Category Archives: Empire

Orientalism

OrientalismEdward Said ([1978] 1991)  Penguin

This is one of those foundational texts that I had never read and quite embarrassed about that and always meaning to get to next… Because this was so groundbreaking and has been used and quoted by so many others, it is hard now to fully grasp how challenging it must have been when it was published, and probably for that reason it also enters into an incredibly detailed engagement with a whole shelf of literature I am not sure anyone bothers much about today. They don’t have to, because Said did. I might have nodded off a couple of times, but these sections are worth the slog.

To do so he employs Michel Foucault’s notion of discourse (The Archeology of Knowledge, Discipline and Punish), a difficult task he does well I think, and not one many succeed in. I am mostly going to let him speak for himself:

My contention is that without examining Orientalism as a discourse one cannot possibly understand the enormously systematic discipline by which European culture was able to manage — and even produce — the Orient politically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically, and imaginatively during the Post-Enlightenment period. Moreover, so authoritative a position did Orientalism have that I believe no one writing, thinking, or acting on the Orient could do so without taking account of the limitations on thought and action imposed by Orientalism. In brief, because of Orientalism the Orient was not (and is not) a free subject of thought or action. This is not to say that Orientalism unilaterally determines what can be said about the Orient, but that it is the whole network of interests inevitably brought to bear on (and tehrefore always involved in) any occassion when that peculiar entity “the Orient” is in question. How this happens is what this book tries to demonstrate. It also tries to show that European culture gained in strength and identity by setting itself off against the Orient as a sort of surrogate and even underground self (3).

And this:

To believe that the Orient was created — or, as I call it, “Orientalized”–and to believe that such things happen simply as a necessity of the imagination, is to be disingenuous. The relationship between Occident and Orient is a relationship of power, of domination, of varying degrees of a complex hegemony… (5)

I like Foucault all right, though I was happiest going back to Gramsci:

It is hegemony, or rather the result of cultural hegemony at work, that gives Orientalism the durability and the strength I have been speaking about so far. Orientalism is never far from what Denys Hays has called the idea of Europe, a collective notion identifying “us” Europeans as against all “those” non-Europeans, and indeed it can be argued that the major component in European culture is precisely what made that culture hegemonic both in and outside Europe: the idea of European identity as a superior one in comparison with all the non-European peoples and cultures … (7)

Following on from how categories of  ‘us’ and ‘them’ are created with one dominating over another, I think the below opens the door in an interesting way to think about racial hierarchies (which he doesn’t really go through, I think most of the work on that which has come long after Said wrote this):

In a quite constant way, Orientalism depends for its strategy on this flexible positional superiority, which puts the Westerner in a whole series of possible relationships with the Orient without ever losing him the relative upper hand (7).

As a writer, and in thinking about other writers and their work, I am fascinated by this:

This influence upon culture is not to demean or denigrate, rather my whole point is to say that we can better understand the persistence and the durability of saturating hegemonic systems like culture when we realize that their internal constraints upon writers and thinkers were productive, not universally inhibiting. It is this idea that Gramsci, certainly, and Foucault and Raymond Williams…have been trying to illustrate (14).

I confess to have not really considered hegemony as productive, rather have only sought it in limits…limits are what you hit when you try and change things, make it better. (Said working more from Foucault, seems to have as default the opposite understanding, so he later feels called upon to clarify that ‘Orientalism is better grasped as  a set of constraints upon and limitations of thought than it is simply as a positive doctrine’ (42). ) But when you try and create something…the danger is how your work shaped, produced through these dominant systems. More familiar again is the way that hegemony defines usefulness and quality:

In other words, Lane’s authority was gained, not by virtue simply of what he said, but by virtue of how what he said could be adapted to Orientalism (158)

Still, it is in hegemony’s productiveness that where we come from, where we stand is so important. Said brings to the intro a personal dimension, being raised in two British colonies, Palestine and Egypt, educated there and in the U.S. An amazing quote from Gramsci: ‘The starting-point of critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one really is, and “knowing thyself” as a product of the historical process to date, which has deposited in you an infinity of traces, without leaving and inventory’, but Said finishes this quote with the last sentence which had not been previously translated: ‘therefore it it is imperative at the outset to compile such an inventory.’ (26)

I like the idea of compiling such an inventory, as much as acknowledging the personal and the intellectual:

The nexus of knowledge and power creating “the Oriental” and in a sense obliterating him as a human being is therefore not for me an exclusively academic matter. Yet it is an intellectual matter of some very obvious importance (27).

How the ideological connects to the material, and the vastness of the colonial project — something that can never be forgotten:

The period of immense advance in the institutions and content of Orientalism coincides exactly with the period of unparalleled European expansion; from 1815 to 1914 European direct colonial dominion expanded from about 35 percent of the earth’s surface to about 85 percent of it. Every continent was affected, none more so than Asia and Africa (41).

Why is Said beloved by geographers? The chapter called ‘Imaginative Geography and Its Representations: Orientalizing the Oriental’ points the way, a critique of how our discipline has participated in this system of domination:

As a discipline representing institutionalized Western knowledge of the Orient, Orientalism thus comes to exert a three-way force, on the Orient, on the Orientalist, and on the Western “consumer” of Orientalism (67).

Though I found later quotations about space more useful, like this one about the construction of colonial space:

In the classical and often temporarily remote form in which it was reconstructed by the Orientalist, in the precisely actual form in which the modern Orient was lived in, studied or imagined, the geographical space of the Orient was penetrated, worked over, taken hold of. The cumulative effect of decades of so sovereign a Western handling turned the Orient from alien into colonial space (211).

and this: ‘the Orient as a geographical space to be cultivated, harvested, and guarded.’ Said goes on to quote Leroy-Beaulieu on the true nature of the project of empire in space:

‘Colonization is the expansive force of a people; it is its power of reproduction; it is its enlargement and its multiplication through space; it is the subjection of the universe or a vast part of it to that people’s language, customs, ideas and laws (219).

Above all, reading this for me clarified the essence of what happens when we essentialise through a use and abuse of stereotypes that are wielded so casually, above all when this is connected to a larger project of domination:

Orientalism overrode the Orient. As a system of thought about the Orient, it always rose from the specifically human detail to the general transhuman one; an observation about a tenth-century Arab poet multiplied itself into  a policy towards (and about) the Oriental mentality in Egypt, Iraq, or Arabia (96).

What I found to be the most useful definition of it is quoted from Anwar Abdel Malek:

a) On the level of the position of the problem, and the problematic…the Orient and Orientals [are considered by Orientalism] as an “object” of study, stamped with an otherness — as all that is different, whether it be “subject” or “object”–but of a constituitive otherness, of an essentialist character…This “object” of study will be, as is customary, passive, non-participating, endowed with a “historical” subjectivity, above all, non-active, non-autonomous, non-sovereign with regard to itself: the only Orient or Oriental or “subject” which could be admitted, at the extreme limit, is the alienated being, philosophically, that is, other than itself in relationship to itself, posed, understood, defined–and acted–by others (97, ‘Orientalism in Crisis’).

There is a critique of assembly, of the ways that this essentialising takes place through cobbling bits and pieces together into a new, more convenient whole:

Not only are Oriental literary publications essentially a lien to the European; they also do not contain a sustained enough interest, nor are they written with enough “taste and critical spirit,” to merit publication except as extracts…Therefore the Orientalist is required to present the Orient by a series of representative fragments, fragments republished, explicated, annotated, and surrounded with still more fragments (128).

I was glad to see an interrogation of Marx, the way modernist ideas of progress (even when sympathetic) folded in to a larger project of domination. This quote exemplifies everything that needs to be challenged in them

Now sickening as it must be to human feeling to witness those myriads of industrious patriarchal and inoffensive social organizations disorganized and dissolved into their units, thrown into a sea of woes, and their individual members losing at the same time their ancient form of civilization and their hereditary means of subsistence, we must not forget that these idyllic village communities…had always been the solid foundation of Oriental despotism, that they restrained the human mind within the smallest possible compass, making it the unresisting toll of superstition, enslaving it beneath the traditional rules, depriving it of all grandeur and historical energies

England, it is true, in causing a social revolution in Hindustan was actuated only by the vilest interests, and was stupid in her manner of enforcing them. But that is not the question. The question is, can mankind fulfill its destiny without a fundamental revolution in the social state of Asia? (Marx, Surveys From Exile)

It’s probably because I don’t have a background in Colonial studies that I wondered at Said’s not choosing more of the very obvious quotes about colonial power and white supremacy that I did not know but imagines must exist in abundance, but there is this poem by Kipling:

Now, this is the road that the White Men tread
When they go to clean a land–
Iron underfoot and the vine overhead
And the deep on either hand.
We have trod that road–and a wet and windy road–
Our chosen star for guide.Oh, well for the world when the White Men tread
Their highway side by side! (226)

Some disturbing quotes from Orwell I will hunt down, in an essay called ‘Marrakech’ when he finds it hard to feel that brown faces represent human beings. I liked how he traced the changing face of Orientalism over time, however. I think his argument that the new Orientalism from America based on strings of facts, statistics, which are disturbed by literary texts has some truth to it, though it seems that all of these ways of creating and imagining the other are currently at play side by side.

