Jews as ‘Collateral Damage’ in the Fall of the British Empire: Part One
Britain’s Exterminating Sea Empire
by Gwydion M Williams
- A Car Crash In Slow Motion
- Changing Morals ‘East of Suez’
- Britannia Feared Continental Europe
- Confusions About Freedom
- Why Lying Fails
- Natives and Native Rats
- Huxley – the Harsher Vision
- Missing the Usefulness of Faith
- Greater Britain as Cloned Englishness
- Sea Empires: the Anarchy of Global Trade
- Why Britain Needed European Wars
- The Problem of Hitler
- Hitler Crosses a Line
- Looking Ahead
“Their elimination from the earth’s surface can be viewed only with satisfaction, as the removal of a great blot from the escutcheon of our common humanity, by all those who know them as they are, and are not to be misled by the maudlin philanthropy of their friends.”
Adolph Hitler on the Jews? No, 19th century champion of Darwinism Thomas Huxley on the Australian Aboriginals. I reworded it slightly, to make it fit one group of suffering humans rather than another. I give the full quote later on.
No proper understanding of either Zionism or anti-Semitism is possible if you think of these as unique beliefs arising for baffling reasons. It is wrong to suppose that either are due to some Jewish uniqueness. To me, it has always seemed obvious that these were typical instances of global human behaviour. Desires that often run into foolishness, wickedness and ‘ethnic cleansing’.
Racism isn’t necessarily anti-Jewish, and nor is Fascism. The roots lie in the wrong turning that the expanding British Empire took in the early 19th century. For while Racism is an older sentiment that Universalism, the remarkable growth of White Racism in the 19th century was led and encouraged by the British Empire.
In the 1920s and 1930s, all Jews including Zionists were caught up in a disaster caused by the decline of the British Empire. Caused also by the USA’s irresponsible detachment and Hitler’s foolish haste in undermining British hegemony in Europe.
It was naïve of Hitler think that Britain would easily accept total German hegemony over Europe east of the Rhine. Or that the British ruling class would tolerate his abrupt seizure of the Czech half of Czechoslovakia as the ‘Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia’. Surprisingly, Hitler hung onto this belief throughout the war. He also never attempted to see if he could raise up popular British opinion for a moderate solution by publicising his wish to leave Britain and its Empire intact. Blamed Jews, who were only ever a minor factor in British decision-making.
That was the situation between the wars and into World War Two. Jews could do very little about it. Even after 1945, the Zionist movement had to fight to secure Israel, which the West was lukewarm about until their 1967 victory. But after the Soviet collapse, Israel and most of its overseas supporters signed up to a disastrous overplaying of the West’s strong position. The fatal meanness and hostility when Moscow sincerely believed that the West was the friend of the new post-Communist Russia.
This stands in contrast to the Keynesian solution that the West once cherished. That won over Italy, West Germany and Japan as actual friends.
This time round, there was an amazingly foolish belief that dishonesty and bullying the weak were smart tactics. And as a small part of this, Israel grabbed more Palestinian land and saw no need to compromise. Criticising this gets denounced as caused by hatred of Jews. As does any attempt to explain the complexities of history. Or a simple reminder that the West is repeating the 1930s errors that caused of Nazism.
I’m agreeable to calling Nazism evil. But not an unexplained evil. Not an evil unrelated to the failures of the then-dominant British Empire.
In the early 1990s George Soros, not then well-known or influential, actually had the correct idea of a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Russia. He complains that he was laughed at: he does not say that the mockers were fools or that their ignorant False Beliefs must now be ditched. His philosophical pretensions are empty: he is not even a systematic thinker who will carry through a particular idea to unpopular conclusions – or else drop it as wrong.
If Russia should have got a Marshall Plan in 1991, then the West owes Russia a massive apology. A dishonest politician might also think it a clever tactics even if they saw the failure as sheer bad luck. But if Russia should have got a Marshall Plan, or at least was hurt badly by a Western gamble on a ‘Big Bang’ fix, then a massive apology is expedient, as well as moral. But Soros can’t see it. He stays with the Western consensus that Russia’s reaction under Putin is aggressive and unreasonable. HE HATES US, so all we can do is treat him as an enemy.
Most Anglo politicians – with Trump perhaps an exception – do not realise that Putin might be open to sensible compromises. Soros knew that the 1990s Consensus Line was an error, but he cannot think this through. He fails to see Russia’s stand under Putin as reasonable.
Rather than see the Western victory as lucky and caused mostly by Russia’s post-Stalin errors, the New Right re-wrote history. They convinced themselves that the methods that saved the West after 1945 were foolish errors. Believed that they would have done much better, despite repeatedly doing worse.
They also lost China, through rudeness and ignorance. The strongly pro-Western Chinese they cherish are not a serious force. If I were someone who wished to subvert China, I would view almost all of these characters as not even an asset. They have lost faith in their own civilisation at a time when it makes vast advances in power and wealth.
Deng after 1989 chose to carry on with a reforming line that had never been as pro-Western as Western experts imagined. This was continued successfully by Jiang Zemin, despite some Westerners expecting and even hoping that he would fail to keep China stable. Hu Jintao, though he was the weakest leader since the short-reigning Hua Guofeng, did stop the drift towards greater inequality. Successfully brought China through the global crisis of 2008 with minimal damage. And I suspect that the entire Chinese leadership has always been alert for the West being either malicious or sincerely incompetent. Both of which have happened.
Since the 1991 decision to use the USA’s power to dominate the rest of the world and ‘correct’ the Middle East, things have gone from bad to worse. European imperialism gets whitewashed. The rest of the world is expected to submit to Western values. [The West] calls them incompetent or wicked when this bad advice fails.
With certainty, this new line is not a rational calculation of Zionist interests. The New Right vision of the world, which had never previously had the support of more than a minority of Jews, suddenly became the new Core Belief.
Israel is probably 20 years too late to make a sensible compromise with the Palestinians, but I’d still see it as their best chance of long-term survival. Things could turn nasty very quickly, perhaps with the USA getting a President who doesn’t feel like backing Israel. Or with Saudi Arabia using its vast stock of weapons for something other than slaughtering the poor Yemenis. But Israel is locked into a doomed stand, certain that THEY HATE US and only a continuous hard line will work. Anyone who tries to explain gets accused of being anti-Semitic, even if they have been generally positive about Jews and hostile only to Israel as the final unresolved product of Western Imperialism. Likewise the small but very active minority of Jews who call for something better get accused of self-hatred, rather than being impartial in their morality or showing a sensible concern for where the current Hard Line is leading.
Israel and World Zionism fed into the Western attempt to destroy Secular Arab Nationalism after the collapse of the Soviet Union, though of course their total power was only a small part of the whole. In their own dealings with the Palestinians, they seem initially to have shared the US notion that Extreme Islam was less of a threat than Secular Nationalism. They still fail to see that their old enemies, the Baathist of Syria, are less dangerous than the new forces created by Western intervention.
(Signing up a doubtful ally who proves an even worse foe is a common human failing. British leaders in post-Roman Britain are said to have invited in the Saxons who dispossessed them. Much better documented are the errors of China’s Song Dynasty. They first invited in the Jurchens to deal with the Liao barbarians. Later allied with Genghis Khan’s Mongols in the hope of recovering all of North China from the Jurchens. The Mongols of course took everything.)
What Israel does now is a tragic mess. But just possibly a wider view can help. After Brexit and Trump, the time is surely right to say that the dominant Anglo view of the world is false.
The first couple of generations of Britons who made the East India Company’s informal empire in India were happy to mingle socially and sexually with the native population. They blended freely into what was obviously an old and sophisticated culture. A culture with a long history of finding an honoured but contained place for powerful newcomers.
In the early 19th century, all this went into reverse. A rigid racial separation was imposed. Within British India, any white man was superior to every non-white.
This was not applied consistently within Britain itself. Hindu and Muslim aristocrats were commonly welcomed into aristocratic circles where most of the white rulers of India would not have been admitted. There was no British-Isles ban on ‘mixed marriages’, though there was a lot of social disapproval. Britain’s ancient universities, always more interested in ideas than people, did grant degrees and the highest academic honours to a few really brilliant non-whites like Ramanujan.
The British Empire was built on a split mentality: one rule for Britain and another for the Empire, with some compromise between the two for Continental Europe. Kipling put it very neatly in his very popular 1890s poem Mandalay, three verses of which became a popular song called On the Road to Mandalay. Both include the following lines:
- “Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
- “Where there aren’t no Ten Commandments an’ a man can raise a thirst”
No one else seems to see this as odd. But I do.
One of the Sherlock Holmes stories made a deep point when it has the main clue being the ‘curious incident of the dog in the night-time’. The Scotland Yard detective is baffled, correctly stating that the dog did nothing. For Sherlock Holmes, that is what’s curious. He deduces that despite evidence of a break-in, there was no one the dog would have smelled as unfamiliar and barked at.
Suggesting that there were foreign parts where ‘there aren’t no Ten Commandments’ seems to have produced no reaction at all in 1890s Britain, at a time when overt attacks on the story of Jesus were still controversial. But Kipling’s view was merely that Judeo-Christian morality should not apply in non-white countries. The White Master Race within the Empire were supposed to treat each other with the same regard they would have shown in Britain, with white ladies treated with enormous respect. Only the native women could be freely used and discarded.
Both poem and song have an old soldier thinking nostalgically of a ‘Burma girl’, but there is no suggestion he might marry her. He shows no specific wish to return to Burma or that woman, as distinct from nostalgia for the high social status that he as a common soldier had in the racist British Empire. Anywhere ‘East of Suze’ would do.
You might also note that he says ‘raise a thirst’. In English idiom, this actually means getting as drunk as you can: someone who was genuinely thirsty would drink water. One of many pieces of cultural evasiveness that mostly get overlooked because of their routine nature. You do also find people stating frankly that they are ‘going to get blind drunk’ or ‘get legless’. (This last can tragically become literally so if they drink and drive.)
You might be surprised to find all this in an article about Jews. But that’s just my point: Jews under the Nazis were the main victims of a pattern of evils that had previous applied to others. There had always been communal violence and communal prejudice, of course, with Jews as common victims. But the rise of Scientific Racism and State-Organised Genocide was something new. A pattern of racism and ‘suspended morality’ that could be applied to almost anybody.
The British ruling class had accepted Jews as useful for the British Empire. But in World War One, they chose to support Tsarist Russia, vastly more hostile to Jews than Germany was. The potential for Jews to be thrown out of their privileged White Race status and lumped with the Inferior Breeds was always there. It just happened to happen in Germany after first their humiliating defeat in World War One and then the ‘double whammy’ of the Great Slump, which generated 30% unemployment in Germany.
Kipling didn’t like Nazism. His 1901 novel Kim had for some years been decorated with swastikas, an ancient and innocuous Hindu and Buddhist symbol: one which I have seen still freely displayed in Buddhist temples in East Asia. When Nazism became prominent he had them removed, and in 1935 warned of the Nazis as a danger to Britain.
Racism was the norm for those Kipling spoke for, and not just ‘East of Suez’. There was strict racism in South Africa, the Caribbean and Canada. Already strong in Britain’s North American colonies before they became the United States, with African-American slaves and the comfortable extermination of almost all Native Americans.
In Egypt, gross bias was shown by the British authorities in the 1906 Denshawai Incident. It arose from some British officers shooting pigeons that an Egyptian village had raised and regarded as their property. Had something similar happened in an English village, the judgement of the authorities would certainly have been very different.
From the 1870s, popular militarism became an alternative to both socialism and traditional liberalism in much of Europe. White Racism was an increasingly popular creed, with occasional disputes about whether Jews were or were not proper members of the White Race. Mostly they were accepted, but the disruptive arrival in Britain of East European Jews with unfamiliar social habits led to a growth of British anti-Semitism. Luckily for Britain’s Jews, the best publicist was G. K. Chesterton, best known for his inoffensive ‘Father Brown’ stories. His conversion to Roman Catholicism cut him off from the mass of right-wing British Protestants.
Life for all minorities was made much worse by World War One, except when they were given their own Nation-State. (Each of which had its own minorities, including the former ruling majority.)
Had World War One been over in a few weeks or months, like other European wars since the fall of Napoleon, it might have not done much damage. Germany wanted to call off the war early in 1915, when it was clear that there could be no easy victory for either side. But the British parliament was almost unanimous that the war could not end without Germany being severely punished. Supposedly this was for atrocities in Belgium, which after the war were revealed as wildly exaggerated.
There had long been a ruling class view that it was unacceptable for the new German Empire to be taking over from Britain using the Free Trade rules that Britain had originally defined. The answer was either co-existence with each World Empire becoming protectionist, or a World War to smash Germany with the help of Russia and France. Tragically, the second option was taken.
It was both wicked and a gross miscalculation of selfish interests. The thinkers of the British ruling class had a wildly exaggerated notion of the costs of losing dominance. Accepting the Kaiser’s semi-socialist German Empire as a global equal would have been far less damaging to the British Empire than the actual course of history. It would also probably have been better for left-wing and progressive causes, including the unresolved issue of Irish Home Rule. I’ve written an Alternative History short story on just this basis.
The actual war wrecked Europe, but Europe was still dominant over most of the rest of the world. The USA as Europe’s biggest overseas creation chose to go isolationist. This left the British Empire still setting the tone for the rest of the world.
Accepting Germany as a global equal was half-heartedly tried after Hitler came to power. The British government understood that Hitler might be planning a war against them: this persuaded them to make concessions that had been refused to Weimar Germany. It was called appeasement because it recognised a real danger, but thought it could be dealt with by compromise.
Britain’s Tory-dominated National Government was not opposed to Fascism as such. Relations with Italy had remained friendly after Mussolini took over. And having squeezed Weimar Germany for War Reparations that crippled its economy, Hitler was allowed to break the normal rules of global trade. Allowed to re-militarise the Rhineland, at a time when the German Army could not contemplate a war even with France alone.
Fascism was in many ways an application of colonial methods and attitudes to the home society. This was by no means doomed to fail. The ancient Roman Republic paved the way for its destruction when it decided that the newly conquered territory of Sicily should be ruled by a Governor appointed by the Senate without reference to the people who were to be ruled. Over time they acquired many more Provinces ruled by Governors that could be looted by them, with the accumulated wealth subverting the Republic itself. The Emperors merely applied to Rome itself what the rest of the Empire had long been enduring.
World War One saw multi-national European Empires broken up, but Imperialism was still dominant outside of Europe. The Spanish Civil War saw Spain itself conquered by forces drawn largely from Spanish Morocco, and including many Moroccans.
The Spanish Republic was dominated by a non-socialist centre-left that would not have considered giving independence to Spanish Morocco. That was its fatal mistake.
Hitler and Mussolini were both enthusiasts for Empire inside of Europe as well as outside. Mussolini conquered Ethiopia and Albania but needed German help to subdue Greece. Hitler created a grand European Empire on White Racist lines, with Germans much superior to Slavs and Jews and Gypsies not belonging in Europe at all.
Jews in Europe were major victims of this high-point of Imperialism and White Racism. But in creating and then expanding a new State of Israel on Palestinian land, Zionist Jews have also acted as the final wave of European Imperialism. Expanding on a racist basis, with only Jews as full citizens. Rejecting the new norm, in which Europe and its offshoots have painfully adjusted to being equal with the rest of the world.
Supporters of Israel insist that they are hated for no reason at all. That anyone who mentions that the Arabs also have a case must also hate them. And like most False Beliefs, this has the major drawback of not being true.
Had they seen Palestinian, Arab and Muslim sentiments as normal human reactions to a new population intruding into their homes and Sacred Places, a rational solution might have been arrived at. As things are, they have successfully produced extremist movements within Islam that are indeed committed to hating them. And while most Muslims reject this, the West will not accept this unless Muslims are also ready to accept Israel as being Without Sin.
Back in June 2016, I wrote an article called Zionism’s Suicidal Militancy, based on my strong feeling that the situation with Israel was like a car crash in slow motion. I’d always shared the widespread view that the Western interventions in the Arab world were aimed at producing Arab regimes that would sell oil cheap and not venture to criticise continued Israeli expansion in the West Bank: what they call ‘Judea and Samaria’. I also took the view, not shared by many at the time, that [the attempt to reshape Iraq] was doomed to fail. Was unsurprised when it did indeed fail.
The failure was not down to particular foolish policies, though these were many. So foolish that had I been some sort of Deep Infiltrator suggesting foolish policies in the guise of reason, in best Conspiracy Theory manner, there was not a single additional piece of foolishness that I could have suggested. I’m sure I’d never have dared suggest a new Iraqi flag that distanced itself from traditional Arab nationalism and had an uncanny similarity to the flag of Israel, bearing two narrow horizontal stripes. But I felt also that these particular and unexpected errors were surface phenomena. Even carried out impeccably, the project would have failed.
The big problem with lying is that it’s not true. Those who do a lot of lying tend to lose sight of what is true: yet normal humans have an attachment to truth that overrides the ‘rational self-interest’ that the New Right are so fond of. Worse, a society relaxed about lying will let False Beliefs multiply, because ‘truth is only what we say it is’.
Things [definitely true but] not believed by a supposedly sophisticated political elite include the following:
- Though Britain was parliamentary from the 1680s, it was not democratic till the 1880s.
- The British Empire was not remotely democratic, and not intended to be until it was fighting for simple survival in the new world created after 1945. Voting rights were only considered necessary for the White Race, and made specifically discriminatory where there were enough non-whites to matter.
- The Enlightenment was something very different from Democracy. Pioneered by admirers of Enlightened Despotism. [Stephen Pinker, quite sensible in The Better Angels of Our Nature, has now published a book called Enlightenment Now. This entirely evades the awkward fact that ‘Enlightenment Then’ was quite different on many points. That it was tolerant of a lowly position for most women and non-whites, while taking up a few almost as pets. And that socialists made the big shifts – Pinker’s index has no entries at all for Socialism.]
- The USA’s New Deal was only possible thanks to the support of Southern Democrats. Welfare for Afro-Americans was acceptable only if it was accepted that they were separate from and inferior to members of the White Race.
- Sovereign governments are the default human condition, initially tribal and only slowly expanded to kingdoms. ‘Universalism’ was a new and controversial notion, mostly with one tribe claiming that its own particular values were the only ones that humans should live by. And the Peace of Westphalia was irrelevant, confirming only that a Germanic kingdom known as the Holy Roman Empire would remain a weak entity containing a mix of states that were functionally sovereign.
But the key error was failing to blame the British Empire for the 19th century growth of White Racism. This is conveniently easy if you identify White Racism with the dying remnants of this once-powerful creed. The marginal remnants [among the Far Right] are mostly full of ignorant hatred of Jews and foolish beliefs in Global Conspiracies. Dominated by men of little education and who hate the educated. But in the high era of White Racism, they were embedded in the universities and included learned men with a strong belief in much more education for ordinary members of the White Race. (Lesser and limited education for the racially inferior.)
