The stars are dead, the animals will not look.
We are left alone with our day, and the time is short and
History to the defeated may say alas
But cannot help or pardon.
W.H Auden `Spain`
I’ve always felt that the world was somewhat dead. Modernity is a bit like an antiseptic operating theatre, or a hygienic meat-freezer kitted out with stainless steel walls and polished floors, vaguely emanating a smell of iodine or bleach. I half suspect that many people voted for Brexit out of existential angst, just to smash things up and reintroduce colour into a colourless world. The respectable senators and townsmen in Cavafy’s poem want the barbarians to arrive, they want to be confronted with greasy yahoos wearing the skins of field-mice, with blackened teeth and hair smeared with rancid butter. Those people were a kind of solution.
Many of us talk with rapture about the coming wars, about the `Day of the Rope`, in which the white man finally massacres his enemies. Every atrocity or murder is met with `When the Saxon begins to hate` or confident assurances that the Swedes, Germans or whoever will finally `wake up`. I’m sure the Cherokee were telling themselves this on the Trail of Tears; no doubt Carthaginian slaves smiled to one another and repeated this airy bromide as they watched the salt being ploughed into the ashes of their father’s houses. The assumption is that eventually the spring will snap back and the long tide of race-suicide will diminish. More intelligent people will dress this up as some kind of grand Hegelian negation; an inevitability, a cosmic deck of loaded cards stacked in our favour.
This is deluded. Where are the Carthaginians? Where are the Aztecs? Where are the Mayans? Where are the Moriori? Where are the Strathclyde Welsh? Where are the Avars? Where are the Byzantines? Nations and races die with a ruthless finality and never return. There is no reason to expect that the English or Germans will be any different. Any rational appraisal of the situation in Europe will demonstrate that Europeans are already well on the way to extinction. I don’t say this because I’m lugubrious or unnecessarily pessimistic; I am in some ways an optimist. I say this because many of us use the spectre of future violence as a form of ideological procrastination.
Rather like someone rationalising his failure to do his homework, we don’t want to honestly look at the situation. I’ll just watch another thing on Netflix and then I’ll write the essay. I worked a long shift today, I can’t write the paper, I’ll do it tomorrow. I can’t do the dishes, I’ll do them tomorrow when I feel less sick. I’ll write the dissertation in the last month, I’ll be more focused &c. &c. &c. Instead of organising, writing and finding a solution to our current problems, everything is to be postponed until the glorious day in which the white man rises up and executes some form of reverse Haiti on the invading hordes. Naturally, this is a slight caricature. But we can’t use this as an ideological get-out-of-gaol free card because it misunderstands the nature of the collapse.
Roman Britain did not collapse amidst hordes of raiding barbarians. Most of the great villas and houses declined in the late fourth century, before the withdrawal of the legions. Taxes drove the landed gentry into extinction and their houses were repurposed. Many of them stood for centuries after, sometimes lived in, sometimes changed. Skilled labour vanished and whenever roof tiles fell over in a high wind or fire damaged a ceiling, nothing could be repaired. Very few of these buildings were sacked by rampaging maniacs; it took them centuries before they were rubble.
Collapse is noticing that your children can’t do their times tables. Collapse is noticing that roads are no longer repaired and potholes are left indefinitely. Collapse is realising that that masons and architects no longer have the skills to build anything beautiful. Collapse is going to church on Christmas Eve and noticing that no one can recite the General Confession from the prayer book. Collapse is realising that you can’t actually go to the moon anymore. Collapse is reading a tabloid newspaper from forty years ago and realising how much more literate it is than those of today. Collapse is hearing people speak with semi-inflected American accents. Collapse is people mocking those with elegant cut-glass RP accents and collapse is those people accepting this and toning their voices down.
It is already much later than we think. Unless we begin to confront the enormousness of the situation before us, we will go down to the pit. When the Chinese historians are writing a thousand years hence, what will they think of us? The danger is that we become another one of the strange by-ways and cul-de-sacs of history, like the Tocharians in the Tarim Basin or the Kalash or the Yazidi or any of the other tiny remnants of the Indo-Europeans who are now surrounded by a sea of brown. Bits of us will carry on, occasionally viewed in a pair of blue-eyes on a dusky face or a baby born with slightly blonder hair than normal. But we will have gone.
A Britain which is 35% white will not collapse. A Britain which becomes Islamic will not collapse. ASDA will still exist. People will still shop at Tesco. People will still moan about the weather. Young people will fall in love and get married and have children. Most people will live reasonably contented private lives. Most people will quell their private doubts about society much in the same way that they do about the modern liberal order. People will still watch Coronation Street or listen to Radio 4. Even The Archers will still exist in the multi-racial Britain of 2070!
The barbarians are not going to turn up.