Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hal G. P. Colebatch, the fall of empire, the tragedy of the Gurhkas, and the loss of British pride

(Above: Manchester United star Wayne Rooney and his two hundred pound tatt. Makes my throat tighten just to think about it).

Where are the loons of yesteryear, I hear you cry. The ones that full throatedly warble about sacrifice and duty, preferably from the plush comfort of a leather chair.

Sadly we don't get them regularly enough in the colonies, and you have to hunt them out, like hunting for the snark.

Perhaps you've even gone searching the intertubes for a site celebrating war, like the 120 War Poems collected here, and come across Wilfred Owen's Dulce Et Decorum Est:

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, -
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Bummer dude, you sure did go to the wrong place. What you needed to do was hunt out the always reliable Hal G. P. Colebatch, as good an Edwardian as hasn't lived since the Edwardian days expired in the great war of 1914. 

Sadly we're all too frequently denied Colebatch's musings, but he does turn up on The American Spectator on a semi-reliable basis, and we feel compelled this holiday weekend to offer a bit of light reading as we catch up on the state of England.

In Westminister Implodes, it's old news but good news, as Colebatch spends the first half deploring the state of a Britain rorted by its politicians. Nothing wrong with that, given the debacle that is currently British politics, and who can deny the need for the voters to have a chance to vent their spleen.

But in the second half of his column, Colebatch unleashes a corker, a ripper rant, truly well worth covering in bronze like a precious pair of baby booties. It's so good that it's tempting to run it untouched, but in memory of Alf Garnett, let's just do a few of the highlights. First some scene setting, as Colebatch takes off from the politicians scandal to a jeremiad about Britain worthy of Ecclesiastes:

In a way it was all predictable. From the moment Labour took office under Tony Blair in 1997 it set about destroying Britain's sense of its historic culture, tradition, virtues, values and identity. 

Fair enough. Who could stand that silly git Blair with his tendency towards Catholicism which in the good old days would have seen a monarch lop off his papist-loving head.

The Adversary Culture was given free rein to attack every British institution which might contribute to such old-fashioned ideas as virtue, patriotism and duty.

Uh oh, sounds like we're heading back to Edwardian times, when they peddled that die for your country stuff as if it was a cure all for the working classes seeking a little desperate glory. Now what could symbolize those halcyon days?

Blair claimed soon after coming to power that Britain was no longer "living in the world of a hundred years ago, when guys wore bowler hats and umbrellas, all marching down Whitehall." Yes, and those were the guys who gave Britain a notably incorrupt public culture that once enabled it to do things like govern India with a tiny handful of flintily honest men. 

Ah yes, bowler hats and umbrellas! Like in an Ealing comedy! The glorious days of the Empire, when Britain could rort the world to make life comfortable for the rich. And all by incorruptible flintily honest men. No, never mind the Black Hole of Calcutta, or how spiffingly India and Pakistan have turned out after being fucked over by the British for a couple of centuries, it was incorruptibility you see.

But what else heralds the end times for the glorious empire?

Under New Labour an intense culture war was opened up on every possible front to bring old-fashioned values into disrepute. There were some thing it was thought that real "ladies" and "gentlemen" did not do, such as lie and cheat. The use of the terms "lady" and "gentleman" was made a sacking offence at one university, an innovation which the government condoned as being in accord with the spirit of the times and of Cool Britannia. 

Oh no, say it ain't so guvnor, pass me that cucumber sandwich, I'm about to faint, and feel in need of a repast to fortify the spirits. Where's Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady when we need him. Bloody hell. 

What else could possibly symbolise the decadence of once proud Britain:

Symbols of patriotism, including the flag of St. George and the British flag itself, were banned on grounds of political correctness and in order to facilitate the celebration of diversity. Would-be police recruits were turned down for wearing Union Jack tattoos, foster-parents were banned for attempting to teach foster-children Christian values.

Banned for wearing Union Jack tattoos? But my dear fellow, my good chum, tattoos are vile, surely, a symbol of working class decadence and debilitation, whether worn by honest yeoman in the BNP or by the Sex Pistols? When did I miss out on the news that tatts had become British to my boot straps? Okay, henceforth I proclaim it - let no copper or tommy or soccer player be without a tatt honoring the Queen, let every arse be emblazoned with ink-laden pride.

Heroic and admired figures from history and the values they championed were ridiculed, denigrated or ignored, by everyone from teachers' unions to local tourism authorities. Seedy and dissolute rock stars and other icons of the drug culture were given honors by the government. Public money was lavished upon theatre and other arts that celebrated nihilism and derided every traditional value and virtue.

Now where have I heard that before?

Mother: Would you like a cup of tea, Jimmy?

Jim: Tea? Tea? Is that your answer to it all? Tea? The panacea to the middle class! The answer to all the problems facing mankind today? Have a cup of tea, Jim! You both make me sick. You're dead, both of you. You're both mentally dead. Your souls are drowned in tea. Your minds are clogged up with tea bags. You're like two slop basins swimming around in a sea of tea! Just like this country, the whole rotten system, stained in a tea of apathy!

Brother: What's he mean, Mum?

