10 quotes that shred progressivism from a best-selling British author who left the Left
Feb. 20, 2014 8:47am
The below quotes come from award winning British journalist and best-selling author Melanie Phillips’ “Guardian Angel.” “Guardian Angel” tells the story of how Phillips started her career in British journalism on the Left in the late 1970s, only to become a stalwart Liberal culture warrior, as reflected in her positions on Islam, Israel, feminism, education, economics, environmentalism and a whole host of other issues that have earned her the wrath and contempt of European Leftists, particularly among media peers.
1. The “Chicago Way” (in London) ”I always believed in the duty of a journalist to uphold truth over lies, follow the evidence where it led and fight abuses of power wherever they were to be found. I gradually realised, however, that the left was not on the side of truth, reason, and justice, but instead promoted ideology, malice, and oppression. Rather than fighting the abuse of power, it embodied it.
Through demonising its enemies in this way, the left has undermined the possibility of finding common ground and all but destroyed rational discourse. This is because, as shown by its reaction to Lady Thatcher’s death, it substitutes insult and abuse for argument and reasoned disagreement.”
Through demonising its enemies…the left has…all but destroyed rational discourse.
2. Leftist totalitarianism ”Moreover, while there were undoubtedly serious differences, the distinction between tankie totalitarians and the soft left served to mask the fact that the soft left was also totalitarian in its instincts. It may have recoiled from the tanks rolling into Hungary or Czechoslovakia, but it most certainly parked its own tanks on the lawns of British society. From there it proceeded to lay siege to the fortresses of Western culture, crushing all dissent beneath its tracks.”
3. The Overton Window ”More devastatingly still, by twisting the meaning of words such as liberal, compassion, justice and many others into their opposites, it has hijacked the centre-ground of politics. Left-wing ideology is now falsely said to constitute the moderate centre-ground, while the true centre-ground is now vilified as ‘the right’. This is as mind-bending as it is destructive, for it has introduced a fatal confusion into political debate on both sides of the Atlantic. Redefining the true middle ground of politics as ‘right-wing’ has served to besmirch and toxify the commitment to truth, reason, decency, and reality which characterises where most people happen to situate their thinking. At the same time, by loudly asserting that left-wing ideology is really ‘centrist’, the left has succeeded in presenting extremist, antisocial, or even nihilistic ideas as unarguably good, and all dissent is promptly vilified as ‘extreme’…For by asserting that it embodied the centre ground, what the left actually did was to hijack the centre ground and substitute its own extreme values — thus shifting Britain’s centre of political and moral gravity to the left, and besmirching as extremists those on the true centre ground. And something very similar has happened in the US, where language has been appropriated in order to engineer a seismic shift in attitudes, concealed by a mind-bending reversal of the meaning of words.”
4. The Middle Eastern double standard and Leftist racism ”In a leader conference one day, I asked why the Guardian appeared to be pursuing a double standard in its coverage of the Middle East. Why did it afford next-to-no coverage of Arab atrocities against other Arabs while devoting acres of space to attacking Israel for defending itself against terrorism? The answer I received from my colleagues that day stunned me. Of course there was a double standard, they said. How could there not be? The Third World did not subscribe to the same ethical beliefs as the West about the value of human life. The West therefore was not entitled to judge any mass killings in the Third World by its own standards. That would be racist.
The left actually abandons the oppressed of the world..all the time weeping crocodile tears for them
I was most deeply shocked. The views they had just expressed amounted to pure racism. They were in effect saying that citizens of a Third World country were not entitled to the same assumptions of human rights, life, and liberty as those in the developed world.
