|New Century: New Dawn?||John Tyndall on our duty to the future|
In the last issue of Spearhead to be published in the 20th century, it is a good time to look back on that century and do a stocktaking of the benefits it has brought us and the losses we have incurred.
Though the century has witnessed unparalleled leaps forward in technical progress and material prosperity, the same can be said of most centuries preceding it. Man's knowledge of the physical world advances continually forwards, quite regardless of whether this is accompanied by any improvement in political institutions or human wisdom. But when it comes to the things that really matter to Britain, we believe that the 20th century has been one of almost unrelieved disaster.
When the century began, the British Flag flew over a quarter of the globe. Our fleets dominated the world's oceans. Our nation was a proud, strong, expanding nation, growing in population and resources, mighty in the sinews of industrial power, and respected, if not always loved, in every corner of this planet.
There were, admittedly, wrongs still to be righted. Large numbers of British people lived in conditions of the direst poverty. Our manufacturers were some way towards losing their once pre-eminent place in the world for efficiency and productivity. The war raging in South Africa had exposed glaring shortcomings in our military leadership and organisation.
But these problems were well within our capacity to solve, given the consensus of awareness of them that then existed, the vast resources of an empire able to provide abundance for all and, not least, a skilled, sturdy, moral and unified race of people, firm in the instinct of where its interests lay, and with leaders who, while in no case inspired, at least were moved by the basics of duty and patriotism.
For Britain then, the 20th century at its dawn was almost infinite in its possibilities - given only reasonably sound direction of public affairs by politicians dedicated to the nation's good.
Our condition today
Yet 100 years later, we stand at the threshold of a new century as a weak, servile, demoralised and tragically fragmented nation, reduced to the territory of an offshore island which itself may not survive as a single national entity for very much longer. Once the managers and operatives of the Workshop of the World, our people now drive the highways in foreign motor cars, fly in foreign aeroplanes, travel the oceans in ships made in foreign yards, and work in offices or factories that are foreign-owned and equipped with foreign machinery. In the land where television was invented, they now obtain their evening entertainment from foreign sets.
This once formidable world power now pleads on its knees to the French to buy its beef exports, while its leaders sip afternoon tea with the murderers of British soldiers, police and civilians. After two terrible wars to defend its freedom and identity, its parliament conspires to turn itself into a glorified provincial council, while legislating to criminalise those who dare to say: "Britain for the British."
This nation, which formerly produced as great an aggregate of brainpower as any on earth, now releases millions of its young from the schools abysmally ignorant of their history, of their culture, of the world around them, of even the most basic skills of literacy and numeracy - their mental horizons seemingly capable only of embracing knowledge of who (and what) is 'Top of the Pops'.
This legacy apart, the 20th century has produced an embarrassing dearth of great art, memorable music and uplifting literature. If anything symbolises it perfectly, it is the revolting Millennium Dome, its exterior a monument to vulgarity and its interior littered with products of trivia and political correctness; a vast folly testifying to governmental profligacy and the stoical tolerance of the taxpayer; even the building of it was apparently beyond the capacity of our own construction engineers in post-industrial Britain.
Our duty to the future
As we enter a new century, our duty is clear. We must reject virtually everything the old century has stood for, and make the future century fundamentally different. Just as the 20th century was the century of British decline, so must the 21st century become the century of British rebirth.
It should hardly need saying that this must involve drastic political change: a change of direction in a number of major areas of policy. These must include Foreign Affairs, in particular Europe; the Economy; Law and Order; Race and Immigration; Overseas Aid; Education; Social Welfare; and Defence, just to mention the most important.
But it must involve more than just these things. It must involve a renaissance of the British spirit: a recovery of will in British leadership and of pride and self-respect in the British people. Our national institutions must, where necessary, be overhauled and transformed so that they become harnessed to these aims.
Can all this be done? Our duty to the future demands that it must.