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Samizdata quote of the day

But, whatever the crimes of our forefathers, this is the country of Drake, Clive and Kitchener, not of Tipu Sultan, Shaka Zulu or the Mahdi.
Max Hastings

49 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Verity

    Yeah! I don’t like Max Hastings, but he’s right this one time. Nice to see a lefty saying it.

  • GCooper

    But perhaps for “is” we should substitute “was”.

  • Verity

    GCooper – No. We shouldn’t.

  • RAB

    Well he is a bit of a political cross-dresser so to speak, working for the Mail and the Guardian.
    But he did count them all out and count them all back, in them long gone days when war was enequivical.
    No shilly shallying about who did what to whom, and what to do in return.
    Maybe like Christopher Hitchens , he is finally growing up.
    Didn’t Churchill say something along the lines that if you were not to the left when young you had no heart, and if you were not to the right when mature, you had no brains?
    Well I’m sure I’ll be put right.

  • Verity

    No, RAB, it wasn’t Churchill, who wasn’t a trite thinker, who came up with that silly little homily, which is flawed, in any case. I have always regarded the left as toxic, since I was tiny. I just knew.

  • Julian Taylor

    But he did count them all out and count them all back, in them long gone days when war was enequivical.

    Except that was done by Brian Hanrahan, not ‘Lord’ Hastings who spent his time in the Falklands. IIRC, whining about the lack of personal helicopter transport for himself.

  • Churchill said:

    “Any man under 30 who is not a Liberal has no heart, any man over thirty who is not a Conservative has no brains.”

    Of course, WSC served on both sides of the House, as a Conservative and a Liberal (before Labour became a political force).

    The expression was later changed to read “a socialist” and “not a socialist” although it is doubtful WSC would have approved of this as he said:

    “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

  • WSC justified his Liberalism saying:

    “The Tory Party is not a party but a conspiracy”

    and in 1923:

    “I am what I ahve always been – a Tory Democrat. Forces of circumstance have compelled me to serve with another party…”

    He explained his “re-ratting”:

    “To improve is to change, to perfect is to change often”

    He remained disdainful of the new Labour Party however:

    “They are not fit to manage a whelk stall”

    Truer words…

  • guy herbert

    Isn’t Shaka Zulu rather the odd man out here?

  • Chris Harper


    Same thought here. Shaka may have been a vicious imperialist tyrant, just as the other two were, but to my knowledge he never indulged in the killing of British Subjects.

    On the other hand, neither Shaka nor Tipu Sultan were religious maniacs, and only the Mahdi used Charlie Gordon’s head as a paperweight.

    Shaka wasn’t a Muslim like the other two, but then, like the Mahdi and unlike Tipu, he neither built a church nor engaged in learned scholarship.

    He and the Mahdi were both Africans, Tipu was Indian (Mysori? Mysorionan?). The Mahdi and Tipu defeated British led forces, Shaka never faced them, but only Tipu was the uncle of the justly famous Captain Nemo.

  • RAB

    Woops! Ballsed up that post a bit didn’t I?
    At least I got the Churchill quote vaguely right.
    Yes It was Brian who counted them out and back.
    Max liberated port Stanley single handed.It’s all coming back to me.
    As to Shaka. Wasn’t he in charge when Rorkes Drift happened? If so then I believe the Royal Welsh Fusiliers were a teensy bit British subjects.

  • Luniversal

    Brigadier Max only liberated the Upland Goose.

    He once interviewed me for a job on the Standard diary. I was warned beforehand that the killer question would be ‘Would you sh*t on your friends for me?’ I replied that none of them were important enough to deserve my night soil. I was given a leader writer’s post instead.

    As for his comparison: Drake was a glorified pirate, Clive a kleptocrat and Kitchener a closet queer who liked porcelain. I can think of less odious comparisons with imperialists of different hues, but the moral is that sensible countries shouldn’t be in the empire-building racket at all. Floreat solitudo.

  • RAB

    “And the winner of the sensible Nation award is…”
    Any nominations spring to mind Chris?
    A somewhat Spanish interpretation of Drake surely?
    You could say he was an early Oliver Leftwing, redistributing income like billyo. From the Spanish to us.
    I read somewhere that what Drake handed over to the British Crown sustained it into the 1930’s.
    The Spanish stole it from the Aztecs et al and we stole it from them. Especially because Britain was warned off by Papal authority from going anywhere near the New world. That was supposed to be carved up by Spain and Portugal.
    All that S American plundered gold and silver was the ruination of Spain in truth. Instead of developing their native skills they could afford to buy in anything they needed. When the money ran out…

  • RAB

    I do beg your pardon Chris, I meant Luniversal.

