By Alfonz Cavalier
Even the most milquetoast of normies has started to notice. Every institution in western public life, from the corridors of political power itself to the greengrocer on the corner who just wants to be left alone, has started to repeat the same slogans. Every advert has a minimal quota of coffee-coloured consumers and vibrant young women with frizzy hair, and that quota seems to grow by the quarter. When cricket teams in England and football teams in Glasgow are starting to affirm their solidarity with Ruth Bader Ginsburg – half a world away – it becomes harder than ever to deny that something is afoot.
My country, Britain, used to be the best in the world at forming voluntary associations. Edmund Burke and Roger Scruton both regarded these so-called ‘little platoons’ as the backbone of a prosperous and self-governing society – and they were largely right. A society that organises itself, spontaneously, into solid civic associations is very hard to conquer or tyrannize. Prosperity and order underwrite organisations like the Boy Scouts, the Woman’s Institute, the St. John’s Ambulance service and the Rotary club, but they, in turn, reinforce this in a virtuous cycle of enfranchisement and mutual assistance. Crucially, there is little or no need for either state support or explicit ideological content for such organisations to exist – they merely are, as essential to the fabric of a successful nation as its forests, its grazing pastures or its water cycle.
Britain’s National Trust has been a shining example of this sort of organisation. Despite some royal and upper-class patronage, it is not an official organisation, but rather a sort of club. Members pay an annual fee, which is then used for the upkeep of thousands of parks, museums, stately homes and nature reserves across the United Kingdom. In exchange, they get special access to these places to enjoy their weekends and holidays in with their family, displaying the Trust’s reassuringly sturdy logo – an acorn on an oak branch – on bumper stickers on their cars. You see these across rural and suburban England: a badge of honour, denoting membership of an upstanding and implicitly traditionalist society. The more faded and discoloured the sticker, the longer a family’s service in this quiet commitment to preserving Britain’s heritage.
While in other European countries, care for pre-modern heritage sites rests largely with central government, in England it is managed by this little platoon. This is vitally important, as it places the stewardship of both natural and man-made sites important to Britain’s history and identity above politics, in the hands of the nation (or at least those who volunteer for a form of service by joining the National Trust). Whereas in France, reforming local councils and ministries routinely tear down 14th century churches and 18th century mansions in the name of profit or ideology (often both), British culture is largely protected from these sorts of excesses by the custodianship of the National Trust. It’s a much softer sort of an organisation, but in its ubiquity and its lobbying power, the Trust is maybe the closest Britain gets to a National Rifle Association.
Recently however, there have been troubling signs that all is not well within the Trust. Long immune to leftist ideological infiltration or criticism (usually in the form of mockery), the National Trust recently issued a document containing a worryingly high incidence of progressive bromides. The document, entitled ‘The National Trust’s Strategy to 2025’, opened by stating: ‘Our 21st-century ambition is to meet the needs of an environment under pressure, and the challenges and expectations of a fast-moving world… Underpinning this is our renewed commitment to diversity and inclusion and playing our part to create a fair, equal society, free from discrimination.’
This sits alongside growing reports of more than token concessions to Current Year at popular National Trust sites: the mini exhibit dedicated to the history of slavery here, the novelty suffragette merchandise in the gift shop there. All of this is met by applause from the left, demanding that every area of public life literally bend the knee to their favoured causes, and quiet, grumbling acceptance from the right.
There are two standard responses to this sort of development in these circles. The first is to breathe deep, collect your thoughts and put these sorts of things into perspective. The leadership of the National Trust are not idiots nor are they committed Trotskyites. They know that their core membership is relatively old and largely skews right on the political spectrum. They are not doing this to appease them, and they certainly aren’t expecting a flood of membership applications from woke student activists in London and the university towns. This sort of thing is not much more than rhetoric, window dressing to get the left (and the government, enforcing the appallingly vague terms of Britain’s 2010 Equality Act) off their back.
The second, however, is to express deeper concern. It feels increasingly like those of a conservative or traditional bent are being hounded out of public life and denied any independent organisations of their own. You can’t even join an organisation as tweedy and old-fashioned as the National Trust any more without being bombarded with Cultural Marxism. Come for the tea and cake in a stately home, stay for the three-hour lecture from an obese, blue-haired academic of colour on the toxic nature of whiteness. Is nothing safe? All I wanted was a nice family day out followed by a good grill.
The response from the mainstream British right has been more or less along these sorts of boomer, grill pill lines. Both Peter Hitchens and a prominent centre right blogger, whose good name I will not associate with a fringe hate site such as this because he has a family, a mortgage, and a non-anon reputation to protect, slammed the Trust for its naivety. You don’t build a successful and sustainable movement by alienating your core audience and cringing before people who hate everything you stand for, they correctly suggested. The essential thing for all right-thinking people is to defend non-political spaces, ensure that people (our people, by implication) can form healthy civic associations without needing to douse themselves in hostile ideology first – above all to rally to the defence of healthy, normal life in spaces where you don’t have to constantly engage in flame wars with the left. I just wanna grill for goodness’ sake.
I sympathise with all of these points. Nevertheless, there is no getting away from one obvious fact: the National Trust is an implicitly rightist, implicitly patriotic, implicitly conservative and – dare I say it – implicitly white organisation. The people who join it are people who care about protecting a specifically and exclusively Anglo heritage. They may not be regular readers of hate sites like the American Sun, but they do at least have a conscious concern for history, tradition and British culture as it has existed in these islands for millennia. It would be an eccentric choice, at best, for a Halal butcher in Bradford or a West Indian barbershop owner in Streatham to choose to join the National Trust – because why would they? Their interest in what the National Trust exists to protect would always be that of an outsider, looking in at another culture that does not belong to them.
It would not be politically advisable for the National Trust to come out and say as much. All the same, as long as the only defence which real, existing conservative institutions have against the onslaught of progressive mania is that they just wanna grill, they will not be able to resist leftist infiltration. Sooner or later, sentiments like those published in the absurd ‘Strategy to 2025’ will no longer just be slogans employed in self-defence, a la Havel’s Prague greengrocer. They will be the enforced and explicit policy of the National Trust and all civic institutions that share its overarching worldview. The left knows exactly what they are doing. You either start fighting for the Shire, affirming the value of your national culture and your right to determine and defend it, or you get scourged. The mainstream right will have to find a way to do that, one way or another.