Jews had their own systems of learning that they had maintained across the centuries. Those Jews who lacked it – many were poor and uneducated – still viewed learning as admirable. This was a welcome contrast to the stratum of English – upper class as well as poor – who viewed education and knowledge with great suspicion. Some Jews also had business links with Continental Europe that the British ruling class found useful. The Rothschilds were the most noted, but there were many others.
Jews neatly fitted a gap in the society. The British upper class spoke fluent French and could easily network with people in Continental Europe, where French had become the agreed common language – but they were not business minded. They mostly cut whatever connections with ‘trade’ that their families might once have had. Business other than finance was dominated and largely run by very different people, mostly ignorant of the world outside of Britain, so Jews were useful intermediaries. And many business people were ‘Nonconformists’, members of Protestant sects outside the Church of England. Jews could be viewed as not so different from some of the less conventional Nonconformist sects.
Britons were also increasingly sceptical of the Christian religion. This mostly led them to accept Jews as ordinary fellow-humans. One notable instance of positive feelings towards Jews was Daniel Deronda by Marianne Evens. (Who is still weirdly published in most editions under her pen-name ‘George Elliot’, used for the entirely sensible reason that books with known female authors were much less likely to be taken seriously.)
This odd situation might have worked out peacefully in the long run, had it not been for the weird nature of the British Empire itself. It had the standard feature of sea-based empires: it ruled distant lands but not its neighbours. (This is detailed later on.)
The British Empire was a unique Sea Empire in that it also became the strongest global power. But it remained true to its origins, making no effort to incorporate or federate with Continental Europe. This meant that it could only dominate the world by keeping Continental Europe divided.
Britain in the 18th century and through to the Napoleonic Wars got involved in many Continental wars, but the habit was always to take overseas territories as part of the various victorious peace treaties. [Plus the useful staging-posts of Gibraltar and Malta.] The Seven Years War was decisive, giving victory over France in the critical expansions into North America and the Indian Subcontinent.
Britain’s key ally in the Seven Years War was Prussia. And again in the wars against Napoleon, where Blucher’s Prussians saved Wellington at Waterloo. But Britain’s interests were always adjustable. Between 1870 and 1914, Prussians were somehow transformed from useful allies into wicked enemies who must be destroyed. (Much as was done overnight with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.)
This also applied to the Ottoman Empire, which Britain until 1914 found it convenient to keep in being. Britons had a sentimental attachment to Greece as an ancestor of their culture, but British governments were cool about the desire for freedom of the various Christian peoples in the Balkans that the Ottomans had conquered. They also frustrated a regeneration of Egypt by an Albanian Muslim called Muhammad Ali, whose dynasty later became British puppets until their ignominious end under King Farouk. And Britain in the Crimean War allied with its old enemy France to humble Russia.
Rivalry with both France and Russia continued intermittently, with clashes in Africa and with Russia getting closer to British India as it conquered Central Asia. There was also a potential clash over China, with Russia wondering if it might conquer part or all of it. Britain wanted to keep its dominance of Shanghai and the Yangtze River Valley.
It is surprising that China was not carved up. It was considered. The USA was against it, but before 1914 it lacked the power to make a large difference. But that was where the weakness of Britain as a Sea Empire counted. There was a shortage of men that the elite viewed as ‘the right sort of chap’. At the time it was out of the question to give woman much authority, and till almost the end there was a reluctance to give non-whites much power. So the British Empire would have been risking being over-extended had it annexed the Yangtze Valley and a chunk next to Hong Kong, which would have been the logical split.
Well before 1914, the British Empire was running out of Imperial Cadres, and would not make the racial and social widening to include more. While they liked to compare themselves to the Roman Empire, they rejected the sensible decision of both the Roman Empire and the earlier Hellenic Empires to include people of any racial origin who had accepted the culture. Typical of Sea Empires.
The outcomes of the two World Wars wrecked Imperialism. National Self-Determination for all races became the norm. The Soviet Union, while it played a valuable role in ending Direct Imperialism, was also foolish to think it could carry on with what was always and obviously a continuation of the Tsarist Empire with elements of socialism. Stalin had planned to merge the nations of Eastern Europe into an enlarged and much more multi-national Soviet Union, which might have worked. Khrushchev and Brezhnev froze into place an irrational system. When Gorbachev naively tried un-freezing it, of course it collapsed.
The Soviet collapse was due to a version of Imperialism that was once progressive being continued long after the world had transformed. Well before 1989, other survivals of European Imperialism were wound up, apart from a few small islands that find the relationship convenient. Even the immensely tricky situation in South Africa has been resolved without major bloodshed.
The last important residuum of European Imperialism is Israel. The Oslo Accords might have brought peace, had Israel allowed a genuine Palestinian state to emerge. Instead they chose a fragmented ‘Bantustan’ Palestine and continued expansion of Israeli settlement in what they regard as Judea and Samaria.
And as I mentioned earlier, I wrote an article giving my view of this dismal picture. I hadn’t expected my warnings to make the slightest difference, or even to attract much attention. At best I might be called a moaning Jeremiah, by people who forgot the inconvenient truth that Jeremiah’s warnings were all too dismally accurate. In fact I got no reaction at all.
After put my views on record, I then switched my attention to an analysis that ignored Israel and delved deeper into what was wrong with our entire Western and Modernist world-view. Going into what I saw as the errors in the common viewpoint that emerged in the West from 1960s radicalism. I am assuredly not one of those elderly Baby Boomers who now whinge and moan about what we did when young. I was a naïve foot-soldier among the minority of radical War Babies and Baby Boomers who fought for justice rather than just having selfish fun. We established many new freedoms that are now taken for granted.
To see the problems with freedom, you first need to grasp the difference between objective facts outside human control, and things that are true only because large numbers of humans choose to treat them as true. So in a philosophical essay called The Muon and the Green Great Dragon, I explained why the world was in fact material and objective, even if rather more complex than 19th century materialists supposed. That subatomic physics didn’t really contradict this. That a strange subatomic particle called the muon was the best example of an objective phenomenon that went utterly against everyone’s beliefs and expectations.
The ‘Green Great Dragon’ was my chosen example of the other side of reality: those things that really are subjective. Professor Tolkien, who was a distinguished academic philologist as well as author of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, mentioned how he had as a child written a story featuring a ‘green great dragon’. His mother corrected this, but Tolkien in a letter written much later said he had wondered why, and still did.
Fascinated by this, I checked and found that there is a particular ordering of adjectives in English. You can find the exact rules in several places, including the Wiki. I assume that Tolkien knew the rules but wondered why they were rules.
My understanding is that each human language generates its own grammar, and each one is different. Not all of them bother with adjective order. But if English is your mother tongue, you apply them as if they were laws of nature. Call it either ‘freedom’ or ‘decay’ if enough speakers change and replace or abolish the former ‘law of nature’. Up with this we might not wish to put, but in practice we have to.
(It was once the rule that no sentence should end with a preposition. Churchill supposedly crushed it with the comment ‘This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put’.)
English contains some fading grammar rules: things we forget to apply most of the time. The famous opening sequence of the first Star Trek television series had a Split Infinitive: ‘to boldly go where no man has gone before’, when a purist would have had ‘boldly to go’ or ‘to go boldly’. The informal human consensus that governs English has erased that particular rule. It changed again as women became more prominent. The original series had only one woman: she was functionally Kirk’s receptionist, and was also the only non-white. ([There was also] an intermittent nurse who was show-creator Gene Roddenberry’s wife). But Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Nyota Uhura was an inspiration both to women and to Afro-Americans in the late 1960s.
Star Trek: The Next Generation had more women and an ethnic mix more like the current USA. It also bent to new grammar rules, saying ‘to boldly go where no one has gone before’.
Some rules fade while others hold firm, mostly for no very good reason. You get loose talk about ‘Grammar Nazis’ – part of a wider habit of using the Nazi jib for any rule or regulation you don’t like, while being furious if the same jibe is made about a rule you approve of or think necessary. You could call this the Sinatra Rule – ‘I’ll do it my way; you’ll also do it my way’. Or maybe the guiding principle is ‘anything I don’t like, isn’t Freedom’: reserving the sacred status of Freedom just for what you find acceptable. This simply muddles the issue. It gets in the way of rational debate about what rules we want and what sort of society we want.
Traffic regulations are a good example. Leave aside the question of whether our heavy reliance on private automobiles is wise: similar rules would still be needed if we switched to a Deep Green system of cycling and public transport and only a few autos for special purposes. And when it comes to traffic, we have a nice interface between the objective and the subjective. We could give freedom to each motorist to drive where they please at whatever speed they chose. But we can’t change the tragic fact that speed kills. We can’t change the fact that separating the two directions of traffic flow makes life easier for everyone, and that traffic lanes also help. Likewise the arbitrary rules on who has priority when roads cross, and traffic lights that impose their will on you when two major roads meet. And even parking rules – I’m old enough to remember the real resentment and half-serious comparisons of traffic wardens to Nazis when traffic metres were first introduced. Resentment of speed limits. Resentment of breath tests for alcohol from everyone except the small minority injured by a drunk driver or close to such a victim. Young people who have grown up with such rules seem not to mind.
You can evade the obvious point that these are limits on freedom and also useful limits on freedom by invoking the notion that ‘anything I don’t like, isn’t Freedom’. You might very sensibly think that the notion of useful limits on freedom is dangerous. It is indeed dangerous and open to abuse: but so is the alternative notion that ‘anything I don’t like, isn’t Freedom’. There is no particular reasons why you should be the ‘I’ who decides what is and isn’t Freedom. You should be particularly wary if you are a member of some minority and a potential target for discrimination. As an able-bodied prosperous heterosexual white male Briton, I personally am fairly safe. But I also see the fact that most of us do care as necessary for a decent society. As part of the human development out of our earlier Great Ape existence. Behind every Great Man there is a Great Ape, you might say. A lot of the problems of human society arise from the fact that we’ve not entirely outgrown our Great Ape heritage and become a species fit for civilisation.
As I’ll detail in a future article – but most people already know some of it – Jews got unreasonably blamed for problems that arose just from the issue of what are the useful limits on freedom, particularly on cultural and economic matters.
Nazism was a small movement in the aftermath of Germany’s defeat in World War One. Not so strong even in the period of hyperinflation. It shrank further as the world partly recovered in the 1920s. But then governments reacted to a global economic crisis created by speculation by cutting government spending, which was disastrous.
An individual or company in trouble may get through it by[spending] cuts: if a government does this it depressed the economy as a whole and makes things worse. Hitler came to power at a time when three out of ten German workers were unemployed. He fixed the crisis by government spending, as did Roosevelt with the New Deal in the USA. But the New Deal was hated by people convinced it was an unreasonable attack upon Freedom. By 1938 it had been partly rolled back and was in trouble, but was saved by the political crisis and threat of World War that Hitler foolishly chose to create. Gigantic spending on armaments was not deemed wasteful. Military conscription – applied by both sides in the US Civil War and applied in both World Wars – was not viewed as a restriction on Freedom.
The big problem with lying is that it’s not true. And once it becomes common, people start distrusting truths and acting on the basis of False Beliefs.
You cannot change the laws of physics. You can change the laws of social relationships, and the choice between lying and telling unwelcome truths is an important one. The whole point of a lie is that it may be accepted as truth, or at least raise doubt. So whatever gain a person can get from lying must be offset against the damage they do to the social framework that they live within. A framework that they mostly want to keep intact, but [perhaps] only if it costs them nothing.
We’ve got a society that has been heavily corrupted by advertising. Early advertising presented itself as authoritative. When people learned that they were being lied to, the game shifted, helped by some 1960s radicals turning into cynical exploiters. The new game was to say that [life as a whole] was some sort of trick and you showed yourself clever by going along with it. That you were bold and daring only if you danced to the tune the media was feeding you.
Be a Devil, Live in Hell would be a good anti-drugs slogan, if anyone wants to try another campaign. The natural and excellent human impulse to be adventurous gets twisted for corrupt commercial purposes. People are jollied into thinking it is all a game, which it is not. All sorts of frauds become possible.
I recall from the 1950s amused reports of how someone had managed to sell to the public something he called ‘Instant Water – Just Add Coffee’. Yet now we have any number of people buying expensive ‘Bottled Water’ that is in most cases inferior to the tap water they could put in an ordinary drinking flask. People suppose that if you pay for water, it must be better than the water that public utilities supply for free.
The core problem, found as much on the left as among both New Right and Old Right, is the notion that the truth is whatever we wanted it to be. I felt that this was definitely not the case. I put it thus:
“As a human reading this philosophical essay, you personally interact with the wider world at two levels. One social: the vastly complex material and social world that humans have built for themselves, and which humans collectively can rebuild or revise. Another that is much more alien and surprising: the physical world which human understanding has tried to formalise as physics, geology, chemistry, biology etc. These persist and apply to our lives, whether we want to believe in them or not.
“This second world includes many more possibilities than are expressed in the tiny bubble of biosphere that our lives depend on. People who’ve not been educated in science tend to badly misunderstand it, importing ideas from the human and social world to a domain where they do not belong. Even biologists will occasionally ask about the purpose of some group of plants or animals, or some biological adaptation. Their own evolutionary science tells them it is all down to Natural Selection, where things that are good at self-preservation tend to survive, with no reason or purpose beyond the fact that they can. A sense of purpose exists only among humans, and maybe also some of the most clever animals. Inanimate objects exist just because they happen to exist. Plants, animals and other living organisms appear clever at self-preservation, because biological systems that mindlessly show this apparent cleverness remain in existence for us to observe.
“Evolution in the strict sense is an exceptional and lucky outcome of Natural Selection. The normal product of Natural Selection is change without notably progress, Organisms slowly becoming better at living the type of life they already live. Getting a tighter grip on their ‘ecological niche’, in the language of biology. It would be better to speak of Biological History, with ‘evolution’ in the sense of progressive development recognised as a very small part of it.
“The particular outbreak of Evolution that led to humans is a remarkable story. We are naturally more inclined to talk about it, just as an individual would tell their own story if they’d participated in World War Two, or in 1960s radicalism, or some other set of events much larger than them and largely independent of them. This is fine so long as we map our personal experiences onto wider events. But we must also remember that our own story is just one of many.” (The Muon and the Green Great Dragon,)
Earlier this year, I was in the process of expanding this concept to sort out the mass of intermediate cases within human society – things we might perhaps change if enough people could be persuaded, but the chances of actually persuading them is often small. English-speakers are very unlikely to drop their notion that adjective order ought to be opinion, size, age, shape, colour, origin, material, purpose. Most of us don’t even know consciously that it is a rule, but also we follow it and would scorn alternatives. And a lot of our social habits are of this sort – things we absorb in the first four or five years of life, and afterwards think of as natural and inevitable rather than things our society imposed on us.
A specific example that is bound to cause offence: most Britons, US citizens and increasingly citizen of other Western countries can’t understand why people in places like China don’t want ‘democracy’. Now ‘democracy’ originally meant ‘rule by the people’, and tended to be split into two different things. Socially, a society was democratic if positions of skill or power were open to everyone, or initially to all white males, with gradual expansion once this was established. But there was also political democracy, taken to mean freedom to insult the rulers and freedom to form political parties that could come from nowhere and gain power, perhaps forming a new government.
Israel likes to insist that it is ‘democratic’, because it has meaningful multi-party elections and the various Arab states do not. But secular Arab autocracies like Syria and like Iraq under Saddam gave power to people from any origin, though unequally. Israel is a specifically Jewish state, and even converts to Judaism can get treated unfairly.
Within living memory, the West was much more limited in the social aspects of its democracy. Women and non-whites had nothing like the same access, and it is still unfair. And there was a very powerful intolerance towards homosexuals, seen as violating a ‘law of nature’.
Had someone said in 1965 that in fifty years’ time, not only would most countries have legalised homosexuality but the Irish Republic would vote 2 to 1 to allow valid homosexual marriages, they would have been judged a fool. But just this happened in 2015.
On this matter, I must confess to having myself been reshaped by the movement of the society as a whole. In the early 1970s, I was not bothered by homosexuality being legal, but felt that it should stay out of sight – which was indeed the terms on which its illegality for males had been ended by the British parliament. Lesbianism had never actually been illegal, but lesbians faced discrimination and sometimes violence if identified. At the time, I saw no reason why anything should change in this regard, whereas I was strongly radical on other matters. And no, I can’t defend this position as particularly rational. But I’m also sure I was rather typical in this. I’d already adjusted to multi-racism: I don’t think I ever did have racist feelings, which are learned and did not apply in my family or my various school. Jews I viewed as a collection of different and diverse individuals, many of them closer to my views than the average English person. But my attitude to women also needed a lot of adjustment. All of this involved a lot of work, mostly by the left. Right-wingers were mostly evasive and obstructive.
On the matter of multi-party democracy, I already knew that two separate matters had been confused. The self-styled Glorious Revolution of 1688 had established that government would be dominated by a House of Commons in which there was free competition among would-be Members of Parliament. Political parties were not approved of, but they functioned and were recognised. But until the 1832 Reform, a couple of hundred rich families controlled a clear majority of seats in the House of Commons, as well as the power of a much smaller and more distinguished House of Lords and the dominant position of the Monarch. The reformed parliament gave votes just to the richest one-seventh men: women were wholly excluded until 1918. Voting was public until the 1880s, so it was risky for an employee or a tenant farmer to vote against the will of their employer or landlord. And only in the 1880s was voting extended to a male majority, only 60% overall and probably still a minority in much-poorer Ireland. And yet Britons in those decades mostly accepted it, with Chartists never attracting more than a militant minority demanding rights that we now see as essential.
All of these thought about Truth and Freedom I was elaborating, and certainly will come back to. But the row over Ken Livingstone persuaded me to say more on the matter of Zionism. I already knew that Hitler spent several years trying to force German Jews to leave Germany and leave Europe altogether, with Zionism seen by him as an acceptable lesser evil. That mass extermination only became a confirmed policy in early 1942. I was offended by the denunciation as anti-Semitism of his insistence that facts were facts and that modern Zionists were breaking the rules. And it was done mostly by people who were cosying up to right-wing circles that had previously obstructed racial equality. I felt I had to make a defence, and this appeared as Ken Livingstone’s Unwelcome Truths about Antisemitism in the April 2017 issue of Labour Affairs. But I then found I had more I wanted to say. More indeed than would fit in a monthly journal, so I am saying it here. Decided to put everything in a wider context that refuses to whitewash British Empire.
I am British and proud of it. Many of the freedoms that most people now take for granted were established by Britons, and sometimes also by US citizens, who at one time were pioneers of democracy. Pioneers against the British Empire, quite often. Britons provided part of the pressure that forced the USA to remove the formal racism that still existed in the 1960s. But as a part-Welsh and always-radical Briton, I insist on trying to put the record straight.
Nazism was a German expression of a much wider system of prejudice. And Britons as the dominant force in the world from maybe 1759 to 1942 were a racist influence. Racism is an abomination, whether or not Jews are classed as part of the Master Race.
