Wednesday, April 20, 2016

freedom, choice and conformism

Yet another kerfuffle over trans nonsense with Germaine Greer in the firing line once again. The most instructive thing about it is the nature of the Twitter outrage. Liberals do love to give the impression that they are in favour of choice, freedom, autonomy, etc. 

And of course human rights. This week it seems that our most precious human right is the right to choose our own gender. The silliness of this is so obvious as to require no further comment.

What is really amusing is to see liberals noisily jumping up and down about freedom and choice. Amusing, because no-one hates freedom and choice more than liberals. 

A liberal’s idea of freedom is that everyone should have the right to make the choices that liberals tell them to make. Any other choices are entirely unacceptable.

Liberals are in fact even more conformist than ordinary folks. Liberals are positively terrified of nonconformity. The very idea that they might one day find themselves thinking a nonconformist thought reduces them to gibbering wrecks. 

This was not always true. A hundred and fifty years ago, in the heyday of classical liberalism, liberals really did believe in choice and freedom. What we call liberalism today bears no resemblance whatsoever to classical liberalism.

This might be one of the reasons that this modern variant of liberalism has been so successful in dominating debate on social and cultural issues while conservatism has failed utterly on those same fronts. It might also be the reason that classical liberalism is stone dead. The reality is that most people do want freedom. The proportion of the population that actually wants to have freedom is so tiny as to be statistically insignificant. People want to belong. They want to belong to a group and they want to be accepted unquestioningly as members of that group. The safest way to achieve that is by rigid conformity. Wanting to conform is the norm. The urge to conform overwhelms just about every other urge.

Modern liberalism answers that need. Accept the liberal creed and you need never trouble yourself with thought ever again. You need never fear failing to conform because such failure is not tolerated. You have a ready-made set of beliefs and a ready-made set of rules to obey. Obey the rules and you prove your orthodoxy and you are safe from accusations of heresy. Even better, you need never worry that deep down inside you might be a secret heretic. As long as you follow the party line heresy is simply impossible. It’s extremely comforting. It especially appeals to young people in whom the urge to conform is particularly strong.

Of course the rules change from time to time. In fact they change often. That’s no problem. As long as you read The Guardian or The Sydney Morning Herald or watch the BBC or the ABC you will always be able to keep up with the latest changes and change your badthoughts to goodthoughts instantly. And these constant rule changes are a good thing -  the help the authorities to stamp out any embers of smouldering heresy. Heretics (like Germaine Greer) can be instantly identified and dealt with. Nothing comforts the orthodox more than knowing that heresy will never be permitted to raise its disturbing head.

So maybe liberals aren’t crazy. Maybe they just understand human nature better than conservatives do. Conservatives have done a very poor job of offering people a sense of identity and security. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

the coming white guilt crisis

The liberal agenda that has triumphed throughout the western world in the past fifty years is driven by one factor - white guilt. Everything about modern liberalism comes down to white guilt.

It’s not difficult to see why this happened. After the two world wars it was understandable that western civilisation would undergo a crisis of confidence. The correct response would have been to abandon the modernist ideas that almost destroyed us, but people driven by emotion rarely draw the correct conclusions. The faulty conclusion that was drawn was that western civilisation was inherently evil and deserved to be destroyed. Western civilisation was seen as racist, sexist, homophobic, patriarchal and a danger to the planet. Christianity was seen as part of the evil of our civilisation. Driven by emotion westerners adopted a sentimental woolly-minded approach to the world. Environmentalism, feminism, the LGBTxyz madness - all this craziness was fueled by white guilt. White people felt guilty about absolutely everything. Today white people even feel guilty about the weather.

All this is of course obvious. The question that arises is - what happens if there’s a shortage of white people? Compared to a century ago white people are now a very small proportion of the earth’s population. Within a few decades even in many western countries white people will be a minority. And that means there’s going to be a serious shortage of white guilt.

This kind of guilt really is exclusively a white phenomenon. Non-white people (quite reasonably) can see no reason why they should feel guilty about western civilisation’s attempts to destroy itself. 

It’s not even a white thing - eastern Europeans seem to be far less afflicted with this illness. Ironically it appears that communism protected the people of eastern Europe from the worst excesses of liberalism.

So can liberalism survive without white guilt to fuel it? And how will the world look when the white guilt shortage becomes critical?

