Magazine article The Spectator

The Sound of Broken Glass

Magazine article The Spectator

The Sound of Broken Glass

Article excerpt

The Strange Case of Tory Anarchism

Peter Wilkin

Libri Publishing, £12, pp. 240,

ISBN 9781907471100

What do Evelyn Waugh, Peter Cook and Chris Morris have in common? I would have said 'irreverence' and left it at that; but the social scientist Peter Wilkin has written a book on the subject, The Strange Case of Tory Anarchism. It's an arresting title, not least because it appears to be an oxymoron.

But this is not so, according to Wilkin.

Tory anarchism is not a political ideology;

rather, it is a form of cultural dissent, proving that the upper classes still have the upper hand, despite the loutish inconvenience of mass transit, invasive government and the decline of domestic service. A Tory anarchist, then, is a member of the landless gentry who has a conservative moral and cultural outlook which he uses to critique prevailing norms and to protect the national character from further debasement.

Wilkin might be one of these impoverished toffs himself because he is the only person who fits the other criteria. He is wary of wolves in sheeps' clothing and eviscerates those whose ambition perverts 'national innocence'. The Daily Mail is described as the voice of 'soft fascism', and special opprobrium is reserved for Boris Johnson - a sinister figure who has cultivated an avuncular public image in order to present himself as benign and likeable, assuming the guise of a minor figure from P. G. Wodehouse . . . worn for reasons of political strategy.

Analytically, Wilkin either fails to define his terms or misapplies them when he does. …

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