When I was younger I was, like most boys and young men, very competitive. I wanted to win at sports, board games, fights and to beat my friends and siblings at whatever I did.
Well, at least everything that I was bothered about. I wasn’t bothered about doing well at school – which was just as well as I was rubbish at it. Being competitive, so it seemed and still seems to me, is just what males are. What, after all, is there to do in life unless you are competing? Everything else is like playing tennis with the net down, as Robert Frost would have said.
Yet sometimes while I was growing up I would catch a glimpse of a serene-faced man, maybe a long-haired pop star who somehow seemed to be party to some kind of deeper wisdom. These people seemed a touch ethereal and perhaps even a little effeminate. They looked like they had achieved some kind of enlightenment.
When I saw 10cc’s Eric Stewart sing ‘I’m not in love’ on Top of the Pops I felt I was in the presence of a more evolved species than mine. His serene face suggested he had overcome all internal and external struggle. One day, I thought, all humans will be like Eric.
As time went by I became a little less competitive myself. However, this was due to resignation rather than enlightenment. I simply got older, weaker, more tired and then more or less gave up on trying to compete. Not competing is much better for the ego than competing and losing. It wasn’t that a hawk had finally seen the light and become a dove. It was just that the hawk was now a bit tattered and didn’t want to fight.
Yet deep down I still believe that life is a competition. From an evolutionary perspective, the whole point of living is to have children and so you have to impress the females and demonstrate that you are made of good genetic material. This means competing with other males. Of course life isn’t just about competing. Sometimes you have to cooperate. You cooperate with your family against non-family, friends against foe, tribe against outsiders, your ideological group against a rival ideology, your nation against foreign nations and fellow human beings against aliens from outer space. Yet when there is no ‘them’ to fight and cooperation is unnecessary, you fight amongst yourselves for the best partners, the biggest steak and the driest cave.
However, things have changed and non-judgemental, non-competitive liberals now rule the West. No wonder the remaining hunter-gatherer tribes look at our culture and puzzle over our reluctance to have children and our unwillingness to condemn rival cultures. Some liberals don’t even believe we have enemies. As Lee Harris jokingly said, ‘The enemy is really just a friend we haven’t yet done enough for’.
Throughout our evolution we fought and struggled against other tribes and species but now there is no species that threatens us and we are given to understand that all other groups of people, even those that seem to hate us, are really our friends.
Despite the liberal belief that there are no enemies, only misunderstandings, increasingly frequently the savage world we thought we were leaving behind erupts into our modern world and then we notice that not everyone is on board with the liberal agenda. Some people want to go back to the moral code of 7th century Arabia and insist on taking the rest of us back with them. Others continue to rob, mug, murder, rape, torture, steal and bully just like in the good old days and the liberals haven’t yet devised a strategy to deal with this that befits their self image of enlightened, compassionate people. They would rather side and eventually be overrun by barbarians than allow urbane conservatives to take a firm stand against the chaos that threatens to engulf us all.
Civilised humanity now finds itself in a strange place. It is an evolved fighter and competitor trying to don angel’s wings. Yet my guess is that this state of affairs won’t last much longer and as Eric Stewart himself might have said, ‘It’s just a silly phase we’re going though’. His serene turns out not to be the face of the future but merely one fashionable during a bizarre period of progressive liberalism in the West. Soon such a face will look as outdated as the flares Eric once wore and once the brutal, primitive, tribal world comes crashing through our living room walls, the meaning of life will suddenly become clear to us again: to ensure you and yours survive. But I suspect this realisation will come too late to western liberals for us to do anything about it.