Darwin’s famous Voyage of the Beagle is part of the romance of science, and deservedly so. And he was appalled by slavery, like most Britons in his day. And equally typically, he saw it as proper and natural for inferior humans to be pushed aside:
“These flat , grassy plains [of Patagonia in Argentina] were the home of Indians, anteaters, and armadillos…
“Darwin was becoming quite a gaucho himself… He was beginning to appreciate the ‘great benefits’ of General Rosas’s ‘war of extermination.’ For landowners it promised a bonanza. ‘It will … throw open four or 500 miles in length of fine country for the production of cattle’.”
Juan Manuel de Rosas, sometimes Governor of Buenos Ares and for several years functionally a dictator, was one of several men who extended Argentina southwards. Conquered territory that no other European or Settler power claimed, but which was still controlled by the region’s Native Americans. (Very similar to those of North America). Rosas dispossessed them, but it seems he acted without hatred:
“While the government in Buenos Aires was distracted with political infighting, ranchers began moving into territories in the south inhabited by indigenous peoples. The resulting conflict with native peoples necessitated a government response. Rosas steadfastly endorsed policies which supported this expansion. During his governorship he granted lands in the south to war veterans and to ranchers seeking alternative pasture lands during the drought. Although the south was regarded as a virtual desert at the time, it had great potential and resources for agricultural development, particularly for ranching operations. The government gave Rosas command of an army with orders to subdue the Indian tribes in the coveted territory. Rosas was generous to those Indians who surrendered, rewarding them with animals and goods. Although he personally disliked killing Indians, he relentlessly hunted down those who refused to yield. The Desert Campaign lasted from 1833 to 1834, with Rosas subjugating the entire region. His conquest of the south opened up many possibilities for further territorial expansion, which led him to state: ‘The fine territories, which extend from the Andes to the coast and down to the Magellan Straits are now wide open for our children’.”
Argentina did assimilate its Native American population as Acceptable Inferiors. Being visibly Native American was not an absolute barrier, and nor was African origin. Still, the hierarchy of wealth and power showed a strong racial bias. Darwin as a typical Briton saw this as natural:
“Darwin ranked people by their willingness to work, to better themselves, to befriend settlers, and to adopt Christian morality. Between the high and low races was a yawning gulf… But how could this be? How could the same Creator have made man both so primitive and so sophisticated?”
Darwin’s developing world view easily accepted racism and the notion that inferior races would drift quietly into extinction:
“Competition was not between individuals, but the groups themselves. The hardiest races with the greatest ingenuity and cooperation would prevail, while the struggle ‘leads to the inevitable extinction of all those low and mentally undeveloped with which the European come into contract’. This Darwin could agree with; he marked the passage heavily. Imperial expansion from the north was wiping out the indigenous tribes. The Beagle voyage had shown him as much. He scribbled at the top of the page: ‘natural selection is now acting on the inferior races when put into competition with the New Zealanders – high New Zealander[s] [sic] say the [Maori] race dying out like their own native rat’.”
He was quite happy to also apply this to peoples who had been ahead of Europe a few centuries before:
“Less welcome was Graham’s down-playing of natural selection as the engine of social progress. Darwin still fought on that score. What a struggle had gone on between Spaniards and South American Indians, between English settlers and the Australian Aborigines, between colonists and colonisers everywhere. ‘Remember what risk the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago of being overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The more civilised so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence.’ Packing for home, he assured Graham that the elimination of the ‘lower races’ by ‘higher civilised races’ was inevitable as the Malthusian struggle pushed mankind onwards.”
This was not very perceptive. He might have realised that it had been European willingness to change that had reversed the balance. That the Islamic world had suppressed its occasional moves towards modern science, while Europe had let them run freely in some places. And he might have noted that the English fought each other for centuries, and also fought their neighbours. Things went much better when they stopped doing this.
That was Darwin; a limited social perception leading him to views that were in the long run fatal for what he cherished. I’m not aware that he applied the same prejudice to the unassimilated Celtic and Catholic population of Ireland, but others did. Did so without any reference to Darwin.
Neglecting Irish Catholics in the 1840s Potato Famine opened up a dangerous wound in the British Empire, which Irish Catholics had done a lot to build. Which they often had enthusiasm for, particularly after Catholic Emancipation in 1829. In the Empire, they were part of the White Master Race and often helped put down the inconvenient natives whose quiet disappearance was looked for. But when such attitudes exist as part of ‘respectable’ thinking, no one is safe from them.
Class hatred in Britain is at its strongest in middle-class malice towards those less fortunate than themselves. A smug malice backed by a phony version of Christianity, whose true colours were shown in the infamous Workhouses inflicted on the English poor. And in the neglect of the Irish in the late 1840s.
Victorian Britain totally failed to cope with the looming problem of a world in which many other nations were industrialising, meaning that British predominance was likely to be lost. They ignored the writing on the wall: the obvious truth that Britain must help set up some solid global political structures or else face perpetual war. They contented themselves with asserting dogmatically that for them to look after themselves was all that was needed. [Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand was often cited, without anyone noticing that Smith just asserted that this was true without any rational argument or evidence to back it up. When needed, the Invisible Hand proved non-existent. The British Empire self-confidently followed a Grand Strategy that was almost certain to fail.]
And nowhere was their failure greater than on the matter of the Irish Famine of the 1840s.
The noted centre-right and free-market journal The Economist took as callous an attitude to the Irish as Darwin had to the Maori. And remarkably, an official history of the magazine published in the 1990s by noted Irish writer and historian Ruth Dudley Edwards finds nothing wrong with this:
“Laissez-faire–a belief that the public good is best served by leaving individuals to look after themselves, since government interference in economic affairs tends to upset the natural checks and balances of wealth-creation. Wilson’s magazine The Economist was to be perhaps the most influential disseminator of this doctrine, through the prism of which it examined and pronounced on the topical issues of the day; its greatest test was to be the Irish famine.”
Natural wealth creation requires that Irish paupers be left alone to naturally die in agony. The Economist‘s official historian celebrates the fact. It was not an accident or a misunderstanding. It was absolutely central to a world-view that has carried on right to this day.
“Wilson [James Wilson, founder and first editor of The Economist] might have become a member of the Church of England, but when it came to religion, he was very much a product of his Quaker background.”
In the same sense that farting is a product of beans. The relationship is valid but not admirable.
Quakers were and are the closest Christian grouping to the original doctrine. They did capitulate to commerce, but in most ways they remained serious Christians. They stuck to the actual principles of the Gospels in a way that most Protestant sects did not. They trusted God enough to remain pacifists, rather than invoking random bits of disconnected biblical text to justify their own violence and malice. And whereas other Protestants disgraced their cause by promoting ‘souperism’ among the starving Irish, proper Quakers obeyed the actual words of Jesus and gave help to the needy without regard for sect or doctrine. Un-lapsed Quakers were the opposite of Wilson’s ‘starvationism’.
“It was unusual for Wilson to invoke the deity: certainly, when it came to the greatest issue of his editorship–the Irish famine–it was Adam Smith, not Jesus Christ, whose counsel he reluctantly followed.”
Nice of Ruth Dudley Edwards to admit that the two doctrines are as different as chalk and cheese. Adam Smith was part of a circle of Scottish Deists who were pro-Establishment but anti-Christian. Almost all of Smith’s modern biographers evade this point, while using him to justify callous and short-sighted attitudes.
“Did the existence of widespread starvation not prove impractical the abstract principle that a government should not meddle with the subsistence of the people? On the contrary, it demonstrated ‘the propriety of rigidly adhering to non-interference’, for it was interference in the shape of the Corn Laws that had caused the problem in the first place. Similarly, it was no part of a government’s duty to feed any or all of the people. Since its only funds came from taxation, it could feed one section of the population only by depriving another.”
But how could corn laws be blamed for a potato blight? Nor could regulations on food imports have much to do with Ireland’s supposed overpopulation, which was the deeper cause of the disaster. Ireland had a fairly modest population for its large supply of good agricultural land. It normal times it was a food exporter. Though four times as much food was imported as was exported, allowing any exports from a famine zone was both wicked and stupid.
The wickedness is obvious enough. People rich enough to pay taxes are not likely to be dying of want, and their comfort [and luxuries] ought to be secondary to the simple survival of other sections of society.
I also say stupid, because Imperial Britain was to suffer enormous long-term damage stemming from its failure to show simple decency in the 1840s.
A fair and generous effort to help the starving Irish might perhaps have not saved very many extra lives. But it would have left the Irish still feeling part of a wider British-Isles identity, an idea that was gravely weakened after the famine.
A society willing to see some of its citizens starve to death rather than raise taxes that reduce the luxuries of the rich is not a society that will last in the long run. And a world dominated by such a society is also a world where money is immoral. Also a world in which Jews can get hated as the most visible expression of Money Power, even though the actual powers that make such a world include very few Jews.
I’m sure Darwin would never have wished to see Jews ‘somehow go extinct’. He probably would not have wished it for the Irish either. But it’s a reliable fact of human existence that an injury to one is an injury to all. That this is also a moral principle should not hide the fact that even a totally selfish and amoral person would be wise to take account of it. Many of the world’s troubles comes from people with some weak moral impulses convincing themselves that an injury to one is an injury to all is just a piece of weak sentimentality.
Darwin was born into the elite, and so could be nicely distant in his prejudices. Those who had to fight their way into the ranks of the privileged often had a much tougher and more brutal attitude. Thomas Huxley, known as ‘Darwin’s Bulldog’ for his defence of Darwinism in the great debates following the publication of The Origin of the Species, was a classic case. He showed an equal vigour trying to keep down those below him as he did in raising up himself and Darwinian ideas at the expense of a tired old elite.
This was not an anomaly: it is normality.
Like Darwin, Huxley had nothing against Jews. But I refuse to see the Holocaust in isolation. I will not treat the slaughter of Jews with a high status in Europe’s 1930s racial hierarchy as different in kind from the slaughter of non-Jewish Poles, Serbs, Gypsies, and homosexuals of all ethnic backgrounds by the same Nazi death-machine. Or the earlier mass killings of Native Americans and Australian Aboriginals.
Aboriginal Tasmanians were all shot or rounded up, and they left behind no descendants. Thomas Huxley, noted biologist, aggressive publicist for Darwinism and inventor of the term ‘agnosticism, would have wished the same done to all Aboriginals. Here in full is the passage I slightly reworded at the start, to create ambiguity as to who were the targets:
“[Huxley] had fewer kind thoughts about Australia’s ‘hopelessly irreclaimable savages’… Australia’s nomads were blind to the Victorian ideas of private property, free-trade and Piccadilly fashion. His squatter’s morality was evidence; his final solution smugly horrifying. Their ‘elimination … from the earth’s surface can be viewed only with satisfaction, as the removal of a great blot from the escutcheon of our common humanity, by all those who know them as they are, and are not to be misled by the maudlin philanthropy of ‘aborigines’ friends.”
Like Darwin, Huxley disapproved of slavery, seen as unjustified cruelty to an inferior breed of human. It’s not such an odd attitude: people have pretty much the same attitude to animals like cats, dogs and horses. Cruelty is deplored, but the beasts may be freely killed by their owners.
Except where they were part of a community that profited from slavery, most believers in the White Master Race felt that the Lesser Breeds ought to be treated kindly and that slavery legalised all sorts of cruelty, as indeed it did. They also saw it as corrupting for members of White Master Race, with sexual exploitation of the woman of the Lesser Breeds a major point of concern. There was no inconsistency in their minds between this and being comfortable with their extermination when they were in the way. Huxley hoped it would be applied to all of the Australian Aboriginals who cluttered land suitable for building the Australian component of Greater Britain. But in Brazil, he was shocked by the treatment of black slaves:
“Some had iron collars, others masks of tin, padlocked from behind… Huxley was chastened by the blacks’ resilience. ‘I have a much greater respect for them than for their beastly Portuguese masters’… It was a pity, he thought, recalling the horrors of the potato famine, that a ‘few of the hungry Saxon millions now famished in England’ could not seize this ‘vile, ignorant’ nation and transform Brazil into a ‘second Indian Empire’.”
The potato famine was mostly Irish, but did hit England as well. Within the White Master Race, there were all sorts of gradations. Huxley had come from a literate middle-class family which had fallen on hard times. His father was a mathematics teacher at Ealing School until it closed, putting the family into financial difficulties. As a result, Thomas left school at age 10, after only two years of formal schooling. He had risen by hard work, and was happy for others to rise if they were tough enough. And he likewise accepted other Europeans as part of the White Master Race, though perhaps inferior and contaminated by Lesser Breeds:
“Huxley [during the Crimean War] was not against Russian imperialism. Indeed the ‘aggression of a nation of higher social organisation upon those of lower grade’ was one of the ‘conditions of human progress’. That was a bloody ethic of the age, soon to be sanctified in Darwin’s work. The point was to redirect the Russian bear’s gaze towards the Asian ‘wastes where his claws may find exercise advantageous to humanity’.”
As a believer in the British Empire, Huxley did see the dangers in the old-fashioned attitudes of the ruling class:
“Such was the medieval mediocrity of Britain’s public schools that Classics and mathematics were deemed sufficient for life. A Centurion’s son from AD 400 ‘transplanted’ into one of these moss-encrusted institutions ‘would not meet with a single unfamiliar line of thought’… Yet ‘modern civilisation’ was based on a scientific revolution. Deny that, Huxley said, and Britain’s lead ‘is gone tomorrow’.”
Britain did ignore it, and in many ways still does. Almost all politicians know nothing of science – though it is also true that a degree in Chemistry failed to enlighten Margaret Thatcher.
The 19th century failure to fully value and learn from science meant that both the USA and Germany began overtaking Britain. The First World War was shaped by the British ruling class’s desire to keep a position of superiority that they had deservedly forfeited.
Note that in Britain, a ‘Public School’ is quite different from a State School. It was not paid for or created by the state, but there was [and is] outside supervision:
“A public school in England and Wales is an older, student selective, fee-paying independent secondary school which caters primarily for children aged between 11 or 13 and 18. The term ‘public’ should not be misunderstood to mean that these are public sector schools: they are in fact private sector. Traditionally, public schools were all-male boarding schools, although most now allow day pupils, and many have become either partially or fully co-educational.”
The system worked in tandem with a system of free-paying Preparatory Schools for children from 7 or 8 to 13. The norm was for them to be boarding schools: children sent away from their families and thrust into an unfamiliar community that they had to learn to be part of. It had some precedent in the mediaeval system of ruling class children sent away as ‘squires’ to other ruling class families. But it was a bizarre system and undoubtedly did a lot of psychological damage. Yet it also mass-produced people who understood each other and the system they were expected to be part of. Attending such places made you a member of the British ruling class, with a common culture that would override your cultural background.
Most products of this system went on to become some sort of administrator, in the army, navy or civil service. Or else they joined the Professional Classes: teachers, doctors, lawyers etc. Not all of [the people in those professions] came from such a background, but they dominated and mostly imposed their values on new joiners. They also dominated the banks and finance, and the larger commercial businesses. Their education shaped the men into a particular sort of human who could run such a system with shared values. Shaped their women into suitable wives and mothers for the elite.
Why call them ‘Public Schools’? This is one of many historic accidents that litter British culture:
“The Public Schools Act 1868 was enacted by the British Parliament to reform and regulate seven of the leading English boys’ schools of the time, most of which had grown out of ancient charity schools for the education of a certain number of poor scholars, but were then, as they do today, also educating many sons of the English upper and upper-middle classes on a fee-paying basis.
“As is clear from the long title of the Act, An Act to make further Provision for the good Government and Extension of certain Public Schools in England, it was not intended to define which schools were “public schools” but to apply conditions to some of them.
“The Act followed the report of the Clarendon Commission, a Royal Commission on Public Schools which sat from 1861 to 1864 and investigated conditions and abuses which had grown up over the centuries at nine originally charity schools.
“The Bill was presented for its first reading in the Lords by Lord Clarendon on 13 March 1865 and for its second reading on 3 April 1865. The Bill was in two parts, the first containing the general provisions of the Bill and the second containing specific proposals for each school.
“St Paul’s School and Merchant Taylors’ School were omitted, as they argued successfully that their constitutions made them legally ‘private’ schools and that their constitutions could not be altered by public legislation, thus the Act concerned itself with the other seven schools investigated by the Clarendon Commission.”
Many other independent schools joined a wider association and accepted outside supervision. And some did not. Schools outside the system were almost unregulated, a system so bad that it was eventually supressed. George Orwell in his novel A Clergyman’s Daughter explains that anyone could start a school and charge fees. That the education might be a lot worse than state schools. He himself had been through a Preparatory School and then won a scholarship to get free education at Eton. Went on to teach in private schools, and so saw what was wrong with the system.
Huxley had a point in saying the system was full of old ideas, but he might have done better if he had also recognised its strengths. The shared culture meant that members of the ruling class were honest with each other in a way that is much less the case now. Seen as silly: but in the long run and for the entire society, honesty really is the best policy.
As I said earlier, Huxley was anti-Slavery, but no believer in racial equality. Writing to a supporter of the Confederacy during the US Civil War, he said:
“I delight in the energy and self-sacrifice of your people; but for all that, I cannot doubt that whether you beat the Yankees or not, you are struggling to uphold a system which must, sooner or later, break down.
“I have not the smallest sentimental sympathy with the negro; don’t believe in him at all, in short. But it is clear to me that slavery means, for the white man, bad political economy; bad social morality; bad internal political organisation, and a bad influence upon free labour and freedom all over the world.”
This was a common view in Britain, and also the mainstream attitude in the US North. I’ve detailed this elsewhere (The War of Two Racisms.) In the heyday of belief in the White Master Race, the ideology included many other things besides the shallow ignorance of the modern Far Right.
Huxley was also a believer in the inevitability of conflicts within the White Master Race. His knowledge of biology could have led him to see that cooperation and peaceful co-existence were just as common as conflict in the natural world. Sadly, that was not his view:
“The Prince of Wales had [Huxley] speak … on a new pet project for South Kensington… Huxley’s was ‘the most interesting speech’, according to the Pall Mall Gazette. But then his Darwinian diatribe blew away all the dreary talks. He depicted the industrial competition with Germany and America as institutional ‘warfare’, with starvation befalling the losers. The ‘Imperial Institute’ was to help Britain win the industrial ‘war’. It was a line which appalled socialist economists.”
It was also another False Belief. Human combinations are highly effective for all purposes, including the crude matter of physical violence. The ‘Social Darwinians’ overlooked the way in which internal peace helped Britain rise, while other nations wasted effort in civil wars. England and Scotland overcame their long history of border wars and civil wars, which had produced no net benefit to anyone. Britons no longer see the severed heads of fallen leaders on Westminster Bridge. Some of us might momentarily regret it, particularly in the case of the Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council after the shocking deaths in Grenfell Tower. But more serious thought should convince us that peaceful methods work best.
