Yes, yes, I know. Many Paleos shudder at the mention of the word “empire,” rather as nineteenth-century old maids used to shudder at the mention of Lord Byron — but really, I ask you: When a Paleo watches Zulu, whose side is he on? Does he really cheer when, in the movie Khartoum, a dervish hurls a spear into the chest of General Gordon? Is he roused to say, “Damn right!” when the Kali-worshipping guru in the film Gunga Din gives his nationalist-fanatic speech to the sergeants three (Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Victor McLaglen)? When a Paleocon hears the strains of God Save the Queen does he truly have an incurable desire to stand up and shout, “Oi, what about the Irish?”
True Paleos, I suspect, if they are honest, have to rather like the largest empire the world has ever known, the British Empire; and they would probably agree with Mark Steyn that “insofar as the world functions at all, it’s due to the Britannic inheritance.” Some I know get a bit carried away with that hatred which is passed along through mystic chords of bog-trotting memory or Teutonic apologetics, which cast Britain, and England in particular, as a sort of super-villain, a prejudice that unites Iranian Islamists, Lyndon LaRouchers, members of the IRA, and the glossy Sergei Eisensteinesque agit-prop of Mel Gibson’s Braveheart
and The Patriot
But a true Paleo might remember James Burnham’s Suicide of the West, which nails liberalism as the force that “motivates and justifies the contraction [of Western power, as can be charted on historical maps], and reconciles us to it.” He will remember that among the 39 articles of liberal faith identified by Burnham is No. 14: “Colonialism and imperialism are wrong”; and No. 20: “All nations and peoples, including the nations and peoples of Asia and Africa, have a right to political independence when a majority of the population wants it.” Others of the 39 are similar. He might even remember that Christopher Dawson pointed out, in 1932, that the Bolsheviks regarded the British Empire, “not without reason as the chief element of cohesion in the divided ranks of their enemies.” Certainly in 1940, the British Empire was the only element of cohesion in the ranks of the enemies of the combined forces of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, fascist Italy, Vichy France, and Imperial Japan, or what Evelyn Waugh called “the Modern Age in arms.” In that battle, too, it’s pretty clear which side a Paleocon should be on — on the side of the British Empire against the Modern Age.