“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” JRR Tolkien.
Although the bunting is out for Brexit in the wake of a resounding victory of a Conservative Government, to get demob happy over a battle won would be a mistake no matter how crucial, because the war drags on.
Curiously, after the fall of the Soviet bloc, the principal enemy of the West became itself and its supposed crimes. Our cultural values were manipulated so concepts like democracy, family, individuality, freedom of thought and speech became alien, so we began to ‘choose’ the path prepared for us through the illusion of free will. This is very slow and deliberate even if it is not planned. Those who don’t see other people’s children or young animals from one month to the next are amazed by how much they have grown. If our grandparents came back now and were shown for what they fought and lived, their comments would probably cut very deeply indeed.
A brave new world is unfolding before us – for good or otherwise – and we can already discern some of its key public elements. We are heading, apparently, into a low-carb, high-tech, globalised future leaving ‘outmoded’. concepts like nationalism, patriotism, tradition, ceremony, religion, the family unit, constitutional democracy and our established socio-economic systems far behind to be replaced by designer living in designer environments. However, alarm bells are already ringing, some more loudly than others and the quieter ones no less insistently. A padded cell is as much a prison as the stone-walled variety. Nightmares always begin without foreboding. For all our occasional and apparent victories and of those of whom we chose to subscribe, last century’s ideological chickens have come to roost in this one and made all the more sinister “by the lights of perverted science”.
Our confusion is made worse by the misuse of the internet and wider media by all who want to influence us according to their own agenda – commercial, political or ideological. At the root of the problem is how we are governed, how we interpret our place in the world and how it is interpreted for us. There used to be little argument with the make-up of society and its norms, but all is in flux. While there are positive reasons for this, there are also negative implications to the ground of once accepted civilisation being fractured beneath us. Division and bitterness are the unintended consequence of an intention to influence and change attitudes.
To understand the hysteria of British politics and the internet of the age in which we find ourselves, we need to understand some basic principles. The relationship of the citizen and the state is nothing if not contractual – or should be the case at least. The state’s contract is not with the nation as an anomalous abstract, but with every person of which it comprises. There cannot be any other way. We have a monarch, a single person to represent us all as individuals. This relationship is reminiscent of that of a family. Like children, we are cared for according to changing need and circumstance, but in a way that our fundamental liberty is never questioned nor removed. The dominion of parenthood only lasts until the child is adequately equipped morally and materially to thrive without parental assistance. Similarly, the state has no authority to interfere with the life-choices of individuals unless their activities prevent the wellbeing and freedom of their fellow citizens. The state only has responsibilities, such as tending to the welfare of those in need and assisting in others in reaching their potential; it has no rights. The state cannot live our lives for us or own us any more than a parent could exercise such claims over their own child. To take our legislature and legislation back to its constitutional and common-law context, we have a relationship with each other and the community of which we are part that must never be confused nor usurped. We have charters to ensure that our rights and responsibilities as separate human entities are preserved and protected, of which the most famous are Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights. Underlying all this is our fundamental liberty as enshrined in common law as rights. A statute is the enemy of freedom, but the price of responsibility. Anthony Trollope wrote, “It has been the great fault of our politicians that they have all wanted to do something.” Over-legislation, while appearing positive and justifying the existence of lawyers and politicians, burdens and diminishes society. Cicero pronounced aptly that more laws mean less justice. Is our society freer and more just than the year before last and the one before that for giving more work to the civil service and the police? Churchill pronounced, “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honour, duty, mercy, hope.” Where are these greats in the vocabulary of modern politics? They have been replaced by an abstraction of abstracts, a blurring of meanings and erasing of aspiration.
Concentric societies and communitarianism
Humanity has, hitherto, evolved into what might be called concentric societies such as families, tribes, clans and eventually nation states, often with an individual as representative and leader of its common cause, but the relationship of the society is with its individual constituents directly. A local community, such as a village, can and will contain all diversity (ethnic, gender, ability, etc) and be united as a coherent and cohesive concentric society. However, if each individual is categorised separately into abstract ‘communities’ it is divided thereby. If it is divided into ‘identities’, categories such as gender, race, and so on, called ‘communities’, plus family and faith undermined, the community ceases to exist as a coherent and cohesive whole. When the people are divided outside, they are divided within. Self-belief and self-confidence are replaced by external causes and affiliations; arguments, cynicism and mockery.
