I’m grateful to be back here after my fairly substantial hiatus!
Here and now, in the chastened springtide of 2017 of an autumnal Occident, it is worth pondering the significance of Orwell for a UK and an Occident torn by authoritarian and obscurantist regressive-leftist tendencies.
After this discussion, we can then contemplate in a little more detail one particular facet of the ongoing argument:
The refusal of the very abstract form of moral universalism that demands allegiance to Humanity, and thus to nobody in particular.
We can begin with some observations I tweeted not so long ago:
Rightly or wrongly, many people in the UK have strong conservative instincts. The left needs to see this as an opportunity, not an obstacle.
One way is to beat the self-styled ‘patriots’ (i.e. warmongers) at their own game by taking pride in our liberal heritage in a non-chauvinistic manner.
Or again, instead of dismissing freedom of speech as a ‘conservative’ value, understand its true universality and liberal origins.
And yet another idea is to point out that if you believe in ‘minding your own business’ and not meddling in the affairs of others, then that’s a great way to conduct our foreign policy! Use trade and education, not hard power, to make our mark on the entire world.
All these ideas have the potential to challenge these conservative instincts, which are not necessarily ‘negative’ in themselves.
Mature people know how to be distressed at suffering, yet dispassionate; furious yet disciplined. The same goes for what I have just called the ‘conservative instincts’ of the British people, which our arch-realist George Orwell knew so well.
But what does ‘taking pride in our liberal heritage really mean?’
A few red lines.
First of all, a sense of proportion:
If you think manspreading is worse than torturing gay folks or suffocating women with niqabs, you’re more ‘hard left’ than Stalin on these issues.
Microaggressions are called ‘micro’ for a reason!
I have observed that in recent disputes over freedom of speech on authoritarian, radically conformist, BDS-complicity college campuses, the notion of ‘dehumanization’ seems to relate less to the actions of the Nazis, Myanmar Junta, KLA, IRA, Islamic State…
And more to ‘someone saying something I find offensive.’
Grow up! If you were really being ‘dehumanized,’ I’m inclined to think you would have worse things to worry about than the Starbucks butler giving you a non-vegan chai latte.
So, get off your ethically sourced “neoliberal/capitalist” laptop, with its Israeli microchips you would actually be perfectly, perfectly, genuinely happy to divest from if the whole BDSM thing wasn’t merely a gargantuan exercize in virtue-signalling…
And get out and explore the real world for once in your life!
I mean, you do have to wonder what is going on here.
Some of the most privileged people, not in the world, but in the utter entirely of human history, are not satisfied with the imperfect practice of capitalism and the necessarily flawed implementation of secular liberal parliamentary democracy.
And so instead of a lesser good, they want a greater evil.
This all or nothing thinking leads, as a logical conclusion, to a solutions-orientated political order, and not a trade-off based polity and constitution.
It is worth examining what this has actually lead to, historically speaking.
The Khmer Rouge Killing Fields.
The true friends of Orwell will understand the perils of solutions-based politics.
But they will also understand the dangers of hypocrisy, and the arrogance of blowing things out of proportion.
Perhaps more controversially still:
We will understand how important it is not to make a merely futile rejection of the energies and sentiments that have heretofore been stigmatized as purely ‘conservative’ in character.
We need to understand that while nationalist chauvinism is a great evil, patriotism (as such) is not.
We must understand that instead of playing King Canute and holding in arrogant, self-complacent contempt the natural feelings and sentiments of those fellow human individuals who are arrogantly dismissed as ‘the masses,’ we ought to participate among them, and share the channelling of these feelings towards liberal and emancipatory ends.
The Occidental Left should learn from Israel.
The very existence of Israel is a victory for ‘divisive’ Humanism over falsely inclusive Humanitarianism.
Humanism divides, in order to unite.
Humanitarianism, in the strict philosophical sense of ‘allegiance to Humanity and not the individual’ (cf. Max Scheler’s ‘Ressentiment,’) play a very different role.
It unites in order to divide.
Happy the nation, then, or rather, happy the individual human being and his friends and her family, who will borrow light from the Scandal of Jordan!
This is a stumbling-block that many have stumbled against, and many will stumble still.
The stone that the builder refused?
And why not, after all!
For this is the price of audacity.
But how many among us all are willing to pay it?
That, of course, is not given to me to know.
Further reading on the anti-humanitarian imperative and on the dangers of solutionism: