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A little historical qualification here... It's not quite right to suggest Powell was out on a limb over his anti-American attitudes in the Tory Party of the late 1950's-early 60's. There was a lot of latent anti-Americanism amongst grassroots party members and supporters (like my parents and many of their friends and associates). What set Powell apart was that he wasn't anti-American out of imperial nostalgia and resentment that America had displaced Britain from its place in the world pecking order. Powell seems to have regarded the British Empire as a kind of monstrous aberration which diverted England from its proper place in the world and wanted shot of it as soon as possible. That also perhaps contributed to his anti-immigrant views- unlike many Tories of that era, even ones who were at heart pretty racist in their attitudes, he didn't feel any sense that Britain owed its former possessions and their populations anything, least of all a home in England.
If you have a weak stomach then please don't read this - (or if you want make an excuse for racism )
In this comment I will not mince my words.
The question is the " elephant in the room ' racism' pretending to hide behind nationalism
But I am not going to mince my words
Let me start by giving you an example of the racism of Northern Europe
In the second world war,. in Malaysia, as the British allied troops were withdrawing, The white and the non-white troops were kept separate as was usual in all Northern European colonies.
Food was running out for the troops - so of course the superior white were given all the food and nothing was given to the non-whites
Thousands of the non-whites died. and never a mention made of this.
The problem is that at home in Northern europe there is a pretence of non-racist attitudes - akin to holier-then-thou. They want the locals to think that they are perfect - albeit superior
Racism is not supposed to exist - there is a lot of 'white-washing' that goes on
What grates the liberals about all this is not the racism shown elsewhere outside Europe. It is that racism is brought forth with the speech from the Enochs of the world, and in the homeland, that the pretence of non-racism /liberalism is dissipated
Yes - certainly - Enoch the Welshman was also nationalistic. So are the Japanese. So are most people in the world.
That is not to say that the Japanese tend towards extreme racism as do the Northern Europeans - They don't kill on the basis of race.
But the Northern Europeans do as is exampled by the holocaust ( and the sympathy shown for Hitler all over the UK - the most famous being David Irving )
Yet there is a very thin red line - almost invisible- between nationalism and racism. The racism comes forth when there is a visible difference.
We all originated from Africa ( unless you are a religious person from the Abrahamic point of view) and yet we tend to dislike darker skins - goes for everyone ( the Chinese cover themselves up in the hot weather, Darker people tend to use a lot of skin lightening creams etc etc )
And I have to say that this can also go the other way - when the dutch came as refugees centuries ago - they were not as welcome.
The welsh, as a conquered people, sometimes tend to be holier then thou. This shows up with Enoch Powell
Hunting is not a welsh tradition. Ask Richard Burton.
Then wanting to an upper plank tory -That is another example of being holier-then-thou. No mention about his Welsh heritage.
There is nothing wrong with racism as long you call it racism. If you think you are superior it is your problem, not mine
There is everything wrong with racism when it is actioned on -as with Hitler, or with Churchill.
You can dress it up, or dress it down. You can make excuses for it and you can philosophise it. But a spade is a spade.
In Enoch's defence, I have to say that he may well have been nationalistic.His speech may well have come real fear of the future.
There is nothing wrong with excluding others from your inner circle. In fact this exclusion is actually detrimental to the excluder as is shown by the history of ethnic strife in Northern Europe
Was he right ?
There have been a few riots but not anywhere near enough to use the terminology ' rivers of blood '
In my view these tensions that come upto the fore are a good thing for a society.
It keeps the society challenged. It keeps the society thinking . It keeps us away from the door of indolence
The trouble comes when racism is actioned, as happens in proselytising societies. Both Hitler and Churchill actioned that racism.
AT least Powell wouldn't have sent his storm troopers in for a killing spree.
Powell knew where the thin red line was drawn. In effect he was forecasting 'Brexit'
The example of the non-white soldiers robbed of their food and then the food given to white soldiers is included in here for a specific reason.
This was the background of the culture that Powell was raised in. This was the reason behind he formulation of his ideas.
He was well read in history - and sometimes called an intellectual because of this.
But a cannot see how he understood the real analysis of this history.
In my mind, he was intellectual pygmy
. He never really understood that the domination of the whites was for such a brief moment and the legacy they left behind is awful.The Chinese have not forgotten the awfulness of what the UK did - They still talk about the opium wars
And now the Indians have now come to realise some very important parts of history
(1) that basically the East India company destroyed manufacturing in India by burning factories and killing owners.
Then they targeted a tax rated of 50% for productive people
(2) When the tax wasn't paid, the soldiers went around and dragged the women out, stripped then naked , and raped them
(3) This type of culture was was the basis when the British government took over. The culture in which Enoch was raised.
