Friday, 29 July 2011

English Intellectual Accomplishment (part 3)

Voltaire: A great admirer of the English

Here is the third and final part of this article.

To buy the magazine from which this is taken please click on the link on the right hand side of this page for Issue 19 of Steadfast magazine.

The Enlightenment

In his Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World (Allen Lane History), the historian Roy Porter remarks how peculiar it is "that historians have so little to say about the role of English thinkers in the European Enlightenment as a whole" (p3). Peculiar indeed when one considers the English intellectual personnel of the 17th and 18th centuries and the high reputation English institutions and ideas had amongst the leading lights of the continental Enlightenment, especially in the country which is generally represented as the powerhouse of Enlightenment thinking, France. Here is the philosophe of philisophes, Voltaire, at full Anglophile admire: "The English are the only people on Earth who have been able to prescribe the limits of Kings by resisting them; and who, by a series of struggles, have at last established that wise Government, where the prince is all powerful to do good, and at the same time is restrain'd from committing evil; where the Nobles are great without insolence, tho' there are no vassals; and where the People share in the government without confusion." Lettres philosophiques on Lettres Anglais (1775). A strong argument can be made for the English Enlightenment not only existing but occurring a century or so before that of any other nation and subsequently providing much of the basis for the general Enlightenment movement.

Consider these figures from the seventeen century: William Gilbert (science, especially magnestism), Francis Bacon (philosophy and science), Thomas Hobbes (philosophy), John Locke (philosophy), Thomas Harrington (nascent economics and sociology), William Harvey (biology/medicine), Robert Hooke (polymathic scientist and technologist), John Rae (biologist), Edmund Halley (astronomy), Isaac Newton (mathematics and physics). What did they have in common other than intellectual distinction? Thye were all driven by the idea of reason, by the belief that the world could be understood rationally. That is the real essence of the Enlightenment, the belief in rationality, in particular, the belief that the world is subject to physical laws, that God does not intervene capriciously, that the world is not governed by magic. Such ideas did not preclude a God or prevent and intense relationship with the putatively divine, but they did encase God within a rational system of thought in which His action was limited, voluntarily or otherwise. Newton may have been utterly fixated with the numerology of the Bible but he believed the world was ordered according to physical laws.

From the belief that the universe is organised rationally comes the corollary that it can be understood, that everything is governed by laws which can be discovered by men. This idea pre-dated Newton, but it was his ideas, most notably his laws of motion and theory of gravity, that elevated the idea to almost a secular religion. During the next century intellectuals took the example of Newton's inanimate mechanistic physical world and extrapolated the idea to every aspect of existence, from biology to philosophy to social policy. If only enough was known, if only enough effort was made, then everything, of this world at least, could be understood and controlled and everything could be the subject of rational decision making.

The 18th century Enlightenment had another aspect, an association with the democratic or at least a wish that the power of kings should be greatly curtailed - the Voltaire quote given above is a good example of the mentality. This also has its roots in England. The ferment of the English Civil War not only produced proto-democratic political movements such as the Levellers, it also started Parliament along the road of being more than a subordinate constitutional player by forcing it to act as not only a legislature but as an executive. Stir in the experience of the Protectorate, simmer for 30 years or so the restored Stuart kings, mix in the Glorious Revolution of 1689 which resulted in the Bill of Rights and established the English crown as being in the gift of Parliament and season with half a century of the German Georges and you have the British (in reality the English0 constitution which was so admired by Voltaire, who thought it quite perfect, and which gave American colonists the inspiration for their own political arrangements (president = king, Senate = Lords, House of Representatives = Commons, with a Constitution and Bill of Rights heavily influenced by the English Bill of Rights.

Pictured: Edmund Halley

The Industrial Revolution & Technology

Of all the social changes which have occurred in human history, none has been so profound as the process of industrialisation. The two previous great general amendments to human life - farming and urbanisation - pale into insignificance. Before industrialisation, man lived primarily from the land and animals whether from farming, husbandry or hunter-gathering. In the most advanced civilisations, the vast majority of populations lived outside large towns and cities. Even in industrialising England a majority of the population derived their living directly from the land as late as the 1830s. France did not become a predominantly urban nation until the 1930s.

With industrialisation came not merely a change in the material circumstances, but profound social alteration. There arose much greater opportunity to move from the small world of the village. The massive increase in wealth eventually made even the poor rich enough to have aspirations. Sufficient numbers of the wealthier classes became guilty enough about abject poverty existing beside great wealth that the condition of the poor was further mitigated by greater educational opportunity, welfare provision and legislation regulating the abuse of workers by employers. Political horizons were expanded by the extension of the franchise.

The Industrial Revolution altered the balance of power throughout the world. David Landes in The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor: Why Some Are So Rich and Some Are So Poor describes the effect succinctly: "The industrial revolution made some countries richer, others (relatively) poorer; or more accurately, some countries made an industrial revolution and became rich; and others did not and stayed poor." (p168). Prior to industrialisation, the disparity in wealth between states, regions and even continents was relatively small. Come the Industrial Revolution and passive disparities began to appear. For Dr Landes, it is to the success or otherwise in industrialising which is the primary cause of present disparities in national wealth.

