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Henry Williamson was not - and never claimed to be - a political thinker as such. One of the strengths of the Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight, though - like Les Hommes de bonne volonté but unlike, I think, A la recherche du temps perdu or Dance to the Music of time - is that thought runs through it. But it is thought about the things of his own immediate experience, the interaction of his own sensibility with the world about him. The early books on Phillip Maddison's childhood reflect on family relationships and on what was/is in his view an inhuman education system. The war books and immediate post-war books on what effect war has on those engaged in it. Then there is his own encounter with Germans in 1914, his outrage at the way Germany was treated after the war, his own despair at the condition of Britain in the 1920s, his own delight at hearing someone (Mosley) who seems to be able to make sense of it all, his own joy at seeing Germany recover and once again able to reassert itself in the world. He never does what novelists do routinely - invent a fictional character who would experience the world, say, as a German soldier or a British politician. People with experience other than his own appear in the novels more or less as he experienced them.

In Mosley, Williamson encountered, and recognised, what he himself wasn't - a first class political mind. I am sufficiently of my age and generation to find some of Mosleys' ways of expressing himself - notably on the subject of 'negroes', Slavs, 'orientals' or Jews - distasteful. But Mosley was of his age and generation. As far as he was concerned, Western European culture and its extension in the USA had achieved huge things in the world which negroes, Slavs and orientals had not achieved - he saw Jews as a particularly clever variety of oriental which had become too closely entwined with Western European culture. This is, shall we say, a large theme which I won't be able to discuss properly here. (6) That the achievement of Western European/American civilisation was enormous and had dragged the rest of the world into its wake, could hardly be denied.

(6) I do hope to discuss it elsewhere. I'm currently engaged in writing a series of articles built round Solzhenitsyn's book Two Centuries Together, trying to understand antisemitism in the context of the Russian Empire - Williamson seems to have shared the vaguer antisemitism that was very widespread in Britain in the 1930s but in his novels he stresses the problems 'Birkin' had with the more extreme (or perhaps we should say even more extreme) antisemites attracted to his party.

There was within Western European/American culture, however, a recognition that the ultimate end of this huge technological/military achievement was an increase in material comfort, and that this was not actually a very high end of human endeavour. Hence the appeal in England of what we might call non-British, or non-Protestant, religions, starting with Roman Catholicism and then extending further to the East. That Williamson could be attracted to this way of thinking was shown in the person of Willie Maddison in The Pathway and in the book The Star Rover, supposedly the book written by Willie, as remembered by the small group he had read it to shortly before his death, when the actual manuscript was burnt. This is as close as Williamson gets to pure fiction, indeed fantasy, unless we count the animal stories which were however based on very intensive research.

Although this is a tendency of my own I think it is to Williamson's credit that he wasn't satisfied with it - that he recognised that the material problems of unemployment, the degeneration of agriculture, and war required a material solution.

So what do we make of the material solution proposed by Oswald Mosley? What do we make of 'Fascism'? And how did it look to the other major contender as radical alternative to the nightmare created by 'liberal humanism', to Communism? Since after all it is the Communist understanding of Fascism as an absolute evil that is still with us, still rendering thought on the subject so very difficult.