This is an example of one of the Dialogues on the Death of Europe that I am writing. I think the Socratic dialogue format is a helpful way of exploring an issue. Feedback welcome.
Robert: Let’s say it was true that I was a racist, an anti-Semite and an Islamophobe. Leaving aside the imprecision of these terms, let’s pretend that some kind of definitive conclusion could be reached on the question and I was happy to stipulate that the accusations levelled against me were true: I am indeed a racist, an anti-Semite and an islamophobe. So what?
Andrea: What do you mean “so what”?
Robert: If I’m a racist, an anti-Semite and an Islamophobe, what difference does it make? Why do you keep throwing out these accusations every time I try to have a serious discussion about government policy?
Andrea: Because it’s not acceptable.
Robert: What do you mean it’s not acceptable?
Andrea: It’s not acceptable for you to hate people like that.
Robert: Well, actually I don’t hate the objects of my “prejudice”: people of other races, Jews or Muslims.
Andrea: Then you’re not a racist, an anti-Semite or an islamophobe. Or wouldn’t be, if this is still supposed to be hypothetical.
Robert: I have, however, concluded that the presence of non-Europeans, Jews and Muslims has been in the past, and is likely to be in future, harmful to Europeans; and therefore that we would be better off without them. That is a carefully wrought intellectual conclusion, not an emotional impulse. I’ve arrived at it after long reflection and laborious study and only after overcoming great inhibitions that were instilled into me as I was growing up. So would you characterise someone who thinks Europe would be better off without non-Europeans, Jews and Muslims as a racist, an anti-Semite and an Islamophobe?
Andrea: I would.
Robert: Then it’s possible to be those things without hating, with intense antagonistic emotion; calmly, intellectually.
Andrea: Sorry but I think you’re deluding yourself.
Robert: About what?
Andrea: About your calmness and lack of emotion. I think you do hate those people and just can’t admit it. You dress it up as an “intellectual conclusion” to make it seem more acceptable, because you probably still have some of those inhibitions you talked about.
Robert: Let’s, for the sake of discussion, assume that this is true. Let’s say that I really do hate these non-Europeans, Jews and Muslims. Again, the question is: so what?
Andrea: It’s not acceptable to feel that kind of hatred, that’s what.
Robert: But if I did feel this hatred, what could I do about it?
Andrea: What do you mean?
Robert: Surely if I had these feelings, they would be non-volitional. I couldn’t just switch them off if I wanted to.
Andrea: I don’t accept you don’t have a choice.
Robert: Think of something you hate, if a soul as pure as yours is capable of such an ignoble emotion.
Andrea: There are lots of things I hate.
Robert: I bet there are. Now could you choose to stop hating them if you wanted to?
Andrea: No. But my hatreds are justified. I hate injustice. I hate exploitation.
Robert: And the people who perpetrate these things?
Andrea: Yes. But my hatreds are good because they have a moral purpose.
Robert: The “purpose” of my “racism, anti-Semitism and islamophobia” is to prevent the lives of our descendants being ruined by misconceived government policy. That is a moral purpose too. We could debate that, but it’s irrelevant.
Andrea: I don’t think it is irrelevant.
Robert: My point to you is why does the presumed quality of a person’s motivation affect the validity of what they have to say or indeed their right to say it?
Andrea: What do you mean?
Robert: Well, you say you hate injustice, exploiters. What about rich bankers, how do you feel about them?
Andrea: I hate them.
Robert: OK. So let’s say you proposed some new policy that would cut the pay of bankers, take away their bonuses or somehow limit their “depredations” as you see it. And let’s say I opposed the initiative and was debating the issue with you. Would it be valid for me to counter your argument by simply impugning your motivation for making it, by saying, for example, “You’re just proposing that policy because you hate bankers”? And we could then have a discussion about the texture and quality of your feelings towards bankers, instead of rationally debating the merits of a policy and its likely or actual effects.
