Thursday, September 3, 2009

In search of living ideals

. Thursday, September 3, 2009

I was not planning on posting again today, but the exchange between Our Learned Proprietor and Neil Welton on the World War Two remembrance post interested me so much, I think I will.

Brevity is a virtue I have never mastered.

In any case, here it is, excerpted below:

Neil Welton said:

My grandfather would say it is time to move on. For as you point out - this is 2009, not 1939.Trouble with monarchists and, to a point The Royal Family, is this permanent "ration books mentality". We appear increasingly retarded as every year goes by. No wonder republicanism is getting popular - we have yet to get past 1955.

To which The Monarchist replied:

Yes, Remembrance should be about Forgetting. Seventy years ago, 70 million people (or some other obscene number) lost their lives (or were soon to lose it) in the ugliest episode to ravage the four corners of the planet. Nothing to see here, nothing to remember. Time to move on...

To be entirely frank (and frankness is one virtue Dr. Swift does have) I have some sympathy with both points of view. I have no wish to intrude on the conversations of my betters, but it appears to me hugely important that someone makes the point I am about to.

Remembrance is a virtue in itself - I am with The Monarchist on that, for the reasons he outlines. But on the other hand, Neil Welton is right too - that is, we cannot continue talking as if virtue died in 1955, or expired (to adapt Philip Larkin) when sex began in 1968.

My generation is too young to remember the 1960's. We have imbibed much poison from that wretched decade, but have no Baby Boomer excitement which comes from throwing off The Man.

What we do have (and I speak for myself primarily), I think, is what Papa Benedict calls "a crisis of hope"--that is, we are utterly desperate to see that the values testified to by the Greatest Generation in the War (honour, duty, responsibility, selflessness, compassion, justice, sacrifice, service etc.) are not extinct--that they are possible, and relevant.

Of course, those virtues are eternal--they are expressed in every age, and every place, even when the wider culture may not value them. To pick several examples at random:

Here by the young Dominicans

Here by new cops on the beat.

Here combatting alcohol and drug abuse

Here teaching duty and service.

And, of course, here:

What we need is not simply remembrance of ideals, as if they were dead (although that helps), but commitment to them, in new and modern contexts, demonstration that they work, and the courage to defend them. Her Majesty put it this way, in 1957--Take it away, Ma'am:

Today, we need a special kind of courage. Not the kind needed in battle, but the kind that makes us stand up for everything we know is right. Everything that is true and honest. We need the kind of courage that can withstand the subtle corruption of the cynics, so that we can show the world that we are not afraid of the future.

What she said.


Beaverbrook said...

Bravo, Swift!

You are right of course, as is Mr. Welton, that we do ourselves no service really by simply talking about and living in the past - much better to talk about the present in a historical context, and to grab onto what pockets of inspiration do exist in an attempt to be more relevant.

The thing is, my dear Swift, is that deep down I'm not sure if I much care to be "relevant". I quite like reading The Feudal Times and Reactionary Herald, and to rant on about modernity. I am rather happily intransigent about the old ways, and am convinced the older and more curmudgeon I get that the only causes worth defending are lost causes.

Lord Best said...

Splendid post, Mr (I assume it is Mr) Swift.

Neil Welton said...

Those who defend lost causes, do so, because they are lost. Join the Club. However, this is not to say Monarchy is a lost cause, of course. For we all have a role to play in the rebuild. The Monarchy's role will obviously be central.

Your post is very well intentioned Swift but, as often on this "blog-o-joke", it is based upon a false premise. I never said we should "forget" as opposed to "remember". That was Beaver's own chosen interpretation of what I had wrote (based upon false logic and his own admitted, limited and rather facile imagination). I merely tried to suggest that we move on. Old fashioned values and virtues set in a modern setting. A bit like Prince Harry doing his work in Africa. Monarchy Today. Alive to the world today. After all, The Monarchy was successful throughout World War Two, not because it clung to World War One, but because it lived and breathed in 1939 and 1943.

Anyway, don't blame the 1960s. This is not a criticism - but it is intellectually lazy and it is also a myth. A bit like saying "all Democracy is Evil". The damage was done in the 1970s and 1980s. The liberalism of the 1970s (and also the 1960s) mixed with the hedonism and selfishness of the 1980s. Liberal selfishness was born and, along with millions of "individuals", our nation is now in paralysis. Pulling in two directions at once. Cure without pain will be difficult. For our nation is like an adult spoilt child.

We must build. From the bottom to the top. Just like the Welsh mineworkers and the steelworkers rebuilt their own shattered values and ideals.

Yes. Monarchists are just like the Welsh miners. Loyal, faithful, but we'll never be defeated.

God Save The Queen!

God Bless The Prince Of Wales!

Jeff said...

Of course, living and breathing in 1939 was to live and breath in an environment that was largely sympathetic to those eternal verities and values that most here hold dear. No need to look back if where you are is more or less on course. What needs some fleshing out is how to live and breathe Monarchy in a context that is increasingly hostile to those values. How does one contextualize with the contemporary without accommodating its growing social and cultural dung? This takes some sanctified wisdom. So Mr. Welton, I would be interested in some future posts where you seriously lay out a framework or a strategy about how you would propose doing this. This would go far to elevate this environment beyond "blog-o-joke".

Neil Welton said...

It's only a joke when you're on it. :-)

"I would be interested in some future posts where you seriously lay out a framework or a strategy about how you would propose doing this."
The people are slowly waking up. Matters of real substance will come later when they are ready.

"How does one contextualize with the contemporary without accommodating its growing social and cultural dung?"

The problems need to be dealt with at source.

