“Even if it is made of silk, a muzzle is still a muzzle”: the surrender of Protestant, monocultural Britain

Lady Britannia by Jonny Little and Beth Clough

The proverbial phrase quoted above comes from a speech made by the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban last year in his resistance to opening the borders to innumerable refugees and migrants from the Levant. This was not because he wanted to deprive those seeking a better life but because he knew the value of Christianity; its precepts and moral values that have underpinned societies of many European nations. He knew that pockets of self-segregating religious and culturally disparate communities would arise from forced and rapid migration. This would frustrate the laudable hopes of cultural integration enjoyed by many European nations for most of their modern history. Yet the sentiments he was expressing are deeply unpopular amongst European politicians and are consistently brushed aside with some kind of -ism, prompting the pithy retort of Orban.

It is regrettable that in our island home we do not share the same self-confidence in a monocultural, Protestant Britain. Instead, we bow to the cultural Marxist Newspeak of “Multiculturalism”, a flagellant term for the belief in all cultures and, hence, in none. According to this perspective, all culture is relative; no one set of values is inherently or quantifiably better than another set of values. Coming from a country that not too long ago enjoyed global predominance and maintained a peaceful plurality of cultures within a wider Christian framework, this borders on societal masochism.

What’s more, those politicians who you might expect to stand up for traditional values, do not. We have, at present, a Conservative Party that is not actually socially conservative, and hasn’t been for some time. It was once the case that the Unionist party represented Anglican Britain, and the Liberal party represented non-conformists. No longer do those dividing lines exist, only their faint shadows are impressed upon politics and society. Some people may rejoice in the exculpation of Christianity from public life, as I once did, and delighted upon. But having actually looked into our Protestant heritage, how our social fabric is fundamentally immersed in its precepts, I now rather resent the crushing secularism that threatens to obliterate the things I think worth preserving.

Who now has anything to say about the decline of the married family, the incredible rise in divorce rates and single-parent families? Which political party seeks to tackle the increasingly selfish, demanding and materialistic society? Does anyone care about the loss of a structured family life which taught moral values at home and instilled aspiring principles like acquiring knowledge for its own sake? The only complement I can give is to Theresa May’s policy of reforming the current state education system which, born from an oppressively-styled egalitarian dogma, denies opportunity for the poorest in our country to bypass the unselecting state education and excel in competitive grammar and technical schools.

What strikes me is the timidity of the Church of England in all of this – they never mounted a significant pushback against a dramatically changing society, but, instead, welcomed it as part of an internal modernising strategy to broaden it’s appeal. Whilst the welfare state encompasses many Christian beliefs like aiding the poor, it has unfortunately placed financial incentives for families to split and, yet, the Church seems to show unhesitating support.

The lack of confidence or acknowledgement by our politicians in this area of society is reflected in wider cultural issues. As public life is becoming more and more liberal, traditional British monoculture is increasingly elided and yet, at the same time, and in contrast to, Islam has become increasingly incorporated. Principled liberals have been against all religions, but many modern, trendy liberals seem to deride only Christianity and the society it has shaped; they’d rather turn towards a technicolour multi-culture which seeks to replace our unique Protestant monoculture with a globalised, swirling mass of incoherent, universal principles. This is one symptom of our loss of national confidence, highlighted by comparison with the emphatic defence of Hungarian society by Mr Orban.

I am not a Christian, nor am I religious, in fact I used to be a rather militant atheist, but the clamour of indifference towards our national religion warranted an investigation into its defence. Whilst I am not suggesting the irreligious of us start praying morning and night, we should recognise the considerable role Christianity has had in the sophistication of our culture and heritage. Not only that but it sets us apart from many other countries much less successful than ourselves who don’t have a millennia-old Christian tradition. And yet, for all this, it seems that the mainstream media and the political class have rejoiced in “multiculturalism” and expect a dutiful public to act like Pavlov’s dog every time we hear the awful word, interpreting it as some kind of prophetic new age of tolerance and benevolence. It is, unsurprisingly, no such utopia. More than that, it is a thinly veiled attack on traditional Britain and the desirable society it created, of which we are enjoying an ephemeral afterglow. This article is not calling for the expulsion of foreign cultures, it is crying out for the conservation of our own.