All of this tremendous amendment to human existence occurred because the one and only bootstrapped Industrial Revolution took place in England. Why England? David Landes in the Wealth and Poverty of Nations sees the historical process of industralisation as twofold. First, comes a pre-industrial preparatory period in which irrationality of thought it gradually replaced by scientific method and what he calls "autonomy of intellectual inquiry (p201), that is, thought divorced from unquestioned reliance on authority, irrationality, especially superstition. At the same time technology begins to be something more than by-guess-and-by-God. This gives birth to industrialisation by creating both the intellectual climate and the acquired knowledge, both scientific and technological, necessary for the transformation from traditional to modern society. It is as good an explanation as any and fits the flow of England's historical development.

It is not utterly implausible to suggest that without England the world might have had no Industrial Revolution. Those who would scoff at such a proposition should consider the cold facts: even with England and Britain's example to follow no other nation matched her industrial development until the 1870s and then the first country to do so was a state ultimately derived from England, namely the USA. Nor did England produce an industrial revolution only in England, they actively exported and financed it throughout the world, for example, most of the European railway building of the years 1840-70 was the result of British engineers and money.

Some may point to scientific advance in Europe from 1600 onwards as reason to believe that industrialisation would have been achieved without England. It is true that Europe advanced scientifically in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but scientific knowledge is no guarantee of technological progress. Moreover, a good deal of that scientific advance came from England. Nor does scientific knowledge have any natural connection with the severe social upheaval required for a transformation from the land-working dominated pre-industrial state to capitalism. Indeed, the landowners of pre-industrial Europe had a vested interest in not promoting industrial advance. Moreover, in many parts of Europe, particularly the East, feudal burdens became greater not less after 1500. This was so even in as advanced a country as France. Consequently, the widespread social mobility which historians have generally thought necessary to promote a bootstrapped industrial revolution simply did not exist in Europe at the beginning of the British Industrial Revolution. Even the country most like England in its commercial development, the Netherlands, became socially and politically ossified in the eighteenth century, with a bourgeoisie developing into an aristocracy and representative government narrowed to what was in effect a parliament of nobles.

There will be those - Scots in particular - who will chafe at the idea that the Industrial Revolution was dependent upon England and the English. The facts are against them.

Scotland before the union with England (1707) was a remarkably poor state. Nor, despite its much vaunted educational system - supposedly much the superior of England - had it produced many men of international importance. Read a general history of Europe, either old or modern, and you will find precious few Scots mentioned on their own account before the Union. The names John Eringa and Duns Scotus with perhaps a nod to John Knox are the best the reader may hope for, and the former two had to leave Scotland to make their names. If any other Scotsman who lived before the Union is mentioned, he will be noticed only because of his connections with another country, most commonly England. It required the union with England to give Scots a larger stage to act upon. Without the union, the likes of David Hume, Adam Smith and James Watt would in all probability have been roses which bloomed unseen in the desert air. That is not to decry the talents and contributions of Scots, which are considerable, merely to describe a necessary sociological condition for their realisation.

Let me demonstrate how much of an English enterprise the Industrial Revolution was by using the example of the development of steam power. Contrary to many a schoolboy's imagining, James Watt did not invent the steam engine. That was a the province of Englishmen. The Marquess of Worcester may have produced a working steam engine on his estates in 1663; James Savery certainly did in 1698. This was improved by another Englishman, Thomas Newcomen. Their machines were crude beam engines, but the technological Rubicon had been crossed.

It is true that the Scotsman Watts improvement to the steam engine - the conversion of linear to rotary action and the introduction of a separate condenser - were profoundly important and provided the means to extend the use of steam engines from their limited applications in pumping water from mines. But it should be noted that he had come to England to achieve his improvements through his association with and English entrepreneur of genius, Mathew Boulton, who at his Soho works in Birmingham had probably the best engineering facilities then in the world. It was also Boulton who pressed Watt to develop the linear to rotary action. It is worth adding that Watt was a timid, retiring personality who left to his own devices would probably have achieved little of practical consequence. Moreover, within a generation of Watt's improvements, the English engineer, Richard Trevithick, had greatly improved on Watt's engine by producing a high pressure steam engine. But before steam could play its full role there had to be a revolution in iron production. This was accomplished by Englishmen. Until Abraham Darby began smelting iron with coke made from coal in the early 1700s, iron making was an expensive and uncertain business carried on in small foundries using charcoal to fire the kilns (an ironmaker named Dudley claimed to have used coal successfully for smelting as early as 1619 but died without establishing a business to carry the work on). Compared with coal, charcoal was in short supply. Worse, it did not produce the same intensity of heat as coal converted into coke. Darby and his son solved the basic problem of smelting with coke made from coal. Henry Cort's puddling process allowed cast-iron to be refined to remove the brittleness. A little later Benjamin Huntsman improved steel making. In the middle of the next century the Bessemer revolutionised steel production to such a degree that its price fell dramatically enough to make steel no longer a luxury but the common material of construction. All these advances were made by Englishmen.

