Friday, 12 June 2020

Why are the ruling classes so scared of the mob? It's about Latin.

This post first appeared on the Radix UK blog...

There is quite enough about mobs and mob rule at the moment without me needing to join in. The starting point of this post is the effect this has on governments, and UK governments in particular.

I have written before about the bizarre way in which UK governments, certainly back to the Gordon Riots of 1780, have lived with this underlying fear of the mob - an affliction known as enochophobia.

That manifests itself mainly in the bizarre snobbery which the establishment treats anyone outside itself, whether it is people from country towns in, say, County Durham, or the BAME communities of Bristol. This is what Gladstone meant when he characterised Toryism as "distrust in the people tempered by fear".

I have been thinking about this phenomenon for some time, and particularly its roots in classical education, which regards the Roman world as civilised and the poor old natives of this island as barbarians. I'm not so sure that this was not actually the other way around.

I was first alerted to this idea by Graham Robb’s brilliant book The Ancient Paths, one of a growing number of historians and writers to start rethinking our pre-Roman past. But it was George Jowett’s strange and peculiar book The Drama of the Lost Disciples which got me thinking about Caractacus for the first time.

Jowett died in 1969 after a distinguished career as a boxer, publisher and planner in Canada. But the research behind the book, in the Vatican archives, is an equally important legacy. His argument was that, according to the archives, it wasn’t just Joseph of Arimathea who came to Britain in 38AD, as legend suggests – it was the Virgin Mary and many of the surviving disciples of Jesus who took refuge in Glastonbury that year, joined later by St Peter and St Paul.

Jowett’s plea was that, given that the medieval church recognised this claim by giving British bishops precedence at the great councils of the Church – we ought to take this more seriously. Or at least as seriously as the flawed and compromised memories of Roman writers with axes to grind.

If this was right, Jowett suggested, then it may provide a different interpretation to the Roman invasion five years later. It may also be that Caractacus, as the archives suggest, was not a backward pagan type, but Christian king battling the pagan Romans and desperately trying to hold back their tide of brutality.

So I have written Caractacus’ autobiography as if Jowett was right. As such, I am attempting to strike a small blow against a those generations of positivist scholars who identified with the Romans more than with their forebears defending our homeland – who regarded the invaders as ‘we’, and continue to try to subdue the real spirit of these islands ever since. Caractacus managed to stand alone for nearly nine years against the biggest and most sophisticated army in the known world, after all.

And while we are about it - if anyone out there happens to know where I can find out why it is that English history traditionally starts in 1066 - with the arrival of the ruling class - and why we number our kings from then, despiet there being Edwards on either side of the divide? I would genuinely love to know...

In the meantime, the first part of my Caractacus trilogy (Nor Shall My Sword Sleep) is now published and I am busily writing the second. So comments and suggestions are most welcome...

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3 comments:

Blissex said...

«UK governments, certainly back to the Gordon Riots of 1780, have lived with this underlying fear of the mob»

Because the english government has been oligarchical and that oligarchy has been ethnic based, something that is rarely discussed. The "english" oligarchy has been equally afraid of the irish mob, when it ruled over that island, and of the english or scottis mobs, as it rules over this island.

Consider the english concept of "plantation": in England there seem to be are four main distinct ethnic layers, the original peasants (apparently of iberian origin), the "plantation" of the celt minority, then the plantation of the saxon minority, and then the plantation of the norman minority. For the latter two see "Ivanhoe" etc.

I started to think that most politics in the UK are both ethnic and class based (because class depends largely on ethnicity in the UK and elsewhere) when a well read LibDems showed me a 17th century Bill from Parliament which was the starting point of the civil war and asked me if I noticed a pattern: I could not and he pointed out that it was a bill to replace the most important military commanders, and that the surnames of those replaced were mostly norman, and those of the replacements were mostly saxon. His iknterpretation of the politics of the civil war: an attempt, mostly successful, for the saxon oligarchy to take back the island from the norman oligarchy, whatever the arguments about religion or absolute rule of kings.

One thing is common to all those "plantation" of ruling minorities, whether they have been superseded by ones, or have taken back their place: they all afraid that those below them will use "the mob", to which all those minorities are "foreigners", to stage a coup, or that it will rise spontaneously against their "foreign" rulers.

How "foreign" are the ruling minority (or minorities) of this island? Well, until a few decades ago there was a regime of legal and practical apartheid, where peers could only be judged by their peers, and marriages of peers and commoners were illegal (certainly in the royal family) or essentially never happened. It used to be, and still is largely the case, that members of the ruling minority (or minorities) only every meet commoners ("the mob") as servants, and nearly all their social interactions are with their peers. Without mentioning that for centuries after the norman "plantation" the peers did not even speak english, and central government business was in french or latin. Until fairly recently "nonconformist" (largely "the mob") could not attend "anglican" public schools or Oxford or Cambridge.
When some commoners somehow get rich or powerful enough to become ruling class, their progeny are co-opted into it by way of "anglican" public schools Oxford or Cambridge.

Because there is something that is quite different from the this archipelago and the rest of the continent, especially "middle europe" countries like Germany or Italy or Poland or Serbia: its ruling minorities are very long lasting because there have been very few foreign invasions (to this island only the roman, saxon, norman, dutch in 2 thousand years, space around 500 years apart), while on the continent in many countries invasions have happened around 2-3 times per century.

David Boyle said...

Thanks so much, Blissex! I think you are quite right - but that is class isnt it, before ethnicity?

Blissex said...

«but that is class isnt it, before ethnicity?»

My guess is that it is not that simple, because foreign invasions don't exactly have regard for existing classes.

The way I put it is that there are two *parallel* but interdependent issues:

#1 Which classes exist and what their their statuses.
#2 Who gets in which class and how do they get there.

While #1 is independent of ethnicity, there are countries where #2 depends very much on ethnicity. Countries where #2 depends less on ethnicity tend to be those where foreign invasions are frequent, because while they tend to leave existing class structures much the same, they tend to change very much which lineages are in which class (except usually for the lowest classes, who tend to have the lineages for thousands of years).
An example of a different ethnic based is Australia, as I read from an author that the working class and the Labour party is made largely of descendants of irish deportees, and the middle class and the Liberal ("Conservatives") party of the descendants of their english gaolers. And of course the underclass, like in most countries, is made largely of the conquered natives.

├ůs to “and marriages of peers and commoners [...] or essentially never happened”, that is still the case in this island (even for an extended definition of "peers" including gentry and the upper-middle class). To understand how much politics are still ethnic in a nation it is important to look at marriages, how common/unremarkable "mixed" marriages are, and how outraged are upper-middle and upper-class mothers if their precious marry outside their ethnic group (which usually means marrying outside the class too, and falling out of it).

I wrote mothers, because usually while "class" politics have been mostly done by men, who govern, "ethnic" politics have been mostly done by women (who see them in "dynastic" terms), who rule.