Theodore Dalrymple is the nom de plume of an English forensic psychiatrist. Way back in 2005, in an interview, he spoke about the end-stage of propaganda in a totalitarian state – the stage when it no longer matters that you know what you’re being told is the opposite of the truth:
Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.
That was fifteen years ago, and our society has now reached the stage of Pravda in Soviet Russia, whilst managing to convince a good number of ordinary people that they still live in freedom. Perhaps (I am serious) they have already lost “all their sense of probity” and are no longer capable even of caring about truth. The education system has, after all, been in enemy hands for a couple of generations, whilst the churches provided no solid defence of truth for kids in Sunday School, but only pious platitudes.
They naively assumed the secular schools and universities were teaching, rather than indoctrinating, their offspring, even though it was being done openly, and though the Scriptures warn of a final deception that will cause those who do not love the truth to perish (2 Thess 2:11). The churches followed the world’s teaching that love negates moral law, even though their Lord predicted that it was the in fact increase of lawlessness that would make the love of most grow cold (Matt 24: 12). But when the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on earth? I don’t read that he will be looking for courageous doubters.
Some recent cases of propaganda require a couple of brain cells (though not many more) to make the requisite quizzical connections. There was a minor furore in Britain when BBC headlines described 27 police officers being hurt in “largely peaceful” BLM demonstrations. They changed the headline. But I’ve only just appreciated that the contemporaneous riots in the USA were also described by your principal media using the term “largely peaceful,” words similarly adopted ironically by many. It beggars belief that such a euphemistic gaffe would occur simultaneously to copy-editors in both countries: someone apparently had a script to work from, as well as a clear political agenda, for whatever reasons.
Do you remember all those politicians after the Sri Lanka bombings coming up with the neologism “Easter worshippers” at the same time? People saw immediately that it smacked of a crudely orchestrated attempt to downplay the idea of violence by Muslims against innocent Christians, so risking weakening the “White (Christian) Islamophobia” narrative. It was transparent, but by that stage they knew they could get away with it.
The second weekend of marches here was marked by predictions that “far right activists” would be arriving to (scare quotes) “defend” the statues in Parliament Square. Given that statues had been torn down in Bristol and elsewhere, and that the police had done nothing to stop the defacement of Britain’s greatest recent hero, Winston Churchill, the scare quotes were unwarranted, being intended to suggest their real aims were more sinister and hidden. In fact what was “hidden” by the press before, during and after the event was any recognition that a good number of the counter-protestors were army veterans marching up with their regimental colours, and even clearing up the place after their visit. Others were ordinary libertarian or just patriotic citizens. Only a few hundred in total turned up, and there seems no credible record of a single Neo-Nazi group or even a painted swastika.
Nevertheless, there were some violent elements, according to witnesses the result of too much alcohol, leading to another batch of minor police injuries. But even the Conservative Home Secretary concentrated, in Parliament, on her shock and horror at a “far right thug” descrating the statue of a martyred policeman by peeing on it… or, as the pictures actually showed, peeing beside it, the public toilets being closed beause of COVID and the guy having drunk 16 pints on the way down. It’s actually not easy to see why any Neo-Nazi would despise a policeman who lost his life to a jihadist on the rampage – but the photo could be made to fit the narrative, so it was made to do so by press, politicians and even the judiciary, as we’ll see.
Given the facts of that incident I wondered how thousands of BLM demonstrators had managed to remain continent for hours, and avoid offending press and politicians as the football fan did. They didn’t. You can find videos on YouTube of commentators walking around London after this weekend’s protests, and saying that the whole place smells like a cess-pit, much as it did after the Extinction Rebellion protests on behalf of “the environment.” Nevertheless, it was only the football fan who got a fortnight in jail for his cynical iconoclasm. I believe the guy who actually vandalised Churchill’s statute has still not been apprehended, even though he has given interviews to the press. It’s called “Equity,” in Newspeak, to be distinguished from “equality under the law” in the old, racist, system.
It’s no secret to any reader that the world’s press has of late been full of BLM protests, police injuries, bystander assaults and (in the US) murders, occupations, iconoclasm, cancellations and intimidation. Neither has it escaped notice that the organisation is founded and controlled by Marxists, and has avowed goals of overthrowing the police, the capitalist system and the family. This gives clear insight into the reasons for the otherwise mysterious destruction of statues of people as diverse as Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Baden-Powell, Ghandi and – at least in threat – Jesus Christ. There is less obvious insight into why our governments have acquiesced in the attempted eradication of our history. Statues can be defended if politicians have the will, and under the rule of law they should be.
Anyway, as you probably also know, a Black Lives Matter demonstration in a park in Reading last weekend was followed not long afterwards by the completely unconnected murder of three innocent people, and the serious injury of several more. In this case, the police initially said there was no terrorist connection, but later backtracked, and arrested a Libyan refugee. Currently, the motivation seems to be Islamist, with a strong undercurrent of mental health issues.
So the last fortnight or so has seen our nation subjected to riots and terrorism apparently from the extreme left, from militant Islam, and from individual mental instability. And so what did BBC’s prestigious Panorama documentary programme focus on it its Special Report on Monday? “Hunting the Neo-Nazis,” about a global network of Neo-Nazis apparently recruiting in Britain.
It may well be that such groups exist, and that they are trying to recruit – as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, they even stand a chance of succeeding if the tsunami of left “woke” propaganda from every organ of power and influence continues to make ordinary working people feel in danger of the extinction of their culture and the denigration of their very existence. But in fact, genuine fascist groups couldn’t even muster a significant presence at anti-BLM protests in London last week, let alone (unlike what is really going on in our streets, football grounds, Twitter-feeds and so on) pose any threat to our way of life. They’re as obvious a bogey-man as the shadowy “counter-revolutionaries” in Stalin’s Russia, or Emmanuel Goldstein in 1984, supposedly distracting you from reality, but fooling only the gullible.
It’s as if the BBC were saying, “You all know left-anarchism and Jihadist extremism are rampant across the world, because the news is full of it. But we’re the BBC, and we’re telling you to believe that the real risk is from invisible Nazis. And though you know it’s just crude propaganda, we don’t care – what are you going to do about it?”
The problem is that, once propaganda becomes Dalrymple’s nose-rubbing humiliation, some kind of political crisis becomes inevitable. Only the most stupid ideolog would really believe that a socialist utopia will grow out of this bullying and vindictive cult, a society free of racism, police, money, fossil fuels and all the rest of it. But those pulling the strings are not stupid ideologs. They know the chaos they are causing, and that is their aim. Why, you may wonder? If you need to ask, you just haven’t understood the times. Let’s close with some prescient words from George Orwell’s 1984 that explain all you need to know:
‘You are ruling over us for our own good,’ [Winston Smith] said feebly. ‘You believe that human beings are not fit to govern themselves, and therefore –‘
He started and almost cried out. A pang of pain had shot through his body. O’Brien had pushed the lever of the dial up to thirty-five.
‘That was stupid, Winston, stupid!’ he said. ‘You should know better than to say a thing like that.’
He pulled the lever back and continued:
‘Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?’
This is a Christian blog, so I won’t end on pessimism. Power was subverted by the suffering of the cross, which set in motion an inexorable salvific power through the cosmos. The prophet Daniel foresaw that it was the power of righteous suffering that would mark the crisis of the end times. For the resurrection of the righteous, so that they shine like the stars for ever and ever, and its counterpart of everlasting contempt for the wicked, arises out of the apparent triumph of power for power’s sake:
“When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed” (Dan 12:7).
A few statues, even of our Lord, may prove a small price to pay in the end.