Pictured: Frank Whittle statue in Coventry

Large scale organisation is also intellectually demanding. If a ready and cheaper supply of iron was a necessary condition for the Industrial Revolution, so was the very idea of large scale manufacturers using machines. Undertakings employing hundreds of men on one site were not unknown before the 18th century - a clothier named Jack of Newbury had a factory employing 500 in Tudor times - but they were very rare. In 18th century England such enterprises became if not commonplace, at least not extraordinary. By the next century they were the norm. Industry became for the first time geared to a mass market. Nor was this new method of manufacturing confined to the necessities and banalities of life. Factories such as Josiah Wedgewood's at Etruria, manufactured high quality an imaginative china directed deliberately at the growing middle classes. All the most successful 18th century machines for mass production were developed by Englishmen. Arkwright's water frame, Crompton's mule, James Hargreaves spinning jenny.

Once the first blast of the Industrial Revolution had passed, the fundamental fine tuning was undertaken by Englishmen, with men such as Whitworth leading the way with machine tools and new standards of exactness in measurement and industrial cutting and finishing. All very boring to the ordinary man, but utterly essential for the foundation of a successful industrial society.

Many vital industries since have originated in England. To take a few, George Stephenson produced the first practical railway (the railway probably did more than anything to drive the Industrial Revolution because it allowed a true national market to operate within England); Brunel issued in the age of the ocean going steamship; William Perkins laid the foundation for the modern chemical industry by discovering the first synthetic dye; the first electronic computer was designed in Britain, after the theoretical foundations had been laid by the Englishman, Alan Turing. (In the previous century another Englishman, Charles Babbage, designed but did not finish building the first programmable machine.)

Alongside the development of manufacturing ran that of agriculture. The enclosure movement was already well advanced by 1700. By the middle of the nineteenth century it was effectively finished. Not merely feudalism but the peasantry were gone. The old, inefficient open-field system was a dead letter. With enclosure came agricultural innovation. In the eighteenth century we have Jethro Tull, whose seed drill greatly reduced the amount of seed needed for sowing, Robert Bakewell whose selective breeding greatly increased the size of sheep and cattle and "Turnip" Townsend who greatly increased crop efficiency by various means such as the marling of sandy soil. The importance of such developments cannot be overestimated because the population of Britain rose so dramatically in the next century.

The technological inventions and discoveries made by the English are legion. The list below gives some idea of their importance and range.

Just a brief sketch

This article is just a brief sketch of what the English have achieved intellectually. There is much which has been either omitted or mentioned too briefly, for example, I have barely touched on the considerable accomplishments in literature, philosophy, history and the social sciences. But there is enough here to show that England has been so far from an intellectual backwater throughout her history that she may be plausibly considered the primary cause of the modern world and its way of thinking and existing. Indeed, without England it is difficult to imagine the world as it is today.

To have produced Shakespeare, Newton and Darwin alone would have been a great thing for any nation, but for England they are merely the cherries on the top of a very substantial intellectual cake. Beneath them sit dozens of others of serious human consequence: the likes of Ockham, Chaucer, Wycliffe, Francis Bacon, Marlowe, Halley, Hobbes, Locke, Gibbon, Priestley, Cavendish, Newcomen, Faraday, Austen, Dickens, Keynes, Turing...'Nuff said.

Thomas Savery (1650-1715). Invented the first commercial steam engine - a steam pump.

Thomas Newcomen (1663-1729). Improved Savery's engine by introducing the piston.

Richard Trevithick (1771-1833). Invented the high pressure steam engine. Built the first steam locomotive.

George Stephenson (1781-1848). Made the railway a practical reality.

Abraham Darby (1678-1717). Developed the process of smelting iron using coke.

Sir Henry Bessemer (1813-1898). Devised a process for making steel on a large scale.

James Hargreaves (1722-1778). Invented the spinning jenny.

John Kay (1733-1764). Invented the flying shuttle.

Samuel Crompton (1754-1827). Invented the spinning mule.

Richard Arkwright (1732-1792). Invented the waterframe.

Edmund Cartwright (1743-1823). Invented the power loom.

John Harrison (1693-1776). First to build watches accurate enough to solve the longitude measurement problem.

Edward Jenner (1743-1823). Developed vaccination.

Joseph Lister (1827-1912). Developed antiseptics.

Sir Joseph Whitworth (1803-1887). Standardised screw threads, produced first true plane surfaces in metal, developed ductile steel.

Henry Maudsley (1771-1831). Invented the screw-cutting lathe and the first bench micrometer that was capable of measuring to one ten thousandth of an inch.

Joseph Bramam (1748-1814). Invented the hydraulic press.

John Walker (1781-1859). Invented the first friction matches.

John Smeaton (1724-1792). Made the first modern concrete (hydraulic cement).

Joseph Aspdin (1788-1829). Invented the firs electric light, the arc lamp.

Michael Farady (1791-1867). Invented the electric motor.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-18590. Built the first really large steam ships - the Great Britain, Great Western, Great Eastern.

Sir Isaac Pitman (1813-1897). Devised the most widely used modern shorthand.

Sir Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875). Developed an electric telegraph at the same time as Samuel Morse.

Rowland Hill (1795-1879). Invented adhesive postage stamps.

John Herschel (1792-1871). Invented the blueprint.

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877). Invented the negative-positive photography and latent image shorter exposure time.

Sir Joseph William Swan (1828-1914). Invented the dry photographic plate. Invented, concurrently with Edison, the light bulb.

Sir William Henry Perkin (1838-1907). Created thre first artificial dye - aniline purple or mauveine - and the first artificial scent, coumarin.

Alexander Parkes (1813-90). Created the first artificial plastic, Parkensine.

