besides a pinch of tokenism for certain constituencies.
Terribly one sided trade deals, expensive regulations that are often barely disguised rent seeking, wasteful and frivolous spending, and above all irresponsible and intrusive public policies have done little for actual working people.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
5 months ago

How do you force the other side in trade negotiations, which may be more powerful than you, to accept your terms? You cannot.

Jules Anjim
Jules Anjim
5 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Can one not just be for anyone who seems to know what life is about, and disdainful of morons, whether they be peasants, urban professionals or university professors ? No-one is forcing anyone to relinquish their steak dinner with a side of asparagus and raspberry for a bowl of bugs; bacon and butter is still plentiful, and wet walks on quiet leaves with the promise of tilled beers in the falling air are still as plentiful as a fire pit of birds.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
5 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Cool beer? Hmm, you’ve slightly blown your traditionalist reverie there!

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
4 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Romantic Eco Poetry
Wir brachten die dunklen Städter in den Buchenwald, wo es brannte!

jane baker
jane baker
5 months ago

I’m thinking back to the circa 1970s to circa early 2000s. Words on the radio. Over and over,again and again. The USA is putting pressure on this country,that country,another country to sign a Free Trade agreement with them. The other country was reluctant.
The BBC would have Economists explain how great Free Trade was because two countries could trade with each other without those price barriers,those tariffs that made whatever commodity was being imported too expensive to be in reach of most people of that country thus stifling demand. Stifling demand was a BAD THING. In vain would a government ministry from whichever country explain their fears that if they signed up the USA might export to their country some item or other of inferior quality but cheap that would put their own craftsmen out of business and work but those same craftsmen would not have the ability to send their goods to the USA even if in theory they could,so maybe Free Trade wouldnt be a good deal for them. This idea was mocked and ridiculed (but often subtly) as being,yes,a peasant mindset from past centuries not fitting for our modern contemporary liberal,open minded,wide ranging,forward thinking World Society. Get with the Program,Peasants. The USA usually got its way back then,if they didn’t they sent in the Marines.
And so it proved that cheap cheapjack USA goods destroyed national economies. And people’s ways of life.
Free Trade only really works one way a USA have now found out as China beat them at their own game. Now they don’t love Free Trade so much. Just like they don’t welcome the huddled masses much now. It’s ironic I think that the EU has put in place numerous stringent laws to uphold high food standards and animal welfare which many farmers are proud that they comply with and produce high quality food,yet they have had the rug pulled from under them by this agreement to import food from countries with no such laws and protections. Of course Consumers will loyally support the farmers and buy the higher quality,higher priced option in the supermarket,we are all confident of that – aren’t we?

Peter B
Peter B
5 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

You seem to think that trade is a zero sum game. It isn’t. Both parties benefit.
I’m sure many readers have been to the US and some to Latin America. I’ve done both and found no problem at all with food safety. What’s the problem with letting people choose ? If they prefer higher quality European stuff, they can pay more for it.
I’ve also eaten steak in Singapore (an island with no cows) which cost half the price it did in the UK at the time.
EU protectionist agriculture is a disaster not only for EU residents who pay far too much for food, but also for agriculture in developing countries who get EU surplus produce dumped on them.

Jules Anjim
Jules Anjim
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Both parties benefit … if they’re playing the game by the same rules, perhaps.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
5 months ago
Reply to  Jules Anjim

It’s a good point. Free trade with authoritarian regimes is just arming your enemies of the future.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
5 months ago

The quiescent age of worker passivity has been bought with exponentially growing debt in the West funding industrialisation in the East. The loss of Western jobs and stagnating Western earnings caused by offshoring production has been mitigated by higher living standards from cheap imports bought using cheap credit funding the offshoring of production to cheaper regions. Meanwhile in the East the industrial boom soaked up peasants and gave them higher incomes.

As the debt creation went into overdrive, the East was able to do only one thing with the money surplus: send it back to the West as debt to fund even more consumption of the East’s production. Like any over supply, this reduced the value of debt: interest rates trended lower for over 40 years until they went to near zero. It was sustained falling interest rates that allowed the Western peasants and labourers to support exponentially growing debt.

In 2008 the numerical limit of all this was reached and Western debt markets were overcooked. The limit was massaged a bit more through negative interest rates engineered by quantitative easing but even this couldn’t support the peasants and labourers taking on more debt. Today Western governments are taking on vast debt to mask stagnating peasant and labourer incomes and to keep the West-East debt-consumption-production cycle pumping.

Yet that cycle has stuttered and has been stuttering since 2008. This ultimately is the cause of now rising peasant and labourer unrest in the West and East. The peasants and labourers in the East and West are now both experiencing falling living standards. Their quiescence has reached a limit.

Fear not global elite, if you can’t buy quiescence you can always use fear and repression. Real or imagined external threats and instability, fear of the alternative, naturally force people to be more sanguine about their personal circumstances. So long as it looks worse everywhere else, then the peasants and labourers will learn to accept their new, poorer circumstances. I know I’d be hard pushed to think of somewhere better to escape to – the whole world looks mad, so here I am quiescing to my own more straitened circumstances. Two nil to the globalists.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
5 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

This is a good analysis. Western financial elites connived in Chinese mercantilism because it made them (us?) immeasurably richer at the expense of the blue collar classes. Now we’re beginning to experience the consequences.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
5 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Surely the Western consumers who filled their homes with cheap chinese goods connived too?