But how could this be? This was the Guardian, shrine of anti-racism, custodian of social conscience, embodiment of virtue. How then could they be guilty of racism – and moreover, dress it up as anti-racism? Of course, this is the core of what we now know today as ‘political correctness’ – where concepts are turned into their polar opposite in order to give miscreants a free pass if they belong to certain groups designated by the left as ‘victims’. They are thus deemed to be incapable of doing anything wrong, while groups designated as ‘oppressors’ can do no right. According to this double-think it was simply impossible for the Guardian folk to be guilty of racism, since they championed the victims of the Third World against their Western capitalist oppressors. But when those Third World unfortunates became the victims of the Third World tyrants ruling over them, the left remained silent – since to criticise any Third World person was said to be ‘racism’. This twisted thinking is what now passes for ‘progressive’ thinking in Britain and America. Thus the left actually abandons the oppressed of the world to their fate, all the time weeping crocodile tears for them – while sanctimoniously condemning ‘the right’ for its heartlessness! It is this hijacking of language and thought itself that has done so much to destroy any common understanding of the political ‘centre ground’, the lethal confusion that has so unfortunately polarised political debate into vacuous caricatures that have precious little to do with reality…The really striking thing was that…Israel and Jew-bashing bigotry was strongest on the supposedly anti-racist left. As I noted in 2003, what was going on was a kind of Holocaust inversion with the Israelis being demonised as Nazis, and the Palestinians given a free pass as the ‘new Jews’. Hatred of the Jews now marched grotesquely behind the left’s banner of anti-racism and human rights, giving rise not merely to distortions, fabrications and slander about Israel, but mainstream media chat about the malign power of the Jews over America and world policy.”
5. Progressive education ”By now I had been looking for schools for my own children and I could see for myself that teaching had been hijacked by left-wing ideology. Instead of being taught to read and write, children were being left to play in various states of anarchy on the grounds that any exercise of adult authority was oppressive and would destroy the innate creativity of the child.
Galvanised by the reaction which suggested that things were far worse than I had realised, I wrote more about education. I wrote about the refusal to teach Standard English on the grounds that this was ‘elitist’. How could this be? I had seen firsthand in my own under-educated family that an inability to control the language meant an inability to control their own lives. My Polish grandmother had not been able to fill in an official form without help; my father just didn’t have the words to express complicated thoughts, and would always lose out against those who looked down at him from their educated pedestal. I also observed that those putting such pressure on these teachers from the education establishment were the supercilious upper middle classes, who had no personal experience whatsoever of what it was actually like to be poor and uneducated or an immigrant but were nevertheless imposing their own ideological fantasies onto the vulnerable – and harming them as a result. Teachers wrote to me in despair at the pressure not to impose Standard English on children on the grounds that this was discriminatory. They knew that, on the contrary, this was to abandon those children to permanent servitude and ignorance…Most teachers, I wrote, were unaware that they were the unwitting troops of a cultural revolution, being now taught to teach according to doctrines whose core aim was to subvert the fundamental tenets of Western society. A generation of activists had captured academia, and, in accordance with the strategy of cultural subversion advocated by Antonin Gramsci, had successfully suborned education to a far-left agenda.”
Most teachers…were unaware that they were the unwitting troops of a cultural revolution
6. The negligent welfare state ”The experience of those years also told me that something was going very wrong with the welfare state. It wasn’t just the lack of provision, which meant that the only care available for my mother from the local authority was a few hours a week with untrained carers who had been recruited off the street. It was also a callousness and indifference amongst the supposedly caring services. It was the hospital nurses who, when my mother broke her hip and through her feebleness was unable to move at all in her hospital bed, left her food and water unwrapped or out of reach and refused to make her comfortable; and the ward sister who, when I complained, told me with a straight face that my mother, who could barely put one foot in front of the other, had a short time before been ‘skipping round the ward’. I realised then that in the National Health Service, Britain’s sanctified temple of altruism, compassion, and decency, if you were old, feeble, and poor you just didn’t stand a chance.”
In the National Health Service…if you were old, feeble, and poor you just didn’t stand a chance.
7. Environmentalism and fascism ”On the left, it was very obviously a new take on the usual anti-Western, anti-capitalist agenda; the West would have to give up consumerism and return to a barter economy to save the planet. Or something like that. But it was also a sanitised version of the disreputable and discredited dogma of population control, which had given rise to the eugenics movement and the semi-mystical worship of the organic, both of which had been deeply implicated in both the rise of Nazism and in ‘progressive’ thinking up to World War II. To me, the clear message of environmentalism was that the planet would be fine if it wasn’t for the human race. So it was a deeply regressive, reactionary, proto-fascist movement for putting modernity into reverse, destroying the integrity of science, and threatening humanity itself.”