Obviously environmentalism will be swept away. Only guilt-ridden white people buy into any of that nonsense. The LGBT silliness will be much more difficult to sustain. The transgender madness will lose traction entirely. You can convince a white person that a man wearing a frock is a woman and always has been a woman but to a non-white person he’s just a guy in a frock. Feminism will suffer a body blow. Non-whites (or at least some of them) will tolerate the less extreme manifestations of feminism, but they won’t swallow the extreme stuff. 

And what of race? Without white guilt politics will become avowedly racial, with each racial/ethnic group pursuing its own interests. White “anti-racists” will no longer be required and will find themselves despised and ignored.

Of course liberals don’t think any of this will happen. They believe that everyone will become an anti-racist anti-sexist anti-homophobic tree-hugging liberal. This seems very unlikely. Such sentiments can only exist when there is a plentiful supply of white guilt to fuel them. Take away the white guilt and the bottom drops out of the market for liberalism. Liberals will make the unpleasant discovery that liberalism is a white thing. The Liberal Brave New World that liberals have dreamt about for so long will turn out to be just that - a dream.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

can democracy be made to work?

Regular readers will know that I’m sceptical of democracy. To me democracy is simply a marketplace for the buying and selling of political favours. Politicians sell their services. Sometimes they sell their services for cash. This kind of blatant corruption is actually the least terrible kind. Sometimes politicians sell their services in exchange for campaign funding. This is worse but it’s still not the most pernicious element of the system.

More often politicians sell their services in exchange for votes. In other words they sell their services in exchange for power. Voters sell their votes in return for political favours. This is the real problem. It’s like prostitution - it corrupts both the buyer and the seller.

The theory behind democracy is that voters will vote for the party or candidate who will do the best job for the country. This is pure fantasy. People vote for the party or candidate who will do the most for them personally, or for the particular interest group with which they identify.

There are conservatives who think that democracy works reasonably well in an ethnically and culturally homogenous society. There is some truth to this. If a society is divided along ethnic and cultural lines the problems with democracy will be exacerbated. However, even in an ethnically and culturally homogenous society democracy (as we know it) will still fail. No society is truly homogenous. There will always be interest groups. There will always be farming lobbies, mining lobbies, trade unions and countless other interest groups intent on getting the best deals for themselves. There will always be groups that coalesce around some ideology. There will always be groups that self-identify along cultural lines, or class lines. There will always be regional interests. The voters of Lancashire will put the interests of Lancashire ahead of the interests of Britain. The voters of Tasmania will put the interests of Tasmania ahead of the interests of Australia. There will always be special interest groups. Democracy still ends up being a corrupt system of patronage.

The question is - is there any way that democracy can be made workable? Do we need to throw out the baby with the bath water?

There are a few things that might help. Governments in Australia are always complaining about how difficult it is to pass new laws since they need to get them passed by both houses of parliament and it is almost impossible for a government to control a stable  majority in both houses. In actual fact that is a feature, not a bug, of the Australian political system. Changing the law and passing new laws should be difficult. It should be very difficult indeed. It should be difficult because mostly the laws do not need to be changed and most new laws are either entirely unnecessary or positively dangerous. If you can’t have sensible government it’s better to have weak government.

What we really need to do is to return to being a constitutional monarchy. At the moment we are not a constitutional monarchy in any meaningful sense of the term. A true constitutional monarchy should have a balance of power between Crown and Parliament. The function of the Crown should be to protect us from the follies and the corruption of politicians, and from the follies and short-sightedness of the electorate. A monarch with the ability to dissolve Parliament and force a new election at any time on his own initiative and with the ability to veto unwise laws would have saved us from many unwise legislative stupidities. The royal veto would not need to be absolute. You could allow a mechanism for overruling such a veto. A good mechanism would be to allow a prime minister in such a situation to ask for a dissolution of Parliament. If he can win the subsequent election, get the law through the new Parliament and then have it passed by a referendum the veto would be nullified. If the law was genuinely necessary, or at least harmless, that would not be a problem. If the law was unnecessary, or dangerous, there’s a very good chance it would fail at some stage of the process.

It would be cumbersome. That’s the beauty of it. A king who exercised his veto too often would become very unpopular so it’s likely that it would only be exercised sparingly. A prime minister who tried to force through potentially harmful legislation would almost certainly find himself out of office.

The essence of a workable political system is that it should be based on a genuine balance of powers and it should err on the side of caution. No current western democracy fulfills those two conditions. A truly workable system is just about possible but it will require some major changes.