Historical novelist Richard Blake
on writing fiction readers will like
Jan 5, 2015
If you love historical fiction as much as I do, you need to get to know Richard Blake, the author of a series of historical novels about the adventures of an Englishman named Aelric in Italy after the fall of Rome, and in various portions of the Byzantine Empire. They offer a wonderfully vivid portrait of a fascinating period of history. And also lots of action and intrigue.
Blake’s first novel in the series came out in 2006 as “The Column of Phocas.” Perhaps wisely, the major British publisher which picked it up retitled it “Conspiracies of Rome.” It’s been followed by “The Terror of Constantinople,” “The Blood of Alexandria,” “The Sword of Damascus,” “The Ghosts of Athens” and “The Curse of Babylon.”
Blake also writes novels and nonfiction works under his real name, Dr. Sean Gabb. He is an outspoken political polemicist, a radical libertarian and a defender of British traditions such as the monarchy. He lives in Kent, in England. In this interview, I have chosen to keep his British spellings.
Sandusky Register: You have written six acclaimed historical novels about Aelric, an English lad who gets caught up in various adventures in the early Byzantine Empire, early in the seventh century. Why did you choose this setting?
Richard Blake: The literal answer to your question is simple but opaque. In April 2005, I decided to write a novel. I sat down at the computer. By the time I got up to make some coffee, I had written the first three chapters of what would become Conspiracies of Rome. There was minimal conscious planning. I just sat down and wrote. Over the next six weeks, I continued writing. I wrote on railway journeys to and from London. I wrote at work in the gaps between lectures. The words accumulated in thousands and tens of thousands. I had no idea where the plot was going. I felt at times as if I were taking dictation.
This isn’t to say that I wrote entirely on autopilot. I ransacked Wikipedia for dates and other facts. I spent hours checking things like whether horses had stirrups, and how long it needed for a man to ride between Rome and Ravenna. I had a street map of Ancient Rome open on the computer throughout. But I finished the novel in a state of shock. I had never written anything so large or so fast. I also knew that what I had written was rather good.
This being said, I can reconstruct the background causes of the novel. In February 2005, my wife took me for a long weekend in Rome. Out of duty, we went round the bigger piles of ruins, and they are very grand. But we found ourselves repeatedly struck by the very old churches and the mediaeval buildings. Some of the churches date from the fourth century, when the Empire was still intact. They have all been in continual use and are still standing. They had a much greater immediacy and feeling of communion with the past than the patched up ruins of the Temple of Vesta.
When I set out to write a novel, I decided it would be an historical novel. I also decided it would have to be set right at the end of antiquity. In the first instance, I thought it would be exclusively focussed on early mediaeval Rome. The more I wrote, however, the more I found I was sinking into the power politics of the Byzantine Empire. In the other five novels in the series, my hero is solidly based within the Empire, and the theme that gives continuity to the series is the first steps along the path that took that Empire from a slave state ruled by snobbish intellectuals to something like a state capitalist democracy.
The Roman Empire has enormous glamour. It was large and successful. It was the place where the Christian Faith emerged. Its civilisation is the basis of our own. But it was a ghastly thing. Part of its ruling order was a class of parasitic landlords, whose land was largely tended by slaves. The other part was a monstrous bureaucracy. It was headed by Emperors who were sometimes capable and even humane, but who were more often bureaucratic non-entities, or tyrants, or raving lunatics, or a combination of all three. The middle classes were progressively destroyed by grinding taxation. Everyone was disarmed and suspected. One reason why the Christians were persecuted was that they didn’t fit into the increasingly totalitarian structure of the Empire’s life.
The high culture in both Greek and Latin halves of the Empire was stagnant. Before about 200AD, both Greek and Latin as written were dead languages. Educated Romans were expected to write as if Cicero and Vergil were still alive – and the language in which they wrote had never been understood by the people at large. Educated Greeks were expected to write as if they were living in Athens c400BC. The subject matter was self-consciously obsolete.