[Environmentalism is] a deeply regressive..proto-fascist movement for putting modernity into reverse
8. The disintegration of the family ”Surely, though, the essence of being progressive was to minimise harm and protect the most vulnerable? Yet this was simply tossed aside by left-wingers, who elevated their own desires into rights that trumped the emotional, physical and intellectual well-being of their children – and then berated as heartless reactionaries those who criticised them! The more this was being justified, the more it was happening. Rising numbers of people were abandoning their spouses and children, or breaking up other people’s families, or bringing children into the world without a father around at all. The left claimed that these activities made the women and children happy and were a refreshing change from the bad old days when simply everyone was miserable because marriage chained women to men who – as everyone with the correct view knew – were basically feckless wife-beaters and child abusers as well as being irrationally prejudiced against the opposite sex.
Since marriage, by and large, was a protection for both children and adults, I thought the state should promote it as a social good. For this I was told I was reactionary, authoritarian and, of course, right-wing. Yet how could it be progressive to encourage deceit, betrayal of trust, breaking of promises and harm to children?
On issues such as education and family, I believed I was doing no more than stating the obvious. To my amazement, however, I found that I was now branded an extremist for doing so. Astoundingly, truth, evidence, and reason had become right-wing concepts. I was now deemed to have become ‘the right’ and even ‘the extreme right’. And when I started writing about family breakdown, I was also called an ‘Old Testament fundamentalist’. At the time, I shrugged this aside as merely a gratuitous bit of bigotry. Much later, however, I came to realise that it was actually a rather precise insult. My assailants had immediately understood something I did not myself at the time understand – that the destruction of the traditional family had as its real target the destruction of Biblical morality. I thought I was merely standing up for evidence, duty and the protection of the vulnerable. But they understood that the banner behind which I was actually marching was the Biblical moral law which put chains on people’s appetites.
The destruction of the traditional family had as its real target…destruction of Biblical morality
I had not yet realised that the left’s aggression towards any dissent or challenge is essentially defensive. They are either guilty about what they are doing because they know it is wrong, or else at some level at least they know that their intellectual position is built on sand. What matters to them above all is that they are seen to be virtuous and intelligent. They care about being seen to be compassionate. They simply cannot deal with the possibility that they might not be. They deal with any such suggestion not by facing up to any harm they may be doing, but by shutting down the argument altogether. That’s because the banner behind which they march is not altruism. It is narcissism.”
9. Forced paternal child support and sex roles ”the roles of the sexes were being reversed under a policy of enforced androgyny. Women were assuming the roles of both mothers and fathers while masculinity was being progressively written out of the cultural script, and men were being bullied into turning into quasi-women. Far from delivering greater freedom for women, however, this agenda was actually harming them along with their children as both family life and normative values were destroyed.
I saw this as nothing less than outright nihilism which threatened to destroy the West. If all common bonds of tradition, custom, culture, morality, and so forth were destroyed, there would no social glue to keep society together. It would gradually fracture into a set of disparate tribes with competing agendas, and thus eventually would destroy itself. And as I was coming to realise, just about every issue on which I was so embattled – family, education, nation, and many more – were all salients on the great battleground of the culture wars, on which the defenders of the West were losing hands down.”
10. 9/11, moral relativism and appeasement ”Like most others, I had not seen 9/11 coming. Yet two days earlier, in a column about the decline of Christianity in Britain, I wrote, ‘Liberal values will be protected only if Christianity holds the line as our dominant culture. A society which professes neutrality between cultures would create a void which Islam, with its militant political creed, would attempt to fill’
…For immediately after the Twin Towers collapsed, I realised that what the West was facing was different from ordinary terrorism; and different again from war by one state on another. This was something more akin to a cancer in the global bloodstream which had to be fought with all the weapons, both military and cultural, at our disposal. And yet in that moment I also realised that the West would flinch from this fight, because it no longer recognised the difference between good and evil or the validity of preferring some cultures to others, but had decided instead that all such concepts were relative. And so it would most likely take the path of appeasement rather than the measures needed to defend itself from the attempt to destroy it. And so it has proved.
So are we doomed? Melanie Phillips says:
“All, however, is not lost. A culture can pull back from the brink if it tears off its suicidal blinders in time. This can still be achieved — but it requires a recognition above all of the paradox that so many fail to understand, that freedom only exists within clear boundaries, and that preserving the values of Western civilisation requires a robust reassertion of the Judeo-Christian principles on which its foundations rest. And that requires moral, political, and religious leadership of the highest order — and buckets of courage.”