  • “Drake was a glorified pirate”

    True, although he prefered the term privateer. I believe he had a license for conducting piracy against the Spanish, thus doing harm to an enemy.

    He did get rich off it but until the 19th century, all Royal Navy officers and men knew their job was a way to get rich. They patrolled the seas and took prize money, not just for ships captured in was but also for merchant ships transporting illegal cargos (e.g. weapons for enemnies of Britain). The only difference was that Drake was a contractor rather than a salaryman.

    The playing bowls bit is probably untrue and he didn’t actually make much of a difference against the Spanish Armada. He was not in command of the British fleet and reports say he pottered around a bit, fired off all his ammunition too soon (although all the boats did eventually run out of powder) and was generally ineffectual. Still, I like the myth.

    ” Kitchener a closet queer who liked porcelain”

    Well that’s pretty much his choice. I’m not a huge fan of Kitchener, I think he got too little of the blame for mistakes of WW1 and Hauge, too much. I think he also invented concentration camps, he definitely used them. To his credit, he was about the only man to realise the what the true death toll of WW1 would be and was an effective recruiter. Had he not also tried to micromanage the frontline I would probably have a more positive impression of him.

  • “You could say he was an early Oliver Leftwing”

    I’ll allow “pirate” against Drake, I’ll even concede he doesn’t match the legend but like Oliver Leftwing. Ii will not let you use that term against one of our nation’s heros.

    Some good points though RAB, I hadn’t seen your bit when I posted

  • John Rippengal

    Enough of this talk of our ‘crimes’ of the past; I’m sick of hearing it. No human is perfect but our historical behaviour as a nation has very little to apologise for and very much to be very very proud of. Such crimes and misdemeanours that were committed were miniscule compared with the likes of Genghis Khan, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, the African chiefs who captured and sold their people into slavery, the barbarians of the Barbary coast and many others – Napoleon, Hitler ……

    The peoples that were administered under the Empire generally respected the British and admired the lack of corruption and fairness of their rule. And the new human culture of enlightenment which reached its peak in the Britain of the early 20th century much of which rubbed off on to the peoples of the Empire. Not many of them left now but 30 years ago you could find many who had no hesitation in expressing admiration of the British.

    Now thanks the lefty propaganda even our own people hate our own history because of the lies and propaganda of these ghastly pink apologies for humanity which adorn our establishment and media.
    These are the truly odious ones, not Drake, Clive or Kitchener.

  • permanent expat

    Mr.Rippengal……………how right you are. The most terrible thing is that our decline was brought about by ourselves, not by others who couldn’t even measure up to us. History will condemn us, not for the Empire, the most successful and benevolent ever, but for our extraordinary suicidal tendencies both at home & abroad. What a sad little island.

  • RAB

    Amen John, agree with every word!
    Mark my post was seriously tongue in cheek as usual, as was yours I’m sure.
    Expat- cheer up! We’re not finished yet.

  • Verity

    I’m afraid I’m with permanent expat.

  • RAB

    That’s because you’re not here with your back to the wall like the rest of us Verity.
    We change overnight in this situation I’m given to understand.

  • permanent expat

    Verity, no need to be afraid to be with me; and RAB, how long must you stand with your back to the wall to realize that the volley was long ago fired. Are you waiting for the unnecessary coup-de grâce?

  • Fred

    Drake: He was “par for the course” at the time. The French have eqivalent character (Jean d’Ango) who subcontracted the to Francois I to provide a the French a navy of the time (more or less).

    At one point he, personally, declared war against Portugal and when his blockade got to be too painful and the Portuguese ambassador complained to Francois I, he was refered directly to M. d’Ango up in Normandy. An agreement was soon reached – back when ambassadors were “extraordinary & plenipotentiary

  • RAB

    When I said the rest of us, I overestimated.
    Most of us havent even seen the wall yet, let alone been backed up to it.
    But Britain is my home. This is where I generally feel most comfortable. I have a bolt hole if bad becomes terrible, but I havent used it yet.
    You two owe your allegiances elsewhere now. Mine is still here.
    Call me naive, call me stupid, call me what you like, but I will fight on a little longer thank you. Like I said this is my home and it’s worth fighting for, considering all it’s done for the world.
    I will use ridicule and satire, spoof and straight talk, any means possible to win back our country and freedoms from Europe and a socialist mindset that says all this shit is INEVITABLE.
    Well it isn’t.
    Things changed in 79, they can again. You both are not here to feel the undercurrents.
    The Cameron thing is a false dawn but will lead to something more positive. I just feel it!
    So I’m hanging in here.
    Expat and Verity, I usually agree with your analysis, but not your despair.

