The left lost the economic battle when the Berlin wall came down. No-one after that could take socialism seriously as a way of running an economy. Given the chance people living in a socialist society will vote with their feet. Of course there are those who are either too young or too stuck in their ways to learn this lesson. But there are not enough of them. Hard line socialists like Jeremy Corbyn and friends exist, but unless something odd happens they are not going to be running anything any time soon. Of course odd things are happening in politics at the moment, but let us at least hope that Europe has seen the end of Marxist economics.
The left however has been fighting a different battle for the past fifty years or so. They have stepped up this battle since communism ceased to be a serious option. Moderate people on the left realised that capitalism was the only game in town and so they tried to modify it and make it fairer. But capitalism works precisely because it is not socialism. Adding socialistic ideas to capitalism doesn’t improve it, because the driving force of capitalism is the incentive provided by inequality. Take away the incentive and you take away the growth. This is why in the end voting for Labour always makes people poorer. Free markets are the way to bring people out of poverty. They have brought more people out of poverty than all the socialists put together. I think some people on the Left began to realise this too. So they put their energy into other causes. The Left in this way ceased to be about economics at all.
The real battle hasn’t been going on in parliaments, it’s been going on in universities and in newspapers and on television. There has been an attempt by the Left over the past fifty years to change how people think and then to enforce that change. The left always depends on changing human nature, but this can only be done by force and re-education. This is the case with all cultural revolutions, not just those that occur in China.
Sometime in the 1990s I was at a conference reading a paper. I used standard English grammar and used the word “He” to stand for non-gender specific persons. Suddenly I found some American vehemently objecting not to the subject of my paper but to my using the word “He”. I told him that I found the alternatives ungrammatical and he walked out of the room muttering something about prejudice.
At this point the way I studied and wrote was quite traditional. The subjects that I was interested in, philosophy, theology and Russian literature were still studied more or less how they had been fifty years previously. Politics didn’t really enter into the discussion. But gradually, year by year, more and more this began to change.
Soon new ways of looking at the subjects that I studied became obligatory. Some people thought we should write from the perspective of feminism. Others considered that a post-colonial perspective was more essential. Others still used queer theory. It might have been interesting to read one or two books from such perspectives, but soon nearly everything had to be written from a political perspective. The trouble was that this perspective was always from the Left and you were not allowed to disagree with it. Anyone who questioned the central tenets of feminism, queer theory, post-colonialism and any of the other ideas that came to us from the United States, rapidly found themselves in difficulty.
This has been the method that the Left has used culturally in the past decades. If you disagree with them you end up finding it difficult to get published. You may find yourself out of a job too. If you are a student, you may find yourself failing a course unless you stick to the party line. Try writing a paper that questions any of the central dogmas of feminism in your women’s studies course and you will find out what it felt like to be Galileo when he questioned Catholic astronomy. Try writing about sociology from a Conservative, Christian existentialist point of view and you will find that this is not a subject but rather a branch of agitprop.
The whole point of saying that something is politically correct is to say that something else is incorrect. There is no debate. To argue is to be denounced. This is the essence of totalitarianism. The Komsomol also found some things politically correct and other things incorrect. If it was incorrect enough you might find yourself in the Gulag. Here we have a different sort of Labour camp, but it still involves denunciation and nudges to retrain the masses how to think and feel.
It all started out harmlessly enough. Let’s try to get people to stop saying “Fireman” and use “Firefighter” instead. Where’s the harm? But gradually and with each battle won the Left moved on. It has always been about controlling what people can say and what they can do. Human nature is flawed for it is naturally competitive. People require to be rewarded. They want to be successful rather than equal. The Left’s battle always was with human nature, but it is possible to win this battle very gradually with simply making people feel guilty about ordinary words that they use. If you can change the way people talk you can change the way they think and you can do it without them even realising.
I remember reading about an academic in Yale who said that she believed in free speech and that therefore everyone should be allowed to wear whatever Halloween costume they pleased. Someone wore a costume that someone else objected too. I don’t remember what sort, perhaps someone dressed up as a Mexican while he was not from Mexico. The whole thing escalated and the poor academic lost her job. It began to be less harmless.