Social Darwinians mostly take a naïve view of warfare, seeing it as just an expanded version of individual violence. In war, the sum total of the fighting skills of the individual soldiers is much less important than their coordination.
I said earlier that ‘Behind every Great Man there is a Great Ape’. Some of us are closer to the Great-Ape norm than we should be. Speaking personally, I must confess to being less repelled by violence than I really should be. I’ve had a lifelong interest in warfare. I was also raised among people who saw brawling as an abnormality and assumed the police would protect them, so we never went in for it. Warfare is another matter: brawlers don’t always make good soldiers. People who were peaceful in peacetime often have a talent for war, if they get pulled into it or persuaded to volunteer.
My great-uncle George Dalling died at Gallipoli in the First World War. He had emigrated to Australia, where there was never conscription, so he must have volunteered. My sister, who is quite well-known as a poet, wrote him a commemoration, noting that he is probably still buried there:
“Far from Devon, from Australia;
“why he went – a mystery –
“he took his skeleton, his rifle,
“leaving no posterity.”
My own contribution has been to note elsewhere that Natural Selection is not the same as personal dominance or violence: the real rule is ‘Survival of the Grandkids’. Also the survival of nephews and nieces and more distant relatives: it all helps propagate the genes once a species has made the breakthrough into basic cooperativeness. But these same feelings can be twisted into warfare, justified as needed to protect those you love.
My great-uncle George Dalling died in World War One. My eldest uncle on my mother’s side – another George – was indirectly a victim of the rise of Hitler. Asked to run the family business after his father died young, he let himself be distracted by Nazism and had a total mental breakdown, never fully recovering. Had he been more like the typical business person and focused narrowly on his own concerns, we might have ended up a wealthy family, which we were not. But I do think that his was the more moral and the more human choice.
That’s also one reason why I don’t have a huge regard for the business types that the New Right would have us admire. They are good at grabbing cash for themselves, but I’ve always seen it as wildly out of proportion to the wealth that they help create for society as a whole. And there were plenty of British and US business people who were very happy to work with Nazi Germany until there was an actual war.
Business success mostly involves looking after yourself and your investors. Being evasive or hostile about the needs of the wider world. That’s why a society that lets business have its way will always suffer for it.
Capitalism is a self-destructive system, surviving only because some of the privileged grasped the simple point that they had to put limits on themselves to save anything.
Without massive blunders by the British ruling class, Hitler could never have become so strong. Had he been threatened with war when he remilitarised the Rhineland, he would either have backed down or else his generals would have removed him.
In this highly avoidable Second World War, my mother’s other brothers opted for pacifism. My father Raymond Williams, [who] lived well away in what was then the Welsh county of Monmouth, was also strongly drawn to Pacifism: but also to Communism when only the Communists were at all serious about fighting Hitler. There is a good book about him, Raymond Williams A Warrior’s Tale by Dai Smith, and I’ve done a short on-line review of it. He turned out to be well suited for warfare, commanding a group of four tanks, two of which met an unknown fate when they were all involved in the dangerous early fighting after the first and supremely dangerous Normandy Landings.
Had there been any sort of serious 1970s left-wing insurgency in Britain I am pretty certain I would have been part of it, and would have been wrong to do so. But my imperfect nature has the merits of letting me look at such things with both knowledge and a certain sympathy for the violent. And an understanding of the total futility and degraded nature of most of it.
The right is mostly stronger in violence, and always vastly weaker in thought and argument. They very seldom flourish except by dishonesty and provoking fear, both of which damage the things they supposedly believe in. And Huxley, while radical for his era, was part of this immense error. He had an unreasonable belief that the world was going to get worse, at a time when many options were open:
“Malthusianism was back in contention in the socialist 1880s. But Huxley saw continual over-population as a spanner in the co-operative works, forcing unending competition which defied any egalitarian socialist solution.”
But Malthus was wrong: populations can and do control themselves. The vast increase in population during Britain’s industrialisation was caused in part by a massive disruption of social norms that had once controlled such matters. And helped by the fact that there was indeed food for them, if not a good diet. And to get beyond this was also not so hard. All that was needed was to educate girls as well as boys, and give them control over their own bodies when they grew up.
Huxley did not see it so. He had a generally competitive view of life, and felt the need to attack the established religion. It was easy to show that it was historically false:
“Huxley was now camped so securely in the first century – making Christ’s Nazarene sect so many more ‘infidels’ … Christ no Christian! ‘The Church founded by Jesus … became extinct in the country of its birth’… The Pauline religion which ‘coalesced within the State in the 4th century … is Alexandrian Judaism and Neoplatonic mystigogy’, mixed with ‘much of the old idolatry’, and its success owned little to ‘the truth or falsity of the story of Jesus’.”
On that I would agree with him. Universalist sentiments were attributed to Jesus, but these were probably later additions. The Acts of the Apostles are probably much closer to the truth when they note the disagreements when some non-Jews wanted to become followers of Jesus.
Huxley probably had no distinct views about Jews. He did see Christianity as something that had rapidly moved away from its Jewish roots:
“Huxley stiffened with every year of controversy. Even his last-ditch Unitarian belief – that Jesus’ personality had been the cause of Christianity’s departure from Judaism – melted away. Christ’s Nazarenes were just another unoriginal Jewish sect.”
Unitarians give Jesus a very high status but deny the Trinity: Jesus was not quite divine. It was never a large movement: more a halfway house to disbelieving that Jesus had ever been special.
“Huxley made Christianity just another regional religion, with a largely borrowed mythological base. What was atheist fanaticism in the 1840s had become mainstream pulp by the 1890s. Holyoake had been jailed 50 years earlier (to deny God then was treasonous in an Anglican State). Now working-class political weaponry had become middle-class professional ideology, and [Holyoake] gave up editing the Reasoner ‘because his views were abundantly advocated in the most respectable Quarterlies’.”
Holyoake is little remembered now: less than he merits. The Wikipedia says of him:
“George Jacob Holyoake (13 April 1817 – 22 January 1906), was a British secularist, co-operator, and newspaper editor. He coined the term ‘secularism’ in 1851 and the term ‘jingoism’ in 1878…
“In 1842, Holyoake became the last person convicted for blasphemy in a public lecture, held in April 1842 at the Cheltenham Mechanics’ Institute, though this had no theological character and the incriminating words were merely a reply to a question addressed to him from the body of the meeting…
“Holyoake nevertheless underwent six months’ imprisonment… His later years were chiefly devoted to the promotion of the working class co-operative movement…
“Holyoake coined the term ‘jingoism’ in a letter to the Daily News on 13 March 1878, referring to the patriotic song “By Jingo” by G. W. Hunt, popularised by the music-hall singer G. H. MacDermott.”
Tragically, rejecting of Christianity as historically untrue led to its usefulness being overlooked. I wrote about this in the previous issue of Problems:
“Religions sometimes had notions of a formless chaos before the world as we know it emerged. But it never occurred to them to imaging a world entirely suitable for humans to live within, and yet without humans or other intelligences for the vast bulk of its existence.
“So if religions are wrong, why do we have them? My answer is that religions are highly suitable for letting enormous numbers of humans live together without intolerable violence. Lets us walk peacefully among complete strangers, which is not possible among any of the social animals. Not possible even among most tribal humans, unless you arrive with signs of being vastly more powerful and are also a known source of valuable gifts.
“Humans with something like the modern concept of deities and temples show no signs of having existed before the first agricultural societies, some 10,000 years ago. What probably existed before that was the muddle of superstitions, ancestor-worship and fear of imaginary monsters found in modern tribal societies. Tribes are normally suspicious of each other, with war being the standard relationship and peace requiring careful agreements.
“Unlike Professor Dawkins, I do not see religion as some bizarre parasite that was inflicted on ‘rational’ humans. People who presumably would otherwise have lived spontaneously according to Professor Dawkins’s slightly old-fashioned notion of rationality. I know history, so I know that the modern Europe’s notion of rationality is a grand innovation that grew out of Christianity. And I see ancient religions like that of the Babylonians and Pharaohs and Classical Greeks as bringing a degree of order and rationality to the superstitious muddle that is the default human understanding.
“I also don’t lump the various religions together. I accept the standard notion of a further huge advance in the 6th and 5th centuries before Jesus Christ, with waves of religious-philosophical ideas in Greece, India, China, and maybe also Persia…
“Why did all of these thinkers emerge? Did ideas flow along the trade routes that we know existed? Were there perhaps hundreds of unrecorded names, along with the handful of famous thinkers? We know of a scattering of other names, from polemics against them by the famous names. This includes some materialists and some who perhaps were close to modern scientific thinking, though we can only guess at their views based on the fragments we have. Regardless, human thinking was changed fundamentally.
“One could sensibly think of this as a Second Wave of religion and religious philosophy, merging with and partly replacing the First Wave religions that had regularised tribal beliefs. And this Second Wave was notable in laying down general obligations to be kind and just, whereas the gods and goddesses of First Wave religions were just as emotional and fallible as human beings.
“It is also notable that the creeds that won out assumed a hierarchy of wealth and power. That they merely urged superiors to be nice to inferiors. Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism also have a category of religious specialists practicing Holy Poverty: but they sit outside the hierarchy of wealth and power. They do not really challenge it, even when pure and un-corrupt. And a lot of them do get corrupted and become part of the ruling class, of course. This was particularly true of Tibetan Buddhism, where monks could eat meat and practice non-penetrative sex with teenage boys. But even the uncorrupted forms saw the world as an illusion. In as far as they were concerned with social justice, it was justice within an assumed hierarchy of inequality.
“In my view, a Third Wave occurred with first Christianity and then Islam. Christianity emerged out of the once-obscure religion of the Jews, which had impressed its neighbours ever since the successful Jewish revolt of the Maccabees. (A revolt against one of the Greek-dominated states created by Alexander’s successful conquest of the Persian Empire, which had provoked them by trying to impose Greek values incompatible with their faith.) Judaism had great intellectual clarity compared to Greek religion. But it also included many survivals of ancient tribal oddities, such as circumcision and some vastly complex and awkward rules about what you could eat. And some of the Hebrew prophets had taken the side of the poor: but the dominant powers in the religion accepted hierarchies and just asked the rich to be generous and well-behaved.”
Huxley was one of many who let the new knowledge give him a false view of the need to fight and the horrible likely cost of warfare. It turned out that excessive aggression was fatal for both the British Empire and the Third Reich. And for the Soviet Union, in the longer run; and I’m now expecting the US Hegemony to die of the same disease. The Chinese seem to know better. The Republic of India has been guilty of much foolishness, but all of it regional.
We can explain the advantages of peace without invoking any hypothetical Higher Power. Ethical rules should be based, not on what I might like to do, but what would I find it acceptable for everyone to be doing. That’s more productive than telling off the religious for their errors, as Huxley did:
“Huxley finished his Darwinian business of burying Owen’s Nature of Divine Archetypes… The remnants of a rival Coleridgean world were destroyed – a might-have-been Nature, obeying the divine Edicts, legitimating the National Church.”
Coleridge is nowadays remembered mostly for his poetry. In his day, his poems were too odd to be popular, but he was rated as a deep thinker and was believed to be working on some grand work of philosophy. This turned out not to exist when his unpublished works were checked after his death. But he did have some grand insights:
“In a pamphlet [The Convention of Sintra] that he wrote with Wordsworth on the early stages of Napoleon’s war in Spain, he correctly noted that something new had begun. Previously the French army had been fighting other armies, and won easy victories. Now they were fighting a whole people, and such a war was almost impossible to win. He did not use the term guerrilla, which had its origin in that conflict. But he grasped the essential concept in a way that eluded many subsequent observers. (The Americans in Vietnam, for instance.)”
He also noticed the 11-year Trade Cycle that dominated the 19th century, well ahead of anyone else. The article I quoted gives sources.
Christianity is rooted in False Beliefs, certainly. But if we think of beliefs as rooted in what would I find it acceptable for everyone to be doing rather than what would I like to do, the advantages of anti-war creeds like Christianity and Buddhism become obvious.
Any member of a vulnerable minority ought to have a particular objection to violence, with selfish calculations playing a part in it. If it starts out as aggression against someone else, it is still likely to come back at you. And there were always a significant minority of Jews who did this: sadly it was never the majority view.
The British Empire was more tolerant of Jews than Imperial Germany: but a victory for Imperial Germany would have been vastly more advantageous for Jews globally. In fact Jews split on national lines in all countries in World War One except Tsarist Russia, where a failing ruling class kept blaming Jews for its own inadequacies. And continued to do so as White Russian exiles, who were mostly a truly appalling bunch.
After the original failing system was destroyed by World War One, it was those people who were the serious alternative to the Bolsheviks. Moderate elements failed in virtually all of the countries close to the Soviet Union: why should an Alternative Russia have been any different? Norman Cohn in Warrant for Genocide details the connections, including their floating of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
I had only been vaguely aware of the existence of Charles Wentworth Dilke until Brendan Clifford drew my attention to him. Brendan also corrected my hazy notion of Liberalism and Toryism as two solidly fixed and rival creeds. Liberalism in the late 19th century had become many different things, with an Imperial Liberal viewpoint winning out. And Dilke was very much part of it, until his career was ended by a sex scandal.
Awkwardly, there were three noted individuals called Charles Wentworth Dilke, father and son and grandson. It is the grandson who was the most significant. He wrote a book called Greater Britain: A Record of Travel in English-Speaking Countries During 1866-7, which I will be quoting from as a good summary of Imperial Liberalism.
Dilke was one of the more noted ‘Best Prime Ministers we never had’. Was ruined when it became publicly known that he had made love to a number of women, some married. And widely rumoured that he sometimes had two women at once, and engaged in various ‘French vices’. The Wikipedia puts it thus:
“A republican in the early 1870s, he later became a leader in the radical challenge to Whig control of the Liberal Party, making a number of important contributions, including the legislation increasing democracy in 1883-1885, his support of the growing labour and feminist movements and his prolific writings on international affairs.
“Touted as a future prime minister, his aspirations to higher political office were effectively terminated in 1885 after a notorious and well-publicised divorce case.
“His disgrace and the alignment of Joseph Chamberlain with the Conservatives both greatly weakened the radical cause.”
Dilke’s book set an agenda for a global Britain:
“In 1866 and 1867, I followed England round the world: everywhere I was in English-speaking, or in English-governed lands. If I remarked that climate, manners of life, that mixture with other people had modified the blood, I saw, too, that in essentials the race was always one…
“In America, the peoples of the world are being fused together, but they run into an English mould. Alfred’s laws and Chaucer’s tongue are there whether they would or no. There are men who say that Britain in her age will claim the glory of having planted greater Englands across the seas. They fail to perceive that she has done more than found plantations of her own – that she has imposed her institutions upon the offshoots of Germany, of Ireland, of Scandinavia, and of Spain. Through America, England is speaking to the world.
“Sketches of Saxondom may be of interest even upon humbler grounds: the development of the England of Elizabeth is to be found, not in the Britain of Victoria, but in half the habitable globe. If two small islands are by courtesy styled ‘Great,’ America, Australia, India, must form a Greater Britain.”
He doesn’t mention Jews, but at the time they too had been largely ‘run into an English mould’ in English-speaking countries where they had mostly lived for some time. Things changed later with the arrival of large numbers of much less familiar Jews from Eastern Europe, though in the long run they too were mostly absorbed.
It is interesting to note that Zionists willing to consider some place other than Palestine thought of places like Uganda or Madagascar. They never suggested that some portion of the territories best suited for European expansion should be assigned to Jews. I assume this was because those were all designated for people content to be ‘run into an English mould’. That Zionists knew that they had no hope of getting even a tiny portion. Zionist influence was never very great, and still is not.
Dilke’s view was Standard English White Racism. When he says ‘in America, the peoples of the world’, he assumed that this will be understood as meaning ‘in the USA, the acceptably white peoples of the world’. He treats Britain and England as identical. Ignores the Scots, ‘a little lower than the English’ in the vast racial hierarchy that had been developed in the early 19th century. And when he says ‘two small islands’, that would logically in include Ireland, which is wrong. ‘Britain’ had been used for the combination of England and Wales. James the 6th and 1st introduced the term ‘Great Britain’ to include Scotland, which however remained a separate kingdom with a shared monarch until 1707. The term ‘British Isles’ is sometimes used to lump together Great Britain, Ireland and some smaller islands.
“The 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were ‘United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain’, though the new state is also referred to in the Acts as the ‘Kingdom of Great Britain’, ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain’ and ‘United Kingdom’. However, the term ‘United Kingdom’ is only found in informal use during the 18th century and the country was only occasionally referred to as the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain’—its full official name, from 1707 to 1800, being merely ‘Great Britain’, without a ‘long form’. The Acts of Union 1800 united the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The name ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ was adopted following the independence of the Irish Free State and the partition of Ireland in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom.”
Surprisingly, the Isle of Man is not part of either Great Britain or the United Kingdom. Nor are the Channel Islands.
As I said earlier, White Racism had many forms. Dilke was openly contemptuous of the US South:
“The Southern planters are not ‘The South,’ which for political purposes is composed of the ‘mean whites,’ of the Irish of the towns, and of the Southwestern men – Missourians, Kentuckians, and Texans – fiercely anti-Northern, without being in sentiment what we should call Southern, certainly not representatives of the ‘Southern Chivalry.’ The ‘mean whites,’ or ‘poor trash,’ are the whites who are not planters – members of the slaveholding race who never held a slave – white men looked down upon by the negros. It is a necessary result of the despotic government of one race by another that the poorer members of the dominant people are universally despised: the ‘destitute Europeans’ of Bombay, the ‘white loafers’ of the Punjaub [sic], are familiar cases. Where slavery exists, the ‘poor trash’ class must inevitably be both large and wretched … in a slave country labour is degrading.”
Sadly, such people also transmitted a lot of their culture to the freed Afro-American. Looking at US ‘Black Culture’, I find some of the nastier and more criminal bit of it to be surprisingly similar to the dregs of English-speaking white culture, though obviously with different signs of group membership. There is also a religious overlap, which is the most positive element, but which sadly declines without much replacement by socialism for either blacks or whites in the USA, unlike Britain. Music and dancing do seem to be genuine African survivals. But loutishness is something they picked up from their former oppressors.
So what did Dilke say?
“Virginia stands first among the States for natural advantages… Virginia has been planted more than two hundred and fifty years, and is as large as England, yet has a free population of only a million. In every kind of production she is miserably inferior to Missouri or Ohio”
He blamed the degrading effects of slavery:
“That the negro slaves were lazy, thriftless, unchaste, and thieves, is true; but it is as slaves, and not as negroes, that they were all these things; and, after all, the effects of slavery upon the slaves is less terrible than its effects upon the masters…In Barbadoes [sic] they are industrious and well conducted; in La Plata they are exemplary citizens. In America the coloured labourer has no motive to be industrious.
