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Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
10 months ago

The Christian philosopher CS Lewis believed literally in angels and demons. For him, the cartoon caricature of a devil on one shoulder, tempting us from the straight and narrow, and an angel on the other, trying to keep us on it, was a representation of an ongoing battle between real metaphysical forces of good and evil. The battleground and prize of that war is the human soul.

In his book, The Screwtape Letters, he gives an immediately recognisable account of the tiny steps we all take to convince ourselves that what is good, fortunately coincides with what we want. Little logical fallacy, by little logical fallacy, we can eventually lead ourselves to that excuse for all evil, “the end justifies the means.”

The enlightenment philosopher Rousseau was more concerned with subjective experience. Rousseau believed that human beings are innately good. It is the temptations, injustices and hypocrisy of the societal systems under which we live that is humanity‘s downfall.

Rousseau’s philosophy has steadily gained ground since he published Discourse on Inequality in 1755 and the Social Contract in 1762.

Whilst approaching it from a different angle, Marx built upon it substantially. In his world view the “system” has been arranged by the oppressors to keep in place the oppressed. Some of the principles differ, but the blame for human misery still lies with the way we have constructed the world.

This was developed further by the Frankfurt School in the 1930’s, particularly Reich and Marcuse, who connected Marx and Freud to identify sexual ethics as a key underpinning of the Patriarchal society.

In our times Foucault questioned absolutely everything about the system, it’s language, instructions, it’s science, it’s belief in rationalism and professionalism.

From the trunk of Focault’s work came the branches of critical theory as we understand them today. This basic worldview is now in entrenched.

For most progressives the subjective “lived experience” is what matters. Rules and structures, even those provided by physics and biology, should take a secondary place in this therapeutic world view. Most progressives are undoubtedly well-meaning people genuinely looking to support those less fortunate than themselves.

Rousseau kept a mistress who he eventually married. She had several children, before their marriage, which he abandoned to an orphanage

Karl Marx kept a maid that he didn’t pay. Dependent entirely on him for food and shelter, as she was, she probably wasn’t in a position to turn down his advances. They had a long standing affair, conducted in the family home.

Reich died, insane, in prison in Pennsylvania for fraud.

Foucault was a paedophile

It is ironic that the philosophical base of those who think themselves virtuous, was created by highly articulate, extremely intelligent, totally amoral, monsters.

How CS Lewis’s devil must be laughing

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
10 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Wow. Excellent comment. I’m keeping this.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
10 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Very interesting comment, but I have to disagree with the comment “Most progressives are undoubtedly well-meaning people genuinely looking to support those less fortunate than themselves.”
They are mostly monsters. They know full well where the philosophises they espouse lead and have similar type failing to those individuals mentioned in the subsequent paragraphs in the sense of not even attempting to live what the preach

Warren T
Warren T
10 months ago

I think he meant most of the common people who identify as progressives. The leaders of the movement surely know what they are doing.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
10 months ago

They are not monsters but ignorant ego-maniacs who never understood that their pride is causing the ‘fall’ of billions…..human hubris is all encompassing –

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
10 months ago

Good point, but, and I find it bemusing, people will believe in them and follow their teaching come what may. In the west the organised churches, in their various forms, have used their moral power to grotesque personal ends, openly corrupting the morality they teach. But despite their brutality, graft, and the mass graves of children they murdered in their care, people still flock to them for moral guidance. I can not denigrate their religious faith, but I wonder why they look to those, whose corruption is obvious, still. Can it be their faith In the small number of prelates and priests who are good and decent? I think not, it is something else. I cannot claim to know what that thing is, or why it is so compelling. But it is not merely an aspect of religion. We seem sheep who rush to the slaughter always.

Sam Wilson
Sam Wilson
10 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Fascinating comment – wasn’t Marx meant to hate landlords? Weren’t they the parasites of the capitalist system?

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
10 months ago
Reply to  Sam Wilson

Very little of Marx’s life was coherent with anything he wrote. For example, despite writing vast tomes railing against factory owners, he never once visited a factory of any kind, not even when his friend Engels offered to let him visit his own. Indeed because Marx never earned much money he was dependent on subsidies from Engels and his family members, who got their wealth from … capitalism.

T Bone
T Bone
10 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I think the split is just Locke/Rousseau We’ve veered off the Locke path onto the Rousseau revolution.

