Andrew Sullivan writes:
In 1971, the proportion of Londoners who were “White British” was 86.2 percent. Fifty years later, it’s 36.8 percent. That’s not a population change; it’s an entire paradigm shift.
Some of the friends I saw last week love this. “I cannot tell you how happy it makes me,” one told me, “that I can go around London and never hear English spoken!” And there are times I see her point: London is far more dynamic, diverse, and prosperous than it was in my childhood. I love much of it too — I’d much rather live in the London of 2021 than 1971 — and feel pride in my native land’s capacity to be so inclusive. But this is little short of a cultural revolution in a tiny, already densely packed island, which knew minimal immigration for centuries until the 1950s and 1960s.
Philip Larkin wrote a poem in 1972, “Going, Going,” about the pace of change in his native land:
It seems, just now,
To be happening so very fast;
Despite all the land left free
For the first time I feel somehow
That it isn’t going to last
He was talking about putting economic and population growth before cultural and environmental stability, and not specifically about demographic change (though his views on the latter were similar, if not downright reactionary).
And that will be England gone,
The shadows, the meadows, the lanes,
The guildhalls, the carved choirs.
But the change he lamented was utterly trivial compared with what is happening now, let alone what is now baked in for the next few decades. The phrase “great replacement” is rightly abhorred for its racist, anti-Semitic inspirations. Larkin eschewed any idea of a conspiracy of some kind:
Most things are never meant.
This won’t be, most likely;
But an accidental revolution is still a revolution. And I would just ask those who rightly denigrate the term “great replacement” to provide an alternative phrase to describe a city which was 87 percent “White British” a half-century ago and 36 percent today? It’s the kind of demographic change only previously seen in other parts of the world in times of plague, invasion, or campaigns of ethnic cleansing.
And then I think of George Orwell’s passionate defense of Englishness, his fusion of that patriotism with socialism, his detestation of the kind of left elites who now foment not just demographic but cultural revolution out of hatred of the past, performative virtue-signaling and thinly veiled contempt for so many of their stodgier countrymen. I think of his conviction that “it needs some very great disaster, such as prolonged subjugation by a foreign enemy, to destroy a national culture.”
Orwell backed huge structural changes in British society in 1941 and yet insisted that a nation could retain its cultural integrity:
The Stock Exchange will be pulled down, the horse plough will give way to the tractor, the country houses will be turned into children’s holiday camps, the Eton and Harrow match will be forgotten, but England will still be England, an everlasting animal stretching into the future and the past, and, like all living things, having the power to change out of recognition and yet remain the same.
I hover between these two visions of pessimism and optimism as I watch the English-speaking world transform.
Let me offer a quotation of my own.
“Practically, What have you to recommend? I answer at once, Nothing. The whole current of thought and feeling, the whole stream of human affairs, is setting with irresistible force in that direction. The old ways of living… are breaking down all over Europe, and are floating this way and that like haycocks in a flood. Nor do I see why any wise man should expend much thought or trouble on trying to save their wrecks. The waters are out and no human force can turn them back, but I do not see why as we go with the stream we need sing Hallelujah to the river god.”
–James FitzJames Drephen, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” 1874.
Andrew says that he hovers between pessimism and optimism, but that’s complete malarkey.
When today’s Trans-Atlantic Community of Fashion runs off the tracks, effects another atrocity, delivers “un autre jolie cadeau de la Révolution française,” you will always find Andrew in the front row of the media choir warbling Hallelujahs to the river god.
Andrew was once, long ago, professionally conservative, but he had another, deeper affiliation, and between Conservatism and Sodomy there was ultimately no contest. Going over to the other side was de rigeur for affiliates of Andrew’s subculture, and Andrew will never ever be found dying in defense of any hill assailed by what Curtiss Yarvon likes to call “the Cathedral.”
Andrew is glib. Andrew is clever. But Andrew is not tough.
It is enormously ironic that even timid little Andrew, with his fondness for performing ceremonial nods in the direction of his long-discarded conservatism was unfortunate enough to provoke the Woke Inquisition which brutally liquidated him from New York Magazine despite his in-the-end invariably reliable Gleichshaltung.
It just goes to show that the Revolution/”the river god” is a jealous and unkind deity.