Crowds & powers

As I have previously confessed, I became a Tory at the age of six. This was riding home from St Anthony’s, on the crossbar of our family servant’s bicycle, through an angry crowd in Lahore. He’d been sent to fetch me from danger. This beloved man, Bill, whose turban revealed him to be a Christian, chose a long route home, to skirt the crowd. But there was no avoiding them, and in the course of our wild ride, I distinctly remember blood and corpses. The crowd was demanding, as I recall, death for the hostages from a hijacked Indian aeroplane, but in the absence of its intended victims, began taking its violence out on itself. Yairs, a lurid spectacle.

I was not so precocious: it took me twenty more years to sort out what I might mean by the word “Tory.” But the view itself began in Hobbesian fear, that day, with my discovery that “the people” stink. They are mindless animals, and put some wrath in them, they will lose their bashfulness. And of course, not only in West Pakistan; for gradually one makes the further discovery that “the people are the people are the people” everywhere. They need to be tamed, cautioned, repressed, sometimes caged. My response to misty-eyed rhetoric for “democracy” is unfavourable. “Populism” is, in my sight, unambiguously evil — even when its cause be, for the moment, just. Given more time, and the inevitable failure to achieve immediate goals, the cause itself will turn rancid.

(This, incidentally, was the meaning of Father Faber’s aphorism, when he said, “All change is for the worse, including change for the better.”)

Father Schall writes today (over here) on my hero Socrates — judicially murdered by an Athenian assembly, for telling truths they did not want to hear. This antique Greek is the patron saint of the Toryism I espouse — the “old testament” to Saint Thomas More of the “new.” These are men whose loyalty to God preceded their loyalty to crowds and powers; men who could never be “elected,” except in the heavenly sense. Between them, Christ himself formed a “majority of one,” in the face of angry crowds and earthly powers.

“We must vote for Trump because the people are angry.” This is, possibly, the most stupid argument for voting I have heard. And yet it must have landed in my inbox one hundred times. (Together with the wrath of the senders.)

If you are angry, you do not belong in a voting booth; rather under a cold shower.