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When Nietzsche and the Prophet came to England.

SOMEHERE IN THE  bowels of the internet I came across a mention of G K Chesterton’s lesser-known novel, The Flying Inn. Chesterton is not much read these days and this particular novel, which was published in 1914, is not one of his best known. What made The Flying Inn sound interesting was that it described the attempt by a British aristocrat, Lord Ivywood, and his progressive friends to impose prohibition on Britain and Islamify the country at the same time. A flame-haired Irishman called Dalroy, an archetypal English publican called Humphrey Pump, and an aristocratic poet, Wimpole, armed with a keg of rum, a large cheese and the sign of Pump’s defunct pub, “The Old Ship”, thwart this plot. Ivywood ends up alive but insane.

It’s a bizarre satire, but the relevance now, exactly a hundred years after publication, is startling. Ivywood and his cronies are taken in by a Turkish character, Misysra Ammon, who gives lectures on the superiority of Islam over British and Western civilisation. According to him, everything of any importance or note in Britain has an Islamic origin. This even includes the names of pubs. The “Saracen’s Head”, for instance, is actually “The Saracen Is Ahead”, while the Admiral Benbow is really “Amir Ali Ben Bhoze”, and so on.

Misysra’s nonsense is familiar today to anyone who has encountered claims by Islamic clerics and others that the Arabs saved the classical literature of the West, were the original inhabitants of the Holy Land, discovered America before Columbus and invented just about everything. Misysra gets away with it for a number of reasons. As one of the sane characters of the book, Lady Joan, realises, “there is no subject on which the little Turk could not instantly produce a theory” and he is consistent in his theorising. But he’s also ill-informed and always wrong.

Chesterton’s main targets are the progressives, who are portrayed as superficial and easily seduced by fads and meaningless intellectualising. Vegetarianism, alternative medicines and diets, modern abstract art, academia and new age philosophies all take a hit. Ivywood is a bloodless, colourless progressive, a devotee of Nietzschean nihilism. He wants to break down all barriers in order to perfect mankind. The problem is he has no clear idea where his ideas will lead: “we shall know these things when we have achieved them,” he says at one point. But as Lady Joan correctly points out, “the breaking of barriers might be the breaking of everything.”

It’s this devotion to the abstract and the espousal of relativist values that makes Ivywood and the progressives susceptible to Islam — which, when everything else is broken, will remain to take over, because it will be the only thing that’s not broken. In this, Ivywood prefigures the radicals, liberals, socialists and communists who sided with Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 to bring down the Shah of Iran. Once the job was done the Islamists imprisoned, tortured, killed and exiled the lot of them. It’s a lesson they can’t seem to learn. Even today the progressives hate their own cultures and countries so much they’ll side with the Islamists who want to destroy them.

Chesterton may be less concerned about the possibility of Islamisation and just be using Islam as a vehicle to attack the progressive mindset, but it’s worth remembering some of the things that make their appearance [including] the banning of alcohol (but the suggestion that cannabis should be legalised because it is a custom to consume it in the Islamic world).

In The Flying Inn Chesterton may be less concerned about the possibility of Islamisation and just be using Islam as a vehicle to attack the progressive mindset, but it’s worth remembering some of the things that make their appearance: the banning of alcohol (but the suggestion that cannabis should be legalised because it is a custom to consume it in the Islamic world), the removal of the cross in public or its substitution by the crescent (including on St Paul’s cathedral), the choice to use a crescent instead of a cross on ballot papers, the proposal to merge Christianity with Islam to produce “Chrislam”, the introduction of polygamy and harems, the gradual removal of the artistic representation of animal forms, the hint that “infant marriages” are acceptable, the increase in the Muslim population at universities and in the population at large, the replacement of traditional police and army headgear with fezzes, the alteration of the make-up of the army to make it less British, the intention to merge East and West in one (Eurabia, anyone?), and so on.

You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to find the recognise the same salami-slicing approach at work in Britain today. And even as I finished reading The Flying Inn two other things occurred to add to Chesterton’s prescience.


The first was the publication of a report into allegations of a Muslim plot to take over a number of Birmingham schools; it found “There has been a co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action carried out by a number of associated individuals to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into a few schools in Birmingham.” Headteachers had been harassed and driven out of their jobs, male and female pupils had been segregated, in one school Christmas had been cancelled, pupils (Muslim only) had been taken on trips to Saudi Arabia, etc, and a general anti-British, anti-American, anti-western and anti-Christian ethos promoted.

This kind of behaviour has no doubt being going on for many years in many schools that have yet to be examined. The original letter that was the anonymous tip-off about the Birmingham schools has been dubbed the “Trojan Horse” letter for good reason. It describes the kind of subversive entryism that features in The Flying Inn.

THE SECOND EVENT was the reaction to renewed military aggression between Gaza and Israel, the third since Israel pulled out in 2005. The reaction, that is, of the western media and the progressive consensus, which has been utterly predictable. Marches and demonstrations have taken place in support of the people of Gaza — and presumably Hamas, the terrorist organisation voted into power by the people of Gaza and responsible for the constant rocket attacks on Israel. As with Iran in 1979 you have the liberal-left supporting people who stand for the exact opposite of what they themselves believe in, and would turn on them as soon as they had the upper hand.

When you have gay rights activists demonstrating without any sense of incongruence alongside Friends of Al Aqsa, British Muslim Initiative and Palestinian Forum in Britain you know you’ve entered a world in which insanity is the norm. I think even Chesterton’s satirical skills would have failed to deal with this. What this demands is the savagery of a Swift.

Michael Blackburn.

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