Here is a summation not so much of what has been argued as the where this book might be taking us. This is where I feel a little out of my depth and need more reflection about just how this fits in with a politics of liberation and a theory that supports it:

…as this book has tried to demonstrate, Islam has been fundamentally misrepresented in the West–the real issue is whether there can be a true representation of anything, or whether any and all representations, because they are representations, are embedded first in the language and then in the culture, institutions, ans political ambience of the representer. If the latter alternative is the correct one (as I believe it is), then we must be prepared to accept the fact that a representation is eo ipso implicated. intertwined, embedded, interwoven with a great many other things besides the “truth,” which is itself a representation (272).

Beyond A Boundary

imagesC.L.R. James ([1963] 1996) Serpent’s Tail, London

I enjoyed this immensely. I know just enough about cricket that it made some kind of sporting sense — though I confess that there’s was an entire chapter on Bradman and the body-line where I really had no idea what the hell James was talking about. Mostly though, James’s enthusiasm carried me along the crest of a lyrical use of words in unfamiliar contexts and meanings, descriptions of overs and strokes and other barely understood marks of poetry and genius. Growing up with three brothers made this a familiar sensation, and I let the minimally understood words carry me along to more familiar territory. Historiography, politics, colonialism and its legacies, ethics, the relationships between a people and their popular heroes, the relationships between popular heroes and the spirit of the time and place.

These things are beautifully explored, and impossible to sum up. Strange growing up in Arizona playing soccer I was inculcated with many of the same values of fair play, and it’s not a bad code to live by. Certainly conflicted, as James says, by where that code comes from and how it has been wielded.

This is partly why I appreciated his statement of the importance of remembering the past and understanding it in the present for both  colonised and the colonisers. It is not about catharsis, but about understanding how we have arrived where we are so that we can shape where we are going. The demand to forget the past so often comes from those who benefit, even if unconsciously, from such forgetfulness.

There are the people who, having enjoyed the profits and privileges of racialism for most of a lifetime, now that racialism is under fire and in retreat, profess a lofty scorn for it and are terribly pained when so much as refer to it in any shape or form. Their means have changed, not their ends, which are the same as they always were, to exploit racialism for their own comfort and convenience. They are a dying race and they will not be missed…

There is a less obvious fraternity. They not only understand, but sympathize. When you delve into your own history they see in it a search for catharsis! You are getting the poison out of your system.

Here he quotes T.S. Eliot: ‘This is the use of memory…liberation, From the future as well as the past.’

That is exactly what I do not think about memories. They do not liberate me in any sense except that once you have written down something your mind is ready to go further. I do not want to be liberated from them. I would consider liberation from them a grievous loss, irreparable. I am not recording tragedy. I do not wish to be liberated from that past and, above all, I do not wish to be liberated from its future. … I speculated and planned and schemed for the future; among other plans, how to lay racialism flat and keep stamping on it whenever it raises its head, and at the same time not to lose a sense of proportion — not at all easy. (59)

And this is a book about both the coloniser and the colonised, a look at what cricket has meant in England and how that has been exported to the West Indies to take on its own life and meaning. The connections between the two as they continue to meet. The playing out of emancipation through the politics of sport. A use of sport as a prism to understand national movements and hopes and anxieties. It feels more nuanced than a traditional economic base and ideological superstructure analysis, though it contains some of these elements. On the Victorian middle class, as it appropriated cricket to ‘convert it into a national institution’, James writes:

It was accumulating wealth…More than most newcomers it was raw. Unlike the French bourgeoisie of the eighteenth century, it had no need to create a new political and philosophical system to prepare itself for power. Its chief subjective quality was a moral unctuousness. This it wore like armour to justify its exploitation of common labour, and to protect itself from the loose and erratic lives of the aristocracy it was preparing to supplant… (161)

Seeing sport as culture:

The world-wide renaissance of organized games and sports as an integral part of modern civilization was on its way. Of this renaissance, the elevation of cricket and football to the place they soon held in English life was a part; historically speaking, the most important part…The only word I know for this is culture. The proof of its validity is its success, first of all at home and then almost as rapidly abroad, in the most diverse places and among peoples living lives which were poles removed from that whence it originally came. This signifies, as so often in any deeply national movement, that it contained elements of universality that went beyond the bounds of the originating nation. It is the only contribution of the English educational system of the nineteenth century to the general ideas of Western civilization (166).

It is, however, a universality this particular form of which came into being through certain economic changes. James describes that following the Factory Act of 1847, ‘there had come into existence an enormous urban public, proletarian and clerical lower middle class. They had won for themselves one great victory, freedom on Saturday afternoon. They were ‘waiting to be amused’ (170).

W.G. Grace became my hero (though later conversation with people who know about these things tore him down again, forcing me to make a separation between personal life and public — one that I am never ever comfortable with). I learned a new word as well:

Prolegomena is a tough word, but my purpose being what it is, it is the only one I can honestly use. It means the social, political, literary and other antecedents of some outstanding figure in the arts and sciences. Grasp the fact that a whole nation had prepared the way for him and you begin to see his stature as a national embodiment (170).

I think there is something important here about how we study history, how we understand people and movements:

But the passions and the forces which are embodied in great popular heroes — and W.G. was one of the greatest of popular heroes–these passions and forces do not yield their secrets to the antiquated instruments which the historians still cling to. Wilton St. Hill and Learie Constantine were more than makers of runs and takers of wickets to the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Who will write a biography of Sir Donald Bradman must be able to write a history of Australia in the same period. I have indicated what I think W.G. signified in the lives of the English people, not in what politicians did for them or poets wrote of them or what Carlyle and Ruskin preached to them, but in the lives that they themselves lived from day to day. We shall know more what men want and what they live by when we begin from what they do. They worshipped W.G. That is the fact. And I believe we have never given this fact the attention it deserves. Some day we shall. Of that I have no doubt. For the time being it is enough to say once more: he brought and made a secure place for pre-industrial England in the iron and steel of the Victorian Age (182).

All of this should shape how we work to change our future. Constantine, St Hill, Worrell become heroes as well. The struggle for Worrell as a Black captain clearly a most important one, though clearly a struggle that many on the more dogmatic left believed a waste of time.

I also quite loved the chapter on cricket as high art, the beautiful lines of the play and players themselves, the aesthetics. I chuckled at some of the homoerotic nature of classic descriptions of player form, style and beauty. But I would be the last to deny that this beauty is there.

I think the true skill and beauty of cricket is impossible to fully grasp for anyone who hasn’t followed it for a long time, and better yet played and played well. But its meaning, its greater cultural meaning is something we should work to understand.

Save

Albert Memmi on Racism

565510([1982] 1999) University of Minnesota Press
(Original review from 14 June, 2013)

A brilliant, short and deceptively simple exposition on the nature of racism and what anti-racist struggle should look like. It was written by Albert Memmi, a novelist and intellectual who participated in the Tunisian struggle for independence from France but was forced to leave his home country in 1956 after their victory, suspect due to his studies in France and his Jewish heritage. An outsider, neither Arab nor French, he yet remains committed to struggle and thus I think, to a reduction of complexity, a focus on essence and concrete ideas about how change can happen. This is a treasure really, and a book I wish I had read long ago, during my first attempt to look at race and racism intellectually rather than a few years down the line.

It makes me want to re-read everything in its light as there is so much I love about it but I worry about this very absence of complexity. But I think its structure is sound, and so much else I’ve read simply fills in details and particularities, gives it nuance and shading.

A common core to everything of course, is that racism is not based on any fundamental characteristics of the group discriminated against, it is not rational in that way, it is culturally constructed but it is a practical construction, and thus often contradictory. Memmi writes:

The thinkers and militants rely on logic and reasoning because they believe they are dealing with an opposing logic and reasoning. But racism is not simply of the order of reason; its real meaning does not reside in its apparent coherence. It is a discourse, at once both functional and naïve, that is called forth and maintained, in its essence and its goals, by something other that itself.

What is that other reason? ‘Whatever its little detours may be, ultimately, the goal of racism is dominance’. [55]

I like his distinction between his own line of thought and Marxism – recognising the great (and increasing) diversity in Marxist thinking

An objection that Marxism might raise, should perhaps be addressed. For most Marxists, the diversity of racism’s social advantages is a deception, in the strong sense of the term. “Man” is, essentially, an economic animal, driven principally by economic needs. The rest is diversion, ruse, and ideology. In these terms, racism is fundamentally an economic weapon. Racist discourse becomes an alibi disguising an interminable appropriation of natural resources and, more to the point, the “exploitation of man by man.” According to the familiar formula “economics is the ultimate motor of history.”

