I’ve been watching a fair bit of Russell Brand on Youtube recently. Hippy spiritualists would not usually be my cup of tea, but there has been an interesting, and I think really hope-inspiring, tendency for people of all political inclinations to rally together onto one ‘side’ in the battle to protect our freedoms from overstepping governments. Hippy types like Mr Brand, rationalist materialists like Sam Harris, traditional conservatives, elite liberals with certain heretical positions (J.K. Rowling for example) and Joe Rogan, with whatever you’d call his pro-hunting, pro-drugs, crude ultra-masculine liberalism. This group seems to be a sort of unofficial coalition for freedom, sort of like the coalitions that form against the likes of Orban. In response to this, the Whigs have naturally tried to cover the diversity of this group by labelling them all ‘right-wing’. Mr Brand responded to one of these accusations against him incredulously, but it did make me wonder; if I agreed with him, did it suggest he was leaning further right than he once had? I don’t think so. Though I almost always agreed with his diagnoses, I almost never agreed with his solutions. Because, to me, he never really seems to have any. He always seems to suggest that individual freedom is not just a right we would like to enjoy, but also a tool to reach a better world. That, in some way, if there were less control over people, people would behave better. Where I might think that we are trying to find a balance between freedom and order, Mr Brand think that the one creates the other.
I think this is an explanation of the fundamental difference between the left and the right. Those terms are utterly arbitrary, one could include Fascism, Catholic traditionalism and libertarianism under the ‘right’ umbrella, and Communism, liberalism and anarchism under ‘left’ even though these six ideologies are all wildly different from one another; frankly, I think those two categories aren’t even the most effective way of dividing them up. But we all know what left and right means even if we can’t explain it. Traditionally the association would be ‘progress’ vs ‘conservation’ but I don’t think that works at a time like ours when ‘liberalism’ is the status quo and its proponents want to conserve it, or for fascism, which was radical and certainly described itself as a bringer of ‘progress’, as they defined it. No, I think the difference between left and right, at its heart, is the opinion on human nature. Mr Brand, and many on the left, have what I think they would describe as an ‘optimistic’ opinion about human nature. They think that human nature is inherently ‘good’, and so when they see ills in the world, they tend towards blaming society or institutions, power-structures that are causing people to twist away from their natural state and towards things like hierarchy, bigotry and violence. The reason that the left, be it Protestants or democratic liberals or communists, always seem so destructive is that they seem to think the best remedy of the ills of the world is to bring down the society that they think teach and nourish these ills. They view a world where people are raised entirely free of social and political structures as one that is peaceful, fair and kind.
My reasoning for rejecting this left-wing conception of human nature need barely be said; has there ever been a situation in all of human history where civilisation has collapsed and the resulting chaos has been kindly and peaceful? When the Roman empire fell, did the absence of the greedy, aristocratic senate and nasty, totalitarian Emperor leave behind a peaceful Utopian society? Or did it leave a fractured Europe full of savagely violent barbarian warlords? It is also difficult to claim that people are inherently good when what is regarded as ‘good’ has so clearly changed over the years. Most civilised societies in human history have had slaves, and nearly all of those didn’t really seem to question it. Many societies have thought nothing of infanticide, rape or war. But rather than acknowledge the ubiquity of these things, progressives will claim that we have a ‘rape culture’, or ‘institutionalised racism’, blaming the culture or the institutions for causing these unpleasant things. Why? Because it has the benefit of providing a simple solution to all their problems; tear it all down. But of course, in order to believe that, they need to completely reject what we know about the world and about history. Native Americans who were known just a few decades ago for scalping and running whole herds of bison off of cliff faces, are now peace pipe huffing hippies, who lived in a wonderland before the arrival of European civilisation. The Spanish are tutted for bringing rape and slavery to their new world colonies, carefully relegating as propaganda the written and archaeological evidence for the Aztecs cutting the still beating hearts out of the chests of their slaves. In order to blame Christianity or capitalism for slavery, the history of the African slave trade has to be whitewashed. The battle of the Byzantines and later the crusaders against Islamic Jihad has to slip from popular history, lest we think we’re all as bad as each other. That is why the right get frustrated with leftist histories, it appears as though they just hate the West. But I don’t think that’s the real centre of their issue; I think they need to believe the history they know (which happens to be Western) is unusual, because otherwise they would have to admit to themselves the true nature of man, and thus that a Utopian world will have to be built, not just uncovered.
And what is that nature of man? That is the difficult question that needs to be answered. The question of the ‘state of nature’ has been an important part of sociological discussion since Hobbes. It is a very difficult question to answer because of the one thing that we do know without a doubt about man; that he is ‘by nature a social animal’, as Aristotle said. To separate what is inherent in people and what is learnt is difficult, because to form societies and cultures, and to raise our children in them, is itself inherent to people. It is a nonsense to separate ‘natural’ from ‘societal’ considering our societies are natural. A child brought up without care and education from parents is not more like the natural state of a human, because in her natural state a human is raised by parents and in a culture. One can see this with certain cases of lost or abused children, like Genie Wiley; they end up with mental disabilities that could hardly be called our natural state, rather they are in a mentally underdeveloped state.
