Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A quick Iran/Britain post to make up for the missed holiday ones

Since I never remember when holidays are until the day they happen I should have mentioned last weekend’s posts wouldn’t happen due to Easter. In their place I’ll post a short rumination about the recent hostage crisis.

I’m sure glad I’m not English at the moment given the Iran hostage humiliation. John Derbyshire, resident ex-Englishman and Sinologist over at the National Review, is taking the incident quite hard. One of his latest comments on the rotten state of England is,

“I've told this story before, so I hope I'll be forgiven for telling it again. My Mum, Esther Alice Knowles (1912-98), eleventh child of a pick'n'shovel coal miner, in one of the last conversations I had with her, said: "I know I'm dying, but I don't mind. At least I knew England when she was England."

I discounted that at the time. Old people always grumble about the state of the world. Now I understand it, though. I even feel a bit the same way myself. I caught the tail-end of that old England—that bumptious, arrogant, self-confident old England, the England of complicated games, snobbery, irony, repression, and stoicism, the England of suet puddings, drafty houses, coal smoke and bad teeth, the England of throat-catching poetry and gardens and tweeds, the England that civilized the whole world and gave an example of adult behavior—the English Gentleman—that was admired from Peking (I can testify) to Peru.

It's all gone now, "dead as mutton," as English people used to say. Now there is nothing there but a flock of whimpering Eloi, giggling over their gadgets, whining for their handouts, crying for their Mummies, playing at soldiering for reasons they can no longer understand, from lingering habit. Lower the corpse down slowly, shovel in the earth. England is dead.”

I hate to think of a day when I say the same about my country, especially since unlike Englishmen I have no other country to call home. Nevertheless, despite being American the hostage crisis and the end of England as a proud great nation does hit me hard. It’s like Scipio Aemilianus crying as he watched Carthage destroyed since he knew one day his Rome would suffer a similar fate. As I watch England laid low and humiliated by a pipsqueak third rate power while her people cheer the avoidance of anything difficult I can see that the same fate will eventually befall America. Regardless, whatever happens to my country I do have the consolation of knowing that on my deathbed I will be able to say, “At least I knew America when she was America.”


  1. the England that civilized the whole world

    Thank God that England has gone and the older generation who still see this as a good thing are being replaced by the younger generation with more empathy for the worlds citizens.
    What England did while building it's empire is finally being recognised as one of the greatest crimes against humanity.
    I much prefer the England of my generation to that of our grandparents. It stank.

  2. Jarod, hopefully you won't have to say "at least I knew America when she was America." If nothing else, hopefully America will remain America throughout our lifetime and her collapse will be in a whole other life time. Good post though!

  3. Well I would agree England didn't civilize the whole world, only 1/4 of it was fortunate enough to be part of the British Empire. However, with the exception of the former Japanese Empire former British colonies tend to be more free, prosperous, and stable than the colonies of other empires, European and non-European ones. One thing we can say about your grandparents' England was that it could survive in a dangerous world, we'll see in the coming decades if the new England can manage the same.

    I would certainly hope that day comes long after my lifetime Kirstachub but who knows. Thanks for the comments.

  4. Jarod, I think you are being too hard on the West.

    We'll face our collective Dunkirk in the war against Islamic fascism soon enough; and when it happens, the West's massive preponderance in resources (intellectual, technological, military) will turn the tide.

    I just hope that the wake up call isn't too costly.

  5. You should read what some conservative British commentators have been saying, I'm downright sunny and optimistic in comparison.

    I think the West should be thought of as two halves at this point, Europe and the rest. Europe does still have the resources to fight back if they had the will to do so. So long as they lack will all the money and resources in world would avail them not. The problem they face is that their declining resources will soon mean that even if they don't wake up soon it will be too late for them.

    America, Canada, Australia, Israel, and Japan (which I and apparently the Japanese consider Western) are in a much better position. We also have the resources but also the will, even if America's slackens from time to time.

    I didn't mean to sound pessimistic about the West. Rome survived in the East for a 1000 years after it fell in the West. So I would expect us to last at least to the 31st Century. Certainly when it comes to Europe though I hope I'm wrong. Thanks as always for the comment Michael.

  6. Thanks for the compliment.

    America, Canada, Australia, Israel, and Japan

    Interesting you should choose those 5. The US and Israel have the highest birthrates in the West (2.3 and 2.75 respectively, I think), while Japan has one of the lowest (about half the replacement rate). I don't know about Canada or Australia.

    I do know that the high birthrates in Israel and America coincide with a general feeling in the population that they live in a good country, with a good future.

    Europe seems to lack any kind of optimism.