Entry from April 11, 2014

"If you insist upon fighting to protect me, or ‘our’ country," wrote Virginia Woolf in Three Guineas, a book which Theodore Dalrymple thought ought rather to have been called How to Be Privileged and Yet Feel Extremely Aggrieved, "let it be understood, soberly and rationally between us, that you are fighting to gratify a sex instinct which I cannot share; to procure benefits which I have not shared and probably will not share. . . For as a woman, I have no country. As a woman, I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world."

Writing in The Guardian, Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett quotes these words and heartily approves of Mrs Woolf’s view of war and patriotism, noting that "the feminists of the past did not want equal rights in a man's world, they wanted a new world entirely." Fair enough. Yet this fantasy of "a new world entirely" is cited as a qualification or mitigation of her also approving of proposals to admit women to military combat units. Though "women on the frontline is a victory for equality," she thinks that "those of us who still hope for peace and justice should not lose sight of that vision."

What’s wrong with that statement? "That vision," otherwise the utopian pacifism of Virginia Woolf, ought to be pretty obviously as incompatible as anything can be with service in a front-line military unit. It amounts to Fifth Columnism to seek a place in a military combat unit while harboring not only pacifist beliefs but a higher loyalty to women or "the whole world" than to one’s fellow soldiers or "our" country, the country they have been sent to defend. I wonder how many of today’s advocates of women in combat roles share this mistaken belief that they can hold on to their utopian beliefs along with their rifles?

If they were frank about it, this would be a prima facie disqualification not only for combat roles but for military service of any kind. Every recruit has to take an oath of loyalty to the United States, which he or she obviously could not do at the same time he or she felt a higher loyalty to some other earthly ideal, such as the feminist utopia. That’s just one of the ways in which military service demands a sacrifice of those who undertake it. Holding utopian or pacifist views may be foolish and harmful to yourself and others, but it lies among your civil rights in America — so long as you remain a civilian. But maybe we should look again at this freedom as, exercised in this way, it obviously poses a threat to the common defense our government is constitutionally mandated to provide for.

After all, it’s not as if the left itself in this country retains much of an attachment to old-fashioned, tolerant liberalism. The utopians and progressives have themselves lately been showing signs of reintroducing us to the old totalitarian notion of "thought crime." as Charles Krauthammer writes in today’s Washington Post, "the left is entering a new phase of ideological agitation — no longer trying to win the debate but stopping debate altogether, banishing from public discourse any and all opposition. As he points out, the ouster of Brendan Eich at Mozilla for donating to the opponents of gay marriage is one straw in the wind. So is the attempt to declare the debate about Obamacare or global warming "over."

Nor are these bullying tactics likely to remain confined to the rhetorical. Already, Adam Weinstein at Gawker is writing that

Man-made climate change happens. Man-made climate change kills a lot of people. It's going to kill a lot more. We have laws on the books to punish anyone whose lies contribute to people’s deaths. It's time to punish the climate-change liars. . . Those denialists should face jail. They should face fines. They should face lawsuits from the classes of people whose lives and livelihoods are most threatened by denialist tactics.

Rebecca Solnit of The Guardian at the very least implies a similar view when she writes that "climate change is violence." Well then, we know what to do about those who promote such violence, don’t we? Meanwhile, Stephen Bezruchka of the Boston Review writes that:

A recent Harvard study estimated that about one death in three in this country results from our very high-income inequality. Inequality kills through structural violence. There is no smoking gun with this form of violence, which simply produces a lethally large social and economic gap between rich and poor.

Though he doesn’t say so, he doesn’t see any reason why the political opponents of the President’s proposed measures for reducing inequality, being therefore advocates of "violence" against the poor, should not be prosecuted for their false beliefs. Science (and Harvard science at that!) proves that they are wilfully clinging to wicked falsehoods, just as it does in the case of global warming. Can we still avoid the conclusion that the new progressivism is at least toying with the idea of outlawing conservatism itself?

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