“Create a language and you create a world,” is one of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s less-impenetrable sayings. For example, is adultery a mortal sin or only a lifestyle choice? Or is a large pork pie a real treat or the likely precursor of a heart attack? An hour in the sun with your shirt off a warming boost to morale after a drab winter, or just asking for a dose of melanoma? I remembered Wittgenstein’s words when I listened to a recent episode of the BBC’s File on Four.
In fact, File on Four is itself a good example of what Wittgenstein was talking about. Is it an informative programme which brings to our notice matters of pressing public concern, or only an opinionated, tetchy, left wing nag which constantly reviles our social institutions? That recent edition of the programme provided a good example.
To use the reporter’s own words, the subject before us was “mental health services.” It was a very sad story. There was a talented young man of good reputation who wrote and illustrated children’s books. Another young man of, as it turned out, quite different character launched an entirely unprovoked attack on the young writer and stabbed him to death, making his escape on a 1000cc motorbike. The killer was subsequently pursued by the police, crashed his bike and was killed. The substance of the programme was the story of how these terrible events had come to pass: who was at fault and might it all have been prevented, and so on.
This was where the makers of File on 4 chose their language and thereby created a particular world. The presenter described how the killer had “a history of mental health issues.” Over a long period, he had received treatment but – and this was the gist, as it were, of the programme’s thrust – in the “run up” to the killing, the murderer had not been receiving the appropriate treatment from the “mental health services.” The conclusion was that such treatment would have prevented the fatal stabbing.
Thus, if anyone was at fault, it was the mental health services.
The reporter and his “team” were assiduous in gathering evidence. They interviewed the killer’s father who testified that his son had been a kind, even-tempered boy until he started on the heroin: “It was his drugs that did it.” Still, there was no imputing any blame for the killing to its perpetrator – or even any responsibility for his starting to take heroin in the first place. “it was his drugs that did it.”
If File on 4 was going to attach any moral responsibility to anyone or anything – apart from those naughty drugs – it was to the neglectful “mental health services.” Interestingly, there was no suggestion that the killer might have had some responsibility – gosh don’t let’s mention the word wrong! – for how he chose to live his life. Really, we were meant to believe that he had had no choice in the matter. He was just as much a “victim” as the man he had stabbed to death.
This is but one example of Wittgenstein’s “words and the world” thesis. Our entire public life is constructed out of such examples where we discover that we are perpetually in a prison – or rather a variety of prisons – built out of our choices of words. Two more examples and then I’ll leave you to go walk the dog…
Is “taking the knee” an acknowledgment of our deep complicity in the crimes of colonialism and racism? Or is it a sentimental piece of political posturing and a belated act of penitence for deeds we never committed? Are 200,000 abortions each year of perfectly healthy embryos examples of murder – or are they the result of our enlightened and progressive attitudes which support “a woman’s right to choose”?
It’s not for me to tell you what to think: that is, I’m not the BBC!
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It always strikes me a strange when recovering drug adicts or alcoholics get a round of applause when they declare they have not imbibed drugs or drink for x amount of time.
When if they had not been such weak minded people in the first place then they would not have had to try and recover.
The blame game is alive and well. Personal responsibility is an outdated concept.
Everyone is a victim. Except if you don’t belong to one of the Marxist approved groups of course.
Shame on you, Fr Mullen, for perpetrating the Marxist cliché that Wittgenstein’s writings are “impenetrable”. The Marxists want us not to penetrate them, for fear that we might find something non-Marxist lurking within. In truth, Wittgenstein is no more impenetrable than your own hero, Karl Barth, or Plato, or St Paul.
“Create a language and you create a world” applies as much to Pericles and Cleon – or Hitler and Stalin – or (in the definitive Shakespearean case) Brutus and Mark Antony as it does to the modern perpetrators of political correctness and those who try to oppose them.
We need to be aware that the language we speak and write has been partly created for us by our teachers, who, in recent decades, have almost all been Marxists. We cannot without great difficulty speak or write such words as “justice” or “peace” or “freedom” without being infected by Marxist adjustments of the meanings of those words.
Some theologians have asserted that Biblical Hebrew is a language devised by God. This is an extreme claim, but as recently as 1962 John Mauchline’s preface to his revision of A B Davidson’s /Introductory Hebrew Grammar/ said:
“The notable absence of abstract words, the practice of using a metaphor from everyday life in place of an adverb of manner … and other characteristics that might be noted … make it difficult for anyone using the [Hebrew] language to wrap his thought in verbal obscurities or to darken it with complicated modes of expression of uncertain intent.”
This wise remark tells us as much about the state of Modern English in 1962 and today as it does about Ancient Hebrew.
