Post 2 in the Opsimath series.
Words without meaning.
The new Puritans.
Those naughty ‘N’ words.
My new facebook group : https://www.facebook.com/groups/524455598277075/
How would you feel if the government of the day banned Christmas ?, this actually happened in 1647 England by the way and not in some extreme Islamic state : it wasn’t the last time it happened either, with the Pilgrim fathers doing the same thing in the new colony, the revolting French doing it during their revolution and of course the Soviet Union banned it as a part of state atheism. To get this right up to date we also have the situation where ‘politically correct’, progressives in the west, notably in the UK, USA and modern day Canada claim that the holiday must be ‘multi-culturally sensitive’ and specifically Christian elements should be removed or de-empasised. Is it only me or do i sniff a connection between the 17th century Puritans, the French intellectuals of La Revolution, their counterparts under the Hammer and Sickle, and their bastard offspring : the woke and politically correct Puritans of today ?.
The Opsimath series also has it’s own timeline and blog in that the first post relates to Christmas day, it’s meaning or lack of the same, and what i was doing that day and on many previous Christmas days. The blog aspect of this post is that iv’e just completed the first online course that Dr Jordan Peterson has created for public consumption rather than filming a university lecture.
For those that are interested the course is a series of 8 lectures, notes and reference materials regarding personality and specifically the Big 5 personality traits model ; i will include a link at the bottom of this post. The course even had a test at the end in the form of a multi-choice questionnaire and i’m pleased to say that i did ok, ( 85 %), i would have done better except that i misread one of the questions. Once again i want to point out that the course was my treat to myself for Christmas as part of my intellectual deep-dive and so i didn’t just spend the day cleaning and watching obsessive/compulsive cleaners vs extreme slobs on youtube.
Many of my visitors will know that iv’e been following Dr Peterson’s work for about the same amount of time that iv’e been running Dirtywetdog and there is a connection in that it was his work that inspired me to start writing. Two years ago i took his lab’s version of the Big 5 personality traits test, watched his filmed university lecture series and then started thinking about personality in relation to ocean sailing and particularly in the narrow specialty of long distance ocean racing. That’s just about the only sailing link today by the way and my angle was in trying to understand characters like the late Donald Crowhurst whom it is assumed committed suicide during the first Golden Globe race in 1969. Some readers may remember that i wrote an essay about Donald Crowhurst ; trying to understand him from a trait psychology point of view.
The other blog event that i want to mention, because i’m going down that route today, is that seismic event that just happened in UK politics and the catastrophic rejection of the British Labour party, although not so much that as a series of small connected events that went along with the build up to the election. I’ll admit here that i used to be a lifelong Labour supporter up until the time of the Blair years although, once again, i’m not here to talk about that today. Rather, the series of things that happened during the election campaign all played out for me on social media when not just one but several people ‘un-friended’ me on social media after some comments i made challenging their views.
Just after the election, in fact the morning after, one of those former ‘friends’ posted on FB that it felt like he’d woken up and it was ‘1984’ because of the election result : i fired back that maybe he hadn’t read George Orwell’s novel or that he’d failed to grasp that what Orwell was writing about was an extreme socialist/communist kind of state and maybe we’d just all woken up a bit in the UK and rejected that ‘progressive’ idea. Now, i fully understand that Orwell’s novel has many themes that have played out in the extreme right dictatorships just as much as they have in the former Soviet Union, East Germany, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Venezuala today etc etc, and yes i know that right wing ultra-nationalism is a real thing…..i’m not blind and deaf to that.
It was an incredibly toxic and extremely polarised campaign much like the Clinton vs Trump USA presidential election of 2016…..that one is still echoing to the march of Antifa thugs smacking people over the head with bike-locks and calling out everyone they hate as being a Nazi : that’s one of the things i want to deal with as the meat of this post.
Those naughty ‘N’ words….chose your own ; i quite like NO by the way !
