OUR BIGGEST PROBLEM IS SHIBBOLETHARGY
If the world seems like a strangely threatening place at the moment, then it probably has something to do with the quite extraordinary spectrum of strange groups who seem unable to get beyond threatening people. They’ve existed throughout my life and for most of recorded history, but I doubt if there have been many times when their presence has been as powerful, varied and numerous as it is today.
At the same time, however, the core nature of these ‘tribes’ is remarkably consistent. That is to say, they all have a fixed ideology, they’re all monopolist by instinct, they’re all utterly intolerant of opposing views in any shape or form, none of them are liberal democratic, all of them use violent bullying in its many forms, all of them are retrogressive, and all of them are out of touch with anthropological reality.
The list could run to a dozen or so examples, but I think most commentators could agree that the top five are US energy obsession, radical Islam, globalist neoliberal fiscal economics, illiberal politics, and egotistical supranationalism. They’re not presented in any particular hierarchy of danger, and they are far from being mutually exclusive: US foreign policy has been in part a catalyst for Jihadism, neoliberal lunacies lead to illiberal politics, superstates are the preferred illiberal political formats of globalists, monopolist energy interests drive geopolitics and so forth.
I have noted before that the irony of every ideology is that it hates the generation of new ideas. One could argue that the collective term is inappropriate, and should really be called mythology – or better still, shibbolethargy: a belief system where the starting point is flawed, and empirical change over time is ignored, denied, and then eventually the subject of lethal politico-legal responses from the élite. The desire for protection of sanctity is ever present; sometimes – in the case of oil for example – the protectionism is commercial: it involves suppression, manipulation and deliberate scientific stagnation. In the Islamist context, the response is beheading, terror tactics and a permanent desire for cultural domination. Where the whole process gets seriously dangerous for the Earth is when oil monopolism and religious extremism collide.
The use of the word ‘process’ there is conscious: if I had to sum up what The Slog’s core aim is, I’d say “to help protect fragile, communal small creative from autocratic neoliberal process”. The philosophical, social, commercial, cultural and ethical values that lie behind that desire are myriad, but it is the blatant antipathy towards it of the Top Five that represents – for me – a deadly consistency that must be resisted. Without such capital-R Resistance, the future of our and many other species on this our only planet will be seriously and increasingly under threat.
But it must in turn go further than that: free thinkers need radical but peaceful and constructive strategies to cut the concentrically vicious circles created by shibbolethargy. Evidence of the flawed beliefs that underlie it do not cut it with the believers: ‘show’ is, as always, far more compelling than ‘tell’. Let me try and illustrate this with each of the Fatal Five.
The increasingly unconstitutional grip held by Wall Street, the State Department and the Pentagon upon US foreign policy has been made possible by a highly monied political system; it has produced an almost entirely ‘bought’ Congress where the survival of three things dominates all other issues. The triad I refer to is the oil business, the banking system and cyber-weaponry.
So two priorities immediately present themselves. First, the removal of all monied lobbying from the system. And connected to that, a vast investment in making the oil age history as soon as possible. Taking this action alone would, in and of itself, reduce the need for offensive cyber weapons, and lead very swiftly towards a root-and-branch reform of the banking system…returning it to it rightful place as a risk-taking investor in entrepreneurial and communal capitalism – rather than propping up (or being propped up by) an idiotic global economy construct.
Its most significant immediate effect, however, would be to reduce the obsessive focus on Middle Eastern affairs, put Islamic fundamentalism on the back foot, and curb Israel’s inordinate influence on American foreign policy. Faced with the reduced relevance of occupying oilfields – and a dramatically downscaled US presence in the region – Jihadist extremists would find it harder to recruit.
