There is a theory - one I subscribe to - that Western societies have become vulnerable to Islamism because they have lost faith in their own core values, and are unable to offer any resistance to an ideology that is hellbent on bringing them to their knees.
People cleverer than me believe that many Westerners have reflected on their history and on the changes that have taken place in their lifetimes, and become so disillusioned with their way of life that they can’t bring themselves to defend it, even if they don’t especially care for what threatens to take its place.
Maybe. But if there is some deep philosophical explanation for this cultural ennui, those gripped by it must be old enough to have grown world-weary, or learned enough to have a sense of historical perspective. We may have our fair share of geriatric cynics who've fallen out of love with the West, or academics with an axe to grind against it, but they aren't numerous or influential enough to infect an entire culture. For there to be such widespread distaste for Western values, there must be considerable animosity among a younger, less intellectual demographic, whose distaste is rooted in something other than personal experience or scholarly knowledge. I suspect the real explanation is a lot less complicated.
When the Left collapsed as a labour movement in the 1980s, it was hijacked by brattish malcontents looking to dodge the responsibilities of adulthood. They gazed at their society, their culture, their civilisation and saw the prospect of a life at odds with their spoilt childhoods: one of duties and expectations they’d never experienced, criticism where flattery used to be, and toil where once there was leisure. Even their educational achievements, so important to them for so long, looked set to play second fiddle to qualities they conspicuously lacked, like charisma and cunning.
Instead of accepting that things are probably the way they are for a reason and getting with the programme, they sought excuses for why they shouldn't bother. It wasn't that they were lazy, entitled or scared, it was because the system was unjust, and unfairly skewed against them. It was down to elitism, racism, sexism, or whatever -ism afflicted the latest victim group looking for a societal sick note. There should be greater equality, they cried, so there would be fewer opportunities to thwart their precious egos.
Having never grown beyond the idea that their welfare is someone else's responsibility, they blamed everyone who had brought history to its current point for letting them down. It wasn't inevitable that the cosy assurances of their childhood should come to an end; it was a mean-spirited decision made by people too selfish, ill-educated and hidebound to entertain an alternative. Their resistance and state of perma-outrage was proof of their commitment to higher ideals, and confirmation of their moral superiority to the degraded champions of the status quo.
These infantile malcontents spoke the language of rebellion and liberty, but the last thing they wanted was to be left to their own devices. They simply expected society to afford them the same simulacrum of power and freedom enjoyed by a mollycoddled teenager.
They envisaged a world in which their pampered youth was replicated in adult form. So instead of a pat on the head for drawing daddy a picture, there would be cushy jobs that pandered to their narcissistic whim. Rather than suffering the judgment of others, there would be soothing assurances that they are perfect as they are. Any big boys who outshone them, or asked for more than they were willing to give, would be brought to heel. Instead of dealing with the consequences of their actions, some parental figure would tidy up after them and make things better. Being too immature to cope with disagreement, theirs would be the only voice heard and the only advice followed. In fact, as many of their emotional and material needs as possible would be catered for, so they could pursue a life of adolescent insouciance.
These overgrown sixth-formers were successful in rebuilding society in their own image. They took over our institutions and created millions of non-jobs in the public and private sectors - jobs that were like schoolwork in being of little value to anyone other than those doing them. Likewise, they oversaw the proliferation of in-pay ‘experts’, whose findings only ever made the case against autonomous adulthood and for the empowerment of people like them.
They expanded the welfare state and turned the NHS into a national religion, normalising dependency and portraying self-reliance as a hoity-toity privilege. They propagated universal excuses for ineptitude and failure via bogus theories of oppression, then howled down naysayers and called for them to be jailed. They sanctified youth, prioritised the interests of youngsters, and cursed the elderly for not just shutting up and getting out their cheque books.
They upended traditions and trashed social norms with the glee of people too naive and arrogant to believe they served any useful purpose. To this end, they also flooded the country with immigrants, to dilute the dominant culture, upset their opponents, and advance the need for a bigger welfare state. Freedom, and those who cope with its slings and arrows, were vilified, while vulnerability was turned into a virtue and presented as our fundamental condition. In fact, everything they did seemed designed to infantilise the populace and strengthen the hand of the authorities, who were cast in the role of doting parent.
Perhaps the greatest symbol of their success has been the EU: a monument to unaccountable, paternalistic power; a writer of stifling rules that curb our freedoms and, therefore, our responsibilities; a creator of makework jobs to fill the schoolwork-shaped hole in the lives of beta nerds who fancy themselves too smart and sophisticated to join the rat race; an endorser of the kind of people who fill those jobs and of their position as masters of the universe.
But like all leftists, they eventually overreached. The cost of supporting their juvenile Shangri-la became unsustainable, and the people cowed into propping it up decided enough was enough. The financial crash of 2008 exposed its economic inanity, setting a number of Western nations on the long path back to probity. With accountability back in vogue, resentment grew of the institutions that had taken it away in the first place: the EU, the nanny state and the legions of technocrats who presumed to tell us how to live. Brexit and Trump were natural responses to this sentiment.
The position of our sissyfied overlords on social issues began to grate, too. Their insistence that ‘the system’ was profoundly unjust required them to wage a never-ending war on behalf of the ‘oppressed’ - an increasingly ridiculous and unpalatable roll-call of misfits and ne’erdowells. “Why should we sacrifice our way of life to satisfy these people,” the public wondered, “when they are so few and their interests so at odds with our own?”
In the face of this push-back, the left-wing establishment upped the ante, directing its spite at whiteness, maleness, heterosexuality, and all those other markers of the status quo. The targets of this blood libel were to blame for all the evils of the world and deserved to be shamed, punished, blotted from history, and replaced by mascots of the brave new world.
Such absurdity was not only offensive to the vast majority of people, it flew in the face of their own experiences and common sense. The declarations of the new Left, for so long taken as the voice of reason and progress, sounded like lunatic rantings. Their underdog-worship became a series of unsustainable contradictions. They rooted for gays, but then Muslims became the victim de jour, who were not so hot on the whole gay thing. Cue hilarious displays of intellectual gibberish and cognitive dissonance, to the eye-rolling despair of sane people everywhere.
In spite of the Right’s resurgence, the cultural establishment remains firmly in the hands of adolescent leftists, who so despise the prospect of a truly free society that they will do anything to avoid its deliverance. They will kick, scream and spoil like sulky teenagers until they get their way. Their rage and their hatred for their own cultural inheritance is all the greater for them being so used to having their cake and eating it. They would rather live under a totalitarian regime if it means avoiding the challenges, frustrations and potential humiliations of freedom. They even believe, on some sub-moronic level, that they will be afforded more grace and favour under autocratic rule than under the ‘iron fist’ of liberty.
With the tide turning, panic is spreading among millennial ingrates and their aging soulmates. Their foot-stamping demands for salvation become more hysterical by the day. They don't want to grow up, dammit, and they see nothing worth saving in the culture that expects them to do so.
Well, sorry kids, but playtime is over.