Do you sometimes feel like you would quite fancy living somewhere in Epping Forest as a conservative outlaw? Actually, I’ve given it some serious consideration. I could have my own band of merry men, stout and heroic – none of that metrosexual man-bun nonsense. And no, we wouldn’t be wearing tights. That being said, I’m not against having a woman around the place. I like to be inclusive. I would have my own Maid Marian, for sure, looking suitably gorgeous in short shorts and wellies. It would be like Glastonbury, just less annoying. And I’m only half-joking. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Jeremy Corbyn and his wicked sheriff Tom Watson might come to power. Let’s face it, England is in need of a saviour. And I probably would look rather smashing in tights.
The recent controversy surrounding James Damore has got me thinking. What is an ordinary bloke to do in a society where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be openly conservative? The atmosphere that surrounds us is certainly somewhat oppressive. Attempting to locate one’s conservative fellows is a delicate business; not unlike Winston Smith’s furtive attempts at communication with Julia at the Ministry of Truth in Nineteen Eighty-Four. There is always that fear of being found out. And ‘groupthink’ is a very real phenomenon. Alas, its only real cure is courage – someone has to make the first move.
‘Men don’t follow titles, they follow courage.’ How true. Now this doesn’t mean you have to run around the South Downs in a kilt to the rather distressing tune of English bagpipes. Nevertheless, leading by example is important. When Julius Caesar invaded Britain in 55 BC, it took just one legionary, jumping into the surf with the eagle standard, to inspire his fellow squaddies up the beach to confront the waiting Britons. ‘Leap, fellow soldiers, unless you wish to betray your eagle to the enemy’, he shouted.
We should not underestimate the significance of such gestures in the encouragement of others. This may, in part, explain the Trump phenomenon, which commands such intense loyalty in some quarters, exactly because Trump, however imperfect, is seen to be taking on the establishment as no one else has done before. But we all have a role to play here, even if that part might appear daunting. We must embrace the fight. Moreover, we should be merry! And why not? We are happy warriors, I think, precisely because we acknowledge the unpredictability of history.
Now I’m sure you noticed the Left’s slight tendency toward despair in 2016; a result of the Brexit vote, certainly, as well as the ‘shock’ election of Donald Trump. There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth. And the oceans did rise with leftist tears. This wasn’t how history was supposed to happen, they cried. And how many times since then have politicians and commentators proclaimed that Trump is on the ‘wrong side of history’? It is a common refrain.
It should be understood that the leftist is in possession of a conception of history that is at once teleological and secular. They believe that history is moving in one direction. Unlike Christianity, though, the Left seeks paradise in the here and now. In this sense, leftism is merely Christianity divested of its supernatural framework. 2016 wasn’t simply a reversal of fortunes for social justice warriors all around the world. It was also a fundamental breach of covenant.
Regimental colours list battle honours: Waterloo; Inkerman; 1st Ypres; El Alamein; Goose Green. In the case of the Conservative Party, however, that flag would contain a prolonged list of defeats, a vast charter of disgrace, ignoble and obscene – it won’t have enough room on the flag at this rate. Still, unlike our SJW opponents, social conservatives are not generally subsumed in a vat of angst and rage. This is one of the benefits of not being a Marxist, whose fidelity to the faith is forever betrayed by material reality. Has anyone ever met a merry leftist?
Good humour is now the preserve of good conservatism. We’ve got the ‘merry’ bit sorted. What we now require is a sort of divine indifference. One has to be able to take the hits. The sheer savagery directed toward Nigel Farage has a purpose, which is to discourage others from speaking out. Such grandstanding evidently works. Millennials are particularly reluctant to be seen opposing the presiding culture of political correctness. This is especially true in the workplace. The recent episode at Google highlighted the penalties for failing to conform to leftist mantras regarding gender and equality. But to what extent are we also complicit in this?
It is a very human temptation to take refuge in the security of moral consensus for the sake of comfort and personal interest. This is a universal problem that we all face. Peter famously denied Christ three times. Nevertheless, the post-Roman world was founded on the site of his own martyrdom, years later, at the hands of an increasingly autocratic and decadent empire.
The extreme end of persecution once culminated in execution in the civic square. In a way, it still does. We all know the drill: public humiliation, followed by a swift apology, all the result of some ideological miscue. The famous ‘shirt controversy’ of 2014, involving the astrophysicist Matt Taylor, is a prime example of this. Sir Tim Hunt was also subject to a similar uproar the following year, after he made a jovial remark about female scientists. Significantly, the reactions to these so-called ‘incidents’ had little to do with truth and justice. Rather, they had everything to do with women. And this is where conservatism is failing.
Taking the path of truth over comfort was already tough enough before feminism so successively weaponised women against men. Men are, after all, especially susceptible to emotional blackmail by women. This was a methodology employed to great effect during the First World War, of course, in the form of white feathers. Shaming is also one of the central functions of feminism today. Men can sacrifice a lot, even their own lives, in a just cause. What many men aren’t prepared to give up, however, is the love and affection of women. Feminists know this well. Strictly speaking, Robin Hood is nothing without Marian.
(Image: Chatham House)