I published an article recently on my personal blog, a piece I called “Life on Airstrip One.” It’s a reflection on the way that mass immigration has altered the character of this country to an unrecognisable degree over the past fifty years or so. Airstrip One, if you remember, or even if you don’t, is the name George Orwell gave to England in his novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”
Actually Orwell never uses the word ‘England’ in the book; so Airstrip One is really Britain as a whole. But my Airstrip One is England, a deracinated and déclassé nation, a people out of place, unsure of themselves, unsure of their identity, unsure of their future.
I specifically exclude Scotland and Wales here for two reasons; first, they have not experienced the same levels of immigration, levels which have served to alter the ethnic character of England; second, the people of these nations are far more assured about their identities than the English. The paradox is that Britain amplified the Celts while diminishing England.
Look at us; look how our nation is fragmenting, ethnically, culturally and politically. The people of Bradford have not long elected George Galloway, a pseudo-Muslim openly standing on a sectarian platform, introducing religious-based politics into our national life for the first time. At the last European elections enough people in the north of England voted for the openly racist British National Party to send two of their representatives to Strasbourg. The core consensus around which England was built is no longer there. Alienation, uncertainty and fear come in its place.
My arguments here have nothing at all to do with race and everything to do with culture. There is a limit to which any country can absorb alien elements without doing serious damage to its national fabric. We, in England, have long since exceeded this limit. If you think this is a right-wing argument think again. In “Representative Government”, a classic of nineteenth century liberalism, John Stuart Mill makes the following points;
“Free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities. Among a people without fellow-feeling…each fears more injury to itself from other nationalities, than from the common arbiter, the State. Their mutual antipathies are generally much stronger than their jealousy of government.”
Sad to say we are now a people without ‘fellow-feeling’. The British Respect Party, largely supported by alienated Muslims, and the British National Party, largely supported by the alienated white working class, is sufficient evidence of this. The casualty of this ‘Britishness’ is England.
To continue on my Orwellian theme, the recent mass surveillance proposals by the government, which would have seen our phone and internet communications subject to potential scrutiny, is not a sign of the strength of Big Brother but of his fear, fear of the people, fear of what the people might do.
The reason for this is simple enough – with mass immigration came the poison of multiculturalism, sold, in their blindness, by successive governments. Multiculturalism has meant even deeper levels of fragmentation, opening the doors to alien modes of belief and alien loyalties, wholly undigested elements. The truth is we are now more at risk from our fellow citizens than we ever were from foreign terrorists, more at risk from jihadists in London than we ever were in Kabul or Baghdad. But this is a truth that dare not speak its name. No, instead we are all potential criminals, subject to ever higher levels of scrutiny.
Mill would have understood our present malaise, dangerous diversity coupled by intrusive state power, power that, in a mood of appeasement, saw the last Labour government introduce the dreadful Racial and Religious Hatred Act, which has served to criminalise free speech.
I have no easy solutions here; I’m not sure if there are any solutions. All I will do, in a mood of black humour, is adjust the wording of the Scottish Play ever so slightly. The answer remains the same; only the question is different.
“Stands England where it did?”
“Alas, poor country!
Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot
Be call’d our mother, but our grave; where nothing,
But who knows nothing, is once seen to smile;
Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rend the air
Are made, not mark’d; where violent sorrow seems
A modern ecstasy; the dead man’s knell
Is there scarce ask’d for who; and good men’s lives
Expire before the flowers in their caps,
Dying or ere they sicken.”