Andrew Sullivan, a British writer who has spent most of his adult life in the US, describes himself as a conservative. Even better, a Catholic conservative.
But then political nomenclatures mean so little these days that they can be safely disregarded. To me, Mr Sullivan is neither a conservative nor much of a Catholic.
In the past he edited The New Republic, a publication to the right of Pravda circa 1970 only marginally and not invariably. Then Sullivan is an HIV-positive homosexual, which by itself doesn’t disqualify him as a conservative. However, he has anonymously advocated unprotected anal sex, “preferably with other HIV-positive men”. I’m sure he had valid reasons, but these must have had little to do with promoting a conservative Catholic agenda.
Sullivan also supports other non-conservative causes, such as homomarriage, progressive taxation, nationalised healthcare and whatnot. And he’s planning to vote for Biden in November.
However, he has also advocated some causes that Americans call conservative and I call libertarian. That has proved his undoing, for even such dubious, what he calls ‘moderate’ or ‘anti-Trump’, conservatism turned out to be too much for his colleagues at New York magazine to bear.
They claimed that the toxic presence of even a moderate conservative, however he’s planning to vote, made them physically ill. And I do mean physically, not metaphorically.
That makes conservatism even in its mild forms a deadly contagion, not unlike Covid. The difference is that, while a cure for coronavirus isn’t known, the cure for conservatism is. The honour of its discovery belongs to assorted communist regimes around the world, where the slightest deviation from the party line was punishable by imprisonment or death.
At this point, the only death meted out to dissidents from the woke line is of a professional variety, which is what befell Sullivan. And not only him.
American madness always takes a few years to arrive at our shores, and so far I can think of only one prominent career, that of David Starkey, destroyed by wokish totalitarianism. Prof. Starkey’s crime was making a reasonable point that black slavery, reprehensible as it was, wasn’t genocide for the simple reason that slaves were a valuable commodity supposed to produce material goods.
In America, careers are destroyed en masse. For example, New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss, a rather wokish person herself, had to quit because, as she wrote in her resignation letter, the newspaper fostered an “illiberal environment”. Poor Bari didn’t realise that illiberal is today’s liberal.
Also, the senior curator of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art was made to resign for using “white supremacist language”. The hapless academic refused to stop collecting white artists because doing so, he said, would be “reverse discrimination”.
Another chap lost a senior arts position for publicly expressing “solidarity with the BLM movement”. That language was deemed to be too vapid and wishy-washy – he was supposed to have announced his eagerness to man the barricades, not just mouth those egghead palliatives about some nebulous solidarity.
Sullivan’s transgression was mocking the Critical Theory, which in US academic and media sources functions the way Stalin’s Short Course did in Russia and Mao’s Red Book in China.
Stripped of its pseudo-philosophical cant, the Critical Theory is a Marxist plan for world domination developed and embellished by the Frankfurt School about which I wrote yesterday. The object of the eponymous criticism is everything that gullible people can be made to believe makes the West evil (discrimination, sexism, misogyny, racism – name your own bugbear).
This functions as received wisdom in American (and increasingly our) academic, artistic and media circles. Even worse, it acts as the party ‘general line’ from which no deviations are allowed and any criticism of which must be punished.
Moreover, people working at such institutions are actively encouraged to denounce their wayward colleagues, either by reporting them to the bosses or posting scathing attacks on social media. You don’t need me to draw parallels here, do you?
But never mind deviations and criticism. Mere silence or tacit acquiescence are indictable offences too. Just like in Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s China, the only way for the culprits to avoid punishment is to debase themselves publicly by issuing grovelling apologies and promises to self-correct.
Prof. Starkey has done just that, destroying much of my respect for him. Yet neither Sullivan nor Weiss went without trouble, although Sullivan showed little rancour in his resignation letter.
He stressed the right of the magazine’s editors and staff to choose those they wish to see under their roof, which was something that really went without saying. What needed saying was that bullying someone into resignation for ideological reasons smacks of either red or brown fascism.
It’s tempting to ascribe the Americans’ (and increasingly our) lurch to the left to an onset of some collective madness, mostly afflicting educated people with high IQ. However, that would be a hopeful explanation, because a pandemic can disappear as quickly as it arrives.
But there’s no hope here because no visible counterforce is anywhere in evidence. What we are reaping is the harvest of ideological secularism used for decades as a wrecking ball to smash our civilisation to bits.
That could have been stopped only by another ball of equal mass travelling as fast in the opposite direction. But no such obstacle can possibly exist in a society dedicated to Enlightenment values.
The only thing that surprises me in America is the widespread submission to the proto-communist diktats not only in culture but also in economics. When I lived there (1973-1988), expropriatory taxes and nationalisation appealed only to the lunatic fringe. Now they seem to be mainstream.
Those ‘liberals’ don’t realise that they are signing their own death warrant. When their madness succeeds, and the whole thing collapses, they won’t be the ones to take over. It’ll be the equivalent of China’s Red Guards, and those chaps don’t have much affection for intellectuals – they talk too much and sometimes out of turn, if only unwittingly.
None so hostile as divergent exponents of the same creed, and those woke high-IQ cretins could do worse than remember that.