(4) and when you really think about the chronology, then you will understand that the Industrial revolution had to happen - to replace the destroyed Manufacturing in India with cheaper clothing from the UK.The financing of this revolution also must have come from the robbing of India
All in all, it must be said that this well-read Welshman would have to have known all this. And coming from a conquered race, wanting to be a part of this Nobob picture he still prophesied the 'rivers of blood '
and he was wrong
Theresa may continues this culture.
As for the liberals, they would have ignored all this, but the speech in the UK would have concerned them because the pretence of equality was being dissipated
At the end of the day his grandchildren's' grandchildren ' will pay the ferryman' - ( greek mythology )
I was too young to really take notice of Powell. But I do remember he came across as being a slightly scary character with his big scull ,waxed hair and moustache he looked a bit like Hitler especially when he was exited and his eyes bulged out. This at the beginning of the 'media' age when John Kennedy was wooing and Richard Nixon was cursing, most definitely was to his disadvantage. Boris Johnson could have said the same and we would all be rolling in the aisles thinking he was taking the piss or it was April Fools day. 'Enoch' was also such a strange name and as a schoolboy I could only think of eunuch- so probably he was one of them.
I also thought that his rivers of blood speech was a bit un-English and again my thoughts again travelled to Hitler.
Now 60 years latter I realise that he was not as wicked as Hitler but most definitely needed a good PR man.
Great article. The liberals' lesson to learn is in fact how to adjust to the circumstances in large part created by the very liberalism. The liberal primacy of freedom, including the free speech, paired with the liberal popularization of globalized technologies led to a new situation with which the liberals do not know how to deal. Cheap transport resulted in mass migration of a scale unimaginable earlier in the course of history (Windrush generation was possible because Windrush offered exceptionally cheap travel, today we have a myriad of "Windrushes"). Cheap instant communication technology increased the role of populism (would Brexit ever happen without the internet?), enabled meddling in white gloves in the the affairs of liberal countries by the fundamental opponents of liberalism. Ie. Russia versus US, cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:ODNI_Statement_on_Declas...
The liberalism of old, Enlightment-time, or even post WW2 -time, could not forsee or even imagine the issues of today. These issues were not taken care of by the liberal governments, for they felt that such actions would be "illiberal". In result non-liberals and/or populist provided their solutions and won the hearts of the voters (eg. liberal democracies turning non-liberal in some of the Central Europeans countries such as Poland or Hungary).
The longer the liberals of today fail to adjust to today's circumstances the more contemporary liberalism will look like an Ouroboros, a dragon eating it's own tail.
Oh dear, a typo: you meant Euroboros (or simply EUrobbingus dragon) as in:
“your EU is looking like an EUroboros, a dragon eating it’s*(another typo) own tail“.
(*sp - “it’s=it is”… tut-tut or tusk-tusk)”.
You only need to note The Tusk Legacy of deserted airports etc. funded by e.g. the departing British, some of which have yet to receive a single flight:)
The Tusk Euroboros Legacy is already a monument to the contempt for your EU held by your Net Contributors, as it soon will be *internally* too, as Tusk’s EUroboros is under orders to eviscerate your economy until Poland follows the Reich’s directives.
The time has come for the Net Contributors to refuse to be eviscerated by your EUroboros:)
So it’s all looking pretty darned “genious”, eh:-))
The author should examine the history of post-war immigration into Britain in particular Birmingham during the 1950's. Such analysis will reveal Powell's infamous rant to be an artefact of political manipulation drawn from his poisonous relationship with Edward Heath rather than a statement of true belief. In a sense this makes the speech even more reprehensible given its appallingly destructive polarisation of any future debate or action around the issues of mass immigration.
A loathsome man.
"He has some harsh lessons for liberals" - last sentence in article.
Again, for the nth time, define "liberal" before you (writer of article) use the word, in accordance to its assumed meaning as used in the article.
The "contradictions" may exist for you, but not Powell.
You can't a priori assume "liberal" has an identical meaning shared by every single working brain in the world.
That's all there is to be said really - myriad definitions of what 'liberal" and "Liberal" means or might mean in the heads of different people. If you don't believe me, read your own Reader's Forums. For some commenters, "liberal" means anyone and everyone who disagrees with them. For others, it means anyone who is not head-over-heel in love with Mr Trump, poised to lick his feet at the drop of his next Tweet.
Even if you simply look up the word in an English dictionary in order to reach for its etymology, you will find more than 100 pages to get to some concrete and accurate information importable for a more or less unified meaning of the word. Dictionaries such as Oxford, Webster, Collins, Fowler, etc. And then there is Wiki. And finally, the gem for serious scholarship - Encyclopedia Brittanica. Or you can also try read a history book on the history of Classical Liberalism - for this Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy (1945)*, $19.52 USD on Amazon in paperback ought to do. But of course for a microwaved baguette, try any 14-character Social Media Gobbledegook.