I am in partial agreement with the Marxists here. They are right to suspect that racism seeks another end, behind all its disparagements and attacks. I am quite convinced that there are usually two levels to a discourse — an explicit content and a hidden meaning. …

The Marxists are not wrong, either, in suspecting contemporary racism of economic motivation. …

My agreement with Marxists ends there. I think they are wrong to think that privilege always reduces itself to economic advantage–even as “ultimate determinant,” according to their customary expression. only [61] … Human reality is more complex; pne could not know for certain what unique factor governs all the rest, nor could one know even if such a thing exists. Human needs are multiple, even if they are not endlessly multiplied. Priorities are variable and fluid. The need for security or the need for love, is often as important as the need for nourishment. In short, one might adopt a racist stance for many different reasons, and not simply for calculable economic return — even though, for all, the mechanism whereby those gains are achieved may be the same. [62]

Thus Memmi demands that we always look for the work that racism does. This is one way it can work:

To exteriorize evil by incarnating it in another separates it from society and renders it less threatening. It can be manipulated, managed, destroyed by fire. The common denominator must be understood: fire purifies all, including ourselves … but only by burning the other. That is where it is most economical. [64]

And of course, one of its foundations: colonialism:

The boundary between colonization and premeditated murder is created and sustained by the needs of the colonizer. Without that, it reduces to death and genocide. For example, the first European settlers in the Americas decimated the Indians because they did not have a way of using them …

This is why, to understand any given form of racism, one must inquire into what benefit a particular racist group gains over the particular group they have picked as a target, as their prey. That is, beyond general mechanisms, what does the anti-Semite seek in anti-Semitism, the masculinist man through masculinism, the colonialist through colonization? And what is each of them looking for at any particular historical moment? [70]

This is the key social and structural foundation of racism. But Memmi also looks at how it works and functions on an individual level, and how this interacts with the larger collective feeling. He recognises within human beings an innate fear and distrust of difference, and sees racism as only one aspect of this larger heterophobia, one based on some kind of visible difference such as skin colour or something such as the shape of the nose. It is not intellectual, but lived, and he argues:

It is easier to contest an argument than an emotion; it is much easier to refute a discourse than an experience. That racism finds its genesis and its nourishment in ordinary experience should not be reassuring. On the contrary, its opacity and tenacity are enhanced by the banality of its sources. [22]

Thus, it is natural to notice difference, people then assign values to these differences, ‘Ultimately, one becomes racist only with the inclusion of the third point: the deployment of a difference to denigrate the other, to the end of gaining [37] privilege or benefit through stigmatization.’ This is a tricky point for me, this point of where exactly racism starts. This is where I need to think more about it. But it seems that this might be a good start towards being able to think through how difference works, and how differences can work together. We need to become a society that can thrive in difference, can celebrate it, while also eradicating racism. It reminded me of an essay by Stuart Hall contrasting the essentialisms of the 1960s and 70s struggles and Black Power, which really needed to embrace difference, yet through embracing difference have seemed to lose something of their strength and power for resistance against racism that we need to find and build in another way.

That is something that needs building collectively I think, but I like this line of initial thought:

In effect, the real stakes against racism, which must also inform anti-racism, do not concern difference itself but the use of difference as a weapon against its victim, to the advantage of the victimizer. [51]

At the end, after iteration and iteration, he comes to his clear definition of racism:

Racism is a generalizing definition and valuation of differences, whether real or imaginary, to the advantage of the one defining and deploying them, and to the detriment of the on subjected to that act of definition, whose purpose is to justify (social or physical) hostility and assault. [100]

He also manages to see this as a pyramid, not black and white but multicultural – he uses the phrase of ‘pyramid of tyrannies’ [106] where groups jostle for position always setting themselves above the group beneath them.

So in a nutshell slightly larger than the definition (the way this book always seems to circle around and expand upon the essences of the thing):

Though racism has some roots in a person’s emotional structure and sensibilities, its basic formulation is social. Racism is a cultural discourse that surrounds each person from childhood on, in the air one breathes, in parental advice and thinking, in one’s cultural rituals. One is exposed to it in school, in the streets and the newspapers, even in the writings of people one is supposed to admire and who might otherwise be admirable… [112]

Thus, racism is always both a discourse and an action; it is a discourse that prepares an action, and an action that legitimates itself through a discourse. [142]

Racism is a form of war. And there we glimpse its real face behind all of its shadowy disguises. Up to now, we have disregarded the innateness of agressivity. We can no longer afford to do that if we wish to look to the future. [144]

And even better, it contains some thinking of what must be done in a beautiful section so lacking in so many academic works — Practical lessons:

1. First and foremost, we must be conscious of racism, not just in others but in ourselves, individually and collectively. [146]
What is needed is an exercise of empathy, which means training ourselves in the difficult task of participating in the other. [147]

2. The struggle against racism requires a continual pedagogy, from infancy to death. [149]
Since the apprehension on real or imagined evil is one of the ingredients of aggressiveness, anything that diminishes fear will have a beneficial effect.

3. The core of all teaching is an individual relation to the student, even when the teaching occurs in large groups. But teaching must also address itself to the social, to the collective, and that is the role of politics. Politics is a collective form of behaviour in the name of certain values and in view of greater efficacy. [151]

The struggle against racism coincides, at least in part, with the struggle against all oppressions. There will always be the necessity for struggle. Racism is a perverted sentiment that is the result, the expression, and the matrix of real situations that must be changed if it is to be brought to an end. In order for racism to disappear, it will be necessary that the oppressed cease to be oppressed, that is, recognised as the convenient victim, as the incarnation of an image the [154] oppressor had invented. But it will also be necessary that the oppressor cease to be an oppressor, cease to require that others be under his thumb… [155]

The political fight must be planned around a separate analysis of each context. Who benefits from the arguments justifying racism? What privilege or act of aggression does it prepare for or conceal? Then, if we really want to get at racism, we must tackle this concrete relationship, this implicit or explicit oppression [182]

Is this how I understand politics? I’m not sure? But I think this is a good way to start looking at racism in any given society with an aim to eradicate it.

The final paragraph of this short book I found surprisingly provocative. It summarises much of what has come before, but is perhaps at Memmi’s most clear in terms of human nature and what we are really up against. He writes

How is one to struggle effectively against racism? Moral indignation and attempts at persuasion have shown themselves to be clearly insufficient. One must take full account of racism’s roots in fear, in financial insecurity, in economic avarice, which are in humans the sources of aggressivity and a tendency toward domination. One must struggle against such aggressions and dominations, and prevent them. It is racism that is natural and anti-racism that is not; anti-racism can only be something that is acquired, as all that is cultural is acquired, at the end of long and arduous struggles, which are never free from the possibility of being reversed. [196]

Is racism natural, anti-racism unnatural? I’ve been thinking about that, I’m still not sure of where I stand. But unquestionably, the way in which our society has developed and is structured, particularly in the United States which is where I grew up, and Britain where I live, racism is in the very air we breathe. But like Gilroy in his work on Post-Colonial Melancholia, I see great hope also – in London much more than anywhere I have lived. Just walking around the street you can see the lines of race breaking down in beautiful ways, the rise of a working class conviviality where mixed race couples almost seem to be the rule and so much daily life is shared. The splits are still there and racism is still there, but what I see makes me believe we can actually get past it in the future, a different world is possible. This seems a most organic thing the way it is happening, one that seems to show racism is perhaps not so natural a thing. But I wonder if it could be reversed, if one group could suddenly be rejected the way a new Tunisia rejected some of its freedom fighters…

This is a book to come back to more than once, I feel this is something of a jumble of thoughts that need a lot more going through, particularly in application. But I love that intellectually I can see where to apply them in my work, I can see how, and I can see that it will improve what I do…

Save

Henry Thornton of Clapham

18696405I came across Henry Thornton, and the rise of the Clapham religious and abolitionist community as perhaps the first suburb reading Robert Fisher’s Bourgeois Utopias. In looking for more information I found this rather quaint book in the LSE library, copyrighted in 1964 and the first (only?) biography of Thornton, but it feels almost of another era in its reflections and open opinions on Thornton’s life and beliefs. I was most interested in the growth of the Clapham group, how this contributed to modern ideas of home, city and suburb, and the involvement of religion upon these constructions, and those of gender roles. I found a very little of that, but so much more. I’m still reeling a little I think.

THORNTONI’ve borrowed the basic bio from his parliament biography (wonderful things these):

b. 10 Mar. 1760, 3rd s. of John Thornton, Russia merchant and dir. Bank of England, of Clapham by 2nd w. Lucy, da. and h. of Samuel Watson, Russia merchant, of Kingston-upon-Hull Yorks.; bro. of Robert Thornton* and Samuel Thornton*. educ. Dr Davis’s sch. Wandsworth Common 1765-73; Mr Roberts’s sch. Point Pleasant, Wandsworth 1773-8. m. 1 Mar. 1796, Mary Anne, da. of Joseph Sykes, Russia merchant, of West Ella, Yorks., 3s. 6da.

Offices Held

Asst. Russia Co. 1789-1811; chairman, Sierra Leone Co. 1791-1811.
Capt. Battersea and Streatham vols. 1798.

His father, John Thornton, was an early promoter of the Evangelical beliefs. They are of the kind that I find frustrating and bewildering, where God is the cause of all things, and we are but his instruments, with a heavy does of predestination thrown in. So you could imagine young and earnest Thornton finding it slightly hard to get on in society. Novelist Fanny Burney writes ‘Mr Thornton, the new member for the borough, a man of Presbyterian extraction, upon which he has grafted of late much ton and nonchalance…was pleased to follow me about with a sort of hard unmeaning curiosity, very disagreeable to me, and to himself very much like nothing’ (26).

In 1785 Thornton met his cousin William Wilberforce, the more charming and famous of the two. Meacham writes:

For Wilberforce was welcome anywhere. A rich man, from a class above the Thorntons, he relished conversation with the London ton–an evening’s gossip with Grenville and Pitt, the rather more exotic chatter of Mme. de Staël (39).

An interesting entry of class into the picture, as opposed to money. Still, the two became fast friends and worked together for the abolition of the slave trade. In 1792 they moved into Battersea Rise, a mansion next to Clapham Common.

ThorntonHouse

Thornton writes in 1793:

On the whole I am in hope some good may come out of our Clapham system. Wilberforce is a candle that should not be hid under a bushel. The influence of his conversation is, I think, great and striking. I am surprised to find how much religion everybody seems to have when they get into our house. They seem all to submit, and to acknowledge the advantage of a religious life, and we are not at all queer or guilty of carrying things too far (28, quoting from Henry Morris, Life of Charles Grant London 1904, p 200).

