History

Eighty-odd years.

I might have mentioned before that I am studying the British Fascists of the thirties at the moment (and eventually I suspect that a lot of stuff that doesn’t make it into my work will end up as HP posts.)

But I am always impressed by how the historian of fascism Roger Griffin can get clearly to the point and conceptualise a subject in such few words. Here he is on the British Union of Fascists’ explanation for why Britain was on the brink of a cultural disaster at the time.

‘Though the profound decadence of contemporary culture was axiomatically assumed by all BUF ideologues, they might cite as its root cause one of a number of factors familiar in fascism’s catalogue of the blights and woes of modern civilization. These included the ‘disease of industrialism’ with its accompaniments of excessive mechanisation and urbanisation, the presence among ‘the people of Britain in the dark days of their eclipse’ of ‘cosmopolitan geniuses willing to make a burlesque of their noble cultural inheritance’, the ‘sorry mess of egotism and greed’ which results ‘when man ceases to be an individual and becomes a democrat, that is, when he forgets the soil’ or when ‘money dictates the damning of the founts of English culture’.

Other factors adduced were the rise of leisure, which, according to A. Raven-Thompson, initiated ‘the decline of Rome’, usury, which Ezra Pound was convinced had brought down not just the Roman Empire but the Chinese one as well, the ‘excessive individualism’ that ‘appeared with particular violence at the Reformation, which is one of Disintegration’s landmarks, the collective ‘harking back to the ideals of the tribe’ comparable to a garden reverting ‘back to the jungle’, or the spread of democracy with its ‘Philistine majorities’.’

Seems to me anyway that an awful lot of the reasons for decline given here still quite often make appearances in the HP comments (if slightly reworded.) The ‘disease of industrialism’ (for instance) is surely just an early green meme and ‘the rise of leisure’ is surely an early attack on ‘chavs’ and welfare culture. I’m sure also that I have seen our religious contingent using versions of the ‘excessive individualism’ that ‘appeared with particular violence at the Reformation, which is one of Disintegration’s landmarks’ argument. As for ‘cosmopolitan geniuses willing to make a burlesque of their noble cultural inheritance’ I’ll leave you to work out who might be pedalling that these days.

Anyway, my prime purpose is to ‘big up’ Mr Griffin so I’ll let you decide what you want to talk about in the comments.

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