If today’s Abraham could get God down to just one righteous politician, Britain would be saved – and we’d have Jacob Rees-Mogg to thank for it.
Britain – indeed the modern West – seems as moribund as Sodom once was, and for similar reasons: godlessness, decadence, hedonism, perversion, moral decrepitude.
Our politics reflects that state of affairs, with the electorates unerringly choosing those who reflect their own intellectual and moral failings. Gone are the times when it was accepted that statesmen should tower above the average man in every relevant trait.
Philistine modernity swears by the arithmetic average, with mediocrity seen as having redemptive value. Hence the average level predictably gets lower and lower, until it drops to the abysmal level of Tony-Dave-Jeremy.
We’ve become anaesthetised to the pain of modern politics. We expect politicians to be corrupt, unprincipled, self-serving and not very bright. To their credit, they seldom disappoint.
And then there is Rees-Mogg, who comes across as an envoy from a distant past, when states were governed by statesmen, not spivs. An interesting man, and what’s also interesting is that he’s an MP at all, especially one seen by many as a future Tory leader and perhaps even prime minister.
Not to put too fine a point on it, he’s a conservative in a party that no longer is. He’s also cultured, well-spoken, intelligent, decent, self-made rich and pious – and one would think any one of those qualities, never mind all of them together, would disqualify a man from a career in modern politics.
It certainly disqualifies him from being accepted by our governing politico-journalistic elite, who sputter venom every time Rees-Mogg opens his mouth. The latest occasion was provided by an interview in which he stated his unequivocal opposition to homomarriage and abortion.
Abortion, said Rees-Mogg, is tantamount to homicide because human life begins at conception. He then hedged his bets, proving he’s still a politician. He feels that way, he explained, because he’s a Catholic.
That’s a bit of a copout. The implication is that an exponent of any other religion or none may be excused for having no such compelling reason to oppose infanticide.
Yet even a rank atheist would have to agree that conception is the only indisputable point at which life begins. Any other point is arbitrary and therefore spurious. Anyone arguing in its favour would have to explain why a foetus is still merely a part of a woman’s body at 23 weeks (the legal limit for abortion in the UK), but an autonomous human being at 23 weeks plus one day.
Rees-Mogg seems to be confirming inadvertently the widespread falsehood that no absolute standards of morality exist. He, as a Catholic, rejects abortion; someone else may feel differently. De gustibus… and all that.
That, however, is a minor quibble swept aside by his reply to the next question that the interviewer posed with the perfidy of a practised agent provocateur. What about pregnancy resulting from incest or rape? Daddy rapes his little girl, she conceives, is she still supposed to keep the child?
Now 190,000 abortions are performed in Britain every year. I’d guess that no more than a few hundred of them involve rape or incest. Yet this kind of reductio ad absurdum always comes up, along with equally rare situations, such as the foetus showing signs of a mental or physical disorder. The interviewee is supposed to take that blow on the chin and go down for the count.
Rees-Mogg stayed upright. He rejects abortion, he repeated, under any circumstances. None would in his view justify the arbitrary taking of a human life.
The interviewer knew he had his man bang to rights. It was time to press his advantage. So what about same-sex marriage then? Are you opposed to that too?
I most certainly am, replied Rees-Mogg. Marriage is a sacrament and as such it’s within the remit of the Church, not the state. And the Church states that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.
Let’s forgive him his leaning yet again on the crutch of religion. Of course, marriage is a sacrament, but even a reasonably intelligent atheist (provided such an animal exists) could construct a purely rational argument to the same effect. He could, for example, cite the essential reproductive function of marriage. Or describe marriage as society’s traditional cornerstone.
Referring to a man’s cohabitation with any mammal of his choice as marriage renders the concept meaningless, thereby knocking the cornerstone out. Such playing fast and loose with millennia of tradition will always have dire social consequences – surely even any atheist with a three-digit IQ must see that?