The first time i ever visited the continental USA was during the 1989-90 Whitbread race and one of the stopovers was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I had a busy stopover as i was the only person aboard who could do certain rigging jobs but it took some time to get the materials so i used my time up until we sourced them to clean through the boat : one day i was wet-vacuuming all of the berth cushions when a local professional sailor (female) came by , we spoke for a while and she asked me what my usual job on the boat was.
I said to this person that i was the boat’s medic, rigger and basically the ‘boat nigger’ as well : she immediately stated that she was shocked that i would use such language and that ‘i shouldn’t say that’. I won’t say that it was the first time i’d dealt with political correctness in speech but it was the first time that i’d met it in the sailing community ; sailors more often tending to be a bit ‘salty’ in their language !. If anything i was mildly amused but also a bit ‘pissed’ is the local term that she had the temerity to tell me how i should and shouldn’t speak but it went a bit further….
I went below and pulled out one of the 2 books i’d been carrying on that leg and the one i was currently reading : Joseph Conrad’s ‘Nigger of the Narcissus’, i handed the book to her and asked her what she thought of it. Her response : that it was outrageous and should be banned…seriously !, no if’s, no but’s, no context and no allowance that the book had been written in a very different era So, i thought : here’s an interesting thing, a liberal sounding white female who acted as though it was perfectly ok to tell other people what to do and that certain books should be banned….or burnt !. I expressed the view that her approach sounded more like what happened in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s rather than in late 20th century America : well, i was a few years too early on that one and it wasn’t for another 30 years that it all really kicked off, today i guess most of us will have stories like that and today it’s one of the other naughty ‘N’ words that i’m going to talk about.
Gratuitous boat porn picture : 1989-90 Whitbread race era ketch F&P.
The really bad ‘N’ word ; the overused one .
Iv’e been thinking about the use of the term ‘Nazi’ a lot recently because it’s been popping up everywhere, indeed if there were as many actual modern day ‘Nazi’s’ as is claimed then we should be awash in Swastika’s and hardly getting any sleep with the crash of marching jack-boots and shouty blokes with bad haircuts and dodgy moustache’s !. It seems though that just about everyone is calling someone else a Nazi for something regardless of their views, their political affiliations or what they claim to be themselves…..even the anti-fascists who are right up there in calling out just about everybody for being one are described as being the same themselves : in their case they do rather deserve it even though there are better descriptors that would apply to them. Somehow, like certain swear words though the term ‘Nazi’ is a kind of ultimate insult, the end of the road of argument if you will.
Probably an actual Nazi….although i wonder how many people today would know who this was.
I don’t know much about many things, i know a bit about caring for really sick people for example and a fair bit about the unimportant but totally fascinating world of sailing boats and the sea ; but one of the few very important things i know a fair bit about is the second world war and the whole Nazi era. In this blog, more than 2 years ago, i wrote an essay titled ‘SDKFZ 24/4’ which outlined my journey from modelmaker hobbyist through to amateur but serious reader of history of that period. It’s a throwaway line i know but i even met and worked with a former member of the ‘Hitlerjugend’ and she was about as far from being a Nazi as is possible !
So today when i hear the term ‘Nazi’ being used indiscriminately my ears kind-of prick up because iv’e read enough to know what the real Nazi’s were and what the Nazi ideology actually was all about and even what it’s language was like. You could say that the dangers of Nazi-ism are very easy to recognise, almost like the chasm at the cliff edge or in sailing terms those rocks and shoals just downwind to the right of our course. The dangers of the extreme right are easy to recognise and thus avoid ; strangely though it’s much harder to recognise the equivalent danger posed by the extreme left, which is possibly why it is today that seeing a Swastika displayed at a rally is extremely disturbing but many would turn a blind eye to the Hammer and Sickle flag being flown openly or even see it as a good thing. Lets get back to ‘Nazi though.
