Kneejerk support for discredited socio-economic political theories is bringing Britain to its knees. We need to reject the familiar in favour of the far-sighted.
If I ever do get to pen my magnum opus on recent history, without doubt its title shall be, “Escape from Reality – The British Collapse, 1979-2019”. The single most boring and yet intensely unsettling feature of British life during that period has been the consistent need to cleave to one fantastic belief system or another. Bear with me while I meander gently through a (by no means complete) potted history of the last four decades. They were shaped by these ridiculous expectations:
That Mrs Thatcher could restore Britain’s wealth by destroying its industrial base. That letting utilities take their chances on the markets was no threat to our sovereignty. That wealth created at the top would trickle down. That an 85% dependence on financial services was a matter for pride rather than concern. That those left behind wouldn’t become first angry, then desperate, then apathetic. That giving disempowered citizens a charter would be greeted with anything other than cynicism.
That New Labour had all the answers, and things could only get better. That immigration on a vast scale was good for Britain. That selling our gold at the bottom was vital as a means of diversifying Britain’s investment portfolio. That the now Baroness Thatcher had changed the face of British politics forever. That education hasn’t been dumbed down. That we should join the euro, or risk being left behind. That Saddam Hussein had an arsenal of ICBMs ready to fire at Europe immediately. That sky-rocketing credit debt didn’t matter. That a personality as dysfunctional as Gordon Brown would be a safe pair of hands in Number Ten. That bailing out the banks was the only possible approach to the 2008-9 financial crisis. That Islam did not present a threat. That we had a Special Relationship with the US. That cultural diversity must be (for no particular reason) a Very Good Thing.
That there was actually some substance to either David Cameron or Nick Clegg. That Theresa May knew what she was doing at the Home Office. That the Met police hadn’t been corrupted on a grand scale by Murdoch. That phone hacking was all poppycock, and Boris Johnson was “a good egg, just like us”. That there was going to be an Arab Spring of democracy. That the euro was in fine shape, and Greece was being ‘bailed out’. That ClubMed austerity would help the recession in Southern Europe. That the Brussels régime could be reformed from within. That Ed Miliband had what it takes to run Britain. That LGBT narcissism was more important to the electorate than the economy.
That electing an unreformed IS Stalinist dating back to the 1968 Counterculture as leader of the Labour Party was the answer to being unelectable. That the Italian banking crisis and sovereign debt problems were soluble. That banks generally were now sound and needed no further reform. That Antifa was progressive, and Momentum non-violent. That there was such a thing as non-violent extremism, and it should be criminalised.
That the élites would honour the 2016 EU referendum result. That Islam is the religion of Peace. That Theresa May could be trusted on Brexit, and UKip standing aside in the 2017 election was a shrewd tactical move. That Nigel Farage is a Man of the People. That David Lammy isn’t a racist, but all Leavers are. That Diane Abbott has what it takes to be a Cabinet Minister. That there is ever any point in negotiating with the EU. That Leavers have got it in for Brussels, based on no evidence of malfeasance. That Jeremy Corbyn is a genuine Remainer. That the Windrush scandal was worthy of more media attention than the embezzlement of State pension funds from 3.4 million 1950s born women. That we need a Second Referendum because only the Leave side lied in 2016. That democratic Cabinet government involving politicians is where the power lies on Brexit. That banning Tommy Robinson from all social media sites is anything other than an act of incorrigibly censorious spite worthy of the USSR. That Brexit is unstoppable now, so don’t worry.
Yes, just when you thought this post might have nothing to do with Brexit, up it pops again. I’ve boffed on for over a week now about why Sovereign Brexit is – in the short term – a lost cause. The broader canvas now is Europe, and how to save it (despite itself) from USSR2. I keep on reading scholarly articles by soi-disant senior parliamentary researchers at Westminster claiming that Brexit is now a done deal and the Remainers have lost; all they do is make me doubt the motives of the authors. This piece from yesterday is utterly unconvincing, and was put out under the auspices of Brexit Central. I wonder – genuinely – if anyone else shares my doubts about the side for which that site is batting.
But relax: this isn’t yet another Brexit post. It’s merely yet another post about the continuing ideological attack on reality.
Before Private Eye got hislopitised (that’s like being hospitalised, but with the added unique sneering pc-sellout feature) the best column they had was a thing called Pseud’s Corner. It was a joyous celebration of over-intellectualised bollocks about everything from pop music via social engineering to Saatchi art buying and estate agents.
Today, to do the syndrome justice you’d have to have several pages devoted to something called (perhaps) Global Pseudalism: planetary bollocks with the end goal of getting back to the grateful forelock touching of feudalism, aided and abetted by Useful Idiots among the Leftlib cadres.
As The Slog’s mantra has it – IABATO: It’s All Bollocks And That’s Official.
But there is another well-worn Slogism that says, “Ideology closes minds and closes ranks”.
Both of them apply to the point of this post – that is, the flight from reality….and the role of catechism in that trend. Catechism as a word I use to encompass both religious and political fanaticism.
Since the late 1970’s, the western world’s electorates have gradually lost the ability to critique, to interrogate, to unmask – indeed, to even question received truth. That deficit has allowed moronic concepts like settled science, political correctness, cultural appropriation and multiculturalism to not only gain traction, but also become some kind of philosophical given.
There is no such thing as a philosophical given. Philosophy is the informed discussion of better ways for men and women to be socialised human beings on Earth – or indeed, in any other part of the Universe. Bentham was a philosopher, Marx was a structural functionalist ideologue.
The triumph of ideology over philosophy is the cancer of our age.
Islam, socialism, feminism, globalism, climatism and neoliberalism are all flawed in one basic respect: the crazy idea that a normative proposition does not require rigorous empirical testing in order to engender acceptance.
Perhaps I’m being academically pseud myself using those terms – so let me be blunt: if you read the work of a propagandist from 570, 1760 or 1830 AD (and ignore all the knowledge added since) then you are a complete prick.
There will not be 77 Virgins waiting for Muslims in Heaven. Dialectical materialism is a Kindergarten theory entirely dependent on the historical point at which you set the chronometer ticking. Laissez-faire free trade ideas from an age when wooden ships sailed the oceans with dubious navigational aids have no relevance to the age of Apollo missions to the Moon.
Bentham believed that material wellbeing and a roof over the head would guarantee what he called “happiness”. We know more today – viz, it doesn’t. But Benthamites (and those like me of a compassonate utilitarian bent) move on. The goal of Jeremy Bentham’s followers today is the pursuit of the greatest fulfilment of the greatest number of our species without undue damage to the only planet we have.
Philosophy takes cognisance of new knowledge. Catechism censors and represses it. There is no discernible difference between the Spanish Inquisition begun six hundred years ago, and the preaching of Islamist clerics or censorious behaviour of the Labour Party, the EU, the BBC, the Murdoch press, Greenpeace, The Guardian, Bloomberg, the New York Times, the FT and the Washington Post today.
Be their politics Left, Right or Centre, in 2019 information providers work not on the basis of the general interest, but rather the self-interest of those cynics prepared to bankroll them.
And the gullibility of those they seek to manipulate is there for all to see.
The awakening of the gullible can only begin via open-minded, depoliticised education. The provision of such is the challenge faced by the new generations emerging today.