Merely a hunch

I should hate to be accused of Optimism, so let me begin by disavowing everything I am about to say. The case I will develop, very briefly & without statistical support, is only a hunch. It is one of those “gut feelings” which develops from taking in the news & the washing; from checking email, tweets, facebookings, & graffitoes; from remembering the history of the last few years, as reported through unreliable media; & then smelling the air. Ideally, one would also consult the Almagest, & carefully examine the entrails of birds on a marble slab; but I’ve been too much distracted by other tasks, up here in the High Doganate.

My hunch is that a backlash is finally forming against what is (inadequately) called “political correctness.” What the effect of this backlash will be, upon the operation of our Western mobocracies, anyone may guess. But it is probably worse news for our “progressive” enemies than for those who live in “regressive” brick houses: a kind of hurricane forming in the vicinity of their ideological trailer park. A good hurricane lifts all shingles, however, so we should count on plenty of damage all round.

Note, I do not offer this hunch as biblical interpretation. The wind bloweth where it listeth, & in the great scheme of history, which is incidentally beyond human understanding, it bloweth all the time. To my mind, it is vain to consider our generation somehow worthy of the Parousia, as if our skins were so valuable; as if our sins were more spectacular, or even cumulatively larger than those of any previous generation. We are small & squalid & statistical, perhaps not even worth punishing. Our men are not men & our women are not women. Look at the vacant faces in the streets, blindly clutching their mall purchases. What god, what demon, could be bothered to regard our “public opinion”?

Yet there are men & women lurking within, unknown to the world or even to themselves. And what is human in us is capable of rebellion: in this case, I think, against one or another aspect of the Big Lie.

We may not understand all the ramifications of that cause; we may only be responding to its miscellaneous effects. At ground level, in an environment that is vacuously materialist, the Lie may be detected only as general unhappiness. We direct this unhappiness at the miscellaneous targets, in an unfocused way. Through “democracy” we are trained to locate ourselves within the smear of a political & economic order — within a kind of immense urban dovecote that is meant as the expression of The People, not God. And therefore, one in which the guano deposits are constantly increasing. If something is wrong then someone didn’t fix it, & we will vote in our sleepy, pigeon-like way, on whom to blame.

It is to that level of being that my hunch applies, not to the grander cosmic theatre. The People are getting irritated. The quality of their foodstock is declining, & the puddle water is tasting less sweet. More than that: we are getting powerfully sick of being poked & kicked, then asked to thank our keepers for it. Though perhaps this is nothing more than a bad mood.

The debt crises in Europe & America, the omnipresence of “the NSA,” the conspicuous failure of schemes like Obamacare, the smug look on politicians’ faces, frustrations associated with longer commuting times & diminishing real wages — these are all little triggers. We are like union members in a company whose managers are too obviously incompetent to sustain their arrogance. And we are tired of obeying their innumerable, fussy little rules. My hunch is that there is going to be a strike.

My hunch began with specific persons who, in the past, had patiently mouthed politically-correct platitudes, but were now omitting this requirement of a quiet life. Self-conscious at first, they may grow bolder. They make passing remarks that are “racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, Islamophobic,” & so forth. And this not because they are especially bigoted, but rather because they no longer wish to be told what to say. Men, & women, in their different but mutually resonant ways, suffer sudden & strange recollections. Little masculine qualities re-emerge in the men, little feminine qualities in the women, after lifetimes of suppression. This could potentially disturb the peace.

They have not ceased to do what they are told, in the main, yet I detect hesitation. There is mild rebellion in the eyes, & a squinting about for leaders. In social gatherings, if someone sets an example, by making an uncommonly “prejudiced” remark — that happens to be self-evidently true — he is quickly joined by others. Most telling is the refusal to apologize for such a solecism, which I have witnessed several times lately. It may mean nothing. Or it may amount to a personal declaration of independence, a pointed crossing of the taboo line, from which there is no return.

These are people I have known for a long time, & the breach in conversational etiquette might therefore be attributed to advancing age, but I see it in all ages. (Of course, it might also be dismissed as just another dimension of advancing general barbarism.)

Let me give an example. In a bookstore, the other day, a fairly sophisticated & intelligent young man, who had been experimenting with independent thought & reading, after dropping out of a university, was taxed by an interlocutor on his “conservative” tendencies. He had given it as his opinion that the welfare system entrapped the lower orders, & needed more to be abandoned than “reformed.” He thought those able to work for a living should accept whatever employment is available, including the dirty work we import immigrants to do. He went so far as to deprecate the function of government social workers.

Pressed on this point, & asked what we should do instead to help the poor & unemployed, he said, “Maybe we should bring back workhouses.”

On the old & infirm he suggested, “Maybe their families should be taking care of them. Maybe they would be taking care of them, if they didn’t have a choice.”

He was also against public daycare. Warned that this position might easily be labelled “misogynist,” he upped the ante.

“Yeah. I suppose the idea that mothers should put their own children ahead of their careers seems misogynist to you. Well, you’re a white male, you have a right to your opinion.”

“What kind of politics is that?” he was asked.

And the young man replied: “Fascist. I think I must be a fascist. Everyone tells me I am turning into a fascist, so that must be the word.”

His interlocutor was left speechless.

Then a young woman nearby in the store contributed: “Yes, you’re a fascist, that’s what you are! … I think I’m a fascist, too.”

It is that sort of insolence to which I am referring. My hunch is founded on the observation that it is happening more & more frequently; that it is getting harder to intimidate people with mere words. But again, what will come of it is anybody’s guess.