So perhaps the best way to find this ‘state of nature’ is to look across the cultures and societies of the world, throughout history, and try to find common features. Well, all societies across the world have language. They all have music, they have art, love and many other things. But, they also all have the family; they all have a concept of marriage, exclusively between (in every example I can find – I am open to being corrected) a man and a woman. They all have a sexual binary (these examples of two-spirit and whatever else are all very clearly not equivalent to a third gender, they are ritualistic roles. The desperation to find transgenderism in history has even led to a conflation of eunuchs and transgenders in pop history narratives). They all have hierarchy to certain extent, though perhaps not as rigidly as our society has had until recently; it is typically based on age it seems. They all have some concept of religion, with both non-empirical beliefs and some elements of ritualism. They all have clothes, even in warmer places where it isn’t strictly necessary and, therefore, some concept of modesty. They all have taboos, and a lot of those taboos surround sex. I think, perhaps, my point is becoming quite clear. There are no examples anywhere of the ultra-individualistic, ultra-equal, ultra-sexualised, non-judgemental world that leftists think we will revert to if Christian society is torn down. Select a person from any continent, at any time in history, and they would be far more familiar with my sociological ideas than with the left’s.
This isn’t necessarily a defence of my position. The various peoples of the world also have war, theft, rape, murder, greed, sloth and tribalism in common as well. I obviously don’t want these things in my society; I’d regard these as primitive, things that Christian society can help us grow past. And I could fully understand the left-wing argument that what I represent is primitive and negative in the same way I view warlike tribalism; it might be a part of our nature, but it’s a part of our nature that we should try to expunge from our society through the influence of education and culture. However, they don’t argue that, because they would like to maintain the idea they are fighting for people’s liberty, to release their inner selves. This leads to a sort of doublethink. They talk about taking away bias in schools, and then actually move towards heavily targeted propaganda in schools. They somehow convince themselves that, for example, not teaching about homosexuality at Primary school is a form of propaganda, while actively promoting it is not propaganda.
If the left was actually in favour of releasing people from the strictures of society, I think the result, ironically, would be a sort of traditionalist libertarianism. That is what I’ve always struggled with when it comes to Anarchism; in my mind, the only difference between it and libertarianism is what the proponents believe will result, and only one of them has a realistic suggestion about that. If there was no power structure controlling us, I believe the only thing that could reasonably be expected is for commerce to run wild, utterly unrestricted and unregulated, for people to join into family units and compete with one another, often to the point of violent conflict, and for strict new social hierarchies and cultural restrictions to grow up separately in these different units. Basically, something much more similar to the libertarian, gun-owning, homesteading vision of a stateless nation than the labour unionised, interpersonally and financially equal vision of anarchism. Frankly, I think it'd be more similar to the 16th Century highlands than it is to either vision, but certainly nothing like the left might imagine it. The anarchists dream would require such relentless cultural cultivation that it would never be able to operate without a state.
My main problem with the left’s views on society, I think, is that it seems to sort of perpetuate itself. It creates its own issues, and then sells itself as the only solution to those issues. For example, they create a concept of ‘transgenderism’, previously a remarkably rare trend amongst middle-age male perverts called ‘cross-dressing’. They then promote it culturally until it becomes real and a huge amount of people believe, to the detriment of their whole life, that they are transgender. The left can then come along and push itself as the great defender of this demographic from a gender binary that hadn’t caused many people any bother before. I truly believe that the less propaganda and social engineering people face, the more likely they are to live in a ‘traditional’ manner; in a large family structure, assigning high value to community, ritual, gender roles etc. If that is the case, then an artificial idea, a long running intellectual fashion for individualism, hedonism and social equality, is taking precedence over people’s natural inclinations. If this is the happiest way that society can be organised, why has no one ever thought of it before? Why haven’t other societies throughout history trended towards it? I am a firm believer in being humble about one’s own beliefs; the chance that you, an individual, have happened to stroll across the right answer to something, and 99% of the people who have ever lived have been wrong, is incredibly low. But I find with this argument, I am arguing on the side of those 99% in all human history, and really it is only the leftist who is arguing against them. Sometimes I think that the trends of the last few hundred years, towards those other intellectual trends of scientific racism and sexism, have unfairly poisoned the view of traditional society and opened the door to this modern effort to separate us from our very nature. Certainly, it would be interesting to see whether our descendants look back at our time as the final collapse of a sinister social regime, or as a bizarre, hysterical flash in the pan, the absurd peak of a cultural trend that started with innocent Western individualism.