You make an eloquent and forceful description of a successful society but when that society is attacked from its own institutions which have been stealthily infiltrated by the enemy it leaves only a hollowed out husk that, historically, represented the values of the vanquished. The Conservative Party is but one example and the hard-working constituency volunteers are duped into thinking that the party is working on their behalf when all it is doing is shafting them to simply be ‘in office’ and to throw its lot in with the fifth column that has captured the levers of real power.
Yes, I agree -you say the truth of these matters.
Thing is, the hard-working volunteers must be ever alert to their being duped and betrayed by their enemies, of whatever hue.
And, having ascertained the enemy’s line-of-attack and/or realise that the enemy now holds the heights, must decide what to do:
Surrender in resentment or resignation or despair or self-pity-
-or rally, organise, garner resources, determine the counter-strategy, train the necessary human forces and then fight, fight, fight -quietly and unseen if necessary.
It’s a big job, Life-on-Earth -if one does not accept surrender to The Bad.
That’s my view anyway.
All best, Harry.
Want a better place to live?
Over the ages, many Christians, non-Christians, and all sorts of others have acted on the understanding that:
To establish and maintain an effective and desirable society with the necessary supporting forms of Polity, Economics, Legal and Policing Systems and Codes of Individual Behaviour, it would require unceasing efforts by critical numbers of citizens in all walks and stations of life-
-efforts in essential tasks in all facets of the citizens’ responsibilties in the conduct of their technical work, their social roles and in their personal lives.
And within all this, this critical number of people -volunteers really- must work mightily and at great personal cost/sacfifice within the underlying political system-
-the system within which the most significant matters of defending/controlling the boundaries of the society, the education and training of members of the society esp in regard to the contributions and duties required of those citizens, and distribution of resources within the society -all as guided by values held most dear, most essential.
And when the number of these competent, highly-productive, self-sacrificing volunteers -who accept that their work on behalf of the ignorant non-contributors is what keep everything going well enough- falls below critical mass, it all goes WRONG, KAPUT, FINIS.
Democracy and its benefits cannot be maintained when most participants are no more than spectators on the sidelines who only yell advice to the actual political players.
(And there are limits to the kinds and degrees of differences in values held by constitutent groups -all of which sources of conflict- that can be accommodated successfully within the society. Obviously.)
The world is a better place than it would otherwise have been, thanks to the British Empire.
Whatever ‘crimes’ the British might have committed in their Empire, and there certainly were some, would the places they ruled have seen fewer ‘crimes’ if they hadn’t been in charge?
Quite the contrary, I’d say.
Philip Vander Elst’s article on Empire,Africa and slavery, Conservative Woman, 1 August, online, is worth reading – and would make a good anti-BLM leaflet.
Might the Angels of Mons return to save British forces?
Well, return to save the entire Western Civ actually.
Trump might win the election and the Republicans might retain the Senate -which will result in huge upscaling of violence, loss of life, and destruction of property.
But Trump might lose -in which case, an anti-white Commie Squad will be the main force in the US Govt by way of its influence in the House of Reps and in the Admin.
Were Trump to lose, let those Angels preserve a GOP Senate which, with its powers in the appointment judges to the Supreme and Federal Courts, will be the final bulwark against marxist forces with a virulent anti-white streak running through them.
Harry Black has it partly right. Until the change in China, the only way back from a Marxist/socialist state was by complete collapse of that state. However, the depressing aspect to the rising Marxist/environmentalists hegemony we see in western countries is backed by big business which, surely, looks at China and welcomes todays western Marxists in having abandoned the Leninist failure in state control of manufacturing and the means of distribution for ‘cultural Marxism’. This suits big business as it cripples small business competitors with taxation and expensive and complicated regulation thus killing off competition to the multi-nationals that have no allegiance except to their CEO and the shareholders. What hope then for a free nation state and its independent citizens?
Very little hope -is the answer Derek S.
I see that the now-preferred “career turbo-charger” for mid-level management people working in the banks, media, tech, pharma, raw resources and energy firms, and big manufacturers is to do a:
“Masters in Sustainable Leadership Studies”.
All the marxist-greenist ideas that can be crammed into a lovely on-line program that requires approx 6 hours per week of watching videos staged over 12 months with quite a few weeks off along the way for holiday breaks.
Even the very elite universities are running these “studies” programs through their “extension” arms.
The new Archbishop of York has said that Jesus aka the Second Person of the Trinity was/is a “black” man (like his amiable diocesan predecessor). So “taking the knee” (no longer required for RC communicants) suits the present “Church” of “England” – in lockstep with Romans 14.11 &c.
