The ghost of Powell still haunts

It was in 1968 that Enoch Powell (d. 1998) made his ‘rivers of blood’ speech, in which these much quoted words actually don’t appear.

Liz Truss, as seen by The New York Times

That was the time when Britain’s doors were being flung wide open to Commonwealth immigration, which predictably streamed in. Various ethnic groups tended to concentrate in specific areas, making them unrecognisable visually, depressed economically and distressed culturally.

Powell’s own Wolverhampton constituency was among the worst hit, and the locals were desperate. Many were complaining that England no longer looked like England. Some of his constituents told Powell that the dearest dream of their lives was now to make sure their children moved abroad.

Enoch Powell was among the brightest, best-educated and most honest British politicians during my lifetime. He knew that the social fabric of British society was being torn to tatters, and the holes thus formed couldn’t be darned. They would continue to widen, with potentially awful if unpredictable consequences.

“As I look ahead,” Powell said, “I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood’.”

The key word there was ‘foreboding’, not ‘blood’. As an educated man, Powell expressed his fears with a reference to classical sources, in this case Virgil’s Aeneid.

But ‘blood’ was the only word his detractors heard, especially since America was in the midst of race riots at the time. In fact, Powell himself encouraged that parallel, by talking in the same speech about “that tragic and intractable phenomenon which we watch with horror on the other side of the Atlantic but which there is interwoven with the history and existence of the States itself, is coming upon us here by our own volition and our own neglect.”

Powell has been proved right: we’ve had our share of race riots since then, although not on the scale customary in the US. He did use some rhetorical hyperbole in his speech, but he could doubtless trace that highly productive oratorial technique back to Demosthenes and Cicero.

Yet the core of Powell’s argument was unimpeachable: Britain was of her own accord creating a destructive racial problem where none existed. Unlike America, Britain had no history of multiracialism and no knowledge of how to cope with it. Yet even in America such experience didn’t come close to releasing the tensions.

The speech exploded on the political establishment, and the shock waves are still with us today. Predictably, the floodgates of Leftie indignation were opened, and Powell was engulfed in effluvia, which are still coming in a mighty stream 55 years later.

Sir Trevor Phillips, former head of the Commission for Racial Equality, commented on that idiocy a few years ago, secure in the knowledge that he could never be accused of either white supremacism or staunch conservatism.

“Rome may not yet be in flames, but I think I can smell the smouldering whilst we hum to the music of liberal self-delusion… Everyone in British public life learnt the lesson: adopt any strategy possible to avoid saying anything about race, ethnicity… that is not anodyne and platitudinous.”

The anodyne and platitudinous Tory leader at the time, Edward Heath, was aghast. He instantly fired Powell from his post of Shadow Defence Secretary. Yet 30 years later, having slid all the way down the greasy pole of politics, Heath admitted that “Powell’s remarks were not without prescience.” (“Enoch was right”, as translated from the political.)

His successor, Margaret Thatcher, made a similar admission close to the end of her political career: “Powell made a valid argument, if in sometimes regrettable terms.”

However, according to The New York Times, both the argument and the terms in which it was expressed betokened nothing but Britain’s innate racism and nostalgia for her imperial past. These are just two of the many reasons to loathe that despicable country.

To vent such sentiments this time around, the paper enlisted the services of another British academic with Third World leanings, Kojo Koram, law lecturer at Birkbeck College, London.

Dr Koram materialised the spirit of Enoch Powell and turned it into a cudgel with which to bust Liz Truss’s head. Not only is she a traitor to the socialist cause she espoused earlier in life, but she has also inherited a full raft of Powell’s policies: “preferential terms of global trade achieved through hardline anti-migrant policies, shrinking the state, undermining organised labour.”

One can infer that the ideal Dr Koram (and evidently The New York Times) sees in his mind’s eye is a Britain reduced to Third World squalor by unlimited immigration, ever-burgeoning central state and unchecked trade union blackmail.

Yet he doesn’t say that in so many words. One can understand his problem: a Leftie ideologue finds it easier to define what he hates than what he loves. On second thoughts, scratch the word ‘Leftie’: any ideology is clearer on its pet hatreds than on any positive ideas.

That is the fundamental difference between an ideology, whichever end of the political spectrum it occupies, and conservatism. A conservative is seldom apolitical but, unlike an ideologue, he isn’t defined by politics.

His view of the world is formed by serene love of the transcendent and the eternal, not agued passion for the transient and trivial. By contrast, an ideologue is strictly a political animal, which typically means a feral one.

Show me an ideology, and I’ll show you “the Tiber foaming with much blood” – literally and not, as Powell meant it, figuratively. Ever since the world turned ideological, the violent death count has been soaring exponentially – and the end is nowhere in sight.

The depth of the NYT’s hatred of Britain is odd. One would think the paper would be happy to see its own ideology thrive on these shores, only ever lagging behind America by a few, and ever-fewer, years.

In any case, I can put its fears, as expressed by Dr Koram, to rest. Liz Truss is no Maggie Thatcher, after whom she tries to model herself, and she is certainly no Enoch Powell.

She way well gnaw at the edges of our dominant ‘liberal’ (illiberal, as translated into English) ideology, although even that is in doubt. But she is unlikely to make any encroachments on its core. That will continue to rot, with the putrid stench tickling the nostrils of Dr Koram – and The New York Times.

5 thoughts on “The ghost of Powell still haunts”

  1. “Enoch Powell was among the brightest, best-educated and most honest British politicians during my lifetime.”

    He was a true patriot too. Went from the rank of corporal to Brigadier in the army during WW2.

  2. Many American leftists desperately wish to be European, sometimes that desire turns to hatred.

    The trouble of course is that there is no viable candidate to replace the USA as the global leader. Most chaps who venerate Enoch Powell would very much like to see the abolition of the USA’s superpower status. Whilst such a scenario would be thoroughly entertaining, I can’t see it improving the world on the main. Mr Powell’s fate vividly illustrates the political impotence of the silent majority. Had tens of thousands of indigenous Britons flooded the streets in violent protest to his sacking, Britain today would like very different. But being primarily a nation of shop-keepers, they did not, so here we are.

    However, it would seem that being a mono-racial/mono-cultural state has its own drawbacks. Japan, endlessly fascinating though she is, is testament to this.

  3. Limits on immigration make sense, but we live in a nonsensical and irrational time. For years, people flooded our shores in order to enjoy our freedoms and make a better life for themselves and, especially, their children. They wanted to become Americans. Even then limits helped to reduce the numbers that were looking for work and housing. With government sponsored limitations on both, what would we do with millions of new citizens each year?

    But now these immigrants come to take liberties with our freedoms. They no longer want to become Americans, they want to bring the worst of their country and root it in ours. No thank you. Hard-working, family-loving, God-fearing (the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) immigrants are always welcome. Those hostile to our culture are not. But then, the people in positions of power are hostile to our culture.

  4. ‘Any ideology is clearer on its pet hatreds than on any positive ideas.’
    Sir, your own hatred of modernity, thoroughly justifiable I may add, has produced some quite brilliant writings on your part. So perhaps that’s a positive.

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