12 April 2019
Bruce Logan says that the sacred cow of multiculturalism has its own Trinity: diversity, inclusion and tolerance, none of which can be criticised because they are the foundation of the new faith. Not only are they beyond criticism but it is just and right that they be protected by law. Criticism must be hate speech because it attacks the essence of our autonomous humanity. Like the early Christians, critics of the diversity cult, become haters of mankind.
If democracy is not on its last legs in the Western world, including New Zealand, it certainly looks like it. In a working democracy citizens share a common understanding of the law’s foundation; what it means to be human. Indeed, the modern democratic process, significantly different from the Athenian model for example, is a consequence of the shared understanding of human dignity.
During the 20th century, sixty years of my life, confidence in democracy depended upon the belief in the transcendent foundation for human dignity. Every man and every woman is created in God’s image. Rights and responsibilities were shared in common. Indeed, it was that notion of dignity that gave rise to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1946. “Universal” rested on that belief in a transcendent authority which was, at the very least, suggested by natural law. Law was there to be discovered through a nuanced understanding of that authority and not declared by government fiat. There was no single country’s law sufficient to discern and condemn the complex evils of the Second World War.
In passing, it’s interesting to note that a crucifix in the Nuremberg court room was taken down during the trial and replaced after the trial was over. Also in Bavaria in January 2018 and judge ordered a crucifix to be removed from the courtroom during the trial of an Afghan migrant guilty of making made death threats to another who had converted to Christianity. Draw your own conclusions.
But in 2019, law has no universal foundation. The fantasy of moral relativism and its dogmatic pretender, multiculturalism, obscure it. I remember the first time I heard “multicultural”. I was living in Australia and talking to some friends in Sydney in 1972. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the doctrine of multiculturalism was really an exercise in smoke and mirrors. It presented as a method to facilitate the acceptance of the “New Australians”; immigrants mainly from southern Europe. It looked like a good idea, and for a while it was. But, as Western culture lost confidence in itself, instead of helping new arrivals assimilate into Australian society it became a dogma reinforcing group identity at the expense of social cohesion.
Significantly in New Zealand the legal porridge is even thicker. Multiculturalism competes with the older biculturalism while claiming to protect it. Partners in theory, but with an ever increasing number of special identity claims. The most recent of these is the claim that one’s sex, is a social construct. The equivocal use of “gender” for sex simply muddies the water. Diversity rules until it doesn’t.
Someone has coined “victimocracy” to describe the outcome of the “Progressive’s” panacea, diversity dogma; the political and cultural state of democracy on its last legs. Democracy only works when people have a shared commitment to truth, common history and a shared set of beliefs about the fabric of civil society and nationhood. The second person plural “we” must encompass a sense of nationhood meaningful enough to demand commitment.
Folly, it seems, carries with it, its own irony. Multiculturalism doctrine which claims to make us all free must in the end usher in the opposite because justice cannot be built on relativism. There will always be winners and losers determined by moral fashion; certainly not by an appeal to universal transcendent truth. Political differences must become increasingly fractious.
Multiculturalism, sustained by diversity propaganda, insists that we are no longer humble sinners, created in God’s image, to be saved, but blameless Promethean like victims to be rescued by a bureaucratic state; compassionate of course. Ordinary people are intuitively suspicious of a transfer of power away from the individual to the state. The sense the rise of a secular priesthood in the media, government and in a range of university faculties. Instead of having justice deal equally with individuals under the law we now have self-identifying groups demanding equality of outcome; some favoured and others unfavoured by the bureaucratic priesthood.
Of course, no one should be condemned to suffer injustice or violence because of his or her chosen identity. But that is the point. One’s identity is chosen. Every white person is not a white supremacist. Not everyone born into a Christian or Muslim environment chooses to remain a believer. Not everyone who is same-sex attracted comes out as “gay”. Neither does every Maori considers him or herself a victim of colonialism, nor every woman a third or fourth wave feminist.
One’s “identity” is a complex phenomenon; it is not a question of nationhood or even a matter of fate. It involves beliefs, what one believes to be true, passing ideas, issues of reason and imagination and accountability. Identity in any reasonable world must be open to criticism in the same way religion has always been. The present range of phobias such as Islamophobia, homophobia and transphobia are pejorative terms that more accurately describe the accuser than the accused. They are created to silence dissent or more significantly, to remind us of the folly of our “bigoted” religious roots.
Each group has its self-identifying validity marked by sexual identity and orientation, or maybe immigration status. Unlike religion or race, the organising principle identifying the new groups is not responsibility, familial duty or a love of nationhood; it is autonomy. Favoured groups are victims of hegemonic power. Unfavoured groups are exemplars of that hegemonic power and consequently must be silenced by ridicule at first and then by the law.
The “Patriarchy” is the current most unfavoured group created by the group fantasists because it is a reminder of commitment to a permanent established order; that tradition, culture, hierarchy and religion are the enemies of autonomy.