How is this for starters - we could begin by banning all these corrupting American imports.

Swift said...

Losing causes do have all the fun--and Michael Wharton is amazing. I don't want to be relevant--but I do want to be good, and to see goodness at work--something, as I said, eternally relevant. I don't simply wish to remember my dear grandfather, but to be like him.

Don't blame the 1960's? I will, if I want to. They hit NZ in the 1970's, and hurt us like hell in the 1980's with the triumph of greed. If you want to deal with the problem at the source, then we must begin by inspiring a cynical generation with hope--not simply by banning things.

Swift said...

And "limited and rather facile imagination?"

Steady on! Come on, ref!

I have never found it so.

Beaverbrook said...

Lord Best, I believe it is "Dr." Swift. The good doctor is back.

Mr. Welton, you didn't say a lot of things, but your protestation - "time to move on" - backfired and left you vulnerable to attack.

Better luck next time.

Neil Welton said...

Swift. "I don't want to be relevant but I do want to be good, and to see goodness at work - something, as I said, eternally relevant." Yet you can be both relevant and good. Otherwise you become a complete irrelevance. That was my point.

"I don't simply wish to remember my dear grandfather, but to be like him." Yet I was trying to be like him. Following what he said and believed. "My grandfather would say it is time to move on." Again, that was my point.

"I will, if I want to." Spoken like a true adult spoilt child. Again you just make point for me.

"If you want to deal with the problem at the source, then we must begin by inspiring a cynical generation with hope - not simply by banning things." Sometimes banning things is necessary. Like Michael Jackson videos. :-)

"Limited and rather facile imagination." Beavers is in on the joke. It is about Royal watching as opposed to just being a traditional monarchist.

Beavers. "Your protestation - "time to move on" - backfired and left you vulnerable to attack."
Come again. You've lost me. You've both lost me.

Anyway, coal not the dole or something like that.

Swift said...

What I meant by my "spoilt remark" (ha!) is that I blamed the 1960's and 1970's because I genuinely think they were insane.

Limited or not, that's my opinion, and until you adduce actual evidence to rebut it, I see no reason to change it.

Neil Welton said...

You appear to have accepted my arguments.

For you originally blamed the 1960s only.

You now blame the 1970s as well and you also accept my 1980s theory. Do you actually read what I write? Can you read? After all, you are aged under 30. Mind you, I wouldn't blame you if you didn't read what I write. I don't either.

Swift said...

The ideas of the 1960's reached New Zealand in the 1970's, and bore fruit in the 1980's.

I never denied that. I picked 1955 because you did, and 1968 because of Philip Larkin and the Paris Riots, which had implications far beyond the 1960's.

Do you actually read what I write? Can you read? After all, you are aged under 30

I did, actually. You lost me around the point you were proclaiming your own tolerance.

Neil Welton said...

I reckon you nitpick for a reason.

For you appear to have a problem with tolerance.

You've also mentioned it to me on your own blog.

There you apologise for your callow youth, and also your general tone towards me on that blog.

Which, of course, as a gentleman I accept.

Methinks you should be more tolerant of those who are tolerant - of you. :-)

Swift said...

I repeat that apology--and still disagree with you.

LAW Wells said...

I've constructed a bit of a response to this on my own blog, Dr Swift. Essentially, why go on about something that's 'dead' (and I use that word very, very loosely) when you can bring it back to life by conforming to those standards (modernised, of course) yourself?

It's just a matter of setting an example - Duco exemplo, as my House motto was at school.

Try it -

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Knights of Oz: Revive Sirs or I'll have your guts for garters
Princess Diana Inquest: A Dirty Raincoat Show for the World
Malcom Turnbull: 'Queen's death will spark republican vote'
Future Peer: The life and times of Lady Victoria Beckham
Peers of the Realm: The decline and fall of the House of Lords - Charles A. Coulombe
Peter Hitchens: Get rid of the monarchy and you will get rid of a guardian of liberty


New York Times: Ever Backwards into the Royal Future
Peter Hitchens: People love the Queen...and the BBC hates us for it
Christopher Hitchens: An Anglosphere Future
Andrew Cusack: Republicanism is a traitor's game
Courageous Patrician: Rt Hon Ian Douglas Smith (1919-2007)
The Last Rhodesian: What began with Rhodes and ended with Ian?
Gentleman Journalist: The Lord Baron W.F. Deedes, 1913-2007
Not Amused: Blair's sinister campaign to undermine the Queen
Loyal Subject: Queen Elizabeth: A stranger in her own country
Reverence Deference: Bowing and Scraping Back in Tradition
Rex Murphy: Kennedy, Churchill, Lincoln - The rousing bon mot is no more
Gerald Warner: Don't shed a tear for Diana cult in its death throes
The End of Grandeur: Rich, chincy Canada puts Strathmore on the blocks
Confessions of a Republican Leftie: "The Queen charmed the pants off me"
The King's Own Calgary Regiment: Cpl. Nathan Hornburg is laid to rest
The Royal Gurkha Rifles: Prince William grieves the death of Major Roberts
Queensland Mounted Rifles: Trooper David Pearce, 41, killed in Afghanistan
The Order of Canada: 100 investitures later, Canada's highest honour turns 40
Prince Edward on Prince Edward Island: Troop's link to monarchy important
HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN: Unveils the UK Armed Forces Memorial
Great Britain: "A rotten borough with a banana monarchy" - by Europhile
Peers of the Realm: The decline and fall of the House of Lords - Charles A. Coulombe
Remembering 'Smithy': An obituary tour de force by Andrew Cusack here, here and here.
NOT AMUSED: Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Quebec not invited to Quebec's tercentenary