Sir George Cayley (1773-1857). Worked out the principles of aerodynamics, his On Aerial Navigation showed that a fixed wing aircraft with a power system for propulsion, and a tail to assist in the control of the airplane, would be the best way to allow man to fly. Also invented the caterpillar track.

Sir Frank Whitle (1907-1996). Took out the first patents for a Turbojet.

Sir Christopher Cockerell (1910-1999). Invented the hovercraft.

Charles Babbage (1792-1871). Worked out the basic principles of the computer.

Alan Turing (1912-1954). Widely considered the father of modern computer science - worked out the principles of the digital computer.

Tim Berners-Lee (1955-). Invented the World Wide Web defining HTML (hypertextmarkup language), HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) and URLs (Universal Resource Locators).

For part one of this article click here.

For part two click here.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Referendum triggered by English Democrats

I received this press release this evening and thought it was worth reproducing in full here.

I'm sure you will all agree that gathering over 10,000 signatures in a city is no mean feat and I congratulate everyone involved in this campaig on their hard work thus far!

Referendum triggered by English Democrats

The English Democrats are delighted to announce that amply sufficient signatures have now been collected to force Salford City Council to have a referendum on directly electing their Council Leader (aka “Executive Mayor”).

The English Democrats’ Campaign for Elected Mayors passes its first landmark tomorrow at 10.30 at the Salford City Council when 10,500 signatures on our petition for a referendum on the issue will be handed in to Salford’s Returning Officer.

Stephen Morris, the English Democrats’ North West Area Chairman said:-

“I am delighted that here in Salford we are leading the way to a better and more open local democracy for the people of Salford City.

"Salford has long needed a leader who will fight for Salford and have the democratic clout to do so.

"If Salford voters choose to vote ‘yes’ in the referendum then we will have a democratically elected leader with a mandate to equal the Government’s proposed mayor for Manchester!”

Stephen continued:-

“We only needed 8,505 to force a referendum but to ensure that Salford’s Council Labour leadership can’t pull any tricks we collected over 10,500.”

Robin Tilbrook, the English Democrats’ Party Chairman said:-

“Last September we launched our campaign for directly elected council leaders for every local authority in England and I am delighted that the fantastic work of our local volunteer, Geoffey Berg, means that Salford City Council will be the first to achieve the necessary 5% of voters signatures to trigger a referendum under the Local Government Act 2000.”

Robin continued:-

“All the British Establishment Parties nationally have pushed for elected mayors to sort out the abysmal standards of both local government decision making and of democratic accountability but at the local level their councillors have usually been too buy looking after their own interests.

"This referendum will give the people of Salford the opportunity to have a Mayor to rival London’s Boris Johnson!”


To support the work of the English Democrats in Leeds please click on the donate button at the top right of this page. Every penny counts. Thank you all for your continued support!

Monday, 25 July 2011

English intellectual accomplishments (part two)

Pictured: Statue of Joseph Priestley, discoverer of oxygen, in Birstall, West Yorkshire.

Here is the second part of this article, taken from the Spring 2007 issue of Steadfast magazine.

Click on the link down the right hand side of this page to buy this excellent magazine.


The quintessential English art is literature. I doubt whether any nation can excel the English here, either in quality or international influence. Take a few names from our literary past: Chaucer, Langland, Mallory, Sir Thomas More, Ben Jonson, Kit Marlowe, Bunyan, Dryden, Milton, Marvell, Pope, Sam Johnson, Fielding, Wordsworth, Austen, The Brontes, George Elliott, Tennyson, Shelley, Keates, Dickens, Trollope, Waugh, Greene and Golding. The novel in particular has been a peculiarly successful English literary form.

And then there is Shakespeare, still being read, performed, analysed and reinterpreted nearly four centuries after his death. Most authors famous in their day do not remain so for long after their death. Those few who are remembered tend to be honoured more in the lauding of the name than by reading or watching. Shakespeare has never been entirely out of fashion. Today he is performed more than ever. His reach stretches throughout the English speaking world and beyond - the Germans in particular have a great liking for the Bard. No playwright in history has been so often performed. He has provided inspiration for men as diverse as Dr Johnson, Freud and Verdi. The man was truly exceptional, arguably unique.

The Intellectual roots of the Reformation

In the latter half of the 14th century John Wycliffe and his followers developed the theological and practical foundations of the Reformation, one hundred and fifty odd years before Luther pinned his 95 theses on the door of the castle church of Wittenberg. Wycliffe questioned the reality of transubstantiation (the Catholic belief that the bread and wine at Communion turn literally into the body and blood of Christ), he attacked the uncontrolled authority of the Pope, he rallied against the abuses of simony and indulgencies. He advocated a Bible in English and either he or some of his followers (who became known as Lollards) produced a complete translation by the end of the fourteenth century. Lollardy was officially and harshly suppressed early in the next century, but their ideas lingered, both here and abroad, feeding into the European consciousness, for example through the Bohemian Jan Hus.

The concept of science

The development of the concept of what we can science is arguably the most dramatic intellectual event in history, for it utterly changed both the way in which men viewed the world and provided them with the means to mould it ever more completely to their will.

Science is the opposite of "by guess and by God". It is the process of not only knowing that something has worked before and replicating the event or process to achieve the same result, but of understanding the process behind an event or process.