The creation of the imaginary Patriarchy is a catchall term to denigrate those with a conservative mind; Christians, defenders of Western culture, the unifying power of nationhood and classical liberalism. Slogans replace historical method and even science.
Into this cauldron of purifying multicultural dogma the identity myth makers would have us drink from the chalice of hate speech legislation. If that metaphor sounds religious that’s because it is. The attempt to create hate speech law is a religious act designed to prevent blasphemy of the new religion, which in defending the rising tribalism, attempts to substitute one notion of the sacred for another. The first commandment is definitively disconnected from the second and then abolished. The old sacred that declared human dignity rested in the transcendent is replaced by the new sacred of human autonomy. My mind is mistress of my body which is my own.
Autonomy is life’s wrong answer because it denies centuries of human experience. It ignores Biblical stories, classical mythology and philosophical reflection, and most literature, music and art up to the early 20th century. Indeed, the contemporary dogma of autonomy is little more than Narcissism without the poignant romance of Echo. Slavery might well have been abolished, but the new religion encourages us to be our own slaves. Of course it argues the opposite. That is what the Tempter has always done. He has always been in the business of wanting to establish his own religion. He even wanted Christ to worship him.
Autonomy, the grand submission to hubris that began in the Garden of Eden, has in the 21st century reached its maturity. It was for the snatching after autonomy that God consigned Mankind to toil in the dust and fear death after removing them from that Garden. Life is real, demanding toil, suffering and pain. It is from the experience of our ancestors that we learn to deal with these and not from our utopian dreams. Truth about the human condition is not discovered by one generation.
Autonomy, progressivism, multiculturalism, diversity, call it what you like, are attempts to create the unreachable utopian world to compensate for the paradise we know we have lost. Even those who consider the story of The Fall mere fairy-tale are forced to live out its consequences. Death remains an ever present mysterious certainty. There is no diversity in death.
Consequently, autonomy teaches us to pursue pleasure because there is nothing else to pursue. It’s not that Man is the measure of all things. Rather it’s the individual antinomian conscience that is supreme. The Sovereign Lord is the boring invention of the human imagination. The purpose of life is to live for the moment and to follow our deepest desires. The paradox of sacrifice and the comfort of shared responsibilities is anathema while euthanasia and abortion are more than reasonable. They have to be because the sacred is to be found in one’s self. Life has to be lived out in the context of the most obvious of ironies. Everyone is condemned to live a life of suffering while assiduously trying to avoid it. Richard Lovelace’s “I could not love thee (Dear) so much, Lov’d I not Honour more.” makes no sense to the autonomous mind. But then, he is a dead white man from the 17th century.
The new sacred has its own Trinity: diversity, inclusion and tolerance, none of which can be criticised because they are the foundation of the new faith. Not only are they beyond criticism but it is just and right that they be protected by law. Criticism must be hate speech because it attacks the essence of our autonomous humanity. Like the early Christians, critics of the diversity cult, become haters of mankind.
Multiculturalism is a house divided against itself. On the one hand it claims to abhor “judgementalism” while being profoundly judgemental itself. Its favourite weapon is condemnation of those who criticise its Trinitarian parody of diversity, inclusion and intolerance. Although it could only have grown out of Western culture it despises its roots like the rebellious adolescent who can’t wait to leave home.
The new religion claims to be more “Christian”, loving that is, than the old Christianity it must get rid of. It is all about love; embracing difference providing those differences subscribe to the maudlin paradigm; “Love is love.” Life is just one long sentimental moral tautology to be lived on the surface. It deifies self-love, not love of the other, because it demands the dissenting other must be silenced. Discernment is reduced to that fundamental evil; “judgementalism”.
The new religion is quicksand that will eventually suck everyone down. First of all there is the clash of “victimocracies”. The overwhelming authority of sentimentality will not prevent violence, indeed will guarantee it. The last verse of the book of Judges is worth quoting. “In those days there was no king in Israel, everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Bondage was inevitable.
Secondly the new religion is built on the desire for revenge which exhibits itself in a variety of ways. Feminists want revenge on the patriarchy. Discontented indigenous people want revenge on their colonial oppressors. Homosexuals want revenge on the Christian moralists who condemn them. Transgenderists want revenge on the sexual realists who deny them. And so it goes on. Hate speech becomes a “logical” necessity because it is an act of revenge to punish the intolerant and hateful unbeliever.
Because individual autonomy is the foundation, social agreement around some kind of unifying truth becomes impossible to even consider. Life will be played out in a continuing struggle between the victims and the victimisers. Self-criticism, the primary essential of a working democracy will not be able to rise above the parapet. Consequently a new dark tyranny must be imposed by the bureaucratic state’s civil religion which cannot abide criticism.
Bruce Logan is a Board Member of Family First New Zealand