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The British Far Right and the Back-to-the-Land Movement

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Abstract

In February 1942, T. S. Eliot wrote in his capacity as editor at Faber and Faber to Viscount Lymington, praising the drafts of his forthcoming book Alternative to Death: ‘I was rather pleased, incidentally, to find your suggesting something that has occurred to me independently, which is that a real aristocracy can only be founded or revived on a relationship between right social organisation and values and the land.’2 Although we know that Eliot was no progressive thinker, it would also not do to label him a fascist, as though that dealt with the matter. What was it that Eliot saw in Lymington’s back-to-the-land ideas? And why were these ideas the clearest expression of Lymington’s own far right ideology, an ideology that was manifested in his running of the English Array (earlier the English Mistery) and his bankrolling of the British Council Against European Commitments? What were the connections before 1939 — and for some, as we will see, even after — between aristocracy, agricultural reform, the landscape, racism and ‘national revival’?

Keywords

  • Constitutional Reform
  • Soil Association
  • Alexander Technique
  • Racial Purity
  • Home Rule

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Now to set one’s face against this deeply implanted bias, to invite modern men, and particularly modern women, in the teeth of their morbid sentimentality, to change their attitude and to honour and look up to the sound, to protect the sound from extermination by the unsound, and to resist their being sacrificed for the latter — in fact, to assume towards humanity the very attitude which, to a farmer contemplating his animals and his crops is a commonplace of good husbandry, is to-day one of the most difficult and precarious of undertakings, particularly for the head of a State. Anthony M. Ludovici

The movement back to nature proves itself contrary to nature a thousand times over, because development is part of nature and turning back is against nature. Victor Klemperer1

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Notes

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© 2003 Dan Stone

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Stone, D. (2003). The British Far Right and the Back-to-the-Land Movement. In: Responses to Nazism in Britain, 1933–1939. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230505537_6

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