A superb analysis in Telegraph Uk about the end of Western Democracy: what Janet Daley states is applicable to Malta

Perhaps some future Edward Gibbon will write a voluminous account of the decline and fall of Western Democracy – assuming that the concept of history, or indeed literacy, survives another generation.

One day there may be a disinterested study of the strange events that led to the collapse of a political culture which was, in its day, believed to be invincible. Particularly bizarre, it will be noted, was that the catastrophic disintegration occurred only a few decades after the momentous triumph of this system over its principal adversary. So complete had this victory appeared to be that it was believed by many to constitute the end of history: no society was ever going to produce a solution to the problem of human governance that was so universally acceptable.

Within living memory of that great achievement, the principles which had delivered freedom, mass prosperity and the possibility of personal happiness on an unprecedented scale were being attacked – not by an external enemy but by the institutions and officials of the nations which embodied them.

What is going on here? There is something so clearly neurotic about the self-flagellating obsession with historic guilt, so obviously absurd about the denial of basic facts of the human condition (like biological sex), so defiantly perverse about the deliberate undermining of the meaning of words (“free speech is hate speech”) that it must be pathological – a collective nervous breakdown.

But, you may argue, the acceptance of these inanities is limited to particular spheres – state-run cultural agencies and academic institutions. Most ordinary people find them infuriating or idiotic and believe they play little part in their lives. (They are wrong about the last point, of course.) But more disconcertingly, in what seems to be a quite unconnected way, this rise of unreason in public bodies coincides with what appear to be apocalyptic natural events: a pandemic of horrific proportions as well as a threat to the very existence of The Planet from climate change. If ever there was a combination of circumstances designed to create mass anxiety – a return to Medieval levels of superstitious helplessness – this would have to be it.

Now it might seem that the natural phenomena – the plague and the environmental changes – are not at all similar to those social movements which are irrational. They are not intellectual constructs manufactured by political movements: they are based on objective fact in a way that concepts like say, “white privilege”, are not. The threat they present is of a different order.

Let us accept for the moment that this is absolutely true: that climate change and the Covid pandemic are unquestionable phenomena just as they are described in the official doctrine adopted by virtually all Western governments. Even if we grant this, there is something very odd about such highly developed, confident, technologically sophisticated societies renouncing their fundamental attitudes and values in the face of them.

Why do the only remedies offered for climate change involve first accepting limitless blame for developing the processes that made modern life – with all its potential for improved health and social well being – possible for so many? In effect, for making the advantages that were once only available to the rich – like warm homes and plentiful food – accessible by most people?

Instead of concentrating research and experimentation on adapting to the changes that global warming may produce, we are instructed to dwell on our moral responsibility for causing it. Before we can begin to address the practical consequences of this change, we must cleanse ourselves of inherited guilt. And this self-punishment must involve a renunciation: not only do we accept the original sin but we must forego any return to such indulgence. Widespread prosperity was to blame for this curse so it must be abolished.

The most dedicated environmental campaigners state this quite explicitly. Life in the future will have to be much less comfortable, much less varied, much less “wasteful” of commodities than the one to which we are accustomed. What is this if not a secular vow of poverty? How does this anti-materialist, anti-affluence, anti-human prescription fit with what has been, until very recently, the main objective of western progress which was to raise the living standards of as many as possible? This is a very odd transformation of what has been so vital to modern thinking in the West, and it is going largely unchallenged.

So what about the pandemic? That surely is an indisputable reality. It strikes in terrible numbers and in the process, endangers the public healthcare facilities which have been a great feature of progressive countries. But the alacrity with which democratic governments have seized powers that even modern totalitarian societies never imposed – intervening in personal relations in the most intimate and damaging ways – implies something more than practical urgency. And further, the emergency was considered so alarming that it justified closing down critical debate. Any criticism of the mandated solutions, even when it came from alternative experts, had to be suppressed. All in the name of “following the science”. Except that modern science itself could only emerge and progress in conditions of free thought and disputation. The whole process of scientific enquiry relies on the possibility of argument. A cult of scientific authority which permits no contradiction is a sham.

Somehow all of this – the patent absurdity of the anti-free speech movements and the shutting down of choice and liberty in response to danger – has a common thread. Self-loathing leads to a rejection of the positive in favour of the relentlessly negative. The acceptance of collective, ineradicable guilt makes us unworthy of the privileges our successful society produces. We deserve this punishment. So what might that future chronicler conclude? That the West won the war of ideas, but could not live without a mortal enemy so it turned on itself?

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