By Joshua Blakeney
In this YouTube presentation the late British philosopher and artist Jonathan Bowden provides an overview of the Sculpture of Britain from the Bronze Age to late modernity. Beginning with Stonehenge (2000-3000 BC) and ending with the late 19th century statues of Sir Henry Havelock and Charles James Napier which flank London’s Trafalgar Square, it is a marvellous breakdown of the best of British three-dimensional form.
I grew up in a post-imperial and, in a sense, post-British Britain in which the preponderance of my contemporaries were unappreciative of the indigenous artistry which Bowden strove to rehabilitate and renew interest in.
Hollywood junk culture and other alien mass-consumption forms—which were seemingly designed to destroy Western civilization through cultural perversion, violence and by instilling self-hatred among Europeans—were in vogue among my peers.
For my generation, Britishness was redefined and de-ethnicized to conform with the tyrannical political correctness which permeates post-European Europe. As such, the artistic and historical trajectory depicted by Bowden in the above video was quietly suppressed to thwart its potentiality for in-group, out-group self-conceptualizations.
In post-imperial Britain to be proud of one’s heritage is to be heterodox. To ask “what is ethnically British and what is not” is quasi-criminal—deemed by the state to be an affront to the ideological construct called “racial harmony”. As a result Britain has become an atomized and deracinated conglomeration of human beings; a so-called “proposition-nation” with dystopian undertones. This is of course also the case in those polities born from the womb of Britain such as Canada, Australia and the United States. The European inhabitants of those jurisdictions too are denied access to non-relativistic interpretations of their history and culture.
Bowden observes that over the millennia pre-Germanic, pre-Roman, paleo-Celtic forms blended with the Italianate, Renaissance forms brought by the Romans, producing an indigenous artistic form which embodied “the heroic”. Bowden locates Pagan, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Romanticist, and Victorian sensibilities impacting the British sculptural form as it evolved. He contends that British sculpture became a repository of Roman and Hellenistic classical artistic mores. Ours was an art that reflected an ideology of strength and a sense of cultural advancement.
Bowden emphasizes that unlike modern and postmodern Britain, a confident, Britain-as-the-new-Romans, identity crystallized during the period of 1660-1867 AD and that this neo-classicism manifested itself in the arts and literature. Britons were proud, and keen to advance their conception of civilization which, among other benefits, provided ordinary people with heroes and a sense of historical purpose. This spawned an energy and pride which is seemingly lacking, especially among the increasingly feminized “male” half of the species contemporarily. The demasculinized, navel-gazing modern British male makes the pugilistic, self-assured artistic expression deconstructed by Bowden appear to be from Mars.
Bowden argued in his speeches and writings that for Britain to shrug off its internal Cultural-Marxist assailants that Britons would have to re-learn and reinvigorate their native culture. He nominated certain heroes for revivalists to look to such as William Shakespeare, Thomas Carlyle, Wyndham Lewis, and George Orwell.
We know that those who have willfully occasioned the anomie and atomization of Britons were fixated on the establishment of their cultural hegemony in the West in order to persuade Westerners to consent to their own destruction. Rather than herding us into the gulag à la Bolshevik Russia, their goal was to alter Western culture so Western man would sign his own death warrant.
We must revive our culture and reach into history to find literary and artistic heroes to look to as we engage in the necessary counter-hegemonic struggle that Bowden, himself one such hero, prescribed as the solution to our current socio-political impasse.