Meacham describes Clapham at the time:

Clapham, five miles from the city, was a pleasant place to live. The great Common, until 1760 a tangled wilderness, now looked a vast and pleasant stretch of land. Paths had been laid and drains installed. But this was still the country. The parish paid a shilling bounty for every polecat killed, and fourpence for hedgehogs. Horse chesnuts and poplars grew to the edge of many of the ponds. On the north corner stood the parish church: large, solid, unadorned, built in 1775 with money raised by John Thornton. Big enough to hold 1400, by 1790 it was none too large. The 1760 village of 1000 now had a population nearly three times as great (32).

Apart from renovating and adding two wings to Battersea Rise, Thornton built a second house, sold to Charles Grant in 1794. First a merchant in the East India Company and then on the Board of Trade, he joined the Clapham Evangelical community where his family would become one of the closest to the Thorntons. They were joined by John Venn, who became tutor to Grant’s children and later became rector of Clapham. James Stephens, married to WIlberforce’s sister Sarah, who became an abolitionist after working in the West Indies and corresponding with Wilberforce on the conditions on the plantations. Meachem states he became an Evangelical through his hatred of slavery rather than the other way round. Zachary Macauley, formerly a bookkeeper and overseer of a Jamaica plantation from age 16 to 20, became part of the circle (and would later become governor of Sierra Leone). John Shore, Lord Teignmouth also from the East India Company, would join them. William Smith, Charles Elliot, and  John Hatchard, publisher, also joined them. In the wider circle were the Gisbournes, Babingtons and Hannah More, joined by a tangle of shared beliefs and marriages. The book contains a brilliant map showing the Clapham Community and its members, along with a description of what is left — a little disparaging of Clapham as a ‘dreary London suburb’.

Scan 5

Thonrton'sCommon2 Thonrton'sCommon3

These villas would form the basis of future ideals of the suburb, but at this time most of its residents still kept, or took on under the pressures of work, houses in town — King’s Arm Yard, Palace Yard, Kennington, Bloomsbury, Ormond St.

This is partly because Thornton, Wilberforce, Babington, Grant and Stephen all sat in Parliament — quite a political commitment from so religious a community. They saw their bedrock as moral integrity and incorruptibility, thus Meacham argues that while they are usually described as Tory, it was a little more complicated.  They were, of course, remembered for their work to abolish the slave trade. For Thornton it was more than abolition, he wrote:

To promote the instruction of the African in letters and useful knowledge…to induce them to substitute a beneficial commerce in place of the slave trade; to introduce amongst them the useful arts of Europe… (Thornton to Zachary Macauley, 28 May 1806 SB p 34, 97).

And abolish the trade they did.

But then there’s Sierra Leone, and this is where I must confess my ignorance and astonishment and no small degree of horror. Here’s a piece of the history I’m ashamed I didn’t know:

Thornton’s anxiety to better Africa and civilize the Africans equaled his concern for slaves and hatred of the slave trade. Sierra Leone showed itself the means by which that civilizing might begin, and Thornton, committed as he was to abolition, worked less for that than for the colony which he felt promised most for Africa once slave-trading had stopped.

The Act of Parliament creating Sierra Leone Company authorized a court of thirteen Directors, and the Directors elected Thornton their chairman. They chose him as much for his ability as a banker as for his convictions as a Christian. Sierra Leone would prove their point–that Africa could prosper as more than just a market for humanity–only if the Company should show a profit. Thornton, it was hoped, would make the venture pay. The one attempt in pure colonial philanthropy, which Granville Sharp had made five years before, had proved a dismal failure.

Sharp had himself explored the land along the mouth of the Sierra Leone River in 1787. The Royal African Company had lost its monopoly there in 1698, and the territory was full of slavers from France and from England. Sharp returned to London determined to see at least one colony of freemen on the western coast of Africa, He formed a Committee for Black Poor which raised money to send a group of 340 indigent Negroes to Sierra Leone. They sailed under the protection of nine white officials and in the company of 62 white prostitutes. Sharp had elaborate plans for his settlement, but by September 1788, four months after landing, just 66 Negroes remained alive. Disease felled half the tough white women. Those neither dead nor sick were burdened with the care of 30 black and mulatto babies. The five harassed officials still at work could only try in vain to interest them in re-establishing the Anglo-Saxon frank-pledge system Sharp had felt best suited to their needs (102-103).

Sweet Jesus. I don’t even know what to say to either of those two attempts to create a settlement. Now, given a description like that (Who were the women? Why did they come? Who were the Black men? What the hell is happening here?) this clearly isn’t a book that will explore this story with much of a critical eye. I’ll be investigating more, so just a few choice details pulled from a chapter that hardly engages with what is really happening.

The new Sierra Leone Company, when it assumed control of the Colony, made use of what it could at Granville Town and reimbursed [!] Sharp with £1,850. The directors expressed their readiness to spend additional money to turn what had been a philanthropy into a philanthropic business. Their charter spoke of factories and a second town… (104)

Complication came almost at once with the importation of 1196 Negroes who had served in the British army during the American Revolution and been left to fend for themselves in singularly unsuitable Novia Scotia (106).

Turns out those guys didn’t like white capitalists telling them what to do. I applaud them, disagreeing with sentences like these:

It was a noble end–to make a colony remake men: an end, however, that was to prove maddeningly difficult to achieve (107).

When Macauley retired as governor in 1799 he brought 30 children with him back to Clapham to be educated and returned to Sierra Leone as part of this end.

The children had come to Marianne [Thornton’s wife] to learn their Bible and their manners, and they exasperated her. “My African girls have been a plague to me,” she complained to Hannah More. “I mean to send the worst back by the next ship.” The Society would have been wise to ship them all back home. There was nothing to teach them at Clapham that they could not learn at Freetown; hence little reason to pluck them up into cold England. For several years they remained a Clapham “sight,” playing on the Common, displaying themselves in the libraries of their benefactors. But climate took its toll, and one by one they died. In 1805 only six remained alive. It was a well-meant experiment, unmeaningly cruel (111).

Climate my arse, this is the most chilling story I have read in a long time. My heart breaks at the thought of those poor children among people who looked down on them, even hated them, and still used them to raise money. I wonder where they are buried, how to make sure they are remembered and mourned. There is more to be found here.

More on the ‘Nova Scotians’, Thornton writes:

The untoward disposition which too many of the settlers have shown proves, but too plainly, the importance of bestowing on them an intelligent and protective government (108).

Macaulay writes:

Uniting great ignorance with a vain conceit of their own talents, and sufficiently disposed of themselves to regard the share, which Europeans had in the government of the Colony as an usurpation, they were easily persuaded that nothing would so effectually contribute to their happiness as the demolition of the existing establishment (28, 113).

The insurrections kept on coming (hurrah) — especially after transporting a bunch of Maroons from Jamaica — and the Company became convinced the Crown needed to take over. Reading all of this I am still a little in shock that I had never heard of any of it. I knew of Thornton and Wilberforce as abolitionists, but this profit-making venture in Sierra Leone is the stuff of horror, nor did they step in when slavers were capturing Blacks in Sierra Leone and then making of them ‘identured’ servants, because indentured servitude was not illegal.

Apart from Sierra Leone the Clapham group were involved in missions — founding the Society for Missions to Africa and the East in 1799. They also tried their hand at conversions in England. But:

The rich, however, would not be lectured. ‘Having tried them almost in vain” and tiring of cool looks and cold shoulders, the Evangelicals gave it up and taught the poor instead, who could at least be poked awake to hear a sermon.

The English lower classes needed civilizing. Thornton wrote correctly that

“while principles of equity, moderation, and benevolence prevail in a considerable degree among the higher orders of the people, it is much to be lamented that disorders of the most pernicious tendency pervade the lower ranks; and that reformation with repsect to them, has till late, been rather a matter of solicitude and desire, than of serious expectation” (130-131).

Ugh. You throw in the religious beliefs about God defining our station — surely also applicable to the slavery, so I’m curious about how that worked intellectually — and you get a whole lot of initiatives offensive to poor people.

Yet evidence and inclination suggested to Thornton one fact about the poor before all others: that though their lot might improve, they would stay poor…With it he accepted a corollary class system, static in rank, rigid in task. Education under such confining circumstance became instruction in the duties of one’s condition (140).

A little more on this note from Thornton himself:

God often punishes men by sending a real trouble. And the means which discontented people take, to better their condition, not seldom prove the occasion of the new calamity which overtakes them (143).

The last chapter is on the legacy:

the estimates of Evangelicalism commonly diverge. Historians agree it played a great part in shaping the Victorian mind. yet there agreement ceases. Some, following the lead offered by Samuel Butler or Edmund Gosse, discover little more than tepid piety, hypocrisy, self-satisfaction, and cruelty. Others, reading the lives of George Eliot or Beatrice Webb, find instead awareness of a moral code and conviction as to the duty of moral man within society. Both the bad and the good have their roots in the beliefs of Henry Thornton’s generation (153).

I find it so hard to find a moral code and conviction worth anything at all in this recounting. Only by rigidly separating whites from Blacks, and removing actions towards non-whites (and poor people) from the same morality required in interactions with equals, does this make any kind of sense. How this double morality took life through the following decades — century even — is such a key question I think. And one to take sides on.

