National conservatism has a future in Britain
The ideology can provide a principled case for lower immigration
The national conservatives are coming to town. A National Conservatism conference — organised by the Edmund Burke Foundation — will take place in London from the 15th to the 17th May.
The Rome conference in 2020 caused a stir because the speakers included controversial figures like Marion Maréchal (of the Le Pen family) and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. This roster isn’t quite so troublesome — the most senior politician announced so far is Michael Gove.
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One also gets the impression that the national conservative movement is doing more to police its Rightward borders. For instance, when the leading ‘nat con’ thinker Yoram Hazony spoke at UnHerd’s Westminster HQ last year, he made it clear that Putin fans were not welcome — nor racists, fascists or all the other horrors lurking in the outer darkness.
But perhaps there’s another reason why Gove — and his fellow Conservative MPs Danny Kruger and Miriam Cates — are willing to participate, which is that they’re going to be called extremists anyway. That much is being made clear right now in the hysterical reaction to the UK government’s plan to combat illegal immigration — and especially the small boats. Gary Lineker, the well-paid BBC employee, described the government’s policy as “immeasurably cruel” and its language as “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman is also being attacked for her claim that there are “100 million people around the world who could qualify for protection under our current laws” and that “they are coming here”. It was a carelessly worded statement and she’s rightly being criticised over the specifics. However, her liberal critics are ignoring the underlying point, which is that the number of people who want to come to the UK — whether as asylum seekers or economic migrants — exceeds our capacity to assimilate them.
Net immigration to this country already runs at hundreds of thousands of people a year. It is entirely implausible that a further liberalisation of our immigration laws wouldn’t result in a substantial increase. ‘Reasonable’ liberals usually concede that there are limits — but they are reluctant to specify where those limits lie and how they are to be enforced if the small boats still come.
Even more importantly, liberalism — whether it leans to the Right or the Left — cannot give a coherent account of why a nation has the moral right to remain itself, or at least to manage the pace at which it changes. Though liberals might make a case in terms of practicality, they cannot make a principled case. However, the natcons can; it is literally what they are all about.
Further, wherever countries find their national sovereignty coming under intolerable pressure — for instance, in the ‘new European’ nations caught between German economic domination and Russian expansionism — you find national conservative governments. With the rise of Giorgia Meloni, the same is now true of Italy — a nation squeezed beyond endurance by the distortions of the single currency.
Mass uncontrolled immigration is another form of intolerable pressure on the nation state. Unless British liberals get real about numbers, enforcement and national sovereignty, then national conservatism will eventually triumph here too.
National conservatism differs from social or religious conservatism because the institutions that it seeks to protect have yet to be dissolved by the forces of modernity. The family has been redefined and the church pushed aside, but the nation remains a potent force — even within the EU.
Those who seek to bring it down should be under no doubt that it will be defended.
The obvious moral defence for the nation state is that, without well-defended borders, there can be no democracy or social cohesion, only tribalism.
We’re already seeing the consequences everywhere in Europe.
And in our cities
None of our entrenched parliamentary parties contain a significant national conservative element. Things will have to get a lot worse before the existing liberal hegemony is challenged, let alone usurped. It will happen eventually of course because the current level of immigration is unsustainable. Same for the target set for Net Zero by 2050 – Can’t be done, won’t be done.
Most members of our political and media class cannot add up – they are arithmetically incompetent.
“The family has been redefined and the church pushed aside…”
Bang on the money. Of course family and church used to be the most prominent building blocks of communities, which together make up a nation. With a top-down redefined ‘family’ and a church that is basically either a loudspeaker for the LGBTQ Left or is busy ‘reassuring’ us that it’s no more important than Islam, it is easy to see that these building blocks – and therefore our communities – have been radically altered.
Is it too far to suggest that a nation made up of altered communities is therefore also no longer recognisable as a cohesive unifier to many of its citizens: and I don’t mean recent immigrants, I mean ‘indigenous’ conservative people.
Our civil service buildings – including MOD – now regularly fly the rainbow flag. Some years ago a lefty friend of mine asked me if I would fight for Britain in the event of another world war: “Absolutely!” I assured him. I didn’t even consider it. I was shocked at the time when he breezily said he wouldn’t: in his view the ‘nation’ of Britain was just a capitalist system run for the banks, and if he had to be a slave for it then fine, but he wouldn’t willingly die for it. Quite amazed, I laughed.
