290. The preponderance of the great (IV)
I used to sneer at those libertarians—it was almost always libertarians, probably with Asian wives—who would say: “Right-wing values are just reality. Liberalism is a mental illness. Libs are out of touch with reality.” I suppose, in my decadent agreeability, I always wanted to reply: “Yeah, well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. You have to think it over a bit. There are many perspectives.”
To get up and say there are many perspectives is, in itself, liberalism of a kind; not liberalism as a conscious set of ideals but liberalism as an attitude to life—a kind of bland agreeability and desire to be liked and to take all views into account, to canvass all opinions. I suppose everyone has that disposition to some degree or other—though for some people it is very small indeed—and it is from that desire to be agreeable or to be liked or think the best, to take a bien-pensant view, that liberalism as a disposition emerges. Liberalism is not really about concrete demands regarding human rights or liberal democracy; indeed, I suspect the best liberals have almost no concrete views whatsoever; and this is what makes them so difficult to counter.
They are like jelly; and they are like jelly because their reality denial stems from a constitutional niceness and, indeed, politeness; for to be polite is really to lie, to lie in a way that lubricates social intercourse—if that does not, in fact, strike you as too vulgar. So the liberal can end up pretty much as those grizzled libertarians always said: “Reality is right wing, buddy. You better believe it. Wake up and smell the coffee.”
The thing about reality is it has this quality where it just comes at you; it does not stop to canvass opinions or to take all perspectives into account. You either move with it—roll with the punches—or get flattened. Certain jobs predispose people to face reality: I often return to the combat military and pilots to exemplify right-wing values because these are very reality-adjusted jobs. You cannot negotiate with reality when it comes to aircraft: you can either get it up or not; and once it is up, you better make sure you know how to keep it up—or else you are going to die. And that is reality.
I once drove into a big city, among Britain’s biggest cities, with a girl in a little Fiat 500. She was a blonde, a Leo, as am I, by the initials E.S. and she was about to fall for me—you know, when two lions meet it can be quite a clash. Her nephew, on his way to university, was in the front passenger seat. A pudgy guy, a guy who turned out all right in the end; but back then he was worthless—or detached from reality, anyway. As we passed mile after mile of city turned over to the Muslims he wittered on—being a kid from a nice little white middle-class town—about how glorious the diversity was and how where he came from was “hideously white”.
In the back, I knew the score: he had these soft liberal sentiments and when he saw the reality all the tribal self-preservation instincts activated—yet all his life people said those instincts, survival instincts, were bad and perverted. To resolve the contradiction, reaction formation kicked in and he praised and claimed to adore what he instinctively despised. And that is liberalism: when you refuse to accept the reality in front of your own face, and when you refuse to accept the reality of your own thoughts and feelings—and then you put up some ridiculous squid ink of lies about how lovely you think it all looks, and perhaps gain prestige through moralism. Well, it took him a few years to get in shape and stop lying, but it turned out, in the end, he was no liberal; and that was reality.