One is simple, rational, objective and Individualistic. The other is wild, disorganized and collective. It lends itself to mass, disorganized bureacracy. The French Revolution was such an obvious outcome of favoring equality over liberty. Liberty is hassle free and natural. Equality is aspirational but clearly requires social engineering if put before Liberty.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
10 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Excellent thanks – I also liked Lewis’s view that there was no ‘enlightenment ‘ after death – that an individual’s ‘foolishness’ was not transformed by the passover of death – and that if we refused to learn and grow in this incarnation we would have to spend longer ‘down here’ – a bit like purgatory really……. To live in the ‘big picture’ and to attempt the practice of ‘love’ being the goal ‘down here’. Pretty simple really…

james ub
james ub
10 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

After reading the article and this comment I decided to subscribe to UnHerd.

Last edited 10 months ago by james ub
Judy Englander
Judy Englander
10 months ago

‘All men are created equal … and have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ (US Declaration of Independence). ‘Liberte, Fraternite, Egalite’ (French Revolution). Here are two radical traditions with different emphases. The Declaration sticks to the biblical view that all are created equal in the eyes of God and then segues into the revolutionary idea that each individual has the right to navigate life in his own way. The emphasis is on liberty. The French slogan on the other hand gives equal emphasis to what became literal equality. It was no coincidence that their Revolution ended in snooping, denounciation, mob rule and blood – the antithesis of liberty.
Diversity, Inclusion, Equity/Equality (DIE) looks on the surface like a bureaucratic protocol (that’s deliberate) but is in fact a leftist ideology in its own right, in the tradition of the French rather than the American revolution. Equality of opportunity meshes well with liberty; trying to enforce egalitarianism does not. Therefore I believe DIE isn’t Marxism but in the same tradition – a tradition evolved from the French Revolution which Marx admired. It’s an alien revolution successfully smuggled into Anglo life – complete with political commissars called Diversity and Inclusion Officers – under the guise of administrative procedure.

Last edited 10 months ago by Judy Englander
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
10 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

“Political commissars called Diversity Officers” brilliant.

Aris is quite open about this in the lockdown TV New Years Eve discussion with Mary and Freddie. The left are way more effective at infiltrating their view of life, into the way we live, via consciously dominating a whole range of institutions.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
10 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Apologies, I edited to include ‘Inclusion’ in the title (no pun intended!).

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
10 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

the arrogance of ‘doing this for our own good’..ARROGANCE IS THE CAUSE OF ALL HUMAN SUFFERING – THE HUMAN EGO

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
10 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Judy – best response here!! We’re often buffaloed into forgetting the Rousseau-Robespierre-Hegel-Marx connection re oppression and liberation, that soundly conflict with the US founding. I remember Norman Podhorenz’ (sp?) response when someone asked how the Founding was possible: “Because ROUSSEAU was not translated into English until 1820”.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

Ha ha!

T Bone
T Bone
10 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Great post. In my view, DEI is simply the result of leftist corporate capture followed by industry isomorphism. Even those corporations not attacked all follow suit out of a sort of ritualistic dance to avoid karma and bad PR.

DEI is really just Equity sandwiched between two utopian sounding postmodern buzzwords. It’s a quota system of redistribution and collective punishment from the Rousseau/Marx strain of social revolution.

What’s interesting is how many times DEI has been fused through the dialectical to create the framework. It’s the combined work of at least 30 philosophers (by my count) from Hobbes until Crenshaw.

The officer class appears to be fusing Vanguardism with Neo-Kantian ethics like Liberation Theology into a kind of technocratic spiritual social science of oppression.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
10 months ago

I have a very straightforward definition of wokeness, which I thought up all by myself without particular competence in political science:-
THE AUTHORITARIAN PSEUDO-PROGRESSIVE USURPATION OF LIBERALISM.

Last edited 10 months ago by Drahcir Nevarc
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
10 months ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Bravo!

J.P Malaszek
J.P Malaszek
10 months ago

Firstly articles like this more than justify my yearly subscription!
In 1989 De la Noce wrote an article
(as a book introduction) entitled ‘ Marxism died in the east because it realised itself in the West ‘. Nobody noticed it or in that triumphant year wanted to. I read it a few years ago and couldn’t believe how precesient it was.

