The universal tourist

There are men I would trust with my life; men I would trust with my bags; men I would not trust with them; and those who need hanging. Using the hundred or so adult inmates of the Greater Doganate for my statistical sampling, I’d say it is one of those Pareto curves, in the common “rule of thumb” ratio, of 1:4:4:1. But only until I had thought about it. Take in the rest of the street, and the distortions become more apparent, towards the gibbet end. That is city life. Were I on a small yacht, however, sailing through the Roaring Forties in the Southern Ocean, I would want to be crewing exclusively with members of that minority first class.

Now, there are few circumstances in which statistics are of interest to me, but this might be one. From my (necessarily) limited observations, I do not think the curve applies universally, any more than the waves are the same upon all the world’s seas. Call me politically incorrect (and you’d better not because the term is now marked as discriminatory), there are cultural and subcultural variations which, though fluid, alter the proportions.

Among the more absurd myths, of contemporary public thinking, is that people are basically the same everywhere; that you can put them all on some standard curve. This may be, or not, true of human nature, in some (imaginary) pre-cultural condition, but the living creature has more range. Better and worse can be got out of him, and this is where “culture” deeply matters. To say that “one is as good as another” — the premiss of current multicultural policy — is, whether knowingly or not, to serve dark forces.

Some vexation comes from the leftwing convention of using words, for the purposes of propaganda, in the exact opposite of their original meanings: in this case, “diversity” is used to describe enforced conformity. Such words are then used as if they were things, so that reality is entirely negated. But it is important, as one discovers living in Parkdale, to ignore fools and the mad.

The original terms have many meanings, each of which depends on context, but at some primary level the acceptance of “cultural inequality” distinguishes right from left, the conservative from the liberal, the reactionary from the revolutionary, or as I like to put it, the friends of Jesus from the friends of Lucifer. This, and not folderol about “free markets.” Men are trouble — we are all trouble — in the more ancient view; and it is hard work indeed to get anything good from us. Success does not come by laissez-faire. And anything that is done to raise civilized standards, creates a cultural distinction.

Read no more than the Koran, and the Gospels, and gentle reader will see that even after discounting the range of individual temperament, the human product cannot be the same. Look through centuries of comparative history, and the point is illustrated. Mohammed, and Christ, are not interchangeable prophets. There is some overlap in their teachings, but the centres of the resultant cultural and spiritual realms are radically displaced. Many of the differences are both unsubtle, and consistent over time. Either may be judged at its best, or at its worst; but neither are they like at the extremes.

Having put God aside, for one hypothetical, pragmatic moment, we might judge only from the behavioural effects. The same is possible between any two “cultural constructs,” at a given scale; and prior to the post-modern triumph (itself a manifestation of culture), there was little hesitation in making the comparisons at every level of sophistication. Read any old Baedekers to see what I mean; note that they were written by more intelligent authors than those who supply the copy for the glitzy tour guides of the present day.

We are almost all wealthy tourists in the West, in the last couple of generations, but the conditions of the journey have changed: less than one in a thousand is an old-fashioned traveller, exposed to anything outside his quotidian sweep of experience. We fly from one resort to another for aptly-named “vacations.” We have Internet, too. It is for this reason, perhaps — the reduction of the human to the incurious, pleasure-seeking beast — that the post-modern, smug, ignorant, addled, and vacant “universal tourist” makes up the overwhelming majority on all our voting rolls.

I am making, once again this morning, an extremely obvious point, and to a plain purpose, crossing all boundaries of politics and religion. No scoring system will ever work, and no policy prescriptions could be based on it: for what I have written is far too general.

My point is rather the reverse. Neither can policy prescriptions be based on the opposite, and entirely absurd position, that cultural differences are of no consequence, and can be overlooked. Yet this is exactly what is done by all of our progressive parties.