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Old 05-11-2017   #1
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Topic Winner Aickman's Philosophy

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Robert Aickman wrote a vast treatise, Panacea, setting out his personal philosophy. It has never been published. Doug Anderson is one of the few people to have read it. He provides Part 1 of a summary in Wormwood 28, just out.

Here’s a taster from Doug’s summary of Aickman’s arguments in the early chapters:

“Attempts at achieving racial purity must fail. History shows many examples of the improvement in living standards with the infiltration of one culture by another. The term “race” means very little.”

“Life is short, but in order to really live, man needs to be free, especially from forced labour.”

“The ideas of eugenics done by eliminating “unfit” people from procreation are based on misunderstandings on how society functions.”

“Man has always been enraged, worried and puzzled by insecurity. Thus came religion, and it set the common man in his place, below the landowners and the clergy who worked together to maintain their ascendancy. "

A discussion of Darwin and evolution (“now proved to the satisfaction of most reasonable persons”) and the rival theory, promoted by George Bernard Shaw, of “life force” (“a figment of the imagination”)


Based on these so far, I would characterise Aickman as a rationalist libertarian. He may, of course, have modified some views in later life, although I suspect largely not.
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Old 05-11-2017   #2
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

Very timely post by excellent Mr. Valentine, as some members of this community have lately been attempting to present Aickman as a right winger.
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Old 05-11-2017   #3
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

So, it is safe to assume that he would have been anti-Brexit!

Glad to see that he was one of good guys after all. Thank you for sharing!
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Old 05-11-2017   #4
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

Quote Originally Posted by durandal View Post
Very timely post by excellent Mr. Valentine, as some members of this community have lately been attempting to present Aickman as a right winger.
*sigh*

I don't see how any of the above info contradicts this. Have you read his autobiographies? Accounts of his views from those who knew him? He was quite clearly a conservative (small 'c') libertarian. I have no agenda in presenting Aickman as a conservative person who despised socialism and believed in maintaining social hierarchies. That's just who he actually was, and I'm tired of people trying to sanitise him into some bizarre progressive burlesque version, though I am aware the battle is lost at this point because most of the people talking about Aickman know nothing about Aickman.

Nothing in the information presented in the OP suggests Aickman wasn't a conservative.

Quote Originally Posted by Hidden X View Post
So, it is safe to assume that he would have been anti-Brexit!
?????????

I give up.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 05-11-2017   #5
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

And I honestly don't understand why you and some other folks here are so dead set on presenting him as a conservative.

“Attempts at achieving racial purity must fail. History shows many examples of the improvement in living standards with the infiltration of one culture by another. The term “race” means very little.”

Very conservative, eh James...

I do hope that "Panacea" will be published in one form or another. Though, by the looks of it, some will no doubt claim that it was the case of him being dishonest or that manuscript itself was modified by someone else.
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Old 05-11-2017   #6
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

I haven't claimed that at all. I just don't see how Aickman not believing in a substratum of racialist politics means he wasn't conservative given everything we know about him.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 05-11-2017   #7
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

The following aspects of Aickman’s thought are not usually associated with conservatism:

(a) he was a rationalist and sceptic – most conservatives are religious
(b) he deprecated wage labour – most conservatives support the work ethic
( c ) he did not favour ‘the establishment’ – most conservatives do
( d ) he deplored industrial capitalism – most conservatives support it
( e) he valued pluralist societies – conservatives are often associated with a narrower national identity

The following aspects of Aickman’s thought are often associated with conservatism:

(a) he valued the local and smaller scale over centralism
(b) he preferred “traditional” manners and standards of behaviour
( c ) he valued older ways of doing things
(d) he seems to have approved of monarchy
(e) he preferred individual freedom to communal projects
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Old 05-11-2017   #8
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

So, concerning many important issues, he was not at all conservative.
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Old 05-11-2017   #9
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

Most of those are conservative positions, though. Conservatism isn't just about being racist. Aickman was 'anti-establishment' in that he approved of traditionalist monarchy over big government, but that's... a conservative position. He didn't like the modernity of industry's negative effect on a traditional life, but that's... a conservative position. He deprecated wage labour in favour of a traditional gentleman's life, but that's... a conservative position. All of these are rooted firmly in traditionalism.

He was a different kind of conservative to a Trump supporter because he was a traditionalist Brit from an earlier time, but I fail to see how he wasn't a conservative. Reeks of modern appropriation. I also strongly dispute him being a 'rationalist' and particularly a 'sceptic' given his membership in the Society for Psychical Research, the fact he died favouring homeopathy over modern medicine and the supernatural experience recounted in his autobiography. I would argue he was the precise opposite of a sceptic.

Alternatively I'm making this all up, and Aickman was actually a progressive materialist. All hail Scott Nicolay!

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay

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Old 05-11-2017   #10
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Re: Aickman's Philosophy

The account from his friend in the documentary that stuck with me was her saying he'd favour the building of something beautiful even if it was at the expense of the poor (something about demolishing their homes?) but this seemed like an example of something she thought he might favour rather than an actual example of something he said.

Maybe I'm remembering wrong.

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