|The Culture that's being Murdered||Ian Buckley compares the promotion of ethnic minority culture with the destruction of our own heritage|
CULTURE is unfashionable today. It is seen by many as smacking of the elitism in universities denounced by Gordon Brown, backed up by the likes of John "Two Jags" Prescott, who just don't realise that producing an elite is the proper purpose of a university. But any reasonable person might think that any college that manages to keep out idiots like Prescott is doing a good job!
The fatal combination of stupidity and penny-pinching that characterises the New Labour/Old Tory approach to culture is exemplified in the sorry saga of the British Library. Irreplaceable old books and manuscripts are rotting away because there is no money to care for them - following a £400 million overspend on the modernistic concrete egg-box that is the new British Library.
Naturally, this casual and callous attitude to our national heritage is nothing new in Britain. The Germans meticulously rebuilt the birthplace of their national poet Goethe following its destruction during the Allied bombing of Frankfurt in World War II. By contrast, the British demolished the excellently preserved birthplace of mystic poet and painter William Blake - to replace it with yet another unnecessary and anonymous cubic block. One wonders, when considering the respective performances of the two countries during the past fifty years, if there isn't something deeply symbolic about this difference in attitudes and behaviour. A nation with no respect for itself, or for its inheritance and traditions, will inevitably fall by the wayside. National consciousness and national heritage - and the national will to succeed - are closely entwined.
Probably the greatest cultural monuments left to this country by the ages are the forty ancient English and Welsh cathedrals. But these are in various states of repair, and hundreds of millions of pounds are going to be needed to secure their futures. Ancient buildings are too important to be left in the hands of sometimes foolish clergymen, many of whom have begun to resemble slick estate agents as they seek to sell off "excess stock." According to the Rev. Kieran Conroy of the Catholic Media Office:-
All the church disposals we've made in recent years have been because of population shifts, and in particular the move away from city centres. We have former cathedrals in Liverpool, Middlesborough and Clifton which are now being disposed of, despite a growth in the number of dioceses we have overall.
Incidentally, the former Roman Catholic cathedral in Middlesborough, with its smashed-in stained glass, is right in the middle of the old town centre, an area that is at present almost totally derelict. New Labour, New Hope, New Prosperity!
Disregard for British culture
The Lottery Commission seems to take a malicious delight in completely disregarding British culture. Numerous pensioners near the breadline buy lottery tickets for a bit of false hope, only to see their money go to some fashionable PC cause. £12 million has already been spent from the lottery stakes of the desperately poor to fund a "Holocaust" exhibition within the Imperial War Museum. While atrocities may well have been committed by the Germans in the last war - just as they were to varying degrees by every major belligerent in that war no effort is made here to disentangle fact from propaganda. How much is proven or even probable, and how much is schlock horror - a mixture of the creations of Soviet propagandist Ilya Ehreburg and Madame Tussauds? And when will the Imperial War Museum give proper commemoration to the Armenian Holocaust, the present ongoing Iraqi Holocaust or even - dare we say it? - the terrorist bombing of the King David Hotel?
But these diktats of political correctness only control the thoughts of most people because we have lost our national unity and ancient native culture. The cultural rot perhaps began as a result of too rapid industrialisation, in the days when money first became an object of manipulation instead of just a means of exchange. Authoress Flora Thompson saw the first signs of the coming crisis in the rural Oxfordshire of the 1880s:-
The folk heritage may have lingered a little longer in the Celtic parts of the British Isles, but there too it is now unfortunately fast losing ground.
With industrialisation, the stage was set for mass standardisation and, as a direct consequence, the marginalisation and mockery of every native British art form. To take just one example out of many, our fine folk music tradition today receives no radio air-time and is generally derided as a musical genre only performed and enjoyed by bearded fat men in chunky Arran sweaters. Nothing is sacred any longer, and a Wordsworth manuscript or Elgar score may vanish into the capacious maw of some American academic institution amid public indifference.
Elements of decline
The relentless degradation and decline of Britain is by no means just a matter of simple economics. In the final analysis, the crumbling of our cultural and spiritual underpinnings has been even more devastating and deadly. Material poverty - of which there is plenty in this country - is bad enough. But spiritual poverty - the destruction of beauty, lack of hope and miseducation are far worse. During the past year or so, over a hundred young men - including the son of a Labour Government minister - have died from drug overdoses in Glasgow alone.
One could view the fate of these people in economic terms and see them as weak characters, swept away on the ebb-tide of the financial racket which has destroyed the shipyards where they might have found work, comradeship and a sense of purpose. But maybe it's more realistic to say that these unfortunates have been fed lies, emptiness and materialism since their earliest years and have simply been unable to resist any longer. The real horror of global capitalism is the spiritual bondage it imposes and its consequent debasement of all human values. In the fine words of Oliver Goldsmith, one of many neglected literary greats, and a poet almost unknown to the victims of our modern educational system:-
And trembling from the spoiler's hand,
Lines as true today as they were over two hundred years ago.