Last edited 10 months ago by J.P Malaszek
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
10 months ago

Total garbage. Trying to make something complicated when it is fairly simple. Another version:

History shows that the Herd has been ruled for centuries by kings and emperors, controlled by religion, brought to fight wars for nothing, individuals hung for poaching rabbits… After two world wars when millions were killed, religion slowly lost its controlling power, well-meaning people thought of equality and the only way to achieve equality was to dumb everything down. The Internet means that everybody can have an opinion, even if it is a dumb opinion.

So, suddenly I can say, “I think I’m a woman.” and it becomes a serious opinion. Why not? I could climb a tree and say I was a chimpanzee and that thought would be allowed. I am equal and the world must protect me and my thought against the nasty people who try to control me.

Experts are brought in to try to overrule these random thoughts. Then they are the wrong experts and experts get a bad name – they are trying to control me and convince me that I am not a chimpanzee.

It all stems from the dumbing down required for equality.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I do think it is a bit more complicated than that. Changing the foundations of what a culture defines as good and bad is done incrementally and over quite a long period.

“Turn the other cheek, forgive your enemies and the meek shall inherit the Earth,” would’ve been utterly bizarre concepts in 1A.D. They took centuries to permeate into the culture and in doing so adapted many already existing concepts.

Since the printing press, and latterly the Internet, ideas can spread much more quickly, but they still take time to fully embed.

Personally I can’t see why a physical or verbal assault on somebody is worse if it is, say, racially motivated than if there is some other motivation. I said that to my 20 something son and his girlfriend and they were just amazed. To them racial insults are self evidently worse than other types. It just is!

We have moved from a culture where nearly everybody believed that right and wrong was more or less self evident, God defined, and the same for everyone, to a world where there is no right and wrong, there are just various categories of psychological distress.

I think that’s taken a while and pulls on a few more strands than just dumbing down.

Warren T
Warren T
10 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Completely agree. Once “man” decides what is right and wrong, anything goes. And when anything goes, anything, and I mean ANYTHING, will go!

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I don’t think you’re entirely wrong, Chris, but there are some missing pieces.

The original claim of “equality” was rooted in the Abrahamic story of Creation: man is equal in his possession of “the image of God”. Your comment about being becoming a chimpanzee is rather pertinent, since it was precisely this claim (that man was NOT made by God and was instead just a really smart ape) that first undermined this claim of equality. If man is just a smart ape, then he is governed not by God’s law, but by jungle law. And in the jungle, the strong oppress and kill the weak with impunity. This is one of the great contradictions of the modern Left: insisting on equality while simultaneously rejecting the philosophical underpinnings of that very equality.

It is that rejection which makes the leap between “we should all be equal” and “you must affirm that I’m a I’m a woman” possible. Nietzsche summarized this problem 100 years ago. When we killed God (and you’re right, the Devil used WWI and WWII to that end), we needed a new one. True atheism is suicidal; society must be erected on a transcendental claim of some kind. We chose to divinize human individual autonomy. So instead of being equal before a transcendent God, we are equal in our ability to choose whatever we want.

You’re correct about the Woke being a fundamentally spiritual force. This is something that non-woke liberals (Bari Weiss or Andrew Sullivan for example) still can’t face. To them, Wokeness is a political problem that could be solved if we just put liberals (like them) back in charge. They are wrong about this. Wokeness is a response to the death of God in the West and the resulting spiritual alienation; it is the gasp of a generation desperate to believe in something — anything — that might give them meaning.

20th century secular liberals believed they could build a society on nothing but a commitment to “do what you want as long as you don’t hit my nose”. They were catastrophically wrong.

Warren T
Warren T
10 months ago

“There is a heart shaped vacuum in the heart of every man, which can only be filled by God.”
-Pascal

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
10 months ago
Reply to  Warren T

It is the degradation of true personal ‘spirituality’ that is the cause of all human suffering. LOVE is wanting the best for all vs the best just for me – and we are at a very primitive stage of that development. And the ego maniacs are at war with that concept…..the ‘meek’ or humble are probably the relatively wise and kind who step back a bit from the greed and foolishness, who do their bit for others , and who make wise decisions as to how to cope with it all – whilst listening to the quiet ‘voice’ ‘inside’……

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
10 months ago

No-one nowadays wants to see anyone else struggling. Where we disagree is how best to fix the problem of inequality of natural attributes, especially when combined with suboptimal parenting.

We tend to divide into people who see the issues as they really are as the starting point for effective planning versus people who reject the realities in the first place.

