FLC021, How and How not to Win the War of English Independence, 10th August 1998
Free Life Commentary,
an independent journal of comment
published on the Internet
Issue Number 21
10th August 1998
How and How Not to Win
the War of English Independence
by Sean Gabb
When I think of the debate over the European Union, I usually feel rather ashamed. I hate the institution. I can see through the gilded mask to the twisted thing that lies beneath. Continued membership inevitably means the destruction of my country. It undoes the victory that the Hundred Years War turned out to be. It undoes the Reformation. It undoes the Glorious Revolution. It undoes Trafalgar and Waterloo. It means the abolition of Trial by Jury and the Common Law. It means the effacement of everything that I understand by England, and our absorption into the European branch of the New World Order.
And I have so far done almost nothing to stand against this destruction of my nation—a nation that I love and for which at least one of my grandfathers and any number of great uncles died in war. I have not joined any of the groups opposing the Euroreich Union. I have given them no money. I did not even vote for the Referendum Party at the last election. I have laughed at the Anti-Maastricht Alliance. I have sneered at Bill Cash and Alan Sked. I even wrote a damning review of Rodney Atkinson's Treason at Maastricht. I have had good reason for avoiding these groups and individuals, but I have done nothing to correct what I see as their errors.
This issue of Free Life Commentary is the beginning of an effort to redress the balance that currently stands against me. It is a summary of the advice that I have for the patriotic movement. Some of it has emerged from private discussions with Chris R. Tame, the Director of the Libertarian Alliance and author of The Euro-Sceptical Directory. Some of it is the fruits of many years experience of ideological campaigning. I am not certain that my advice will bring victory, but I do believe that it will greatly increase the chances. For the sake of clarity, I will divide my advice into what not to do and then what to do.
Things That are not to be Done
First, do not complain that there are too many small groups in the patriotic movement, most of them not on good terms with each other. This fact is to be regretted, but it is the presently unavoidable geography of the movement. Ours is a movement of prima donnas. Most of us are rather arrogant. Where that is not the case, we are divided very deeply over what future we have in mind for the country after we have liberated it from the Euroreich. To a large degree, these divisions over ends are reflected in differences over means. Some of us are free trade liberals. Others of us are protectionists and even authoritarians. This means that some of us will he happier attacking the regulations and tariffs imposed on us by the Euroreich, and others of us will be happier attacking the loss of control over monetary and trade policy because it prevents Keynesian deficit financing.
These differences can be smoothed over in a fragmented movement where we can share the common objective of national independence. Trying to force us together into a formal coalition will inevitably make what divides us more important than what unites us. At worst, nothing at all will be published. At best, it will be filled with vague evasions—the work of a committee more interested in not upsetting one set of beliefs than in presenting a clear message to the public.
This, I feel, was one of the reasons why the Referendum Party did so badly in the war of ideas. Sir James Goldsmith was a great patriot, but he surrounded himself with economic liberals when he was not really one himself. It showed, and the consequences ought not to be repeated.
As Chairman Mao once said, let a hundred flowers bloom. Unlike him, do nothing when they are not all to your taste.
Second, avoid the national socialists and fascists. This appears to contradict my first point, but does not really. Anyone familiar with the works of people like Adolf Hitler and Sir Oswald Mosley will know that they were racial nationalists rather than patriots. They actually believed in a united Europe. Mosley argued for one. Hitler even achieved one for a couple of years. Their followers cannot honestly believe in the unique goodness of England and in the need for its separation from the ethnically similar French and German peoples.
There are nazis who claim to oppose the Euroreich. Perhaps some of them are intellectually confused. Many of them, I am convinced, are lying. Most nazi groups are heavily infiltrated by the security services and evil men like Gerry Gable. To some extent, they are even controlled. Part of their agenda is to infiltrate other movements and cause trouble when their involvement is revealed. English patriotism has nothing to do with anti-semitism or hatred of any other of the Queen's subjects. Smearing us as what we are not is the standard weapon of our enemies. It allows them to avoid arguing on the real issues while hiding behind a palisade of fake moral indignation.
If there are any nazis who really believe in the patriotic cause, the best help they can give is to get out of it now and not to taint it with their presence.
Third, do not hope for big funding. It will probably not come—it will certainly not come at this stage in the war. Big Business and those close to it are in favour of the Euroreich. Some interests are occasionally upset by its enactments, and make sceptical noises for a while. But it provides them with an environment permanently biassed in their favour. It makes regulations that see off competition from small businesses. Even if it currently prefers not to underwrite their losses when they occur, it shelters them in other less obvious ways from the need wholeheartedly to serve their customers. They will not fund a patriotic movement the success of which would undermine their present market advantage.