The classic scientific experiment involves the generation of an hypothesis to be tested (for example, the behaviour of falling objects) or a defined field to be investigated (for example, am animal's behaviour), the creation of the means of doing so and a strict observance of the rules by which the experiment is to be conducted and meticulously recording of data. That in essence is the scientific method, although in practice science is far from being as neat and regular as that. Nonetheless, it does encapsulate what science is supposed to be about: the rigorous observation and rational interpretation of what it is rather than what the mind might fancy to be the case. It is inductive rather than deductive.

The beginnings of the scientific mentality can be found in the minds of two 13th Century Englishmen, the Franciscan Roger Bacon (c1214-1292) and Robert Grossteste (c1168-1253), Chancellor of Oxford then Bishop of Lincoln. Both saw the importance of experimentation and observation, Bacon advocated mathematics as the sure foundation of science while Grossteste anticipated the ideas of the scientific hypothesis. Grossteste was also the first to understand the value of falsification, namely, although any number of observed events cannot prove beyond doubt that something is generally true it can be proved false by a single case which shoes it to be false. There are difficulties with the principle of falsification philosophically but it is, in practice, a most useful tool for scientists.

Another important intellectual tool for the scientist was developed in the fourteenth century by the Franciscan, William of Ockham. Ockham formulated the principle of parsimony which we know today as Ockham's Razor. This is commonly expressed as "entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity" or, more bluntly, always choose the simplest explanation for something unless there is a good reason not to. Apart from being philosophically important, this dictum is immensely valuable as a guide for scientists, especially those engaged in the "hard" sciences of physics and chemistry, where the simplest explanation has often been found to be the correct one.

Roger Bacon, Grossteste and William of Ockham were also responsible for a substantial amount of important philosophy related to the other aspects of the physical world and to metaphysics. In addition, Ockham was a radical political theorist who fought the conciliar case in the long schism in the papacy (which straddled the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries), arguing that authority within the Church should not rest solely with the Pope but be delegated in part to a council of the Church.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century Francis Bacon moved the idea of the scientific method forward in his Novum Organum (1620), in which he laid out the classic version of scientific method and reinforced the ideas of induction and the importance of falsifiability (Bacon stands as the first in a long line of important British empirical philosophers). Bacon was also responsible for the re-classification of sciences to something approaching their modern divisions in his Advancement of Learning (1625) and argued vigorously for the separation of reason and revelation.

On the practical science side there is William Gilbert with his work on magnetism (published in his De Magneto 1600), who was one of the first men, even perhaps the first, known to have conducted a controlled experiment, that is, one in which the experiment is entirely artificial and can be repeated exactly. It is the difference between simply watching falling objects which fall without human intent and creating a situation where falling objects can be observed repeatedly under the same conditions.

The practice of science

England was from the seventeenth century in the vanguard of the rise of science. William Gilbert's work on magnetism was followed by William Harvey tracing the circulation of the blood, Halley's work on comets and Robert Hooke's polymathic span from microscopy to a nascent theory of gravitation. Above all stood the formidable figure of Newton, neurotic, splenetic and marvellous, a man who demonstrated the composition of light and developed the powerful mathematical tool of the differential calculus, besides formulating the laws of motion which form the basis of all mechanical science and the theory of gravitation, which was the most complete explanation of the physical universe until Einstein.

Newton probably had more influence on the mental world than any man before him. Even today his importance is vast. Quantum mechanics and Einstein's physics may have superseded the Newtonian as the most advanced explanation of the physical world, but Newton still rules as the practical means of understanding the world above the subatomic. More generally, Newton provided an intellectual engine which allowed men to make sense of the universe and to see order and predictability where before there had been an order seemingly kept from chaos, and often not that, by the capricious will of a god or gods. The psychological as well as the scientific impact of Newton was great.

To these early scientific pioneers may be added the likes of Joseph Priestley (the practical discoverer of oxygen), John Dalton (who proposed the first modern atomic theory), Michael Faraday (who laid the foundations of the science of electromagnetism), J.J. Thompson (who discovered the first atomic particle, the electron), James Chadwick (the discoverer of the neutron) and Francis Crick (who jointly discovered the structure of DNA with his pupil, the American James Watson).

Then there is Charles Darwin, the man with a strong claim to be the individual who has most shaped the way we view the world, because natural selection provides a universal means of explication for dynamic systems. We can as readily visualise pebbles on a beach being selected for their utility in their environment (from qualities such as crystal structure, size, shape) as we can a horse. As with Newton, Darwin profoundly affected the way men look at the world.

Of all the important scientific fields established since 1600, I can think of only two in which an Englishman did not play a substantial role. Those exceptions are Pasteur's proof of germ theory and Mendel's discovery of genes. The list below gives an idea of the scope of English scientific discoveries.

Isaac Newton (1642-1727) Gravitation, laws of motion, theory of light.

Robert Hook (1625-1703). Wrote Micrographia, the first book describing observations made through a microscope. Was the first person to use the word "cell" to identify microscopic structures. Furmulated Hooke's Law - a law of elasticity for solid bodies.

Henry Cavendish (1731-1810) Discovered the composition of water and measured the gravitational attraction between two bodies.

Joseph Priestley (1733-1804). Discovered oxygen.

