The British ruling class lost much of its social potency after the Reform Act of 1832, which allowed more individuals within cities the right to vote. From this point onward, the aristocratic landowners' power was deflated in favor of those who benefitted from the Industrial Revolution; those who chose production over Feudalism. Page 305: "After 1832 the old landowning aristocracy steadily lost power, but instead of disappearing and becoming a fossil they simply intermarried with the merchants, manufacturers and financiers who had replaced them, and soon turned them into accurate copies of themselves." Intellectually the aristocrats couldn't face the fact that they were functionally obsolete (because they profited from interest payments, which is economically one-sided), so despite buying their way into a more socially-interested class they slumped into a self-absorbed mal-adaption, or in Orwell's words, stupidity. They couldn't intellectualize the social changes, despite manipulating their surroundings to serve their ego. This sham arrangement worked out (aristocrats preserved their ego & society reaped the injection of their wealth) until it came to understanding the Empire's two biggest threats: Fascism and Nazism. Intellectually they couldn't because, according to Orwell, that would've entailed Socialistic thinkings, which would've simultaneously exposed the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of their own self-absorbed Feudalistic and Capitalistic mindset.
All this seems so flabby to me. Who was in power? How did anything get done? The British Empire was so unfocused from this mess that "It explains the immobility of the public schools, which have barely altered since the 'eighties of the last century. It explains the military incompetence which has again and again startled the world. Since the 'fifties every war in which England has engaged has started off with a series of disasters, after which the situation has been saved by people comparatively low in the social scale. The higher commanders, drawn from the aristocracy, could never prepare for modern war, because in order to do so they would have had to admit to themselves that the world was changing." (p. 306-7) To boot, they knew the Fascists were the least likely out of the three groups active at the time--Communists, Democratic Socialists, and Fascists--to obliterate them, but that simply means they'd survive the invasion. What would happen afterward? They'd either be enslaved, jeopardizing their great Patriotism, or be killed. Luckily for them history didn't move in this direction.
The negative byproduct of this stagnation was the negativity of their intellectuals. Since intellect is either moving forward in imagination and objectivity or backward in stagnation and tradition, England's penchant for non-confrontation allowed Leftist mentalities to flourish. Page 312: "Patriotism and intelligence will have to come together again. It is the fact that we are fighting a war, and a very peculiar kind of war, that may make this possible." They fought themselves, but they created that war in the first place. Nazism was actually secondary. It was simply the variable--although a potent one--that exposed the Empire's cellulite that'd accumulated for quite some time.
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