“General Grant assured me of the great aptness at soldiering shown by the negro troops. In battle they displayed extraordinary courage, but if their officer were picked off they could not stand a charge; no more, he said, could their Southern masters. The power of standing firm after the loss of leaders is possessed only by regiments where every private is as good as his captain and colonel, such as the Northwestern and New England volunteers.”
The US Northwest had a genuine democratic spirit, which the US South lacked and still lacks. It’s a land that favours noisy Preachers because they tell you what to do.
While disliking slavery, Dilke was glad of the disappearance of inconvenient native populations:
“The Red Indians have no future. In twenty years there will scarcely be one of pure blood alive within the United States…
“The pride of race, strong in the English everywhere, in America and Australia is no absolute bar to intermarriage, and even to lasting connections with the aborigines. What has happened in Tasmania and Victoria is happening in New Zealand and on the plains…
“In 1840, the British government assumed the sovereignty of New Zealand … for the sole purpose of protecting the aborigines in possession of their lands. The Maories [sic] numbered 200,000 then; they number 20,000 now…
“After all, if the Indian [Native American] is mentally, morally, and physically inferior to the white man, it is in every way for the advantage of the world that the next generation that inhabits Colorado should consist of whites instead of reds. That this result should not be brought about by cruelty or fraud upon the new existing Indians is all we need require. The gradual extinction of the inferior races is not only a law of nature, but a blessing to mankind.
“The Indian question is not likely to be one much longer: before I reached England again, I learnt that the Coloradan capital had offered ‘twenty dollars a piece for Indian scalps with the ears on.’”
Dilke favoured ‘kindly extermination’, but was not unduly bothered if it were not. I don’t supposed he’d have been casual if some tribal resistance had offered a reward for white ‘scalps with the ears on’. He firmly believed that the Superior White Race could not co-exist with the others. But he hoped it might happen without too much additional trouble, which was how it looked at the time.
As it happened, some of the unwanted populations made a comeback:
“In 1840, New Zealand had a Maori population of about 50,000 to 70,000 and only about 2,000 Europeans. By 1860 the Europeans had increased to 50,000. The Maori population had declined to 37,520 in the 1871 census… The figure was 42,113 in the 1896 census, by which time Europeans numbered more than 700,000… As late as 1890, 40% of all female Maori children who were born died before the age of one, a much higher rate than for males.
“The decline of the Maori population did not continue, and levels gradually stabilized and began to recover.”
Dilke saw something else in California, where many hard-working Chinese men had arrived, mostly without women. They were valued as labour but not as people. Dilke quotes with detached amusement a Californian paper that said:
“‘The Indians began to be troublesome again in Trinity County. One man and a Chinaman have been killed, and a lady crippled for life.’”
He went on to say:
“That the antipathy everywhere exhibited by the English to coloured races was not less strong in California than in the Carolinas I had suspected, but I was hardly prepared for the deliberate distinction between men and yellow men drawn in this paragraph from the Alta Californian on the day of my return to San Francisco…
“The San Francisco Chinese … as a body … are frugal, industrious, contented men…
“It is said to be a peculiarity of the Chinese that they are all alike: no European can, without he has dealings with them, distinguish one Celestial from another. The same, however, may be said of the Sikhs, the Australian natives, of most coloured races, in short. The points of difference [from whites] are so much more prominent than the minor distinctions … that the individual are sunk and lost in the national distinction. To the Chinese in turn all Europeans are alike.”
There was a genuine process of learning in distinguishing people of other races. If a white person had never seen them as a child, they would fastened on their distinct features not shared with anyone they’d seen before. And then get confused when they found these widespread [among other Chinese].
While showing insight, Dilke had no doubt about the morality of removing unwanted native populations. Indeed, he saw it as something to be proud of:
“The Anglo-Saxon is the only extirpating race on earth. Up to the commencement of the now inevitable destruction of the Red Indians of Central North America, of the Maories, and of the Australians by the English colonists, no numerous race had ever been blotted out by an invader. The Danes and Saxons amalgamated with the Britons, the Normans with the English, the Tartars with the Chinese, Goths and Burgundians with the Gauls: the Spaniards not only never annihilated a people, but have themselves been all but completely expelled by the Indians, in Mexico and South America. The Portuguese in Ceylon, the Dutch in Java, the French in Canada and Algeria, have conquered but not killed off the nature peoples.”
He also took a dim view of efforts to assimilate. In his view, the apparent conversion of the Maories was superficial. They would accept Christianity but just one truth among many. And regarding the ancient civilisations of mainland Asia, he said:
“There is an Eastern civilisation – that of China and Hindostan [sic] – distinct from that of Europe, and ancient beyond all count: in this the Maori have no share. No true Hindoo, no Arab, no Chinaman, has suffered change in one tittle of his dress or manners from contact with the Western races; of this essential conservatism there is in the New Zealand savage not a trace.”
Even in Dilke’s day, most people were aware that Chinese civilisation and Hindu civilisation were utterly different. Both changed as far as they could without undermining things they counted as fundamental.
Each had a class of professional intellectuals who were distinct from the military and had more social prestige than the military. Significantly, Japan did not, with the professional fighters of the Samurai class having long overshadowed the Court Aristocracy. The military are mostly radical about anything that can help them win wars, though they mostly try to be conservative on other issues.
Asia’s ancient civilisations did try to change, but refused to self-destruct. China accepted window glass, crops from the New World, and many other things that fitted. I’ve discussed this in detail elsewhere: Why a sophisticated Empire could not modernise. Dilke says little about it, but instead notes positives in Britain’s Empire:
“There is in our colonies no trace of that multiplication of creeds which characterizes America, and which is said to be everywhere the result of the abolition of Establishment…
“There is no trace in the colonies at present of that love for the general idea which takes America away from England in philosophy, and sets her with the Latin and Celtic races on the side of France. The tendency is said to follow on democracy, but it would be better said that democracy is itself one of these general ideas. Democracy in the colonies is at present an accident, and nothing more; it rests upon no basis of reasoning, but upon a fact. The first settlers were active, bustling men of fairly even rank or wealth, none of whom could brook the leadership of any other. The only way out of the difficulty was the adoption of the rule ‘All of us to be equal, and the majority to govern;’, but there is no conception of the nature of democracy, as the unfortunate Chinese have long since discovered. The colonial democrats understood ‘democracy’ as little as the party which takes the name in the United States; but there is at present no such party in the colonies as the great Republican party of America.”
I’m not clear what Dilke is meaning here. At the time he wrote, the US Republicans were a radical party and had given the vote to Afro-Americans, while disqualifying many white men who had served the Confederacy. They abandoned this after the disputed Presidential Election of 1876, in which the Republican candidate was declared winner through the delivery of some key Electoral College votes in return for withdrawing Federal troops from the US South. In return for allowing black voters to be illegally denied the vote by various forms of trickery and violence.
What Dilke says would make sense if he considered that a voting system was not democratic if it operated on a racial basis. But this seems to contradict his other views. Britain itself had property qualifications for voting: Roman Catholics and Jews were not excluded, though until 1858 no MP could be sworn in unless they would say ‘on the true faith of a Christian’. Roman Catholics had been excluded from being MPs and otherwise disadvantaged until 1829, though there were Catholic peers in the House of Lords.
Race was never a criterion in Britain, but there were few non-whites until mass immigration in the 1950s. In the Empire, wherever there were enough non-whites to matter, they were denied a vote. Or else given much smaller representation or given an assembly with very little power, as in British India.
Dilke doesn’t mention property rules for the British electorate. The 1832 Reform gave a vote to just the richest seventh of the male population. This was expanded somewhat in 1867:
“Before the  Act, only one million of the seven million adult males in England and Wales could vote; the Act immediately doubled that number. Moreover, by the end of 1868 all male heads of household were enfranchised as a result of the end of compounding of rents.”
As I said earlier, only in the 1880s did Britain come close to what we’d now count as democracy. But in the colonies, and earlier in British North America, the relative cheapness of land had meant that much larger section of the male population would qualify
Dilke sounded lukewarm about even this limited democracy. He did not like the choices that people made with their new power.
“Democracy cannot always remain an accident in Australia: where once planted, it never fails to fix its roots… No male colonist admits the possibility of a social superior. Like the American ‘democrat,’ the Australian will admit that there may be any number of grades below him, so long as you allow that he is at the top; but no republican can be stauncher in the matter of his own equality with the best.”
“The greatest of all democratic stumbling-blocks is said to be Protection…
“It would seem as though we Free Traders have become nearly as bigoted in favour of Free Trade as our former opponents were in favour of Protection…
“If, putting aside our prejudices, we consent to argue with an Australian or American Protectionist, we find ourselves in difficulties. All the ordinary arguments against the compelling people by act of Parliament to consume a dearer or inferior article are admitted as soon as they are urged… A digger at Ballarat defended Protection to me in this way: he said that he knew that under a protective tariff he had to pay dearer… but that he preferred to do this, as by so doing he aided in building up in the colony such trades … in which his brother and other men physically too weak to be diggers could gain an honest living…
“The Western farmers in America, I have heard, defend Protection upon far wider grounds: they admit that Free Trade would conduce the most rapid peopling of their country with foreign immigrants; but this, they say, is an eminently undesirable conclusion. They prefer to pay a heavy tax in the increased price of everything they consume, and in the greater cost of labor, rather than see their country denationalized by a rush of Irish or Germans, or their political institutions endangered by a still further increased in the size and power of New York.”
“Unrestricted immigration may destroy the literature, the traditions, the nationality itself of the invaded country… A country in which Free Trade principles have been carried to their utmost logical development must be cosmopolitan and nationless, and for such a thing to exist universally without danger to civilisation the world is not yet prepared.”
Jews at that time were not an issue in the English-speaking world, because most of them had been there for a long time and had blended in. But the growth of the global economy upset existing social relationships in Eastern Europe. The Christian majority became much more hostile to Jews. Jews began to emigrate to the USA and Western Europe, to escape pogroms and to seek a better life. Since it was not then an issue, it is unsurprising that Dilke does not mention it. But his view is racist, though with many complexities:
“A well-taught white man can outreason or can overreach a well-taught Chinaman or negro. But under some climatic conditions, the negro can outwork the white man; under almost all conditions, the Chinaman can outwork him. Where this is the case, is not the Chinaman or the negro that should be called the better man?”
He also shows a curious nostalgia for the older craft production and a suspicion of the growing factory system
“The existing system of labour is anti-democratic, it is at once productive of and founded on the existence of an aristocracy of capital and a servitude of workmen; and our English democracies cannot afford that half their citizens should be dependent laborers. If manufactures are to be consistent with democracy, they must be carried out in shops in which each man shall be at once capitalist and handicraftsman.”
What Dilke would have done with power had he obtained it remains speculative. What should be clear however is how normal racism was even among the advanced radicals of the era.
I spoke earlier about the big differences between Sea Empires and normal empires, which I came to see clearly while writing this article. I define a Sea Empire as one that has both a Home Territory and Overseas Possessions, with neighbours mostly left alone. This usually requires a degree of geographical protection, which usually also means a mental separation. The identities of nations on Continental Europe overlap: in Britain the Channel allowed for a sharp break.
Mostly Sea Empires have existed next to much more powerful land powers, which they tried to coexist with. The British Empire was an historic oddity as a Sea Empire that was the dominant global power from 1759 till 1942. It repeatedly acted to prevent any possible unity for Europe.
The first Empires arose in Mesopotamia. They were land-based, expanding from their core into whatever lay next to it. They might develop a navy when they encountered sea, but mostly as a secondary armed force. Some co-opted subject kingdoms to supply them with ships: the Phoenicians did this for the Persians.
Imperialism – the notion of one ruler ruling a diversity of peoples and perhaps the whole world – was perhaps invented much earlier by Sargon of Akkad, a man of humble birth who grabbed power among the Sumerians some 4300 years ago. His was the first of many Empires that expanded by land in all possible direction.
Some Empires then reached natural limits and stopped. Egypt only spread beyond the Nile Valley to keep its core territory safe. Early China was also fairly peaceful, as was the enigmatic Indus Valley Civilisation.
Meantime islands mostly lived their own life. Minoan Crete was a major trading power, but it is doubtful it tried to rule anything beyond, apart from assimilating some small islands. People have imagined an Imperial system based on the supposed tribute of seven youths and seven maidens from Athens every seven years in the legend of Theseus: I find it as improbable as him encountering a bull-headed half-human
The first confirmed sea-empires were Phoenicians city-states. These spread across the Mediterranean and out along the Atlantic coast, without uniting in what is now The Lebanon.
The Greeks copied this. Rival city-states organising separate and often mutually hostile colonisations in Sicily, North Africa, the Black Sea etc.
Sea-based empires mostly failed to evolve into anything bigger. Syracuse in Sicily was building up a hegemony in that island and South Italy, but ‘helpful advice’ from the philosopher Plato helped wreck it.
The brief Athenian bid for hegemony with the Delian League failed, and Sparta’s own rival Peloponnesian League was destroy by Thebes. Thebes failed to take over, becoming part of the early Macedonian Empire and being briefly wiped out by Alexander [after rebelling]. It was the land-based Macedonians who organised Greeks to conquer Persia and form various Hellenistic Empires.
In what’s now Tunisia, the Phoenician colony of Carthage did form a decent-sized Empire that had the misfortune to clash head-on with the expanding Roman Republic, which ended up annihilating it. Both used the sea to get to nearby land which could be added to their growing Empires. The same applied to the Vikings: they expanded into nearby lands, using the sea to get there. Likewise King Canute’s brief Empire that united Norway, Denmark and England.
Further south, Venice and Genoa [and Pisa] each had their own sea-empire, overlapping and with much less in the way of land power. Meantime Florence had invented much of what was later to become West European culture but was inland and wasn’t much of a sea power. It was a centre of land-based trade.
Only the Mediterranean produced Sea Empires, until the Portuguese and Spanish developed ships that could sail round the world and survive storms on the open ocean. Until Europeans arrived, the Indian Ocean was a free-for-all, as was the South China Sea and the nearby Pacific – strictly the Western Pacific. China could dominate it when it wanted to, but the Grand Canal was more convenient. The Ming gave up their Indian Ocean voyages after losing one of the series of Vietnam Wars fought by Chinese dynasties. Vietnam, part of which was once a Chinese province, had separated itself with the fall of the Tang Dynasty. The weak Song Dynasty never recovered all that the Tang had held. The Mongols, Ming, and Manchu all tried to conquer Vietnam and all failed, having to settle for a purely nominal overlordship.
Despite the failure in Vietnam, successive Chinese dynasties did expand the territories that were the core of their land-based Empire. Overseas territories were of no particular interest if there was no real prospect of eventually assimilating them.
Spain and Portugal pioneered Europe’s global empires, but they were empires of very different sorts. Portugal had extensive overseas territories, but mostly stayed out of European wars. Spain used the vast wealth of its gold and silver mines in the New World in a serious effort to create a new Roman Empire, but in the end they failed.
Strictly speaking, ‘Spain’ is the modern version of the Roman Hispania that included the entire Iberian peninsula. But the Islamic conquest of much of the peninsula left a mix of Christian kingdoms in the north: Galicia, Leon, Castile, Navarre, Aragon and Barcelona / Catalonia, all of which had a complex history in which they fought each other as often as they fought the various Muslim kingdoms that were equally fragmented and flexible. The romantic legend of ‘El Cid’ is no more historical than King Arthur. Likewise Roland who was killed in a battle with Christian Basques. Someone could make a nice Game-of-Thrones drama about the efforts of England’s John of Gaunt to become King of Castile.
(He was of course nothing like the aged patriot of Shakespeare’s Richard the Second. He was however the patron and close friend of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer. Also a supporter of the proto-Protestant preacher John Wycliffe, but for probably for selfish reasons.)
Portugal was originally a county that hived off from the Kingdom of Leon. It conquered territory that had been ruled by Muslims and became the first European kingdom to achieve something like its present borders. It then followed a fairly modest policy, in part because the rest of the Iberian Peninsula became an enlarged Castile and an enlarged Aragon. The dynastic union between Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile created a union that became Spain.
By dynastic accident, this large realm merged with the wider possession of the Habsburg dynasty, which also held the Netherlands as an inheritance from Burgundy. Emperor Charles had limited power as Holy Roman Emperor: the ‘Holy Roman Empire’ was actually the Kingdom of Germany plus some non-German possessions, and was sometimes and more accurately called the ‘Holy Roman Empire of the Germanic Nation’. He had been elected Emperor and could not automatically pass the Imperial title on to his eldest son, as happened with other realms. But as a dynastic heir, he had authority over a great deal of Europe:
“Charles was the heir of three of Europe’s leading dynasties: the Houses of Valois-Burgundy (Netherlands), Habsburg (Holy Roman Empire), and Trastámara (Spain). He inherited the Burgundian Netherlands and the Franche-Comté as heir of the House of Valois-Burgundy. From his own dynasty, the Habsburgs, he inherited Austria and other lands in central Europe. He was also elected to succeed his Habsburg grandfather, Maximilian I, as Holy Roman Emperor, a title held by the Habsburgs since 1440. From the Spanish House of Trastámara, he inherited the crowns of Castile, which was in the process of developing a nascent empire in the Americas and Asia, and Aragon, which included a Mediterranean empire extending to Southern Italy. Charles was the first king to rule Castile and Aragon simultaneously in his own right, and as a result he is sometimes referred to as the first King of Spain. The personal union, under Charles, of the Holy Roman Empire with the Spanish Empire resulted in the closest Europe would come to a universal monarchy since the death of Louis the Pious.”
Emperor Charles chose to retire in his old age and to split his vast realm, letting his brother be Archduke of Austria and getting him elected as Holy Roman Emperor. The still-vast Western Hapsburg realm came to be identified with Spain. Phillip II of Spain was indeed culturally Spanish, and could probably not have secured election as Holy Roman Emperor if his father had tried to impose him. From Isabella of Castile he had inherited large portions of the New World: he claimed to rule all of it apart from a chunk that a global carve-up brokered by the Pope had assigned to Portugal and which became Brazil. He also successfully took over Portugal, to which he had an hereditary claim, though his heirs later lost it. But sea power was always secondary.
Spain as a land power eventually lost the northern half of the Netherlands (with the southern half becoming Belgium). Spain at sea was comprehensively out-fought by England, at that time much poorer and less populous. The first and famous Spanish Armada hoped to gain a local superiority in the channel that would allow Spain’s vast armies in the Netherlands to cross to England and conquer it, and this failed. Two later armadas failed mostly due to bad weather.
The Dutch Republic by contrast was a genuine sea power. It had to wage land wars, but they were mainly defensive. By contrast it managed a grand expansion by sea, taking over much of what Portugal had held, even briefly holding Brazil – which would have changed world history had it lasted. But in the key arenas of North America and the Indian subcontinent, the Dutch lost a complex three-way conflict with the British and French. They settled down as a sea empire lesser than Britain and mostly no longer hostile to it. Dutch territories in South Africa and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) got taken over by Britain during the Napoleonic Wars, in which Napoleon conquered it and its monarchs needed British help to be restored.
