Thursday, 29 May 2014

Because I like it, and because it's true...

In the late 19th & early 20th centuries, children's school copybook used to have little sayings and phrases in the headers of each page.  So here is a poem Kipling wrote about them.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

All we demand is your silent, obedient consent

A few years ago, the idea of gay marriage was a bit strange to most people. Unorthodox. Now, not only is it legal in many places in the western world, but has become something of a new orthodoxy. Far too quickly, as Brendan O'Neill puts it very well.

Meet Doll, Kitten and Brynn Young, three women from Massachusetts who have recently married each other as a threesome. God help them - one wife was more than enough for me.  But I'm a cynical bastard.

I notice that their outfits are traditional, at least...

Never mind that polygamous marriages have been forbidden the rest of us for centuries (barring certain communities and cultures). That's not what concerns me here. Neither am I particularly worried about gay marriage either. I do not care who wishes to marry whom. People can have relationships with whoever they choose as far as I'm concerned - as long as all are consenting adults, it's all gravy. The mystery to me is why gay people have wanted government approval for their choice of partner, but each to their own.  And I am certainly not going to pretend that this tripartite tying of the knot (what if one of them wants out - how will the divorce work then?  A Gordian knot is what it'll be) is the herald of a wave of such marriages, because I very much doubt that it is.

What does interest - and concern - me is the reaction to this, and what it portends. Not the false moral panic that the tabloids pedal, but rather the new moral orthodoxy by which any question or hint of criticism of a three-way lesbian marriage will be met with a barrage of fury, accusation or mockery.

You see, ten years ago, gay marriage was the pipe-dream of a very small minority.  The idea of two men or two women marrying each other was...well, slightly preposterous.  Now, of course - in the last year or so - any hint of criticism of the idea is met with the kind of reaction hitherto reserved for the holocaust denier.  And in the YouTube video linked to, we see TJ, 'the Amazing Atheist', rip into those who have a hard time getting to grips with a gay marriage involving not two, but three women.  As though such unions were commonplace and long-established.

And it is this that I take issue with.

You see, changes in societal attitudes happen gradually, over extended periods.  What was unthinkable becomes shocking, then forbidden, then merely outrĂ©, then uncommon, then relatively common, get the picture.  This takes time, understandably.  People have to get used to an idea, and have to be able to question it, pull it about a bit, examine it from all sides so that they can decide where to put it, how to fit it into their worldview.  If you are asking people to accept and live with something, you really ought to let them figure out how.  Be patient.  It'll come.

We are, however, seeing an increasing tendency towards social engineering.  The forcing-through of societal 'reform' in a manner that is decidedly out of tune with the usual organic mode of change; the refusal to allow people to question and idea, or offer criticism, or even think about it.  No, unquestioning acceptance is required, immediately.  And if the majority of the population don't like it - well, tough.  You are all bigots and evil; see how we select some of you for public shaming - now get in line, prole scum.

You see, essential to any society is a shared set of values and a commonly acknowledged set of institutions.  If there are no shared values, no agreed institutions, then there is no society.  At all.  There is just a lot of individuals living in physical propinquity to one another, but with nothing else in common.  If the existing values and institutions are destroyed - or at least, changed radically to the point that they no longer resemble their former selves, and so quickly that the populace cannot keep pace with the change (which would effectively their destruction and replacement with something else) - then the society that once upheld those values and institutions no longer exists.

Immigration presented similar challenges to many people; a steady but measured stream of immigrants is something that a people can deal with.  They get to know new people who have arrive from far-flung shores, and understand them.  Acceptance follows understanding - we have seen this with those immigrants who arrived here on the Windrush and in the years that followed.  Acceptance was slow in coming, but it did come.  And once the British population had accepted those immigrants, so it became easier for them to accept other people arriving from India, Pakistan, and many other countries.

However, the progressive left mistook this for, at best an enthusiasm for immigrant communities or, at worst an indifference, which would allow for very large numbers of new people to enter the country in a very short time.  When Labour actively encouraged more then three million people to join the population during their last tenure, they utterly failed to keep in mind that people need to be able to adjust to new circumstances.

Here lies the rub.  We find ourselves in a situation wherein a lot has changed, and very quickly.  Gender (and, if the example set by the three women above does become more common, number of spouses) is no longer relevant in marriage; the demography of the country has changed drastically and rapidly and the arrivals have brought with them their own values and institutions.  Many people have found the communities that they have lived in their entire lives altered almost beyond recognition; political correctness has curtailed drastically how they can express themselves. They are not even allowed to ask questions.

You see, a society is supported by its institutions.  Institutions like marriage, like community values, like language and culture - all of those things.  The institutions might change over time, or be replaced, but it is an organic process that, given time, can happen quite naturally.  The trouble comes when you knock those institutions away, rapidly, forcibly and without offering anything in their stead; when you try to switch common culture for multiculturalism in a very short space of time.  The pillars supporting the society have been knocked away, and the whole thing starts to crumble.  Predictable, isn't it?

Don't get me wrong; I have no wish to sound like some Colonel Blimp bemoaning the loss of Victorian values.  But I do not wish to see the society I live in become morally and intellectually bankrupt.  And that seems to be the way we are going.  And God help anyone who tries to point it out.

Earthquakes, Local and Continental...

So, UKIP did better than the media luvvies would have liked in the elections last week.  They did well despite a concerted slur campaign conducted by Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives.  They did well despite the misinformation spread by the gutter press - which nowadays includes the broadsheets.  They did well despite the right-on metro twitterati tweeting furiously about how racist they all are.

Of course, in reality, they didn't do all that well.  They captured 17% of the vote - which is to say, 17% of the 35% of the electorate that bothered to vote, bothered to vote for UKIP.  Claims of an earthquake have been rather over-stated.

Amusing to me has been the reaction to UKIP's gains, though.  The horror and outrage, the illiberal desires expressed that anyone who votes for any party other than those approved of by the chattering classes ought not to be allowed to vote.  Democracy, it seems, is like free speech - it is precious.  So precious that it should be rationed.

Anyway, I am not here to fly the flag for UKIP, or anyone else.  I am here to express my amusement and bemusement.

You see, there can be no denying that the parties of left and right have become very similar over the last couple of decades.  They are converging in their policies and outlook, as is bound to happen in a democracy, especially one with a 'first past the post' voting system. If the electorate are so short-sighted as to vote only for what will benefit them personally (rather than what is good for society as a whole), then the parties running in the elections will seek to offer them such sweeteners as will induce the public to vote for each party.  And so they converge, bribing the voters with the voters' own money.

This has happened in the UK.  The politicos inhabiting the Westminster bubble have long since stopped listening to the likes of you and I, and instead listen only to the lobbyists, the corporate sponsors and the single-issue campaigners.  They listen to the eurocrats, most of all.  And while they hand more and more of the executive and legislative powers to Brussels, they then seek more power to control what we eat and drink, how much we exercise, what we say, what we think and what we smoke.

This is not good.  Whichever way you slice it, such control over our everyday lives can only ever have negative effects and is not desirable in any way, shape or form.

The government are supposedly the servants of the public, but they have long since forgotten this and have become our masters.  Should any member of the public dare to give voice to what concerns them, they will be branded as bigoted.

So, surely it is time to shake things up a bit?  Wouldn't it be good to make the bastards realise that we, the electorate, wish to be heard?  That we are sick of being lied to?  Why, yes, yes it would.

And this is why UKIP's gains have, for me at least, been a cause for celebration.  UKIP haven't gained any real power and they certainly will not win the next general election, but they have managed to rattle the Westminster crowd out of their complacency somewhat.

And surely, whoever you vote for, this can only be a good thing.