The Empire wasn’t destroyed by catastrophic floods of barbarians, who burned the cities and killed the scholars. What happened in the West was that misgovernment and bad luck created a demographic vacuum into which rather small bands of marauders entered and set up new states. And these were really the beginning of our own civilisation.
In the East, it was different. The demographic collapse was never so great, and there was much more commerce. The downside of this was that, adapted to a now hegemonic Christianity, the governing structures of the Roman Empire seemed likely to continue indefinitely. Then came the great crash around the middle of the sixth century. There was now a demographic collapse brought on by the unexpected arrival of bubonic plague. After this, came the long Persian War, in which large parts of the Empire – Egypt and Syria chiefly – were conquered. The Persians were eventually thrown back and destroyed. Almost at once, though, came the Arab conquests, and the Empire that emerged from these crises was fundamentally different.
The Empire survived because it became different. Mediaeval Byzantium was a Greek Orthodox nation state, with a large mercantile class and an armed class of peasant freeholders. A microscopic intellectual class kept the old culture ticking over – and we should be grateful for their efforts to hand on to us what we have of the Greek classics. But mediaeval Byzantium lacked the social and bureaucratic rigidities of the Roman Empire. But it was mercantile and commercial and armed. The Greek mostly written was something like the spoken language. It had the popular cohesion and the wealth and the flexibility to face down militant Islam for something like four hundred years. The Roman Empire survived in the East because it had stopped being the Roman Empire in any meaningful sense. State capitalism is inferior to free market capitalism, but was better by far than what it replaced.
These changes began in the early seventh century. If we know a little about the origins and progress of the changes, they make an inspiring story. As said, they are the background to the whole series of my Byzantine novels.
Sandusky Register: Your books give a lot of information about the Mediterranean world in late antiquity, but your characters also drink a lot, have lots of sex and take lots of drugs. Did they really party that hard, or did you tart things up a bit for a 21st century audience?
Richard Blake: At all times, and in all places, people are motivated by sex and power and money. The objects they pursue will depend on local circumstances – for example, the ancients saw boys as well as women as legitimate targets of their affections, and power was often achieved by religious means. Again, where we expect to live at least sixty years, and expect to get over mechanical damage, and do not have to live in great pain, people in the past had to pack their lives into their teens and twenties. I think Aristophanes had his first hit when he was seventeen. Catullus was dead before he was thirty. But there are no essential differences between us and our distant ancestors. To show them as other than human beings is to write bad fiction.
This brings me to language, which is a problem in all historical fiction. Let me begin by showing how it shouldn’t be done. Take this:
The King rose up upon his couch. “Thou shalt, before this night is out,” he quoth, “mount upon thy trusty charger and bring me the head of the false Bobindrell.”
Whether people may once have spoken like this in England is beside the point. What matters is that it sounds ridiculous now, and it distances a reader from the characters in a novel. Whether your novel is set in England c1550, or some other time and place, here is how I suggest it should be done:
Still smiling, the King leaned closer. “I want the f— dead,” he breathed. “I don’t care how you do it. Just make sure none of the blame ever drifts my way.” He took another swig from his cup and went back to watching the jugglers.
Of course, you avoid words and images that only make sense in our own civilisation. But, when I write one of my Byzantine novels, I try to write in a way that sounds natural to a modern English reader. I can do this because the pretence is that the narrator is writing in natural Greek which has been translated into natural English. At the same time, an educated person writing Greek in the seventh century would have paid some regard to the conventions of the ancient language. Therefore, the English translation has a slight tinge of the eighteenth century. You get something like this:
“My Lord Bishop,” I sighed, “you really should consider how much you are pissing off our Imperial Lord and Master.”
As for things like sexual morality and the taste for recreational substances you’ll find in my novels, these are fully evidenced in the sources. Life is usually awful when it isn’t boring. The answer has always been to find the right mix of chemicals to make things seem better than they are.
Sandusky Register: Under your real name, Dr. Sean Gabb, you have written nonfiction and begun to publish science fiction novels, such as your new book, “The Break.” Why did you turn to science fiction, and what have you learned about SF fans, as opposed to historical novel buffs?