Humphrey Davy (1778-1829). Discovered the elements potassium, sodium, strontium, calcium, magnesium and barium nitrous oxide.

Michael Faraday (1791-1867). Widely regarded as the greatest ever experimental scientist. Conceived the idea of lines of force in magnetism, discovered electromagnetic induction, developed the laws of electrolysis.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882). Created modern evolutionary theory.

John Prescott Joule (1818-1889). Calculated the mechanical equivalent of heat.

John Dalton (1766-1844). Created modern atomic theory.

Sir J.J. Thomson (1859-1940). Discovered the electron and made the first attempt to represent atoms in terms of positive and negative energy.

Sir James Chadwick (1891-1974). Discovered the neutron.

Francis Crick (1916- ) Joint discovered of the structure of DNA.

Coming in part three: The Enlightenment

For part one click here.

Friday, 22 July 2011

A Selective Euro Round-Up

Pictured: New Jobbik Mayor, Oszkar Juhasz.

Well it has certainly been another very interesting week.

Let me pass on just a few of the things that have caught my eye.


Jobbik won a mayoral election in the town of Gyongyospata last Sunday, will will be a huge boost for this growing nationalist party. Interestingly, Jobbik's English language website singles out the BBC for censoring news of Jobbik's victory.

From an organisational point of view, electoral contests like this are very important for Jobbik, as there are no big elections for years so smaller victories in by-elections will be needed in order to keep up the momentum of victory.

I still have some copies of Jobbik's General Election Manifesto here for anyone who wants one.

If you would like a copy please send 2 x 2nd class stamps to cover p&p to me at:

PO Box 116,
LS27 9WW.


I often write about what is going on in Belgium but I must confess that it is often based mainly from a Flemish perspective, so I found this brief article (in French) by Marine Le Pen particularly interesting.

In it, Mrs Le Pen expressed her sympathy for the people of Wallonia, the French speaking region of Belgium.

Should the Belgian state brake down, which is regarded by some as being an increasingly plausible outcome of the current political impasse, the people of France should extend the hand of friendship to their Wallonian cousins. Referenda in France and Belgium would have to be held to decide the future relationship between France and Wallonia, which could include the union of the two entities.


The Austrian Freedom Party continues to make real progress, as shown by the these poll results:

Note that this poll rates the FPÖ as the most popular party, with its leader, H. C. Strache, on second place in the individual rankings of party leaders.

Not bad at all!

Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

English intellectual accomplishments (part one)

Pictured: Sir Isaac Newton

I have reproduced below the first part of a wonderful article taken from the Spring 2007 issue of Steadfast magazine. I feel the article deserves as wide an audience as possible.

You can click on the link on the right hand side of this page to buy a copy of Issue 19 of Steadfast magazine, from which this article is taken.

All proceeds from the sales of books and magazines bought from the Morley Patriot Blog will go to support our local campaigns.

I hope you all find this article as informative, inspirational, and uplifting as I did!

English intellectual accomplishments

Robert Henderson

Quantifying accomplishment

In his book Human Accomplishment the American Charles Murray calculates the contribution to civilisation made by individuals throughout history up to until 1950. To give his calculations as much objectivity as possible he measured the amount of attention given to an individual by specialists in their field in sources such as biographical dictionaries - put crudely, the greater the frequency of mention and the larger the space devoted to an individual, the higher they score.

Murray quantifies achievements under the headings of astronomy (Galileo and Kepler tied for first place), biology (Darwin and Aristotle), chemisty (Lavoisier), earth sciences (Lyell), physics (Newton and Einstein), mathematics (Euler), medicine (Pasteur, Hippocrates and Koch), technology (Edison and Watt), combined scientific (Newton), Chinese philosophy (Confucious), Indian philosophy (Sanakra), Western philosophy (Aristole), Western music (Beethoven and Mozart), Chinese painting (Gu Kaizai and Zhao Mengfu), Japanese painting (Sesshu, Sotatsu and Korin), Western art (Michaelangelo), Arabic literature (al-Mutanabbi), Chineseeliterature (Du Fu), Indian literature (Kalidasa), Japanese literature (Basho and Chikamatsu Monzaemon), Western literature (Shakespeare).

Objections have been made to Murray's methodology such as the fact that many of the great achievements of the past, especially in the arts, have been anonymous, which gives it a bias towards the modern period, and fears that it has a built-in Western bias - the representation of non-Western figures in the science and technology categories is minimal. Nothing can be done about anonymity - it is worth pointing out that the majority of those heading the categories lived at least several centuries ago - but Murray substantially guards against pro-Western bias with the breadth and number of his sources and it is simply a fact that science and advanced technology arose only in the past few centuries and that both are essentially Western achievements . It is also noteworthy that Murray's method only places one of his fellow countrymen at number one in any category (Edison in technology). If any bias exists it is unlikely to be conscious. At worst, Murray's findings can be seen as a fair rating of Western achievement.

The list of those heading the various categories (see second paragraph above - "Murray quantifies") suggests that Murray's method is pretty sound despite any possible methodological shortcomings, because those who come top are all men of extreme achievement. There might be arguments over whether Aristotle should take precedence over Plato or Kant, but no one could honestly argue that Aristotle was an obvious unworthy winner of first place in the philosophy category.