Save

The Pioneers of Gardening and Empire

Miles Hadfield (1957)  London: William Clowes and Sons Ltd

A highly personal account and set of opinions of famous early gardens and gardeners, designers, plant hunters, breeders and writers — a nice wide range of the people who have shaped how the UK thinks about gardens and the plants available to fill them. It serves as a good introduction in some ways, and I don’t regret the pound spent on rescuing it from an outside box at Haye-on-Wye. It is quite a superficial account, however, and its immense admiration of the aristocracy and support of England’s ambitions and practices of empire are just so problematic — it was first published in 1957. Yet very instructive of a certain mindset, so I almost gave this three stars.

On empire: This is a story of white men exploring lands which to them are unknown, backed up by either the threat or the actual presence of troops. From when I was little, the idea of traveling, seeing things you had never seen before, learning about plants and animals always seemed so wonderful and it is only in learning about how this happened in reality that I gave it up as a dream. Such explorations (at least those of the western world since Columbus really) have been in the context of conquest, with scientific inquiry dependent upon and furthering the project of empire. Thus curiosity about the world and a love of knowledge sit with more or less ease alongside a project of death and domination depending on the person involved. There is almost no respect for local knowledge described here, particularly grievous in countries like China and India with long histories of scholarly investigation of the natural world (which are noted, then ignored completely), but grievous anywhere where local survival has always depended on a deep knowledge of local plants and their properties. In an immensity of arrogance and assumption of anglo superiority that I still find staggering, everything must be learned anew, documented and studied by Europeans, and seeds obtained by any means necessary for profit back in the UK. Thus Hadfield is able to write:

Maximowizc, Hance and their friends for long worked under impossibly restrictive conditions. Most of China was in a wild, lawless state at the mercy of petty chieftains. The inefficient central government, instead of carrying out the terms of its treaties with the European trading states, was awkward and obstructive. At last Britain and France sent an army. The Chinese forces collapsed and in 1860 a new treaty was made. Maximowizc and Hance must have been overjoyed at the terms. Foreigners were now to be allowed much greater freedom of movement in the interior. The European consular services were strengthened. Religious missions were permitted to increase their work and members, while an organisation, the Imperial Maritime Customs, was set up under an Englishman, Sir Robert Hart. All this meant that more men would come into China who could be pressed into service as collectors — apart from others who might collect and botanise independently’ (185).

At last Britain and France sent an army? What? They are well into their project of conquest, and Hadfield is here referring to the 2nd Opium War, fought by Britain to force the Chinese government to legalise opium, promote the exportation of ‘coolie’ labour and force open the entire country to British trade. An undertaking that makes me literally shake with anger, and gives context for an ‘awkward’ and ‘obstructive’ government. There are a few stories such as that of collector and missionary-botanist was Father Jean Andre Soulié, who apparently ‘helped by high cheek-bones’ was able to travel disguised as a native, tricking all those gullible people thirsting for European blood in the pursuit of scientific knowledge. Right. He was killed by Tibetens during an uprising. Interestingly, he is also the introducer of the Buddleia davidii or butterfly bush, that is beautiful and wonderful for butterflies and bees, but has since become an invasive species which you can see lodged everywhere in UK buildings and along railroad tracks as it thrives on lime and sends mortar crumbling into dust. There is a fact sheet on the history of its invasion here.

There is not a thought in this book for ecosystems, or the dangers of introducing foreign species into new environments. I suppose that is a new ‘discovery’ Europeans have made.

This is primarily a story of men, and where women enter into it, it is in their role as assistants. Jane Webb for example, an early pioneer of Science Fiction and author of The Mummy, is described thus: ‘Indeed, Jane Webb, the high-spirited girl, disappears to become Mrs. Loudon, the most capable assistant of Mr Loudon… (162)’ though it does go on to acknowledge her work as a writer on popular gardening. Still. She was at least his equal.

And finally, an insight into some of the fine class distinctions of gardening. On the one hand this is almost entirely a tale of self-made men, capable and energetic, born into the working-classes (and so many of them Scottish!) and working their way up through gardening to positions of wealth and distinction. Thus, while much print is spent admiring their noble patrons, the fact remains that the pioneers themselves were hardly noble. And yet, there is this, on recent developments in gardening:

William Kent, Launcelot Brown and Humphry Repton, we can feel certain, were turning in their graves, their spirits distraught by the lack of taste shown by the Victorian gardener.

For one thing, the pendulum again swung right over to the other side: colour, and garish colour at that, came into full favour once more. While the study of nature–and, of course, plants–on scientific lines progressed by leaps and bounds, “nature” is the sense understood by all the gardeners from Kent to Loudon went right out of fashion. First of all we must blame the new school of practical gardeners; these men were exceedingly skillful at cultivating plants. And next we must accuse the greenhouse…Their cost fell considerably, and a whole new class of society–and a class with neither tradition nor very refined tastes–could now own them.

He goes on to rail against the ‘bedding out’ of plants, their strange and extravagant results and etc.

As someone with a hatred of empire, as a woman, and as a member of a class with neither tradition nor refined taste, I won’t write more about the content, but there is lot more to think through here in terms of how class, gender, race, nation and empire intersect all in the context of plants and gardening.  And in spite of it, I retain my love of plants themselves and all their wonders, and my joy in botanic gardens. So here is an incredible flowering tree mentioned in the book, along with the race to bring it to the UK and successfully get it to flower: the Amherstia nobilis, or Pride of Burma:

Amherstia Nobilis - Mumbai Jan 2010

A short bio of the author Miles Hadfield, of a family of property fallen on hard times and the founder of the Garden History Society and its first President, can be read here. The book is also a good starting list for the key figures in the history of British gardens for further investigation, so here it is:

  • Henry Lord Danvers founds the Oxford University Botanical Garden 1621
  • John Godyer: Early botanist, with Thomas Johnson – updated Gerard’s Herball 1633
  • The Tradescants: Their Ark in South Lambeth opens in 1628, early plant hunters
  • John Parkinson: Introduced (?) idea of gardening for beauty with Paradisi in Sole Parasisus Terrestris in 1629
  • André Le Nôtre – French–and this author doesn’t much care for many of the French–but very influential as the designer of the formal gardens of Versaille
  • Phillip Miller – Head gardener and rescuer of a failing Chelsea Physick Garden, opened by the Apothecaries Company (1673)
  • William Kent – with Lord Burlington propagator of the ideal of the Palladian Villa and move from ‘garden to landscape’ as best seen at Stowe 1713-ish, inventor of the ha ha, laid out Kew Gardens
  • Lancelot Brown, aka Capability Brown – head gardener at Stowe (also Blenheim Palace) and transformer of multiple gardens into landscapes through his own garden design business started 1749
  • Humphrey Repton – third great landscape designer, worked with John Nash, wrote Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening. thankfully brought back ‘cottage’ flower gardens as well as introducing ‘ornamental cottages’
  • William Jackson Hooker – great figure in ‘history of scientific gardening’, head gardener of Kew beginning in 1842, ensured Kew botanists on many major expeditions of conquest around the world
  • David Douglas – Explored North American Pacific Coast, numerous dubious adventures involving Native Americans a little upset about his activities
  • John Claudius Loudon – from Cambuslang! pioneered the modern agricultural college, made the interesting decision to undertake a foreign tour through Europe at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, produced Encyclopaedia of Gardening updating Miller’s Dictionary and launched The Gardener’s Magazine. Improved and designed Kensington Gardens.
  • Jane (Webb) Loudon – Writer of The Mummy (1829) and numerous books and articles on gardening, popularising gardening
  • Joseph Paxton – gardener at Chatsworth, builder of greenhouses leading to his design of Crystal Palace.

Pamuk’s Istanbul

824338An unexpected window into a world and a point of view I could never have imagined — I like it when books do that. This is about a decaying city, a falling-apart and burning-down city, and yet a vibrant one. A life spent almost in one place, written from the same building where he grew up. It is about surviving and continuing on after the end of empire, this Turkish word of huzun (apologies that I don’t have the special characters to write this correctly) and I couldn’t help but compare it to Gilroy’s work on melancholy, while he has much more literary comparisons. But it is a fascinating wander through a city, a world, a language, a childhood. Some things I liked:

In Turkish we have a special tense that allows us to distinguish hearsay from what we’ve seen with our own eyes; when we are relating dreams, fairy tales, or past events we could not have witnessed…(8)

This made me think of Trouillot, how our language forms our ways of thinking of the past, and this is particularly interesting in thinking of history as both its events and its narration…

These are nothing like the remains of great empires to be seen in Western cities, preserved like museums of history and proudly displayed. The people of Istanbul simply carry on with their lives amongst the ruins. Many Western writers and travellers find this charming. But for the city’s more sensitive and attuned residents, these ruins are reminders that the present city is so poor and confused that it can never again dream of rising to the same heights of wealth, power and culture. It is no more possible to take pride in these neglected dwellings, in which dirt, dust and mud have blended into their surroundings, than it is to rejoice in the beautiful old wooden houses that as a child I watched burn down one by one (91).

There is much here about the gaze, about being caught between East and West yet uncaught…

Why this fixation with the thoughts of Western travellers, what they did on visits to the city, what they wrote to their mothers? It’s partly that many times I’ve identified with a number of them (Nerval, Flaubert, de Amicis) and…it was by falling under their influence and arguing with them by turns that I forged my own identity. It’s also because so few of Istanbul’s own writers have paid their city any attention whatsoever.