Andrea: You’re entitled to say what you want to say.
Robert: But if I did respond in that way, not just on that issue but on every issue, if I insisted on impugning your motivation for proposing a certain policy instead of engaging with the merits or effects of that policy, serious discussion would become impossible, wouldn’t it? Democracy would die.
Andrea: How would it die?
Robert: Because the country would simply be divided into factions, each convinced that the other had an improper or wicked motivation and should therefore not be allowed to speak or, if somehow won an election anyway, rule. And after you get to that stage, the only option left is civil war.
Andrea: Look. I partially see your point about motivation, although I think you’re being melodramatic. But the analogy isn’t valid, because the things I hate, or the people I hate if you want to personalise it, choose to become what they are. Bankers chose to become bankers. The people you hate had no choice in the matter. That’s a fundamental difference.
Robert: So Muslims didn’t choose to be Muslims? Jews, if you accept their self-presentation of Judaism as a matter of “faith”, don’t choose to embrace it?
Andrea: I don’t think they do. They’re initiated into it by their parents. So it has almost the same quality as race, something they can’t help.
Robert: I’d say you're infantilising them. In fact, it could even be argued that you’re being racist towards them.
Andrea: How am I being racist?
Robert: Because you deprive them of agency. You reduce them to the level of helpless children. Only Europeans make choices for which they are responsible. Everyone else is just helplessly adrift on a sea of circumstance.
Andrea: I don’t accept I’m being racist. And I don’t accept our respective “hatreds” are comparable or morally equivalent.
Robert: So your emotions don’t invalidate your declared policy positions but my emotions, or the emotions you attribute to me, do invalidate mine?
Andrea: In my view, they do, yes. Because the objects of my hatred have made a choice, and the objects of your hatred have not. I’m sorry, but there’s no place in modern Europe, in the 21st century, for racism, anti-Semitism and islamophobia.
Robert: But is there a place for racists, anti-Semites and islamophobes?
Andrea: What do you mean?
Robert: You discuss it in terms of abstractions, racism instead of racists, anti-Semitism instead of anti-Semites. But whether we cast it as an emotion or an intellectual conclusion, racism, anti-Semitism, etc. live inside the minds of human beings. So you can’t really separate the phenomenon from the person.
Andrea: Well, OK, but what’s your point?
Robert: My question is: is there a place in modern Europe for racists, anti-Semites and Islamophobes?
Andrea: In my view, no there isn’t.
Robert: But surely you can see that the logic of your position is exterminationist? This is exactly the same kind of exterminationist rhetoric employed by tyrants like Stalin and Mao to perpetrate massacres that were far greater in scale than anything ever carried out by “racists”, “anti-Semites” or “islamophobes”.
Andrea: How is it “exterminationist”?
Robert: You’re denying me the right to exist.
Andrea: That’s nonsense. How am I denying your right to exist?
Robert: You say there’s no place for me in my own ancestral homeland. So where is there a place for me?
Andrea: You just need to change.
Robert: I can’t change. I can’t choose not to be a racist, an anti-Semite or an islamophobe. You are, in effect, persecuting me for something I can’t help, something I can’t change. Yet that was the very logic you cited to justify your anti-racist positions before. Your position as being far more pernicious and destructive than mine.
Andrea: Hating people for what they are is fundamentally different from hating people for what they choose to do. You have chosen your path. Or were you always a racist, an anti-Semite and an islamophobe?
Andrea: How so?
Robert: My position is not exterminationist. I don’t deny non-Europeans, Jews or Muslims the right to exist. I deny them the right to exist in Europe. They have their own homelands. But you deny me mine. The logic of your position therefore is exterminationist. Because, although you say I have “no place” here, the implication is I have “no place” anywhere.
Andrea: So what made you become one?
Robert: Knowledge. I learned things I didn’t know before and that knowledge forced me to reach uncomfortable conclusions.
