“Dumbmentia / noun / a progressive condition, a chronic or persistent societal disease; unchecked liberalism marked by impaired reasoning, failure to grasp basic logic. Frequently accompanied by outbreaks of mass hysteria; a form of self-delusion; a deliberate forgetting of history. Sam Vimes 2018”
The starting point for this article stems from a random conversation I had with a fellow dad at a kids’ sporting event a couple of weekends ago. This is a guy I’ve known for a while, typical Aussie bloke, with whom the normal “dads at kids sports events” conversations are easy-going and natural. At a certain point in the morning, quite unsolicited, he turned to me and observed that “you know, people say socialism is bad, but countries like Norway are the best in the world, great places to live, socialism can’t be all bad”. It was an odd point to make, coming as it did out of the blue, and I was initially taken aback. Was this the time for a deep dive into my thoughts on the perils of socialism and its insidious creep into our liberal democracies?
I smiled politely, but gave my opinion that countries such as Norway which have for decades adopted Democratic socialism, have succeeded not because of the political system, but despite it; their success hinges on their cultural homogeneity and sense of individual responsibility, and their socialist “utopia” depends on extremely high tax rates, while the “free everything” that the citizens are gifted stems from the fact that the numbers of skilled workers and the educated middle-class way exceed those fully-dependent on the state. I left him with a recommendation to read Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, and come back to me with his thoughts on whether he thought a more typical Marxist-socialist system, a la Venezuela, would be more his cup of tea. Tellingly, he had never heard of Solzhenitsyn, nor had he heard of the word gulag or its meaning, nor anything about the massive genocides that befell both Soviet Russia and Mao’s China in the twentieth century. I’m not suggesting that I’m a hero for knowing some of the more intimate details (having only read Gulag recently), but I do have a basic grasp of 20th century history to draw upon.
And this is the problem.
I’m by no means a genius, nor particularly learned when it comes to vast areas of human history and endeavour, but I take an active interest and whenever I don’t know something, I try and find out more about it. When confronted with an opinion or a fact, I typically challenge it first before blindly believing it, much to the eternal frustration of my wife. But I would hazard a guess that for the vast majority of our current society, their perception of the world, and their understanding of where we’re going as a society is as shallow as it is nuanced. It is seemingly guided by a casual disinterest and influenced by a political and media class that’s intentionally dumbed most us down for decades.
I also realise of course that one example of a conversation with an acquaintance is not representative of the whole, and it may even come across as churlish to make the analogy, but how many times have you, the reader, been in a similar position? Whether it’s a comment in the office, or a conversation overheard at a family gathering, or in fact reading or watching anything coming out of the mainstream media complex, the impression I’m getting is that those of us who are taking an active interest in where this is all heading are in the minority, and the majority are gleefully steering the ship (or at least happily taking selfies while others do so) towards the “Idiocracy” made famous in Mike Judge’s titular movie. Why learn and think when there’s another episode of ‘Married at First Sight in the Jungle, Please Get Me Out of the Gogglebox and Into the Kitchen’ to be gawped at?
Now, as it happens, over the past few weeks I’ve been reading Douglas Murray’s The Strange Death of Europe – Immigration, Identity, Islam. Impeccably researched, the book documents Murray’s travels across Europe in 2015-2016 to several immigration hotspots, and documents not only the impact of Frau Merkel’s utterly baffling mass immigration/refugee free-for-all, but also details several decades of Europe and the UK’s myopic fascination with multiculturalism, and the political class’s attempt over the years to integrate Islam into a liberal European culture.
Probably like most readers of this site, I have resigned myself to the realisation that Merkel and the cabal of elites that run the EU must be either insane or utterly deluded to have adopted the policies that they have; the litany of terrorist attacks, near misses, no-go zones, mass sexual harassment, and so on that has accompanied the most recent wave of Muslim and North African migrants in particular has been written about ad nauseum, yet it appears the average Frenchman, Swede, German or Brit, particularly those liberals that frequent the BBC or read Der Spiegel, remain mortified at the suggestion that there is anything untoward going on. “There’s no such thing as no-go zones” … “nothing to do with Islam” … “good for the economy” … “aging population” … “wonderful injection of multicultural enthusiasm” … current events are perfectly tolerable, life goes on, love not hate, we will not be divided. Don’t Look Back in Anger.
