570. The clinging (X)
Enoch Powell contributed as much to the current “woke” movement as Michel Foucault. Powell’s role was to develop and popularise the conservative stance “socially liberal, fiscally conservative”—a policy underpinned by populism directed at non-traditional conservative voters, such as the proverbial “white van man”. “Powellism” was a trailer for Thatcherism, the latter being a less rigorous and less logical implementation of the former. Hence Powell voted to legalise homosexuality and abolish the death penalty—at the same time he advocated with great vigour for free markets and immigration restriction on technical grounds connected to the illogicality in British nationality legislation post-1945 (i.e. in a “civic nationalist” manner, strictly not on a racial basis).
Put this way, contemporary Anglo-American conservatism—in form anyway, it rarely does what it says—can be considered Powellite, although the American form probably has an independent origin separate from Powell (the commonality being the influence exercised by men like Hayek internationally). Ironically, this stance provided the environment in which “wokeness” can thrive: there is a tendency for once-stigmatised groups to achieve a transvaluation of values—literally a transvaluation today—and become a source of counter-signal status. To be publicly for the gays and the “gold-star” paedophiles becomes high status. Socially liberal conservatism facilities this situation because it destigmatises formerly socially censured acts and claims just to care about making money.
Where did Powell’s social liberalism come from? Powell had three intellectual influences: Nietzsche, Carlyle, and AE Housman. Powell’s stance on social liberalism came from Nietzsche (Carlyle was ferocious on such matters, Housman was an apolitical poet). Powell was influenced by Nietzsche in a way many of his contemporaries were at the time. There is a section in Daybreak where Nietzsche effectively says: “You cannot be other than you are.” This stance leads to, for example, the desire to abolish the death penalty because if a person cannot help but be who they are it becomes cruel to punish them for it—the punishment serves no purpose, killas gonna kill.
Powell was a very logical and conscientious man; a plodder, as with many conservatives. He would have undoubtedly applied Nietzsche (he read every single thing Nietzsche produced) consistently in this way—it was common to do so in his generation. This stance is really why you hear people today say that “we need to understand the paedophile’s difficult situation”—at the mass level it lies behind Lady Gaga’s pop chant “Born this way!” (a very Nietzschean song).
The same Nietzschean sentiment—I cannot be other than I am—also lies behind the faded alt-right slogan “Become who you are” (Rejoice in who you are…Baby, you were born this way!). The sentiment is psychotherapeutic: you have an accretion—parental tics or Christian moralism—that inhibits what you will do anyway; so do what you will do anyway without the pointless guilt, the guilt that impedes your energy flow. Victorian penologists thought that they reformed men with hard work (pickin’ oakum) and Bible studies—yet if the prisoners are what they are then men like Powell would say this is futile. The counterpart is that if, say, I happen to want to put all (predominantly homosexual) men who molest the under-12s in a gas chamber I was, well, born this way too.
Powell was probably a homosexual, he only married at thirty-seven—before then he had an intense attachment to a young man killed in the war, and at one stage he told his parents he would never marry due to a “condition” that was known to them. However, he was highly conscientious so he could overcome it, saw it as a duty to his parents. He was overly conscientious and logical; his essentially repressed and Victorian mind could not imagine that the legalisation of homosexuality would lead to AIDS and the decriminalisation of child sex crimes—he probably only had sex at thirty-seven. This is the problem with conservatives, they tend to be overly logical and conscientious plodders lost in perfect buttoned-down logic world.