The BLM movement is a militant offshoot of the cult “nicknamed” wok[e]ism, a political quasi-religion; see the online comments by e.g. Pulpit&Pen, Tripp Parker, Samuel Gregg, Bo & Ben Winegard, Ed Dutton, Damian Thompson, Andrew Sullivan, &c.
The residual role of Christianity in the secular society appears as guilt, self-abnegation combined with self-righteousness, turning the other cheek, “there is no health in us”. It has transmuted into a new faith, Masochistianity. The ludicrous prostrations of the Archbishop of Canterbury exemplify the nonsense.
I am reminded of Professor William McNeile Dixon’s Gifford Lectures in 1937, which predicted the demographic decline of white people, their empires and their religion, and contained this reflection: “When England’s day comes to an end the principles which have contributed to its coming, Christian, pacifist, or whatever they may be styled, will not thereby be strengthened….they will have brought about their own eclipse, their own dissolution, and the triumph of the opposing principles. The decline and fall of England, which will rejoice her enemies, will not be England’s decline and fall only, but for all for which she stood, and not till then shall we know the extent of our miseries.”
Don’t forget that the local authority had not yet implemented a 20mph escape route for our poor dear perp, he had likely driven off at an alarming 30mph.
Had that been the case, the authorities would have been able to help him to a full recovery in one of our illustrious mental health facilities.
Everywhere you look…. Failure.
Higher taxes now!
Thank you, Fr Peter, for a trenchant analysis of a problem that has been around for a very long time. The idea that, if we do something bad, we are absolved of responsibility if we suffer from mental illness, or have had a life shaped by bad experience, or have been pressured into a bad action by the extremity of the moment — that idea has its origins in the presupposition that human nature, pure and inviolate, is inevitably disposed towards making good decisions. For that we can thank Jean Jaques Rousseau and the host of Romantic thinkers and theologians who have left a legacy seemingly benign, but in reality poisonous.
By removing responsibility from the disturbed individual one inevitably transfers it to someone else — in this case to those who run “mental health services.” The falsity of the entire world being constructed by the words highlighted in this article, is demonstrated by the fact that even those who believe in that world always have to blame someone or something.
They fail to recognise a fundamental ethical point — or rather, they adopt an ethical position without realising its implications. This article exposes the fact that those who use language in this way are adopting that deadly, yet currently prevalent, combination of situational ethics and consequentialism. Anything goes except the idea that an individual carries personal responsibility for their behaviour. On the contrary — suffering from mental illness or from disadvantage does not absolve the perpetrator of responsibility; though it might affect how they pay the penalty for their actions.
The gist of this article is well illustrated in Theodore Dalrymple’s book: ‘The Knife Went In’. The title encapsulates the criminal’s attempt to exonerate himself from his evil crime by blaming anything from an inanimate knife to being ‘abused’ in childhood. Socialists, whose end-game is to have complete control over society, are eager to propagate this nonsense as it furthers their agenda in making crime a treatable disease and, through ‘education’ and ‘exoneration’, to breed a population of edited – eloi-style – citizens who will provide a comfortable and indispensable world for the political elite and their armies of police/social-workers. The ‘soft’ pornography shovelled out every day in the media, the fashionable use of mind-altering drugs, and the accent on consumerism is, surely, the direct route to Aldous Huxley’s novel ‘Brave New World’. Those who refuse to board the bus will be vilified and harassed as we have witnessed with Woke fury at anyone who dares to stray from the approved opinion and/or language and is subsequently ‘cancelled’. However, a glimmer of hope may be on the horizon as I saw in the Daily Telegraph today that Charles Moore is tipped to be the new BBC chairman.
Well put, Mr Sibthorpe.
And hear, hear about your final sentence:
“a glimmer of hope may be on the horizon as I saw in the Daily Telegraph today that Charles Moore is tipped to be the new BBC chairman.”
Well might there be a glimmer of hope.
But the history of everything tells us that cultures/systems/organisations, once they have gone marxist, there is no pulling them back to neutrality, let alone re-making as anti-marxist, short of collapse due to lack of funding-
-and that will not happen in this here day and age.
A new chairman, a new CEO -these persons do not have the power to fix rotten boroughs.
I say that since “government money” is apparently limitless, large amounts of it should be used to set up and maintain a new multi-media platform designed and managed to present to the general populace anti-marxist/anti-greenist concepts and facts-
-and how these can be applied in the fields of economics and free enterprise, defence against sedition and insurrection, education at all levels, the criminal justice system, the proper functioning of all civil services, and the pursuit of individual self-sufficiency.
In that enterprise, there is some prospect of saving the nation from the marxist Abyss.
Do you think the political and cultural landscape of London will alter radically with Shaun Bailey as Mayor?
I’m afraid yours may be the triumph of hope over reality.