And there is very little funding from outside the corporate economy. Death duties and capital gains tax have killed off most of the wealthy individuals who used to fund nonconformity in this country and who still do so in America. Those who remain are too busy trying to keep what they have to spend it on causes that will get them bad publicity and the attentions of the Inland Revenue.
And even if money were to be available, it would probably come with too many conditions attached to make it worth accepting. I have already mentioned Sir James Goldsmith—and I praise him again. He never allowed a full-throated cry against the Euroreich. Other potential backers are no better. They are all probably worse, as they are not even people of flawed genius.
What is better—no funding but the freedom to say what you want, or a nice budget but the need to stick to a line that will in all probability be so fatuous that both the money and your time will be wasted?
Fourth, avoid any help from the Establishment. Even today, its members can usually be spotted by their pinstripe suits and plummy voices and nice table manners. They have lots of impressive contacts. They went to school with the Editor of this national newspaper. They are related to that influential Permanent Undersecretary. They can get meetings with the great and the good. It will all be to no effect. Their agenda is one of personal and corporate advancement that will probably not commit them absolutely to the patriotic cause. They all look forward to being appointed to committees and directorships, and usually also to some title of nobility. These things are not achieved by making serious trouble for those in power. At every moment of big opportunity, their counsel will be to "go easy on this issue" and not to "rock the boat". They will sound persuasive with their talk of "keeping the right people on board". The effect of their advice will be the throwing away of every opportunity for winning the war.
If an example is wanted, look at the failure of the Countryside Alliance. It began as the one real mass movements that Middle England has produced in this generation. Then the pinstripe people moved in and killed the whole thing with big salaries for each other and compromise with every opponent.
The best of their class died in the trenches and in Fighter Command. There are always exceptions, but on the whole, the ones we live with retain only the mannerisms of their ancestors. A more corrupt and incompetent bunch of parasites never drew breath in these islands.
Avoid these people. Their enmity may do no good, but it is in every way better than their embrace.
Fifth, stop thinking in terms of mass movements. In its own day, the Anti-Corn Law League was a brilliant success. It provided a model of organisation that worked well into the mid-twentieth century. But times are altered. As I have said, the money is not presently on offer. In any event, there is no longer an educated and public-spirited middle class with time to spare for promoting a cause. Look at the collapse of party membership that has all but destroyed the Conservatives—and that is largely independent of the Party Leadership's endless betrayal and stupidity. Nor are the working classes much interested in politics. In the 1870s, tens of thousands would turn out in the rain to hear Gladstone speak for three hours on foreign affairs, with his interminable sentences, his Latin quotations, and his references to the Italian Renaissance. Today, the masses are atomised in front of their television sets, watching Eastenders and turning over at the mere sight of Jeremy Paxman.
If the war is to be won, it will not be by way of packed meetings in the Albert Hall. They have become one with the top hat and the bustle.
Sixth, stop wasting time on trying to break into the mass media. It is owned and operated by the enemy. Some of the newspapers may look disposed to our side, and may even indulge a few patriotic journalists. But this is essentially window dressing. Even newspapers like The Daily Telegraph are closed to people like us. They are nowadays like opposition parties used to be in the Soviet Empire. In Czechoslovakia—the country where my wife was born and raised - there was a Social Democratic Party and a Peasant's Party. They had no independent line. They were allowed to exist simply to deceive the ignorant into believing that a pluralist system remained. They never opposed unless they were required to float ideas that the Communist Party might then endorse. They never criticised except in the most trivial cases. Our own mass media is far more sophisticated, and must operate in a country where freedom of speech still formally exists. But they know exactly how far they can go. How many of us have written a short, well-reasoned letter to The Daily Telegraph, only to see the letters page crowded for the next week with correspondence about the redecoration of a parish church somewhere in Berkshire? These organs of opinion are closed to us. So far as they are organs of the right at all, they are of the Quisling Right.
By contrast, newspapers like The Guardian and The Independent are honest. They employ journalists who describe themselves on being idealistic and committed to the truth—and who then reproduce every lie fed to them by the political class, and make "courageous" attacks on things like the anti-fluoridation campaign. But they never call themselves patriots when they are not. Of course, their organs also are closed to us.