Iv’e only recently come to understand that iv’e been making a profound mistake with this ; in assuming that my historical knowledge of the Nazi’s is useful , and even worse in assuming that the usual suspect’s use of the term is also historically or factually based. Most of the time now i believe that the use of the term is just a form of verbal shorthand ; something along the lines of “i can’t think of a good argument so i’m just going to deploy the worst insult i can, label you and shut you down”. Once iv’e called you a Nazi, iv’e demonised you, put you beyond the pale and the only thing required is a punch in the face or a bike lock over the head !
If we listen to the progressives and the radical/extreme left, iv’e been doing a lot of that and it’s not pretty !, then we get to a kind of Orwellian reduction of language where certain things are ‘good’ or virtuous, ‘plus-good in the Orwellian lexicon, and bad to badder and baddest on the opposite side. In the progressive lexicon ‘white’ is bad, man, conservative , male and masculine are definitely bad while non-white, female/feminine and feminist , liberal and progressive are good to plus good, perhaps even the Orwellian sense ‘doubleplusgood‘ . Maybe it’s as simple as this and ‘old white conservative male‘ is basically the patriarchy, therefore the root of all evil and basically……Nazi .
Hang on though ; how did i get here ?
My intention in this post was to follow on logically from the Christmas day post, my idea there being to see what those pesky puritans did next after they’d banned Christmas day for it being popish, licentious , drunken and rather too much fun for those sour faced zealots. Well, they didn’t stop at Christmas but banned Easter and a couple of other things as well, committed regicide as a side line and then buggered off to the new colony across the water where they caused even more trouble. On a slightly more serious note the puritans might not be quite what we think they were today ; they were more tolerant of the other protestant christian sects, at least in merrie England but they were completely intolerant when it came to the Catholic church.
My original thought was to continue with that theme of the rise of the mainly middle class puritans vs the established catholics and the landed upper class : that the main ideological arguments of the day were religious ones, but also about power and that the fledgling european countries weren’t that far beyond savage religious wars, religious trials, witchcraft and the inquisition.
Here in my own journey i do a lot of reading for each of these posts , iv’e already got a good grounding with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union but i was a bit lacking in my knowledge of the Puritans and the English civil war period and even sketchier on the other revolution that i mentioned….the French one. The English civil war was probably the worlds first ‘class war’, the French revolution the second and the Russian revolution only a more recent one. What i think i can see is a hint of a thread that connects each of those and continues through to the modern day, that will take some explaining so i’ll leave that for future posts in this series ; for now i’d like to leave you with one short story from my research so far and one final thought for this post.
It wasn’t just the Puritans that banned Christmas and Christmas wasn’t the only thing they banned ; they also banned dancing and music at weddings and, as is typical of the virtuous, moralising they also demonstrated stunning hypocrisy , an example of which is that Cromwell himself allowed music and dancing at his daughter’s wedding….one rule for the rulers and one for the ruled eh ?. Personally i’m glad that the monarchy was restored even in the shape of Charles the second ; who is a bit of a hero of mine because he was pretty tolerant , had a lot of fun…..and introduced yachting to the English.
A short story then and an explanation of why i used a picture of Oswald Moseley as the title photograph.
My story is an explanation of a live comic act gag performed by British drag artiste Eddie Izzard during his tour of the USA a few years back. One of his gag routines is a comic take on fake ‘castles’ in the US ; the kind of thing you might see at Disney World or the Vegas strip. Izzard berates the audience a bit and then reminds them that maybe they should be a little less gushing to us Brits about things like history and castles…..because we have real ones !. Ok, so he pushes the joke a bit too far as he always does ; so many castles they’re practically a nuisance, but you get the idea ; hold on to that idea.
Punch line then…..
You see, when it comes to privileged white kids in the USA and Canada particularly yelling ‘Nazi’ and ‘Nazi Scum’ in the face of everyone who has in some small way offended them , then i feel it moot to remind them that just like castles we had real ones : real Nazi’s here in this country too in the 1930’s. Then, i think it fully reasonable that working men and the trade unions hit the streets, formed barricades and punched a few.
This, my friends was the real deal and it would be well worth while reading a bit of the background to this as none of it is quite what it seems.