Although I did not take part in these projects at the time, I understood the necessity to prepare students for a future in which our societies would become increasingly older due to declining fertility rates and rising life expectancy through which the number of people aged 60 years and over had multiplied sincereaching hundreds of millions worldwide.
When in George Orwell—social conservative, Little Englander, intellectual cosmopolitan—hopefully envisioned an English socialist revolution, he assured his readers and himself that such a mere political event, like all such past convulsions, would prove no more than a surface disturbance.
Rather, by its very nature—by its inherent logic, and by the ideology, aspirations, and world-historical forces from which it springs and to which it gives expression—it perforce obliterates that culture. This essay attempts, in an admittedly eccentric way, to support that sweeping assertion.
Academic studies on specialized aspects of this subject abound, but no synthetic analysis and comprehensive history has yet been published. Successes and Failures of Post-war Immigration. Still, the first steps must be to define terms, and to place the argument in some historical context.
The overwhelming weight of mass immigration has fallen on England, where fully 90 percent of immigrants to Britain have settled. Because the British state has determined policies toward mass immigration, and because nearly all official figures and studies put immigration in a British context, in discussing policy and politics, I do the same.
Because of that easy hegemony, the English have in many circumstances felt comfortable espousing a British identity when, strictly speaking, they mean an English one. Anyone examining the impact of mass immigration on Britain who is at all attendant to right thinking opinion may well wonder what all the fuss is about.
Indeed, in a process that can best be described as Orwellian, advocates of mass immigration and multiculturalism in contemporary Britain have pushed a mantra that, by virtue of insistent repetition, has settled into common knowledge, slackly intoned by politicians, government ministers, and Guardian opinion writers and lazily slotted into White Papers, government leaflets, and advocacy group reports.
To buttress this article of faith, the bien pensant trot out Jute and Pict clan folk, Angle and Celt settlers, Roman legionnaires, and Norman barons in a know-it-all fashion to silence doubters.
That this idea is so dependent on population movements in the dim reaches of prehistory reveals both its weakness and its irrelevance: The tiny number of Roman and Norman conquerors were the thinnest veneer over the native population and have left virtually no genetic trace.
A final influx of Angles, Saxons, Frisians, and the like—which brought no more thanpeople over a period of several centuries—essentially completed the genetic mix. Thus, the evidence demonstrates the striking fact that, genetically, the population of Great Britain has been essentially frozen in time and place since at least the Dark Ages—indeed, settlement patterns from that period emerge clearly on contemporary genetic maps.
The idea of an English kingdom and of an English nation with its own land dates to the s. The nation has been at least partially politically unified since the Anglo-Saxon kings and fully and permanently so since the Conquest.
Since then, the English have shared the experience of living together on an unconquered island. Without doubt, the Normans enhanced and altered English culture—especially its architecture, the vocabulary of its language, and the manners and mores of the elite.
But the Conquest was the last foreign admixture imposed on English culture. For nearly the next thousand years, that culture would be left to itself to evolve in itself and to adopt foreign cultural influences wholly on its own terms.
From even before the Conquest, the social, economic, and family lives of the English have been secured, sustained, and shaped by a system of common law, a system always understood to be peculiarly their own. William the Conqueror was accepted as sovereign because he vowed to uphold English law.
Rooted, sedimentary, and organic—not devised and enacted—the common law worked its way into the English mentality. It established within the English a keen and jealous sense of the protections it afforded to the individual, and it engendered that distinguishing English attitude that has combined a veneration for proper authority with a hostility to, and disdain for, power.
But equally important is the profound way it shaped English social life, in both the wide and narrow sense of that term. The common law, Roger Scruton writes, becomes a familiar companion, an unspoken background to daily dealings, an impartial observer who can be called upon at any time to bear witness, to give judgement and to bring peace.
All communities depend upon trust: England, however, was a society of reserved, reclusive, eccentric individuals who constantly turned their backs upon one another, but who lived side by side in a common home, respecting the rules and procedures like frosty members of a single club.
The insinuating effect of the common law helped forge a distinctive temperament across centuries and class lines. Common law, then, at once clarified a collective identity while, in both its direct and indirect effects, it circumscribed the sway of that identity.
Long predating the nationalism of the modern state, this national identity exercised a profound, even instinctual, hold over the English mind and imagination. Within their stable perimeter the English developed a remarkably persistent, shared demotic culture: And of course the English have developed and shared an enduring language.
Since Chaucer, they have recognized that its conspicuously rich vocabulary, idioms, and metaphors at once wrought and reflected a peculiar mentality, intellectual style, aesthetic approach, religious outlook, even humor. Of course, historically England never resembled the sort of Lower-East-Side-writ-large of multiculturalist fantasy.
In fact, Britain today receives more immigrants in a single year than it did in the entire period from to Some 50, Huguenot refugees arrived in two phases, the first in the s and the second in the s.
And someJews came—one stream of aboutfleeing Tsarist persecution from the years toand then another, of about 50, fleeing Nazi Germany in the s. In addition to those influxes, from the 16th to the midth centuries England received a more or less steady dribble of individual foreign settlers, a dribble that was demographically irrelevant though culturally momentous.
This list illuminates a fundamental point: None of these conditions obtain today.
These designations can be useful in drawing cultural distinctions, especially since they were and are often applied to differentiate between, say, on the one hand, immigrants from Canada, Australia, and Ireland all of Ireland, of course, was part of the UK until —places with strong kinship, historical, and cultural ties to England—and on the other, say, immigrants and the British-born children of immigrants from Muslim, rural, clan-dominated Kashmir or Bangladesh.Britain is the common name for the sovereign state of the United Kingdom, the political entity comprising England, Wales, Scotland (which make up the island of Great Britain) and Northern Ireland.
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