Of the 13 categories which can include Westerners (they are obviously excluded gtom non-European literature and art), Englishment are undisputed firsts or share first place with one other in four: biology Darwin with Aristotle; Physics Newton with Einstein; combined scientific Newton alone; Western literature Shakespeare alone. No other nation has more than two representatives at the top of a category. The thirteen categories which include Westerners have a total of 18 people in sole or joint first place. England has nearly a quarter of those in first place and more than a quarter of the 15 who are drawn from the modern period, say 1500 AD onwards.

Apart from those coming first, the English show strongly in most of the Western qualifying categories (especially in physics - 9 out of the top 20, technology - 8 out of the top 20 - and Western literature). The major exceptions are Western art and music, where English representation is mediocre. I think most people who think about the matter at all would feel those quantified cultural strengths and weaknesses represent the reality of English history and society.

The fact that England shows so strongly in Murray's exercise gives the lie to the common representation of the English as unintellectual. Moreover, there is much more to human intellectual accomplishment than the fields covered by Murray, most notably the writing of history and the social sciences, areas in which England has been at the forefront throughout the modern period: think Gibbons, Macaulay, Herbert Spencer and Keynes.

The beginnings of English intellectual history

English intellectual history is a long one. It can reasonably be said to begin in the early eighth century with Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English, which amongst other things firmly establishes the English as a people before England as a kingdom existed ("At present there are in Britain...five languages and four nations - English, British, Irish and Picts..." Book One).

In the late ninth century comes Alfred the Great, a king whose reign was one of constant struggle against the Danes, but who thought enough of learning to teach himself to read as an adult and then engage in translations into Old English of devotional works such as Pope Gregory's Pastoral Care, Bede's Ecclesiastical History and Boethius' The Consolation of Philosophy. It is difficult to think of any other monarch anywhere who showed such a practical concern for learning.

From Alfred's reign comes the Anglo-Saxon Journal (ASJ), a work also written in Old English. (There are nine surviving versions written at different places, eight of which are in Old English with the odd man out being in Old English with a Latin translation). The journal is a history/myth of Britain and a narrative of the settlement of Anglo-Saxons within it until the time of Alfred and then a putative record of any commentary on the great events of English life from the time of Alfred until the middle of the 12th century (like all such medieval works the veracity of the ASJ is questionable, but at worst it gives a flavour of the mentality of those living at the time). The work is unique in medieval Europe for its scope and longevity and is particularly noteworthy for the that that it was written in the vernacular throughout the three centuries or so of its existence, this at a time when the normal language for writing in Western Europe was Latin.

The Norman Conquest subordinated the English politically, linguistically and socially for the better part of three centuries, but it did not kill English intellectual endeavour. Those three centuries of oppression saw the emergence of many of the ideas which were later to produce the modern world. John of Salisbury produced a work on politics (Policraticus 1159) which was "the first attempt in the Middle Ages at an extended and systematic treatment of political philosophy" (G H Sabine A History of Political Theory p246) and one which argued for a form of limited monarchy and the overthrow of tyrants, views given practical English expression in Magna Carta (1215). The period was also noteworthy for the strong showing of annals and histories, most notably those of Eadmer (Historia Novorum or The History of Recent Events - it covered the period 950-1109), Henry of Huntingdon (Historia Anglorum or History of the English 5BC-1129) and Matthew Paris (Chronica Majora). In addition, the Common Law was formed, English became once more a literary language (Chaucer, Langland), John Wycliffe laid the intellectual roots of the Reformation and, perhaps most impressively, ideas which were later to provide the basis for a true science emerged.

Coming in part two: Literature, The intellectual roots of the reformation, and the concept of science.

Click here for part 3.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Filip Dewinter on European Nationalism

Headline reads: "European Spring - Right-Wing Parties on the March". Pictured from left to right are Filip Dewinter, Marine Le Pen, H C Strache.

I just read a very good interview with the Vlaams Belang's Filip Dewinter in the German magazine Zuerst. The article (in German) can be read on the website of Filip Dewinter here.

Dewinter is a seasoned nationalist and I share his view of the need for co-operation between European nationalist parties.

I'm not translating the whole thing, but I have translated this bit as I found it particularly interesting and pertinent.


Zuerst: Right-wing parties in Europe differentiate themselves from one another...ideologically. For example, Geert Wilders from the PVV would never describe himself as a "right-wing nationalist"...

Dewinter: You are right of course. But let's look at it from a different perspective. In Europe we have the French Front National, the Austrian FPÖ, and of course the Flemish Vlaams Belang, who form the first generation of traditional right-wing parties.

These have been in existence for decades.

Then we have the second generation, within which I include the Danish People's Party, the northern Italian Lega Nord, and the Swiss People's Party, and there are some others. This second generation has a different style to the first.

And then there is the third generation, parties like the PVV of Geert Wilders for example. Normally they are so-called single issue parties, in the case of Wilders it is all about opposing Islamisation.

...I think that we can learn a lot from one another. The first generation could adopt the populist activity style from the third and become concomitantly more appealing. The third generation, on the other hand, will soon realise that firm ideological foundations are needed in order for durable success to be achieved. The first generation can contribute alot here, and a perfect symbiosis could be achieved.


I think Dewinter has really hit the nail on the head with this last paragraph, and I hope that his words are heeded.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Linkebeek Poster and BNP Book

I thought I would post this up for no other reason than I saw it and thought 'what a great poster!'

