This post is a first guest article from Charles Crawford, who normally resides in his Blogoir. It is an edited version of his post The Disastrous Death of Common Sense, which first appeared at the Commentator.
Over the centuries English property law has invented many ingeniously pragmatic ways in which property can be owned. One key distinction shows itself every time a couple take out a new mortgage. They are offered a choice: a ‘tenancy in common’ or a ‘joint tenancy’.
The difference is as simple as it is profound.
Under a tenancy in common, the property is owned by A and B in specific shares (eg half/half, one third/two thirds); A’s share can be sold or bequeathed to someone else, so B now co-owns the property with that new person.
By contrast, if A and B own under a joint tenancy there are no identifiable shares: if A dies, A’s share automatically goes to B.
In other words, property ownership can be the sum of many discrete, separable parts each owned by a different individual, or a single phenomenon in which many owners each have an equal claim on the whole. For property, read society or community.
And then contemplate the sprawling philosophical disaster of ‘multiculturalism’.
The whole point about multiculturalism is that it treats any given social space as, in effect, a tenancy in common. Each group (as defined by multiculturalism) has a specific stake and specific interests: the gays, the blacks, the women, the disabled, the under-class all have formally defined rights and identities.
This very idea of course leads to what any normal person would see as insane if not wicked contradictions: thus it is vital that lesbian couples be given the right to adopt children, but also vital that ‘white’ couples be stopped from adopting ‘black’ children. But for multiculturalists it all makes perfect sense: the property rights of each atomised multicultural ‘community’ must be ring-fenced.
This philosophy is all about emphasising differences: some real, but many phony and synthetic.
By contrast seeing society as a ‘joint tenancy’ in which what people have in common is far greater than what divides them suggests very different policy approaches, not least non-racial adoption policies.
So, what has ‘caused’ this startling outbreak of flash rioting?
A central part of this philosophy is to deny if not denounce (literally to de-construct and de-legitimise) traditional values and unifying symbols. See Twitter, the Guardian and Independent passim.
Under multiculturalism what precisely unites us?
Sneer – white privilege and oppression.
Sneer – rich man’s justice.
Sneer – written by imperialist winners.
British economic success?
Sneer – just the rich getting richer at the expense of the poor.
The British public?
Sneer – bring in more immigrants and let them stay in ghettos not learning English.
British democracy or even democracy itself?
Sneer – a tool of oppression and false consciousness.
Sneer – too many dead white men.
Sneer – repressed middle-class neurosis.
Separating Right from Wrong?
Sneer – oppressive class-based value judgements.
And so on.
For a gold-plated example of progressive sneering, check out the Nobel Prize lecture of Harold Pinter:
‘There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.’
Tell that to the ruined shopkeepers across London.
Thus every day in every way our society is infiltrated by divisive sneering.
Most of it emanates from publicly funded organisations captured by the sneering classes (universities, BBC, NGOs, local councils, quangos). And over the years the consequences of this tsunami of state-subsidised sneering compound up, not least in the way people think about what they themselves represent in society and what society ‘owes’ to them.
This in turn gnaws at deepest instincts of personal self-respect. How dare the government make ‘cuts’?
It’s my money, especially if I have done nothing to earn it!
The multiculturalist chattering classes see the looters and rioters with mixed emotions. There is lurking (sometimes not so lurking) pride that ‘the system’ has been ‘challenged’ so brutally by these ‘protesters’ who have ‘reclaimed’ (sic) the streets.
Those of us who refuse to succumb to progressive nihilism must heave a deep sigh and confront the extraordinary horror seen on the streets of London and other cities and towns.
It’s bad enough having to pay to put it right – money which could have been spent on new investment. Most difficult to tackle in its vile abstractness is the philosophical problem: the insolent assumption that anything (anyone?) can be challenged and destroyed simply because the rioters and looters feel like it. And the implicit blackmail threat that if we don’t give these people whatever they want, they’ll start it up again.
The looters in some dim way probably talk among each other about ‘respect’, but in substance they don’t respect other people, the law, any idea of self restraint. Above all, they don’t respect or begin to understand the slow power of compound interest to build and sustain wealth down the generations.
They don’t know where the value of what they are smashing and burning in fact originates. They don’t know where the streets they plunder come from.
They’ll be curbed and contained, of course.
But then what?