Friday, 26 July 2013

House of the Dead

The nobility as a rotting, dead institution requiring an injection of religious mania to free it from the grave socialist "depravity" threatened to put it in: at the dawn of the 70s, to usher in the conservative age a new kind of re-engineering of biblical cruelty was required.


(Should mention I've not actually seen the film in question, but it looks intriguing all the same). 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013



 (Left). Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas. b. 1870, Worcestershire. d. 1945, St Andrews. Educated:
Winchester &
Magdalen College, Oxford.

 (Right). Douglas Murray. b. 1979, Scotland. Educated: Eton & Magdalen College, Oxford.

At the age of 21 Douglas Murray published Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas (Hodder & Stoughton, 2000).
"Douglas’s reputation has been destroyed, Murray claims, by ‘inaccuracies and lies’, ‘smears and cover-ups’. The powerful excusing ‘influences’ which Bosie saw everywhere he looked are to be found in Murray’s worldview also. Throughout the book people are ‘led into’ things. Wilde is led into homosexuality. Olive’s lesbianism is ‘nurtured’ by someone else – she added another love to Bosie’s two, the love that ‘walks with delicate feet afraid,/Twixt maid and maid.'"

"In this phase of Douglas’s life, Murray’s biography becomes a whitewash. It fails to describe the contents of Plain English, a periodical that Douglas founded in 1920. Murray, in a close paraphrase of prior biographers, writes that Plain English made “few specific attacks” on Jews, despite “frequent implications” of “Jewish conspiracies.” Did he bother to look at the thing? Here are some quotations found at random: “The negroes in the United States are being organized by the Jew Seligman.” “There are more Kikes—‘Kike’ being the American for Jew—in New York than there are in Warsaw.” Headline from the editor’s notes: “HUMAN SACRIFICE AMONG THE JEWS.” Social analysis from the editor: “It is strange that the Jew, with all his race-memory, forgets the lessons of the past, and heads again and again for destruction by exasperating the people among whom he dwells.”

At the Pim Fortuyn Memorial Conference of 2006, Murray stated:

"It is late in the day, but Europe still has time to turn around the demographic time-bomb which will soon see a number of our largest cities fall to Muslim majorities. It has to. All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop. In the case of a further genocide such as that in the Balkans, sanctuary would be given on a strictly temporary basis. This should also be enacted retrospectively. Those who are currently in Europe having fled tyrannies should be persuaded back to the countries which they fled from once the tyrannies that were the cause of their flight have been removed."

Murray has described the English Defence League as:

"An extraordinary phenomenon which, by the way, in my opinion wouldn’t have occurred if the government had got a grip on al-Muhajiroun. It only came about because the authorities didn’t do anything about the that particularly thuggish organisation. These things have consequences. The English Defence League, when they started protesting, had banners saying things like, you know, sharia law discriminates against women; sharia law is anti-gay. Well, I’m good with both of those sentiments; I’m sure most people in this room are. If you were ever going to have a grass-roots response from non-Muslims to Islamism, that would be how you’d want it, surely ?"

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Great Eternal Now

Everything really is stupidly simple

And yet all around is utter confusion  

Fairy tales written may help you to see it  

Do you understand about Lewis's Alice? 

We fit all our lives into regular patterns 

All that we really know is that we're really living

Moreover, to be conservative is not merely to be averse from change (which may be an idiosyncrasy); it is also a manner of accommodating ourselves to changes, an activity imposed upon all men. For, change is a threat to identity, and every change is an emblem of extinction. But a man’s identity (or that of a community) is nothing more than an unbroken rehearsal of contingencies, each at the mercy of circumstance and each significant in proportion to its familiarity. It is not a fortress into which we may retire, and the only means we have of defending it (that is, ourselves) against the hostile forces of change is in the open field of our experience; by throwing our weight upon the foot which for the time being is most firmly placed, by cleaving to whatever familiarities are not immediately threatened and thus assimilating what is new without it becoming unrecognizable to ourselves. The Masai, when they were moved from their old country to the present Masaid reserve in Kenya, took with them the names of their hill s and plains and rivers and gave them to the hills and plains and rivers of the new country. And it is by some such subterfuge of conservatism that every man or people compelled to suffer a notable change avoids the shame of extinction.

It is commonly believed that this conservative disposition is pretty deeply rooted in what is called “human nature.” Change is tiring, innovation calls for effort, and human beings (it is said) are more apt to be lazy than energetic. If they have found a not unsatisfactory way of getting along in the world, they are not disposed to go looking for trouble. They are naturally apprehensive of the unknown and prefer safety to danger. They are reluctant innovators, and they accept change not because they like it but (as Rochefoucald says they accept death) because it is inescapable. Change generates sadness rather than exhilaration: heaven is the dream of a changeless no less than a perfect world. Of course, those who read “human nature” in this way agree that this disposition does not stand alone; they merely contend that it is an exceedingly strong, perhaps the strongest, of human propensities. And, so far as it goes, there is something to be said for this belief: human circumstances would be very different from what they are if there were not a large ingredient of conservatism in human preferences. Primitive peoples are said to cling to what is familiar and to be averse from change; ancient myth is full of warnings against innovation; our folklore and proverbial wisdom about the conduct of life abounds in conservative precepts; and how many tears are shed by children in their unwilling accommodation to change. Indeed, wherever a firm identity has been achieved, and wherever identity is felt to be precariously balanced, a conservative disposition is likely to prevail. On the other hand, the disposition of adolescence is often predominantly adventurous and experimental: when we are young, nothing seems more desirable than to take a chance; pas de risque, pas de plaisir. And while some peoples, over long stretches of time, appear successfully to have avoided change, the history of others displays periods of intense and intrepid innovation. There is, indeed, not much profit to be had from general speculation about “human nature,” which is no steadier than anything else in our acquaintance. What is more to the point is to consider current human nature, to consider ourselves. 

