In his new book The Strange Death of Europe Douglas Murray talks about a crisis of confidence among Europeans. Everything we were once sure of has now been undermined by a relativistic frame of mind. When our confidence up and left us, so did our willingness to defend our way of life.
I think this is right. Uncertainty and self-doubt seem to be hallmarks of the modern age. We used to be confident Christians but now rationality and science have made religious belief untenable, at least for the intellectually honest. This is unfortunate because much of our present worldview grew out of two millennia of Christian ideas. It might turn out that some of our values need the bedrock of Christian beliefs to support them. After all, it is by no means obvious to me how you prove the worth of an individual through rationality and logic alone. Anyway, we will soon find out if this tree will continue to grow after being severed from its roots. My guess is that it can but if, after Christianity has finally breathed its last on these shores, we find that progressive liberalism is now the dominant moral viewpoint, this particular atheist would rather stick with Christianity.
It’s not only religion that we have lost faith in. British people used to be prepared to defend their country, to the death if necessary, as they showed during World War II. (I don’t believe we were fighting for democracy as some claim. Had Hitler promised democracy for Britain if Germany won and Churchill had offered a non-democratic constitutional monarchy in the case of a British victory, I think most British people would have chosen the latter, democracy be damned.) Yet since our government implemented a policy of mass immigration and multiculturalism against the wishes of the people, I for one no longer feel any desire to defend a piece of land that I no longer recognise as my home. Let the elites who changed Britain beyond all recognition and against the will of the majority of the people fight for it if they wish. They can perhaps enlist the help of the immigrants that now make up 20% of the British population.
Some people would like to raise white consciousness and bathe in the kind of racial, ethnic and religious solidarity that blacks, Hispanics and Muslims, who sometimes refer to each other as ‘brother’, apparently feel. Yet I feel no deeper attachment to, say, the white British teachers I work with than to my Japanese students. It therefore seems that many modern westerners can no longer turn to religion, country or race for feelings of solidarity.
Perhaps liberals would say that this is all to the good since we should see the whole world as our country and the people in it as ‘our people’. Yet this is not how I feel. To experience the feeling of belonging I also need to feel that there are people who don’t belong. Yet nowadays even criminals are not supposed to be viewed as an out-group but instead as unfortunate victims of circumstances, ‘vulnerable’ people more to be pitied than feared or despised. The only people it is now permissible to view as an out-group are your political opponents. I’m not sure why that is okay when all other forms of exclusion have been outlawed. Perhaps it is because we think we choose our beliefs, though I’m by no means sure that is true. I for one feel like my beliefs chose me, not the other way around. I don’t even know how you could choose your beliefs without entering an infinite regression of choosing to choose.
Yet even if you do choose your beliefs there is no solid ground to be found. Today all modern people are vacillating Hamlets who can never really be sure that their beliefs aren’t based on false premises. Only the very stupid never have doubts. Thus I am aware that my political and cultural enemies could be right when they say that it is only bigots like me that are stopping the creation of truly harmonious multicultural societies. Maybe when seen from a certain perspective, wanting your country to be repopulated with Third World immigrants really is the enlightened, progressive way to look at things and an attachment to self-determining groups with similar genomes and a shared history is an anachronistic stage in history that sophisticated people should have passed through. This is certainly the belief of a lot of intelligent and well-educated people.
My point here is merely that doubts make it hard to form strong permanent affiliations since you are never quite sure if some new thought will cause you to change your mind. Even so, I don’t want to exaggerate my open-mindedness. I simply can’t imagine myself ever being convinced by arguments for socialism, multiculturalism or any number of other idiocies and it is my inability here and now to imagine change that allows a certain amount of certainty and confidence, even if one day, God forbid, I should somehow turn into a brain-dead progressive liberal.
Perhaps the best way for people like me who have no religion, no actual country that matches the idea in their heads and little racial solidarity; the best way for us to bridge the gap between our isolated individualism and society at large is to a join a reading circle, quiz team or bowls club, what Edmund Burke called ‘the little platoons’.
Of course it could be the case that this feeling of being an isolated individual rather than part of a crowd has more to do with me than the way my society has evolved. After all, even when I used to go to pop concerts and people put their hands in the air, apparently subsuming their egos in the crowd and revelling in a shared experience, I always felt more alone than ever. Even when watching Leicester City score a goal my ‘elation’ can’t match that of the people around me. They jump up and cheer wildly, sometimes hugging each other. I stand up, grin a bit, politely clap and sit down again. Strangely enough I am far less buttoned-up when England scores, especially when I feel some injustice has previously been done to them. Then I can punch the air with as much righteous violence as the next fanatic. But this joy soon melts away when I see Jamie Vardy diving in an attempt to get a penalty. Then I lose interest in the whole thing and just want to go home.
Maybe family, friends and like-minded individuals can help to fill the gap left by the withdrawal of religion, patriotism and racial solidarity. Yet a handful of individuals, no matter how wonderful, can’t quite offer that sense of safety and cultural confidence that belonging to a huge group of people does.