29 October 2020

Those Who Speak for Conservatism in the English-Speaking World

I am not familiar with Crocker, tho' I also like Steyn and Hannan. I'm surprised he didn't mention Sir Roger Scruton (R+I+P), who was still alive when this was written.

From The Mad Monarchist (24 February 2016)

There is a handful of figures who I am very fond of, though naturally I do not always agree with them on everything, who represent what I think would be a better direction for the part of the world which I belong to and which most people reading this probably belong to as well which is the English-speaking countries of the world. One such individual is Mark Steyn, a native of Canada now living in the United States who has recently been on a tour of Australia. He can comment intelligently on the politics of the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States or Australia and frequently does. He has, in his own career, implicitly worked for closer cooperation and making common cause among the conservatives of the Anglosphere. This would not be possible were it not for the historical fact that all of these countries have a great deal in common due to their common roots in the British Empire and the unique political history of England. It may be fashionable to emphasize differences but the fact is that Great Britain, Canada, the United States and Australia are more similar than dissimilar because of their origins.

Any English-speaking, ordinary, every-day conservative in any of these countries would likely agree with him most of the time and enjoy reading anything he writes. Another figure who has also spoken up for conservative solidarity across the English-speaking world is Daniel Hannan, MEP and I have a great deal of time for him as well even though, once again, I do not agree with him on everything. I have noticed that I have heard United States resident Mark Steyn defend the monarchy about as much as I have heard the British subject Daniel Hannan praise and defend the American Founding Fathers which many would think the two have the wrong way around. However, it may be that Hannan simply knows how to play to the audience. In any event, I have found myself in disagreement with Hannan more than some others but I am always glad to hear what he has to say, agree with him quite often and find him someone worth listening to and worth taking seriously. He has not hesitated to voice his opinion on American politics and that can be dangerous as many people take a negative view of foreigners doing such a thing. However, though he does not shy away from criticism, he does so in a context which leaves no one in doubt that he does so as a friend.

Another figure, less well known than the two above, who I cannot help but mention as well is the American writer Harry Crocker III, a zealous convert to Catholicism, an overt Anglophile and someone who would take being labeled as an “American imperialist” a definition he would be proud of rather than insulted by. Much of his work is aimed at very specific audiences and his biting humor and opinions would offend many people. Having written books defending everything from Catholic Christendom, the British Empire and Rhodesia to the Confederacy and United States military interventions around the world, he clearly is not writing to be popular or to appeal to everyone. It is, I think, noteworthy, that none of these men were born in Britain and yet all were educated there and while they are all, I think it is safe to say, broadly on the same side they do have many differences between them. Again, I find it interesting that the British subject Daniel Hannan speaks so adoringly of the American Founding Fathers while the born and raised American, Harry Crocker, a former speechwriter for Governor Wilson of California, basically described America’s founders as tax-dodging smugglers but sees nothing outrageous about that, being of the view that some of England’s greatest heroes have been pirates.

I do appreciate the overall case that all three of these men make. I would prefer that there were more people like that ardent American imperialist Harry Crocker who urged U.S. college students to read Samuel Johnson and Edmund Burke, even pointing out to them that tearing down monarchy and tradition ends in tyranny rather than liberty. Though I think we just might have been on opposite sides were we both in New England in 1776 I also appreciate that Daniel Hannan wrote an article for an American conservative periodical pointing out that the original flag of the United States (the Grand Union flag) featured ‘the King’s Colours’ on prominent display and that there was a reason for this as well as there being a reason why this flag has tended to be hidden away and forgotten in American history. I can well imagine that Crocker and Hannan could have quite an epic debate on the subject of King Charles I and the English Civil War (the American being for the royalists and the card-carrying Tory arguing, as he stated on Twitter, that “The Cromwell of the 1640s was a hero; the Cromwell of the 1650s was a dictator.”) but both would agree on such things as Anglosphere solidarity, the need for Britain to leave the EU and as Hannon has said he would support the UK, Canada, US & Australia getting out of the EU, UN and NATO (as they apply) and forming their own political, economic and military alliance I cannot imagine that Steyn and Crocker would not also enthusiastically agree.

