Melanie Phillips gets it – our intelligentsia has become a pack of stark raving mad looneys. Not a good sign for our society:
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What’s notable about the current “apparent mass departure from rationality”?
MELANIE PHILLIPS: What I have found so striking is that, in this supposed age of reason, there is such an implacable refusal, over a wide and disparate range of issues, to acknowledge the authority of factual evidence over opinion, or distinguish truth from propaganda and lies, or differentiate between justice and injustice, victim and victimizer. More than that, this phenomenon is confined to the supposed custodians of reason, the intelligentsia; and some of the most prominent of these often-militant “rationalists” propound assertions that are demonstrably irrational.
Even more striking is that this repudiation of reason is associated with the most fashionable and progressive causes — anti-imperialism, anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, environmentalism, moral and cultural relativism, multiculturalism, scientism. Yet they promote not just irrationality but a return to primitivism, pre-modern levels of social disorder, and the persecution of dissenters.
LOPEZ: What does a self-described “agnostic” care about God?
PHILLIPS: You don’t have to be a religious believer to understand that if religion — more specifically, the Hebrew Bible and the Christianity that built upon it — underpins Western civilization and the codes of right and wrong — putting others above yourself, freedom and equality, and belief in reason — that form the bedrock of that civilization, then eroding or destroying that religion will erode or destroy those virtues and the civilization they distinguish.
LOPEZ: You write that progressives, Islamists, environmentalists, fascists, militant atheists, and religious fanatics are “united by a common desire to bring about through human agency the perfection of the world.” Is this becoming more apparent?
PHILLIPS: It may seem strange to lump all these ideologies together since they are all so different. But, when you look at them, it is immediately apparent that they are all at root utopian, millenarian visions of the perfection of the world through human agency — the age-old recipe for totalitarian terror. The idea that fascism is in a wholly different place from the Left is in my view quite misplaced: Although conventionally one is described as “right” and the other as “left,” this is historically and philosophically inaccurate; they share common roots in the repudiation of individual reason and liberty
…LOPEZ: So Islam is not London’s only religion problem.
PHILLIPS: The real problem in Britain is not Islam but the vacuum in British culture which Islam is opportunistically attempting to fill. That vacuum has been caused by the retreat and surrender of the Christian church under the tide of secularism and aggressive atheism. This has opened the door not to an age of reason but to an epidemic of paganism — environmentalism, or worship of the earth, is the most conspicuous example, but there’s lots of other absurd stuff, too, such as seances, crystals, astrology, and the like. The Islamization of Britain is only taking place because the spiritual playing field has been abandoned to hyper-individualism and irrationality. The U.S. isn’t immune to this madness by the way — just look at Madonna and “Kabbalah” (not).
LOPEZ: Tell me about “kitsch emotion,” what it is, and why it’s important to recognize.
PHILLIPS: Kitsch emotion replaces real feelings, such as love or grief, with a sentimentalized pastiche that is, at root, all about making the person feel good about himself. Thus, as with the death of Diana, people advertise their moral worth with open displays of grief over someone they only knew as a media construct; emotional restraint is seen not as an admirable stoicism but as evidence of callousness.
These are emotions for a narcissistic age; they are all about the self, not about looking out for other people. It’s important to recognize this so that we can distinguish them from the real thing — which otherwise will become confused and may be lost altogether, along with our concern for others and our whole understanding of the difference between what is true and what is false.