Sucker for punishment that I am, it seems you’ll be getting not one but two Mad Mel posts in the single day as scanning the RSS feeds yields up not one but three nicely weighted dissections of the Daily Mail’s own Fifth Horsewoman of the Apocalypse from Chris Dillow, Shuggy and Norman Geras, all of which were prompted by a recent suggestion from the one-woman moral majority that:
it is vital that Britain and Europe re-Christianise if they are to have any chance of defending western values.
And if one chooses not to join Mad Mel’s crusade, then what? Phillips doesn’t say and therefore leaves open the option of a visit from that nice Mr Torquemada.
Its interesting to reflect that the more she writes, the more her views come to have a similar quality to that of Martin Amis’s novel ‘Time Arrow’, in which a Nazi war criminal depicted as living his life in reverse from old age until the novel’s ultimate denouement, which takes place at Auschwitz.
(For the avoidance of confusion, the point here is illustrative and not an allusive to Mad Mel’s political views, as will become clear in the next paragraph, it was Amis’s choice to make use of a Nazi as the protagonist of his novel and, yes, I do know that Mad Mel is Jewish)
Mad Mel appears to be undergoing the same process as the protagonist of Amis’s novel, not in terms of personal life (obviously) but in her perception of the nature of Western society, having already regressed back to somewhere close to the end of the Middle Ages – in due course one might well expect to see her calling for the repeal of the reformation and the replacement of the European Union with a reconstituted Holy Roman Empire.
Most of the obvious problems with Mel’s article are more than adequately explored by others – Shuggy’s comments are particularly good on this score not least in pointing out the obvious problem that arises from Mad Mel advocating a course she does not, herself, believe in – but I couldn’t help but notice a further incongruity that others have missed, one which lies in the extended quotation from Paul Belien’s piece in the Brussels Journal in which he advances the observation that:
‘If faith collapses, civilization goes with it,’ says Bethell. That is the real cause of the closing of civilization in Europe. Islamization is simply the consequence. The very word Islam means ‘submission’ and the secularists have submitted already. Many Europeans have already become Muslims, though they do not realize it or do not want to admit it.
There is, in this, a distinct element of meaning getting lost in translation; the word ‘Islam’ does not mean simply ‘submission’ but ‘the submission to God’ – hardly an allegation one might reasonably level at secular humanists and, more to the point, an apt expression of precisely the ‘policy’ that Phillips is so keen to promote in arguing for the ‘re-christianisation’ of Europe, which itself would entail a form fo submission to god, albeit one of which Mad Mel approves.
Much as she did in her ill-natured reply to Hugh Muir’s comments in the Guardian, Mad Mel’s reaction to what she perceives to be a threatening force of irrational prejudice is to suggest that its might best be countered by an other equally threatening and irrational prejudice as much to suggest that in her dotage her entire intellectual worldview has become little more than a headbutting contest between Joseph De Maistre and Johann Gottfried von Herder in which rationality and reason can play no possible part.
The history of those values that we might most wish to preserve in the face of an external threat – not that I subcribe to Mad Mel’s belief that Islam constitutes such a threat – i.e. liberty, democracy, equality, social justice, freedom of expression, science, etc. is, by no coincidence at all, also the history of the declining influence the Christian (and particularly Roman Catholic) church in Western Europe. To appreciate why this is the case one must understand secularism, and more specifically secular humanism is neither a rival to religious belief nor a process that leads to ‘cultural enfeeblement’ as Mad Mel claims, but a process of social and cultural evolution beyond the atavistic need for myth, superstition and for an all powerful (and fictional) entity to watch over us in loco parentis.
Secularism in no more and no less than the the process of humanity ‘growing up’, taking responsibility for its own actions and its own future and making its own way in the world under its own steam and by the exercise of its own free will and capacity for rational judgment. One might well consider it to be ‘social and cultural adulthood’.
Mad Mel’s call for the re-Christianisation of Europe, not withstanding the practical difficulties that would entail unless one is also to advocate the reconstitution of the Inquisition, is no more than a retreat into infantilism and the great ‘clash of civilisations’, which seems to occupy so much of her waking hours, no more than a playground fight on a grand scale in which one finds two snot-nosed and scabby-kneed children solumnly debating the question of whose dad is bigger than the other.
One of the more common signs of incipient senility is often a tendancy to retreat into childhood, which seems to me to rather nicely sum up where Mad Mel is currently heading.