Richard Blake: I’ve been devouring historical fiction since I was eight. I discovered fantasy fiction by accident when I was twelve. I found a copy of Rider Haggard’s She in the local library. If you’ll pardon the colloquialism, it blew my mind. From Rider Haggard, I moved to Bram Stoker and H.P. Lovecraft and H.G. Wells. Later, I discovered Colin Wilson and R.A. Wilson and Philip K. Dick. I didn’t come to actual science fiction – Asimov, Heinlein, L. Neil Smith et al – until much later. Even now, I don’t think it’s accurate to say that I write science fiction. I write fantasy fiction. The Churchill Memorandum is an alternate history thriller, set in a 1959 where the Second World War hadn’t happened. The Break is set in a 2018 when the mainland United Kingdom has been lifted out of the present and dumped into the world of 1064. The York Deviation is about an ageing lawyer who wakes up one morning, and finds himself in his younger body thirty years before at university. I will defer to your greater reading in the genre. But I suggest that none of these novels is straight science fiction.
I write it because I like it. I probably like it for the same reason I like historical fiction. I am bored with the world I inhabit. I appreciate its technology and general wealth, but don’t feel inspired to love it. For me, whether reading it or writing it, fiction is an escape.
As for differences between the fans, I see none. What readers of any genre want is a good story. Beyond that, they want authenticity. They don’t want historical fiction to be clogged with anachronisms. They don’t want fantasy that hasn’t been thought through. For example, suppose you have created a world where people live for about a thousand years. Well, this will be a world with longer investment horizons than we now have: very slow returns will be normal and acceptable. It will be a world with less specialisation than we now see: everyone has time to learn medicine and law and how to play the piano. It will be a world where people can’t be lied to as easily as they now are.
Sandusky Register: Your politics are largely libertarian, but you also seem to be a bit of an old school Tory. You are in favor of the monarchy, for example, which isn’t a big strain in American libertarianism since about 1776. How do you define your politics, and what do you call yourself?
Richard Blake: I am a libertarian. That is, I believe that people should be left alone to live as they please. I don’t like our present world of wars and heavy taxation and omnipresent surveillance. Almost inevitably, this makes me a conservative of sorts. One reason for this is that both England and America had more overall freedom in the past than they now have. I grant, two men couldn’t get married before 1914, and they would have gone to prison if caught in bed together. But you could buy guns and drugs without any question. You hardly ever came in contact with the State unless you went to a Post Office or asked a policeman for the time.
The second reason is that there are good abstract arguments for liberty. But the problem with abstract arguments is that they are abstract. Special cases can always be found or made up for state action. What keeps America from becoming a really ghastly police state isn’t arguments about the non-aggression principle, but the wording of a Constitutional document that is generally revered. You can’t burn paedophiles in the town square because there is something in the Constitution about “cruel and unusual punishments.”
It used to be the same in England. We had no written constitution. But freedom was preserved because it was part of an order of things that had lasted since the middle ages. Trial by jury couldn’t be abolished, because it had always existed. It was the same with secret trials and ex post facto laws. If you look at the story of how England lost its freedom, it begins with the assault on customs and institutions that had nothing obvious to do with individual freedom, but that provided the setting within which individual freedom was untouchable. Once those were swept away, the freedoms themselves became isolated oddities that could be abolished as hindrances to some overriding goal – the war on terror, the war on drugs and money laundering, and so forth.
I grew up in a country where you defended trial by jury and the right to silence by saying no to anyone who suggested the judges and lawyers should stop wearing wigs in court. Sadly, that war has now been lost. England is a revolutionary state, and conservatism is no longer an appropriate defence of freedom.
Sandusky Register: One of my favorite interviews is the one that science fiction writer Gene Wolfe did with himself in his book, “The Castle of the Otter.” Please ask yourself a devastatingly clever question, and then answer it.