Now we have students demanding that they be given trigger warnings about something that might be upsetting in a lecture. I imagine at some point an academic will lose their job because they didn’t warn the class that a discussion about Jesus involves a crucifixion.
Some students have been demanding safe spaces. What this means is that ideas they disagree with cannot be spoken. Somehow it is unsafe for them to hear any but their own ideas. Even clapping is deemed to be oppressive and approval must be shown by something called “jazz hands”. I’m sorry, but I don’t even know what that means. I obviously require re-education.
Whole areas of life have been regulated by the Left. Ideas that would have been considered ludicrous in 1960 are now obligatory. If I had said in 1960 that a man could marry a man it would have been assumed that I simply didn’t understand the word “marry”. Likewise, if I said that a man could become a woman simply by choosing to become one, this too would have been met with incredulity. These and other ideas that were contrary to the common sense of our grandparents have been proscribed. I hardly dare write what I have just written. I have transgressed, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
Will the common sense of 2016 be forbidden in twenty or thirty years’ time? You can get people to agree to almost anything if the alternative is that they will be called prejudiced. It’s quite a powerful way to control thought. It’s far easier to keep your mouth shut than risk being called some sort of bigot. It’s a wonder George Orwell didn’t come up with it. It’s much more effective that “Room 101”.
There is an unforgivable sin in Britain. I can break most of the commandments with impunity. I can commit adultery. I can take the Lord’s name in vain. I can swear and use the foulest language imaginable. But until recently if I questioned the wisdom of unrestricted immigration I was a racist. The debate was simply shut down.
This has led to the dullest universities imaginable. I find almost nothing worth reading that has been published recently. It’s all just following the crowd and finding ways to signal that I too am virtuous. It amounts to chimpanzees grooming each other in a spirit of solidarity, sharing each other’s ticks. It’s all so convoluted. Everyone uses long words that simply hide the emptiness of their sophistry.
Romeo and Juliet were really gay, but Romeo was oppressing her because that is what all men do to all women. That’s why the story ended up as it did. But both of them were oppressing Tybalt because he in fact was black and from a colony that wouldn’t become a colony for another four hundred years. With a little effort I could turn this into a very trendy paper. But why would I want to? It’s would be dull, pointless and lacking in intellect.
I came to dread where we would go next. What would be the next fad? I couldn’t imagine trigger warnings five years ago. It seems so unlikely, so silly. How could anyone be taken in by such nonsense? But where American leads we follow.
But not now. In Scotland everyone still toes the party line. The newspapers and the televisions programmes all still have the same Leftish tinge. Everyone is horrified by our new Scottish President.
There are things I dislike about Donald Trump. Above all else I dislike his protectionism. This is a way to make people in the Mid-West still poorer. I couldn’t care less that he had a private conversation with someone more than ten years ago where he made some vulgar remarks. I too in private conversations have said stupid things. I imagine you have too. Men boast to other men about their sexual conquests. Men find women’s bodies attractive. Sorry folks this is basic evolution. But what got the whole of Scotland all hot and bothered was what Donald Trump said about immigration. “You can’t say that” they all said. He did.
In my view a country has a right to defend its borders. I don’t think building a wall is the best way to do this, but any country has the right to prevent people entering illegally. It also has the right to deport those who are there illegally. Unless you think there should be no countries and no borders, in which case campaigning for Scottish independence is perverse, you believe the same. The only difference is whether you are honest about your beliefs or dishonest.
The one thing that got Donald Trump into the most terrible trouble in Britain, however, the reason why he was condemned by all commentators is he committed the unforgivable sin. He was a racist. Why was he a racist? Because he wanted to temporarily prevent Muslims from coming to the United States.
Imagine if Trump had not committed the unforgivable sin. Imagine if he had conformed to the demands of the Scottish media. Well my guess is we would now be hearing nothing else from the SNP than that the new president was half Scottish. But no, he is forever to be cast into outer darkness because of his sin. No one must dare associate with this heretic, nor give him shelter. If you do you too will be excommunicated.