Here too, there are proactive things the Resistance could do. One very real problem that pc-driven policy refuses to face is the vast and insidious ‘fellow-travelling’ of Islamic money and approval that fundamentalists get: rather than fruitlessly bombing this year’s new flavour of religious radicals, a key component of any attack upon perverted versions of Islam would be to make life very awkward and inconvenient indeed for those who bankroll it. Oil-fuelled geopolitics demand that no such moves are made against the Saudis; in a post-oil world, that amoral foreign policy dictate would no longer apply. Equally, there is a real need to treat Islamics differently to travellers of other faiths who do not have such a track-record of brainless violence. Targeted searching during security procedures is the natural and sensible retaliation to terror tactics…however abhorrent Human Rights activists might find that, it is common sense to combat destructive disruption by using one’s primary senses.
Instead, what we see everywhere in the West today is the use of ‘the War on Terror’ as a rationale for profoundly illiberal legislation straight out of the classic study of thought serfdom,1984. In the UK, a truly Orwellian term, non-violent extremist (NVE), has been coined by the new Conservative administration. Purely in the philosophical sense, it would be hard to argue that anti-social extremism is possible without violence of speech, writing or physical attacks upon members of the hated group. Along the more general legal dimension, however, the idea is a minefield of explosive nonsense.
Senior government ministers who talk airily about “those who detest our society but are careful to stay just within the law” forget that this definition could be applied to great figures whom they would probably classify as even worse: Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandele, Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Aneurin Bevan, Emily Pankhurst, John Wilkes, and in fact pretty much every passionate social reformer in modern history. Sometimes, societies are detestable.
The focus of Resistance in Europe as a whole, in fact, needs to be the public deconstruction of laws that aim only to prop up criminal privilege. The recent French law forbidding the publication of banking sector weaknesses represents a clear case of a Socialist government caving in to the ramifications of imprudent intra-bank trading. So too, the same UK government keen to extend the concept of citizen criminality is determined to remain part of a supranational European Union that has shown itself willing to operate outside the laws emanating from its own constitution whenever the mood takes it: its accounts remain an unaudited history of mass corruption, member States are ‘forbidden’ to hold elections and referendums, their banking systems are undermined and their elected leaders threatened. This EU that started out by not listening to debt markets is now deaf and blind to what its citizens want: that is, a diverse Europe of communities, not a forced cultural transformation producing legions of ersatz Germans.
Especially among young people in 2015, an attitude has taken hold that “there is no point in voting/protesting/resisting/getting involved because it won’t make any difference”. When the system of governance in place is an inexcusably undemocratic duopoly based on lost votes and self-perpetuation – as in the UK – that is certainly true of voting: but the task then becomes, surely, one of applying extra-Parliamentary pressure to make every vote valuable.
There is nothing extreme or fascist in that contention: all the major British socio-political and electoral reforms before 1945 were achieved in this manner, as was the 1980s rejection of the Poll Tax, the 1990s rejection of Blair’s ID card drivel, and the 2014 rejection of Cameron’s desire for physical involvement in military action against ISIS. They went into, or stayed out of, the Statute Book because of riots, MP write-ins, women chaining themselves to railings, mass demonstrations, media campaigns, and industrial action. The social conscience of MPs had little or nothing to do with it.
The depoliticisation of the citizen via dumbed-down education, non-existent civics and tabloid media distraction hasn’t just decimated the number of people with a social conscience in the West: it has dulled any real sense of culturally ethical consciousness. Worse still, it has instilled among our disadvantaged the assumption that the Might of Right cannot be beaten. This is the real myth we must work to debunk.
Ralph Nader amassed an army of dedicated volunteer activists that forced the US car industry to give safety a much higher priority. Samuel Plimsoll MP took on the all-powerful shipping lobby of the British Empire, and forced it to make crew safety a much higher priority. Syriza may have thus far failed to stop the advance of tanks on its lawn, but the new austerity conditions (it seems to me) are designed to force Grexit. There are far more pages to turn in that saga before any fat ladies sing, but the dual outcome will be (a) the establishment of Resistance contagion in the EU and (b) the creation of a second Iceland to give the lie to Brussels-am-Berlin’s claimed security blanket To Which There Is No Alternative.
Only the creative energy of Davids will smite the lumbering Shibbolethargy of Goliaths. Debate with the Goliaths has finally been proven to be a waste of time. Our task is to show those who have thus far lost that they can win in the end. And we can only do this by example.