It is advertisement for a patriotic demonstration in September in the Flemish town of Linkebeek.

For more info and also some nice pics from last year's event see their website here.

For those of you who have not seen this yet I would like to recommend that you read this review of a new book on the BNP on Eddy Butler's blog here.

I have not read the book myself but Eddy's review is a worthwhile article in itself and its conclusions should be digested by everyone who is involved in patriotic policies so that the mistakes that were made by the BNP are learned from by those of us who want to see the patriotic cause progress in this country and ultimately attain power.

Eddy's article will be uncomfortable reading for many. Some will be outraged by the conclusions he comes to.

I believe that those exhibiting such indignation are making the oft-made mistake of treating our people (i.e. in this case, the general public) as they wish they were rather than how they actually are.

Such faulty thinking, whilst providing reassurance and (false) hope and inspiration in the short term, guarantees failure for a political movement and condemns it to eternal obscurity and irrelevance.

This is not a moral judgement, but simply one based on Realpolitik.

The most radical thing nationalists can do is behave sensibly.

Buy the book here:

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

More MBI Hypocrisy Exposed

These two letters from today's Morley paper are worth a read.

If you are wondering what the first writer is getting at in the final point in her letter, it is the fact that Robert Finnigan does not live in Morley or even anywhere in this local authority, but actually lives in Kirklees.

Is location relevant?

I have been reading your letters page with interest over the last few weeks and have noticed that a couple of people who are supporters/members of the Morley Borough Independent party appear to have decided that if a correspondent does not live within the boundaries of the old Borough boundaries, then their opinions are worthless and should not be stated.

This is an interesting tactic from this particular bunch and I look forward to hearing that from now on the MBI city councillors will only speak and vote on LCC issues which directly affect Morley - after all, what do they have to do with the rest of Leeds, they don't live there after all!

And logically, the MBI dictat means that only people living within the Morley Town Council boundary are allowed to contribute to council business -so that's the current mayor and planning chairman out for a start.

And where would this hastily-thought out ruling leave MBI leader Mr Robert Finnigan?

By his own ruling he is stopping himself from having anything to do with Leeds in general and Morley in particular!


Last word on matter

Please allow me to respond to Mr Finnigan's entirely predictable letter published in last week's Observer and Advertiser as, as usual, he entirely fails to address the points I raised in my previous communication.

No-one, least of all I, wishes to lose good amenities such as Knowle Manor.

My point, however, was that Mr Finnigan and his members have been fully aware that Adult Social Care have hard decisions to make regarding long-term care for the elderly, and they have known about it for months - reports have been presented to Executive Board since at least October 2010.

The proposals envisage a mixture of enhanced home-care and transferring some care-home provision to the private sector, with the almost inevitable closure of some local authority homes.

My point therefore was why did it take the May elections to galvanise Mr Finnigan into full political placard-waving mode, when he could have been taking pre-emptive action long before?

If the election results had been different, would the anti-Labour tirades have been dusted off and wheeled out?

Surely, as an ex-member of the Labour administration in Leeds during the 1990s, Mr Finnigan is well aware of the need to take difficult decisions owing to budgetary pressures, and I am sure the highly-professional officers in Adult Social Care will handle the situation with compassion, skill and genuine concern for the people involved.

This will be my last letter on this subject as I find Mr Finnigan's brand of playground politics increasingly wearisome.


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Strache in Slovakia, Morvai in France

Austrian Freedom Party leader H C Strache was in Bratislava yesterday to sign an agreement of co-operation with Slovakian National Party (SNS) leader Jan Slota (see pic).

The SNS sit with the EFD Group in the European Parliament.

It is pleasing to see that the FPÖ continues to play a leading role in deepening co-operation between patriotic political parties in Europe.

Front National MEP Bruno Gollnisch also does a huge amount of work to this end, and he was joined by Jobbik MEP Krisztina Morvai in France at the weekend for a press conference and meeting. An article about this meeting - in French - can be found on Bruno's website here.

Also, and I know this news is a few days old now, but what fantastic news it is that the Dutch parliament has voted to ban ritual slaughter without pre-stunning. Now the legislation must be passed by the upper house.

For more about this and other campaigns, check out the website of the Party of the Animals, whose MP, Marianne Thieme, put this motion forward.

Monday, 4 July 2011

After Belgium and English Nationalism

I seem to be writing about the Vlaams Belang alot at the moment. I don't know why this is, they just seem to be doing some really good work that keeps catching my eye.

I blogged recently about the release of the book After Belgium - The Orderly Split-Up. I could not find an Amazon link to give you for this but I can now tell you that the English version of this title is available to buy here.

On a different note, for an interesting non-partisan look at the current state of English nationalism I would suggest checking out the article English nationalism is the way forward now over at the Civil Liberty website.

I find it abhorrent that the likes of John Cruddas has the audacity to openly suggest that the traitors in the Labour Party should attempt to hijack patriotic sentiments in order to prop up their genocidal policies, but I take it as a good sign that they feel that this is necessary for them to do this.

Please remember that you can make a donation to support the work of the English Democrats in Morley by clicking on the link at the top right of this page. Every single donation - however small - makes a real difference and we are very grateful for the continued support that the readers of this blog continue to show us.