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Ash Sharp

Yesterday the good lady and I took a well deserved day off together, to curl up on the sofa and watch a good movie. Being my turn, I chose Dunkirk.  One of the great joys of being in a pan-European relationship is learning about each other's history, after all.

I'll leave the movie review to the to the professionals. I'm six months late anyway, but as Republic Standard has been running for only a month or so I beg your indulgence as I play a little catch-up. Movie reviews aren't my thing. I know my limits, and as much as I will wax lyrical about the meaning of art I am more than aware that I am not an artist- I will say that Dunkirk is a very good film indeed and you should see it if you are one of the few people on Earth slower at getting around to seeing films than I am. It does have a 94 on Metacritic though, just saying. It's pretty awesome. This movie's portrayal of the events is sublime, the cinematography is artful, real. The score perfect, Hans Zimmer at his un-nerving best.

What I am annoyed by is elitist city-dwelling fools who used this movie to throw cheap barbs about how Britain is doomed as it leaves the European Union.

Of course, a movie about one of the most incredible military escapes in human history must be quashed. It might make the proles think that they aren't completely worthless.

Jenni Russell in the New York Times- "No Dunkirk Spirit Can Save Britain From Brexit Defeat";

How I wish that Christopher Nolan’s new film, “Dunkirk,” had not been released at this moment in history. The reviewers have been near unanimous in their praise: searing, complex, uncompromising about the savagery of war and death. Yet the essential message of the film, with its narrative of heroic retreat in order to fight another day, cannot help but feed the national pride in Britain’s capacity to triumph eventually, no matter what the odds.

Nothing could be less helpful to our collective psyche as the country blunders toward Brexit.

My fingers clench reflexively as I read, knowing that soon my eyeballs must surely swivel into the back of my head in the midst of a hopefully fatal grand-mal. Mrs. Russell is a Cambridge graduate and has worked inside the mainstream media establishment for her entire career. She is upper middle class through and through- and this is the face of pro-EU elitism, unfortunately. Wealthy, status-quo in all manners, vaguely socialist in politics so long as they don't feel the pinch themselves and dismissive of people below them on the ladder looking up. The majority of British people who could be bothered to vote decided to leave. The majority of British people define themselves as working class.

Dunkirk is a movie that strips these differences away. A Briton can easily spot the class differences between the characters- while stereotypes, these are not just memes. The Rear Admiral carries himself like a sea lord should, the 'tommies' are scared boys from the terraces and farms. The pilots, mostly from monied backgrounds, avoided the hell of land or sea combat for another kind of hell thousands of feet in the air. The entire meaning of this movie was about British identity. Collective British identity, that beyond the class differences between Britons there are indeed ties that bind. Between fathers and sons, about what duty means. Beyond class divide. It is the antithesis of what we see in the Remain camp.


Emile Simpson writing in Foreign Policy weighs in with a piece entitled "Brexit's Dunkirk Fantasyland".

Beyond trade, the memory of World War II evokes a sense of national unity, symbolized in the “Dunkirk spirit,” which can be taken to represent a cultural unity purportedly absent in modern Britain.

I have said on these pages before that the cultural unity of many Western nations is not yet absent but is sorely wounded. Mr. Simpson -who served my nation in the armed forces and for which I thank him- does not live on a council estate. He does not live in Blackburn.

He does not come from such a lifestyle. He comes from Oxford University and Sandhurst. If he cannot see the lack of unified feeling in England today, the lack of cultural meaning then I really am at a loss. How can you miss it unless you walk around looking at the sky? The media elite creates Far-Right boogeymen out of people like Tommy Robinson, denounce the President of the United States as a racist, and arrest people for criticizing Islam while the largest political party in the nation is riddled with Hard-Left anti-Semites.

This is not what I would consider being expressive of even a hint of the cultural unity on the scale represented by Dunkirk.

Charles Mudede, in a piece for The Stranger entitled "Dunkirk: The First Brexit Movie in the History of Cinema."

It's not just about Brexit/Dunkirk being a one-to-one dub: the Brits fleeing a Europe dominated by the German military/the Brits fleeing a Europe dominated by German banks. It's sadder than that. It is the acceptance that the lie is better than the truth.

Zimbabwean Mudede's latest piece for this site is entitled "Father Recognized Son Shot By a Non-Muslim White American Because of His Nike Socks." I think it's safe to say that he has an agenda. Even so, let us play the ball and not the man. Yes, this movie is a sad film. It's hard to imagine yourself in the shoes of those soldiers paying the ultimate price, going to their deaths in the certainty that the nation -your nation- was surely doomed to fall under the yoke of Nazism. The Wehrmacht was a monstrous machine, technologically and militarily superior in almost every way, and only defeated thanks to the combined sacrifice of millions from dozens of nations and the madness of those in charge of this death-dealer.

Is drowning in a few feet of water off the coast of Dunkirk a parallel to wrestling with the Deutsche Bundesbank? I don't know. I haven't done either. I do imagine though that being shot in the back as I run to a ship or taking shrapnel to the heart from a Stuka, as my friends die around me- that I can imagine is worse than the financial interest of my nation being rivaled -without bloodshed- by another, larger nation. Perhaps Emile Simpson, as a veteran, would do us the service of telling us.