Orson Carte
Orson Carte
5 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I use Amazon Prime a lot. It’s so convenient! So easy! Competitive prices (taking into account the time and money spent driving around as we used to, to different shops to compare and contrast their offers). I order from the comfort of the sofa whatever I suddenly realise I need: a pack of AA batteries, a realm of A4 paper, a salt mill, a new washing machine. Even as I do so I understand I am contributing to the downfall of a free market economy and one of these days I/we will wake up to the knowledge that Amazon is now the monopoly supplier and prices will rise and we will have no choice. A captive audience.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
5 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Exactly.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
5 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

There is much in that, but again we have a simplistic demonology of the “global elites” etc. The world as a whole has undoubtedly become much richer because of globalisation. The evidence is overwhelming. But has this produced losers? Well yes it has. But why exactly are westerners just by virtue of expectation and history entitled to an ever increasing standard of living when productivity is often so much lower than in Asian societies? And eventually Africa will get out of its torpor to. In any case you can’t magic this fact away. Good times can end; we are under much greater levels of competition – and not only from China. This was not the case in the relatively prosperous post 1945 period..

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
5 months ago

Anil back to his Marxist polemics with an occasional populist and ignorant twist. Liberal use of “Far Right” etc tropes again and am sure an equally generous consulting of Oxbridge radicals- CJ Hill, EPT, EJH et al in framing the issue.
A theme which needed rather a genuine factual analysis maybe from Philip Pilkington or one of UH’s economics stable familiar with the actual working of the corporate sector and it’s alignments with Big Agriculture against the small farmers of Europe.
India ” worlds poorest”?! Come on, even the most envious Col Blimp would now acknowledge that the Indian economy is poised for being in GDP terms the world’s 3rd important.
The problems of Indian farmers ( mostly rich and pampered)are entirely created by Anil’s Marxist pals acting with generous funding from Soros et al to stir dissent and demand even greater protectionism than what Congress Socialism brought in for 70 years, and which due to India’s Left lobby, even the present government has had to back track on.
UH- can you not afford better commentariat on India at least than this icon of disinformation?!

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
5 months ago

GDP per capita? Even that’s not reliable because it is unevenly spread.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
5 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Somalia, Malawi is a false equivalence and shows Anil to be everything but an economist( unless Marxist “economics’ is your thing of course)

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago

I see your point but think that Mr. Anil retrained his polemical tendencies in this article, until resorting to a “soft manifesto” tone at the end. His points are reliably one-sided, but for me several of them landed in this Apology for the Revolting Peasants.
A bit hilarious that the ultra-intellectual and urbane Anil, in familiar Ivory Tower fashion, pretends or perhaps sincerely imagines that he is in solidarity with past, present, and prospective peasant mobs. Does he suppose they will never threaten him with updated versions of pitchforks and knives, because he talks a good People’s game?
I think you will have to supply some of what’s lacking here with respect to India, (correction) Mr. Ms. Gupta. In my outsider’s opinion: You are doing that quite well, but try not to get too upset or to assume more than a general-Western-reader’s knowledge of the so-called subcontinent, as that will make your worthwhile and astute comments less effective overall.
I’d be happy to see you write an occasional column of your own here. Perhaps the cushioned elites at UnHerd could permit those of us in the BTL peasantry (so to speak) to nominate a subscriber-columnist of the week?

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Thank you AJ. I would of course love to enlighten readers more on present Indian contexts. It’s ironic that Anil’s asides came on a day when some billionaire farmers who don’t pay income tax, demand waivers of all bank loan debts, claim a hefty defined pension benefit etc etc launched an ” agitation” to push up food prices in North India aside from causing major public infrastructure disruption.
I entirely agree that there is a lot of misconception about not just India, but many other parts of the erstwhile colonial dominions of the West.
Much of this is due to lazy journalism and a desire to play tropes in analyses.
Even for the West, I would have liked to understand what subsidies the EU farmers were getting before- whose withdrawal is leading to the present chaos.
In India, the “farm lobby” never pays taxes of any kinds but avails of free subsidies of a voluminous nature.
Its always better to have more nuanced articles from actual economists or on the spot reporting journalists than “ivory tower” columnists like Anil who usually push an obvious agenda in their polemics.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago

Thank you for the response, which I’ll take as your first occasional column, more in seriousness than in jest.
A someone with a meager understanding of what’s called “the dismal science”, I tend to prefer on-the-ground journalism to economic analyses, and think there are valid observations that exist outside of any data, or socioeconomic matrix of investigation. However, a Marxist-infused light-polemic should probably get into the facts and numbers of the matter a little more than Anil does–not that his selective conclusions would please most commenters here!
If I may ask: Do you remain “on the ground” of India or have you moved to somewhere in the far-flung cultural zone called the West?