Whatever we call it — false consciousness, fantasy, or old-style ideology — there is, in each of our heads, a half legible, half secret text that makes sense of what we’ve done in life. And for each of us in Istanbul, a large section of this text is given over to what Western observers have said about us. For people like me, Istanbullus with one foot in this culture and one in the other, the ‘Western traveller’ is often not a real person — he can be my own creation, my fantasy, even my own reflection. But being unable to depend on tradition alone as my text, I am grateful to the outsider who can offer me a complementary vision…So whenever I sense the absence of Western eyes, I become my own Westerner.

Istanbul has never been the colony of the Westerners who wrote about it, drew it, filmed it, and that is why I am not perturbed by (260) the use Western travellers have made of my past and my history and their construction of the exotic. Indeed, I find their fears ad dreams beguiling — as exotic to me as ours are to them — and I don’t look to them of entertainment or to see the city through their eyes, but also to enter into the full-formed world they’ve conjured up (261).

From one empire to another perhaps, lacking this colonial relationship, though surely more power dynamics are at work here? But I’ve been thinking a lot about this. One last quote:

Was this the secret of Istanbul — that beneath its grand history, its living poverty, its outward-looking monuments ad its sublime landscapes, its poor hid the city’s soul inside a fragile web? But here we have come full circle, for anything we say about the city’s essence, says more about our own lives and our own states of mind. The city has no centre other than ourselves (316).

Save

Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues

940044Stuart Hall died as I was in the middle of reading this, which made it so poignant even as I was thinking to myself just how good this book was as a totality and how much I loved him. Like many edited collections it had pieces that I loved and pieces that I didn’t, but even those that I didn’t find so useful still worked brilliantly to give me a solid sense of the international field of Cultural Studies from its early beginnings through the 1990s. That’s no small task given the way that it has changed and spread, been fought over and fought through. I’m not sure where it’s at now, but I feel that I know some of the places it has been and the structures of its debates.
I confess now, that Stuart Hall is one of my favourite theorists, and though I know the field is far greater and wider than him, it is his work that I feel opens up the most space for my own thinking in political geography. The first section looks at Marxism and cultural studies, and given my own relationship to Marxism is much like Hall’s, I wanted this section to be longer and I wanted more on the New Left. The authors are definitely more interested in the relationship between Cultural Studies and postmodernism, so I got more postmodernism than I wished but that was all to the good perhaps, as I discovered some redeeming characteristics…though not too many.

After a good intro from the editors it start with ‘The Problem of Ideology: Marxism Without Guarantees’.

The problem of ideology, therefore, concerns the ways in which ideas of different kinds grip the minds of the masses, and thereby become a ‘material force’. In this, more politicized, perspective, the theory of ideology helps us to analyse how a particular set of ideas comes to dominate the social thinking of a historical bloc, in Gramsci’s sense; and, thus, helps to unite such a bloc from the inside, and maintain its dominance and leadership over society as a whole. It has especially to do with the concepts and the languages of practical thought which stabilize a particular form of power and domination….
We mean the practical as well as the theoretical knowledges which enable people to ‘figure out’ society, and within whose categories and discourse we ‘live out’ and ‘experience’ our objective positioning in social relations. (27)

This is a revision of Marx’s model of ideology which ‘did not conceptualize the social formation as a determinate complex formation, composed of different practices, but as a simple structure’ (29), this via Althusser. And I’ve always loved his take on traditional arguments about ‘false consciousness’

Is the worker who lives his or her relation to the circuits of capitalist production exclusively through the categories of a ‘fair price’ and a ‘fair wage’, in ‘false consciousness’? Yes, if by that we mean there is something about her situation which she cannot grasp with the categories she is using; something about the process as a whole which is systematically hidden because the available concepts only give her a graso of one of its many-sided moments. No, if by that we mean she is utterly deluded about what goes on under Capitalism.
The falseness therefore arises, not from the fact that the market is an illusion, a trick, a sleioght-of-hand, but only in the sense that it is an inadequate explanation of a process (37).

The relations in which people exist are the ‘rela relations’ which the categories and concepts they use help them to grasp and articulate in thought. But—and here we maybe be on a route contrary to emphasis from that with which ‘materialism’ is usually associated—the economic relations themselves cannot prescribe a single, fixed and unalterable way of conceptualizing it…. To say that a theoretical discourse allows us to grasp a concrete relation ‘in thought’ adequately means that the discourse provides us with a more complete grasp of all the different relations of which that relation is composed, and of the many determinations which forms its conditions of existence. In means that our grasp is concrete and whole, rather than a thin, one-sided abstraction (39).

And then he draws on Volsinov, who I truly love, to argue

It is precisely because language, the medium of thought and ideological calculation, is ‘multi-accentual’…that the field of the ideological is always a field of ‘intersecting accents’ 40

And thus a source of struggle, every word contested terrain. Which he repeats: ‘This approach replaces the notion of fixed ideological meanings and class-ascribed ideologies with the concepts of ideological terrains of struggle and the task of ideological transformation’ (41). Then draws on Gramsci to see how these ideologies become material forces by articulating with political and social forces to deconstruct and reconstruct the ruling ideologies in a ‘war of position’. The terrain of this struggle is historically defined, above all it is the terrain of common sense, which become the stakes of ideological struggle. Thus ‘‘hegemony’ in Gramsci’s sense requires, not the simple escalation of a whole class to power, with its fully formed ‘philosophy’, but (43) the process by which a historical bloc of social forces is constructed and the ascendency of that bloc secured’. In thinking about the relationship between base and superstructure:

What the economic cannot do is (a) to provide the contents of the particular thoughts of particular social classes or groups at any specific time; or (b) to fix or guarantee for all time which ideas will be made use of by which classes. The determinacy of the economic for the ideological can, therefore, be only in terms of the former setting the limits for defining the terrain for operations, establishing ‘raw materials’, of thought. Material circumstances are the net of constraints, the ‘conditions of existence’ for practical thought and calculation about society.

And a smack down against orthodoxy and ‘determination in the last instance’:

‘It represents the end of the process of theorizing, of the development and refinement of new concepts and explanations which, alone, is the sign of a living body of thought, capable still of engaging and grasping something of the truth about new historical realities (45).

One of the more useful chapters was from Colin Sparks, outlining the work of Raymond Williams and EP Thompson and cultural studies’ beginnings in a humanist Marxism before its encounter with Althusser and Marxism, its engagement with Laclau and Gramsci. It does through multiple representatives of the school, not just Hall, which I particularly liked.

My favourite, apart from Hall’s own work, was ‘The Theory and method of articulation in cultural studies’ by Jennifer Daryl Slack. She writes

However, articulation works at additional levels: at the levels of the epistemological, the political and the strategic. Epistemologically, articulation is a way of thinking the structures of what we know as a play of correspondences, non-correspondences and contradictions, as fragments in the constitution of what we take to be unities. Politically, articulation is a way of foregrounding the structure and play of power that entail in relations of dominance and subordination. Strategically, articulation provides a mechanism for shaping intervention within a particular formation, conjuncture or context (112).

And also this:

cultural studies works with the notion of theory as a ‘detour’ to help ground our engagement with what newly confronts us and to let that engagement provide the ground for retheorizing. Theory is thus a practice in a double sense: it is a formal conceptual tool as well as a practising or ‘trying out’ of a way of theorizing’ (113).

Conceptualisations of theory as process, as being constantly regrounded and rethought, are the only ones that make sense to me. Of course, I feel that if you are grounded you are working under the assumption that we live in a profoundly unequal and exploitative society and that theory is meant to change that, so I do have some parameters.

With and through articulation, we engage the concrete in order to change it, that is, to rearticulate it…Articulation is, then, not just a thing (not just a connection) but a process of creating connections, much in the same way that hegemony is not domination but the process of creating and maintaining consensus or co-ordinating interests’ (114).

Lawrence Grossberg’s interview with Stuart Hall on Postmodernism helped a great deal in clarifying some of my own thoughts. Like Hall on Foucault:

let’s take Foucault’s argument for the discursive as against the ideological. What Foucault would talk about is the setting in place, through the institutionalization of a discursive regime, of a number of competing regimes of truth and, within these regimes, the operation of power through the practices he calls normalization, regulation and surveillance. … the combination of regime of truth plus normalization/regulation/surveillance is not all that far from the notions of dominance in ideology that I’m trying to work with…I think the movement from that old base/superstructure paradigm into the domain of the discursive is a very positive one. But, while I have learned a great deal from Foucault in this sense about the relation between knowledge and power, I don’t see how you can retain the notion of ‘resistance’, as he does, without facing questions about the constitution of dominance in ideology. Foucault’s evasion of this question is at the heart of his proto-anarchist position precisely because his resistance must be summoned up from nowhere… there is no way of conceptualizing the balance of power between different regimes of truth without society conceptualized (135) not as a unity, but as a ‘formation’. If Foucault is to prevent the regime of truth from collapsing into a synonym for the dominant ideology, he has to recognize that there are different regimes of truth in the social formation. And these are not simply ‘plural’ – they define an ideological field of force (136).

And on Baudrillard (and others, but mostly Baudrillard)

I don’t think history is finished and the assertion that it is, which lies at the heart of postmodernism, betrays the inexcusable ethnocentrism—the Eurocentrism—of its high priests. It is their cultural dominance, in the West, across the globe, which is historically at an end…I think Baudrillard needs to join the masses for a while, to be silent for two-thirds of a century, just to see what it feels like (141).

