The toxic solipsism of the politically correct: How the 'Left' is stifling our ability to deal with threats

If Britain is to maintain its role on the international stage, it will take more than getting our economy or military in order. It will in fact require a fundamental shift in our collective mentality, away from the status quo, characterized as it is by a desperation not to "offend".

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Hugo Chávez greets Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
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Dane Vallejo
On 25 August 2011 10:54

I was sifting away in a second hand book shop yesterday when I came across a tatty old journal on Thatcher’s foreign policy toward Latin America. Right up my street.

Or so I thought. Having pulled the book from the shelf and seen the cover -- a grotesque illustration of Thatcher and Reagan as vultures, tearing apart a map of Latin America between their razor-sharp beaks -- I was instantly put-off. I knew exactly what would be inside.

In all honesty, the book shelves were utterly saturated with leftist material.

And I'm not being at all facetious when I say that I had good reason to believe that most of the books in there were hand-me-downs from London's university libraries (they were plastered with university stamps and library barcodes – if you must know).

Nevertheless, it got me thinking about the negative conditions within which British foreign policy is formulated today. More specifically, I thought about ways in which the foreign policy debate is framed.

Fed on a diet of leftist junk by the mainstream media and, of course, our higher education institutions, our country has become obese.

The result has been the emergence of western self-loathing that acts as a kind of gag when our political class seeks to address – not exclusively, although in this case certainly – rogue states of the leftist, dictatorial variety. ‘Victims’; supposedly.

This matters. In a society where large numbers utterly reject the concept of drawing distinctions between what is right and wrong, particularly in regard to foreign, political or cultural habits, our government is often caught between a rock and a hard place when trying to deal with threats to our national interest while at the same time endeavoring to keep the electorate smiling. Then again, perhaps it is fair to say that our government is guilty of the same crime.

All the while – perhaps because of the subject of the book I’d uncovered – I had Hugo Chávez on the mind. Vis-à-vis Libya, Chávez recently opined:

The democratic European governments, not all of them, but we know which ones, are practically demolishing Tripoli with their bombs; the supposedly Democrat and democratic U.S. government as well, because they feel like it, simply because they feel like it

Well, not quite that simple, old boy.

Of course Chávez will have you believe that NATO forces have implemented a no fly zone in Libya for sinister or, heaven forbid, strategic reasons; gold, oil, whatever. And, as is to be expected in these situations, there are other states, such as Russia, that join in with the handwringing-cum-demagoguery.

But the fact that Chávez is wrong is not necessarily my biggest gripe. What really concerns me is that while this is a man whose comments we ought to condemn and whose regime we should view with extreme aversion, many of those around us here in Britain will actually sympathise with his stance.

There is an evergreen willingness to harangue any individual who might choose to view a dictator’s forceful eviction as a positive thing. It’s pervasive; from the political class – here’s looking at you Ken Livingstone – through to the higher (Seamus Milne) and lower (Jody McIntyre) echelons of the media. Everywhere we turn there are positively spiteful condemnations of NATO’s actions in Libya dressed unfairly as Western imperialism.

Douglas Murray wrote recently in Standpoint that our societal position seems to be increasingly defined by “a kind of naivety arrived at via extreme skepticism” of old media in favour of new; a kind of resting place for conspiracy theory. He is right, but it seems to me that it is more the case that our naivety stems from extreme skepticism of what is ‘Right’ in favour of what is ‘Left’.

Take Mr. Milne. He recently gushed: “Only a western solipsism that regards it as normal to be routinely invading other people's countries in the name of human rights protects NATO governments from serious challenge.” Unfortunately, the only prevalent western solipsism is the kind I have described above -- that of the politically correct, obsessed as they are with conspiracy when it comes to promoting our traditional values; frightened stiff at the thought of offending minorities or essentially any country that is not part of the old guard. And it’s capable of doing real damage.

Ken Livingstone not so long ago said of Libya: “everyone in the Middle East is gonna think ‘they’re [the West] after the oil again’” -- problem is Kenneth, many people here think it too.

And that’s exactly what I’m talking about; this insidious skepticism of our own intentions that is suffocating our ability to respond to the threats around us. Make no mistake; there are plenty. From Chávez himself to the more widely touted (at least on the European circuit) Ahmadinejad and Lukashenko, these regimes are direct competitors to Western liberalism.

Has it not occurred to the likes of Seamus Milne and Jody McIntyre that Chávez’s incessant support for Gaddafi is born out of a rather crude tactical alliance based on manipulating international oil prices and maintaining a bit of breathing space for the existence of like-minded authoritarian regimes?

There are no cultural, historical, linguistic or religious linkages between these states. There is barely even any strategic alliance. It is purely circumstantial and tactical and we should be scared neither to highlight that nor to design their respective downfalls.

If Britain is to maintain its role on the international stage, it will take more than getting our economy or military in order. It will in fact require a fundamental shift in our collective mentality, away from the status quo, characterized as it is by a desperation not to "offend".

As for the book shop, well, after 20 minutes of intense sifting I managed to uncover a beauty; a pro-Reagan account of his presidency. Seems hardly surprising that one of our universities decided to do-away with that one… 

Dane Vallejo is the Associate Editor at The Commentator. He tweets at @DaneVallejo

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