2017-09-08 The Wake

Still reading The Wake. I just read a review and another review.

This tale of the Norman conquest, told from the point of view of an English man, in an invented language that is readable but looks a bit like Old English, the “shadow tongue”, this tale makes me uneasy for all the nationalism it invokes, a kind of new-pagan ecofascism, too much Blut & Boden for my liking. As a perpetual foreigner, I question every mentioning of the “true” nationals, the “original” people, their “special” relationship with the land. If we learned anything from history, it should be that even if the first monkey that climbed down from tree and walked, even if that first human had stayed right there on that first piece of land, and their descendants had stayed there as well, making them the most original of the most true natives forever—I still don’t believe in a special relationship that cannot be gained in a few years of living somewhere, in a special property inherited from parents to children, in any sense of “belonging”. There are the things we do, the things we say, but the special connection to the land, a special property of the blood, this is one of the ingredients of fascism. Remember the essay on Urfascism. When you don’t have anything, when you can’t do anything, when you don’t know anything, at least you were born in a country and therefore it must be all to you. Fuck this.

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Related: Nature writing’s fascist roots by Richard Smyth in New Statesman: how nazis use the environment and misanthropy to imagine a past that’s better and a present that’s overrun with “other people.”

Well, these other people – they are us. Hi! I hope you don’t me settling on your land.

We need to find better ways to talk about our relationship with the land we live on.

Just because you live here doesn’t mean nobody else may come and live here as well. That doesn’t mean we need to support annexation and confiscation: if land was taken through an injustice, that injustice remains an issue to be solved, of course! All I’m saying is that your genes don’t have a right to the land. You do have the same rights to protection as everybody else, of course. And if a foreigners comes and buys your land, then that’s freedom and capitalism for you.

Sometimes we’d like to curb capitalism and that needs to be OK as well: sometimes we don’t want people or organisations to own large swathes of land. That’s what I mean: it’s complex, it needs to be talked through, it needs a constant political process to figure out what the right approach is, right now, for our times.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-08-31 23:43 UTC


Related to the section in the afterword where Kingsnorth talks about the effects of the Norman invasion still being felt today as the land is all in the hands of the nobility, @neil posts a link a The Guardian story about some land being treated as a commons and then being fenced off by some development company registered in the Bermuda’s and says:

About half of the land in England is owned by about 0.06% of the population.

Quoting from the story:

‘This period was, in effect, the birth of private property as we know it in England – and the consequences have been dramatic. Today, Fairlie explains, “nearly half the country is owned by 40,000 land millionaires, or 0.06% of the population”.’

– Alex Schroeder 2019-09-15 12:29 UTC


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