Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

English ruling class proto-fascists #94: EA Freeman

Professor EA Freeman - he would have preferred Adolf Hitler to Barack Obama

It has become customary among the 'decent', 'pro-war Left' to bemoan the apparent general state of the humanities in academia today. As one leading 'decent' , Professor Alan Johnson, so memorably put it, 'The postmodern academic tells students that the human condition has been blighted by "western-patriarchal-racist-homophobic-logocentric-capitalist-imperialism" and talks of the "multitude" that resist this new "Empire".' In the latest issue of his 'decent' journal Democratiya, he attacks the 'high theory and low sensibility [which] are increasingly important in the mass media, the arts, the academy and in what we might call graduate-popular-culture'.

Given this the 'decents' would surely want us all to remember the 'good old days' of academia in Britain when Empire was something that was celebrated and eulogised from the lecture podium (and the scruffy 'multitude' were kept safely out of the University altogether). The academics back in the day after all would of course all celebrate 'the human condition' wholeheartedly without any reservations whatsoever. Take, for example, EA Freeman (1823-1892), a forgotten figure today, but for a period during the nineteenth century he was one of the most pre-eminent English Liberal historians of his day, author of a History of the Norman Conquest , and in 1884 appointed Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford by William Gladstone, a friend of his, a position he held until his death. What did this 'decent' Liberal intellectual with such close ties to the English ruling class of his day have to say about 'the human condition'?

Well this is EA Freeman on Jewish people, at the time facing bloody pogroms in Eastern Europe and Tsarist Russia:

'Every nation has a right to get rid of strangers who prove a nuisance, whether they are Chinese in America or Jews in Russia'. Indeed, 'it is the natural instinct of any decent nation to get rid of filthy strangers', and Jewish people were 'an instrument of Satan'. He had no time for what he called 'this Jew humbug', positing that Jewish people somehow controlled the world's media, and arguing 'Let every nation wallop its own Jews'.

And this is EA Freeman on black Americans, then being lynched on a regular basis, while on a visit to the USA:

'The really queer thing is the niggers who swarm here; my Aryan prejudices go against them, specially when they rebuke one and order one about. And the women and the children are yet stranger than the men. Are you sure that they are men? I find it hard to believe they are men acting seriously: 'tis easier to believe that they are big monkeys dressed up for a game...I am sure 'twas a mistake making them citizens. I feel a creep when I think that one of those great black apes may (in theory) be President. Surely treat your horse kindly; but don't make him consul.'(Quotes from 'The Failure of Liberal Racism: The Racial Ideas of EA Freeman' by CJW Parker, The Historical Journal, 1981)

Is it so surprising that this racist proto-fascist was appointed Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University and celebrated among the English ruling class of his day at the high point of the British Empire? No. Nor is it surprising that the 'decent Left' today find themselves inevitably resorting to racism against Muslims in order to effectively wage propaganda war on behalf of the American Empire. The various Professors of the 'pro-war Left' have far more in common with Professor EA Freeman than they know. No wonder that fascists internationally are rubbing their hands in gleeful anticipation at the rising tide of Islamophobia and anti-immigrant racism more generally - they are happy to ride the tiger of racism all the way to the gas chambers.

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At 6:31 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Muslims are the biggest enemies of freedom today. Opposing their reactionary imperialism, terrorism and Sharia law is liberal, not fascist. As Winston Chruchill once said in the 1950s, Islam is the strongest retrograde force in the world today - and it's still true.
The Left has caste its lot with the Muslims because they reflexively support the Third World.


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