Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Brits

In the news, not really news: House of Lords approves women bishops. Gone: a certain image of England. It hasn't really been conservative for a long time. Then again, today's anglophiles are really europhile liberals looking down on Americans as provincial. Anyway, I don't have a horse in this race. As Damian Thompson imagines Pope Francis saying: Join me in spreading the gospel. (Implicitly, convert to the church, but do good where you are for now.)
I am a devoted Anglophile and not a liberal. But I do look down on Americans for their republicanism among other reasons. The England I love still exists if you look for it, but it is endangered. What I really want is pre-1960s England. But I'd rather live in a "liberal" constitutional monarchy than a "conservative" republic. As for women bishops, well, with Westminster Cathedral and the Brompton Oratory available I would be more likely to swim the Tiber in London than in Dallas.
Truth isn't geographical but I understand. Your kind of anglophile used to be the usual one but now it's the exception. Most are SWPLs who vote Democratic and watch the World Cup to pretend to be European.

Paul Fussell nailed it: anglophilia used to mean "my family has been rich and powerful ever since Britain was, which is how we picked up these cultural habits." Often a conservative thing (and regrettably anti-Catholic), even when faked by social climbers. Now it's "see how cool and open-minded Europe is, like me, not like most dumb Americans." Different kind of social climbing, maybe more accessible since prole Brits are just as liberal. (Rock stars, et al.)
Or it could mean that they just realize deep down that the Revolution was wrong and wish they had a Monarchy and medieval buildings.

I concede though that the British Left are worse than the American Left, precisely because Britain (having been more traditionalist in principle than the USA ever was) had further to fall. I generally have no problem getting along with Americans who vote Democrat; that might be less true with Brits who vote Labour or worse. And while it's painful for me to admit it, I do suspect that part of the reason that conservatism (or at least something that calls itself "conservatism") is stronger in the US than in the UK is that the American version of the "Right" has never been obliged to defend a monarchy, aristocracy, or an established Church, not the easiest task in the modern world, though I'm not giving up, especially as what's left of "conservatism" in the US as exemplified by the GOP is mostly repulsive to me.

Unfortunately, there's probably some truth in the quip that a working-class American sees a rich man with an expensive car and thinks, "some day I'll have one of those too" while a working-class Briton sees a rich man with an expensive car and thinks, "some day we'll take that away from him."
Wishful thinking, friend; I don't think they "realize deep down that the Revolution was wrong and wish they had a monarchy and medieval buildings." But your last sentence is spot-on.
"Even the British right is somewhat Socialist." Yes, I have a very, even notoriously, right-wing British friend, who has no problem with some sort of nationalized health care (though that's not a blanket endorsement of everything about the current NHS) and favours the renationalisation of the railways. It's his views on immigration, hereditary peers in the House of Lords, the EU, etc. that make him right-wing. And that sort of Right is fine with me too, certainly more appealing than the American version.
Yes, it's not like more Protestant in theory, individualist America at all that way. They see it as an extension of noblesse oblige, Christian social responsibility, and the American left is a Christian heresy, so there you go.

Also, listen to "Eleanor Rigby," the early Kinks (Arthur), or Pink Floyd ("Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way").

Then again, from Quora:
"Why is there no 'English dream' as there is an American dream?"

Simon Crump, Brit who has spent quite a lot of time in America:

There is.

The English dream involves watching cricket played on a village green in the hazy sunshine of a late-afternoon in August, drinking tea out of china cups and eating home-made cakes. The sound of leather on willow and of birds singing lazily, the sight of thatched roofs and the smell of the leather seats in your uncle's vintage Jag, with perhaps the hint come September of the first bonfires burning fallen leaves. A pint of hearty ale in front of a roaring log fire in your local pub as Christmas approaches and the joy of walking through a sea of colour when the cherry trees blossom the next spring.

It was never about being obscenely wealthy, just rich enough not to worry and to enjoy a few simple pleasures in a calm, relaxed and polite way with some like-minded individuals.

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