“Careful not to get raped at the public swimming pool, liebchen, don’t forget your rape whistle.”
More so than any other explanation however, and considering the above, what Murray ponders and what the reader likely comes away with is the question of whether Europe as an idea is simply “tired” and at the end of its current useful life – there’s an excellent YouTube video of Murray discussing this point with Mark Steyn:
It’s sick of itself, sick of its history, it’s citizenry guilted or cajoled into believing they owe the world for their past transgressions; the Germans are still coping with the legacy of 2 world wars and a genocide, the British are trying to atone for centuries of colonialism, the French are dealing with their misadventures in North Africa and as for the remainder of Western Europe generally, they’re all singing from the same EU hymn-sheet that suggests that it is literally impossible to resist any attempt to further the cause of multiculturalism for fear of being branded with the racism moniker by the media and academic elites.
The politicians and the chattering media classes are what they are, I can sort of accept this – this neo-marxist attempt to redefine society according to political correctness and diversity; the ever-bigger government intrusion into our lives, the growing welfare state, the censoring of unpopular opinion and crackdown on free speech, the undermining of democracy (such as in the continued torpedoing of Brexit, or the vilifying of Poland and Hungary’s resistance to mass immigration of Islamic “refugees” as being the result of Far-Right nationalism) – none of this is a surprise to me anymore.
But it’s the acceptance thereof by what seems to be the majority of liberal Europeans that baffles and infuriates me, less so because they are actively masochistic, but because they appear to be so utterly contemptuous of themselves and their societies, that they’re prepared to just go along with whatever the powers-that-be declare to be the best way forward, regardless of how much havoc said way forward will ultimately wreak upon them.
And it’s not just Europe, it’s everywhere. As readers of this site would well know, we are faced daily with ever more frequent examples of liberal insanity masquerading as benevolence, and outright stupidity masquerading as the public good. If we dare spend time perusing the mainstream news, we are treated to an endless parade of PC lecturing, banal celebrity gossip, and political opinion – most often pandering to the lowest common denominator, chasing clicks and comments to appease the advertisers and those inside the echo chamber.
So is it just tiredness, or is it something more? While putting together my thoughts for this, it was illuminating to read contemporaneous reviews of Murray’s book by the likes of The Guardian on the one hand, and by The Australian on the other.
I can’t fathom the latter’s opinions, so contrary are they to the facts, but then again, I’m not surprised at the typical leftist opprobrium heaped on Murray; the critique of anything remotely anti-mass immigration as somehow racist or representative of white supremacy is the standard Guardian polemic – I’m mainly surprised that the reviewer stopped short of suggesting Murray has no right to any position at all given he’s not a Muslim and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to comment on anything to do with refugees, immigration or terror attacks at all.
Having delved a little deeper into some of the cases – the travails of the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, first port of call for many of the boats leaving North Africa (the story of ex-mayor Giusi Nicolini is particularly galling and proof positive of the awful marriage of feminism and cuckolded compassion); or the sad case of Dutch film maker, Theo van Gogh – I’m quite confident that there’s very little inaccuracy in Murray’s book at all, and the fact that he’s looking at possibly the most important cultural shift in Europe in 70 years can’t just be explained away with a click of the tongue and accusations of xenophobia. Then again, I’m sure most thinking Europeans know very well what the score is; however what chance does a society have when liberal morons abase themselves before the shrine of political correctness to the extent that they’re practically begging to be lobotomised – remember this one?
What Murray’s book demonstrates quite clearly is that Europe is facing an existential crisis, one which it is unprepared to deal with, given the proclivity of its useful-idiot class to make shockingly poor decision after shockingly poor decision. Whether it’s the banal insanity of a Swedish archbishop declaring the Bible to be too masculine (there’s no problem too trivial for a progressive nut-job to pretend-fix) or the very real, very visceral incidents such as an 18-year old girl dismembered in Italy by a failed migrant, there’s a malaise that’s crept into Europe’s culture – that same radical feminist, leftist authoritarian, head-in-the-sand liberal mindset that’s been fighting the Culture War unopposed everywhere. The typical response now is for some or other European Union think tank with a tenuous connection to reality to come out in favour of even MOAR immigration, as if the solution to the issue is somehow to double down on the cause; Europe needs more multicultural immigration because it’s seemingly in terminal decline under its current European stewardship.