Michael Oakeshott, On Being Conservative


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Spanked proles.

Unlikely as it may seem, the end of 1971’s deeply unpopular “Carry on at your convenience”, (a film which took years to recoup its budget instead of the typical weeks or months in which the popular series usually went into profit), contains one of the cardinal images of the early Seventies, a superb foreshadowing of Thatcherism.

The films central villain is Vic Spanner, a shop steward resented by all the employees of W.C. Boggs, especially the workers themselves who, recognizing that "we’re all in it together” are keen to get on with making Britain great by toiling away at the production line and whose patriotic, proletarian zeal Spanner scuppers with his excessive, though finally hypocritical and self-serving militancy. The strike he calls is eventually broken by the workers themselves who, after a works' booze-up, recognize that their own interests are identical to those of the bosses'. In the climax Spanner’s mother, a tough, no-nonsense, middle-aged blonde with social aspirations puts her fully grown shop-steward son over her knee and spanks some common sense into him.

This is the Tory fantasy that must be made flesh, the suburban blonde dominatrix disciplining the uppity worker, publicly humiliating him before an approving audience drawn from all classes

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

How to Get It

Before wholly becoming leery seaside crassness as in 'On the Buses', permissive populism could be found early back in what was lauded as Britian's first radical film wave, the Postwar British Noir. A major component of Postwar British Noir was the 'angry young man' film, ranging from straightforward bleak drama (A Kind of Loving, 1962), to bleak fantasy (Billy Liar, 1962), to bleak bleak bleak (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, 1962). However when looked at more closely and considered with permissive populism, the content can be much more retrograde than first appears.

Take A Kind of Loving, which appears to fit the idea very well. Alan Bates' Vic is a young working class draughtsman, who falls in love, or believes himself to, with June Ritchie's Ingrid, a typist at the same factory. Vic's only concern is to sleep with Ingrid, and over the course of the film he pressures and coerces her until she finally does so, with long term disastrous consequences. What appears to be a clear motivator for Vic is the image rather than substance of Ingrid: he tunes out when she talks to him, ignores her, generally acts callously. A cheap and nasty pornographic mag reappears through the film, Vic coveting the flat images within. The theme echoes a scene in 'Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner' in which the family is instantly consumed with the adverts on their newly plugged in television set, image replacing reality. The film is ambivalent towards permissive populism; casual sex is the destruction of Vic and Ingrid, leaving them both permanently damaged. The film, earning it's angry credentials, also identifies the traditionalism of Vic's working class family as poisonous, pressuring him to maintain a loveless and destructive relationship. There is also an interesting strand with Ingrid's mother, Thora Hird's Mrs Rothwell, a proto-Thatcher, who puts the blame for society's ills squarely on miners and other workers asking for and receiving too high wages.

The angry young man genre had a brief life, though echoes could be found until the late 1960s. The transition of social realism to sexploitation is really marked by a small film set in Stevenage, big at the time but forgotten now: Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1967). Listed to compete at Canne, a soundtrack by the Spencer Davies Group and Traffic, and an opening night attended by literally everybody in Swinging London, it was a true zeitgeist experience. Here the angry young man transitions into the randy young lad, a sort of Jay from the Inbetweeners a few decades ahead of time. The film's a curious clash of psychadelic Sixtiesploitation (the screen goes a funny colour and the camera wobbles), vaguely recognisable social commentary (Barry Evans' Jamie McGregor and family are working class, there's some rich people, his mum reads big books, there's some striking shots of concrete modernist Stevenage that make it look interesting and European), and not-even-really softcore sex.

The film carries over trace elements of the angry young men genre, Jamie's long monologues about his grievances are very much of the type. Permissive populism is invoked here as Jamie's grievances are mostly that women aren't having sex with him. Jamie's gaze wanders over shop assistants, housewives, church volunteers, strangers in gambling dens (yes, in Stevenage), hippy types holding a happening in a furniture shop (yes, yes, in Stevenage). The whole film is very reminiscent of the softcore British films on the horizon. “I'm capable, I'm capable anywhere!” croaks future Bond girl Angelar Scoular. Not only is Jamie not having sex, everybody else he meets is (Denholm Elliot, of a sex-crazy upper class family, pursuing a yodelling Swedish au pair, comes to mind). It is only once within hippy permissiveness that Jamie can find any satisfaction.

The appeal is for those who can't partake in swinging London or sixties-style swinging due to geographical and class circumstances. The idealistic view of the film is of a coming utopia where sex is completely casual, prevented from developing into anything more sinister by the peace/love elements that seem to keep the worst tendencies here in check. As would become apparent however over the years, the permissive culture would become another item on Mrs Rothwell's list of ailments bringing the country down from greatness. The sourness and sexism that partly animates Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush would become a full dystopia by the time of the mid 1970s.