In just over 200 pages, David Pryce-Jones has briefly and sharply told the story of the Englishmen who worked against their country to make heroes of revolutionary foreigners, or took sides in foreign racial and national wars. He has a chapter on Tom Paine, the archetype; one on the guillotine-lovers, a third on Napoleon-addicts. Then follows a chapter on the Greeks, led by Byron; a fifth on the Poles and Hungarians; two on the break-up of the Ottomans; a ninth on Zionism; one on Arab-lovers, and two final ones on those who loved Hitler and Stalin. It is a gruesome catalogue and makes for painful reading (here his concision is a real merit) but should prove a handy book of reference for anyone who wants to look up examples of this kind of monster.
What impels people to hate fellow countrymen and love foreigners (often unsavoury ones, too; Garibaldi is the only one on Pryce-Jones's list to come out with credit)? First is lack of friends. Here, as in most respects, Paine set the pattern, for he was incapable of meeting anyone without quarrelling with them immediately. His most fervent admirer admitted: "He has an extraordinary knack for making enemies." Over a century later, another adulator of the Left, H.M. Brailsford, was friendless. He loved the world, his biographer wrote, "because he had no one else to love".
Another common motive was ferocity. This was usually first in theory, but was sometimes practical too. The pro-Arab Richard Burton, known from schooldays as "Ruffian Dick", was a keen and accomplished swordsman. The anti-Austrian fanatic John Peaud used to write down in a notebook the number of enemies he killed or wounded. He said Italian independence was important to him, "but I am also very fond of shooting." Other enthusiastic killers were Orde Wingate and Richard Meinertzhagen, both keen Zionists.
Another motive was self-abasement. Pryce-Jones tells us of the English lady, Madeleine Slade, who loved Gandhi, and "who sits there worshipping him like a dog-handing him his spectacles, adjusting his loincloth, giving him his food [...] He just treats her as though she wasn't there." (The writer is Aldous Huxley.) Harry Pollitt, who served the Soviets hand and foot in similar manner, said: "If I'd been summoned to Moscow and knew for a fact that I'd be shot in the back of the neck the moment I landed I shouldn't have hesitated." Oddly enough, such masochistic worshippers did not like others in on their act. Pollitt hated the craven Hewlitt Johnson, Dean of Canterbury — "that bloody red arse of a Dean."
Sheer stupidity was another factor. A typical Stalin admirer was the composer Michael Tippett, whose published letters, says Pryce-Jones, "reveal a mind too incoherent for rational thought". Another dim type was Lord Londonderry who, after a meeting with Hitler, became an admirer and described him as "a kindly man with a receeding [sic] chin and an impressive face". Gertrude Stein, who while not English, fits into this category, proposed Hitler in 1934 as an obvious candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize: "I say that Hitler ought to have the peace prize, because he is removing all the elements of contest and of struggle from Germany. By driving out the Jews and the democratic and Left element, he is driving out everything that conduces to activity. That means peace [...] By suppressing Jews [...] he was ending struggle in Germany." Clive Bell, another idiot, thought that Europe under Hitler's rule would be "heaven on earth" compared with the risk of war.