But none of this is the point. The point is that Rees-Mogg challenged the new orthodoxy, thereby branding himself as a heretic.
Never mind that this part of the orthodoxy is of recent vintage, brought about by Dave Cameron. That only happened four years ago, but it doesn’t take long for any legalised perversion to be enshrined in the new canon.
The interviewer flapped his wings in put-on amazement, and the resulting air movement set the wind turbines of malicious idiocy in motion, whipping up torrents of venom and spittle. An Independent hack, for example, wrote an article overflowing with those humours.
Among his many failings, he opined, Rees-Mogg “talks funny”. Now Rees-Mogg talks the way all cultured people talked a few decades ago, and many still do. That’s to say he speaks with a pronunciation that until recently was regarded as received.
This is erroneously associated not with culture but with class, but then everything is for exponents of the neo-orthodoxy. As always, they refute themselves.
Fellows, I thought diversity was the good thing. So can some of us be allowed to speak English properly without attracting derision? For diversity’s sake? Now what if Rees-Mogg said that, say, John Prescott or Diane Abbott speaks funny, which to my ear they do? I can hear teeth gnashing all over Notting Hill.
Then comes another salvo in the class war: Rees-Mogg “cheerfully admits that he has never once bothered to change a single nappy or do a school run despite having six children.” Crikey.
Well, you see, Rees-Mogg did the right thing. Before entering politics, he had made a fortune in the City, meaning he can now afford to hire people to do his menial chores. That also means that he doesn’t regard his political career as a money spinner, the way those revolting Tony-Daves see it.
How dare he? He should be spending his time washing and ironing – even if he doesn’t have to do it. That way he could establish his bogus credentials as a man of the people. And what’s with that ‘Jacob’ business?
There is something fuddy-duddy about Jacob. Such names bespeak obtuse traditionalism; it’s as if today’s Philippe Egalité were to revert to Duc d’Orleans rather than progress to a more likely Phil. Call yourself Jake, Mr Rees-Mogg, to make The Independent happy.
The list of Jake’s transgressions is long. Not only does he believe that Britain should be governed by her own parliament rather than Angie Merkel, but “he doesn’t believe in green energy, he thinks international aid should be abolished in favour of people making charitable donations… and his views on economics are exactly what you’d expect from someone who used to be a slightly less cuddly investment banker.”
The man has no shame. How dare he hold intelligent positions on every current issue? Rees-Mogg is “a throwback from about a century ago”, who simply doesn’t belong in a world where The Independent is a serious paper and Jeremy Corbyn is a mainstream party leader.
But that’s where it really gets interesting. For Rees-Mogg not only belongs in this world but seems to be doing rather well in it. He’s leading in the polls as the next Tory leader and, a throwback though he undeniably and laudably is, seems to attract a large following among many people who are impeccably up-to-date.
It may be just a fluke. The field is sown with transparent nonentities so densely that anyone with a bit of personality is bound to stand out. And what stands out must be cut back – modernity abhors the very diversity it professes to worship.
Then again, it’s possible that Rees-Mogg’s popularity is a sign of some tectonic shifts in public attitudes, a hint that perhaps another revolt of the masses is brewing, in Ortega y Gasset’s phrase.
Such hints are being dropped all over the place. Britain votes for Brexit, confounding the polls. America elects Trump, which would have been impossible even 10 years ago. Extreme parties are making headway throughout Europe. Some EU members openly defy that pernicious contrivance.
Yet one thing about tectonic shifts is that they can’t be controlled. Once those plates have slapped together, an earthquake may ensue, with devastating consequences.
An intelligent, likable young man like Rees-Mogg is someone who, given the chance, may prevent subterranean tremors from bringing the city down. If people are truly looking for an alternative to our corrupt and corrupting spivocracy, he may be able to convince them that such an alternative can only be conservative.
Rees-Mogg has many things going for him, not the least of which is the hatred he inspires in The Independent types. Godspeed to him.