So, those were the Sea Empires. It is worth noting that they are much more likely to be Republics than other large states. This is a statistic rather than a Law of Nature: landlocked Switzerland was a confederation of republics and the Roman Republic had no significant navy before its wars with Carthage. But when overseas trade counts, merchants commonly demand a state that serves their interests.
Britain fitted this pattern. Parliaments had been a widespread institution in Continental Europe. None of them were even loosely democratic: they were instead a way of assembling the nobles, senior churchmen and elected representatives of the knights, gentry and rich townsmen. Monarchs typically summoned them to raise taxes or to make some major political change. But as Royal power increased, monarchs found them obstructive and let them lapse by simply not summoning them.
In England, the dynastic conflict commonly known as the Wars of the Roses meant that Parliaments kept on having to be summoned. They played a real role in who was or was not monarch. This got stronger under the Tudors, with the added complication of a change in religion. The House of Commons played a role in deciding Truths about God. Under the Stewarts, they came to see this as part of their proper business.
Charles the First did successfully supress the English parliament, which was elected by a minority and never very popular. He also had some success in pushing the Church of England back to something like what Henry the 8th had intended, and which his daughter Elizabeth might have preferred. This would have been a slightly modernised version of the Mediaeval Latin-Christian faith, without the excessive claims for a unified Church authority centred on the pope, but mostly pushed by a bureaucratic machine. (A system that individual popes sometimes disliked and seldom had much power over.) But Charles made the mistake of trying to apply Church reforms to Scotland, where there was a mass popular Protestant movement that fought and won two short ‘Bishop’s Wars’ against him. This led on to a sequence of wars that ended in 1688 with a half-republican system in which no monarch could rule without Parliament. And in which Catholic Ireland became occupied territory rather than part of an expanded society.
(Wales was also marginalised, but later had a wave of popular Welsh-speaking Protestantism and was able to integrate with a wider Britain. There was also a brief flourishing of Gaelic-speaking Protestantism in Ireland, but the local Roman Catholics reacted and were able to win back its converts.)
Britain’s half-republican system was in no way democratic, as I explained earlier. It was the [American and] French Revolutions that revived the rare and controversial Athenian notion of all male citizens having an equal vote – and unlike Athens, there were not large numbers of slaves and ‘Resident Foreigners’ excluded from the citizenship. Democracy in the 19th century was as controversial as socialism now is – and it was natural enough for many socialist parties to choose the name ‘Social Democrat’, which was still the name of the Bolsheviks when they organised the October Revolution.
The ultra-radical notion of women voting took a lot longer to spread right through the society and become something that even the Far Right no longer tried to reject.
The norm was also a democracy for white men only. Like the Roman Republic, by thy 20th century the various European empires had a semi-democratic electoral system at the core and autocracy on the fringes.
The expansion of democracy was countered by a massive subversion of democracy from the 1870s. Popular Militarism was encouraged and grew massively in most of Europe, and was also successfully imitated in Japan. People were encouraged to despise their MPs, who after all had to make various compromises to get anything done. Encouraged to identify with their Army and Navy, seen as brave defenders of the homeland and brave encouragers of civilised values in the strange world beyond Europe.
Not everywhere in Europe was part of the game. Switzerland was unaggressive. It was militarised only for genuine self-defence and avoided the suffering of its neighbours in the 20th century. Likewise Denmark, an unsuccessful colonial power that was peaceful after losing ethnic-German territory that it had unreasonably tried to rule until 1864. Sweden too lived peacefully after losing its multi-ethnic Baltic empire in 1721. Norway, long linked to Denmark, had been awarded to Sweden after the Napoleonic Wars. Increasingly feeling its own identity, it had been willing to fight for independence in the early 20th century but Sweden wisely granted this without a war in 1905.
(An odd legacy of the former union is control by the Norwegian parliament over the Nobel Peace Prize, even though Nobel himself was Swedish, as are those who control the other prizes.)
These were the exceptions. Most European states held territories outside of Europe that were simple possessions of the home country. Many were also multi-ethnic, often with the ethnic minorities seeking some sort of Home Rule or even complete independence. This was the case in Ireland, and the British ruling class in 1914 had missed many opportunities to find a peaceful solution to Ireland’s role within the wider British Empire. Most Irish were broadly content with their status as high-ranking white citizens of the gigantic British Empire, in which many served as soldiers, sailors, police and administrators. They just wanted to improve their standing within the British Isles: but the British ruling class was reluctant to adjust to changing realities. The notion of the London Times having as headline ‘Fog in Channel; Continent Cut Off’ is an urban myth: but the joke works because it is just a slight exaggeration of real attitudes.
Most Britons sincerely believe that Britain was an innocent victim in the two World Wars, and in the later Cold War. Ordinary Britons were indeed victims, just like the ordinary citizens of the other nations that went to war. But the ruling class of the British Empire was highly guilty all along. Guilty because of the inherent instability of being a world-dominating Sea Empire, and a general hostility to any sort of wider and binding European Union.
Most of the disasters of the 20th century stem from Europe’s strongest power being a Sea-Empire that fought wars to preserve its domination, but had no wish to either conquer or federate with Continental Europe. The British ruling class saw Continental Europe as odd, confusing, entertaining, or threatening; but definitely not something they could either rule or unite with.
The British Empire could almost certainly have organised a ‘United States of Europe’ that would have been much more favourable to British interests and values than the one we have just voted ourselves out of. But a Parliamentary system typically produces politicians who have spent decades rising within its complexities and dislike changing it.
The actual European Union was and still is an agreement between France and Germany that other nations find it convenient to join. It only became possible in the fluid politics after World War Two, and with US encouragement. The French had long despised their 3rd Republic, superficially restored as the 4th Republic: they were later to give themselves an autocratic 5th Republic under De Gaulle. In German and Italy, politics had entirely broken down before World War Two. They had then been occupied, with Germany split until 1989. West Germany was keen on a union with France, and Christian Democrats dominated in both West Germany and Italy. So it was a grand success.
Britain joined up the 1970s, when it was unsure what it should do with itself. But with the rise of the New Right in Britain and the USA, British governments became disruptive. As of June 2017, it looks as if Brexit will be very good for the European Union. Also disastrous for Britain and the New Right cause.
Looking back to 1914, there was a system of rival global empires that were all aggressive and expansionist. All of them had some sort of Parliamentary Democracy for their home territories, along with autocracy overseas. In each of them, the Free Press and the Elected Representative of the People could have stopped the World War, and failed to do so. Popular militarism had got a strong grip, and the bulk of the population of each of the rival alliances were successfully convinced that they were fighting defensively against the wicked aggression of the others. Even the non-white subjects of these Empires mostly accepted this as reasonable, until they encountered the actual horrors of modern warfare.
Jews at that time were integrating in most of Europe. They were classed as part of the White Master Race, though often viewed with suspicion. The main exception was Tsarist Russia, where the government actively wanted be rid of its Jewish minority and had encouraged pogroms and an odious right-wing popular movement called the Black Hundreds,
It was true that Jews were more likely to pick up and understand new ideas than the British norm, or the European norm. But that was only some Jews, and applied equally to literature, science, mathematics, philosophy and politics. Intelligent right-wingers saw them as a minority who were potentially useful and potentially dangerous, and so they assimilated Jews in as far as this was possible. Of course most right-wingers were unintelligent, but blanket rejection of Jews was discouraged while traditional rulers had their traditional authority.
Jews outside Tsarist Russia were integrated enough to be part of the war effort. (As indeed they had been in the US Civil War, not behaving in ways significantly different from the rest of the white population of their states, unlike other religious minorities such as the anti-slavery and pacifist Quakers.)
The First World War spoiled all that – but why did it happen? No government was innocent, but the British guilt was the greatest. During the crisis following the assassination of the Austrian heir to the throne, Germany asked whether marching through Belgium would bring Britain into the war. The answer they got from Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey convinced them that Britain was relaxed about the issue. Then when it actually happened, Grey was one of many who persuaded the bulk of the Liberal Party that marching through Belgium was an atrocity that compelled Britain to join the war. Pro-British historians try to explain this away as a baffling error. But since Grey had been Foreign Secretary since 1905, this is really not believable.
It is a matter of public record that many of the British ruling class had been thinking for years that a ‘Preventative War’ against Germany was a good idea. Germany was displacing Britain in world trade, and seemed the most likely power to end the British Empire’s global hegemony. This notion had been circulating since 1871, just after Prussia decisively defeated France. A future-history novel called The Battle of Dorking imagined Germany invading and destroying the British Empire. It was the first of many, and a lot of the public were convinced. But not all, and the Boer War had shown that a determined opposition could force compromises. In South Africa, the Boers were much weaker and in the end incorporated as minor allies of Britain. But Germany could only have been accommodated by making them an equal partner, which many Germans were hopeful of.
It is almost a cliché that generals and politicians are well prepared to fight the previous war, and not the war that they actually fall into. It is reasonable to believe that had Britain before 1914 been as conciliatory towards the Kaiser’s Germany as they were towards Hitler before 1939, a genuine and useful partnership could have been formed. The Kaiser was a well-meaning conservative. Hitler was a malignant radical-rightist. The proper policy was tried much too late and with the wrong person.
Readers who need more evidence that a powerful network within the British ruling class intentionally caused World War One should read various books and pamphlets from Athol Books, http://www.atholbooks.org/. I’d recommend Pat Walsh’s Ireland’s Great War On Turkey and our republication of Roger Casement’s 1914 book The Crime Against Europe.
In the case of Casement, he is wrongly identified as just an Irish Nationalist. Up until 1914, he had been part of the British Imperial ruling class. Having rising from the lower ranks of the Anglo-Irish gentry by personal merit, he was both highly moral and highly useful to the British ruling class with his exposures of atrocities in the ‘Congo Free State’, later the Belgian Congo. And again about abuse of Native Americans by companies harvesting raw rubber in Latin America. But when it came to the war against Germany, Casement was one of the few who stood by his principles in the face of warlike enthusiasm. Warmongers included most Irish Catholics in 1914 and continuing through to 1916. The ruling class then somehow lost their touch. They alienated Irish Catholics by the way they suppressed the Easter Rising, which had never been much of a military threat. Surprisingly, they got away with shelling Dublin and harming innocents. Public opinion is not always rational: what really offended people was a prolonged series of executions of leading rebels, including the badly wounded James Connolly.
As I said earlier, the British Empire was a hybrid of democracy and autocracy. And its rulers had never been entirely certain which side of the line the Irish Catholics belonged on. British troops in Dublin misbehaved, committing war-crimes that included the murder of Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, a supporter of Home Rule but also a pacifist who had opposed the rising.
That was the brutal side: but then the authorities chose to release the remaining men arrested for the Easter Rising at the end of the war, unexpectedly endorsing their claim that they had been soldiers in a legitimate act of war. Among those released was Michael Collins, who did more than any other man to win the Irish War of Independence. No norms would have been broken had Britain kept them in jail for years and shipped them well away from Ireland. But there was a massive uncertainty in the world after World War One.
(This anomaly gets generally overlooked. I noticed it after watching the 1996 film about Collins: I wondered how he could suddenly be wandering free in 1918 after being imprisoned after the Easter Rising.)
One apparent success for the British ruling class was to damage Casement’s reputation with supposed evidence that he was a covert homosexual with a highly promiscuous life-style. A promiscuity that somehow never came to the attention of rich enemies like the King of Belgium, owner of the ‘Congo Free State’, we are asked to believe. I think it overwhelmingly likely that Casement’s so-called ‘Black Diaries’ were forgeries. That a man could be a practicing homosexual without his friends suspecting is possible: there are some confirmed cases. But the documents have no confirmed existence. They have never been made available to the general public, though some selected experts have been allowed to examine them and claimed they are real. And this happened after decades in which the British government would not let anyone make checks.
I have no real concern with Casement’s sex life, if any. It is most likely that he was celibate in an era when the self-confidence of the social order was strong enough to make this feasible. But if documents of reliable nature turned up and showed that he was indeed a practicing homosexual, my reaction would be ‘so what’? As I said earlier, I wasn’t always so tolerant but have moved with the times. Or to be more accurate, the times and social influences have successfully moved me.
Sinn Fein, which had become the political wing of the IRA, scored an overwhelming victory in the UK General Election of 1918. They got 46% of the votes cast, but would have got even more had there been a contest in 25 out of the 105 Irish seats where no one bothered putting up a candidate against them. With an overwhelming majority of seats, they set up an Irish Republic and started their War of Independence. Though forced in the end to settle for a ‘Free State’, this was the beginning of the end for the British Empire.
Had the British ruling class genuinely believed that Imperial Germany was evil, they would have backed the French notion of breaking up Imperial Germany into three or four smaller units after winning the 1914-18 War. Germany had only been unified since 1871, and there were enough differences between the West, South and East to keep them separate. If Poland was to be given a ‘Corridor’ to the sea, East Prussia might have been a fourth state, since it had no land connection with the rest of the cut-down nation-state that was in fact set up.
As a system to preserve peace, the Versailles Treaty was absurd. But as a British ruling class attempt to keep Continental Europe divided and France dependent on Britain, it was a plausible policy, albeit one that failed drastically.
In June 1919, when the Versailles Treaty was signed, there was no great fear of Bolshevism. The White Russians, with foreign armies helping them, seemed to be winning the Russian Civil War. The dominant element were right-wing militarists who popularised the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion and carried out many massacres of Jews who were just Jews and not Bolsheviks or even leftists. But no one at the time was much bothered by this.
(Also not bothered were the rich Jewish family of Alisa Rosenbaum, who as ‘Ayn Rand’ later became a heroine of the New Right, and had been about as good for conservatism as heroin (diamorphine) is for its users. They stayed in the Crimea, almost the last White Russian stronghold, before reluctantly accepting a new role as Soviet citizens. Young Alisa got permission to go to the USA at a time when the Soviets were relaxed about such things. As a Hollywood script writer, she learned nothing about truth but a great deal about how to manipulate Anglo minds. I’ve explained this in detail elsewhere.)
The Bolsheviks survived and formed the Soviet Union as the core of a growing global Communist movement. This alarmed the British ruling class. Bolshevism had been checked by its defeat by Poland in 1920, but pre-1914 ‘normality’ had not been restored and in fact never was restored. Germany got a government dominated by Social-Democrats, as did Czechoslovakia, and both were friendly to the Soviet Union.
British government actions in the 1920s and 1930s make perfect sense if you suppose that the British ruling class privately preferred Fascism and similar Hard-Right creeds to parliamentary democracies that elected democratic socialist governments. This was only occasionally said openly, because the public including most Tory voters had a real belief in parliamentary democracy as A Wonderful Thing. But Churchill did say something of the sort about Mussolini’s Italy:
“‘Before leaving for London by the mid-day train to-day, Mr. Churchill received representatives of the Italian and foreign Press. Mr. Churchill informed his audience that he had prepared what he, an ex-journalist, considered the questions and answers most likely to help them in their work, and that a typed copy of this would be given to whomsoever desired one. The following are extracts in his own words from the impressions made upon him by a week’s visit to Italy.
“‘You will naturally ask me about the interviews I have had with Italian statesmen and in particular with Signor Mussolini and Count Volpe. Those interviews were purely formal and of a general character. It is a good thing in modern Europe for public men in different countries to meet on a friendly and social basis and form personal impressions of one another. It is one of the ways in which international suspicion may be diminished and frank and confident relations maintained.
“‘I could not help being charmed, like so many other people have been, by Signor Mussolini’s gentle and simple bearing and by his calm detached poise in spite of so many burdens and dangers. Secondly, anyone could see that he thought of nothing but the lasting good, as he understands it, of the Italian people, and that no lesser interest was of the slightest consequence to him…
“‘I have heard a great deal about your new law of corporations which, I am told, directly associates twenty millions of active citizens with the State and obliges the State to undertake very direct responsibilities in regard to these dependents. Such a movement is of the deepest interest, and its results will be watched in every country. It will certainly require the utmost good will and cooperation of all the people, as well as the wise and clear guidance of the State. But at any rate, in the face of such a system, ardently accepted, it is quite absurd to suggest that the Italian Government does not rest upon popular bases or that it is not upheld by the active and practical assent of the great masses.
“‘If I had been an Italian I am sure that I should have been wholeheartedly with you from the start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism. But in England we have not had to fight this danger in the same deadly form. We have our way of doing things. But that we should succeed in grappling with Communism and choking the life out of it-of that I am absolutely sure.
“‘I will, however, say a word on the international aspect of Fascismo. Externally, your movement has rendered a service to the whole world. The great fear which has always beset every democratic leader or working-class leader has been that of being undermined or overbid by someone more extreme than he: It seems that a continued progression to the Left, a sort of inevitable landslide into the abyss was characteristic of all revolutions. Italy has shown that there is a way of fighting the subversive forces which can rally the mass of the people, properly led, to value and wish to defend the honour and stability of civilised society. She has provided the necessary antidote to the Russian poison. Hereafter, no great nation will be unprovided with the ultimate means of protection against cancerous growths, and every responsible labour leader in every country ought to feel his feet more firmly planted in resisting levelling and reckless doctrines. The great mass of people love their country and are proud of its flag and history. They do not regard these as incompatible with a progressive advance towards social justice and economic betterment.’” (The Times, 21st January, 1927. )
In 1927, Hitler was a fringe politician. Italian Fascism was not anti-Jewish until much later. Italian Jews were found disproportionately both in Italian Fascism and among dedicated anti-Fascists of various sorts – as usual, Jews acted as individuals. A Jewish woman called Margherita Sarfatti was Mussolini’s biographer as well as one of his mistresses. Her father had been a friend to the man who became Pope Pius X. She has been called ‘the Jewish Mother of Fascism’: the actual inventor of the surprising and novel combination of right-wing and left-wing ideas that Mussolini as a gifted populist then led to power. Meantime the Polish Republic that former left-winger Jozef Pilsudski created in 1918 was hostile to Jews, though it would assimilate converts in line with long-term Roman Catholic practice.
In my view, Churchill saw Hitler as too dangerous, precisely because he was more sympathetic to the Fascist world-view than most Tories. Had he not spent so many years in parliament and become wholly absorbed in the glamorous Westminster subculture, he might have made a vastly more effective British Fascist leader than Oswald Mosley. I assume he was certain that Hitler in charge of Germany would be looking for a German Empire dominating Continental Europe, because that is what he would have done as Germany’s leader. Knew that if Hitler succeeded, the British Empire would decline to be second or third globally, depending on what the USA did. This he found unacceptable.
Others were less clear-sighted about fascism, or perhaps more realistic about the reduced power of the British Empire in a fast-changing world. By the time Hitler came to power in 1933, the world economy was in the grip of the Great Slump. Many parliamentary democracies had collapsed or had voted themselves into powerlessness, as happened in Imperial Japan. Many believed that a Germany in which 30% of the working class were unemployed would opt for either Nazism or Communism.
