In honor of the British people’s historic victory yesterday over the cultural steamroller that is the EU, as well as Corbyn’s Labour Party’s invidious global socialism, I figured I’d post what I believe might be the best patriotic song ever written, which never fails to make me want to wave a Union Jack around like a wild man:
I’ve always loved the Battle of Britain. The romantic in me (or is it the toxic masculinity?) longs for epic war stories of good guys vs. bad guys, but the grim truth is that most of the war history of the 20th and 21st centuries has been a grim, very morally ambiguous slog between vile oligarchies that mostly resulted in devastation and suffering with little if any benefit to anybody. Even in WWII, the moral triumphalism of the Allies has to be balanced against the horrors of Dresden and Tokyo, not to mention Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the horrific treatment of German civilians by conquering Russians after the war.
But the Battle of Britain? I’m not sure there’s been a clearer example of good guys vs. bad guys since Thermopylae. The survival of Britain hung in the balance, with no expectation that any other nation would — or even could — come to their aid. The Wehrmacht waited a few miles across the Channel like some vast carrion bird ready to pick the UK clean the same as it had France. But despite that, guys with no reason to think they had a chance of victory took to the skies a few at a time to do battle with a Luftwaffe whose planes sometimes flew so densely packed they would blot out the sun. Guys who got shot down and survived would be back at the airfield later that day to do it again. Guys that learned engines working on tractors went to war in the sky against the aristocracy of Deutschland. And you know what? They won. By the end of that conflict, the struggling Luftwaffe would never blot out the sun again, and the NSDAP’s hopes of expanding westward were extinguished forever. Couple that with the roaring engines and amazing tech of the era’s warplanes, and you’ve got a story to stir the heart of pretty much every young boy that’s ever lived (and probably plenty of young women as well).
But beyond that awesome air battle, the resistance of the Brits against the Nazi empire is a perfect microcosm of a struggle that predated WWII and persists to the present day. Humanity is confronted time and again with movements that believe that they have figured out the One True Path for everyone. They dream of utopias — whether thousand-year Reichs, ends to all manner of inequalities, humanity delivered from the iron bonds of biology and economics, or any of a dozen other feel-good imaginings — and always the pursuit of these visions outweighs any concern for actual human beings. People in the service of these utopian fantasies are willing to engage in any subterfuge, any atrocity, any dishonorable awfulness if they believe it will bring the world closer to their vision of the beatific future. They betray family and friends, mercilessly pursue their “enemies”, and have no qualms about grinding entire civilizations to dust if they get in their way. Over the past few months I’ve seen these sorts of people up close and personal, and if anything, my characterization of them isn’t harsh enough.
Did the men who flew the Spitfires over Britain do it to spread Britishness to all peoples, or to establish a British Empire that would last for all eternity? Did they do it to fight the “racism” of the Axis in order to bring about equality for all people? Did they do it because parliamentary democracy is a superior political system to fascist autocracy?
No. They did it for rolling green hills and snow-capped Scottish crags looming over dark glass-smooth lochs. They did it for full English breakfasts and women with sensible shoes. They did it for Stonehenge and the cliffs of Dover and Piccadilly Square. They did it for the memory of 1200 years of Britons who would have done it just the same as they did. They did it to preserve the sovereign culture of a unique place in the world, a uniqueness that is far more fragile than one likes to believe.
Russell Kirk once wrote that conservatism is marked by “affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems”. Whether communists, national socialists, or 21st century progressives, we see these movements time and again acting as steamrollers flattening the landscape of human culture and diversity in pursuit of their utopias. Thermodynamics reminds us that it is much easier to destroy than preserve, and so those who value the diversity of the human race are constantly at a disadvantage against those agents who seek its destruction. But nevertheless, we have to keep getting into that cockpit and flying to meet the enemy.
Gods bless you, Prime Minister Johnson, and gods bless the United Kingdom.