The View from across the Mirrored Pond

occupy and the eliteOxford picA Guide to Selfism

By Peter Hitchens

 There is nothing more dispiriting than an English middle-class audience, especially one in the gentler, more prosperous parts of the country.  They calmly believe all kinds of ideas which menace, most profoundly, the lives they lead.

Oxford, I think, is worst of all – though I once faced a roomful of supposedly crusty Tories in Windsor, all of whom had been brainwashed (presumably by newspapers they erroneously thought to be conservative) into believing that cannabis should be decriminalized. That was when I realized how bad it has got. The word ‘demoralized’ now has a rather weak meaning, weaker than I intend to convey. But forget its modern connotations, and use it literally; and I can think of no other which so exactly describes what has happened to this class of person. Perhaps ‘corrupted’ conveys the strength of what I wish to say, but that too has a different meaning in current usage.

Oxford 2 The majority of the audience who came to a rather odd debate about drugs at Cheltenham on Saturday night, were, for instance, immovably committed to a policy on the subject which will inevitably destroy the efficient, clean, prosperous and ordered society whose benefits they currently enjoy.  At one point they actually applauded a nice middle-aged lady, not for her sensible remarks on trying to deter her own children from drug taking, but because of her confession that she had herself used illegal drugs in the past.

After the discussion, just one person bought my book.  It was Mone more than I expected, given the waves of scorn and dislike which had beaten upon me and on my doughty ally, Kathy Gyngell (who is much nicer than I am, but that didn’t make any difference. An enemy of drug liberalization is, to such people, an apostle of repressive reactionary wickedness). Students — I‘m pleased to say, have much more open minds on this issue than my fellow-members of the Sixties generation.

My own generation’s view on most subjects is, I think, usually a manifestation of what I have decided to call “Selfism.” This is nothing to do with Professor Will Self, whose name, after all, is not his own fault.

ASelfism is the real force behind the undoing of our society. I sought for years for some sort of coherent theoretical explanation for our multifaceted cultural, social and moral revolution. I found Fabians hiding in the rhododendrons, Gramscians lurking in the pantry, Euro-Communists behind the curtains.  I even chased the Frankfurt School though a long labyrinth of polysyllables, and discovered Wilhelm Reich, George Lukacs and Herbert Marcuse doing something naughty in the Orgone Box.woman of death

They’re all there, these people.  They had or have influence, even power. They exist or existed.  They all work (or worked), night and day, for the overthrow of bourgeois capitalist morality, etc, etc. And then there are the many female liberationists bashing away at the traditional family, and all the legions of equality merchants and open-borders enthusiasts, and of course the militant atheists, who hate God, claim he doesn’t exist, and want to stop us telling our children about Him, in case he does exist.

But I don’t think they have a High Command. There’s no eye-patched villain in combat gear, in a hollowed-out mountain, directing their operations in sinister whispers as she strokes a white cat. Some of them understand what’s going on better than others. Some are mere instruments, too dim to have any idea what they are doing. Most have little idea of the significance of what they and do, beyond their immediate surroundings. They’re in all the political-parties, including in dear old Dad’s Army. Only one invariable test exposes them for what they are.

It’s that the policy they support has a self-interested aspect, based upon the idea that each of us is autonomous in his or her own body, and that, as they always militantly rasp ‘Nobody has the right to tell me what to do with my own body.

It’s an interesting rule, and it appeals readily to the unimaginative, which in this age is an awful lot of people, most of us having had our imaginations removed or de-activated in infancy, by TV sets, unceasing background noise and computer games. And if any feeble shoots of imagination still remain, they’ve been shriveled-up by the conformism of a society in which remorseless fashion polices speech and thought. And, as most of us know, a thought that can’t be spoken is like a plant without sunlight. It will shrivel and die.

