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Battlelines with the Non-Centrists

from the archive, 2018

The image by which I differentiate myself from six groups of political ideologues is as follows:

I am on a plateau with battlelines drawn between opponents coming from east, west, north and south. There are also battlelines separating forces on the ridge above and the valley below.

I think of myself in the centre. A centrist.

The first attack rises in the east and comes from the Right. Whether they be trolls, YouTubers and podcasters or real world writers and speakers, they are a brigade of ideologues who have a corrupted notion of individualism.

The individual in his imagination is isolated from everything and everyone: the “atomic” individual. He is not answerable to anyone - not family, community, tradition. He is in love with his own power of choice, and will do anything he damn well pleases, paying lip service to allowing others the same freedom. The self-aggrandisement varies in direct proportion to how alienated he is from family, friends, community etc. The accidents of birth mean nothing. The associations he chooses mean everything. Yet he can break relationships at a whim if he so chooses. He'll decide what has a claim on him. He misconceives Rights (with the help of John Locke) to be divorced from Duties. He deems cultural conditioning to be for losers. Being self-made is where it's at. He admires fellow ideologues boasting that their supreme aim in life is to become multi-zillionaires. He brooks neither fetter nor rival claim on the property that seems exclusively his. The sentiment is: “I should be able to do whatever I damn well please with my wealth!” Because the individual is big, the state's role should be shrunk to a minimum. It shouldn't regulate who can marry whom, or whether dope can be smoked, or oversee the economy.

Though some call themselves “conservative”, they have abandoned the essence of conservatism. "Libertarian" is closer to the mark.

The second attack rises in the west and comes from the Left. This brigade believes the Nanny State knows what’s best for you. She knows better than you yourself, better than your family, better than your religion and better than any other voluntary organisation of which you may be a member.

Nanny is drunk, not on Wild Turkey, but on the power of giving permission to her brood. Natural law is taboo for Her. There is no inalienable autonomy - not even the occasional benign right paired with duty. There is only getting Her permission if you cry loud enough. Otherwise stay smothered in Her arms and take no initiative, neither economic nor social. Yet all this permission-giving curiously tends to create a permissive society.

Nanny is particularly distrustful of strong, assertive men : any leadership they may wield at home and in public is viewed with suspicion. Though She has a reputation for fostering identity politics, she will not fortify your commitment to the sexual identity you are born with, and to reminding yourself of it through opposite-sex attraction. When a man and woman conceive through sex, Nanny is happy for it to be a temporary transaction, but not happy at the suggestion that Somebody Else, whether Spiritual or Embryonic, might be there besides the man and woman.

Although some of Nanny’s brood call themselves “progressives”, they are sadly not alive enough to progress anything.

Next, I am attacked by the northern brigade from the front, and the southern brigade from the rear. They both think the system is fucked.

Admittedly, the temptation of their double onslaught can seem momentarily appealing. The northern, frontal assault includes regiments of donkey-voters; battalions who are in contempt of the institutions that have taken centuries to develop, and who therefore can’t be bothered working to improve them. They are fortified with indignation against the terrifying, all-powerful State. Big Brother is always intent on stripping away their rights, against which the best protection is an AK47 under the bed.

The rear just think it’s every man for himself, but the front think they could do a better job once they hijack our existing parliamentary, judicial, executive, corporate, and religious institutions, as well as the framework of international law, custom and convention. Oh, yes: and the establishment media.

The fixers are the “totalitarians”, reincarnations of the Fascists and the Communists we studied at school. Their secret thoughts run as follows : “Why have so many pesky checks and balances, so many institutions, oppositional and dissenting voices to contend with when, if they would just shut up and go away, we could make this a much better place: one party, one voice: utopia. And if they don’t just shut up and go away, why can’t we make them?”

The rear assaulters are not fixers-for-all; they are anarchists. Each does as he or she pleases. No controls. No-one to answer to. They have left the outer reaches of a governmental solar system of which even the libertarians maintained a distant orbit, accepting the solar rays of policing and defence. The totalitarians want the system remade in their own image, more powerful than ever. News is reduced to propaganda. Law becomes a weapon turned on their enemies.

From the peaks comes the apocalyptic threat. From the valleys the non-apocalyptic threat. These attackers either believe the end of the world is coming, or that the end of the world won’t come at all.

If you think you know when Armageddon arrives, you’ll want to be on God’s good side in the final conflict. If you reject divine involvement in human history, the end times business becomes a distraction from living life on earth. So the secularist attack from below won’t allow any considerations about a 'life-of-a-world-to-come' to influence decisions here on earth. The problem is that the meaning of life and the ordering of society becomes geared to materialistic gain, hedonism and ephemeral, consumeristic concerns. To factor an eternal human destiny into the solving of political problems gets slapped down. But even to factor basic religious values into said problem-solving gets slapped down. A topical case in point is the fact that we now have a complete disconnect between secular marriage and religious marriage. There's no room for faith to be placed in anything but Almighty Technocracy.

On the other hand, the ridge dwellers turn an Hermetic dictum into a political mandate : as above, so below. They want to force a beachhead of a heavenly order into the political realm, and impose obedience to divine representatives, without distinction between temporal and spiritual matters. If the deity is at the apex of state power, who is anyone to contradict him? How do you hold officers in that governance structure to ordinary decent standards, when special privileges apply and, perhaps, only God can judge God’s appointed ministers? Abuse of spiritual power easily leads to abuse of other power - like sexual power - as the recent Royal Commission made clear.

The valley crew want to divorce the spiritual and temporal, church and state. The ridge crew want to fuse them so that they are indistinguishable.

If you see the errors that the battlelines highlight, you are invited to come live at the Centre.

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