#1 Melanie Phillips:Blind ideology is dancing on the grave of reasonSonnabendGuest05-15-2010, 12:40 AM
May 15, 2010 12:00AM
IN Britain, the benefits of diversity are apparently boundless. Now that the Pagan Police Association has received government recognition, police officers can take a string of pagan festivals as official holidays.
These include celebrating the festival of lactating sheep, and drinking mead and dancing naked to celebrate the harvest. In court, pagan officers will be allowed to pledge to tell the truth not before God but by what "they hold sacred", including, presumably, the Sun God or Kriss Kringle, the Germanic god of yule.
In Australia, as historian Keith Windschuttle has chronicled in his new book The Stolen Generations - volume three of his tireless evisceration of The Fabrication of Aboriginal History - the allegedly monstrous theft of 100,000 Aboriginal children by Australian officials just because they were Aboriginal never actually happened.
In the US, when a car bomb was planted recently in New York's Times Square by a man later revealed to be a Muslim trained in bomb-making in Pakistan's Waziristan region, there was an initial stampede to declare the attempted atrocity was unconnected to Islamic terrorism.
It was said to be most likely the work of a Tea Party member, right-wing militiaman or lone nut. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg even suggested the bomb could have been placed by "somebody with a political agenda who doesn't like the healthcare bill or something".
What has Britain come to when its police officers are given leave to dance about naked? How can generations of Australians have been taught the egregious falsehood of the Stolen Generations as fact? And how many times have Tea Party members or people opposed to a piece of legislation tried to commit mass murder against their fellow Americans, compared with the number of recent attempts by Muslim terrorists?
Such intellectual perversity can be understood only in the context of a far wider and profound retreat from reason throughout the West. Across a broad range of issues, the progressive intelligentsia appears to have junked the rules of evidence, objectivity and rationality in favour of fantasy, irrationality and upside-down thinking.
Take man-made global warming, for example.
The belief that the planet is on course for carbon Armageddon is now embedded in Western politics. Yet the evidence that the climate is warming to an unprecedented and catastrophic degree just isn't there. The seas are not rising, the ice is not shrinking, the polar bears are not vanishing, and there has been no significant climate warming since 1995.
Or take the Middle East. Israel is the victim of six decades of exterminatory aggression from the Arab and Muslim world. Yet it is Israel that is expected to make concessions to its attackers, who are said by the West to deserve a state of their own. Meanwhile, the US extends its hand of friendship to Iran, which is building a nuclear bomb to commit another Jewish genocide.
Closer to home, "minority rights" mean activities previously marginalised or considered transgressive are now privileged through "family lifestyle choice" or multiculturalism. Dissenters from these creeds are socially and professionally ostracised. Academics are hounded as racists for upholding the true historic origins of Western civilisation. Scientists sceptical of man-made global warming find funding is withheld. And those sounding the alarm about the true scope of the Islamic jihad are demonised as warmongering neo-cons or part of a Jewish conspiracy.
Such irrationality, intolerance and, indeed, bigotry run counter to the cardinal tenets of a free society based on reason and the toleration of dissent. This is because these dominant ideas are all rooted in ideologies: environmentalism, anti-racism, anti-Americanism, anti-imperialism, anti-Zionism, egalitarianism or scientism, the belief that scientific materialism alone explains everything.
Rather than going where the evidence leads, ideology wrenches the evidence to fit a prior idea. Not only is ideology inimical to reason, it sacrifices truth to power as it attacks those who try to uphold reality in the face of dogma.
This is because the progressive mindset believes it is synonymous with virtue itself. All opposition is therefore not just wrong but evil. Since progressives also believe anyone who opposes them is a right-winger, it follows that all dissent is right-wing and evil, and so must be shut down.
In other words, these are not propositions to be debated in a rational way but are seen as self-evident truths with the infallibility of religious dogma. They also smack of the political totalitarianism of communism and fascism, as well as resembling, ironically, the fanatical doctrines of militant Islam. Curiously, they also display religious motifs of sin, guilt and salvation. Odder still, they all exhibit features of millenarianism: the religious belief in the perfectibility of life through the collective redemption of sin. Contemporary secular ideologies identify the sins committed by humanity - oppression of the people of developing nations, despoliation of nature, bigotry, poverty, war - and offer salvation by a return to righteousness.
Thus the greens believe they will save the planet. The leftists believe they will create the brotherhood of man. The anti-Zionists believe they will turn suicide bomb-belts into cucumber frames. The atheists believe they will create the Garden of Reason. And the Islamists believe they will create the kingdom of God on earth.
Dissenters are dismissed because they deny the unchallengeable truths of anti-imperialism, environmentalism and scientific materialism. The explanation for the frustration of Utopia must therefore lie in conspiracies by the neo-cons or the Jews, Big Oil or the creationists.
The result is not merely that the West has become irrational. By turning truth and lies, victim and aggressor, justice and injustice upside down, it cannot even recognise, let alone deal with, the threats being mounted to its own values and civilisation.
With ideology eroding the principles of rationality and freedom, truth and justice on which it rests, the West is failing to understand what it is that it cannot understand, and so cannot grasp the mortal danger in which it stands.
The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth and Power by Melanie Phillips is published by Encounter, New York.
05-15-2010, 02:52 AMWhat has Britain come to when its police officers are given leave to dance about naked?
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