Saturday 30 September 2017

No-one expects the Liberal Inquisition

There must be something in human nature that means we always need to take a good thing too far. In this way far from turning it into a very good thing we instead turn it into a very bad thing. The fault, for instance, with Christianity is not what Jesus and his disciples taught, but that many centuries later when the Church had become powerful it started burning people at the stake for believing one thing about Jesus rather than another thing. It’s impossible to imagine either Jesus or his disciples thinking that this was a good idea and yet Christianity taken to the extreme did indeed lead to the opposite of Christianity. At the point at which the Church persecuted people for not believing a particular version of Christianity or for believing something else or indeed nothing at all, the Church reached the point where it no longer expressed the core of Christianity (“Love thy neighbour”, “Be thee doers of the Word”, “Turn the other cheek” etc. etc.). Rather the Church expressed the opposite of these things and had in fact become Anti-Christian.

I think the same can be said for nearly all ideas. When we read about the early socialists who attempted to create heaven on earth in the 1840s we read about something perhaps misguided, but at least benign. Some people created communal forms of living in various parts of the world. They attempted to put into practice various ideas about equality. These attempts failed, no doubt because they were contrary to human nature, but they did little harm. It was only later when the ideas of socialism were pushed further usually by means of forcing human nature to change that we got the horrors of the twentieth century.

We are now seeing this same process of extremism in contemporary liberalism. The ideas of the liberal left which started off with a plea for tolerance and an attempt to make a fairer world have arrived at the point where they are the source of intolerance and they are making the world worse.

What we have now is a position where liberals are tolerant if and only if you agree with them about everything. But this is very similar to Christianity at the time when non-believers were burned at the stake. Liberals may not actually be proposing to burn Jacob Rees Mogg at the stake, but they are just as angry with him as the Church used to be with heretics. This is not liberalism. It is the opposite of liberalism.

There are a set of views that everyone must hold and that cannot even be discussed. The creed of modern liberalism involves believing certain things about race, about equality, about women, about gender and about sex. We all know what these things are even if sometimes it is difficult to articulate quite what can be said and what cannot. We all know what sort of things might get us metaphorically burned at the stake.

Being polite to other people strikes me as perfectly reasonable. Don’t call people nasty names that they dislike. Fair enough. But it has now been turned into the unforgivable sin. Someone who fails to keep up with the latest preferred term may find that they don’t have a job anymore. Someone who disagrees with some aspect of feminism, even if there is good evidence that this aspect is questionable may too find themselves forced to recant and then repent. We have reached the stage where we must not discriminate in any way between a British citizen and a citizen of any other country. Anyone who thinks we ought to discriminate, for instance by maintaining an international border and limiting immigration, is precisely thereby a bigot, far-right or worse.

The pressure to conform to the extremes of liberalism is just as much as during the Inquisition there was pressure to conform to the teachings of the Church. This liberal/left-wing inquisition is what keeps nearly all of us silent even when we disagree. To fail to conform to the teachings of liberalism about anything risks the person being called a modern heretic. Sometimes the word you are called ends in “phobe”, homophobe, Islamophobe, transphobe etc., sometimes it ends in “ist”, sexist, racist, fascist etc. But all of these words mean heretic.

Nearly everyone will do almost anything to avoid being called any of these words. Even if this means them having to believe something they think to be false or undesirable they will still refuse to say or do anything that might lead to the charge of heresy. Why is this? Well would you have told the Inquisition that there was no such thing as the Virgin Birth? Would you have defended your beliefs and proclaimed them in the market square in Seville in the 1550s? Would you have relied on the tolerance of the Inquisition? But those days are in history. Now we have liberalism and tolerance.

The extremes of liberalism are taking us to disaster. Feminism in the United States has reached a stage where promiscuity (hook up culture) is combined with puritanism so that almost any man can be made to wear the Scarlet Letter R for Rapist. Rape is a crime of violence, but the word is being so devalued that it is being applied to drunken sex where there is no violence at all and no-one actually expresses lack of consent. It is now apparently possible to refuse consent months after the event, possibly after a break-up or a divorce and for this refusal to apply retrospectively. 

At its extremes we find feminists who think all sex is rape and a whole industry has built up that hunts for the witches in our midst. There are denunciations and there is hysteria and quite frankly there is Salem in the twenty-first century. In this way radical feminism achieves the left’s aim of attacking the fundamentals of human nature (sex, love, marriage) so that they can be reformed, it strives to create disharmony between men and women so that the solutions of the left can come to the rescue. The genius of feminism is that even to express doubt about it is to at best be a sexist at worst an apologist for rapists. No wonder hardly anyone dares say anything out of fear that they will be called a heretic.

The extremes of anti-racism have taken us far beyond the point where we were simply supposed to treat people kindly and with respect. It now means that we have to gradually, or not so gradually, allow the whole world into our continent. We have to do this not because we think it is a good idea. We have to do it even if it makes our lives more dangerous and unpleasant. We must do it because if we don’t we risk being accused of committing the unforgivable sin.

Whenever the liberal extremists seek to go one more step along their path towards heaven on earth, they frame the argument in such a way that no-one dares say anything because we are all scared to be treated as heretics. What this means is that writers on the right nearly always go to extraordinary lengths to show that they are not extremists and that they do indeed conform. This always has the effect of conceding defeat in the battle even before the battle has begun. In our desperation not to be seen as far-right extremists we cease to be conservatives at all. It won’t actually matter if we make just one more concession to liberalism. Let them tear down just one more statue. Let them destroy just one more tradition. Let them have just one more gender neutral toilet.

But we are heading towards a world where it will be impossible to tell at birth whether you just had a girl or a boy? How could you possibly tell? You’ll have to wait years before the child itself determines its identity. Soon, perhaps even now, anyone for any reason whatsoever can declare themselves to be a man or a woman or neither simply on a whim. This is extremism. It is also completely bonkers and false.

We are heading towards a world where quite soon certain European countries will in effect cease to exist or at least they will be unrecognisable from what they were fifty years ago. This is extremism. Nothing more extreme has happened to such countries in all their long history up to now.

We are heading to a world where Jacob Rees Mogg will be driven from public life and forced to recant and repent.  This act of penance was once called an auto-da-fé.  We are not quite there yet. But who knows. No-one expects the Liberal Inquisition.  Perhaps the only thing that might stop it  and much else besides is if we have a real conservative as a Prime Minister.