The slogan of the more objectionable groups during the French Revolution was pas d’ennemis à gauche (no enemies on the Left).
One can discern echoes of that left-wing solidarity in today’s West, and you can prove this experimentally. All it takes is a single question posed to your average Westerner (not a Muslim): “Who do you think is the aggressor, Israel or the Palestinians?”
If the reply is “Israel”, one can confidently deduce the person’s position on any other issue, from transsexuality to progressive taxation, from open borders to secularisation, from comprehensive education to nationalised medicine.
Since such solidarity cuts across many parties – Labour, Socialist (Democratic, Christian or neat), Liberal, Green, Communist and so forth — whose manifestos may be quite different, one has to feel disappointed in the existing political taxonomy.
Its nomenclatures are clearly inadequate in conveying political convictions – unless you are willing to argue that, say, our Liberal Democratic Party is indeed liberal and democratic.
Since real conservatives stress the individual over the collective, they only add to the confusion by fracturing concepts even further. Our ‘liberal’ press deepens it by tarring, say, Thatcher and Hitler with the same ‘extreme right-wing’ brush.
That’s why in my book How the West Was Lost I instead proposed dividing Western people into two broad categories. Rather than Left and Right, I suggested ‘Westman’ and ‘Modman’.
A Westman feels profound kinship with our civilisation, its religion, culture, philosophy and traditional political forms. A Modman may enjoy some of the fruits of Western civilisation, but he is alien, or often hostile, to its traditional core.
This classification overlaps with the Right-Left divide only partly. Just about everybody on the Left is a Modman, but far from everybody on the Right is a Westman.
That’s why I can’t feel solidarity with everyone perceived as right-wing, even if we may share some convictions. Nor can I adapt the revolutionary slogan to say pas d’ennemis à droite. Calling those I disagree with my enemies would be too strong, but neither can I see them as allies.
Edwin Poots, the new leader of Ulster’s Democratic Unionist Party, is a case in point. I’d describe him as a man after my own heart. However, this is one of many cases where my heart is somewhat in conflict with my head.
‘Somewhat’ is the operative word here because both my heart and head are in agreement on some of Mr Poots’s cherished beliefs.
He wishes to preserve the United Kingdom intact – so do I. He is a Christian – so am I. He supported the Christian bakers who refused to make a wedding cake for two LGBT activists – so did I. He is opposed to Northern Ireland effectively staying in the European Customs Union – so am I. He has problems with Darwin’s theory – so do I.
However, some of his other beliefs give those good causes a bad name. Most of them spring from his religion, which is sectarian Protestant with an accent on biblical literalism.
Atheists who insist that the Bible must be accepted literally or not at all do so because they hate Christianity. Christians who insist on the same thing do so because they are thick or, at best, ignorant.
They expose themselves and, more important, Christianity to ridicule. Thus Mr Poots argues against Darwin and his cheerleaders, such as Richard Dawkins, from the platform of biblical literalism. That makes their inane statements sound clever by comparison.
Even if Darwin’s theory were a scientific fact, which it isn’t, it wouldn’t invalidate Genesis. Since God is outside time, few biblical references to years, months or days are precise chronology. Hence the six days in which the Earth was created fall into the realm of poetic imagery, the dominant literary idiom in use when the Bible was written.
It might indeed have been six days, or it might have been six billion years: God, being omnipotent, is capable of creating things slowly as well as quickly. In any case, Darwin never got around to explaining how species came into being in the first place.
After all, before things evolve, they have to be. All this talk about primordial soups spinning out a single cell out of which Bach and Einstein popped like chicks out of an egg is nothing but fanciful pseudo-scientific speculation. It has more to do with sci-fi than serious science.
The only reason Darwin’s slapdash theory has become orthodoxy is its subversive political impact, not its scientific rigour. The emerging Modman desperately needed something like that to drive the last nail into Westman’s coffin. To him, everything had to have a materialist explanation, and Darwin’s Descent of Man did nicely as a biological companion to Marxism.
The way to argue against the likes of Dawkins – an unsporting undertaking, actually – is by pointing out the gaping holes in Darwin’s intellectual trousers. The disciplines to be invoked are molecular biology, palaeontology, physics, chemistry, logic, philosophy, history etc.
Mr Poots’s arguments, on the other hand, make even Dawkins sound bright. He denies that the Earth is old enough for evolution to have taken place. “My view on the Earth,” says Mr Poots, “is that it’s a young Earth. My view is [it was created] in 4000 BC.”
That’s akin to insisting that the Earth is a flat plate resting on the backs of three giant whales. Some civilisations pre-date Mr Poots’s chosen date by quite a bit. Mesopotamia, for example, goes back to 6500 BC. But that’s not even the point.
Science is vague on how the Earth came into existence, but not when. Radiometric dating puts its age at about 4.5 billion years, give or take 100 million or so. Arguing against radiometric dating is next to impossible for even an enlightened amateur, which Mr Poots demonstrably isn’t. As to his dating the Earth from 4000 BC, that’s simply bonkers.
When Mr Poots was a culture minister, a Modman interviewer feigned disbelief: “You’re the culture minister and you don’t believe in evolution?”
If you want to know how I’d answer this question, type ‘Darwin’ into the SEARCH rubric on my blog, and you’ll find several pieces I’ve written on the subject over the years. This is how Mr Poots answered it: “Yes, absolutely. And you’re telling me that all of this evolution took place over billions of years, and yet it’s only in the last few thousand years that Man could actually learn to write?”
First, no one says that Homo sapiens appeared billions of years ago. His age in measured in thousands of years, not billions. Second, being able to write isn’t a defining characteristic of man.
There are many people, such as many of our comprehensively educated youngsters, who are undeniably human and yet can’t write. Large ethnic groups existing even today are illiterate. Many peoples in the north of Russia, for example, manage to survive without literacy or their own alphabet, as do some in and around Australia. That the Sumerians first began writing in cuneiform around 3,400 BC in no way proves that neither they nor the Earth had existed before that date.
I know that some of my conservative friends may disagree, but I feel that, with friends like Mr Poots, who needs enemies? A thick ally is more dangerous than an intelligent adversary.
No enemies on the Right? Not on your nelly.