  • Chris Harper

    ” Kitchener a closet queer”

    And this is a criticism? Caesar was as bent as a three denarii note, although he swung both ways, and Alexander? Alexander led an army of queers.

    “Drake was a glorified pirate, Clive a kleptocrat”

    True, absolutely true. We can qualify Drake into Privateer if we like, but the guys who build empires are never likely to be NuLab types. Drake was a glorious seaman in a seafaring country, and Clive wasn’t so small minded he confined himself to stealing goods and money, he stole countries.

    “As to Shaka. Wasn’t he in charge when Rorkes Drift happened?”

    Nah, that was Cetshwayo, decades after Shaka died.

  • GCooper

    RAB writes:

    “Call me naive, call me stupid, call me what you like, but I will fight on a little longer thank you. Like I said this is my home and it’s worth fighting for, considering all it’s done for the world.
    I will use ridicule and satire, spoof and straight talk, any means possible to win back our country and freedoms from Europe and a socialist mindset that says all this shit is INEVITABLE.
    Well it isn’t.”

    You’ve almost exactly articulated my sentiments.

    Like you, I could get out, but I’m damned if I will, just yet.

    The Cameron business is interesting. There was a truly nauseating article in today’s Times by Bruce Anderson, urging a night of the long knives for Thatcherites.

    What we are witnessing is a resurgence of the old patrician ‘one nation’ brand of Conservatism, rising like Dracula from his coffin, though long supposed to be dead. They are the spiritual heirs of Ted Heath – and likely to prove just as effective.

    Unfortunately for them (and idiots like Anderson) there remains a substantial number of non-Statists in the party and this sort of witch hunting will lead to internal fighting, wholesale defections to the UKIP and a general breakdown, once the Leftist media begin picking Cameron and his half-baked ideas to pieces.

    It will take chaos before people are willing to vote for someone as straight as Margaret Thatcher. It will also take a suitable candidate. Neither situation has yet arisen.

    But one way or another, it will. I intend to stick around to assist.

  • Verity

    RAB – No, my allegiance is still to my country – Britain. I hope your confidence is justified, but I despair of my countrymen. They don’t truly resent things they way the French and Americans do. The British get mildly upset and grumble to one another. They don’t actually do anything, by and large.

    For example, I think most people now know that Tony Blair is not just an incompetent prime minister, way, way out of his intellectual depth, but self-aggrandising, arrogant and using his premiership of a great nation merely as a stepping stone. They know that he is frightened to handle terrorism in case he causes an incident that may ruin his future plans. They know his wife is greedy, money-grubbing and corrupt as well. And they say things like, “It’s just not on, is it?” They dither around and then do nothing.

    That is what is so dispiriting.

    You are right, RAB, I don’t feel the undercurrents and maybe there is something happening, but without a very inspirational figure to rally behind – Churchill, Thatcher – I just don’t think they’ll rally.

    I do agree that Dave is a false dawn – but again, this is how stupid they are. How could they not see him for what he is? It is written all over his face and his words belie Conservatism. I was hoping until the last minute that the rank and file would vote for Davis, not thrilling, but a sound man of Conservative principle who had some good capitalistic ideas he wanted to develop. But no. They voted for another cheap trick.

    And it will take a leader with the strength of Goliath to pull us free of the chains of the EUSSR.

    I sincerely hope you’re right, RAB, but I think you’re wrong.

  • permanent expat

    GCooper: I just love your “could get out but I’m damned if I will, just yet.” “Just yet” is, of course, a matter of personal timing………and I’m glad to see that some of you obviously have well prepared bolt-holes to use when “just yet” comes along. I also owe allegiance to Her Majesty who must put up with some maundering Dianified misfits, led by traitors, as subjects. If any Phoenix is arising from this mire it had better hurry because it’s very, very late

  • Verity

    permanent expat – d’accord. And currency restrictions will come in sooner or later. At some point, Gordy will not be able to withstand 30,000 or so expats selling up and moving abroad every year. 30,000 households selling homes worth, let’s say, modestly, £150,000 and taking it out of the country certainly adds up.

    And it is the professional people and the skilled people who are upping sticks. That leaves the public sector and the welfare class who will be staying.

