Almost exactly three years ago, in April 2015, I said in a talk on immigration that “all it would take to get this issue into politics is one speech.”
Donald J. Trump declared for the presidency in June 2015.
And it took him just one soundbite to get the immigration issue into politics, despite the bipartisan consensus that had kept it out since the disastrous 1965 Immigration Act, and to go on to win the Presidency, in the teeth of unprecedented Ruling Class opposition.
At VDARE.com, we weren’t surprised...particularly. We had been documenting that immigration was the seismic fault line underlying American politics since we launched on Christmas Eve, 1999.
And I had a personal reason not to be surprised: my own views about immigration and the nation-state were profoundly shaped, when I was a student in England, by Enoch Powell’s great speech on the unprecedented immigrant influx into Britain, given fifty years ago today, on April 20, 1968.
It is impossible to exaggerate the furor this speech caused in Britain—or the hysterical reaction, which continues to this day, five decades later, in the form of Powell denialism, the claim that he was wrong or at least untactful etc.
(BTW when anti-Trumpers complain that The Donald is a thug and boor, blow them off. There could not have been more of a gentleman and scholar than Enoch Powell—or for that matter Patrick J. Buchanan—but the hysteria was quite comparable. It’s not the messenger: it’s the message—of patriotism and identity—that deranges the West’s current Ruling Class).
I’ve written a lot on VDARE.com about Powell, whom I got to know quite well in his later years, and maybe I’ll write more soon. But for the purposes of VDARE.com, I want to highlight this passage from his 1968 speech—which is, as a matter of fact, one of the great speeches in the language:
The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils.
In seeking to do so, it encounters obstacles which are deeply rooted in human nature. One is that by the very order of things such evils are not demonstrable until they have occurred: At each stage in their onset there is room for doubt and for dispute whether they be real or imaginary. By the same token, they attract little attention in comparison with current troubles, which are both indisputable and pressing: whence the besetting temptation of all politics to concern itself with the immediate present at the expense of the future.
Above all, people are disposed to mistake predicting troubles for causing troubles and even for desiring troubles: “if only”, they love to think, “if only people wouldn’t talk about it, it probably wouldn’t happen”.
This is the role of VDARE.com—and, to some degree, my own role in 40 years of journalism: To Provide Against Preventable Evils.
I can’t say, in the case of America’s immigration disaster, that it’s been profitable, or even popular.
That is why we need your help.
Because I do say that we’ve been right. If immigration has been cut off after my 1992 National Review cover story Time To Rethink Immigration?, the U.S. population would have been some 30 million smaller—and the displacement of the Historic American Nation that much further staved off, probably for good.
Or, as Powell put it:
At all events, the discussion of future grave but, with effort now, avoidable evils is the most unpopular and at the same time the most necessary occupation for the politician. Those who knowingly shirk it, deserve, and not infrequently receive, the curses of those who come after.
I have five children, the youngest only 3, and I think a great deal about “those who come after”—what the Founders called, in the preamble to the Constitution, “our posterity.”
I intend to do everything in my power to avoid their curses, and the curses of all America’s posterity. I need you to help me do that—by donating to VDARE.com and enabling us, in Powell’s words, “provide against preventable evils.”
Because there is another Powell speech, much less known in America, delivered in 1961 on St George’s Day, April 23—making him doubly one of our April prophets.
The originality of this speech is hard to convey to Americans because it represented a dramatic rethinking in the face of the astonishingly rapid collapse of the British Empire after World War II, from which it had nominally emerged victorious just 16 years earlier, in 1945.
As Powell said brutally: “That phase is ended, so plainly ended, that even the generation born at its zenith, for whom the realization is the hardest, no longer deceive themselves as to the fact.”
He went on:
And yet England is not as Nineveh and Tyre, nor as Rome, nor as Spain. Herodotus relates how the Athenians, returning to their city after it had been sacked and burnt by Xerxes and the Persian army, were astonished to find, alive and flourishing in the blackened ruins, the sacred olive tree, the native symbol of their country.So we today, at the heart of a vanished empire, amid the fragments of demolished glory, seem to find, like one of her own oak trees, standing and growing, the sap still rising from her ancient roots to meet the spring, England herself.
Powell’s view of the English nation was explicitly organic, explaining his later recoil from mass alien influx:
The stock that received all these grafts is English, the sap that rises through it to the extremities rises from roots in English earth, the earth of England’s history. We in our day ought well to guard, as highly to honour, the parent stem of England, and its royal talisman; for we know not what branches yet that wonderful tree will have the power to put forth.
In the American context, this means that America is not simply a “Proposition Nation” that can receive infinite immigration—it has an organic core. This organic core is what Abraham Lincoln appealed to in his First Inaugural Address, as he tried to avoid the Civil War, when he cited “The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land…”
That there is a limit to how much alien immigration America’s organic core can handle is the essence of VDARE.com’s message. But with appropriate care, that American core, the Historic American Nation, is capable of rebirth and infinite renewal.
We need your help to get this message out—for ourselves, especially for our posterity, and indeed for the whole Western World.