Some may feel uneasy about speaking of England in a positive light, in case they are somehow seen to be fuelling the crass, jingoistic nationalism which the English have long found distasteful and rather embarrassing. But to remain silent is to give the bigots free rein to dictate their own vision of Englishness. This is why we must distinguish ourselves from those on all sides of the political argument who would use English identity as a divisive tool. In the light of Brexit, rapidly shifting political landscapes, ecological crisis and global economic upheavals, the future of England has never seemed more uncertain.The Anglarchist hopes to help shape it.
The term 'Anglarchist’ has been coined to celebrate the existence of a gentler strain of radical political thought which runs throughout English history. It rejects both the angry jingoism which can be found on the right and the placeless intellectualism which often characterises the left, and looks instead to our forgotten history. From the social guarantees of the Charter of the Forest (sister document to Magna Carta) to William Morris’s most perfect of Utopias, News From Nowhere, there exists a uniquely English concept of liberty. Maybe it has something to do with us sharing a small, rain-dampened island, with our neighbours and with each other, but radical English philosophy is awash with ideas of kindness and kinship (a word which has the potential to go beyond the boundaries of species, let alone the misguided divisions of race and culture). To quote George Orwell: “The gentleness of the English civilization is perhaps its most marked characteristic.”
This anthology will celebrate that gentleness in the hope that we can build a new and radical vision of England and Englishness. Not as a singular dream of nationhood, but as a diverse and inclusive celebration of England as our home. Where a nation seeks to define its people, a country is defined by its people. How can we - all of us in England today - redefine our Englishness to suit the times we are living in?
With a diverse range of contributions from writers such as Jay Griffiths, Robert Macfarlane, Tom Hodgkinson and associate editor Paul Kingsnorth, The Anglarchist will look at every aspect of England and the English. From the wonderful richness of our history, heritage, political philosophy and ecology, to the darker recesses of the country’s past imperialism, growing inequity and blatant class divide, this anthology will endeavour to paint an honest, but ever optimistic, portrait of England. We hope that this will be the first step in an essential journey (and perhaps the first in a series of Anglarchist anthologies). To get to where we want to be we must first understand exactly where we are.
As well as pledges we are also looking for contributors to help build a positive patriotism based on tolerance, diversity and the Liberties of England.
'Just Williams' The idea for The Anglarchist originally came about through conversations with the Idler's Tom Hodgkinson regarding my idea for an essay entitled 'Just Williams'. The essay would trace the history of radical English thought over the last two hundred years by focusing on the lives of a host of English Williams. What I failed to realise is just how rich a vein there was to mine. With wonderful Williams such as Godwin, Blake, Cobbett, Wordsworth, Barnes and Morris to choose from the essay quickly grew too sizeable for a single issue of the Idler. An abridged version of Just Williams will appear in The Anglarchist, but if you would like to be one of a select few with access to the full version then you'll have to make the appropriate pledge.
Barnes' Night As part of The Anglarchist project Paul Kingsnorth and I are keen to develop an annual Barnes' Night celebration to honour the great English dialect poet, William Barnes. William's birthday, February 22nd, falls an exact calendar month after that of the Scottish bard, Robbert Burns, and it is our opinion that Barnes is as important to the English identity as Burns is to our Scottish neighbours. Barnes was an 19th Century polymath who was championed as one of the greatest poets of his age. Like Burns he wrote his verse in the dialect of the labouring poor, to whom, as a Dorset vicar, he dedicated his life. As Paul wrote in the Guardian back in 2012, "William Barnes was, like Rabbie Burns, a kind of grassroots dissenter who had something to say about his country and what it was becoming." We can think of few poets more apt to help shape an Anglarchist vision of England. - Warren Draper (editor)
Friday marked the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. The impact of which has shaped the English psyche, as well as the English landscape, ever since. The Anglarchist's associate editor, Paul Kingsnorth, captured something of the overarching trauma of the original occupation in his amazing, Unbound crowdfunded, first novel The Wake. The chasm created in society is carried in our very language…
These people are helping to fund The Anglarchist.