With communitarianism the individual is subordinate to the collective which, as the community, becomes paramount. It found traction with Western leaders like Tony Blair and Barack Obama as a response to the libertarian pronouncements of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and the appropriation of libertarianism by corporations and moneyed interests on the coat-tails of free market economics. While appearing benign, communitarianism places the individual component of society at one remove and as an element to be managed and regulated. So, government by consent becomes crowd control and husbandry, whereby human beings are cared for like cattle and guided ‘for their own good’ as living commodities, not treated as people. Frederick von Hayek warns us about the dangers of planning and planners as the vanguard of totalitarianism. However, we have moved on since old-school communitarianism and soft communism. Technological advances and the fashions of social anthropology have enabled subtle coercion and supranational planning. Supranational institutions as exemplified by the EU and organisations beyond the democratic hinterland such as the IMF, World Bank, UN, WEF and even the IPCC operate outside of national or even international constraint. Robert Cecil and H.G. Wells dreamed of world peace and world government but planning for utopia necessarily involves regarding people and their wellbeing in the abstract. So, we have, in effect, a supra-state made up of supranational interests including multinationals that are not joined in some sort of evil conspiracy, but merely moving in the same direction with converging interests, the consequences of which are no less sinister for that. For these interests and their world view the family unit, national and regional identity, hearth & home, patriotism, localism, Common Law, tradition and ritual, religion, any form of individuality are impediments. Below the supra-state and its supranational and super-state satellites are a collection of nation states existing like rusting cars in a breaker’s yard unaware of their destination. Within these is the infra-state – you and I and all humanity recipient to greatest expansion and imposition of social engineering, manipulation and mass hypnosis in the history of the world, largely through by not confined to our smart devices. Again, this mental and emotional assault on all of us is not be a single shadowy conspiratorial organisation but competing forces like rival magicians fooling each other by appearances. The real evil is the dehumanising and cultural assassination of the people of this country and the world in general through categorising them as abstract ‘communities’ and robbing them of their most precious possession, themselves. The world may be united as a result, but it won’t be the world that embarked on this course, but one denuded of culture, purpose or tangible identity.
In a general election the individual constituent votes for an individual candidate who, if elected, represents every constituent no matter what race, creed, gender or anything else. The head of state is a single person representative of the partnership of the individual with the state as a whole and the contract between them. The sense of place of the individual is underpinned by the family as integral to society and reinforced by faith, such as Christianity, which emphasises both a personal relationship with the Creator and with the family as the foundation of a cohesive society. So, individual, faith and family become Sovereign, church and parliament. Each of these are targets. Even democracy itself.
Over-legislating and over regulating are malfunctions of government whose job is to protect the people and their liberties, not restrict or monitor them. The remote management of the populace is a failure of government contrary to the implicit contract between them.
Nationalism does not cause wars, it prevents them. Wars tend to be caused by the corruption of the community that confuses nation with race or seeks hegemony or dominion over its fellows. The individual is integral to community and there is no community worthy of the name that does not serve it. When it is representative, national government is by contract, written or unwritten, with the individual, not an abstract or generalisation. Communitarianism, for all its idealism and pretensions, is the enemy of humanity and civilisation because its agreement, if there is one, is with the anomalous ‘community’, or communities, and so with itself. Human rights are shifted from the specific into the abstract, threatening the freedom of the individual by denying its existence.
The world may have moved on, but we have not caught up with it. We have devised old-world strategies, lifestyles and solutions for the world as was, expecting them to fit the state as is. Technology for all its promise is a hammer blow to civilisation. We could have fashioned it into ploughs but chose swords of one kind and another and constructed cyberspace with all its mastery and tyranny over us, appealing as it does to the lowest common denominator. The internet is the largest repository of underused, misused and misappropriated information in the world. We walk into it expecting revelation, but receive commercial, political and ideological propaganda. Search engines are not unfailing oracles, but the manipulated means by which we are manipulated.
Compulsion and censorship are the enemies of civilisation however positive or innocuous their application may seem. If by the state or suprastate, they are the road to totalitarianism if not its destination. We are encouraged to reject the very elements of society that define us as human beings and make us civilised in the context of essence as well as existence while embracing those abstractions that render us as helpless automata.
The individual’s relationship with community can be summed up as partnership and placement. The structures of a healthy society are based on individualism, partnership and consent. Partnership is the basis of society and is always with its individual components. This partnership and placement can be summed up as resembling a massive jigsaw where the differences of shape, form and colour of the individual pieces are fundamental to the overall structure and the revelation of common purpose. If they are the same shape then all that can be made of them is a pile of pieces and if the same design the overall image will be incomprehensible, a mess. The destiny of the human race may not be clear, but our road there is unique and our personal contribution to the journey indispensable.
Dr. Frank Millard is a writer and political historian. He obtained his PhD in medieval history from the University of London and embarked on a career in journalism and PR. He lives with his wife and son in the Home Counties.
This article was first published on the Bruges Group website, and is republished with permission. You may not use, copy, distribute, publish, syndicate, sub-license and transmit the whole or any part of such material in any manner and in any format and/or media without the permission of the original publishers.