Richard Blake: The only question I can think of is to ask why I write. The answers are as follows:
1. I like writing and do it rather well. Most things I do no better than indifferently. Don’t ask me to run a conference or manage an office. Don’t ask me to set up a business that requires me to employ people. I am a good teacher – a very good teacher. But my empire is of the written word. I seldom read back what I’ve written. I hardly ever revise it. I just think what I want to say, and how I want to say it, and the words come without conscious effort. I can, at full stretch, turn out five thousand words a day. I can write a whole novel in six weeks, though I normally take about four months. Stop me from writing, and I might die.
2. I do it for the money. Much of what I write is for free – this interview, for example, or the millions of words of libertarian polemic I’ve turned out. But I can make money from my fiction. It pays the bills and keeps me and my family fed. It isn’t a stable income. One year, I made so much, I was able to pay off my mortgage. This year has been good enough for me to buy part of the building next door and to lay out a fortune on integration works. Other years, I’ve had to scratch around for teaching work. I never know how much I’ll make, as I’m paid twice a year, eighteen months in arrears. I could work out what is coming to me. But I never do. I simply wait and see how much appears in my account in April and November.
3. I do it to annoy. I am widely known and sometimes admired admired in America and parts of Europe. Within much of the British libertarian movement, I am bitterly hated.
I have dissented from the libertarian mainstream on British politics since the 1980s. I dismissed the Cold War as a bogyman made up to scare the sheeple and enrich the weapons makers. I denounced the Thatcher Government for laying the foundations of a police state. I said its privatisations were more about big business privilege than free market reform. I said its policy of contracting out state services was a recipe for corruption. When other libertarians were seeing who could crawl farthest up his back passage, I was uncompromisingly hostile to Tony Blair. I denounced him for the Serbian and Iraq and Afghan wars as a liar and mass-murderer.
Indeed, it was these two latter wars that caused the breach. Until then, I was tolerated. Once I turned out to be one of the half dozen people of note in the [British] libertarian movement who wasn’t in love with the American war machine, I was on borrowed time. It didn’t help that the passing of time, on this and the other issues, showed that I was more often right than wrong.
This should bring me to a fourth answer to the question. I think I know what is wrong with my country and the world at large. I think I know what needs to be done. Whether in my fiction or my political books and essays, I write in the possibly forlorn hope that someone will take notice of what I have to say before the present order of things collapses into something even worse.
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Broadly true on Rome and the Byzantines – although the lords of the Byzantine Empire (in the Themes) were important, at key times they were the leaders of defence and could have developed into something like the Marcher Lords of the later Hapsburg Empire (in the endless struggle with the Turks), but the Byzantines kept wanting to centralise power in the hands of the Emperor and Court – the ghost of the old Roman way kept returning…..even Emperor Basil II (the “Bulgar Basher) undermined the very frontier lords he should have supported. Yes free holding peasants are a good thing – but lords do not automatically mean serfdom.
As for “state capitalism” – it is a nonsense term, best avoided. If one means things like the state arms factories of Diocletian – that is what one should say.
On recent divisions…..
I do not think any libertarian opposed you due to your opposition to Mr Blair – although your wild language did more harm than good. As with your attacks on legislation in the Thatcher period – you ruined a GOOD case, with the wrong language. It is no good accusing someone of X if they have not done X – indeed it just discredits any real charge one makes against them in the same piece. It is like saying someone eats babies in the middle of a trial for theft – the jury is quite likely to stop listening to the charges about theft, once the baby eating stuff is raised. And they will reject all the charges (including the true charges) because of the absurd charges made. If you say Mrs Thatcher is creating a “Police State” people just tune out what you say against this or that bit of legislation – even if what you say about it is true.
As for the war in Iraq – I do not think spreading democracy in the Islamic world is a good reason for warfare, I think the “neocon” case was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the local populations. But when I tried to point out what the locals are actually like I was called a “racist” (although not by you Sean Gabb, I am certainly not claiming that) – an odd statement considering that Islam is a religion (not a race) and Muslims can be of any race. After all you used to work for them Sean (the Sudan bunch) you do not need me to tell you what they believe in.
I thought these wars were a waste of money and LIVES because I had no faith in the locals (I did not think they would turn out like “Italy, Germany and Japan after World War II” as I was endlessly told) – the “anti war movement” taught that the locals were lovely (which is rubbish), and that the war was being fought to steal oil (which was nonsense), and that “Big Business” was behind the wars (which was more nonsense).