Sam Berry

3rd year History undergraduate

3 thoughts on ““Even if it is made of silk, a muzzle is still a muzzle”: the surrender of Protestant, monocultural Britain

  • 22nd December 2016 at 11:44 am
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    Exactly what period of British history are you thinking of when you talk about a ‘protestant monoculture’ and, in particular, exactly what do you mean when you say Britain ‘maintained a peaceful plurality of cultures within a wider Christian framework’? If you’re referring to the empire then I think there is a strong alternative view that British hegemony was not peaceful at all (although I have never studied i t so perhaps I am wrong). In terms of Britain itself during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (given your reference to ‘global predominance’ I’m assuming this is the period you are referring to), there was considerable conflict tension and conflict between the various protestant groupings and I’m not sure a ‘monoculture’ would best describe it.

    This also does not seem to take account of the various non-Protestant groups within Britian during that period. In particular, the Catholic Irish group did not exist within a harmonious plurality of cultures with a wider Christian framework (although perhaps, as they were not protestants, they do not count?).

    Finally, could you clarify your figures for your claims about the “incredible rise in divorce rates and single-parent families”? The statistics I could find suggest that divorce rates have fallen dramatically since 2004 and are currently lower than they have been at any time since 1975 (https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/divorce/bulletins/divorcesinenglandandwales/2013#divorce-rates). The number of single parent families does seem to have gone up but only by about 0.3% of all households since 1996 (although this is an increase of 400,000 actual households). These figures do not seem to tally with your claim.

    Perhaps if you were thinking over a longer period (say 100 years), both figures would be significantly higher now than at the beginning of that period. However, I’m not sure that going that far back would be helpful in suggesting why it is that ‘multiculturalism’ has caused the social changes you talk about. Perhaps ‘protestant monoculture’, to the extent it existed or exists, was and is dying due to other factors?

    • 23rd December 2016 at 2:07 pm
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      I’m using the ONS 40 year survey 1971-2011 which demonstrates significant lifestyle changes such as the rise in single-parent families from 8-22% https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/incomeandwealth/compendium/generallifestylesurvey/2013-03-07/40yearsofdatacollection

      A significant turning point in terms of culture was the 1960s, not just in the public but also legislation with the relaxation of divorce laws and criminal laws, over the following few decades, to name just a few.
      I’d recommend Peter Hitchens’ work “The Abolition of Britain”, he makes a nice comparison between public reaction at the funeral of Churchill and at the funeral of Diana Spencer. He also comprehensively explains the traditional British culture I am referring to and how it has been undermined. There are several videos available in which Peter discusses the book and debates his brother on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFmLImnO-fw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6401tLgOKXk You might find these a profitable explanation of ideas I flag in this article.

      I think you may have overlooked the difference between multi- and mono-culture. A monoculture isn’t an eclipse of all other cultures as you seem to define it, but a belief in the predominance of one, national culture. That is not to say the national culture doesn’t change over time, nor does it say there aren’t cultural streams running against the dominant culture as you rightly point out. The narrow definition of monoculture you are using of course doesn’t stand up to historical reality and wouldn’t fit, I suggest, any national history. Multi-culture, on the other hand, asserts culture is relative and, as I say in the piece, supposes “no one set of values is inherently or quantifiably better than another set of values.” The predominance of this view of culture is a significant shift and my article regrets this.

      I appreciate your engagement,

      Regards,

      Sam

      • 24th December 2016 at 10:32 am
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        Thank you for clarifying those figures and your argument. I’m still not sure I agree with you but that is certainly a more coherent view. I would still suggest that Irish groups in the nineteenth century (I stronlgy suspect there were other such groups but I have not studied them) formed a very separate group outside mainstream ‘protestant culture’ and yet they made very significant contributions to British culture in the long run and in particular to our civic traditions and politics. For this reason, I’m not convinced that a ‘protestant’ monoculture is necessarily a useful term.

        With regard to ‘monoculture’ and ‘multiculture’, there definitely has been a shift towards a more relativistic view of different cultures and there is, perhaps (although I don’t have any figures), a tendency to criticise and denigrate Christianity more than other religions. I’m not sure that you’ve convinced me that this is any more or less desirable than an attitude towards culture which requires conformity with indisputable basic tenets (although I can see how this would cause a practical problem with social cohesion). I am also not sure that a ‘protestant’ solution is the right one and would prefer to see a secular unifying national identity. Although, given Britian’s history, this may ultimately end up deriving a lot of its actual values from protestantism anyway.

        Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for those clarifications.

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