06 July 2011

The Duke of Edinburgh and others

My colleague Fabian Tassano has put some comments about the Duke of Edinburgh on his blog, and I am reminded of his correspondence with us. We thought that he, if anybody, should be able to think that the most statusful agents of the collective might be in the wrong, and that a status-less person, even if slandered and vilified, might need and deserve support, which they were unable to get from the ‘proper’ social sources, and that this could only be given them by independent-minded individuals.

Indeed, a descendant of the European nobility might feel that he had a responsibility to support those who were attempting to maintain the standards achieved by an intellectual golden age against the ravages of the encroaching tribalism.

And, one would think, such a person might, if not wishing to be openly associated with social outcasts such as intellectual dissidents, have available to him channels by which he could arrange for financial support to reach those who represented old-fashioned ideals and enable them to be more of an influence within the turbulence of modern society. Also one would imagine, such a person might communicate with other individuals who could approach those he wished to help, as if out of the blue, and become the moral and financial supporters they so sorely needed.

But, as it happened, Prince Philip did none of these things, and nor has any other wealthy and influential person to whom we have appealed over the decades and who appeared to take some interest in us. Nor have any of these people given help in their own right in the form of a donation. It seems to be accepted as a law of the Medes and Persians that we are never to be given any real help at all, in the form of money, in the form of useful work or moral support in fundraising, or in the form of suitable university appointments.

I find the meanness towards us of the most wealthy and influential hard to understand. In their position, if I had corresponded with or interviewed a person evidently claiming to be badly in need of support to do something they could clearly see how to do, I could not myself send them away, or terminate the correspondence, without sending them at least a few thousand pounds as a consolation prize and reward for the time and trouble they had put into presenting their case to me.

On the other hand, of course, those who opposed us did so covertly, and with great effect. Our most ostentatious nominal ‘supporters’ would network against us widely and indefatigably, ensuring that no useful help would reach us from any source. And the effects of this networking were permanent. Once it was known that we were personae non gratae with other members of the international establishment, there was no way in which such information could be forgotten or revised.

As those of Prince Philip’s generation die out, our chances of finding a supporter become even more negligible, as we have only ever had even lukewarm support from those born well before the onset of the Welfare State in 1945, who have at least some memory of the standards and ideals in the early decades of the last century.