THE BRITISH EMPIRE’S CONTRIBUTION TO
Melbourne Argus, May 21, 1949.
The first of a series in accord with the syllabus of a Study Course conducted by the Victorian League of Rights.
At a time when there is tremendous propaganda fostering the idea of a centralised World Government, very few people appear to realise that one of the most successful working examples of genuine internationalism the world has yet seen, the British Empire, is being attacked by powerful forces from without and corrupted and betrayed by both knaves and fools from within.
Propaganda against the British Empire and the basic ideas underlying its growth has been so successful that many are either positively anti-British, while others are ashamed of what they have accepted as a history of exploitation and oppression.
Then there are those who do nothing to defend the cause of Empire because they have been indoctrinated with the subtle suggestion that all Empires have their day and “inevitably” pass away; that nothing can be done to reverse “trends.”
The British Empire has made vital contributions to civilisation in the past, and can continue to do so if its peoples regain faith in the fundamental ideas upon which their way of life was built. No people can survive if they lose faith in the fundamental ideas underlying their civilisation. How can people defend a heritage unless they clearly understand what that heritage is?
Genuine understanding of the British heritage has been so weakened that abstractionism which can only lead to tyranny is offered as an alternative to a reality which provided the individual with satisfactory results and the basis for further genuine progress. Men in high places, like Sir Stafford Cripps, state openly that they are working to “liquidate” the British Empire. Mr. Attlee has stated that he and his Socialist colleagues are deliberately placing a loyalty to what they term internationalism above their loyalty to their own country.
Dr. Evatt recently told Australians that the pivotal point in Australia’s foreign policy is loyalty to the “United” Nations. Apparently loyalty to King and Empire is of secondary importance.
But it was this very loyalty to King and Empire which enabled the peoples of the British Empire to make such a decisive contribution to the cause of civilisation in both World Wars. It is this loyalty which is now being subtly undermined by those who, either consciously or unconsciously, are weakening the keystone of the whole Empire structure, the British Crown, by suggesting that it be subordinated to what they are pleased to call a “formula.”
Loyalty to the British Crown is essential for the saving of the British way of life. The Crown and its representatives are far more than a part of the Constitution in every self-governing British country; the Crown is the symbol of the people’s national and individual sovereignty.
The essential soul of a nation is in its character, its culture and tradition. It should be more widely understood that the King is the natural embodiment of honours and sanctions of culture and tradition, and, as such, is naturally the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces in all British countries. Thus the vital necessity of the Oath of Loyalty to the Crown.
Those who would play an effective role in defending the British way of life must reach back into the past and strengthen themselves with a close understanding of the great heritage their forefathers built up.
What is termed Western Civilisation was rooted in Christianity. The growth of Christianity in England was synonymous with the growth of the nation. The political structure was directly influenced by the Christian idea of individual freedom, personal responsibility, and the subordination of institutions to the requirements of individuals.
Because of this fact, and, of course, racial characteristics, climate and geography, the Anglo-Saxon developed a feeling for independent and voluntary co-operation. One of his main characteristics has been resourcefulness without trickery. This characteristic can be seen to the best advantage in the love of games — the idea of’a “sportsman.” Probably no other people in the world could have evolved the game of cricket, with its predominating conception of character.
British institutions were evolved for the purpose of ensuring that fundamental individual rights were adequately protected.
Stemming from the climate of opinion created by the medieval Christian Church, English Common Law ensured the protection of the individual against the arbitrary acts of governments. But the protection of Common Law is today being destroyed by the fostering of the idea of omnipotent governments, not bound by any constitutional limits. In his long struggle for individual freedom and independence, the Anglo-Saxon discovered that local, decentralised government was essential for the individual to control his own affairs. The British Empire was successfully established upon the principle of decentralisation.
In spite of the success of the British idea, that the way to achieve genuine co-operation among the peoples of the world is to further the conception of genuine decentralisation, with all peoples preserving and developing their own customs and traditions, the prophets of the “New Order” everywhere advocate more and more centralisation. The centralisation of power is contrary to the fundamental British idea.
Prior to the British leaving India, apparently as part of the liquidation policy advocated by Socialist leaders, anti-British propagandists never tired of attacking what they termed British oppression of the Indians. This world-wide campaign had as one of its major objectives the destruction of British prestige, particularly in the U.S.A.. The propagandists and their many starry-eyed dupes “have been particularly quiet on the subject of India since the British left, and the peoples of India suffered a wave of destruction and bloodshed without parallel in modern Indian history.
It was British rule alone which brought comparative peace and unity to India. From the time of the Indian Mutiny there was never more than a handful of British officials in India, the British idea being to encourage the Indians to develop their own administration. In India, as elsewhere, the British worked to advance the idea of self-government.
Those people who talk loosely about “giving” democracy to native peoples ignore the fact that democracy cannot be given to people who have no conscious conception of what personal responsibility and self-government mean. At the elections prior to the British leaving India, the Indian Congress Party, which claimed to “represent” the Indian people, could only muster less than 1 per cent of the people to go to the polls.
The great indictment which history will level against the British and their association with countries like India and Burma, was not that the British were in these countries, but that they failed to continue carrying their responsibilities.
In the growth of the British Empire there were mistakes. But to try and expiate an error of the past by trying to reverse it now may lead to an even greater error in the future. Consider the state of India and Burma today and their proximity to Soviet Russia. It may be true that in the history of the British Empire the note of power has sometimes been too loud.
But what madness is it to suggest that, because an inheritance from the past was originally obtained by dubious methods, the British peoples today should throw this inheritance away?
If the British peoples will only accept their heritage, and the responsibilities which go with that heritage, the British Empire can be an even greater stabilising influence on world affairs than it has been in the past. But the British peoples must first stabilise their own affairs by destroying the policies which have so weakened them internally that British prestige has been temporarily dimmed in the eyes of other peoples. Within the British Empire are the major physical assets of the earth. Free enterprise and private ownership are essential for the purpose of providing the British peoples with genuine economic sovereignty. Only a strong and independent association of Empire nations, bound firmly together by a common loyalty to the British Crown, can play a decisive role in defeating the threat of world tyranny.
When Sir Stafford Cripps said that “It is fundamental to Socialism that we should liquidate the British Empire as soon as we can” he defined the fundamental issue which the peoples of all British countries must face: Socialism versus the British Empire.
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