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I agree with you on the ” dismal science” – but it’s always good to sift through jargon and understand their arguments.
My peeve with most on- site journalists is that when they report on corporate media, it’s usually tailored to suit the interests of their financiers. Substack is a good way of reading more genuine analysis – at least you know the intellectual bias of the author before you delve in.
I am very much an Indian realist “on the ground”! Hardly can afford either the time or money to travel Westward. Though having studied in the UK, I retain an interest in its conditions. Also because we have a shared recent history, and as I am currently working on a book on the last days of the Raj, I do find a close cultural identification ( however strange that may sound) Probably one of the last remnants of that odd tribe of ” Macaulay’s orphans”!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago

Fascinating, thanks for the follow-up and please do inform us when your book is released. Being monolingual at the level of any real fluency, I hope it is written in or translated into English, but that it finds readers and success in any case. As a Canada-born US-resident dual citizen, a recovering Anglophile with an enduring interest in British lit and wit, I have a certain combined closeness and remoteness from British ways myself. You know far more about the UK than I do first hand–since I’ve not even visited yet! My hippie parents gave me a Hindu first name to go with my Scottish surname (it’s been AJ since age 14) but my first visit to India is also, at best, still ahead of me.
I’ve read some of T.B. Macaulay’s work–as an undergraduate I enjoyed his take on Joseph Addison–but was unaware of the term “Macaulayism” before a quick search just now.
I’ve been investigating a few Substacks too. Cheers.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
5 months ago

Germany’s home secretary, Nancy Faeser, has pinned the blame on far-Right coup-makers, accusing them of seducing the unsuspecting subalterns.
Nancy Faeser is Germany’s worst politician. There’s no nicer way of putting it. Blaming everything on the far right is just her very unimaginative way of trying to distract from her own dismal performance and the unsustainability of her and her party’s politics.

Andrew H
Andrew H
5 months ago

Fascinating article!

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
5 months ago

One of the perils of supporting a govt that can give you anything is that you have also created a govt that can take everything away.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
5 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Oh I’m stealing that!

Cam Marsh
Cam Marsh
5 months ago

“CUNTRASTRUMA!!”. I want to see this on protesters’ banners.

glyn harries
glyn harries
5 months ago

Those blocking roads with their £200K John Deere tractors are NOT peasants as you note. They are the beneficiaries of decades of policy designed to force peasants off the land and pushing money into the hands of an increasingly smaller group of landowners and tenant farmers. The threats to the livelihoods of these farmers are not down to envrironmental legislation but multiple. Environmentalism and proper agriculture go hand in hand.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
5 months ago

It is just a pity that the discussions in the comments do not touch on the bigger picture.
If you want to be healthy for the whole of your life, one thing that helps is to have food that comes from healthy soils, worked on by healthy farmers using healthy production (and transformation) models.
Even in the best farms in the uk or Europe for that matter (unless they are organic small holdings who struggle under the regulation that does not apply to them) do not produce the healthy and nourishing food you think they do. This is because the way they farm is mostly directed by regulations and subsidies that eventually benefit the large business that sell them chemicals of all sorts and an industry that transforms many of their products through too much processing (loss of nutrition and health of the food).
People buy vitamins, go to the gym, and spend on all sorts of things to look after their health. That money can be spend of food that is nutritious, of which you will eat much less and be healthier for….
It is indeed a matter or choice but also our choice now will also determine what happens to the next generations..
You cannot separate yourself form the environment you live in, you are part of it. How you treat it will affect you and others and of course farming plays an important role in this environment. And yes this may all sound romantic but it is also becoming more and more accepted as being reality by those who study biology and the living. (System biology)
The farmers struggle can be reduced to the latest subvention change (removal) but is likely a sign of something much deeper. Farming in the ‘modern’ chemical farming environment is rarely compatible with healthy farmers/farms. It is best to see the protests as symptoms of this. A quick fix will not lead to improvement of health. For the health of farms and their produce to improve, one way or another, we will need to create the right environment (regulation, and commerce). This starts by stopping to listen to the messages of doom from the industry (saying we need ‘modern (=chemical) farming to feed the world) , an industry that has a lot to loose here…
Give the public bread and games and they are quiet: this is now sugary/fat food/drinks and take away food, and MSM, tictoc and other addictive social media…..

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
5 months ago

Does English fruit and veg pick itself? Of course not. It is harvested by illegal immigrants controlled by criminals.
The rationale for subsidising European farmers is to provide some level of food security for a time when the ability to import food is limited by war.
The other question to ask is who is planning to own and control the produce from Ukraine’s fertile land, once the war ends and most Ukrainians are refugees in other European countries working to keep down pay rates. My assumption is that it is US corporations and funds.

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
5 months ago

Personally I want cheap food

J S
J S
4 months ago

European elites seem so adept at suicide, whether with free trade pacts, no defense spending, endless subsidized immigration. Many farmers don’t want to go down with the ship.

Fabio Paolo Barbieri
Fabio Paolo Barbieri
3 months ago

Jacob Szela served the Russian cause, and his children and great-grandchildren were to pay for it. And there is a reason why jacqueries fail. They are manifestations of anger without prospects or plans, that regularly are outmanoeuvred or simply out-hammered by more intelligent brutes.