But then you say “American war machine” – a military whose share of the economy has been in decline for 50 years and whose number of ships and aircraft and so on is now going down towards 1930s levels (and all the other stuff from years ago).
There was not a strong sense Sean that you were loyal to the West (you should have established your basic loyalty before giving advice) – indeed there was a sense that you had an active dislike of the United States (the main country of the West – and that is just a fact, without the United States the rest of the West can not stand, so those who are anti American are against Western civilisation by definition) although this may have been because of the language you used – which may not have reflected your true feelings, it may be a style matter (as with the language against Mrs Thatcher and so on).
Still none of the above was actually anything much to do with the final break.
That was over Kevin Carson and the other “anti capitalists” and “social justice” supporters.
You sided with them (although I do not believe that you really agreed with a word they said) and they were (and are) enemies – therefore you were the enemy also.
Naught to do with Mr Blair and or Mr Bush – neither of whom I care about.
What happened cannot be undone. See my comment on the Prince Andrew thread
I frankly don’t give much of a toss for who Kevin Carson is or might be. This is because of not really having all that much time on my hands, to “read around inside” his stuff in more detail than the summaries that have appeared on here now and then. However, I am now, possibly (can’t be sure for Brian who is still “around” may pre-date me) the longest-standing member of whatever is called in Britain the “Libertarian Alliance”. I was present in the offices of NAFF in the summer of 1977 (now the Freedom Association) stuffing envelopes and taking phone calls from people wanting to post us money, when Chris Tame leaned over and said “can we have a word at my and Judy’s place later?”
He and I and a young article solicitor’s clerk who also worked at NAFF, writing articles for “The Free Nation” etc (and who must remain nameless on here as he’s now a Managing Partner of an enormous and well-known law firm) decided more or less that evening to give rather more formal existence to a thing Chris called “The Libertarian Alliance”. He even produced a quite well sketched logo. I think also that Mark Brady and David Ramsay Steele were present, but memory fails me now.
The coming times we all face, in the Anglosphere and elsewhere, are dark-looking and rather increasingly forbidding. Indeed, they look worse than at any time since 1914. Even the survival of “America” as a powerful nation, rather then a possible descent into some semi-totalitarian neoMarxist “Liberal” police-state-hellhole, looks in doubt. But that’s not because Sean or anyone else is attacking it or some notion that America is the fountain of Western classical minimal-statism. America in particular, and the Anglosphere West in general, are succumbing to this malaise because of direct targetting by GramscoFabiaNazi enemies: first by 20th-century European academics, then by White Ethnic “academics” in the USA, and then by the same in the rest of the Anglosphere.
Can “The West” – as an idea – survive without “America”? Probably: because the ideas of liberalism (our “liberalism”, not what USA “Liberals” call “Liberalism”, which is Marxism-Leninism) can and will be more attractive than the offered alternatives, for the growing populations of the BRICs – whose ranks will be joined in time by others.
I don’t think that if Sean and I appear to hate and despise the modern American-Governing-Classes (and I always make a careful distinction here, between the USA-EnemyClass and The American People!) or if we publish pieces by Kevin Carson or people of similar bent, that makes one set of British Libertarians “the Enemy” and another set “not the enemy”.
I am getting older, and would like to see a point where all these divisions in what’s really one movement only and in Britain – the actual home of classical liberal minimal-statism and the notion of a small and strictly constitutionally-limited State – are forgotten once and for all, for the lifetimes of the participants.
British liberal civilisation Taught the World How To Live: for this we will never be forgiven, ever, by all the more recent and vile forces about which we all know, which avidly and eternally continue to prosecute the Coming Endarkenment, and about which so much has been said on here and other libertarian blogs that it’s hard to see what more we could say. “Working Together” – at least not being overt enemies – we could perhaps do more, buy a little more time, teach liberal ideals to more people in more countries, than any of us can do alone.