  • GCooper

    permanent expat writes:

    ” If any Phoenix is arising from this mire it had better hurry because it’s very, very late ”

    I only wish I could disagree. Of course, one has to choose one’s destination with care, too. The EU is out, as are Canada and New Zealand (both far too PC/Leftist).

  • Verity

    GCooper – There’s always Oz. Except after Cranullah or whatever it’s called, and how it was reported on the ABC, I wouldn’t count on them.

  • RAB

    What mr Cooper and myself are not, is stupid.
    Is it safe Expat? is it safe? Is it really safe!?
    So tell us where you live so we can come and join you.
    We’d love to live in smug complacency land, somewhere abroad.
    Just give us the address, or failing that the general geographical area.
    Then I can run it past the C.I.A. website.

  • permanent expat

    Regrettably, since the triumph of Socialism (non-National) following WWII there are too many powerful folk still trapped, complete with blinkers, in that time-warp. In consequence there are few places in this World which are not Left-leaning or PC. (A positively dreadful & idiotic restriction imported from the country largely responsible for the destruction of the British Empire where using the word “niggardly” can bring down ill-educated wrath on an unwary pate.) I fear that national decline, in the sense that we see it, could well be compared with alcoholism……also rife in the Septic Isle…in that absolute bottom has to be reached before a renaissance is possible.

  • RAB

    No you misunderstood the question.
    I want to move next door to you.
    You sound like a SAFE person, someone who will protect me from the big bad demons in this world!
    So gimmee your frigin address.

  • permanent expat

    RAB: Temper. Where have I suggested that either your goodself or Mr. Cooper is stupid?……….and is it safe you ask. Of course it isn’t safe….as the Education Authorities tell the teacher taking the kids for a walk in the country. I always assume that folk posting on this site are intelligent & more than likely better informed than me. I seek to express an opinion & maybe have it thrown back at me by someone who, being on the spot, knows better. Rudeness simply isn’t my style so where the “stupid” idea comes from is a mystery…..Neither,BTW, is smug complacency (now that wasn’t nice) As for my location, or if you wish to row with me on a personal level, a simple double-click will answer your problem.

  • Verity

    permanent expat – a very telling post. Britain is stuck on its triumph (with the help of our Commonwealth confreres and the massive help of the United States) over WWII. This was absolutely illuminating and you are correct.

    Britain has never really moved out of “winner of the Second World War mode”. Sixty years later, many generations, and they still have this moral stiff upper lip idea of themselves. But they’re flaccid, self-indulgent, self-approving … Sixty years is a long time ago yet they’re still feeding off old war movies. We were wonderful … once …

  • There is a mural on a depot of the Milwaukee County bus system which identifies Shaka Zulu as a “freedom fighter”.

  • permanent expat

    Some years ago I took my (German) & fluent in English & French wife to visit my sister who lived in England at the time. During a quiet evening my sister switched on the TV….It was some brave Walter Pigeon(?) flick, “Rogue Male” as I recall, where he had Uncle Adolf in the cross-hairs of his Holland & Holland, only to be unpleasantly Gestapoed. With small embarrasment my sister switched channels for Morcambe & Wise in SS outfits…..I think the next channel was a doc. on Dachau or mabe “The Colditz Story”. No “Allo,allo” unfortunately where all combatants were pretty lovable. I understand that nothing has changed too much and that our yoof today thinks that Drake is a duck with a curly tail & that Mao was one of Hitler’s generals & Timoschenko was an Irish freedom fighter innit?

  • RAB

    Ah well ,
    and so to bed!

  • permanent expat

    RAB:………..& I do have your e-mail address, I noticed in a recent edition of The Economist that the CIA had placed a recruiting ad………..if you are a “Burgher” it could be a good carreer move & you could skip their website. Okay, only kidding. Cheers!
    You probably know that when Gore Vidal heared of the death of Truman Capote he remarked: “Good career move.”

  • guy herbert

    RAB – As to Shaka. Wasn’t he in charge when Rorkes Drift happened? If so then I believe the Royal Welsh Fusiliers were a teensy bit British subjects.

    Nope. You have the wrong Zulu. Shaka died half a century earlier, before the Zulus even came into conflict with the Boers, let alone the British Empire. I suspect that defeat by British arms may be the connection intended in Sir Max’s piece–the causes of war being different in each case–and he is making the same error. In which case the connections are completed by Seringapatam, Omdurman and Ulundi. Rourke’s Drift wasn’t casus belli but a skirmish in the middle played up as an heroic incident in what was otherwise an embarrassing mess of intervention on dubious grounds.