I think you will, after a minimum 4-year course in undergrad philosophy, see there is no self-contradiction or internal contradiction in Powell's thinking or evolution of his thinking. You projected the contradictions on him, a few decades later.
ALL in ALL, but for that initial vital bit of definitional detail, a crackerjack article. Thanks, TE.
* Whatever you do, please read the whole book, not 5 lines out of 500 pages, and start turning Left or Right after 5 lines. And this reader is not going to take her time writing a synopsis for TE, or Readers of TE. Thankless job to begin with, and then all the vulture wannabes will strike, or shall I call them Uncomplicated Idiots? PS: The arrogance is intended.
"He was a free-trader, but against the free movement of labour."
Free movement of goods, of labour, and of capital each provide different benefits and cause different disruptions. There is no contradiction in concluding that in the circumstances that prevail in a particular situation, the benefits outweigh the disruptions in some but not all of these categories.
There seems to be somewhat a contradiction in terms. On the one hand you describe Enoch Powell as a racist for his 'Blood running in the Streets' speech, then you describe his dislike of any foreign immigration, irrespective of colour. This doesn't sound like a racist to me but one more concerned about his country than petty politics. Let's remember, the politics of the 60's and 70's. A radical Socialist agenda, hellbent on destroying the country, reminiscent of multiple African dictatorships, newly independent, who considered the extinction of all things colonialist, only to find that white exceptionalism had achieved much in the way of furthering the interests and welfare of their black subjects, than any subsequent black governments.
He was obviously just stating the obvious and talking on a contentious subject, knowing that his countrymen, by and large were racists and misogynists despite their professed love of equality and socialism. His was the only sane voice in a sea of incompetence, which brought Britain to its knees.
Equate his ideas to the recent outburst by a negro, Kanye West, however inarticulate his rantings, and the subsequent furore from his black countrymen. He has only stated the obvious, imploring his black people's to stop thinking of themselves as victims of slavery, waiting for retribution and charity, to rectify their self-induced poverty, drug addiction, single motherhood status, unemployment and murderous rampages against their own kith and kin.
Powell was the classic example of a man who failed to test his ideas against the messy realism of facts. To be fair to Powell, much less was known back then about fundamental human behaviors, so it was easy to imagine that people were more rational and coherent than they actually are.
Today, however, we know that the vast majority of people do very little thinking about any topic of importance and have even less understanding of anything complex. We are short-termist in our thinking, we extrapolate in straight lines, and we are hardwired to function as a tribe. All these aspects of human nature make us easily manipulated and unconscious of our actions. The results are generally catastrophic.
What today's liberals need to do is to look at policies which enable us to avoid the pitfalls of so much hardwired human behavior. We need to understand more profoundly the insights of people like Adam Smith and David Hume who, long before evolutionary psychology was even a term, understood that we humans need to create structures that mitigate our most self-harming instincts. Until we take a clear view of our general cognitive limitations and act accordingly, we will continue to wallow around in false assumptions that lead to utterly inadequate policies and actions. And on this matter Powell has nothing to tell us.
"Powell was wholly wrong that mass immigration could change a historic sense of Englishness . . . ."
A glaring editorial conclusion in an otherwise excellent analysis.
Note that what is being contradicted here is "could", not "would necessarily".
Obviously, he had some ideas that resonate with English population and are timeless from this perspective. He was right about the future of the EU and his concerns about immigation are now wildly shared among general population. It is good that Britain had such a good politician.
I don't think that that line suggests it's right, only that the underlying concerns need to be addressed as these are major forces that can drive voting behaviour. In the recent past too often were the concerns around these topics swept under the carpet and the results are plain to see. Trump in the White House, Brexit, authoritarianism in Eastern Europe, resurgence of Front National/PVV (NL)/AfD etc.
"In some ways Enoch Powell forces us back to the drawing board. He has some harsh lessons for liberals."
I don't like that statement. It's true that ethnic and economic nationalism has been resurging for some time, but that doesn't make it right. A principled newspaper shouldn't howl with the wolves and "go back to the drawing board" whenever popular opinion shifts. In history, classic liberalism was never a majority opinion anyway.
Ha! @Swiss, I wrote an awfully snotty comment before I read any comments. And then I found yours!!!!! It appears we think and feel the same!!!!
I didn't say "A principled newspaper shouldn't howl with the wolves and 'go back to the drawing board' whenever popular opinion shifts. In history, classic liberalism was never a majority opinion anyway." [Bold font mine for emphasis]
Thanks for saying it!!!!!!