Now, more to the point, his own theory of articulation

the theory of articulation asks how an ideology discovers its subject rather than how the subject thinks the necessary and inevitable thoughts which belong to it; it enables us to think how an ideology empowers people, enabling them to begin to make some sense or intelligibility of their historical situation, without reducing those forms of intelligibility to their socio-economic or class location or social position (142)

And this

I am not interested in Theory. I am interested in going on theorizing. And that also means that cultural studies has to be open to external influences, for example, to the rise of new social movements… (150)

I can’t do justice to such a sprawling volume full of brilliant contributors, so I am focusing on this concept of articulation that I am grappling with right now…but there is are lovely interventions from Angela Robbie and Charlotte Brundson over the struggle of women to gain power and voice in the New Times Project. It is both political but also personal, and to me these kinds of articles are so important for those of us without those historical memories about just how hard women have had to struggle even in left departments, and the forms this struggle took.

More from Hall on ‘Cultural studies and its theoretical legacies’, in reference to Homi Bhabba:

I don’t understand a practice which aims to make a difference in the world which doesn’t have some points of difference or distinction which it has to stake out, which really matter. It is a question of positionalities (264).

And back to my own relationship with theory really:

I want to suggest a different metaphor for theoretical work: the metaphor of struggle, of wrestling with the angels. The only theory worth having is that which you have to fight off, not that which you speak with profound fluency (265)

How can you not love someone who writes of his study of Althusser ‘I warred with him, to the death’ (266).

I loved David Morley’s article ‘EurAm, modernity, reason and alterity’ for its discussion of centres and peripheries (though I wish people unpacked the US just a little more, with its white culture one of the centre, but containing within it the colonized, the enslaved, the murdered), its review of post-colonial thought and brilliant quotes from people who are now on my list of things to read.
I’ll end with Hall’s ‘Gramsci’s relevance for the study of race and ethnicity’. First, a return to defining Hegemony

1. ‘hegemony’ is a very particular, historically specific, and temporary ‘moment’ in the life of a society…They have to be actively constructed and positively maintained.
2. we must take note of the multi-dimensional, multi-arena character of hegemony. It cannot be constructed or sustained on one front of struggle alone (for example, the economic). It represents a degree of mastery over a whole series of different ‘positions’ at once. Mastery is not simply imposed or dominative in character. Effectively, it results from winning a substantial degree of popular consent.
3. What ‘leads’ in a period of hegemony is no longer described as a ‘ruling class’ in the traditional language, but a historic bloc. (424)

And of course, the two kinds of struggle, ‘war of manoeuvre’ ‘where everything is condensed into one front and one moment of struggle’, and the ‘war of position’, ‘which has to be conducted in a protracted way, across many different and varying fronts of struggle’ (426).
It’s interesting putting this solid description in conjunction with Lawrence Grossberg’s description in an earlier piece ‘History, politics and postmodernism’

Hegemony is not a universally present struggle; it is a conjunctural politics opened up by the conditions of advanced capitalism, mass communication and culture. Nor is it limited to the ideological struggle of the ruling class bloc to win the consent of the masses to its definition of reality, although it encompasses the processes by which such a consensus might be achieved. But it also depends upon the ability of the ruling bloc (an alliance of class fractions) to secure its economic domination and establish its political power. Hegemony need not depend upon consensus nor consent to particular ideological constructions. It is a matter of containment rather than compulsion or even incorporation. Hegemony defines the limits within which we can struggle, the field of ‘common sense’ or ‘popular consciousness’ (162)

Stuart Hall does more to open up the concept to see where counter-hegemony can come from:

Ideas…’have a center of formation, of irradiation, of dissemination, of persuasion…’(PN, 192). Nor are they ‘spontaneously born’ in each individual brain. They are not psychologistic or moralistic in character ‘but structural and epistemological’. They are sustained and transformed in their materiality within the institutions of civil society and the state. Consequently, ideologies are not transformed or changed by replacing one, whole, already formed, conception of the world with another, so much as by ‘renovating and making critical an already existing activity’ (434).

I like also hegemony as not a ‘moment of simple unity, but as a process of unification (never totally achieved), founded on strategic alliances between different sectors, not on their pre-given identity’ (437).

Anyway. Much to think about…

Save

Black Marxism – Cedric J. Robinson

Black MarxismBlack Marxism is a book of immense scope and impressive in its immensity. It felt absolutely overwhelming as I read it, but going back over it, it feels more like some kind of treasure trove that will continue to yield new things every time I open its cover — so some initial lengthy yet also paradoxically brief notes…

The European Roots of Capitalism

It begins at the European beginning of Capitalism, going through the rise of the bourgeoisie through first cities, then absolutist and colonial states. As Robinson states: “European civilization is not the product of capitalism. On the contrary, the character of capitalism can only be understood in the social and historical context of its appearance.” [25] And because this is true, the age-old conceptions of race, enemy and exploitable other simply translated itself into new terms as the world changed: “As an enduring principle of European social order, the effects of racialism were bound to appear in the social expression of every strata of every European society no matter the structures upon which they were formed. None was immune. [29]”

He moves on then to look at the English working class, and how their formation was also entwined with racialism. Marx and Engels both acknowledged the existence of racial divisions, but believed that these would be erased as capitalism developed, even though there did not appear to be signs of it happening. As Robinson pointedly notes:

Neither Marx nor Engels were unaware of the proletariat’s failure to become a universal class.76 Both studied the Irish Question closely, were active in the attempt to resolve its destructive impact on the historical processes of English working-class formation, and commented on its import for future proletarian organization. Nevertheless, the impact of their experience with the English proletariat on their theory of the proletariat’s historical role appears to have been slight. [51]

He’s scathing of the whole Socialist tradition really, particularly in its early stages, and in my opinion entirely rightly. Its solid basis lies in the bourgeoisie itself, with no connection to the working classes:

It is a period dominated by eccentrics, visionaries, and didacts. The wistful trails of Godwin, Paine, Fourier, Saint-Simon, Cabet, Pecquer, lesser and grander lights, preoccupy the historians, along with the most often short-lived utopian communities associated with some ofthem. The agitations, rebellions, riots, and struggles of artisans, wage laborers, peasants, and slave laborers are largely irrelevant to the tradition in the early nineteenth century and mostly constitute a background “noise” in this the era of the socialist writer. … Their work becomes a demonstration of the independence of socialist theory and social movements from one another. When once again they collide, in the 1840S, 1870S, and early 1900S, each had assumed forms and prerogatives only slightly tolerable to those of the other.

He returns Marx to his time and place, from 1848 to the rise of Bismarck in 1862. He traces the ambiguities of Marx and Engels’ positions on nationalism, and argues that they did not understand it, in the same way that they failed to understand racialism: that it was neither an aberration nor a stage, but something as determined by history as their world revolution failed to be. He argues that ideologies have in fact “helped to abort those social and historical processes believed to be necessary and inevitable; have catalyzed rebellions and revolutions in often unlikely circumstances and among unlikely peoples; and have assisted in extraordinary historical achievement where failure was “objectively” immanent.” [82]

Only then do we return to race:

In short, there were at least four distinct moments that must be apprehended in European racialism; two whose origins are to be found within the dialectic of European development, and two that are not:

1. the racial ordering of European society from its formative period, which extends into the medieval and feudal ages as “blood” and racial beliefs and legends.
2. the Islamic (i.e., Arab, Persian, Turkish, and African) domination of Mediterranean civilization and the consequent retarding of European social and cultural life: the Dark Ages.
3. the incorporation of African, Asian, and peoples of the New World into the world system emerging from late feudalism and merchant capitalism.
4. the dialectic of colonialism, plantocratic slavery, and resistance from the sixteenth century forward, and the formations of industrial labor and labor reserves.

It is now a convention to begin the analysis of racism in Western societies with the third moment; entirely ignoring the first and second and only partially coming to terms with the fourth. … In each instance, the root of the methodological and conceptual flaws is the same: the presumption that the social and historical processes that matter, which are determinative, are European. All else, it seems, is derivative.

Black Marxism is a refutation of such a framework.

Moments of Black struggle

And so on to rebellion and uprising in Africa and its diaspora flung across the world by the European slave trade. He writes:

Black radicalism, consequently, cannot be understood within the particular context of its genesis. It is not a variant of Western radicalism whose proponents happen to be Black. Rather, it is a specifically African response to an oppression emergent from the immediate determinants of European development in the modern era and framed by orders of human exploitation woven into the interstices of European social life from the inception of Western civilization: [97]

Robinson finds how this was ignored in a deep historical look at previous contacts between Blacks and whites, the shift of Blacks being seen as Islamic militants and soldiers to slaves and a very different set of stereotypes. From there he looks at the long history of the slave trade, mentioned earlier was the Italian trafficking of ‘Tartars’ and ‘Poles’ and ‘Cathays’, but now it has expanded into the extraordinary movement of tens of thousands of people in the trans-Atlantic trade. Thus we arrive at black radicalism. As he states at the opening of chapter 6:

However, Marx had not realized fully that the cargoes of laborers also contained African cultures, critical mixes and admixtures of language and thought, of cosmology and metaphysics, of habits, beliefs, and morality. These were the actual terms of their humanity. These cargoes, then, did not consist of intellectual isolates or deculturated Blacks-men, women, and children separated from their previous universe. African labor brought the past with it, a past that had produced it and settled on it the first elements of consciousness and comprehension.
This was the embryo of the demon that would be visited on the whole enterprise of primitive accumulation. [173]

And thus follows a whole splendid history of Black resistance through the ages, uprisings and revolts, some of the marron comunities you might have heard of like Palmares but many that you probably have not. It ends with Africa: Revolt at the Source. In delving deeper into the nature of the Black radical tradition, he finds in fact that “one note has occurred and recurred: the absence of mass violence.” [242], in contrast to the ‘massive and often indiscriminate’ brutality of the Europeans in quelling such revolts. He claims that such an absence shows that

This was a revolutionary consciousness that proceeded from the whole historical experience of Black people and not merely from the social formations of capitalist slavery or the relations of production of colonialism.
It becomes clear, then, that for the period between the mid-sixteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries, it was an African tradition that grounded collective resistance by Blacks to slavery and colonial imperialism.

