The Agents and Instruments of Decadence

Right now, all around the world, people’s lives and livelihoods continue to be devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are young and healthy, the Wuhan flu’s impact is generally mild and recovery almost certain, the casualty numbers confirming it is the elderly and those already suffering from other medical conditions for whom it is a deadly threat. It is, however, highly contagious, and it is this characteristic, together with the modern revolution in globe-girdling travel, that has led to its rapid spread around the world — a spread driven first through Chinese deceit abetted by World Health Organisation’s connivance and subsequently boosted by incompetently administered, or non-existent, national border controls.

Recent events have brought to light another contagion, this one let loose by the killing of George Floyd  beneath the knee of a white policeman in Minneapolis on May 25. It spread rapidly — virally, as they say — around the world, thanks to the internet and revolution in communications.  That the circumstances in Minneapolis don’t necessarily apply elsewhere remains of no account. Facts don’t matter. Floyd’s death has been a pretext, the stated concern largely fraudulent, for blacks murdered by other blacks are of little concern and whites killed by blacks not worth mentioning at all.  The demonstrators believe social distancing rules are for others, not themselves.

Apart from the enjoyment of looting and destruction, what those in the rampaging crowds who actually have a serious social intent are really campaigning for is the destruction of Western civilisation, which they regard as primarily responsible for every evil known to man – racism, oppression, exploitation, misogyny, sexism, slavery, ‘catastrophic’ climate change. The list is endless. They believe that only by destruction  can  a new era of peace and enlightenment come about. Taking their cues from the French and Cambodian revolutions, they seek a societal re-set, starting from a new Year Zero.  Monuments must be destroyed, places and institutions renamed, books burned, films and TV programmes banned, historical figures forever condemned, history itself rewritten, anyone not fully with the programme “de-platformed” and a new power structure implemented.  It’s reminiscent of George Orwell’s dystopian 1984 in which the  all-powerful Party understands that “who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

The rioters are not just ignorant vandals; they are following an ideology, a venomous cult every bit as insane as that promoted by Mao Zedong which led to the trashing of Chinese history and culture by the Red Guards in 1966. In contrast to COVID-19, this contagion most seriously afflicts the young rather than the old and experienced.  It is a virus of the mind.

Here the work of Professor Gad Saad, holder of the Concordia University Research Chair in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences and Darwinian Consumption, comes to mind.  In an interview with Vikas Shah in March 2019 he asserted that humans can be parasitized not just by actual brain worms, but also by “idea pathogens” that cause them to behave in profoundly maladaptive ways.  These pathogens originate in the universities, for it takes intellectuals to come up with some of the most moronic ideas possible, such as postmodernism, where everything is relative and there are no absolute truths.  From this comes such nonsense as the fancy that gender is a societal “construct” and men and women regardless of their chromosomes can be one or the other simply by declaring themselves as such. As Saad notes,  if there is tension between hurt feelings and the truth, the edifice of truth collapses.

How idiotic is it to use my victimhood to strengthen my argument rather than the veracity of my argument? We’ve gone from an ethos of truth, reason, logic and evidence-based thinking to an ethos of victimology – and until we’re able to redress that, we’re going to keep sinking into the abyss of infinite lunacy.

Just as medical research has shown that children exposed to pollutants or pet dander or more dust when young are less likely to suffer from asthma because their immune systems have been triggered to work, so students exposed to intellectual diversity are more likely to develop critical thinking.  We should never be afraid to challenge ideas, to oppose social justice warriors keeping the rest of us hostage.  Fight against the idiots and their rancid notions!

Saad concludes the interview as follows:

Once you are able to interrupt me and say ‘I don’t want to hear the truth because it offends me’, that impartial process has been violated.  So, get rid of hurt feelings, nobody gives a shit about your hurt feelings … and develop a framework for understanding how to navigate through data like a scientist.  Not everybody is a professional scientist, but everybody can use the scientific method in navigating through the world, and we will all be better armed and informed citizens.

Unfortunately, the rejection of diversity of thought is now deeply embedded within our universities.  There are numerous examples:  universities rejecting Ramsay Centre funding for the study of Western civilisation while welcoming Beijing-controlled Confucius Institutes; the University of Western Australia rejecting a Consensus Centre headed by Bjorn Lomborg; James Cook University sacking long-serving Professor Peter Ridd, for questioning dire opinions about the state of the Great Barrier Reef.  At the same time fundamentally flawed scholarship is accepted and promoted if it fits the “victim narrative”.  This consensus is generally welcomed in regard to Aboriginal issues, demonstrated by the acceptance of shoddy scholarship by Bruce Pascoe, a professor at the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education & Research at the University of Technology, Sydney. And we must not forget the de-platforming of speakers, such as Bettina Arndt, whose views are deemed unacceptable by the radical Left, and students who face sanctions for not toeing the received line, the latest being Drew Pavlou at the University of Queensland for supporting Hong Kong’s freedom. That deep intellectual rot within our universities may be glimpsed in an article published in Quadrant Online on June 3, 2020, My University’s Betrayal of Truth by an anonymous student studying history and education at the University of Sydney.

There is a long history of the intelligentsia enjoying themselves by denigrating the nation that gives them sustenance.  Back in 1945, George Orwell noted this about Britain in his essay Notes on Nationalism:

Within the intelligentsia, a derisive and mildly hostile attitude towards Britain is more or less compulsory, but it is an unfaked emotion in many cases. During the war it was manifested in the defeatism of the intelligentsia, which persisted long after it had become clear that the Axis powers could not win. Many people were undisguisedly pleased when Singapore fell or when the British were driven out of Greece, and there was a remarkable unwillingness to believe in good news, e.g. el Alamein, or the number of German planes shot down in the Battle of Britain.

English left-wing intellectuals did not, of course, actually want the Germans or Japanese to win the war, but many of them could not help getting a certain kick out of seeing their own country humiliated, and wanted to feel that the final victory would be due to Russia, or perhaps America, and not to Britain. In foreign politics many intellectuals follow the principle that any faction backed by Britain must be in the wrong. As a result, ‘enlightened’ opinion is quite largely a mirror-image of Conservative policy. Anglophobia is always liable to reversal, hence that fairly common spectacle, the pacifist of one war who is a bellicist in the next.

This leads me to the Indian writer and commentator on culture, Nirad Chaudhuri, who among other things was for some years the secretary to Sarat Chandra Bose, who headed the Congress Party in Calcutta (and whose brother, Subhas Chandra Bose, led the Japanese-supporting Indian National Army).  He is not popular in India because his comments on his compatriots were as sharp as his comments on the British. The second volume of his fascinating memoirs, Thy Hand, Great Anarch! (Chatto & Windus, 1987),  the title is drawn from the concluding lines of Alexander Pope’s narrative poem, The Dunciad, which celebrates the goddess Dulness and her agents who bring about the ruination of Britain. It was published in 1743, but its words are apposite to the situation today.

Nor public flame; nor private, dares to shine;
Nor human light is left, nor glimpse divine!
Lo! thy dread Empire, Chaos, is restored;
Light dies before thine uncreating word:
Thy hand, great Anarch, lets the curtain fall;
And universal darkness buries all.

In his memoirs, Chaudhuri asserted that “The greatness of the English people has passed away forever.”  Unlike postmodernist academics, he believed this was to be regretted, not only as a loss to Britain but as a loss to the entire world.

Every movement of historical decadence creates its agents, and since they represent the forward movement they become irresistible.  This has been seen in the decline and fall of all empires, and in Britain today the agents of decadence fall into three groups: the rabid dogs, the swaggering puppies, and the ‘do-gooders’. The rabid dogs are easily recognizable, but they come from all classes, and not from the militants in the Leftist movements alone.  Curiously, even the human dogs of the most specialized breeds in Britain, which have become almost impotent by inbreeding, produced them as freaks.  But however dangerous, the rabid dogs could be destroyed if the will to destroy them existed.  That will in enfeebled by the other two agents of decadence.

Of them, the swaggering puppies are the ones who are insidiously dangerous.  They are a majority among the journalists, broadcasters, TV producers, and writers or intellectuals generally.  They are all clever, and their mission is to ridicule all British greatness and virtues with ribald jests.  They destroy by entertaining.  They are even more clever in hiding their real nature, and have successfully created the impression that they are only like the adorable puppy which plays with Andrex toilet paper in TV advertisements, whereas really they are as rabid as the maddest Leftist dog.

Last of all, come the ‘do-gooders’ to perpetuate their mischief solely through good intentions.  They are worse when they meddle in inter-racial relations than with married relations.  Formerly, these officious and foolish meddlers came only from the nonconformist denominations and the radicals.  But now they have penetrated even the Anglican Church, traditionally the sanctum of British exclusiveness and arrogance.  These do-gooders have become the apologists of all the destroyers of British greatness, looking on them as so many prodigal sons and not as the patricides that they really are.  If they had any intelligence the do-gooders would have seen that their own fate was likely to be similar to that of the people whom Dante found wailing at the gates of Inferno: people whom Heaven had rejected and Hell would not receive.

The three groups identified by Chaudhuri, the rabid dogs, swaggering puppies and do-gooders, can be seen undermining Australia today.

Given the academic poison that has permeated and rotted so much in schools and universities throughout the Anglosphere in recent years, the current strife is not surprising.  The presence of certain statues has long been under challenge.  In 2000, seeking to make a virtue of his ignorance, the then-mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, proposed the replacement of statues in Trafalgar Square:

I think that the people on the plinths in the main square in our capital city should be identifiable to the generality of the population. I have not a clue who two of the generals there are or what they did.

In August 2018, the statue of Sir John Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, was removed from the front steps of Victoria City Hall (Victoria is the capital of British Columbia) because of objections to his policies towards the native Indians.

Australia has not escaped the contagion.  Already there are campaigns to remove statues of James Cook and Arthur Phillip, and we can expect almost every statue deemed a significant symbol of the scorned past to become a target.  No compromise will ever be accepted, and any attempt to strike one will only encourage further demands.  Streets, towns, municipalities and even states will need renaming, history rewritten, school and ‘unacceptable’ university texts dropped from sight, films, TV shows, news reports censored.  We can expect all this to be supported by The Greens, academics from faculties that promote what are really grievance studies, their acolytes in the media and woke businessmen ever anxious to appear virtuous and avoid possible consumer boycotts.

What about our purported leaders?  Fearful of media criticism and Twitter pile-ons, they will witter helplessly, ever anxious to promote ‘community harmony’.  Most are careerists, incapable of  asserting principles because, to be blunt, they haven’t any.

A Woke Taliban is on the march and the political, academic and business establishment is kneeling before them.  The barbarians smell cowardice and they are not wrong. This is how civilisations die.

Is this a preview of the end, the fate of the Anglosphere?  In Kipling’s words:

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!


12 thoughts on “The Agents and Instruments of Decadence

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    Says it all really. Thank you.

  • Peter Smith says:

    Great piece Antony. When all is said and done we are left with the cowardice of our political and church leaders. But for that the madness could be contained.

  • Stephen Due says:

    Leftism is an ideology that glorifies sentiment. I admire the strenuous efforts of Quadrant writers to counter the fabricated realities of the Left – what Victor Davis Hanson recently termed the “empire of lies” – with hard fact. However the ideology at the root of the problem also needs to be addressed.
    When confronted with Leftist sentiment the key to dealing with it is found here: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked”. The Bible also has the remedy. It burns up corrupt sentiment – what the Existentialists used to call “Bad Faith”- like a forest fire after drought.

  • Warty says:

    Though I agree with Stephen Due, I feel one needs to add a few qualifications. Firstly the Bible, particularly the ‘Old Testament’, is very much out of favour: one needs to delve deep in order to gain any insight and this (just reading, never mind delving deeply) has been given a serious body-blow by the centuries covered by the Enlightenment.
    The problem isn’t the Enlightenment per se, more the steady sidelining of religion through a so-called scientific process. So if it can be scientifically proved ipse facto it must be factual, and if it is factual it must inevitably be true. ‘Knowing’ in a spiritual sense is quite a different beast, with spiritual understanding being revealed, not least by practising the discovered principles.
    Such is the age we live in, we have dispensed with ‘absolute’ truth and replaced it with ‘my truth’, which conforms to ideological narratives. The quest for freedom of speech and thought has been finally turned on its head to be replaced by irrationalities to rival Orwell’s 1984, the ‘science’-driven coronavirus lock-downs across the world being a case in point.

  • lloveday says:

    I recently watched the 1966 film “The Bible – In the Beginning” which basically covers the first 22 chapters of the Book of Genesis.
    Even allowing for it being a film not a documentary, the events depicted are so unbelievable that it is no wonder “the ‘Old Testament’, is very much out of favour”, even with me.

  • Alice Thermopolis says:

    Thank you, Antony.

    “Australia has not escaped the contagion…. No compromise will ever be accepted, and any attempt to strike one will only encourage further demands. Streets, towns, municipalities and even states will need renaming,.”

    Michael, The Australian, online comment, Wednesday 17 June 2020:

    “Apparently they’re renaming Perth because it’s named after a town in Scotland where a man who lived there in the 1600s hired a chimney sweep who had once worked in London and cleaned the house of a lawyer who had worked on the will of a ship-builder, one of whose ships was used by a timber merchant who had shipped the timber that was used to build the outhouse of a man who asked for some Coon cheese at the local deli.”

  • Alice Thermopolis says:

    lloveday – 20th June 2020
    “Even allowing for it being a film not a documentary, the events depicted are so unbelievable that it is no wonder “the ‘Old Testament’, is very much out of favour”, even with me.”

    David Tacey’s book, Beyond Literal Belief, worth a look. He suggests Bible/OT be read as metaphor and myth, not history. A talking snake in a garden, etc., may make more sense.

    “Biblical stories were metaphors appropriate for their time….But we ought not ‘believe’ religious language. To do so is to miss its spiritual meaning. To ‘believe’ suggests that we take it literally, at face value. Such language was not designed as historical reporting, as eye-witness accounts of real events. Biblical language is florid, metaphorical. It should not be read as history and was never intended as literal description…. Moving beyond literal thinking could save religion from its greatest enemy, itself.”

  • DG says:

    I wonder at events that are held to be unbelievable…is this because of a prior commitment to naturalism/materialism, or some other unexamined philosophical/religious allegiance?

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    Anthony, thanks for recording so well in summary the parlous situation that has developed in Australia and the people who have stood up at great personal loss and fought against the intellectual madness that abounds, as well as showing that our leaders lack the courage to fight in this way.

    Quadrant has led the way in keeping these abuses front of mind and doubtless has helped to impel some push-back, such as the recently proposed changes in university fee structures directed at encouraging good students away from Marxist courses. Creating a wider public awareness never goes astray.

  • Peter Marriott says:

    Seconding Peter Smith, a great piece Antony. One little point of very minor relevance I suppose, re the Wuhan Flu vulnerable, it seems to me that it isn’t the elderly per se but the frail with morbidities in nursing homes. A fit and healthy 85 year old seems no more vulnerable than a 25 year old or an 18 year old for that matter, particularly those with obesity, asthma and other allergies so many seem to grow up with these days, and the waiting room of my bulk billing GP lends weight to that, in my mind. On religion I’d advise putting beliefs together using some other source than Hollywood, as too much of that seems to fill the heart with fashion, to the extent that it can make a home there, leaving no room for faith or wisdom. I think it was a German Physicist who commented that the first sip of the glass of the natural sciences produces atheists, but at the bottom of the glass… God is waiting.

  • rod.stuart says:

    “Recent events have brought to light another contagion, this one let loose by the killing of George Floyd beneath the knee of a white policeman in Minneapolis on May 25. ”
    If ever there was a leap before a look, we are in it now. Masses of people have become extremists, based on conclusions that are as false as they are hasty.
    So let us stick to the evidence. The county’s ambivalent autopsy also included the following hard factsfrom the autopsy report:
    “Regarding suffocation, the county medical examiner’s report found “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”[3] Pressure applied to the side of the neck, as in this case, and not to the throat, has little or no effect on breathing. One can easily verify this oneself.[4]”
    “Toxicology Findings: Blood samples collected at 9:00 p.m. on May 25th, before Floyd died, tested positive for the following: Fentanyl 11 ng/mL, Norfentanyl 5.6 ng/mL, … Methamphetamine 19 ng/mL … 86 ng/mL of morphine,” but draws no conclusions therefrom, noting only that “Quantities are given for those who are medically inclined.”
    A LETHAL dose of Fentanyl is considered to be 4.6 ng/ml, since that is the highest dose survived. Note that this fentanyl concentration, including its norfentanyl metabolite at its molecular weight, was 20.6 ng/ml.

  • Peter Marriott says:

    A very good comment and pretty well further sheets home the clear comment of Peter Smith’s above, viz. the cowardice of our politicians and church leaders, to whose attention these facts must surely have been brought. In the face of the outrageous attacks on us all, really, or at least the vast majority of us by these rioters and destroyers, one would expect our elected representatives and spiritual leaders to show some courage, and instead of fearful, easy to do, appeasement stand up to them in the appropriate way. with the support of our proper law enforcement agencies and courts.
    Once again, a very good article Anthony.

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