It needs some very great disaster, such as prolonged subjugation by a foreign enemy, to destroy a national culture. This is interesting, but it is not important.
The underlying fact was that the whole position of the monied class had long ceased to be justifiable. By using this site you accept cookies used to improve and personalise our services and marketing, and for social activity. Any transference to foreign rule – for if the British marched out of India the Japanese and other powers would immediately march in – would mean an immense dislocation.
Until the Churchill Government called some sort of halt to the process, they have done the wrong thing with an unerring instinct ever since 1931. But the navy is only partially, and the Air Force hardly at all, within the ruling-class orbit. But this ignores the considerable agreement that does unfortunately exist between the leaders and the led. At the top comes the Nazi party, second come the mass of the German people, third come the conquered European populations. But one thing gives hope – the visible swing in public opinion. Yet we speak of “France” and “the French”, recognizing France as an entity, a single civilization, which in fact it is. It is of course obvious that the idea of a large, organized army of Fifth Columnists suddenly appearing on the streets with weapons in their hands, as in Holland and Belgium, is ridiculous. An illusion can become a half-truth, a mask can alter the expression of a face. They had to feel themselves true patriots, even while they plundered their countrymen. They are not cowards, and they are not even internationally-minded.
It was a great step forward. The lords of property simply sat on their bottoms and proclaimed that all was for the best. They have to satisfy these tastes in the face of astonishing, hypocritical laws (licensing laws, lottery acts, etc., etc.) Some gave them white bread, and some gave them brown; some gave them plum cake and drummed them out of town. The resistance will come from the big capitalists, the bankers, the landlords and the idle rich, roughly speaking the class with over £2,000 a year – and even if one counts in all their dependants there are not more than half a million of these people in England.
However horrible this system may seem to us, it works. In England people are still hanged by the neck and flogged with the cat o’ nine tails. Christianity and international Socialism are as weak as straw in comparison with it.
One drop of sweat. That could not happen if these people were the cynical scoundrels that they are sometimes declared to be. The hanging judge, that evil old man in scarlet robe and horsehair wig, whom nothing short of dynamite will ever teach what century he is living in, but who will at any rate interpret the law according to the books and will in no circumstances take a money bribe, is one of the symbolic figures of England. It is difficult otherwise to explain the contradictions of his policy, his failure to grasp any of the courses that were open to him.