What is the worst thing you can do in Britain? It is to say or do anything that is deemed to be racist. I can say any swear word I like with impunity. These words are no longer taboo. The least hint of prejudice however is liable to lead to ostracism, losing your job and a Twitter storm. Everyone but everyone must show that they have not sinned and beware there is no escape for be “sure your sin will find you out.” When someone does sin they count themselves fortunate if they get off with a penance like the gymnast Louis Smith. They must condemn themselves or forever remain condemned.
Trump’s sin though was that he did not apologise. He meant what he said. He didn’t think it was a sin to voice his opinion. This was the worst of it. It is for this reason that there was a special debate in Parliament where everyone got to show everyone else how virtuous they were and how awful Trump was. It was his lack of penitence above all that meant Trump lost his coveted title of “Business Ambassador for Scotland”.
No doubt Trump misspoke. It is his nature to exaggerate. Much of what he says is unrealistic, impossible to enforce. Was he going to prevent the leader of Iran coming to the United Nations? What about a Muslim from Britain called Smith? How was Mr Trump going to prevent such a person visiting the United States? Are you or have you ever been a Muslim?
So we can all slap each other on the back. Not only was Mr Trump a bigot he was also stupid. He was a joke candidate, can you imagine someone wanting to control illegal immigration, or protect his country from terrorism, how hilarious. How sinful. But do you know what? It wasn’t because of his virtues that Trump won the presidency. He has no virtues. It was because of his sins.
Voters around the world have been looking at leaders with virtues and especially those who want to signal to everyone else that they have virtues and they are no longer finding such leaders to be virtuous.
Being virtuous apparently means having open borders and allowing anyone who pleases to come. This is virtuous even if it makes your country more crowded and more dangerous. No-one dares say anything against this open border policy, for this would be to commit the unforgivable sin. But one person dared. They threw everything they had at him for that reason. But it wasn’t enough. The spell had been broken.
The Left is very good at insulting those with whom it disagrees. We are post-truth voters apparently. But post-truth just means that you disagree with us. We had our arguments and they were convincing to us. But keep on insulting, no-one is listening anymore and your insults make us more determined than ever to continue on the path we have chosen.
The whole of the establishment was up against us last spring and early summer. Every major British Party campaigned for Remain, so did Obama, the BBC, most newspapers, Mark Carney, Christine Lagarde and the EU. They all threatened us and they called us names. We were racists who were sinning against the rules of the establishment. But there is privacy in the ballot box and anyway we had reached a point where we were not scared anymore of your political correctness. Call us what you want, we don’t care. Finally ordinary people were saying what they hadn’t quite dared to say for years.
It is common sense to worry about the threats that our country faces. We ought to be careful that we don’t allow anyone into our country who threatens our security. We have a right to live safely. We have a right not be constantly threatened. We have duties to other people, but fulfilling these duties ought not to undermine our own safety.
The genie is out of the bottle. The Left’s threats no longer work. We may not admit it to colleagues, nor tell pollsters, but we will vote for Brexit if it makes our lives safer and better even if you call us racists.
Trump of course said the stupidest thing imaginable about Brexit. When he was asked about it he said “They got their country back”. Can you imagine the stupidity of a man who thinks he can sum up such a complex matter in one sentence when it requires months and months of squealing Guardian articles to describe the full horror of Britain voting to leave the EU?
There is a majority who want to limit immigration, who especially are concerned about immigration from dangerous places. The Left will call us racists. But has it sunk in yet? No-one cares any more what you call us. The whole totalitarian edifice of political correctness depended on everyone being scared. So long as we were scared to say what we thought you could control us. You could tell us what was correct and what was incorrect and we would go along with you for we were scared of what you would call us. But not anymore.
We are just ordinary people with ordinary concerns about our country. We are going to say what we think from now on, even if the Left doesn’t like it. The Left lost the economic battle when the Berlin Wall came down, but they are losing the cultural battle now. We may still keep our opinions to ourselves, we may even pretend to agree with you, but you will never be sure of another opinion poll, because we are thinking for ourselves for a change and when we vote we vote privately.
I’m not anti-anyone, I treat each individual as an individual, but I will tell the truth as I see it and will not be limited by ideas of political correctness. Feel free to call names. It's been a wonderfully effective strategy these past months hasn't it? You used to have such power. A word from you and we would cower and then you could give us absolution. But those days are gone. You lost. Did you realise that yet?