Andrea: Maybe what you think of as knowledge is pseudo-knowledge. Maybe the facts that persuaded you to change the way you felt weren’t real facts.
Andrea: So you might acquire true knowledge in future. You might learn things that will convince you you were wrong.
Robert: I don’t think so but I must concede the possibility. If you had told me a few years ago that I would become a racist, an anti-Semite and an Islamophobe, I would have told you you were crazy. So, given the extraordinary intellectual tectonic plate shifting I’ve already experienced, it would be foolish of me to deny the possibility of comparable change in future.
Andrea: So that’s the solution.
Robert: But that’s just a hypothetical possibility. There’s no way I can force myself to it.
Andrea: Read things that might change your view. Acquaint yourself with the viewpoint of “the opposition”.
Robert: I do that all the time. The Establishment media is absolutely in the hands of the Equality Cult. So I am exposed to their point of view all the time. I also deliberately seek out the screeds of the anti-racists, of the Jews whining about anti-Semitism, read their books, their periodicals, all of that. It’s absurd to think that I somehow screen myself from this. And yet despite all of that, I remain firm in my conclusions. Indeed, if anything, steeping myself in the rhetoric of “the opposition” only confirms the strength of my convictions.
Andrea: How so?
Robert: Because they’re just like you, unable to offer substantive arguments. The whole logic of their discourse is that anyone who dissents from their ideas must be somehow morally impaired. And should therefore not be allowed to speak, should not be taken seriously, should not be responded to. There should be “no platform” for discussion. There should be “no place” - this sinister formulation that comes up all the time now – no place in their own country for those who dissent from the elite’s ideology du jour. You cannot win a substantive debate; you strive instead to prevent that debate from taking place. And these accusations you fling out so casually are just one means of doing that. These words – anti-Semitism, racism, islamophobia – convey a charge of wickedness. Most people are so intimidated when accused of being, in effect, evil that they will panic and try to prove the accuser wrong. So instead of a substantive discussion on the merits of the issue we then have this pantomime-level exchange on the order of “You’re really, really evil”, “Oh no, I’m not”, “Oh yes you are.”
Andrea: I’m not saying you’re evil. I think you’re misguided.
Robert: I’m sorry dear but these terms you use carry the imputation of evilness. They are dehumanising. They transform a political opponent, an intellectual dissident, into the Demonic Other. It’s an irony, really.
Andrea: What is?
Robert: Well, it’s usually your side that likes to talk about how “racists” strive to turn minorities into “the Other”. But it seems to me that it is your “anti-racist” rhetoric does that. You are demonising people whose ancestors shared the trials and tribulations of your ancestors for centuries, millennia; people who tilled the soil together, who fought in wars side by side, who, through their choices and struggles, shaped the culture, the character, the destiny of our country, our continent, our civilisation. Now, in response to what is no more than an intellectual fad, you turn your back on them and embrace the alien.
Andrea: I don’t accept this is just an intellectual fad. It’s about right and wrong. It’s fundamental.
Robert: Look, dear. I’ve read about the early years, when this lunacy began.
Andrea: What lunacy?
Robert: The repopulation of Europe by non-Europeans, in the late 40s, early 50s. No one at that time, or even into the 60s, not even the most fervent “anti-racists”, although I recognise that is an anachronistic term, would have seriously contemplated or endorsed what is now in prospect: that sometime in the course of the 21st century the European peoples would be minoritised in their own ancestral homelands. If you had proposed that, if you had put it up for debate, everyone, and I mean everyone, even the most hardcore lefties, would have said you were not just an extremist, but an outright lunatic. Off the charts. A nutter. Yet that is now effectively the consensus of our ruling class. What would have been unthinkable madness only a few decades ago is now the orthodoxy of the age. So this is indeed a fad, a transitory lunacy, a blip in time. But so destructive is the course you have embarked on that this moment of madness was all it took for you to destroy a millennial civilisation.
Andrea: I don’t think we’re going to agree on this.
Robert: I don’t think we are.