Equally, forget the local newspapers. They are usually owned or edited by glorified advertising salesmen. They are not interested in ideas. In any event, most people read such papers for the advertising content.
As for handing out leaflets in the street, forget that above all else. There are high costs of production, hardships in getting anyone to go out and distribute the things. And virtually no one reads them. At least 75 per cent of all leaflets end up as litter on the pavements.
I have more luck with the radio and television—two or three appearances every month is quite good. But it takes years to build up a presence in the researchers' contact books, and to demonstrate enough ability to be routinely considered for high-level appearances —Newsnight, The Midnight Hour, and so forth. Even then, I regard myself largely as part of the entertainment function of the media. I am often brought on as the modern equivalent of a dancing bear. There are honourable exceptions to this rule—and I will not endanger careers by mentioning names—but even then, appearances are so short and so punctuated by idiot telephone callers that it is very hard to develop a serious line of argument.
Things That Are to be Done
First, do it yourself. When people wait for others to do something, or for someone to come along with a bag of money, nothing is every done. When people form committees and discuss what ought to be done, it is hardly ever done.
One of the reasons why the Libertarian Alliance has been so successful in the past decade or so is that there is no central direction of effort. There is mutual help and advice, but there is no discussion of what ought to be written, and none of what ought to be published and how. What happens is that someone writes a pamphlet and sends it to Brian Micklethwait. He reads it to see if it counts as part of the libertarian debate. He checks it for spelling and clarity, and may insist on better references and footnotes. He then publishes it, and it goes out in the quarterly mailings. Our media person may then decide to send it out with a news release. And that is it.
Some while ago, David Botsford wrote a pamphlet against banning the expression of doubts whether the holocaust happened. It was a well-written defence of freedom of speech. It was published. No one stopped to ask whether it might have the Board of Deputies on our backs, or whether the holocaust revisionists might start claiming the Libertarian Alliance as allies. It was published and it went out. I think it was a good and timely pamphlet in defence of the right to cause offence. Others in the Libertarian Alliance were more cautious. A publications committee might have held up publication for months, and might have demanded alterations. It might even have suppressed the pamphlet—that pamphlet and many others.
Turning to my own Free Life Commentary, I wrote and published two bitchy attacks on Madsen Pirie and the Adam Smith Institute last month. In the event, Dr Pirie took the attacks very well, and wrote me a personal letter that made me ashamed of some of my personal comments. But he might have taken them badly, and the Libertarian Alliance might have lost a useful friend. Because I own Free Life Commentary, and no one tells me what to write in it, they were written and published. Perhaps they should ought not have been written and published. But they were. I did it myself, without let or hindrance from anyone else.
That is how publications should happen within the patriotic movement—publish first and take the consequences second, but publish at all costs.
Second, use the Internet. I have already explained that nothing is to be expected of the established media. But a single message on the Internet can reach tens and even hundreds of thousands of readers. It cannot be blanked out or amended beyond recognition by some newspaper editor. It goes out exactly as written.
A really successful patriotic campaign for today will comprise one person or at most a couple of close friends. If the qualities are not combined in a single person, there needs to be someone who can write, someone who can debate, and someone who knows how to write Web Pages and to build up and maintain Internet mailing lists. There will be three kinds of publication:
First, there will be substantial pamphlets setting out an ideology. These ought usually to be original compositions. At the same time, though, there is a wealth of literature available from the past. The European debate has been running since the late 1950s. There are thousands of valuable works that have dropped out of memory. Some of these are more valuable now than when first published because they make predictions of things that have since come to pass. They must be gathered up and republished on the Internet—sent out to all the relevant newsgroups and distribution lists, and stored permanently on a Web Page.
Second, there must be replies to the hostile critics who will settle on these works like locusts on a field. It is not enough to send out a pamphlet. It must be defended against attack. Sometimes, it must be clarified when questions are asked that were not considered at the time of writing.
The benefits of Internet debate are many. Obviously, it is real debate taking place before a large audience—just like used to happen in Parliament and the established media before they were taken over by traitors and zombies. It allows issues to be clarified and often settled. It creates the impression of a larger and more substantial presence than really exists. A well-constructed Web Page is an astonishingly cheap and easy thing to create. The same applies to a mass of replies to a mass of criticisms. They make up for any deficiency of money. Because it does hardly anything on the Internet, for example, the Referendum Movement has been far less effective so far than Free Life Commentary; and the difference in our budget is almost comical.