Irene Ve
Irene Ve
10 months ago
Reply to  Deb Grant

The best comment today, in my opinion. You nailed the problem and put it down so succinctly without unnecessary drowning in subtleties of philosophy.
”…the problem of inequality of natural attributes, especially when combined with suboptimal parenting”. Yes and yes!
And this cannot be changed without gene modification at the very least, so inequality of starting position in life and, hence, life outcomes should be accepted for now as an inevitable fact of life based on human biology and our tradition of raising our offspring by parents.

T Bone
T Bone
10 months ago

Leftism is essentially just the art of rebelling against the Nation State.
Subjective Global Altruism is considered the replacement for organized religion. Altruism itself is a slippery concept which makes it the perfect tool of people that would prefer you sacrifice for the greater good while they are just too important to make that same sacrifice. Leftists don’t see individuals. They see groups each having some kind of vague, undefined collective responsibility to each other and only the “enlightened expert” can determine that responsibility.

Since there is no referential framework for Altruism like the Bible, Constitution or etc, leftists are always searching for a new morality to replace the existing structures that hold together Nation States. Generally that’s Capitalism or Christianity but it’s essentially just dismantling any status quo.

In India, Communists try to subvert Hinduism. In the Middle East they tried to subvert Islam. They generally just try to weaken institutional structures slowly until they’ve Memory Holed the past. The slow process of destabilization descends countries into chaos and leads other leftists to call for “global solutions” like Stakeholder Capitalism where companies participate in market socialism with government stakeholders pretending to care about social issues to accumulate more market share. It’s all just a power grab under the guise of Altruism which can be molded or reshaped by poststructuralists and Neo-Marxists. Ultimately this appears to be a push to turn the multicultural world into some kind of unified yet “emancipated” amoeba that conforms into unicultural, altruistic consumer of corporate products.

I think the world would be well served by studying Locke, Montesquie and Madison’s view of decentralizing power. Federalism is a great check on absolute power.

Last edited 10 months ago by T Bone
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
10 months ago

“Our society largely embraces Marx’s historical vision: advancing technologies are viewed as de facto proof that the question of God, and all transcendent values, are irrelevant.”

“But since the radically bourgeois society rejects all transcendent values, its revolutionaries offer only negation. “The global rebellion becomes an absurd revolt against what exists””

“who champion “Enlightenment values” in the face of the woke. They praise things like reason, rationality, and positivism in the face of a new religious fervor. The miracle of rationality fought off the forces of religious superstition, we are told”

So Technologies made God irrelevant, and thus existence is questionably irrelevant too, as there is no ultimate, and reality cannot be really known, and so we have our woke who believe in no values but Postmodernism, Neo-Marxism, Identity Politics and Intersectionality, which have no values other than ‘Equity’. And such a deep Nihilism cannot be fought by Enlightenment values as they just lead ultimately back to an Irrelevant God and unknowable reality – which is a circular trap. I think I likely missed the point – and do not have the time to wrestle with it – someone give it in 3 paragraphs please.

Claire D
Claire D
10 months ago

Interesting essay which sort of aligns with my thinking.
If Marxism is the dark side of Capitalism – I think it is – and feminism, progressivism etc grew out of it – Yes – but then what is the solution ?
Neo-liberalism is savage capitalism, matched by wokism. Only by rejecting both can we hope to escape the stink of the “rotting carcass”.

Last edited 10 months ago by Claire D
Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
10 months ago
Reply to  Claire D

Rejection of both requires belief in something greater. No one jumps off a mountain into the abyss; we need to see there’s a higher mountain for us to climb.

That’s the problem. The West has lost faith in God. We need to find it again, or we will keep making new ones, which will be inevitably destructive.

Claire D
Claire D
10 months ago

I agree. The West in the abstract has turned away from God but not all of us. There are about 4 – 5 million Christians still in the UK, a few hundred thousand Anglicans, but plenty of Catholics, Baptists etc as well. It will be interesting to see what the 2021 census reveals.
“Ask, and it shall be given to you; Seek, and you shall find;”
Matthew 7:7.

Last edited 10 months ago by Claire D
Karl Francis
Karl Francis
10 months ago
Reply to  Claire D

Jesus is ace!

