The enemy within

Throughout the thirties, Lord Rothermere, proprietor of the Daily Mail, supported the appeasement of Hitler, like a good number of other prominent people in Britain. Furthermore, however, Rothermere was an admirer of Hitler and after the Munich Pact, the high watermark of appeasement  in 1938, he sent a telegram to the Fuhrer which is shocking to read now.

MY DEAR FUHRER EVERYONE IN ENGLAND IS PROFOUNDLY MOVED BY THE BLOODLESS SOLUTION OF THE CZECHOSLOVAKIAN PROBLEM STOP PEOPLE NOT SO MUCH CONCERNED WITH TERRITORIAL READJUSTMENT AS WITH DREAD OF ANOTHER WAR WITH ITS ACCOMPANYING BLOODBATH STOP FREDERICK THE GREAT WAS A GREAT POPULAR FIGURE IN ENGLAND MAY NOT ADOLF THE GREAT BECOME AN EQUALLY POPULAR FIGURE STOP I SALUTE YOUR EXCELLENCYS STAR WHICH RISES HIGHER AND HIGHER.

By September 4, 1939, all had changed and Rothermere’s Daily Mail proclaimed “We now fight against the blackest tyranny that has ever held men in bondage.” But it was too late. The appeasers had landed the world into the second of the twentieth century’s  mega-bloodbaths.

Hindsight is one of the more facile and useless of man’s natural gifts. Foresight is one of the most useful,  but also one of the most difficult to attain. A great many people claim it but History is a ruthless agent when it comes to sorting out the sheep from the goats.

Just now there seems to be a small publishing industry developing around those who are prophesying a dire future for western civilization – and the future of its number one protecting power , the United States of America.

Among recent books looking at our future prospects are The World America Made, by Robert Kagan,  Eclipse: Living In The Shadow of China’s Economic Dominance, by Arvind Subramanian, After America: Get Ready For Armageddon, by Mark Steyn, and Becoming China’s Bitch and Nine More Catastrophes We Must Avoid Right Now, by Peter D Kiernan.

These were all usefully reviewed by Gideon Rachman in The Financial Times last month. Add to that the latest by Patrick Buchanan, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? This was reviewed in the current issue of The American Spectator by Matthew Kenefick,  a Church historian and a Research Fellow of the Faith and Reason Institute.

Buchanan does not assert that the country will not survive, Kennefick tells us, but rather argues that it will no longer be the country that the Founding Fathers envisioned.

If the United States does not alter its current trajectory, Kennefick hopes that the book will survive to be read centuries from now by some future Gibbon as a prophetic cri de coeur unhappily ignored in its time.

“Perhaps”, he speculates, “ that writer will ask how a republic blessed with a continent of great natural resources, a Constitution unique in human history, and a populace blessed with the Christian faith could have committed suicide. However, Buchanan reminds us: ‘Demography is Destiny.’ In the United States since 1973 more than 50 million future citizens have been aborted, the contraceptive mentality has brought the middle-class population below replacement level for the first time in our history, the top money-making entertainment industry is Internet pornography, and the easing of divorce laws has encouraged adultery and split up families with devastating impact on millions of children. Now, in perhaps the final step, traditional marriage between one man and one woman is gradually becoming merely one more option.

“The number one health problem in our country in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Depression is not hunger, but obesity. The real question is whether America is worth saving. One thing for sure, it is no longer ‘Exceptional.’ Consider what is left of Europe for a sobering view of our future. The only hope for our country is a moral and spiritual revival. Are we up for the challenge? The next decade should give us the answer.

“That’s why ultimately we should look in the mirror for the cause of our decline. In the immortal words of Pogo: ‘We have met the enemy and he is us.’”

But if Pogo’s problem was the physical pollution of the environment this is as noting as compared with the pollution of our very spirit – and the enemy here is still ourselves and our reluctance to face the truth about ourselves.

All these books have a different take on the predicament of the West after the first decade of the 21st century. Some are optimistic, some are pessimistic, but they all ask us to wake up. They all recognise that something is broken and needs to be fixed. The appeasing instinct of Lord Rothemere, if we indulge in it, will be as lethal to us now as it was then. Sleeping it all off in the interests of a quiet life is not an option. The time-bombs which Buchanan lists are already ticking away and unless they are defused soon their destructive force will end it all for us – perhaps this time not with a bang, but with a whimper. Indeed time-bomb is the wrong metaphor. The metaphor for all this in our age is an all-consuming bacterium invading our bodies and our souls. Quick, where are the anti-biotics?

Hitchens pulls no punches

Gunning for David Cameron

As posted this this afternoon to MercatorNet’s Conjugality blog where you can read much more and stay up to date on the issues facing the institution of marriage.

Sometime after David Cameron’s election as leader of the Conservative Party in Britain he began to make positive noises about the importance of the family – and of marriage as the institution which gave it stability in society. When the Tories won enough votes in the last general election to enable them to form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats some thought things might improve.

The people to whom these things really matter were very hopeful that at last something might be done about the slippery slope on which they perceived both institutions were rapidly sliding into deep trouble. But not Peter Hitchens, London Daily Mail columnist and brother of the late-lamented Christopher. Hitchens says he saw through the real David Cameron from the word go. He pulls no punches in his reading of Mr. Cameron on the same-sex marriage issue.

Hitchens, whose pet name for the British PM is “Mr. Slippery”, in his column this weekend tells us a little smugly that “Hardly a day passes without someone ringing me up or writing to me to say that they now realise that our Prime Minister, Mr Slippery, is a fraud.” Many tell him that they are now sorry they are that they refused to believe him when he told them this, over and over again, before the last Election.

“Well, as the Scottish pastor said to his wayward flock as they called up to him from the flames of Hell ‘We didn’t know!’” Hitchens replies ‘You know now’.

Citing u-turns by Mr. Carmeon on other issues, he has no sympathy for his correspondents. The evidence was there and they should have known.

“But people would keep telling me”, Hitchens complains, “that he somehow ‘really means it’ about his (rather feeble) scheme to recognise marriage in the tax system. They seem to have thought that one day he would rip off his suit and reveal himself to be ‘SuperTory’.

“Well, as for marriage, he now claims to be much more concerned about helping a few hundred homosexuals get married than about helping millions of heterosexuals to stay married.”

As far as Hitchens is concerned, Mr. Cameron doesn’t care tuppence for homosexuals and he is just playing to a gallery which he thinks is important because it makes him look more “with-it”. “This is, in fact, a wind-up. I shouldn’t think Mr Slippery cares even slightly about homosexuals, and I wonder what he used to say about them in private before he learned how to be cool.”

But he knows that driving homosexual marriage through Parliament will enrage the suburban voters he despises. He longs to be assailed by them, because it will make him look good among the Guardian-reading metropolitans he wants to win over.

Read more Peter Hitchens here.