Mother: I don't think he wants a cup of tea.

Damn you, Tony Hancock, Galton and Simpson for your nihilistic art and your oh so clever deriding of the noble brew tea. Next thing you know the British will be forced to look to Europe and to coffee. Oh the humiliation. But wait, it's not just that Bono Irish chappie or that Coldplay chappie who's brought England to its knees:

A vacuous, hideous celebrity culture was promoted such as to make Oprah Winfrey look intellectually refined by comparison. As well as being starved of men and equipment the ethos and values of the armed forces were systematically attacked not only by the dominant culture of the deconstructionism/political correctness whipsaw but also by all manner of government policies -- probably a major factor in the British Army's dismal performance in Basra. The catalogue of cultural destruction goes on and on. In countless ways the present government has condoned or encouraged the work of the adversary culture in hollowing-out British traditions and values.

Oh hell no, say it ain't so. They've ruined the army. The stout hearted lads couldn't even give the towel heads in Iraq a decent licking. Sic transit gloria empire. But wait, there's even more:

The long-drawn-out serial betrayal of the Gurkhas was not only despicable in itself: it was a flaunting of official dishonor and an unambiguous repudiation of honor as a public value. The betrayal of the Gurkhas was not some kind of ghastly inadvertent bureaucratic foul-up or failure of imagination: it was a deliberate attack in the culture-war on the sort of people who admire the Gurkhas and the old-fashioned values of loyalty and valor which they embody.

Not the Gurkhas, not those jolly lads with their terribly sharp knives and their warm colored worship of their mighty white overlords. Done down by fads and fancies, when these plucky Nepalese, this tremendous martial race, could still be serving the empire. What's that you say? There is no empire? Well the Commonwealth, whatever. But could it get any worse than the Gurkhas. Well of course there's always the problem of the fuzzy wuzzies.

Zimbabweans, black and white, who had moral claims on Britain, including in some cases the claim of past war-service, were abandoned to the psychopathic Mugabe regime. 

Oh hell, it's everything gone to hell everywhere in a handbasket:

Outright political betrayal and viciousness for cultural and ideological reasons came in many forms, including the abolition of grammar schools that had previously given low-income children an opportunity for a decent education. Scandals and inhumanity exposed in the press in hospitals, prisons and other areas went unrectified and were apparently treated by the government with indifference.

Oh hell, let's just blow the place up. No, never mind it's a democracy and the pigs with their snouts in the public trough have been found out and been made  to pay, or will be made to pay, Britain is doomed.

Now Britain has discovered that a large number of the men and women entrusted with holding its high offices of State and with making its laws are -- well, what they are. Where they have not broken the letter of the law they have, in both gross and in disgustingly petty grubbing of other people's money, broken its spirit -- and Britain, with an unwritten Constitution, is more dependent than many nations upon the spirit of the law being observed.

C. S. Lewis said in 1938: "We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful."

Britain is reaping the fruits of a decade and more of a quasi-official culture laughing at honor, honesty and ordinary virtue.

You know, Colebatch is right. What the British need is a jolly good war. To remind them of their heroic conduct during the Blitz. I guess Germany and France are out of the question at the moment, so why not Iceland? After all, they tried to ruin the British financial system, so why not an invasion, to teach these mice that they might roar, but will have to suffer the consequences.

Or better still, why not a civil war, with the likes of Colebatch removing the stench of corruption and decay from the land? A fine blood letting and a cleansing. Let Ambrose Bierce explain:

ROUNDHEAD, n. A member of the Parliamentarian party in the English civil war - so called from his habit of wearing his hair short, whereas his enemy, the Cavalier, wore his long. There were other points of difference between them, but the fashion in hair was the fundamental cause of quarrel. The Cavaliers were royalists because the king, an indolent fellow, found it more convenient to let his hair grow than to wash his neck. This the Roundheads, who were mostly barbers and soap-boilers, deemed an injury to trade, and the royal neck was therefore the object of their particular indignation. Descendants of the belligerents now wear their hair all alike, but the fires of animosity enkindled in that ancient strife smoulder to this day beneath the snows of British civility.

There's only one issue to be resolved now. Does Colebatch wear his hair long or short, and does he really think cops should wear tatts? Because when we're on the barricades I want to know that the gentleman next to me isn't an uncouth barbarian. It wouldn't be right to start pulling down pants just to do a tatts check.

Never mind, perhaps we're already too late. After all that fine English gentleman Edmund Burke sounded just like Colebatch, and yet he's been dead these couple of centuries:

But the age of chivalry is gone; that of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded, and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom! The unbought grace of life, the cheap defense of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone. It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honor, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.

Would you like a cup of tea Edmund?

Stop smirking Bunter, this is serious. The empire dead and gone and in its grave, and will no one weep for it, apart from me and Colebatch? 

By the way, if you want to read more, can I recommend The Monarchist, as fine and upstanding a blog as I've seen in these reprehensible times. Dieu et mon droit! Splendour without diminishment! Now bonnie valiant Prince Charlie, pass me that port, so we can reminisce about saving the trees of the Amazon ...

(Below: time to get out the kukri and cut up a few heathens, wot wot).

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