This is where the Left scores so well, vis-a-vis us. Although its fissiparous groups hate each other even more than we do ourselves, they come together to, say, “burn things and blow stuff up” and cause major mayhem politically and physically. We can’t do that, for we are libertarians, and we’d eschew “direct action”: but perhaps we have something to learn.
As Brutus said:- “I pause for a reply”.
I will look up your comment on the Prince Andrew thread presently Sean (for health reasons I no longer subscribe to many threads so I do not get comments automatically).
Very well David – let the person whose name is not Kit Carson be forgotten, I wish I had never looked into my conference pack on the train home from the Libertarian Alliance conference in 2006 (at least I think it was 2006), I would never have heard of him if I had not looked at the stuff in that pack.
On the Byzantines – the action of Basil II (the “Bulgar Basher”) springs to mind. He was invited to dinner at the home (in the provinces of Asia Minor) of a great lord – and was impressed by the great wealth he witnessed.
So he, the Emperor, took the place.
In the West – even then, this action would have been considered an outrage. An evil King might have done it , after a trumped up treason charge, but it would have been a very dangerous thing for a Western King to do – perhaps leading to a “Feudal” revolt.
Since at least the time of Charles the Bald in the 800s AD West (and described as an “old right” even under him) it was accepted that the King’s will was NOT law – that natural justice not only existed (no Roman or Byzantine legal thinker ever denied that), but trumped positive law (the exact opposite of the Roman position – where positive law trumps natural law).
For a King to take land from one family and give it to another (or to himself) would be a classic reason for a “Feudal” revolt. As John Dundas points out in his book on the “Feudal” Law (1710) a major difference between these ideas and those of Roman law (or “modern law”) is that the King can take land even for a new road – not without the individual consent of the landholder.
This is totally alien to the Roman Empire – and to the Byzantine Empire.
It was also the case (again even under Charles the Bald) that the Church was independent of the state – the “two swords” thinking. for the Crown to dictate theology to the Church would have been an outrage in the West – the situation was rather different in the Roman Empire and in the Byzantine world.
Take the example of modern Texas (“America” will not do any more) – the attitudes to land holding and religion are those of the West (of old France and so on) not of the Byzantine Empire. And for those who scream “serfdom” – I would ask where were the serfs that the French Revolution claimed to free, as far as I know they could not find any to free in France.
Even the military incompetence of the Western tribes (who became the Western states) had its positive side.
The Strategikon rightly mocks the Franks and so on for their lack of tactical skill.
However, it also warns that if lords are killed an army of such Westerners will sometimes not run away (as a Byzantine army would – and an army of Persians or Turks [the Turks were a new thing to the Byzantines then and not yet Muslim], certainly would, as they are governed solely by FEAR not honour) but may fight harder – to avenge their deaths.
The author of the Strategikon (whether it was the Emperor Maurice or his brother in law) does not stop to consider the implications of his own remarks.
Let the King lead the charge (as at the relief of Vienna in 1683) – so that all have to follow, or live with the shame of seeing him cut down before their eyes, And strike at the centre (inspite of the horns of the beast, of the Crescent Moon, seeking to engulf the flanks) for if the enemy leaders are slain or put to flight the whole enemy swarm will flee – even it they outnumber you ten to one.
There is a grain of truth even in silly 1950s Hollywood films such as “Prince Valiant” and “The Black Knight” – but it is not a Byzantine truth.
As for whether the West can survive with America – or some new alliance of American States (should the present system prove impossible to reform – which it may), well show me your army.
Let us leave aside your “ideas” for the moment – show me your army (your military – your navy, air force and nuclear forces).
Unless you have large numbers of people who are trained for fighting and willing to lay down their lives, you can not defend the West or anything else.
I can see the American army, I can see the New York Police Department – also willing to lay down their lives in the war against the enemies of the West, such as the vicious “protestors” who follow the Red Flag or the Black Flag (and before the cries of “racist” start, more than half of the NYPD are not white and a private police force would have to use the same basic tactics against foes, and would sometimes make the same blunders).
