Thursday, November 26, 2009
Once upon a time the ideological circus pitched its tent, or their armies massed for battle, in the great capitals of Western Civilization. Those were London, Berlin, Paris, Milan and New York. The Bolshevik putsch in Petrograd and subsequent move to Moscow shifted the physical confrontation to Europe's periphery. While the physical confrontation was largely on the margins of civilization, except spectacularly when the Nazis and Fascists took power in the very heart of Europe, the intellectual contest remained in the key upper middle class salons and universities of the West.
Those outside of these centers were largely sheltered. This was particularly true in the English speaking world. While the heritage of the Anglo-saxon Dominions was more feudal and Statist than the American model and concepts like Fabian Socialism were spread widely, the broad tolerant moderation of a culture that respected privacy in thought and property and expected high standards of probity from those respected as scholars, clergy and politicians generally held.
The Eurocentric view of the struggle was increasingly outdated as the left turned to anti-imperialist theory to spread their message. This successfully grafted itself onto anti-colonial movements so that the movement against a dominating Statist Center that had been ruled by an arbitrary aristocracy did not follow the American model but instead was co-opted to advance another dominating Statist model that while in theory more meritocratic was in truth ruled by an equally arbitrary, and often distant, elite. For those English speaking communities not swept up by the great ethnic based revolutionary movements of the 20th century, Canada, New Zealand, the English (not Afrikaans) minority in South Africa and most of America these intellectual disputes did nothing to shake their faith in institutions or elites. They were like the hobbits in sheltered backwaters.
Now we see that the anti-morality that produces situational ethics and views even scientific inquiry as ripe for manipulation to attain a political end has spread to the Antipodes. For a totalitarian ideologue this is a win-win situation. If the people of New Zealand swallow the lie then a new regime of control and exploitation is established. If they see the fraud and reject it though their faith in key institutions is wounded. Without that basic faith in the honesty and loyalty of scholars, clergy, politicians and other leaders of society individuals become isolated and rootless. Then they become ripe for mobilization by a totalitarian movement.