He goes on to argue for a particularly African tradition of granting primacy to the metaphysical, not the material. A tradition of resistance through collectivity. I’m not entirely convinced by the psychology of it, but there’s definitely something there. “They lived on their terms, they died on their terms, they obtained their freedom on their terms.” He argues that this cast doubt on the idea that capitalism was able to ‘penetrate and reform’ all social life, or strip life down to bare survival.

The Formation of the Black Intelligentsia:

Black Marxism then moves on to the third section to look at W.E.B. Du Bois, C.L.R. James and Richard Wright. It is an immensely rich look at Du Bois, my favourite passage distilling some of the wealth in Black Reconstruction:

And in every instance, peasants and agrarian workers had been the primary social bases of rebellion and revolution. Nowhere, not even in Russia, where a rebellious urban proletariat was a fraction of the mobilized working classes, had a bourgeois social order formed a precondition for revolutionary struggle. Revolutionary consciousness had formed in the process of anti-imperialist and nationalist struggles, and the beginnings of resistance had often been initiated by ideological constructions remote from the proletarian consciousness that was a presumption of Marx’s theory of revolution. The idiom of revolutionary consciousness had been historical and cultural rather than the “mirror of production.” The oppositions that had struck most deeply at capitalist domination and imperialism had been those formed outside the logic of bourgeois hegemony. [324]

C.L.R. James loved fiction! Who knew. This section looks more at his critiques of Marxism, some interesting reflections on Black Jacobins and this interesting passage: “It implied (and James did not see this) that bourgeois culture and thought and ideology were irrelevant to the development of revolutionary consciousness among Black and other Third World peoples. It broke with the evolutionist chain in, the closed dialectic of, historical materialism.” [386]

And the section on Wright, so rich on how writing and experience and political consciousness fold together, there is so much here, I can’t sum up. There’s this:

For Wright, it was not sufficient for Black liberation that his people come to terms with the critique of capitalist society. He had observed: “Marxism is but the starting point. No theory of life can take the place of life.”55 As a critique of capitalist society, Marxism was necessary, of course, but it was ultimately an internal critique. The epistemological nature of historical materialism took bourgeois society on its own terms, that is, presuming the primacy of economic forces and structures.56 As such, the historical development from feudalism of the bourgeoisie as a class served as a logical model for the emergence of the proletariat as a negation of capitalist society. Wright appeared quite early to have understood this thesis as a fundamental error in Marxist thought. Even as early as 1937, he had begun to argue that it was necessary that Blacks transform the Marxist critique into an expression of their own emergence as a negation of Western capitalism.

Brilliant stuff on ideology and violence, the importance of experience, but I will let Robinson himself do the final summing up of the contributions of each to a valid theory of liberation:

Du Bois

It was, Du Bois observed, from the periphery and not the center that the most sustained threat to the American capitalist system had materialized. … Just as important for him, however, was the realization that the racism of the American “white” working classes and their general ideological immaturity had abnegated the extent to which the conditions of capitalist production and relations alone could be held responsible for the social development of the American proletariat. The collective and individual identities of American workers had responded as much to race as they had to class. The relations of production were not determinant. [448]

James

No revolutionary cadre, divorced from the masses, ensconced in state bureaucracy, and abrogating to itself the determination of the best interests of the masses, could sustain the revolution or itself. [449]

Wright

Wright evoked in his writings the language and experience of”ordinary” Black men and women. In this way he pressed home the recognition that whatever the objective forces propelling a people toward struggle, resistance, and revolution, they would come to that struggle in their own cultural terms. [449]

And my final quote which I believe deserves much thought:

Western Marxism, in either of its two variants-critical-humanist or scientific-has proven insufficiently radical to expose and root out the racialist order that contaminates its analytic and philosophic applications or to come to effective terms with the implications of its own class origins. As a result, it has been mistaken for something it is not: a total theory of liberation. [451]

Save

Save

Where Three Dreams Cross

Where Three Dreams Cross — 150 Years of Photography From India, Pakistan and Bangledesh…you can see it now at the Whitechapel Gallery.  I loved the website without reservation (and apparently, I am far from alone).

I just got home from the exhibition itself, had to make myself some tea. The photographs were stunning, and I am not quite sure why I find myself unsettled, perhaps this feeling would be better known to me if I went to more such exhibitions. As it is, I just love to take photos. I put them up on flickr, I share them with friends. And I’ve always thought I loved to look at photographs. I don’t think that’s changed, but this has definitely made me think.

I suppose  what is bothering me is the existence of two fine lines I’ve often felt but never really put into words.

Every life has beauty in it. Those moments of deep feeling (not even necessarily happiness) found by everyone, even those living the most anguished back-breaking poverty. Here is another picture (cropped like the first!) from the website…best I can do!

Photos like this seem to be able to capture pure moment, motion, joy. But photography also carries what might be an almost unique ability to make poverty itself beautiful. And I found a kind of creeping horror in suffering itself made picturesque, striking, aesthetic. Of an outsider turning a daily and commonplace struggle for survival into their own art. I wondered how many of these human beings turned subjects ever saw these pictures of themselves? I could not even pinpoint which photographs made me feel so, it came upon me slowly and I am certain it was a minority. I wondered if it could be the exhalation of the photographer’s own feeling towards those within the view finder.

The other fine line is similar, every life has its privacy…what I love about photographs are their ability to capture moments in time, spontaneity, the brilliance of chance. And yet I feel there are some moments that should not be captured, displayed. There were a couple of pieces where it felt an intensely private space, where consent could not have been granted (though I could be wrong, I tell myself).

I suppose crossing either line is my definition of exploitation, I think it is something remarkably easy to do with photography as art, photography for display to strangers. And myself, as a stranger, complicit in it by staring at it on a gallery wall.

And yet, I am glad I went. There were many photographs with stories to tell, lives too often hidden and demanding visibility, beauty and struggle and an incredible hand-colored gelatin-printed history in abundance. And in spite of the above. I think the curators did a very good job of pulling it together. I particularly appreciated that there is an explicit stance on colonialism, and that all of the photographers are Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi. So as levels of exploitation in photography exhibitions go, this one has made the effort to consciously reduce them…

Save

The Tudor Gallery

I have been deliriously in love with London lately, and everything and everyone in it. And the best thing about being a student again is probably the opportunity it opens up for being a flaneur, for wandering, for falling in love over and over again. The Tudor Gallery is a good place to do this.

I had wandered to the National Portrait Gallery, portraits being some of my very favourite things. Particularly very old ones. I headed straight for the Tudors. Everyone sitting for their portrait in those two rooms hides tales of intrigue behind their dark eyes, locked within bodies forced into strange geometries of clothes, every inch of them woven, punched, stuffed with jewels and finery.

Sir Walter Raleigh is still entirely dashing, and though he wrote very little poetry that you could call especially good, I particularly love this one

EVEN such is time, that takes in trust
Our youth, our joys, our all we have,
And pays us but with earth and dust;
Who, in the dark and silent grave,
When we have wandered all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days:
But from this earth, this grave, this dust,
My God shall raise me up, I trust.

And the young John Donne is here as well, the amorous poet of his early years rather than the deeply poetic minister of his later ones.


License my roving hands, and let them go,
Behind, before, above, between, below.
O my America! my new-found-land,
My kingdom, safeliest when with one man man’d,
My mine of precious stones: my emperie,
How blest am I in this discovering thee!
To enter in these bonds, is to be free;
Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be.
Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee,
As souls unbodied, bodies uncloth’d must be,
To taste whole joyes.

I was sat in the gallery with a horde of young school children…initially something I was quite unhappy about. But they were sat entranced by the expert leading their class, and I became entranced as well…

Here is a portrait of Elizabeth the 1st, and I learned all kinds of things about this amazing painting. My absolute favourite image of the day, however? One of the boys proposed that if you pulled the red string, Elizabeth’s dress would come right off…

Elizabeth I

She wore so much makeup and powder, that she then had to go back in and draw things, using beetlejuice for her lips, and even drawing in the veins of her forehead and the backs of her hands. And the story of this picture? One of her favourites, Sir Henry Lee, retired from the palace. But when he left the palace he stole something…(no, it wasn’t her crown. No it wasn’t her dress, and no, it wasn’t her jewels…). He stole a handmaiden named Maria Vavasour. For a while friends at the palace were able to cover up for them, hoping Elizabeth would just forget all about Maria…but finally they were forced to realize that she wouldn’t forget and so Sir Henry Lee had to do something quite incredible to save his own life…

So he bought Elizabeth this dress. Apparently worth a quarter of a million pounds in today’s money. You can see it has wings? This is the dress of the fairy queen, invited to a fancy dress party at Lee’s estate of Ditchley in Oxfordshire. And there Henry Lee lay, spread out on a bier in his garden, in a deathlike coma of enchantment until he was awakened by the forgiving kiss of the fairy queen…

And Queen Elizabeth I grandly kissed him on the cheek, and that was how Sir Henry Lee saved his own life. In the portrait, Queen Elizabeth is standing squarely on Ditchley, in commemoration…

Save