When you can show me your military – your body of armed and trained ready to fight to the death, then I will listen to your “ideas” that the American forces are not needed. Or that people can betray their trust to be “always faithful” on the grounds that “they are not paying me any more” (very Byzantine, at least in its bad days, – loyal to the moment loyalty is needed most, then not loyal).
As Sean would say – it is an empirical matter, a matter of physical reality.
Paul I cannot fault you on the matter of having large and very-well-provided armed forces, for defending (what we may as well call) Western Civilisation.
Indeed: one of my private beefs with the current British-PoliticalEnemyClass is that, whoever is in charge, our Army, Navy and Air Force are in a state of permanent contraction. I well remember the late-MacMillan (or it might be Alec Douglas-Home) Premiership in which I saw a Panorama prgramme about “Can Britain Keep Her Station In The World East Of Suez”? – a major mantra being spouted by politicos of all parties was “We Are Trimming The Tail Without Blunting The Teeth!” Anyone else remember that one then?
At that time we still had seven (yes, seven) aircraft Carriers of the “strike” variety. (We’d just scrapped “the battleship” (HMS Vanguard) a few years previously – it was obsolete and vulnerable to modern attack-submarines anyway, as our correct and right assault on the Belgrano showed 20 years later.) These days, they are drawing out the teeth.
I have never made any secret, I hope, of my desire to see a British Libertarian – or at least minimal-statist – nation armed to the teeth without any kind of irritating “international law” restrictions. For instance, I would at once repudiate, denounce and withdraw from the Ottawa Treaty, regarding “mines” of any kind. It is notable that the USA, and most other large important countries like Russia, have not signed up to it. I would also advocate and encourage and promote the development of space-based-weapon platforms. The safest way to make enemy-catchup unobtainable would be to weaponize the Moon’s surface, which I would do in short order.
I’d also _not agree to_ “monetize the development costs of” modern weapons systems through the syndicating-off of tranches of said weapons, plus “servicing agreements to protect thousands of jobs”, to “other nations”. So the Saudis would get no toy-Typhoon-jets to play with, for a start. Nor would the Omanis get any nice modern unbreakable tanks and stuff like that: I mean…what on earth is Oman for…? What does it need tanks for? It’s just a giant rocky mountain beach bigger than Britain itself. No: not even if these tropical blokes offered the frequent use of all the most beautiful girls that walked the Earth. And if the blokes tried to inveigle the BAe engineers in the Warton and Samlesbury workshops directly, they’ll be intercepted by more willing Blackpool, Liverpool and Manchester “ladies”, who’d also be “monetized” themselves, to PAY the punters as well. At that point, we’d be functionally-outbidding the Saudis.
The whole argument of being able to afford the kit by selling loads of it to other nations falls down on another point. The very nations that we’d think are “on our side” – Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and maybe a few others, don’t seem to buy our gear.
A discussion-thread I posed a few years ago now suggested that any emergent British classical-liberal state in these Islands would face enormous international hostility from the Political-EnemyClasses of most other nations. We’d have to be able to pre-react, pro-actively, to that hostile and threatening wave. One of the first weapons they’d use would be “UN Sanctions” under “resolution 3,478,695”, us having also been pre-booted off the “Security Council”. We’d need the military power to be able to “get the stuff we need and have it loaded normally under commercial contracts, onto ships and planes”, so as to carry on regardless, without resorting to any sort of warfare, which would be irritating, expensive, destructive, and would upset the Pope.
I have now read Sean’s comment on the other thread – it was a kind and generous one, although it does not give ground (and I would not expect it to give ground) on past disputes.
On writing the above I remembered that I am far more interested in history, especially military history, that I am in past L.A. disputes.
As for America – I suspect that the present structure may well be impossible to reform.
The monetary and financial system is hopeless.
And the fiscal unfunded entitlements are hopeless to.
Bankruptcy – de facto, if not official. May well be inevitable.
In which case a new alliance of States – perhaps centred on Texas. And without the terrible words “regulate interstate commerce” and “general welfare” (although the latter is really just in the preamble to Article One, Section Eight – it is the purpose of the powers, not a power in its own right).