Internet debate is even useful when it appears to be stifled by the drones who can be found in every newsgroup. Endless misrepresentations and frivolous objections may infuriate, but they are made in front of what is perhaps the only informed public that still exists in this country. When the only relies are of this sort, it makes for a solid and often spectacular propaganda victory.
Third, there are "Open Letters". Before the Internet recreated an independent media, these were a quaint reminder of the eighteenth century—they conjured up memories of the debates between Junius and Sir William Draper. But they are now back in fashion, and they can be very effective.
Until just a very short while ago, there was a recognised hierarchy of responses to discontent. If it was expressed in the established media—in a television documentary, say, or in a newspaper article—it had to be treated as serious, and its target had to make the best reply possible. It was discontent expressed in a public forum; and the debate was likely to be followed by a large number of people. If, on the other hand, it was expressed in a small-circulation magazine, or in a letter from an individual, it was less important. There were fewer people likely to be following any debate. Therefore, either a form letter could be sent out, or the original complaint could simply be ignored.
This was a safe way of dealing with discontent. Any disappointment or even outrage with the lack of response was unlikely to spread beyond at best a small circle of people. Efforts to bring the matter before a wider audience required time and money that few private individuals or small groups had. For the most part, these efforts could be expected to fail. In many cases, they would have taken forms that drowned the original message in the perception of crankiness. I am thinking here of those people who turn up outside Parliament waving placards and wearing silly hats, trying to get the media to pay attention to what might be serious concerns.
The Internet has made this hierarchy of responses obsolete. When a letter is addressed to a politician or business leader, it can be made an open letter by faxing it via the Internet. This is in itself cheaper than a fax machine, as the message takes less than a second to upload. It also allows the writer at no extra cost to send copies to the other individuals and to all the relevant newsgroups and distribution lists. From here, it can be copied to tens of thousands of people throughout this country and the English-speaking world. The letter will be placed on several Web Pages, and may be reproduced in hard copy magazines in half a dozen countries. More people may eventually read the letter than read the average editorial piece in a newspaper like The Independent.
This puts the recipient of the letter under pressure to make reply. As the reply will be published, it cannot be the usual emollient drivel that is kept specially on file for every complaint. If the reply is drivel, or it there is none at all, the first letter can be followed by a second and a third. Other people on the Internet may then join in, sending the original letter with a covering letter of their own. If the issue is thought important by enough people, faxroll after faxroll will be used up. By expressing it as an open letter via the Internet, a communication from a private person becomes the equivalent of a televised cross examination.
Fourth, be prepared for when the security services are turned loose on you. We live in a democracy so far as every election involves two or more candidates, and whoever does not come first fails to get the job. However, the corrupted selection process within the main parties means that only those candidates tied to the existing order of things are allowed to go before the electors. As said, there is neither money nor time for people to form new political parties. Again as said, the media can be trusted to ignore or misrepresent any threat to the main parties.
And where these means of control do not work, there is the machinery of a police state. Every individual who is politically active outside the approved bounds of debate is spied on from time to time. Post is intercepted. Telephone calls are recorded. Dustbins are gone through—and much interesting matter can be found thereby. Homes are burgled, and sometimes bugged as well. How any information gained will be used depends on circumstances. It may never be used at all. But it will be on file for whenever it may be required.
Every group of more than a dozen members is infiltrated. The spies will report on what is discussed and resolved. Sometimes, they will go beyond spying and actively try to destroy the movement. Splits may be fomented. Crimes may be urged and then carried out under full surveillance.
Anyone who doubts this may find it worth asking why no fascist or communist movement has ever made a breakthrough in this country. It has something to do with the English dislike of totalitarianism. It has a lot to do with the fact that none of these movements has managed to grow beyond a certain size without splitting or being brought down by a sudden scandal.
How these dirty tricks can be detected and evaded will be the subject of another Free Life Commentary. For the moment, it is enough to say that anyone unable to cope with the stress of being watched has no place in the patriotic movement.
There is much more to be said. But this is my advice for the moment. Stop dreaming of a mass movement when there is neither money nor organisational ability for one. Stop thinking about fighting our controlled but immensely sophisticated media with leaflets and letters of complaint—it is like trying to fight off a modern army with muskets and petrol bombs (that this has occasionally been done is no argument for doing it again when better weapons are available). Stop waiting for others to fall into line. Do your own thing now.
Do this, and some of us may one day live in a free and independent country again.
Note. Chris R. Tame, The Euro-Sceptical Directory, Occasional Paper No. 29, The Bruges Group, 162 Regent Street, London W1R, 1997, £9.95.