  • Chris Harper

    ‘There is a mural on a depot of the Milwaukee County bus system which identifies Shaka Zulu as a “freedom fighter” “

    You gotta be kidding. The bloke turned a tribe of a few hundred effectives into an expansionary force numbering in excess of a million people in a display of vicious imperialism.

    Who was he “freedom fighting” against? The only people he ever fought were other blacks; surely the Milwalkee City Fathers aren’t implying that blacks can oppress blacks were they? How dreadfully un PC.

  • Chris Harper

    “There’s always Oz. Except after Cranullah or whatever it’s called, and how it was reported on the ABC, I wouldn’t count on them.”

    Yeah. violence instigated by muslim thugs, after being told that their racist, sexist and bigoted harassement of local girls was unacceptable, was presented by the ABC as white racism.

    Liberal self hatred reigns supreme.

    I am a citezen of two countries, an Australian by birth, but a Brit by choice. When I look on the UK now, from afar, I cry for my beloved adopted country.

  • Chris Harper

    ” I suspect that defeat by British arms may be the connection intended in Sir Max’s piece”

    Actually, I think he simply selected a set of well known names almost at random.

    The point being that though these people were important to their own cultures they are nigh on marginal to ours.

    Yes, let us learn about them, but not to the exclusion of Drake, Clive and Kitchener. Again, three great names chosen at random.

    Late one night many years ago (around 1975 I think), while driving from Canberra to Melbourne I met an old couple in a service station layby. We chatted and, amongst other things, she told me about her father, a squaddie, a tommy, who had marched down the Nile with Kitchener, fought at Omdurman and was witness to the last ever charge by a British cavalry unit.

    This old lady was clearly very proud of her father, and rightly so, and she was overjoyed to find someone, anyone, who had any idea of what she was talking about.

    What thrills me about this, even today, is that it gives me a separation of only two degrees from Omdurman, and maybe only three from Chinese Gordon himself. Over a span of 120 years.

    (I know that to talk about degrees of separation is really quite Hollywood twee, but it gets the point across.)

  • guy herbert

    Because he was a contemporary, Shaka gets labelled Black Napoleon sometimes, but given his genius was creating a vast coordinated military system from scratch, and he spawned a loose dynasty of associated conquerors, maybe Black Gengis Khan is a better parallel. Both parallels maintain the mystique of nationalist hero, but a man who was brought down by relatives when his reign of terror got out of hand is not much admirable, even in the undesirable company of nationalist heroes.

    One suspects Milwaukee County may be playing the famous Belgians game rather badly with black people. (Is there a picture of the mural we are discussing? IT might yet prove urban legend.) He’s the only 19th century African they could think of; he’s famous, therefore; he must be a role-model. Or maybe they too are confusing him with the successor who fought the British, and fighting the British qualifies you as a freedom-fighter in a simplified understanding of American history.

  • Chris Harper


    You are right, Shaka should be compared to Ghengis Khan and Napoleon.

    If someone of that capability had been born somewhere other than in deepest obscure and preliterate barbary he would have carved his name across continents. Instead he stomped around with barefoot warriors carrying wooden spears and leather shields. In the long run it doesn’t matter though; he was a murderous thug and wasn’t an anglo, so it seems he is a bit of a hero to the left.

    In Milwalkee anyway.

  • Kim du Toit

    “Expat- cheer up! We’re not finished yet.”

    I wish I could believe that — and I’m an unabashed Anglophile.

  • RAB

    Sorry expat.
    I was the worse for wine and the lateness of the hour.
    I mearly wanted to compare and contrast poor benighted blighty with your current shangrila.
    If you wish to keep that secret that’s fine by me.
    Pity though, I’m a good neighbour and lot’s of fun.
    Like I said I will fight on. We are in for tricky and interesting times. Cameron isnt even the question let alone the answer, but something is changing over here.The mood is hardening.

  • permanent expat

    Kim du Toit: Your Anglophilia is, at least by me, acknowledged & admired. As an Englishman born & bred, not a Briton, (an epithet masking a plethora of disloyalties & unacceptable cultural baggage) I too have hopes for an English renaissance; with luck initiated by folk of RAB’s persuasion who have the backbone of a faith that seems to have deserted me…..by the bye, you have a great website.
    RAB: Never apologise……why, when you can simply explain, which you gracefully did. I too was awash with an eminently drinkable tinto renowned for carrying one a little away. Your “interesting times” recalls the old Chinese curse. Let’s hope it is not so.