The Ruination of Britain – then and now

in Big Issues

Pissed-off Toff argues that if the end of Roman Britain came as a slow death, the ruination of modern Britain is an act of suicide.

Traditionally, Roman Britain came to an end when, some time around 409AD, the Emperor Honorius woke up in his palace in Ravenna and decided to pull the plug on Britannia … and hey presto, the legions departed and the distant island province entered the Dark Ages.

Similarly, we read that the Roman Empire of the West collapsed in the year 476AD, when the Germanic warlord Odoacer deposed the young Romulus Augustulus, as he is derisively known to posterity … and whoosh, that was it, the end of Rome.

Both of these versions of history imply that massive tectonic shifts took place at some precise moment, changing the landscape overnight. And both are misleading, because the changes to which they relate had been going on for ages, and when the moment came that later historians identify as the crisis, it was in all likelihood unobservable to people living at the time. 

Take Roman Britain. It is not the case that the legions were ‘withdrawn’ around 409AD, as so many history books assert. By then the legions had already left on various temporary missions on the continent; never, as it turned out, to return. But for a generation or so afterwards, until 440-450, life continued much as before in the former province of Britannia, still Roman in name if not in fact. Not until later did the warlike Germanic tribes across the Channel realise that the island was there for the taking; a realisation that ushered in the Anglo-Saxon age.

* * * * *

Which brings us to modern Britain. 

If, in all likelihood, our ancestors noticed no particular change around 409AD, or for several decades either side of that year, the same cannot be said today. It must surely be clear that we are now witnessing the collapse of our world, right here before our eyes … and that it is disintegrating a great deal faster than the Roman Empire did, all that time ago, or the province of Britannia. 

If one is to choose a starting point, the globalisation of the 1990s is as good as any. Hailed by all bien-pensant liberals as the most splendid thing, and with The Economist as its cheerleader, this process was disastrous for Britain. Yes: we had the temporary convenience of cheap imports. But only at the price of the long-term destruction of our industry. Throw in uncontrolled mass immigration with all the pressures that it causes, and the situation becomes messier still. 

As if this were not enough, we see the birth of the fundamentalist secular religion of ‘man-made global warming’, with its unproven hypothesis according to which the activities of mankind are responsible for shifts in the climate which have been going on since the earth began … probably as a result of solar activity; but no-one really knows. 

And what is the solution for this problem which exists in our imaginations only? How do we confront this fear based no more in reality than the fear of the Ancient Gauls that the sky would fall on their heads? Ah yes! Close down all remaining industry and ban the internal combustion engine. No matter that the Russians and Chinese have no intention of following suit, or the Indians, or the Brazilians, or most of the other people on the planet. No matter that this will be an entirely futile gesture. We will commit suicide first, setting a good example which will inspire others to do the same!

So there we were, hurtling towards self-destruction in any case … and along comes a virus of the sort that mankind has faced since time immemorial. “Hey, we’ve already decided to commit suicide,” we now think. “But we aren’t doing it quite fast enough. Let’s invent a plague to turbo-charge the process.”

And we are succeeding in spectacular manner. As all industry shrivels before our eyes; as the finances of the country spiral out of control; as countless thousands of illegal immigrants continue to swarm into the country, to be welcomed with housing and benefits which we cannot begin to afford, while at the same time a terrified populace cowers at home, scared into submission by false prophecies of doom; as the prospect of unemployment of a sort never seen before becomes more real by the day … as the full extent of the impending disaster becomes apparent, what do we do? Does some inner voice warn us of the idiocy of the course on which we are embarked?

No. Having created a dystopia more sinister even than anything that Orwell imagined, we hurtle towards our self-induced end.

* * * * *

Let us now return to 409AD and the end of Roman Britain. The fullest more or less contemporary account available to us for the events of that period was written around 540AD by a monk called Gildas, who lived in what is now called Wales and wrote a long tract entitled De Excidio Britanniae Liber Querulus … or: Of the ruination of Britain: a polemical book

Ever in search of a new ‘narrative’, modern historians, including Simon Schama and Norman Davies, like to dismiss Gildas as an irate cleric and his liber querulus as a lurid and unreliable rant. But not only is this chronicler almost the only source we have for those unknowable years at the onset of the Dark Ages; he was also writing within living memory of the Roman era, and must have heard accounts which, if perhaps embellished in the retelling, must have been essentially true. 

