Sunday 9 January 2011

Dane-geld: tactical retreats, pragmatic compromises, pacts, pay-offs...


It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation,
To call upon a neighbour and to say:
"We invaded you last night - we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say:
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray,
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say:

"We never pay any one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost,
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!"

Rudyard Kipling - 1911


The mainstream political Right spends far too much time and effort (in practice, all of its time and effort) on discussing and pursuing tactics - in seeking the best battle-ground, in preparing ground, in taking step back in hopes of sometime later taking two steps forward.

Short-term tactics justified only by their long-term strategy.

Yet, somehow they never get-round to pursuing their strategy: the time is never quite right.

The enemy is paid-off, sure; but the hoped-for re-building (supposed to happen during the negotiated peace) somehow never happens...

Too much Dane-geld.

In the end nothing but Dane-geld.

Dane-geld is advocated on the basis that it wins a space of relief during which there can be re-grouping and re-arming, and preparation for the big battle later.

The trouble is that paying Dane-geld is losing ground: it weakens the payer and strengthens the receiver.

You will immediately be weakened by paying Dane-geld, and you will strengthen the enemy immediately.

Unless the enemy leaves you in peace for a long time they will be back - after all, why not? - and you will not have had enough time to rebuild, and you will need to pay some more Dane-geld just to gain a bit more time...

Paying the Dane-geld weakens physically (one has retreated) and spiritually (one has agreed to retreat) - perhaps the mental effect is the worse?

It is only ever wise to pay Dane-geld when the brief space made is decisive, and will be used to build-up strength and with the firm intention to seek a major battle in more favourable situation.

This will involve considerable sacrifice - since ground has just been yielded - and this was ground that the enemy chose and wants to occupy - so presumably it was valuable ground.

Surveying the mainstream Right I see nothing but Dane-geld payment all round.

I see an obsession with tactics, with picking exactly the right fight (not too big, not too small), fighting exactly the correct threat (focusing energy) on exactly the right ground.

I see tactical retreats, pragmatic compromises, tactical pacts, tactical pay-offs - horse-trading.

All based on detailed daily analysis of the political news and personalities, trends, data, logic, modelling - calculation, prediction - seeking the perfect, precise, incisive scalpel-like intervention which will win the war easily, with the minimum of pain and sacrifice.

All based, in other words, on immersion in the world of the enemy.

The Right thinks it can swiftly pay the Dane-geld and then fight the war so cleverly, so stealthily, on so narrow a front; that the Danes will not even notice the decisive battle; and the war will be won before they have time to recognize what is happening!

In sum, the Right behave as if they will win the war purely on tactics.

And so paying the Dane-geld - yesterday, today and forever - is to them just being sensible, just a tactic...

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