Perhaps, Chancellor Merkel, it is your side who are the new Communists?

Capitalism is the new Communism, I like to say.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has issued a new warning to central Europeans who might not fully appreciate that diversity is inevitable, comparing them to the Communists who once locked their citizens in.

“The eastern Europeans – and I’m counting myself as an eastern European – we have experienced that isolation doesn’t help.

“It makes me a bit sad that precisely those who can consider themselves lucky that they have lived to see the end of the Cold War now think that one can completely stay out of certain developments of globalization.”

I wonder if it ever occurs to her that maybe it is her side, with their belief in a utopian society in which human nature is overcome for the sake of a borderless world, is closer to the Communists than that of the diversity-sceptics, who are basically Burkean?

This is what I wrote in my book, which is just 99p on Kindle right now, for some reason, about the psychology behind two ideas, the post-nationalism world, and the Marxist theory of race, and how they influence today’s thinking.

 

After the war Europe’s elite set out to purge the continent of nationalism through ‘the European project’, the name given to the creation of a unified European state. Jean Monnet, the architect and first president of the European Coal and Steel Community, conceived the idea of a united states of Europe after the First World War in order to create permanent peace through a new empire in which nationalism was cured. Many of its great advocates, including British Prime Minister Edward Heath, had seen fighting in the European wars.

Alexandre Kojeve, who set up the embryonic European Union, but more importantly established the intellectual rationale behind it, believed a united Europe would represent the ‘end of history’, when national boundaries and exclusive communities will wither away. The logical conclusion to this thinking is that there should be no borders or restrictions, and that nations become mere geographic entities from which people can move freely from one to another. In the minds of universal- ists, immigration controls are therefore immoral, variously described as a ‘Berlin Wall’, ‘apartheid,’ compared to medieval serfdom and North Korean Communism.

National identity was heavily undermined by post-war academia, with nations recast as mere by-products of ‘print capitalism’, in the words of Benedict Anderson; Ernest Gellner deconstructed nationalism as a way for bureaucrats to legitimise their rule; Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm popularised the term ‘invented traditions’. Nations are, as philosopher AC Grayling put it, artificial constructs, ‘their boundaries drawn in the blood of past wars’. Meanwhile, it was argued, national cultures were not homogenous; rather countries are home to more than one different but usually coexisting cultures. And in the more pluralist and wealthy post-war era, national identity has indeed given way to lifestyle subcultures which cross political boundaries, and have become more important to many people than outdated, artificial nations: more important because they are willing associations. Meanwhile expressions of national pride, such as flag-waving and anthem-singing, became associated with the petit bourgeoisie and lumpenproletariat. In the universalist world there would be no more nations, no more ethnic groups, no more divisions, and no more national history. To continue with nationalism would, in the words of EU president Herman Van Rompuy, ‘lead to war’.

But does it? His view, Roger Scruton wrote, ‘identifies the normality of the nation state through its pathological examples. As Chesterton has argued about patriotism generally, to condemn patriotism because people go to war for patriotic reasons, is like condemning love because some loves lead to murder.’ Besides which, men have killed in large numbers for faith and class – the crusade for equality has put more men in their graves than all religions combined – why single out nationhood?

 

•••

In reaction to the racist consensus of the pre-war period there grew up an alternative theory of race. The radicalism that emerged in 1968 as the dominant cultural force in the West included among its doctrines what later became known as ‘anti-racism’, or the Marxist interpretation of race. To call anti-racism the bastard child of Communism would be doing it a disservice; it is the favourite son and heir to Communism, and bears an uncanny resemblance to its father.

The New Left movement that emerged in the 1960s shifted the aims of Marxism from the economic to the social sphere. While European socialists were traditionally concerned with the plight of the workers, following the increased prosperity of the 1960s the emphasis moved towards the ‘New Social Movements’, feminism, gay rights, third-world liberation struggles and the plight of minorities and immigrants in the West.

The popularity of the Marxist theory [of race] rests not just on its moral superiority but also on its irrefutability; by its own logic it can never be disproved. For anti-racism shares with Soviet Communism a Utopian worldview in which every problem is caused not by the implementation of anti-racist policies, but through a lack of them. In the USSR every failure in the system was blamed on bourgeois capitalist tendencies or insufficient instruction in Soviet socialism, not on the intrinsic weaknesses of the idea behind the system. Any failings of a multi-racial state can be blamed on racism, rather than on the innate weaknesses of diverse societies.

Likewise, because racism is this indefinable vice which can and does infect almost everyone, the solution to any problem of human interaction is more anti-racism measures. So if mental illness increases in diverse areas, it must be the fault of racism, not an instinctive human sense of discomfort with diversity. If one group does less well on average than another, it must be a result of racism rather than individual behaviour or cultural trends. If there is a rise in racial tension because of high immigration, it must be because of racism and the false consciousness it has caused. The fight against racism is therefore an open-ended war which, like all unwinnable wars, comes to drain, obsess and demoralise the nation waging it.

Like in any Utopia, those who point out the system’s faults are castigated for being immoral and blamed for the Utopia’s failings, so that ‘the millions dead or enslaved do not refute utopia, but merely give proof of the evil machinations that have stood in its way’, in the words of Roger Scruton. Scruton cites mass immigration as an example of ‘unscrupulous optimism’ at work, a policy driven by an unthinking hope rather than calculated logic. It is ‘an unachievable goal chosen for its abstract purity, in which differences are reconciled, conflict overcome and mankind soldered together in a metaphysical unity, [which] can never be questioned, since in the nature of the case it can never be put to the proof. All the crimes committed on the way to it are deviations, perversions or betrayals, things that the ideal was designed to prevent.’

That Marxist universalism went unchallenged was largely due to the collapse of Western conservatism after 1945, and the monopoly that the left has held in the intellectual sphere. In the post-war period, Harvard sociologist Daniel Bell wrote, the entire conservative project was marginalised. Since ‘World War Two had the character of a “just war” against Fascism, Right-wing ideologies and the individual and cultural figures associated with those were inevitably discredited’. After the ‘preponderant reactionary influence in pre-war European culture’, he said, ‘No single Right-wing figure retained any political credibility or influence’. Scruton, one of the great Right-wing philosophers of the 20th century, recalled that when he took a permanent lectureship in Birkbeck College in 1971 the only other conservative in the entire university was the Neapolitan cleaning lady: ‘In 1970s Britain, conservative philosophy was the preoccupation of a few half-mad recluses.’

And on top of this ideological utopianism one can add a particular northern European arrogance, which holds that just because no society in history has ever produced a liberal, multi- ethnic democracy free of racial tension, somehow England will, because it is somehow uniquely tolerant and morally superior.

 

 

Comments so far

  1. David Malone spotted the move towards ‘open borders’ in his 1996 documentary about globalisation, ‘Icon Earth’. If the film seems odd it’s because he had to disguise the message within a tale about the Earth as an image throughout history. He left no doubt about what he was really saying though by the final third of the film and almost lost his job at the BBC because of it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH6qFVvxtfE
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPbMBUw2KLo
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xniXLGW80Pg
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRcrjSB2xvs

    Rather prescient one might say!

  2. Won’t keep spamming but…

    Had an Equality and Diversity lecture today…

    My question: I note there are no professional networks for men and certainly not white men. Is there an assumption that man find life easy?

    Answer: Well, men can go to the BME group or the LGBT group…

    I’m not gay or from an ethnic minority

    Well, there are groups for older people…

    (I’m 35)

    I was quite amazed that he could brush it off so obviously and leave my isolation hanging in the air.

    What a funny world the Labour party has created. I wonder what the founders would make of it.

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