The Revolution Devours Itself
As GK Chesterton wrote in 1929 (talk about serendipitous timing) in his famous parable about a fence:
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.
In his response to the now infamous cat-calling video at Ricochet, Jon Gabriel wrote:
Apologies to the video editor, but “how you doing today,” “how are you this morning,” and “have a nice evening” hardly count as harassment. If they do, I’m violated by polite tourists, panhandlers, and assertive shopkeepers every time I stroll along a busy city street.
All gentlemen agree that catcalling is a bad thing. In fact patriarchal Victorians were so disgusted by such rudeness, they enforced an elaborate public morality that elevated women with a higher level of respect. Thank goodness feminism and secularism drove a stake through chivalry’s heart.
Today’s Victorianism comes from the left. They too have an elaborate public morality, but one that is untethered to tradition or religion. Their guiding scripture is whatever trendy philosophy is coming out of gender studies departments and mass media in a given month. Men leering at Beyoncé on an awards show is celebrated; similar behavior on the street is anathema.
For better or worse, I’ve never followed fashion. Not only have I never catcalled, I still open doors for women, surrender my seat on public transport, and ensure that I treat them with an extra measure of kindness. I was notified by several liberal men on Twitter that this is A Bad Thing.
You see, it’s good that I oppose catcalling, but bad that I don’t oppose it for the “proper” reasons. While my outward acts of kindness are nice, they arise from a belief that gender differences exist. To these critics, my actions are unimportant; my ideology must be condemned.
Progressivism is about intentions, not results. Nevertheless, I will continue to practice chivalry even though it is unfashionable.
Or as Chesterton said, “It is true that I am of an older fashion; much that I love has been destroyed or sent into exile.” He wrote that sentence in 1927; imagine how much was destroyed by then in the first stages of the left's "Revolt Against the Masses," and nearly a century later, how much more demolition work they believe still remains.
* I think the producers of Mad Men were as surprised at the public's rather intrigued reaction to their depiction of the swank, well-groomed world of New York in 1959 in their first season, as Ceausescu was to his subjects' response to Dallas episodes aired in Communist Romania in the 1980s.
Update: "Viral Catcall Video Sets Left Into Internal Purge Mode," Ace writes in response to Cooke's article. "These people made this world, in which there is no discussion, only accusation; in which there is no search for truth, only imposition of consequences; in which there is no thought, only political campaigning and recruitment of persons for purposes of ritualized hazing." Read the whole thing.™