Tuesday, 9 August 2005

The Old Chicanery

It cannot be imagined how much misery has been caused by those who would make the world a happier and safer place. The reason such an avowed intent has produced its opposite is usually because, either the would-be do-gooder comes from the good-fairy-and-daisy-chain school of unthought, in which it is believed that the hard edges of reality can be smoothed off by goodwill, fantasy and the vigorous rubbing of fluffy bunnies; or the intention is really a sham, and the real motivation is to destroy the present system and replace it with one in which the “do-gooder” would enjoy more power.
.....It is often hard to distinguish between the two; for in the pursuit of power, the fraudster is prepared to be mistaken for the well-intentioned fool. This brings us swiftly into consideration of Mr George Monbiot of The Guardian, who believes that, “The world will be a happier and safer place when we stop putting our own countries first”. ("The New Chauvinism", The Guardian, 9th August 2005.)
.....An assumption underlying this claim is obvious: that patriotism is a cause of unhappiness and danger. Another is not so obvious, and may be one of two: that patriotism is either not a cause of happiness and safety, or, if it is, that the happiness and safety brought about by its absence outweighs the happiness and safety brought about by its presence. These two assumptions together are necessary and sufficient for Mr Monbiot’s assertion that an absence of patriotism would see the world “a happier and safer place”.
.....The first assumption is largely uncontroversial: there can be little doubt that patriotism is the proximate cause of some of the world’s unhappiness and danger. But the second is different. Is patriotism not also a source of happiness and safety? Do men not feel happiness in the love of their homeland, and do they not find safety amongst their like-minded fellows? If Mr Monbiot concedes that patriotism is a source not only of unhappiness and danger but also of happiness and safety, then the onus is on him to show that the happiness and safety of its absence outweighs those of its presence.
.....This is not easy to do. One of the hard edges of reality is that man tends to prefer the familiar over the foreign. Against man’s natural proclivities, therefore, a war must be fought if he is to be changed at the intellectual’s preferred pace. The claim that he will be happier and safer because of this war against him, however, is one that can only find a place in the perverse and philotyrannical utterances of intellectuals; for we have seen this war against man’s nature, and nothing has been more productive of slaughter and slavery.
.....There is no doubt that the attitude that Mr Monbiot evinces is more common than it was a hundred years ago; and this must fill Mr Monbiot and other “Friends of Humanity” with hope. Indeed the following statement of his might stand as a gloomy mantra of modern decrepitude:
I am not ashamed of my nationality, but I have no idea why I should love this country more than any other.
In fitting with this, it ought to be said -- lest anyone think him insufficiently hard-headed -- that Mr Monbiot is not ashamed of being his mother’s son, but he has no idea why he should love his mother more than any other.

1 comment:

dearieme said...

E O Wilson, the biologist, dismissed Marxism with words to the effect of "Wonderful theory, wrong species".