Would it ever be possible? Are these men fighting a losing battle? I like the general idea that they, in their diversity of views, represent. I would like to see greater solidarity for the English-speaking countries and a greater respect for our shared traditions, history and origins. Similarly, I have often said I think the Spanish-speaking countries would benefit from the same sort of movement though, sadly, there seems to be even less enthusiasm in that corner for such a thing. However, I have been struggling lately with the idea that I could actively campaign for such a thing myself. Unlike Kippling, I have a hard time accepting ‘the hate of those ye better and the scorn of those ye guard’. Having friends and family in all branches of the U.S. military this is very real for me and I have a hard time seeing their lives being committed to protect peoples who despise them and even in the English-speaking world would rather sympathize with the “other” rather than their own. Where I live there is much goodwill for those most like us around the world but I see precious little such goodwill returned. Our militaries work together more closely than any others but certainly in the UK and Canada (I cannot say the same for Australia but would not be surprised to learn it is so) there seems to be a disconnect between the military and the public about the true state of affairs in the world. A look at the recent popularity of Bernie Sanders shows that the U.S. may be developing a similar mindset as well.

I like hearing from people such as those mentioned above probably just on an emotional level as it brings to mind the idealized, stereotyped vision I had growing up of the countries of the former British Empire. I was told growing up that Great Britain was a land of castles and aristocrats, hard working, witty people who loved and respected their Royal Family. I was told that Canada was a land of friendly, polite people who could be personified by the character of Constable Benton Fraser from the TV series “Due South” and that Australia was full of rugged individualists, tough but fun-loving with a ‘frontier spirit’. America was the oddball in having dead presidents on our money rather than a royal profile but we are all part of the same family and all on the same team. It took growing up and becoming more worldly-wise to find out that, for a great many at least, Australians and Canadians hate the British, the British hate themselves and everyone hates the Americans. Good humor has been replaced by political correctness, individualism by the nanny-state and respect for tradition by a socialist devotion to “equality of outcome” rather than equality of opportunity.

Were I to steer my course based solely on my own on-line interactions I would be forced to say to my fellow Americans that the Anglophobe “Third Worlders” among us have it right, that any sense of kinship and history are mere ghosts that no one believes in any more. That our friendship is a fraud that politicians talk about but which no one feels and that no one actually believes our alliance to be to the benefit of anyone. The other English-speaking countries do not like us and so we should not like them, nor do they like each other. And why should we? Are we not all horrible people? Are we not all fruit of the same poisoned tree? After all, Canada actually changed their national flag so as to be ‘less British’ and Australia, where pouring scorn on the “Poms” is a national hobby, is pushing to do the same. Even in Britain, the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties have called for the removal of their own national flag from schools, calling the display of the Queen’s Colours “nasty” and “nationalistic” as if it were the swastika rather than the crosses of three patron saints. I would not be quite so gloomy about it were it only coming from one side but it is not. The self-hating left and the self-hating right are both alive and well in the English-speaking world. The only difference is that one hates us for our (real or perceived) past imperfections while the other hates us for our current imperfections.

All that being so, it is something which, for me at least, must still be pondered and muddled through. However, with or without my active participation, I am glad that there are those who do go on trying to cheer us on rather than tear us down, who are not too proud to take their own side in an argument, who still prefer “us” over “them” and who will make an argument in defense of the English-speaking countries of the world, both for what they are and what they have been. Trying to have one without the other has, perhaps, been the cause of a great deal of the fracturing on the right though, as stated, that is something I am still pondering. For myself, the jury is still out but whether I think they are right or wrong on this or that point, I am glad that we still have some like Mark Steyn, Daniel Hannan and Harry Crocker arguing for the Anglosphere and the place of all our countries within it.

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