Division is an essential component of every healthy democracy, and efforts to end division and contention in political discussion invariably produce the same two cancers in the body politic. In the leadership it fosters an authoritarian attitude which tends towards autocracy and even totalitarianism, and in the mass movement it creates a sheepish dogmatism by which the individual abdicates his or her responsibility to think and reason for his or herself and fuels the impulse to reject every contradiction as heresy. Every so often we get glimpses of these things...
But how does one go about translating the theological equivalent of Donne’s “every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main” to an angsty teenager in 2019? How is this shared with a youngster, the product of capitalistic and atomised personal nihilism and pervasive cultural pessimism? Nothing makes me fear for the future of faith more than the thought that an uncrossable chasm has opened between the generations of our grandparents and that of their grandchildren.
Boris Johnson, our new Prime Minister, is a man who shamelessly stood in front of a bus during the Brexit referendum campaign and told voters that leaving the European Union would return £350 million every week to essential public services like the NHS; all the while knowing this was untrue. Since moving into Number 10 he has repeated over and again that his government is engaged in ongoing negotiations with its European partners, when the European parliament and commission have unequivocally stated this is not the case.
Identity politics – the fragile and needy positioning of the self, the subjective, and the individual experience at the heart of all public and political thinking – to quote Brendan O’Neill, has become “the only game in town,” and we all have to play it.
Nowhere in the capitalist world is the law intended to protect human beings qua persons with certain inalienable rights. Where such rights are protected they are protected not on the basis of the essential rights of people to the necessities of life, but rather on the basis of the requirements of the capitalist economy – the god and chief arbiter of capitalist justice.
Morality in our culture is dead. It has been suffocated out of existence as a malady of the mind, a weakness of the intellect, a modern madness; because we have been trained to self-censor and conform to the demands of a herd that has become accustomed to comfort.
The represented classes no longer recognise the parties that represent their interests. Neither the British Conservative Party nor its Blairite alternative represents the will of the British ruling class.
However cringe-worthy all of this is, at some point we have to make our peace with it. Black Friday and the whole stinking mess that is Christmas is, after all, the logical end of a uniquely modern way of thinking.