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Saunders Lewis was not a fascist!

“no question Saunders Lewis is an interesting and important historical welsh figure but i do feel bound to ask what this narrow minded bigot has to offer the modern multi-lingual multi-racial and secular wales that exists at the end of the first decade of the 21st century?”

I must confess that my knowledge of Saunders Lewis (like most Welsh) is very little, mores the pity. However leigh I think we should celebrate Saunders because he did have a vision of Wales (somewhat flawed) of that did exist both in reality and as a ideal. I think it is fair to challenge him over the charge of anti Semiticism. However even that was quite common in between the wars spread across the political spectrum (which included ironically enough Leon Trotsky). It was usually directed against the perceived Jewish plutocracy. As for SL alleged Fascism, people just loved Mussolini, and even Lloyd George said nice things about Hitler (its all on tape). The war and the holocaust put an end to the love affair with Fascism and anti semiticism (except it seems amongst the extremes of right and left).

For SL the Welsh language was the one thing that represented the core of the Welsh identity (something I disagree with vigorously). For him industrialism spelt its doom, which was his dark vision. His polemic was more borne out of frustration over the fate of Wales and its native language, than as plain hated for the English and its nation, that Jon Manchip White (Cardiff born author and Professor in Tennessee) testified to in his book “journeying Boy, A Welsh Childhood” who was his good friend who recalled him proposing a toast to the Queen, hardly an act of a rabid Anglophobe. RS Thomas was certainly a Anglophobe (ironically my favourite poet). He probably had more in common with Thomas Jefferson who’s vision of America was that of small communities and not of large cities which he despised, in other words an Agrarian Republic. SL saw the salvation of Wales and its language surviving in the small communities of the west and north. It is a tribute to him that he did not spend his final years in the west but in Penarth, which must puzzle those who accuse him of his alleged rabid anti English, it could be said he was more pro Cymraeg than the former.

Also as a dedicated Catholic he would have paid heed to Pope Pius XI condemnation of both racism in Mit brennender Sorge . believe as a English speaking Welsh that SL should be celebrated for his vision of Wales and not for the calumny leveled against him. He was a pacifist who served in WWI and saw what war could do, he was wrong about WWII as was many.

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October 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment