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!