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
10 months ago

see my comment above

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago

Hmm. The author rubbishes some explanations of ‘wokeness’ only to champion his own favourite pet theory by which Marxism becomes an all encompassing theory and / or label, to pin on the decadence and self-destructiveness of the West. I am sure Marxism DOES contribute to much Western thought, including on the Right. Marxist assumptions on politico-economic issues, such as ‘superstructure’ ideologies being supported by foundational economic interests have become almost commonplace, including in critiques of Big Tech.

However the fact that his overall argument is couched in such obscure terms doesn’t convince.

Regarding atheism, I am of this belief, so perhaps it is our fault! But in any case, God has really long been dead in a societal and civilisational sense. He cannot be artificially resurrected in the modern West, woke or no woke.

Last edited 10 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Interestingly, coming from Orthodox Christianity, I could not significantly disagree with your last paragraph. I believe the Church’s transcendental claims are true, but Western Civilization as a whole does not. Nietzsche was right.

Society needs a transcendental basis of some kind though. Myth is critical to humans’ understanding of their place in the world; without it we are aimless, rootless, and alienated. Nihilism is insufficient. Secular liberalism is insufficient. We must have a God or we will create our own. Wokeness is a branch of humanism in that it divinizes human individual autonomy — “the universe is as I choose it to be”. It takes Enlightenment liberalism’s commitment to individualism to its logical conclusion. Jordan Peterson had a great summary of this: “The logical conclusion of intersectionality is individuality. The intersectionalists will get there… if they don’t kill us all first.”

The 20th century witnessed the rise of several terrifying dangerous myths / Gods. Let us all pray that Wokeness is not equally destructive.

Last edited 10 months ago by Brian Villanueva
T Bone
T Bone
10 months ago

Brian- I can appreciate your perspective (and Peterson) but this idea of reinventing new myths is a dead end. The Frankfurt School, which is as responsible for wokeness as any, was trying to answer Nietzsche’s God is Dead- What now conundrum.

Philosophers and intellects are all trying to solve global dilemmas by treating society like one giant collective. I don’t agree with the postmodernists on much but they’re correct that most ideas are just social constructs. Of all the social constructs, “Society” might be the most vague. Society does not require any universal myths because Society is split up into tens of thousands of geographical regions and cultures.

The Globalists believe “Society” has to be blended into some uniform multiculture so wealth and resources can be geographically redistributed. This idea is not only unfeasible, it’s a call to social engineering which is an obvious precursor to war. The only unifying message in a functional world should be respect for Territorial Sovereignty. The world simply can not solve everyone’s problems through multinational government policies. At some point, doing nothing IS better than breaking and “reimagining” everything.

In well functioning territories, power is decentralized and controlled by localities. The US Constitution is a beautiful document in the way it separates power and distributes it to the States to manage local matters. The result is that people can move to places with other people that share their values and still maintain security from the united collective.

Instead of one defining belief system, how about supporting a world where people just respect the local customs and voluntarily associate with likeminded people and respect others ability to do the same. We’re trying way too hard to reinvent the wheel here and creating bureaucratic tyranny in the process.

Last edited 10 months ago by T Bone
Justin Clark
Justin Clark
10 months ago

“Its rotting carcass sprouted every political movement”…. That’s how you present an article, just delicious!

Ceelly Hay
Ceelly Hay
10 months ago

It isn’t easy to understand the consequences of most decisions, including important ones made by experts. In a democracy, everyone is equal, and we all have a say. We examine issues from different perspectives. However, we all believe an expert can make a better decision using the scientific method. Unfortunately, the scientific method can’t combine all these decisions to see their effect on the general conditions of everyday citizens. To understand where we are all heading, we need to understand the whole, which is more than the sum of its parts.

Marx laid the foundations for decisions to be made by experts. The Managerialism philosophy used by HR departments uses a lot of Marx ideas to control the experts and manage our society. Marx helped create a society, not of individuals but of organisations and groups. Just the most influential organisations are big businesses. ‘Wokeness’ justifies why individuals should not have a say, and discussing and examining things from different perspectives is dangerous.

Last edited 10 months ago by Ceelly Hay
R Wright
R Wright
10 months ago

“Domain expertise is not the same as executive function: the act of governing a society is the act of choosing between competing goods, and this requires virtues like wisdom and prudence. And yet society has become enthralled by the “expert”

I highly recommend After Virtue by Alasdair Macintyre for an excellent take on the rise of the rise of the manager-bureaucrat.