I don’t believe that many members of the British ruling class failed to see Hitler as a potential enemy in a new World War. Nor were they timid people terrified by a gigantic Nazi beast: when Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland in 1936, Germany was in no position to fight a major war. He was allowed to get stronger. And whereas the left-wing governments of the Weimar Republic had been bulled to pay impossible reparations for a war they had been forced to declare themselves guilty of, Hitler was treated much more leniently.
Both in Britain and France, most of the centre-right saw Nazism as a useful counter to the Soviet Union. They were also cautious, but not all to the same degree. One strong supporter of friendship was Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry. A Member of the House of Lords from 1915, he became a leading Tory politician and a minister at a time when many Lords had important government jobs. His role is described in a book called Making Friends With Hitler:
“A pillar of the Conservative Party, Londonderry, socially and politically, could scarcely have been better connected. The King called him ‘Charley’. Members of the royal family were frequently guests in his London mansion. The political establishment dined regularly at his table… Londonderry was on first-name terms with all the major political figures of the day… Instinctively pro-German, he visited Germany on a number of occasions after leaving the government in 1935… Ultimately, this meant for Londonderry political disaster, and personal misery. He spent his later years in a relentless, but fruitless, campaign to vindicate his heavily criticized record as Air Minister and his acquired reputation as a friend of the Nazis.”
But because he did not attempt to defend Hitler once the British Empire was committed to a war against him, he remained broadly acceptable. A recent Channel 4 series called ‘Great British Buildings: Restoration of the Year’ included his Stately Home, Mount Stewart. There was not a word about the man’s politics in the general historic survey that was part of each narrative.
The Stately Home itself got far more attention than it merited. Tens of millions of pounds of public money have been spent restoring the dull centres of self-indulgence of the class that caused two World Wars. That failed in its aim of preserving the British Empire. Meantime we are learning that Grenfell Tower became an inferno and caused dozens of deaths because restoration work that made it look more pleasant to its rich Kensington neighbours used a type of plastic cladding that was flammable. This was preferred to a fireproof version that was slightly more expensive. Thanks to the Tory chant of ‘Red Tape, Red Tape’ whenever sensible safety regulations are proposed, it was not made a legal requirement to use the fireproof version on a tall building that might be impossible to escape from. It is the law in the USA and Germany: in Britain it was called needless. Boris Johnson as London Mayor also cut the London Fire Service, which does useful work warning of fire hazards as well as trying to extinguish fires when they start. And it seems that a grand total of £5000 was saved by not using the fireproof panels: but this was just the lives of the poor rather than flattery for the rich.
Jews were major victims of the British ruling class’s indifference and incompetence in the end-game before they lost their cherished Empire. But many others were victims, including ordinary English people who thought that the ruling class cared about them. Thatcherism was a revival of the same folly, though of necessity attached to a US hegemony as a mere back-up and booster.
Back in the 1930s, though he was a member of an increasingly incompetent ruling class, Lord Londonderry was not blind to the possibility that Germany would once again become Britain’s enemy in the complex game of world politics. He was correctly credited with some good work as Air Minister:
“Londonderry did set in train the design and promotion of what would turn into the Hurricanes and Spitfires that were to play such a vital part in the Battle of Britain. The beginnings of British radar development… also date back to his period in office.”
He also hoped to avoid another World War and preserve values that in fact perished:
“The 1930s are still within living memory for a by now elderly part of the society. But … it has the feel of a remote epoch. Attitudes towards Empire, rate, state and nation all have a distant ring. Not least, it seems strange today that anyone in Britain would actively have wanted to make friends with Hitler – the most recognised face of evil in the twentieth century, the epitome of race hatred and war, the abnegation of all values held to be positive in a civilised society. But in the 1930s such a mentality was anything but strange. Many looked to Hitler with admiration and pressed for a policy of friendship with Nazi Germany.”
Had Hitler been wiser and more patient, mainstream 1930s values might have stabilised Europe on a very right-wing, racist and anti-Jewish basis. In my view, it was decisive for the triumph of modern values that the war happened the way it did. Excellent that the fall of the British Empire liberated all of its components, Britain included. Brooker T. Washington’s comment that you can’t hold a man down without staying down with him was as valid for Imperial Britain as for the US South, and Britons were rather quicker to realise this. What we now see as normal British values might never have happened without the World War forcing this oppressive British Empire to become dependent on both the United States and Soviet Union, and without many right-wing ideas becoming tainted by an association with Nazis. I’ve looked at this in detail: Reinventing Normality in the 20th Century. From this viewpoint, I see Lord Londonderry’s efforts as less foolish than they now seems. But there was a widespread failure to realise that Hitler was indeed a Radical Rightist very ready to upset the existing balance of the world:
“The most penetrating criticism of the Hitler regime after 1933 would regularly come from the Manchester Guardian [Since 1959 The Guardian]… In 1930, however, even this newspaper dismissed Hitler as a mere braggart without genuine or sustainable principles… ‘not anything as fatal, sinister, and calamitous as fear, nervousness and sensational journalism made it appear’… The Times thought it was difficult to know what the Nazi Party wanted, apart from making Germany strong again, but was optimistic that Hitler would eventually guide its revolutionary spirit into ‘useful channels’. Oddly, the Daily Mail, a mass-circulation newspaper whose owner, Lord Rothermere, was sympathetic to Hitler (and, in the early 1930s, to Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists), was practically alone in at least acknowledging – from a position of admiration – that the Nazi leader was not just a talented demagogue but also ideologically driven, that there was ‘intense conviction behind his words’.”
“Rothermere believed fervently that offering Hitler friendship and a free hand in eastern Europe, where he could take on and destroy Bolshevism, was in Britain’s national interest, and the only way to avoid a second disastrous war.”
The British ruling class had an empire under threat. The fate of Jews in Continental Europe was seen as a much less important matter, though Hitler’s view was also seen as extreme:
“[Nazi mistreatment of Jews] was causing great anxiety in Britain. Besides the dislike of persecution, Londonderry wrote, there was the feeling ‘that you are taking on a tremendous force which is capable of having repercussions all over the world’ and could be ‘antagonistic to some of your most proper and legitimate aspirations. Londonderry’s evident belief in the international power of Jewry as compounded by what followed: ‘As I told you, I have no great affection for the Jews. It is possible to trace their participation in most of those international disturbances which have created so much havoc in different countries,’ though he added that it was possible to ‘find many Jews strongly ranged on the other side who have done their best with the wealth at their disposal, and also by their influence to counteract those malevolent and mischievous activities of fellow Jews.
“Londonderry was certainly not a racial anti-Semite in the Nazi sense. There is no inkling in his extensive papers and correspondence of obsessive or pervasive hatred of Jews. Lord and Lady Londonderry had numerous Jewish friends and colleagues.”
This was typical of the British right at the time, and for many years afterwards. Things changed when Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967 humiliated Soviet-backed and Arab-nationalist Egypt. Until then, right-wingers accepted some Jews among their number, but felt that a majority of Jews were on the wrong side and must be viewed with suspicion. And until 1939, Hitler was acceptable. The Berlin Olympics showed that.
Hitler by 1936 was openly a dictator, with no limits on his power since the death of President Hindenburg in 1934. And blatantly not restrained by law: the Night of the Long Knives is mostly now presented just as a purge of the odious Stormtroopers, but it went much wider. Several leaders of the disbanded Catholic Centre Party were murdered. Conservative Vice-Chancellor Franz von Papen was arrested and several of his close associates killed, after which he wisely quit to become German ambassador to Austria. He had helped get Hitler appointed in what started out as a coalition. By 1936, it was blatantly a Nazi dictatorship.
Hitler by 1936 had also deprived Jews of their citizenship, and had a blatant policy of treating Jews badly in the hope that they would emigrate. This included giving privileges to Zionists, since they shared a common goal of getting Jews out of Germany, even though both sides understood that they were inherently enemies in their longer-term goals. Effective politics is all about forming workable agreements with people you don’t entirely agree with, and it is absurd that Ken Livingstone was told off for mentioning it. This seems part of a general Modernist attitude that a fact may not be mentioned just because it is true. Not if someone has decided that the world would look nicer if we pretended it was not true.
Hitler in 1936 wanted to make a success of the Berlin Olympic Games. Gaining this had indeed been a major credit for Germany:
“Germany and its World War allies Bulgaria, Hungary, Turkey, and Austria were excluded from the 1920 Olympic Games… Germany’s exclusion was extended to the 1924 Games held in Paris.”
Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey were allowed to take part in 1924: Germany joined them in 1928. Berlin was then given the next-but one games:
“The bidding for these  Olympic Games was the first to be contested by IOC members casting votes for their own favorite host cities. The vote occurred in 1931, during the Weimar Republic, before Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party rose to power in 1933… Many other cities around the world also wanted to host the Summer Olympics for that year, but except for Barcelona they did not receive any IOC votes.”
Berlin won by 43 votes to 16 for Barcelona. And the next scheduled games in 1940 were awarded to Tokyo, even though Japan had annexed Manchuria in 1931 and got Chinese government troops banned from Shanghai after a limited conflict in 1932. But for as long as right-wing dictatorships seemed useful to Britain’s global hegemony, they were tolerated and even helped.
The Nazis had felt some initial doubts about the Olympic movement, but then decided it was useful:
“The other side of the coin was the determined German propaganda offensive in 1936, spearheaded by Ribbentrop, and with its high point in the summer Olympics in Berlin, to win over British support.”
All of the usual participants turned up for the Berlin Olympics, even though these were a blatant celebration of Nazism. Including Harold Abrahams, Jewish hero of the film Chariots of Fire and a BBC sports reporter. The only country not to attend was Spain under its new left-wing government. They were holding an Alternative Olympics when the right-wing military tried to overthrow them and the Spanish Civil War began.
Later articles in this series will say a lot more about the Olympics, and also the British Empire’s dishonest pro-fascist line in the Spanish Civil War. For now, note that there was no particular attachment to parliamentary democracy:
“Londonderry summarised his own views to Winston Churchill in early May… ‘Whatever the regime,’ he stated, ‘if it creates efficient organisation, I feel a certain amount of admiration for it, and that is why I respect Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, I should not’ he went on, ‘like to live under these regimes myself because they are the negation of the freedom which we have learned through the ages to claim and enjoy, but still they do constitute and organisation and I feel that if the Nazi regime in Germany is destroyed, Germany will go Communist and we shall find a lining up of Communism between France, Germany and Russia.'”
But he lost out in 1935, being replaced as Air Minister and then unwisely concentrating on maintaining friendship with Nazi Germany:
“At home the Londonderrys were now widely seen as the foremost apologists for Hitler’s regime… Among the Nazi hierarchy they were regarded as champions of the German cause. Though their social status and connections to the highest in the land in Britain were unaffected, their political influence – never as great as they had imagined – was now negligible.”
“From Germany’s point of view, despite all the efforts at winning over Britain… a retrospective of 1936 could offer only a disappointing assessment of achieving the desired basis of friendship. The abdication in December of King Edward VIII, known to the Nazi leadership for his sympathy for Germany, was interpreted by Ribbentrop as a blow to his hopes.”
“On 28 December 1937, Ribbentrop had finished compiling a 23-page report on Anglo-German relations and how to handle Chamberlain’s initiative to improve them… Here too, Londonderry was explicitly mentioned. He was included, along with the ‘Astor group’ (otherwise known, if not altogether accurately, as ‘the Cliveden set’, from the place of weekend gatherings at the home of Lord and Lady Astor of a number of prominent ‘appeasers’), The Times (whose editor, Geoffrey Dawson, was an ‘appeaser’ and frequently the guests at Cliveden).”
From my childhood I remember a comic song about the pro-Nazi role of Lord and Lady Astor:
“There is in Bucks a country house, country house
“Where dwell Lord Astor and his spouse, and his spouse
“And there go Chamberlain and Halifax
“To manufacture Fascist pacts, Fascist pacts
“Fare ye well ye League of Nations
“Welcome peaceful penetrations
“No more nonsense about International Law, oh law”.
This song has somehow dropped out of memory: someone should go looking for it. I could find no trace of it on-line or in any book I have read. The fashion among most of the left is to praise the people who actually achieved nothing, most notably Trotsky. They held up all of the losers for admiration, and were then astonished when they too lost. That was the history of the 1970s Britain. Hopefully it will be different this time round.
Back in the 1930s, Lord Londonderry had a false understanding of what Hitler wanted:
“Churchill, replying, left his second cousin [Londonderry] in no doubt about the extent of their disagreement on policy towards Germany:
“‘We certainly do not wish to pursue a policy inimical to the legitimate interests of Germany, but you must surely be aware that when the German Government speaks of friendship with England, what they mean is that we shall give them back their former Colonies, and also agree to their having a free hand so far as we are concerned in Central and Southern Europe. This means that they would devour Austria and Czecho-Slovakia [sic] as a preliminary to making a gigantic middle-Europa-block. It would certainly not be in our interests to connive at such policies of aggression. It would be wrong and cynical in the last degree to buy immunity for ourselves at the expense of the smaller countries of Central Europe.'”
Churchill may have been mistaken about the former German possession beyond Europe, which Hitler was not vastly interested in. He was interested in lands where Germans could settle to enlarge Germany, in the same way that earlier settlements had expanded into former Slavonic territories, including Prussia. He wanted them to do this rather than be assimilated as they had been in the white colonies of the British Empire and in the United States. His ambition was to take Ukraine and perhaps other territories that were then part of the Soviet Union. His intention was also to clear away the existing population in a way that had not previously been done to any white population. He wanted to apply to Europe the methods that Europe had applied in the wider world. Had he not also had a pathological fear of Jews and hatred of Jews, he might well have succeeded.
In the shorter run, Hitler alarmed the British ruling class by taking over the ethnic-Czech parts of Czechoslovakia, just as Churchill had feared. When it happened, it was also too much for Londonderry. In a 1938 book, he had tried to reassure Britons:
“Londonderry’s book, which he called Ourselves and Germany, was eventually published (after a brief delay caused by the need to add the postscript on the Anschluss) at the beginning of April. A second, paperback, edition published by Penguin later in the year significantly increased its circulation, and the attention paid to it… Early reviews in major English newspapers were positive.”
He chose to blame Austria’s leaders for the annexation of Austria. But he also said:
“The incorporation of Austria in the German Reich …was a legitimate German aspiration… a totally different situation arises should the German policy of expansion extend to the incorporation or forcible acquisition of Czechoslovakia.”
Why Hitler missed this is baffling. Obviously it was less of a moral offence than things that Hitler had previously got away with. But from the viewpoint of the rulers of the British Empire, it made him suddenly much more of a menace than an asset:
“The former British Ambassador in Berlin, Sir Horace Rumbold… provided a thoughtful response [to Londonderry’s book]…
“Rumbold began by agreeing that Britain’s policy towards Germany before 1930 had been deplorable…
“Rumbold then turned to Londonderry’s demand in his book… that the Germans should be pressed to indicate ‘the limits of their ambitions’. Rumbold saw what Londonderry had been incapable of seeing. ‘I doubt whether even Hitler could tell you what the limit is.'”
This was the key point. Hitler would have been much wiser to proceed slowly and not alarm the British Empire, which still viewed itself as controlling the entire world.
If he’d been more modest, he might have got almost all he was after without a war with France or Britain.
If he’d been more modest, he would not have been Hitler.
But Hitler had also been encouraged by the sympathy he got from the British elite. He failed to work out what the genuine limits were. He did correctly conclude that no one important cared what he did to Continental Jews:
“Londonderry noted that ‘we may fail to understand, and many of us undoubtedly condemn, the attitude which the Chancellor [Hitler] adopts towards the Jews and certain religious bodies’…
“In his appended postscript on the Anschluss [union with Austria], Londonderry did not refer with a single word to the savage bestiality of the Nazi attacks on the Jews…
“Londonderry’s comments do not appear to have attracted the attention of the many non-Jews among his correspondents. But one Jewish friend, Anthony Rothschild, of the famous banking family, did take him to task. He asked on what authority Londonderry could make such a sweeping statement which ‘savours of the stock in trade of all anti-Semitic writers’, and could be used to support the persecution of Jews… Londonderry’s reply apologised for the personal pain he had caused his longstanding family friend… His anti-Bolshevism, predictably, came into play at this point as he picked up the standard anti-Semitic line that Jews had been behind the 1917 Russian Revolution…
“His wife, he said, fearing as he did Jewish influence and believing ‘that the Jews in the East End [of London] are a really dangerous element in this country’, had suggested that ‘those many Jews who exist in all parts of the world and who have made tremendous contributions to progress and the highest form of religious idealism’ should seek to control ‘the dangerous elements’ who were ‘so powerful in moulding the destinies of the world’.
“Rothschild’s remarkable restrained, if understandably cool, response used history and logic to counter Londonderry’s ‘nebulous accusations’, pointing out that
“‘Except insofar as in the past those of the Jewish faith living all over the world have attempted to help their persecuted co-religionists elsewhere or in support of Zionism – which was the official, but, as many Jews like myself think, the mistaken policy of the British government – there is no such thing as Jewish influence as such, and any apprehensions based on the supposition of its existence are entirely imaginary’…
“Londonderry had, as his public and private statements reveal, an ingrained anti-Jewish prejudice – though there was little that was distinctive in a latent antipathy which was common enough on the Conservative Right.”
Londonderry was a fool to think of ‘The Jews’ doing anything in particular. They acted as individuals, while obviously avoiding political movements that were anti-Jewish.
Zinoviev and Kamenev, the most notable Jews among the Old Bolsheviks, had been against attempting the October Revolution. (Trotsky at the time was very much a New Bolshevik, brought in by Lenin.) There were also more Jews among the indecisive Mensheviks than among the Bolsheviks. Parvus (Israel Lazarevich Gelfand) was by 1917 a paid agent of Imperial Germany. Rosa Luxemburg liked the idea of revolution but not the reality: she would probably have become an opponent of Lenin had she not been killed by German right-wingers. Emma Goldman, an anarchist rather than a Marxist, did become a minor nuisance on the left, claiming to be purer than the Global Communist Movement that was the real anti-fascist force.
Regarding Parvus, the nearest real-life person to an International Jewish Conspirator, he may have sincerely believed that a German victory would be best for socialism. This was certainly the view of Irishman James Connolly and of Roger Casement. Lenin refused to work with Parvus after taking power in Russia. Parvus became marginal, dying in 1924.
Londonderry was more pro-Hitler than most of the ruling class, but they all made the same errors. And somehow let Hitler misread them:
“‘Appeasement’ only became a dirty word after the events of the late summer and early autumn [1938, the Munich Agreement].”
