Today, I have found myself once again leafing through The Abolition of Britain by Peter Hitchens, a 1999 book (rewritten in 2008) which laments the decline of a nation, mostly at the hands of social revolutionaries but also as a result of rampant consumerism.
The only reason for this post is to tell whatever readers I have that this book is a masterpiece, and they should definitely buy it and read it. Each time I've read it I've been impressed by its depth of thought, its breadth of vision, its almost magisterial authoritativeness. I loaned it to a friend (an Englishman), who is now looking to buy a copy for a friend of his own. (Apparently it is out of print at the moment, but in this age of the internet a second-hand copy should be readily obtainable.)
Peter Hitchens was a Trotskist who, through his experiences as an industrial relations and foreign correspondent-- as well as becoming a father-- eventually became an Anglican and a traditionalist conservative. (Not a Thatcherite or a libertarian-- he decries the lifting of the Lady Chatterley ban, devotes a chapter to attacking television, and is a partisan of the railways as against the car. In fact, Hitchens is notable as being pretty much one of only two eminent traditionalist conservatives on this side of the Atlantic-- Roger Scruton is the other. Today, the ideological divide is pretty much between liberals of the right and liberals of the left.)
I am an Irish patriot-- but I have a tenderness for England, perhaps for my own mythical idea of Englishness (but then, myths have their own reality), that probably runs even deeper than my Irish patriotism. For all the strife between our nations, I do not believe that any Irish patriot can look without distress at our sister island's near-complete bulldozing of its traditions and history. Whenever I have visited England, it seemed to me like one vast necropolis-- the people were nice, sure enough, but they seemed to be living in the still-standing ruins of a vanished civilisation. The Abolition of Britain describes how that civilisation vanished.
Of course, we are well en route to doing the same thing with our own country...
In a plaintive conclusion to a recent post on his blog, Hitchens wrote: "I do not know how much longer I shall be allowed to express my opinions on major public platforms. The Brave New World grows closer, and the world a little darker, each day."
So there you go-- buy and read The Abolition of Britain before it becomes illegal to do so.