The best instance of this militant Selfism at work is the strange, ferocious campaign which calls for abortion to be more or less wholly unrestricted. It’s logically barmy. If you’re sovereign over your own body, then you can’t be sovereign over anyone else’s – but abortion is the violent destruction of someone else’s sovereign, autonomous body.  Rather than admit this obvious difficulty, they pretend that the other person’s body is somehow not really a person or a body, but they must know as they say it that this is a slippery dodge.  Actually, many of the supporters of this campaign hesitate about taking their position to its logical conclusions, which are, of course, post-birth infanticide and the euthanasia of the gravely ill, its limits defined by the needs of the ‘community’ as embodied by the state.

Hitlerian Germany’s flirtation with eugenics and the systematic killing of the mentally ill has, for the moment, discredited a view that was once common among enlightened left-wing folk. But I wonder how long this inhibition will last, especially as the problem of the aged gaga parent, sitting on (and consuming) a large inheritance, persists among us.

In any case, let us return to the real problem. It was the strange association of the free abortion campaign with feminism that alerted me to it. Now, it is clear that in China and India, and bit by bit in this country, babies are being aborted in increasing numbers purely because they are female. China, where I have observed it in action, give some indication of how things may develop here, as people realize it is wholly legal, and what is more, uncondemned by fashionable opinion.

This is blatant sex discrimination of the crudest and most indefensible type. Anyone who was genuinely concerned for female equality would denounce it in the strongest terms. Yet, from most of the extensive and uninhibited chorus of articulate female (and supposedly feminist) voices in the media, politics and the academy, there has been no such protest.

I think this is one of the most fascinating collective silences of modern times. It demands an explanation. Here is an absolute breach of all they purport to hold most dear. *And they will not attack it. I’ve given them weeks and weeks to do so. A tiny few have mumbled a bit. But most have remained quiet.

Therefore these people cannot in fact be feminists in principle. Their concerns have another explanation. They want, for their individual selves, cultural, moral and if possible legal assistance in climbing career ladders and entering professions. But it ends with them, individually. They have no unbreakable solidarity with other members of their sex, who will never sit as judges, get into Parliament, or into a boardroom, or even a newsroom, because they were dismembered in the womb for being girls.

I can see no way out of this. It is one of the most classic hypocrisies of our times.

In which case, what is the rest of their position about? Is their attitude to marriage to do with female equality, as such, or with the freedom to earn a big salary? The same surely goes for the state-funded childcare, the maternity leaves and the rest.

Note that in the current era of cheap servants from abroad, the salaried mother who works outside the home is uniquely able to get her domestic chores done by paid strangers. But it is not so long ago that such cheap servants were not available, and an inconveniently-timed baby was a career disaster. Step forward the abortion clinic. Maybe this will be so again, before long.

But if a baby can be got rid of on such a thin pretext (supposedly a threat to the mother’s mental health, when in fact it’s a menace to her income) then it is plain that the same law must allow the killing of a baby for being the wrong sex. No law could be devised which allowed what might crudely be called career-preserving abortions, and yet forbade abortions on the grounds of sex.

If you want to protect unborn girls from girl-hating parents, then you must make abortion very difficult, or well-nigh impossible, for everyone. And the alleged feminists, actually Selfists, can intuitively see that.

That is why they have been silent.

And then you must ask yourself how it was that abortion on demand ever became a feminist desire. What exactly does it have in common with campaigns for women to vote, to have full property rights, to stand for parliament, to be allowed into universities and the professions? The answer is that it has nothing in common with these demands at all, as it has now absolutely proved, which is why I can consistently support all these demands, and absolutely oppose abortion.

But Selfism cannot campaign under its own true colours, which are stained with blood and other horrible things. It has to dress up in nobler garments, and appropriate the clothes of truly moral campaigns, to advance its ends. So the abortionist campaigns as a feminist; the drug liberalizer campaigns as the friend of civil liberties;  the adulterer campaigns as the rescuer of the woman trapped in an unhappy marriage; and so on.

And above all there is the person who hates the idea of real, absolute morality, who fears that there may, after all, be a deep,  unalterable law which condemns his or her desires and which – mourning even over a fallen sparrow – cries out in terrible grief at an aborted baby. That person furiously asserts that there is no God, and no such law, and angrily denounces those who believe there is.


Does this sound strangely familiar?

Article from (across the pond) at



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