Making the rounds is a video of balaclava-clad thugs attacking a hunt in Sussex. The saboteurs grabbed the horses’ reins, trying to dismount the riders.
This was a serious matter because on many occasions saboteurs have beaten hunters up and injured them badly. For example, Mike Lane, joint master of the Tedworth Hunt, ended up in hospital with concussion and broken teeth.
One of the Sussex hunters, a courageous woman, lashed out with her riding crop, striking an attacker and, unfortunately, causing only superficial damage. She was shouting: “Get off my horse!” and “This is private land!”
I do wish hunters were allowed to defend themselves with something heavier than crops. They need real weapons in defence of our civilisation.
Commenting on the incident, a spokesman for the Countryside Alliance said: “The reality is that the anti-hunting movement is far more about the hatred of people who hunt than the love of animals.”
The statement is correct, but it doesn’t go far enough. The spokesman was alluding to class hatred, which is the most obvious motive driving the thugs, who share their sartorial tastes with bank robbers.
Disgusting though this is, the issue is really deeper than that. The thugs don’t just hate ‘toffs’ – they loathe, and seek to destroy, our whole civilisation.
This they wouldn’t admit, of course, although they aren’t always bashful about expressing their feelings for the ‘toffs’. Instead they’ll claim burning compassion for those poor furry animals torn apart by beagles.
“How would you like that to happen to you?” one of those cretins once asked me. I wouldn’t. Which is why I don’t steal chickens and devour them raw.
Hunting was banned, with some qualifications, by Blair’s government in 2004, which wasn’t the most subversive thing that awful gang did, but right up there. John Prescott, Blair’s loutish deputy, openly professed hatred for “the red coats”, correctly perceiving them as his superiors in every sense.
The face value of the anti-hunting argument doesn’t hold water at any level. Many people who hunt aren’t toffs at all, just people who like country sports. And thousands of those who served the hunts and lost their livelihoods as a result of the ban came from the same class as Prescott.
Since the ban, the fox population has exploded, with catastrophic effects for poultry farmers. And the vulpine population has spilled into cities as well, with the vermin rummaging in rubbish skips even in central London.
But in such matters, it’s not the text but the subtext that matters. And the subtext is the rejection of the founding presupposition of our civilisation: the uniqueness of and supremacy of man over all other living creatures.
Before Christ, Plato defined man as a two-legged animal without feathers; after Christ, Darwin explained that man was but a cleverer ape. Like two jaws of a vice, the two extremes have squeezed the life out of history’s greatest civilisation caught in between.
That civilisation rose to celestial heights because it proceeded from the assumption that man was created by God in His image, endowed with an eternal soul and destined for salvation and immortality. Any similarities with other animals were thereby reduced to the level of petty atavisms of academic interest only.
It was also understood that not everybody has the mental faculties to answer what Dostoevsky called “the accursed questions” for himself. People were encouraged to accept the authority of their intellectual and moral superiors and not bother themselves with matters beyond their understanding.
One of those matters was the relationship between man and other living creatures. In the unlikely event any parishioner had questioned the morality of eating meat or hunting, the priest would have referred him to two verses in Genesis.
In one, man was told he would “…have dominion over the fish in the sea, and over the fowl on the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” In the other, it logically followed that “every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.”
But priests no longer have intellectual and moral authority – no one does. Modern people have been misled to believe they can be self-sufficient, that their puny, underdeveloped resources are adequate to answer every question for themselves.
When that calamity became final, in the nineteenth century, man came down from his uniquely high perch and descended to the level of all fauna. The newfangled concept of equality of all extended to equality between man and beast.
For the first time in Western history nature became sentimentalised and glorified. This wasn’t even old-fashioned pantheism – it was non-theism, the first time ever that phenomenon appeared en masse.
This was strictly the domain of urban lumpen-intelligentsia: peasants never felt sentimental about nature – and certainly not about vermin like foxes.
Nature kept peasants alive, but it could also kill them: with hurricanes, freezes, droughts, floods. Their crops could be devastated by blights, their livestock and poultry by wild animals. Nature was sometimes a friend and sometimes an enemy, but the difference was clear-cut, leaving no room for sentimentality.
The clash between actual and virtual reality in the treatment of nature was but one battle in the massive onslaught on our civilisation, but it can be properly understood only in that context.
The war is still being waged by direct action, such as attacks on furriers, women in mink coats and hunters, or by passive affirmation, such as encouragement of vegetarianism among the young. They don’t wonder why there are no veggies among farmers and peasants – instead they claim a high moral ground for their hysterical sentimentality.
Hunt saboteurs are today’s shock troops of the enemy; hunters, one of the few remaining lines of defence. I wish I could join them, but regretfully I can’t ride to hounds. But if my passive support is useful, they have it.