Moral panic

I have not seen a lot of movies in my time, and most of those were in drab cinemas in Asia. But perhaps my favourite line in politics was heard in one of them. It was The Ugly American, as I recall, and among the stars was M. R. Kukrit Pramoj, the future prime minister of Thailand. He played the prime minister of the imaginary, oriental state of Sarkan, which was falling to the communists. Mr Marlon Brando played the American ambassador to this benighted country, and he is frustrated by Kukrit’s good-humoured composure, during frightful, fatal events. Brando asks how Kukrit can be so calm when his head will be mounted on a spike in the morning.

“If my head is to be on a spike, I want it to be smiling.”

Among my favourite politicians, this aristocratic, cultured man had something in common with Christ Jesus: he had an answer for everything.

Some similar reply to a “moral panic” is needed for the times. Not only on “climate change” issues, but in every political contention, the Left provides such a moral panic, giving drama-queen critiques to silence its opponents. With this goes its censorship campaigns, that extend through media and entertainment.

Our age is thus drowning in lies; like every other age. Reading Karl Kraus lately, I see that his world of more than a century ago was also drowning in lies. But he, like Jonathan Swift, and Socrates, was in the habit of confuting it, with gentle, mordant irony.