It became that only after it became clear that Hitler would not stay within what the British ruling class had seen as agreed limits. For as long as Hitler was seen as more useful than dangerous, he was allowed to get away with a great deal. Making Friends With Hitler does not see it so, but does say:
“Leading futures in the German Army’s General Staff… thought Germany could not win a war against the western powers which would inevitably ensure from an attack on Czechoslovakia… Goering more than anyone feared the consequences of general European war, which Germany was not yet ready to face.”
“Chamberlain was speaking in the House of Commons as news of Hitler’s concession was given to him. He immediately announced it, and the packed House erupted in tumultuous cheering.”
But then Hitler apparently decided that he could do just as he pleased:
“Hitler was telling Nazi leaders that he had decided to smash what remained of the Czech state and occupy Prague. Five days later the Wehrmacht crossed the border and, later on that evening of 15 March , the German dictator himself entered the city. It was to prove the terminal blow for the policy of appeasement, and the breaking point in Lord Londonderry’s lingering delusions about building a friendly relationship with Nazi Germany.”
“Despite disappointments, [Londonderry] still hoped that the breakthrough reached at Munich could prove a platform on which to build. These hopes were shattered… by the news of the German invasion of what remained of Czechoslovakia…
“Londonderry stated (echoing the sentiments of Halifax), ‘Germany appears to have assumed the attitude of world domination’, which could not be accepted under any circumstances.”
You could see the British view as irrational, but it was the actual British view. Hitler had no excuse for not knowing this. He’d shown skill at easing German conservatives out of power, and in getting control of the military. Somehow he forgot caution after his run of successes. He made an enemy of the British Empire against the wishes of most of the [British] ruling class
“It was a sobering moment for German sympathizers generally. Many would-be friends of Hitler’s Reich now found they could go no further. The Conservative writer and journalist Francis Yeats-Brown, for instance, long an admirer of Italian Fascism who late in 1938 had written a series of articles in the Observer enthusing about Hitler’s Germany, saw Prague as the end of the road.”
There was then an overdue effort to curb him, using Poland but not doing so honestly:
“The cynicism was the knowledge that Britain could, in the event of a German attack on Poland, do nothing militarily to guarantee just given. No discussions with the French were held about an attack on Germany’s western borders should Poland be attacked in the east. Military advice was that Poland would be overrun within three months. The guarantee, whatever its appearances, was aimed not at helping Poland fight a war, but in preventing such a war taking place; or, at least, delaying it until Britain had completed the build-up of it defences – more than a year away at the earliest.”
So how did Hitler get as far as he did before 1939? Because Britain’s rulers were not anti-Fascist or anti-Nazi, [and cared little about the fate of Jews in Continental Europe.] They cared only about global power.
“[Londonderry had] an instinctive, paternalistic authoritarianism, far removed from the Fascist variety. But he presumed that members of the social and political oligarchy that had traditionally been formed from the British nobility had a born right to rule. Though he usually concealed it, he had an inbuilt arrogance and disdain for ‘the bourgeoisie’ – meaning, particularly, Neville Chamberlain (‘a second-class parochially-minded tradesman’, as he described him) – now governing Britain in place of the aristocracy.”
Similar people had adjusted to Fascism in Italy and Germany, after the regular political system had broken down. The British ruling class did something similar on a global scale:
“The only conceivably viable policy in summer 1939 which offered any alternative to increasingly certain war was to forge a military alliance with the Soviet Union. An opinion survey carried out in April 1939 found 87 per cent of respondents in Britain in favour. But this did not include the two individuals effectively determining British foreign policy at this state: Chamberlain and Halifax. Londonderry had for his part set his face against such an alliance even before it was seriously mooted. When the idea – backed most prominently by Churchill, as well as by the Labour Party – became taken up as a policy option, he dubbed it ‘disastrous’.”
If they suspected that working with the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany would move the society well to the left, they were quite right. It did do just that, though most modern historians pretend otherwise. Londonderry might have seen Nazi global domination as a lesser evil.
“Hitler, though misjudging how British attitudes had changed since Prague, was aware that there were those in Britain who even now favoured peace over war at the price of concessions to German demands in Poland. The British Ambassador in Berlin, Sir Neville Henderson, was one of those. Another was R. A. Butler, who in the post-war era would become a leading force in the Conservative Party and at this time was Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office and chief spokesman on foreign affairs in the House of Commons. [Halifax was in the House of Lords.] Butler… favoured putting pressure on the Poles, even at this juncture, to come to terms with Germany. He saw ‘a German-British agreement including Colonies AND a reasonable Polish settlement’ as the only alternative to war. But the Foreign Office mandarins were having none of these suggestions of a ‘Polish Munich’.”
‘R. A. Butler’, commonly known as Rab Butler, is described in the Wiki as “the key-figure in the revival of post-war Conservatism, arguably the most successful chancellor since the war and unquestionably a Home Secretary of reforming zeal.” But he kept on being passed over as Tory leader. There were rumours at the time of something that would have looked very bad if it had ever come to light: more than his public inclination towards peace. To date, nothing has come to light – which may just mean an efficient cover-up.
The war began with the destruction of Poland. The West might have expected it to last some time: Serbia had lasted more than a year. In fact organised resistance collapsed after 35 days. Poland was already decisively defeated when the Soviet Union stepped in after 17 days. But the war was about power, not Poland, so it continued. Britain may have hoped to win by denying overseas food supplies to Germany, which had worked in the First World War. This was indeed applied in the long run, producing hunger in Germany and also making the intentional starvation of people in the Concentration Camps seem less of an anomaly. But there was a natural reluctance to engage in the horribly costly trench warfare of the previous war. And though the idea of a sudden breakthrough using tanks had been invented within the British Army, conventional military opinion successfully suppressed it:
“Not until the German western offensive in May 1940 did the British army engage in military action… Some called this strange period ‘the twilight war… The Germans came to refer to it as the ‘Sitzkreig’ (or ‘sitting war’). The Americans dubbed it ‘the phoney war’. In Britain, too, this appellation stuck.
“From the point of view of the Poles there was nothing at all ‘phoney’ about the war. After not much more than three weeks of savage fighting, the Polish army was utterly destroyed.”
Actually Britain’s real war started earlier, in April with the Norwegian campaign. Lord Londonderry kept quiet for the duration of the war. Others were less wise:
“The Duke of Westminster, aged sixty, one of the richest men in England, with a propensity to share some of the Nazi’s delusions about Jews and Freemasons, had joined ‘The Link’ in 1939 at precisely the time that others were losing their ardour for Hitler’s Germany. He was said to have been keen on avoiding bombs dropping on central London since he owned so much of it.”
This was the 2nd Duke. Later Dukes of Westminster remain enormously rich, though they are not direct descendants of the pro-Hitler Duke. They hit the news recently when it was found that the new 7th Duke had paid hardly any tax on an inheritance of nine thousand million pounds, thanks to devious but entirely legal trust funds. Right-wingers had somehow convinced the public that a proper inheritance tax was wickedly ‘taxing the dead’. Then the needy get their small payments cut in the name of austerity.
Looking back to Lord Londonderry, I got interested enough to get hold of the man’s own book, which I briefly quoted from earlier. Here in substance is what he said before the Munich Agreement:
“During the period which elapsed since  the situation with regard to Germany has, I am afraid, grown steadily worse. Herr Hitler’s conciliatory gestures have been disregarded and his offers brushed on one side… The time may not be far off … when the Germans will be able to dispense with the hope of any understanding with us and strike out along a course of Weltpolitik frankly antagonistic to Great Britain and her many imperial and commercial interests. It is to avert such an unfortunate eventuality as this that I have made every effort to convince the people of this country of the value and importance of a friendly understanding between Britain and Germany.”
He knew it might come to war. And saw weakness in the British Empire’s hybrid of democracy and autocracy:
“We are apt to ignore the fact that our political institutions rest on a foundation of centuries and that the individuals who from time to time operate our political system have never been invested with the plenary powers inherent in the principle of dictatorship. For this reason, therefore, I regard the position of a dictator with feelings of apprehension, since under dictatorship the centre of gravity is in the dictator, and not in the system of government.”
He claims to have worked for disarmament, which would be disputed:
“Speaking on behalf of the British Government … I declared that we were ‘prepared to subscribe to universal acceptance of the abolition of naval and military aircraft and of air bombing (except for polite purposes in outlying places), provided only that there can be devised an effective scheme for the international control of civil aviation which will prevent all possibility of the misuse of civil aircraft for military purposes…
“We never opposed the principle of abolition at Geneva … if other nations would do likewise.
“The police bombing reservation, for advocating which I was very bitterly attacked by the Labour party and others in England, was a comparatively minor one. It arose from the fact that British colonial possessions are widely scattered, and since the War our responsibilities have been increased by the various mandates which we hold from the League of Nations. More than any other Power we rely upon aircraft … to police and control undeveloped regions such as, for instance, the North-West Frontier.”
Britain had created fleets of long-range bombers, suitable for use against a wide range of possible foes. Designed to attack cities rather than enemy armies. The USA had done the same. Germany, thought guilty of atrocities like the bombing of Guernica, had not made the same preparations for ‘strategic bombing’.
Londonderry takes a soft line about Nazi intentions:
“[Hitler] declined to join the Eastern Pace of Mutual Assistance proposed by France, on the grounds that in no circumstances could Germany be found fighting on the same side as Soviet Russia, or against Poland, with whom she had recently signed a ten-year treaty of non-aggression. He was, however, ready to sign bilateral pacts of non-aggression with his neighbours.”
“I endeavoured to probe as far as I could the alleged fear of Russia, and in my judgement it is no different from the fear which exists in the minds of all other countries which all have the same abiding fear. The Russian Air Force is, as far as I could gather, an unknown quantity to the Germans. They regard its potentialities as immense.”
The German military and Hitler actually wildly underestimated Soviet power. And then pretended otherwise as a good excuse for their own planned aggression. They were very surprised when their lies turned out to be not too far from the truth. Before that, it helped win over right-wingers:
“In the Fuhrer’s opinion continental Europe presented a strangely unbalanced picture. Unstable, weakly governments and systems of government prevailed. Most governments were very short-lived… Even in a big country like France the position is so unsafe that no party or movement dares to aim with energy at any one goal, because they fear to conjure up a crisis of the worst kind.
“Against this decay in continental Europe stands the extraordinary development of Soviet power. Soviet Russia has not only become the greatest military power, but at the same time the embodiment of an idea. How such ideas had worked when combined with great strength we know only too well from the French Revolution.”
I quoted earlier the citation of a letter to Ribbentrop in which Londonderry said ‘I have no great affection for the Jews’. He also said:
“In thinking over my conversations with the Fuhrer, yourself and General Goring, I acquired a great deal of useful information, but on the other hand … I have not very clearly in my mind your definite opinion in relation to your desires in Europe itself, nor have I come away with a very clear knowledge of the actual reasons which control your internal policy in relation to the Jews and also in relation to religious bodies…
“I should be wrong if I minimised in any way the anxiety which is felt here in relation to your policy towards the Jews, for there is the feeling that we do not like persecution, but in addition to this there is the material feeling that you are taking on a tremendous force that is capable of having repercussions all over the world which can be nothing but antagonistic to some of your most proper and legitimate aspirations.”
He was more interested in the former German colonies:
“British public opinion was in no way mollified by the next official declaration of policy … Herr Hitler brought the colonial question to the front, arguing that without colonies German’s living room was too small to guarantee sufficient food supplies for the nation… As the majority of her colonies are administered by Great Britain under mandate from the League of Nations, his remarks were interpreted, not incorrectly, as being in great part intended for British consumption.”
But Europe was the key:
“I found General Goring far less consolatory and rather impatient of the attitude which we seemed to adopt towards his country… The interests of the two countries did not clash in any way and yet we were unwilling … to grant to Germany the position of military superiority on the continent of Europe. Why should we claim to interfere in German policy in central Europe of seeking to incorporate in the Reich the German-speaking people in Austria and Czechoslovakia…
“The German opposition to Bolshevism continued unabated, and he and Herr Hitler viewed with grave anxiety the Bolshevist influences in Spain which were extending to France and Belgium. Germany encircles by Bolshevik countries was placed in a position of extreme danger.” (Ourselves and Germany, Page 146-7)
A wild exaggeration. Communists got 15.3% of the vote in the 1936 French election. 6.1% in Belgium. 2.5% in Spain. Socialist parties were larger, but still needed to work with non-socialist radicals to form governments. But anti-Communism was used by the right to condemn anything left of centre;. And Londonderry probably felt he had more in common with Nazis than moderate leftists:
“We may regret the apparent lack of freedom and independence which is allowed to the German people by the authority of the Government, which appears to us to be concentrated in the person of the Chancellor [Hitler, who remained ‘Fuhrer and Chancellor]. We may fail to understand, and many of us undoubtedly condemn, the attitude which the Chancellor adopts towards the Jews and certain religious bodies. Religious and racial persecution, it might be said, came to an end in the British Empire with the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829 and the abolition of negro slavery in 1833, and is something which is unknown to the present generation, except, perhaps, in Ireland.” (Ibid, Page 169-170.)
Which is exaggerated. Jews who had not at least technically converted to Christianity could not be MPs until 1855 and could not hold senior university positions until 1871. They were at least accepted as being part of the ‘White Race’: anyone not of the white race could not be a Commissioned Officer, even though they were a large proportion of the lower ranks. Rich non-whites – mostly from the Indian subcontinent – could go most places and even be admitted to aristocratic circles that mostly excluded their superiors in the Empire. Beyond Britain, there were solid racial barriers till almost the end.
Within Mainland Britain, Roman Catholics including those of Irish origin could rise freely, if not quite equal to the English. But the British government imposed a system of devolved government on Northern Ireland, which they had not asked for and initially did not want. This produced the predictable result of a total polarisation between Protestant parties and Catholic parties. Up until the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, the Protestant parties always dominated the government, apart from the short-lived Sunningdale Agreement of 1973-4. While in the Irish Free State, later Irish Republic, Protestants have been a somewhat privileged minority and there have always been some in the government,
I have considered Hitler mostly from the British viewpoint, and shown how close he was to existing British Empire practice. The next article will say more about the rise of hostility to Jews. And about how Nazi Germany developed its various anti-Jewish policies. I will then look back deep into West Asian and European history, to try to understand why Christian Europe had a Jewish minority when all other religious minorities were suppressed.
Also available as a PDF, Problems 29 – Genocide in the British Empire
 Everything in square brackets and outside of quotes is an addition to the original version published in the magazine. In this case, it is just a clarification.
 The Seven Months War of 1914, on-line at https://gwydionmadawc.com/060-my-own-science-fiction/the-seven-months-war-of-1914-part-one/
 [Many other errors were made, see https://gwydionwilliams.com/44-fascism-and-world-war-2/45-1-more-on-fascism-the-world-wars/500-2/ ]
 But shared by others in the Ernest Bevin Society, some of whom saw the overall picture sooner than I did
 [Mentioned in Conversations with Stalin by anti-Stalin Yugoslav communist and intellectual Milovan Đilas.
 See https://gwydionwilliams.com/99-problems-magazine/in-a-hole-in-a-hole-dwelt-a-nothingness/, but until 2018 it will only be on-line as a summary. Printed version available for order.
 Desmond, Adrian & Moore, James. Darwin. Michael Joseph (Penguin Group) 1991. Page 141.
 Darwin, Page 191.
 Ibid., Page 521. Emphasis added.
 Ibid., Page 653.
 Dudley Edwards, Ruth. The Pursuit of Reason: The Economist 1843–1993. Hamish Hamilton 1993. Page 6).
 Ibid., Page 47
 Ibid., Page 47
 Ibid., Page 58
 This is adapted from an article called Sociocide, published in 2002 and now on-line as https://gwydionwilliams.com/history-and-philosophy/10-1-more-ideas/423-2/. The specific matter of being ‘Economical With The Irish’ is also available as https://gwydionwilliams.com/50-new-right-ideas/430-2/
 Desmond, Adrian. Huxley. Penguin Books 1998. Page 144.
 Ibid., Page 59.
 Huxley, Page 197.
 Ibid., Page 275.
 Huxley, Page 325.
 Huxley, Page 553.
 Huxley, Page 559.
 Ibid., Page 571.
 Ibid., Page 580.
 Ibid., Page 587.
 Problems 28: The Muon and the Green Great Dragon. Part One: In a Hole In a Hole Dwelt a Nothingness? A summary is available at https://gwydionwilliams.com/99-problems-magazine/in-a-hole-in-a-hole-dwelt-a-nothingness/: the full article will appear there in 2018.
 Huxley, Page 603.
 Dilke, Charles Wentworth. Greater Britain: A Record of Travel in English-Speaking Countries During 1866-7. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 2014. Page 1.
 Greater Britain, Page 2.
 Ibid., Page 3-4.
 Ibid., Page 6-7.
 Ibid., Page 34-5.
 Greater Britain, Page 70
 Ibid., Page 70-1.
 Ibid., Page 83. Emphasis added
 Ibid., Page 103-4.
 Ibid., Page 104.
 Ibid., Page 124.
 Greater Britain, Page 124.
 Ibid., Page 125-6.
 Ibid., Page 129.
 Ibid., Page 130.
 Ibid., Page 131.,
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_V,_Holy_Roman_Emperor. Louis the Pious was the son of Charlemagne, and was a weak and unsuccessful ruler in the early 9th century
 See https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/fog-in-channel-brexiteers-isolated-from-britains-duty-to-save-europe-7pv5k6c9b – but non-subscribers will be cut off from most of this story.
 Kershaw, Ian. Making Friends With Hitler. Allen Lane (Penguin Books) 2004, page xv.
 Making Friends With Hitler, Page 113.
 Ibid., Page xiv.
 Making Friends With Hitler, Pages 28-9.
 Ibid., Page 58.
 Ibid., Page 146.
 Mogulof, Milly. Foiled: Hitler’s Jewish Olympian. The Helene Mayer Story. RDR Books, 2002. Page 8
 Making Friends With Hitler, Page 153
 Making Friends With Hitler, Page 154-5.
 Ibid., Page 171.
 Ibid., Page 176.
 Ibid., Page 212.
 Making Friends With Hitler, Page 206-7
 Ibid., Page 224-5.
 The Marquess of Londonderry, Ourselves and Germany, Robert Hale Limited 1938. Page 178
 Ibid., Page 184.
 Making Friends With Hitler, Pages 226-7.
 Ibid., Page 228-230.
 Ibid., Page 238.
 Ibid., Page 241.
 Ibid., Page 245.
 Ibid., Page 269.
 Ibid., Page 277.
 Ibid., Page 279.
 Ibid., Page 274.
 Ibid., Page 289.
 Ibid., Page 293.
 Ibid., Page 294.
 Making Friends With Hitler, Page 297.
 The Marquess of Londonderry, Ourselves and Germany, Robert Hale Limited 1938.
 Ibid., Page 19.
 Ibid., Pages 55-8.
 Ibid., Pages 69-70.
 Ibid., Page 87.
 Ibid., Pages 98-9.
 Ibid., Page 111.
 Ibid., Pages 142-3.