So perhaps I am an “America hater” also?
Anyway I will not live to see any new alliance – even if one is formed, by Constitutional Convention or other means.
Die in battle? Like my father I have never been in military battle – the violence I have, long ago now, been involved in wears no uniforms and one gets no medals (and no one remembers after one is gone).
Alas I will die in much the same humiliating way my father did – he died upstairs, destroyed by sickness and decay not combat.
Unless I can provoke someone into killing me – I do not think that counts as suicide (theologically). Actually it does – so that is no help.
Still I must put aside gloomy thoughts of pathetic self pity and go for a walk – or the doctors will be screaming at me again.
Dr Gabb, did you ever chance upon an historican novelist, George Shipway; it was only on borrowing a library book by that author that I recognised him as the Col. Shipway of my school days. I thought his novels were excellently well researched, only marred by an over liberal penchant for confected similes. The Chilian Club, I read much later and was unfortunately unable to identify the contemporary targets of the Chilian Club assassins.
I know little of the libertarian movement in this country apart from reading some of Dr Gabb’s writings; in the USA, I understand the ‘libertarian’ philosophy of Dr Ron Paul, but overall I cannot see a consensus of what libertarian political philosophy consists; does it bear similarities with US liberalism which has quite obviously suffered an Orwellian inversion, insofar as the movement is subject to entryism by those who would also like to invert its meaning?
Never come across George Shipway, many regrets. Will look him up.
On the whole, libertarianism – especially in England – is too unimportant to be attacked by entryists.
Especially when there’s talk here of the mythical “Western Civilization” and imaging that a realisation of the mythical version of the UK (England?) could, in some imaginary future, wield globally significant military power.
People are probably too busy laughing and pointing.
If you’re right, John, let them point and laugh. It buys time.
They’re not pointing and laughing at – for example – UKIP, now are they: they’re highly and hysterically-busy in dirt-digging on any and all its people, and trying to take down its main website. they succeeded for a little time, a day or so ago in fact.
The really important mistake to make is a lethal one: and as a recipe for more-or-less permanent future global disaster for Man, and for proper liberal progress I would recommend it. This mistake is to merely point and laugh at the West’s White Ethnic Fascist-left GramscoFabiaNazis, and shrug our shoulders and walk on to go about our business. It is also a lethal mistake to call them “stupid”, out-of-touch”, “ivory-tower-academics”, “political-correctness-gone-mad”, “ageing student leftist agitators” and so forth.
These wicked, conviction-driven diligent, focussed and persistent bastards have been following a very deeply strategic assault-plan since about 1884 or slightly earlier. After a couple of false-starts in places like Russia, Germany and China, they’ve learned fast, and decided that proper strongly-based civilisations with high levels of personal freedom and Common Law can’t simply be overturned in a few years of agitation and murdering. They have been prepared to gamble of two-or-more whole human lifetimes to achieve their base, perverted objectives. In ways that ordinary, harmless, busy human beings, getting on simply with their lives, would hardly notice. That is the real crime.
If people like Carl Sagan are right, then Man has possibly one hit, and only one, at the attempt to get life off this planet and spread widely elsewhere, before the Sun makes it uninhabitable in around 500-600 million years’ time.
The GramscoFabiaNazi death-cult, curiously just arriving here at about the time when knowledge and science are about to make this objective achievable (but also in terms of several lifetimes) is interesting. It also specifically targets the Universities, which is illuminating and sinister. All its tentacles are very sophisticated, nuanced, almost “modern” attacks – carefully crafted to initially appeal to “reason”, morality” , “goodness”, “fellow-feeling towards others”, “expiation of past guilt”, and so forth. “You should all be extra-extra-kind to “people of colour”, for YOU enslaved them (etc) AND THE WORD _NIGGER_ IS BANNED FORTHWITH…”
Young people fall for this sort of crap especially. Perhaps we should shut down nearly all the West’s Universities (certainly in the Anglosphere) “to protect the children”. They can go and study in ChIndoPakistani ones instead if they’re good enough to get in.
If people feel the urge to point and laugh, let them by all means do so.