So to dismiss him is a mistake. Especially on the part of Schama, who, it would seem, left to others the task of actually reading the original text. Why, otherwise, in his three-volume History of Britain, would he incorrectly state that one of the most famous passages of Gildas’ tract refers to the arrival of the Saxons, when it is quite clear that these much-quoted lines (De Excidio II:20, for the record) refer to earlier incursions, from a quite different direction, by the Picts and Scots (scoti, in Latin; or – confusingly – Irish, as we would now call them)?

Anyhow, I think we should give Gildas credit, if only for the events which were closest to the time when he was writing. And for today’s reader of De Excidio, sipping his whisky and soda by the fire in his drawing room while the world collapses around him, what is so arresting about Gildas’ account is not how distant and unfamiliar the events it describes are, but how similar they are to what is happening right here and now. 

It might almost be a prophecy. Or a warning.

* * * * *

Thus, after the Roman legions stationed here left for other duties in Gaul (De Excidio II:14), the Britons, for so long defended by others, are described as “utterly ignorant of the art of war” (II:14) and as “timorous chickens” (II:17); whilst the remaining native garrison is “slow to fight … a useless and panic-struck company” (II:19).

Do we not see the parallels with today? As a result of massive defence cuts to fund our unaffordable luxuries, we are all too vulnerable to outside threats and are revealed as a nation of weaklings, defeatist at heart, unprepared and unwilling to fight.

Back to the Britain of the early fifth century. In spite of the fact that the Picts have now settled in the north of Britannia, “the island was deluged with a most extraordinary plenty of all things, greater than was known before, and with it grew up every kind of luxury and licentiousness.” (De Excidio II:21). This, by the way, is corroborated elsewhere, since we know that when St Germanus visited this land in 429AD in order to stamp out the Pelagian heresy, he found wealth and prosperity, but the place under siege from the north.

Consider, again, the parallels with today. Despite decay from within and threats from without, we for the time being continue to enjoy all the trappings of wealth, including an entirely unsustainable social security system.

Back to Roman Britain. Unable or unwilling to look after themselves, the Britons under Vortigern call in the Saxons to do the job for them. Let Gildas tell the tale: “[The British] were so blinded that […] they sealed its doom [i.e. the fate of Britannia] by inviting in among them, like wolves into the sheep-fold, the fierce and impious Saxons […] Nothing was ever so pernicious to our country, nothing was ever so unlucky. What palpable darkness must have enveloped their minds!” (De Excidio II:23)

Is there not the clearest parallel between this and the mass immigration of today? Do we not see the most obvious similarity between the timorous Britons of the fifth century calling in mercenaries to defend them, and the couch-potato British of today letting in impoverished masses from abroad to do the work that they are unwilling to do themselves?

Nor, as Gildas points out (II:23) are these new arrivals good news for the host country: “Their mother-land, finding her first brood successful, sends forth a larger company of her wolfish offspring, which sailing over, join themselves to their bastard-born comrades. From that time the germ of iniquity and the root of contention planted their poison amongst us, as we deserved, and shot forth into leaves and branches.”

Which puts me in mind of a documentary I watched a few days ago, about gypsy benefit-scroungers from Romania, a buccaneering crowd who have correctly identified our country as a prime source of easy booty, and who are systematically exploiting our stupidity, which they no doubt despise; and rightly so.

The result of all this, memorably described in various of Gildas’ more purple passages, is carnage; as well as the mass exodus from Britannia of the ruling class, who “passed beyond the seas with loud lamentations” (De Excidio II:25), crossing the Channel to settle in the part of modern France which still bears their name: Brittany. And certainly, if I had the money to leave this country, I would do so without hesitation. As it is, I stay here to record our ruination.

* * * * *

And it is a ruination more speedy than anything that Gildas recorded. The incursions of the Picts and Scots and the arrival of the Saxons, were, in modern terms, more or less violent manifestations of globalisation and mass immigration. To these ills, however, we have added not just the insane cult of ‘man-made global warming’, but any number of equally destructive subsidiary cults, all deriving from self-hatred, lack of balls, and sheer idiocy. 

Oblivious, therefore, to the impending devastation, we sit around squabbling like eunuchs about the dogmas of ‘racism’, ‘transgender rights’, ‘equality’, ‘inclusivity’ and ‘diversity’. In the meantime, hordes of virile barbarians head for our frontiers, ready and willing to take full advantage of our weakness and foolishness; and just to make quite sure of our own destruction, we have now invented the apocalyptic new cult of the Coronavirus.

So that if the end of Roman Britain was slow and accidental, our own end is rapid and deliberate. A suicide, in other words.

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