I’m not laughing so much now: outside of my family and a very small number of friends I have no idea who I trust in our ‘nation’ any longer. The Establishment? Our rainbow institutions? The wider community? (Which one?) Lots of them clearly despise me and mine for failing to agree with their philosophical or moral beliefs: they don’t believe in the Common Good, they believe in power. And which particular community, anyway? Just my town? Or would I charge the guns on behalf of the people, police, social services and religious institutions of Rotherham? And does our nation of Rotherhams include a Scotland and Wales where significant numbers of people intentionally want to disbar us from ‘their nations’, and don’t want to be in ours?
Tribalism isn’t a choice or an ideal, it’s a last redoubt in which my family might be left alone, or at least safe – and if not safe, then as a very last recourse I know I can rely on the tribe in adversity.
I’m not a very brave character, bit of a softie really. But I think I would have fought for the Britain of our grandfathers. Same for the Britain of our fathers.
I’m not feeling so certain with regard to the Britain of today. I love my country, but I get the feeling it doesn’t think much of me these days.
Why would you fight (and possibly die) for a country that hates you?
First of all, let me say that I am old. Most things happening today really hurt – particularly the immigration discussion. I can’t see how life will be possible when we add a couple of millions of poor ‘refugees’ to our collapsing world. All of our politicians seem to be pathetic. Our richer people seem concerned about the ‘poor’ but they can just go somewhere else, whenever they like. Stupid, rich, mollycoddled footballers, who live a life of luxury are kneeling before matches because of something they almost certainly don’t understand. Etc,etc.
But! I can remember the lecture from my parents when I saved my pocket money for my first Beatles record. They were horrified. They thought it was the end of the world. Another post today takes about this in more detail. As Theodore Dalrymple says, anyone can predict the end of the world IF they assume that nothing will change in the meantime. I can say that life as we know it will die out, the country will be ruined, Islam will take over and the country will take on Sharia Law. But, maybe, 20 years from now when I am not here, something will put these trends into reverse. So, maybe a small amount of optimism is possible.
I once spent a lot of time in Rotherham. On my last visit I shuddered. Perhaps our politicians, football pundits, journalists, all richer earners, need an enforced stay in Yorkshire, Lancashire, the Welsh valleys, etc, before they can earn their money.
“One also gets the impression that the national conservative movement is doing more to police its Rightward borders”
This is why it will fail. In modern parlance, they are mere ‘cuckservatives’ living amidst ruins.
better than the National Socialist masturbaTorys current state?
I must say that in all this (justified) sound and fury over the small boats, the Tories are playing a blinder. Such is their sleight of hand that no-one, or at least no-one who matters, has cared to mention that they have doubled LEGAL migration since Brexit to an unbelievable 500,000 in 2021. Now, we are told, the Chancellor is going to open up new categories for work visas in the budget next week. Tories, who’d have ‘em?
Jeez I read first para or so and thought ‘a sensible article about to unfold’, only to find it slide into another load of nonsense about immigration.
Look pretty much everyone agrees we can’t have an open door and many of the asylum seekers will need to be sent back. What we are begging for is some basic competency in processing, some sensitivity when needed and not continual ‘red meat’ rubbish which gets us nowhere practical fast.
Braverman’s language and phraseology – you can excuse it all you like but it was incendiary, designed to be and like the ’75m Turks are coming here’ Brexit line, cobblers and designed to generate fear. There is an international issue and lots of drivers for this. That’s not in dispute, but language matters. (By the way Lineker was referencing what a Holocaust survivor said about her language). So what’s her plan to stop this international migration? She think these people are reading her headlines and legislation more than the advertised trafficking offers? Get real.
Weaving the asylum issue into a broader immigration point – hang on the Tories can make decisions tmoro about legal migration numbers and reduce those if they want. What’s Braverman done? Pretty much zilch. The 45k in boats is a tiny proportion. It’s basically clickbait rubbish to conflate the two issues. (Of course Authors also know play to your audiences cognitive biases and you’ll get more readers)
Separately but as we’re on it – telling people it’ll be against the law to cross the channel unlikely to make the slightest difference. Having quick, effective processing and fairly high level percentage return is what is needed. Heard them talk about how they are going to do that? No of course not. This is all about headline fear mongering and needs calling out.
Incendiary to whom exactly?
The people whom may be panicked there are about to be 100m refugees rock up on their doorstep tmoro. Designed deliberately to stir up worry, panic and conflict.
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