Dear Not-so-Liberal Friends,
I begin by drawing your attention to a speech made to the Australian Institute of Management by Field Marshall Sir William Slim: “I once had under me a battalion that had not done well in a fight. I went to see why. I found men in the jungle, tired, hungry, dirty, jumpy, some of them wounded, sitting miserably about doing nothing. I looked for the CO – for any officer; none was to be seen. Then as I rounded a bush, I realised why that battalion had failed. Collected under a tree were the officers, having a meal while the men went hungry. Those officers had forgotten the tradition of the Service that they look after their men’s wants before their own. I was compelled to remind them.”
Although speaking about a specific incident almost 60 years ago, his words paint a vivid picture of life in the West today.
The traditional ‘blue collar worker’ – “the men” – many of whom enable our society to function each day by fulfilling often thankless and low-paid tasks – have been ignored and patronised in the name of ‘progress’. They face raising inequality, stagnating wages and for many the rapid rate of immigration has also disrupted the home culture in which they have their roots and their stability. To mention this, however, is to be condemned by those who claim to lead society yet who make little effort to either understand their fellow man or to demonstrate the enlightened leadership necessary to resolve these issues in a positive way.
In stark contrast, the allegedly better educated in our society – “the officers” – have fared very well. Food is imported in large quantities from all over the world, at cheap enough prices to make it disposable; clothes and hair are changed with the fashion of the day; foreign travel to exotic places has become ritualistic and for many second mortgages are the norm. “The officers” take for granted the modern, easy, safe, clean and civilised environment in which they live; and expect to continue.
The American philosopher Lee Harris deduced that the fundamental organising principle of the United States is team cosmopolitanism. Teams are ubiquitous from small businesses to schools to universities to government agencies and make up a honeycomb network that provides a stable system of governance. Due to shared Roman origins, the UK has a similar structure.
Our society has forgotten what it is to work as a team; it has forgotten that everyone has a unique moral worth that government must respect. It has forgotten that the many who work, often for not much reward, contribute daily to the life of everyone else by keeping the wheels turning. Worse it is now minded to abuse and denigrate them. Otherwise ‘liberal’ people appear to think it is appropriate to call such people ‘stupid’ or ‘uneducated’ for deciding to vote for Brexit or Trump, ’the wrong way’, against the status quo.
Sidney Jary MC, when writing of his war experiences with ‘18 Platoon’, stated that “soldiers must have confidence in their leaders’ professional ability and … they must trust them as men”. This is not only true of soldiers but also true of citizens – political office is arguably the highest form of trust; and trust requires accountability.
Politics is about people. What is economically maximal – often the result of policies influenced by unaccountable supranational economic organisations – may neither be fair nor therefore politically expedient. Goods, services, and capital can all be managed. People cannot be treated in the same manner. If one wishes to convince people sceptical of immigration of its merits in order to boost the economy, you don’t do it by labelling people as bigots, xenophobes or racists but only by working with them, as a team, to reduce fear and any negative effects.
By attending rallies shouting “Trump is not our president” and by trying to usurp the Brexit vote, not so liberal people are just not listening. Nor does sharing ridiculous posts on Facebook about the young voting for the status quo in both the US and the UK, demonstrate anything other than ignorance and arrogance. It belies any attempt to understand why the other members of the team might feel tired, isolated or why they voted the way that they did.
So this response is innately anti-democratic in manner, one forgetful of why democracy is so important for sustained peace, of why the ballot box is so necessary to remind leaders of their responsibilities.
That two such reminders have occurred peacefully, not once but twice in the West in the last six months – unimaginable outside the Western world – should be a cause for celebration.
Shamefully, it has instead resulted in vitriol from those who should know better – because it didn’t accord with their particular desires and interests.
As for the arrogant responses issuing forth from allegedly serious newspapers and journalists to the victory of Donald Trump and in the wake of the EU Referendum, such as “I am ashamed to be British”, they would discredit the very validity of our democratic way of life.
The team ethos is the legacy of English-speaking peoples to the world, and one that must be reinforced and defended passionately. If it is not and we lose it, our civilisation will fail for all of us.
Lest we forget, on Friday 11th November, the nation remembered and honoured those who sacrificed themselves to secure and protect future freedom. Today’s millennium generation, the cosseted children of a prosperous civilisation accustomed to, but not cognisant of the democratic order, are being encouraged to do just that – forget – and may already have.
Yours, in hope
(Image: Andrew Skudder)