To me this is #dumbmentia – the glibness that the liberal class has shown towards the events unfolding in Europe, the unwillingness to view what is in plain sight; the shallow Invasion Day-type rhetoric from the Left in this country, hysterical and self-indulgent, devoid of fact or reason; the epidemic of liberal American SJW’s, politicians and media personalities screaming about white privilege, calling for a white genocide, fifty-seven genders, #metoo, #everydaysexism and the like, probably the first time in history that an entire class of people has, in their idyll, voluntarily sought to undermine the basis of their entire culture in the pursuit of appearing virtuous to their peers.
The enormity of this foolhardiness and the extent to which this mindset has spread amongst our liberal democracies, led by the Pied Pipers of the media, really scares me. I wonder whether this has all become just a little too hard, whether the inertia of 30-years of almost unchecked liberalism will prove too hard to stop.
I’ve been reading the Guardian online this week [Sisyphus would have gone insane if faced with SJW’s instead of that boulder every day] and in amongst the slivers of real news, the site is a mish-mash of social justice, gender-bending, and liberal ideology; according to statistics released in 2017 however, its Australian readership continues to be strong, rising to fifth place overall, with a unique monthly audience approximating three million views. What’s scary however, is the top four – news.com.au, ABC news, nine.com.au and smh.com.au, all averaging somewhere between three and six million unique monthly views – the majority of Australian adults are getting their news and opinion from predominantly liberal sources, and that’s not counting the next tier of Huffington Post, Buzzfeed or Mammamia.
How then does a ‘conservatarian’ message flourish amidst this ideological onslaught? Whether it be the response to large-scale issues such as described in Murray’s book, or click-bait trivialities such as the saga of ‘Hannah Mouncey’ making his (or is it zer’s) debut in the women’s AFL, the prevailing echo chamber of liberal opinion condemns the dissenting voice, and in the real-world setting, has very successfully ostracised what could only be termed common sense. What’s more, the apparent need to self-censor is getting worse. Just this past week we had a Perth school teacher who was made the subject of public and professional condemnation for posting an opinion on Facebook regarding a ‘transgender prostitute’ being sentenced to prison – have we really reached the stage where this is deemed to be “stirring up hatred for minorities” as was claimed? I had no idea that mentally ill transgender men with HIV and criminal intent were a known, oppressed minority.
I wish I had a solution to this or even some idea of where to begin. Within the context of the liberal West’s capitulation to political correctness, it seems we are fast-approaching a sort of permissive singularity wherein through our own stupidity and obsessive tolerance for anything counter-cultural and revolutionary, we’re quite prepared to banish all opinion that dares disagree. The dumbmentia of the left has spread in much the same way that the revolutionary tendencies at the start of the Russian revolution spread, through bitter resentment, control of ideas and repression of dissent – only this time we’re not talking about banishment to the Siberian gulags through kangaroo courts, but ruining the lives and livelihoods of those who don’t hold the same leftist viewpoints via the courts, media scrutiny and the social justice advocates that masquerade as schoolboard administrators, academics and government officials. After all, we’ve already seen how subjective hate speech laws in the UK (but also in Australia) have been used to target individuals for posting online opinion about Islamic terror, and the goal is not unlike those of Big Brother in Orwell’s ‘1984’ – although now being ‘erased’, to use Orwell’s terminology, means being banned from social media, ostracised from one’s friends, and threatened with unemployment.
It’s going to take a lot of effort and a certain level of fearlessness to correct course, but I fear this may not be enough; right now, I can only hope that as we approach singularity, the Left’s march to censor and bully disintegrates under the weight of its own pointlessness, and critical thinking displaces Critical Theory. It seems otherwise likely that only an extreme event, some sort of crisis or global economic meltdown, will halt the momentum of the social justice movement; after all, it’s awfully difficult to argue for genderless sports teams or engage in post-modern dialectics while standing in the queue for water outside the local distribution centre, or scavenging for food to feed a starving family once the supermarket shelves are empty.
The fact that I think I may be correct with that last point doesn’t exactly fill me with hope; dumbmentia is likely to turn the latter into a self-fulfilling prophesy.
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