By Ewen Stewart – 4 minute read
AS WE FACE challenges that I should have thought beyond comprehension just a few years ago, with a deliberately increasingly totalitarian and morally bankrupt State crushing liberties that for centuries we have been privileged to enjoy, in this formerly blessed land, how should we this Christmas respond?
As I write this I am listening, at almost full blast, to Joseph Haydn Missa in Angustiis in all its glory. A triumph of everything that is great about our civilisation. Western civilisation.
Haydn was the court composer, for over thirty years to the Esterhazy family, who perhaps were only second to the Hapsburg’s in all Austro-Hungary. The Missa in Angustiis, arguably the greatest of all the 104 symphonies, 18 masses and numerous other works he composed was completed in 1798, towards the end of his life. It too was written at a time of great tumult. All looked lost.
The Hapsburgs were in trouble for Napoleon and his marauding French army had defeated the Austro-Hungarian Empire four times in the field of battle, during 1797 threatening the very gates of Vienna.
His majestic work, simply translated, is a liturgical piece for ‘troubled times.’ He wrote it as an appeal to the All Mighty for national salvation for his world looked like it was collapsing. Times were so hard his patron had dismissed the wind section of his orchestra leaving simply the strings while relying on some hired hands for brass. Thankfully Haydn was not fired. However, by the first public performance of the work, 15th September 1798, there had been a miracle.
Just a few days before Admiral Horatio Nelson and the British fleet, had struck a stunning blow to Napoleon’s ambitions at the Battle of the Nile, and Haydn’s world was safe. The barbarians, in the shape of Napoleon, were halted for now. In celebration, Lord Nelson, with Lady Hamilton of course, were invited to Esterhazy and heard the work conducted by Haydn himself! The Nelson Mass, as it is now sometimes called, was born. From misery to triumph.
It is easy to despair. Western civilisation is in dire straits. That is clear. In many respects the challenge is overwhelming given the role technology, state power, increasing news flow selection and downright Orwellian disinformation is conducted by those who have abused their position of trust.
The reach and ambition of the state to dominate the individual is quite extraordinary. The power to ensure conformity over vast areas of the private sphere is eye watering. Every aspect of the tolerant, concordat, intelligent and coherent civilisation is under deliberate attack and from within.
Morality is turned on its head, the nuclear family mocked, historical record traduced, economics is of the printing press and they act like God thinking they can direct the mighty climate so omnipotent and controlling they believe themselves to be. What a joke, but they have no clothes. They are largely incompetent, useless and wasteful at almost all they do.
Four legs good, two legs bad. How mad are they? So what should readers of this site do? Should we wail in despondency and be carted to Bedlam, or should we retreat like hermits to the Outer Hebrides?
No, we should celebrate this Christmas what we know to be true. We should concentrate on what is in our control and not what is not. We should with vigour celebrate truth unapologetically, confidently with the likeminded and mock the barbarians who are unpicking all that has made our civilisation a positive beacon in a largely dark and unenlightened world.
Copy the playbook of the great Czech dissident and ultimately first free Prime Minister, Vaclav Havel. Create parallel universes, be with like-minded people, and build on that support where one can simply ignore the latest decree of command from the apparatus. Laugh at them with humour, gently point out their absurdities.
Only the most gullible believe their banalities anyway, most prefer to keep their heads down, trying to earn a crust. Their culture war is shallow – total in reach it may be but no one sensible believes any of their nonsense and it is only enforced through fear, not love nor belief.
We have been a great civilisation and frankly we deserve to die if we roll over so easily to this largest insane onslaught. The world is barbarous. Almost all that is good from theology to philosophy, from medicine to science, from art to music to historical record, from the invention of sport to technology – was written by the minds of our wondrous civilisation. If that is lost all is lost and we face a new Dark Age. But it will not, God willing, be thus. It is our duty to ensure sanity prevails and ultimately it will.
There is an awakening in this country and perhaps more strongly in other parts of Europe (I think France, Sweden, Netherlands and Italy as well as large sections of Central and Eastern Europe such as Poland and Hungary) who reject the disastrous and illiberal direction we are heading.
Our leaders’ world is dystopian and doomed to fail. Ours is full of hope; it’s about family, community, loyalty, faith, beauty and building on the gift of the great western civilisation that we have given the world. It understands our fallibility and accepts that and eschews grandiose utopian theories that inevitably lead to despair.
Whether Haydn’s your thing, or Led Zeppelin, pump up the volume this Christmas and let’s celebrate all that is true and good with family and friends. We have been here before, our civilisation periodically loses confidence, but ultimately the truth will out.
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Ewen Stewart is a City Economist whose career has spanned over 30 years. He is Director of Global Britain and his work is widely published in economics and political journals.