I just finished watching a recording of Tommy Robinson giving a talk at the Oxford Union. It was powerful and frightening.
My initial reaction was that it’s hard for me to compare the experience small English towns are having compared to the cultural conflicts in the U.S. considering I know very little about current events in England. However, I can’t help but wonder if there is a significant difference because so much of our country, outside of LA, SF, NYC, Seattle, Chicago, etc., is both passionate about their culture and simultaneously willing to act.
However, as I thought through it more the video has reminded me of something I’ve been pondering for quite a while. It’s an already understood idea that took me a while to allow myself to comprehend. That liberalism, if it moves toward radical egalitarianism, eats itself alive only to be overtaken by something else.
The catalyst in my mind was joining the Navy, moving to and visiting so many different places, and meeting so many people from literally every state in the country.
Throughout my teenage years and early 20s in Southern California, I was not only oblivious to how people live in Alabama, Kansas, Virginia, but also to true international cultural differences. I was used to the urban universalism that comes with only being surrounded by similarly educated youth who all live in a city and abide by the same relativist norms.
It’s easy in this environment to believe that cultural clashes in America are irrational reactions by ignorant hillbillies when your only true inter-cultural experiences are eating Pho with a Vietnamese classmate or Ubering to the Halal place with 4.5 stars on Yelp. I mean, why doesn’t everyone just act the same everywhere else? If we all just coexisted nicely, Ubered to our favorite culturally diverse restaurant, and went to the occasional international arts festival, everything would be fine right?
It wasn’t until I moved and started to digest what I saw in places like Peru, Chile, the various parts of our country, and read intelligence reports on my deployments that I understood the vast differences that humans actually have. It was then that I realized the most people have stringent cultural and religious dispositions, and that was striking. I mean how could so many people almost everywhere in the world be so… stubborn? Or, in today’s terms, “non-inclusive”.
Then I slowly understood that almost everyone I knew from urban America believed in almost nothing (this was just before I read the closing of the American Mind and Bloom blew my mind with his discussion of relativism and nihilism). It wasn’t that most people in the rest of the world and even non-urban America have irrational ties to their culture, it was that people in America’s urban centers have no ties to anything. They’ve bent themselves over backward in an effort to be open and in the process abandoned all that makes them who they are and even vilified the cultural foundations necessary to uphold the liberal order we’ve been enjoying.
So, going back to the video, it’s no wonder that violent Islamic extremists in England are not only ignored but able to wrest control of localities. My understanding of England and most of Europe is that they’ve become a bastion of leftist relativism and, through that, politically correct dogma. However, behind that dogma and veil of “inclusion” lies nothing of substance. So, in the face of intense religious persistence on the part of a minority group labeled as “oppressed”, the urban political class has nothing to offer but what they’ve been taught… to give way.
What is the other option? To assert that their cultural convictions are better and should be essentially forced upon a minority who wants something else? No, that can’t be allowed! We have no right to assert that our culture is any better!
It’s because of this that a liberal society eats itself alive and allows something else to slowly overcome it. It’s also because of this that groups within a liberal society will react intensely to save the culture they know and love. Some may react intensely, but well. Others may react intensely, but with unwell or with violence.
Robinson’s Reacting Well of Violent?
Tommy Robinson may be a provocateur. He is definitely brash to the point of smashing the assumptions of allowed speech by the left resulting in being banned by Twitter. But one thing is for sure, he has a point.
Yet, instead of making an attempt to understand his point, the left in Britain seems to prefer shutting him out of the conversation he wants to have. As a result, since this talk at the Oxford Union, Robinson has become even more intensely anti-Islamic. He is swerving between reacting intensely but well and reacting intensely but unwell depending on how the state authorities react to him.
Would it not have been a better option to have taken Robins and those he represents seriously? If history has taught us anything, true radicals (like those the left wants to align Robinson with) won’t be willing to have a civil discussion at the Oxford Union. Shutting Robinson out, labeling those like him as hateful, and continuing the policies that created his reaction in the first place will only cause many more Robinsons to evolve in an effort to save what they know.
Who knows how they will react. We may end up being faced with a rotten form of liberalism being overtaken by religious fanatics on the one hand and violent cultural reactionaries on the other.