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From: Church & State: Editorials
Date: October, 2020
By: Editorial

Thoughts For The Times (1). Editorial

What is the Culture of Western Civilisation?

In the most general form of culture, the one which is independent of the babel of national languages, music, it is German.

In the most specific form of culture, the governing of states, it is the political culture of British Capitalism.

British political power spread throughout the world. It conquered the world and imposed on it the dogma that the way Britain was governed was the only way that was in accordance with the essence of human nature, and was therefore the only right way. But most countries which, made uncertain of themselves by the destructive power of Britain, tried to remake themselves politically on the lines of the British system failed to do it successfully, and were obstructed in their attempts by Britain.

An essential condition of the development of the British political system in Britain was absolute sovereignty, maintained by the aggressive use of military/naval power against others. That made the British example difficult to emulate.

The Emperor Julian, the nephew of Constantine, who made Christianity the State religion of Rome and gave it the form in which it became part of the life of a great part of the world, is known as Julian the Apostate because he tried to undo what his uncle had done. He re­opened the Pagan temples, restored the Greek Goddesses and Gods under their Latin names, and demanded of the Stoic philosophers that they should impose some life into their philosophy, so that it could compete with Christianity. But it came to nothing.

While waiting for the opportunity to become Emperor, Julian governed Gaul and expanded the Roman province up to the banks of the Rhine. He heard the Germans across the Rhine singing songs that they had made up. He did not think much of them. We know nothing of the Roman songs he compared them with. Rome was military conquest and State administration.

The Romans failed to conquer the Germans—thus causing the First World War, according to the British propaganda of 1914. If the Emperor Augustus had won the Battle of Teutoberg Forest in the year 9, the Germans would have been Latinised and it would have been unnecessary for Britain to make war on them in 1914.

So the Germans kept on being German, living their lives outside the Empire, and making up songs. And it was Rome, whose march of Progress had been stopped, that fell apart. They kept on speaking German east of the Rhine, while some of them spread out into the fragmenting Empire and took part in the forming of new nations, and new states and new languages: French, Spanish, Italian. Those who remained east of the Rhine did not burden themselves with a State.

In the early 15th century, Poggio Bracciolini, Secretary

to a Pope, attended the contentious Council of Constance in southern Germany. There were a couple of rival Popes at the time, and the Council tried to take advantage of the situation to assert itself as the supreme authority. Bracciolini had to spend a long time in Germany. He looked around him and he sent a letter to an acquaintance back in Italy describing what he saw. He was particularly struck by the easiness of relations between the sexes:

“the name of jealousy, that plague, which is elsewhere productive of so much misery, is here unknown. How unlike the manners of these peoples is to ours, who always see things on the dark side… I envy the apathy of these Germans, and I execrate our perversity, who are always wishing for what we have not… But these people, content with little, enjoy their day of life in mirth and movement… Thus they are rich by the mere disposition of their minds. Their motto is, live while you live”.

Othello could not have been set in Germany. And the outstanding work of German opera could not have been set anywhere but in Germany. Its subject is about a wild, romantic aristocrat being brought within the sphere of bourgeois life, and contributing something to it in the process. It was produced before the German nation­state was formed, and the civilised world of the bourgeois towns continued to exist after the state was formed. That opera was The Master-singers Of Nuremberg.

It was around that time that Britain began to think of itself as the Roman Empire re­born. And it took up the task in which the Emperor Augustus had been defeated—the breaking of the Germans. Augustus lost his Legions in the Teutoberg Forest and after that Rome let the Germans be. Britain announced in 1914 that German singularity was a menace to the uniformity which it was imposing on the world as a good thing, and that it would take revenge on the Germans on behalf of Augustus, and there would be peace in the world.

Another attempt was made to finish them off in 1939. They are still there, in many respects being German in the old­fashioned way. But they are in a sense without national statehood in a Europe arranged in nation­states but which, in its attempt to form a Union, depends on German industry.

Nondescript cosmopolitan Globalism is failing. There is everywhere a reversion to what, from the cosmopolitan viewpoint is seen as primitive “fundamentalism”. So be it.

That means that the characteristics of peoples are becoming evident again, and that civilisation is not some general formula that can be injected into human material anywhere. There are civilisations, not civilisation. It is in large part an attribute of peoples. And the Germans are evidently the European people.

The only other form of European civilisation that has had continuous existence over many centuries is the Roman form preserved by the Roman Church. It combined with the Germans, in the shambles that Britain made of Europe by its second war on Germany, to launch the attempt to establish a European political union in defiance of Britain. President Mary McAleese, who made a career out of it thirty years ago, is now engaged in an attempt to demolish it, replace it with a dogmatically egoistic liberal sentimentality of the fashion of the moment, and complete the work of the Penal Laws. The same thing is being attempted by influential elements within the EU.