Gilbert Bonifas

Après avoir longtemps enseigné l’histoire et la civilisation britanniques à l’Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, Gilbert Bonifas est désormais professeur émérite. Il a publié George Orwell : l’engagement (1984) et rédigé de nombreux articles sur Orwell et son temps, les années 1930, l’anti-utopie. Il est le co-auteur (avec Martine Monacelli) de Pouvoir, classes et nation en Grande-Bretagne au XIXe  siècle (1993) et de Victorian and Edwardian England : Debates on Political and Social Issues (1995). Toujours avec Martine Monacelli, il a fait paraître une sélection commentée et annotée des lettres que Louis Blanc rédigea pour Le Temps lors de son exil en Angleterre (Louis Blanc : Lettres d’Angleterre, 1861-1865, 2001). Depuis plusieurs années déjà son intérêt s’est déplacé vers la pensée radicale et ultra-tory à l’époque victorienne et il a publié des articles sur John Wilson Croker, Richard Oastler, The Quarterly Review et Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine.

Articles de l'auteur

Cycnos | Volume 25 n°2 - 2008

Reconceptualizing Britishness on the Far Right: An Analysis of the British National Party’s IdentityMagazine

First published in 2000, Identity was the response of the British National Party to the view that Britain had become a diverse society for ever, and that the “new” Britishness could no longer have an ethnic basis, nor, in fact, be exclusively grounded in recognisable British values. Drawing on books recently published on the genetic history of the British Isles, Identity contributors try to show that far from being all descended from immigrants, the British can biologically trace their ancestry to the first pioneers who reached the Isles after the last glaciation, and that the original populations were merely supplemented by minor gene flows from closely-related peoples in early historical times, from the Celts to the Normans. Thus the British have remained anthropologically homogeneous till the middle of the twentieth century. In its magazine the BNP promotes a racial(ist) view of identity rooted in a firm belief in the objective existence of blood ties. This biological identity has however developed a cultural structure around itself, which provides the concrete manifestations of what Britishness is and supplies the reservoir of facts and symbols indispensable for its reproduction and durability. From that perspective traditional national culture also becomes an instrument of the ethnic reawakening of the British people drugged by consumerism and liberal propaganda. Britishness in Identity is thus pre-modern and anti-liberal, the product of the fear of cultural deracination, territorial dispossession and racial extinction. It underpins a model of ethnicity which predates immigration and postdates the multicultural society.

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Cycnos | Volume 28 n° Spécial

Le protectionnisme ou la mort ! Le radicalisme tory et le refus du libre-échange, 1830-1855.

Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century the Tories tried to intellectually counter the growth of free trade opinion in Britain. This article is an examination of the historical, economic, moral and religious arguments deployed for almost a quarter of a century by the Tory Radicals Richard Oastler, William Atkinson and Samuel Kydd – who were always excluded from publication in the main Conservative journals – to expose the free trade philosophy and to immunize aristocrats and workers against the seductive deceptiveness of the Manchester School. The Tory Radical discourse was almost invariable from beginning to end, becoming however more strident after the repeal of the Corn Laws and the Navigation Laws. It always portrayed free trade not as the source of the wealth of nations but as the root cause of their impoverishment, draining national capital away, generating low wages and unemployment at home through cheap foreign competition, turning England’s green and pleasant land into an industrial slum. They counter-attacked by building up over the years a system of national political economy proffering economic and social protection to all home producers, masters and men, in industry as well as agriculture. This meant a return to the “paternal and protective” state of the Tudors and the end of laissez-faire. In addition, from the late 1840s (and particularly in The Home from 1851) this national economy clearly assumed the distinguishing characteristics of a Christian social economy. The Tory Radicals morally vindicated their system by making constant references to the Bible which taught mutual dependence, cooperation, brotherhood, and condemned covetousness, self-seeking and competition. But by then the advent of “the big loaf” had much weakened the Tory Radical hold on the working classes and after 1852 what leverage they still had petered out in step with the vanishing of the protectionist cause.

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