Rafael Behr, in the Guardian, wrote a lovely diatribe entitled "Dunkirk reveals the spirit that has driven Brexit: humiliation."

There is a swelling body of evidence that Brexit is shaking confidence in the country’s international credibility, and cannot be completed in the allotted time without economic vandalism. There is also the referendum result, before which evidence is made to cower.

I fear we are about to rehearse the cycle of shame and resentment all over again. There are two routes ahead, neither free of humiliation. The enactment of Brexit will complete an economic, diplomatic and strategic devaluation that is prefigured already in sterling’s post-referendum slide.

The Pound is still fluctuating, but no longer due to Brexit uncertainty, according to economist Liam Halligan. The value of the currency is now near the value it held before the Brexit vote, manufacturing output to rise to a 10-year-high. Employment also rose by 102,000 from September to November 2017 to a record of 32.2million.

Prior to the referendum, the Office for Budget Responsibility predicted UK growth of two percent during 2016, which was calculated on the Remain vote.

After the leave vote growth rose by 1.9 percent.

Former Treasury minister Lord O’Neill said:

“I wouldn’t have thought the UK economy would be as robust as it currently seems.”

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, as I am sure the Mr. Behr, who persists in tolling the bell of doom, would agree. He continues;

Humiliation corrodes the soul of nations. This thought occurred to me during Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan’s cinematic re-enactment of the 1940 evacuation of British soldiers from fallen France. It was a disorderly retreat following a defeat: “a colossal military disaster”, said Churchill. Yet Dunkirk spirit became an emblem of national character – a metaphor for plucky survival against insuperable odds, and a benchmark for resilience.

Britain will be measurably smaller on the world stage. The reversal of Brexit, or its dilution into some pale simulation of the status quo, requires a plea in Brussels for more time and a fresh start. That will be hard to distinguish from a grovel.

Well, Where to begin. Mr. Behr will surely not slip beneath the waves along with the rest of us, after all- his family has land in Israel to escape to, should the worst come. His advice is to fall to our knees and repent, so I can only attribute total altruism to him- that he cares for the plight of Britons, that if only they could see the error of their ways, we would see that Neville Chamberlain was right after all.

Oh, excuse me- I forget that it is only the pro-EU glitterati who may invoke World War Two in support of their arguments.

We plebs from the council estate ought to listen to our betters when they tell us how stupid we are to want to think for ourselves. When I was on the left wing of politics I thought in a little way like these people did, though I fooled myself that class-consciousness just meant I knew better than anyone else what the working class truly needed. Instead I was a useful idiot, an early precursor to the swarms of useful idiots clogging up the place today with their socialist slogans and proclaimations of undying fealty to the European Union.

What the working class need is what ever the working class choose to vote for in the democratic process until we decide to just shelve the idea of democracy all together. Sermonizing by wealthy graduates from elite schools who publish books, work for the BBC and own land in a literal ethnostate are not on that list, funnily enough. Let us finish up where we began, with Jenni Russell, who rightly said;

Nine of Northern Europe’s 10 poorest regions — including West Wales, Cornwall and Lancashire are in Britain

Yet, she wonders why the people of West Wales, Cornwall and Lancashire decided that a change from the prescribed route was in order. The only solution to Russell is more of the same. Damn your democracy. She goes on;

Britain is not an economic powerhouse waiting to be liberated. We are a country of mediocre education and limited skills, whose preening vanity has prevented us from seeing our failings. Our membership in the European Union is not a set of restraints; it is what has been propping us up. If we insist on cutting ourselves off, parts of our economy will start to die.

Dunkirk is remembered so fondly only because, in the end, Britain was on the winning side. That wasn’t down to our plucky spirit. It was because America, with its overwhelming resources, entered the war. There is no such ally waiting to rescue us now, as we start down the dangerous path of methodically shredding our links with our neighbors and friends.

What a rousing speech. Join me on the barricades, Jenni Russell. I truly know we are of one heart. We are together, for our people. On the beaches, on the landing grounds, on the streets and the hills. We shall never surrender. None of what Russell says is true, of course - except perhaps we are mediocre in education, low in skill, and vain. I would apply that for sure to every writer in this piece today, myself included, and in spades to the political elites who earn so much and say so little in service of the nation. We don't need a recitation of The Lays of Ancient Rome right now. Nor do we need sermons from the Little Red Book.

Yes, that is Parliament. Yes, That is a book by Chairman Mao.

We needed a film about Dunkirk, a message of hope and unity and sacrifice and family conducted in a way that we can all understand, from the smallest child upwards. The strokes of this film are conducted not in dialogue nor in splashes of gaudy CGI, but in marks of chalk. In the certain look in a man's eye. Not a film about defeat, but a message that says England is not lost, and will never be lost. We are glad to be reassured that our culture means something, that we stand for something. That the sacrifices of our fathers were not in vain, that the policies imposed on us that none asked for may be repealed.

It doesn't matter that the Empire is no more, or that Britain is not the powerhouse it once was. It matters that it is Britain. Our culture and way of life that for all its many and manifest failings deserves to exist without apology to anyone, least of all jumped up writers on the internet. Doesn't being British count for anything?

“I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.

At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation...  we shall never surrender." - Sir Winston Churchill. 4th June 1940.

Now that is top drawer word-crafting. We should all take note.

The Editor

by The Editor