Let the record show that I did not consent to be governed
A Nation of Sheep:
Understanding England and the English
by Sean Gabb
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Speech to the Property and Freedom Conference
in Bodrum, September 2013
Note: I took notes of all the speeches, and will soon publish these notes. In the meantime, here is my own speech as I wrote if after delivery. I think it’s a bad habit to read speeches from a text—not unless you are speaking in a foreign language, that is, or you need to be exceedingly careful about what you say. But it’s a very good habit to write them down afterwards. Many thanks to Ian B, by the way, for some of the stuff on American cultural hegemony. I was saying much the same long before we met. Even so, I did speak to some extent under his influence, and this deserves acknowledgement.—SIG
I’d like to begin by thanking Hans and Gulcin for their great kindness in inviting me once again to Bodrum to address the Property and Freedom Society. But where to begin with the title that Hans has set for me? I could take the patronising approach taken by many Englishmen when called to speak about their country to an audience largely of foreigners. Whether I talk about Shakespeare, the Changing of the Guard and Churchill, or gush about the sinister pantomime that opened last year’s Olympic Games in London, it would have the same implied message. You see, we are an extraordinarily nationalist people. Our nationalism, however, doesn’t cause us to hate foreigners. Instead—and this applies also, and indeed particularly to Americans—we don’t hate you: we just feel sorry for you.
But I’ll not patronise you this morning. I’ll even avoid telling you the truth—that, in the development of our modern civilisation, two great nations have the greatest honour: England and Germany; and that, of these two, England is by far the greatest. What I will do is confess what you must have noticed for yourself—that something has gone badly wrong in England. Exactly when the rot began is a subject that would require far longer to discuss than the time given to me this morning. But you can see the earliest plain evidence of national derangement when the Princess of Wales died in 1997. I watched in horror as the mountains of flowers piled up, and as the funeral was made into a carnival of insanity.
The examples have multiplied beyond counting. I won’t give examples of the multicultural frenzy. Instead, I’ll talk about the sexual mania.
First, there is the legal privileging of homosexuality. In doing this, I speak with much security. I began denouncing the laws constraining homosexual conduct when I was a schoolboy—at a time when what I was saying might have got me roughed up in the playground, and certainly got me funny looks from other boys and teachers alike. I also wrote one of the earliest and best analyses of the Spanner Case. Since then, though, persecution has given way to privilege.
Take, for example, the case of the Rev. Alan Clifford, Pastor of the Norwich Reformed Church. A few months ago, the Norwich Gay Pride organisation held a rally in the middle of Norwich. Dr Clifford and four members of his congregation attended and handed out leaflets of the usual kind. Afterwards, he sent the leaflets out to everyone on his mailing list. This now included the leaders of Norwich Gay Pride. They complained to the police, and Dr Clifford was visited in his home by the police. They told him that a homophobic hate crime had taken place, and gave him the choice of confessing, in which case he would be given a police caution and made to pay a £90 fine, or of denying guilt, in which case he might be prosecuted.
Not surprisingly, Dr Clifford chose to deny his guilt. If the authorities ever do take him to court, they will probably get a bloody nose. Dr Clifford is a Calvinist. His sort drove Catholicism out of England in the sixteenth century, and pulled down the Stuart state in the seventeenth. He will turn up in court with the Bible in his hand and speak to a public gallery filled with his congregation. But his example is important as illustration. There is a regular persecution of Christian street preachers in England. There are new cases several times a year.
The next example is of the Late Jimmy Saville. During his lifetime, he was adored by the media for his charity work and his public eccentricity. When he died in 2011, enough hot air about him went up to fill a balloon. Then, in 2012, it came out that his sexual taste had been for pubescent girls. The media went hysterical. His family joined in. Early in 2013, his grave stone was torn up, its inscription ground smooth, and then smashed into small pieces and taken off for landfill.
I suggest this is evidence of great mental derangement. It is certainly unEnglish. The custom so far has for the dead to be left to rest in peace.
These are two examples of the madness that has gripped England. Of course, the madness is not universal. If you look at the continuing popularity of Gary Glitter, it seems that many people—perhaps the majority—do not partake of the madness. But it can be seen in every organised area of our national life.
What is the cause? The answer is complex. There is no single cause. But one cause worth exploring is the unbalancing of our Constitution during the twentieth century.
In 1908, Rudyard Kipling published a short story called The Mother Hive. In this, the bees in a hive decide to drop all outmoded ideas of hierarchy and to make everyone equal. This includes the right of workers to eat royal jelly and to mate with the drones. In the spreading chaos that results, traditionalist dissidents are first shunned and then murdered. Eventually, the bee keeper looks into the hive, and sees the empty honeycombs and the horribly deformed offspring of the workers. His response is to poison all the bees.
Now, something like this has happened in England. In the past few generations, the whole of national life has been taken over by the cultural Marxists. They run government and the administration, and the law, and education and the media, and business too. They have imposed on us a nasty hegemonic discourse. Cultural Marxism is ultimately to be traced to European thinkers like Antonio Gramsci and Louis Althusser and the Frankfurt School. But this has come to England in American clothing. It has prestige because it was taken up by the American universities.
In America, however, the progress of cultural Marxism has been resisted, or slowed, by a strong religious right and by a written constitution that it is taking a long time to subvert. Here, we have no religious right, nor an entrenched constitutional law. In the past, freedom and common sense were safeguarded by an hereditary land-owing aristocracy and gentry. These ran the country, and did much to determine its moral tone. During the twentieth century, they were marginalised and then eliminated from government. They remain as a class—still very rich—but the tacit deal since at least the 1940s has been that they will be left alone, so long as they keep out of politics. Government has been left to middle class lefties. The effect followed the cause only after several generations. But here it is.
It may be interesting for you, as foreigners, to learn an answer to the implied question in the title of this speech. But it is essential for the English to think about the question and its answers. You see, like both the Germans and the Russians, we have had a revolution. Unlike them, we have had no obviously revolutionary event. The Russians had the storming of the Winter Palace and the murder of their Royal Family. The Germans were utterly defeated in 1945. Their cities were bombed flat. Their country was occupied and divided. Every German knows either that German history came to an end in 1945, or at least that a new chapter in German history had begun.
We do not have that awareness, and it would be useful for us to understand, even so, that we are living in a state of revolution. England has become the Mother Hive.
Sean Gabb is the author of more than forty books and around a thousand essays and newspaper articles. He also appears on radio and television, and is a notable speaker at conferences and literary festivals in Britain, America, Europe and Asia. Under the name Richard Blake, he has written eight historical novels for Hodder & Stoughton. These have been translated into Spanish, Italian, Greek, Slovak, Hungarian, Chinese and Indonesian. They have been praised by both The Daily Telegraph and The Morning Star. He has produced three further historical novels for Endeavour Press, and has written two horror novels for Caffeine Nights. Under his own name, he has written four novels. His other books are mainly about culture and politics. He also teaches, mostly at university level, though sometimes in schools and sixth form colleges. His first degree was in History. His PhD is in English History. From 2006 to 2017 he was Director of the Libertarian Alliance. He is currently an Honorary Vice-President of the Ludwig von Mises Centre UK, and is Director of the School of Ancient Studies. He lives in Kent with his wife and daughter.
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