The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men

Christ and the Pharisees Anthony van Dyck (Flemish, Antwerp 1599–1641 London)

Pride is perhaps the worst of sins, for it is often at the root of many others such as anger and avarice. One finds it in unexpected places, for example in an article in the Guardian newspaper about the horrors of pro-Brexit Britain.

The author (whom I shall not name to spare him his blushes) obviously subscribes to the bien pensant view that one either believes in the rule of Messrs Juncker and Van Rompuy, et al., or one goes around beating up foreigners on the street. Our intellectual class, so dismissive of the uneducated masses who voted for Brexit, seem not to have noticed the logical fallacy in the argument that if xenophobes voted for Brexit, then those who voted for Brexit were xenophobes. Our educational system is evidently even worse than I had supposed.

The article, written by a Briton who now lives in Paris, ends as follows:

On the slipstream of empire, I’ve always thought – to the point of

treason – of my British passport as a “burden of shame” as UB40 so

eloquently put it, “a British subject, not proud of it”. Now, trying to

cling on in “the continent”, it is just a downright embarrassment – not

only a badge of shame, but also, worse in a way, of pointless, bellicose

imbecility.

This is, of course, typical of the hyperbole that followed the result of the referendum – to the holding of which, incidentally, few people objected before the results were known. In other words, you can have elections and referenda all right, so long as the results are ‘correct.’

But the interesting thing about the passage above is the evident and overweening pride that runs through it. The man who wrote it is middle-aged: he has kept his ‘badge of shame’ for decades after he could, if he had felt genuine shame about it, have got rid of it. No, his pride is to have a badge of shame, extravagantly exhibited, in order to demonstrate his moral superiority over other people who wear the same badge who are not as intelligent, educated or morally sensitive as heThis is the prideful shame of the poseur, of the moral exhibitionist. Moral exhibitionism is now the déformation professionelle (I use the French expression to establish that I am no xenophobe) of the intellectuals. On me, at any rate, it has the same effect as the sound of a teacher’s nail accidentally running down the blackboard had when I was a child. It puts me on edge.

 

4 Comments on The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men

  1. Having actually read the full article referred to, I find myself thinking that much of politics comes down to peculiar emotions rather than any actual rational consideration. The author bases his opinions on his feelings of shame, guilt and sense of rejection. All his arguments are appeals to emotion. Then, the very long comments thread is full of similar responses. Lots and lots of words such as ’embarrassed’ and ‘shame’, lots of attempts at the use of shaming language, very few words to do with reasoned argument.

    My initial conclusions are that political discourse is not a matter of thesis and anti-thesis leading to synthesis. It is not a matter of exchange and consideration of ideas. It is a clash of feelings and emotions and identities. In particular, leftism and all its variants should be seen as a type of mental illness and leftists should be treated as being potentially dangerous and mentally ill. Leftism is a dangerous mental disorder. At its very basis it is irrational and appeals to violent and dangerous urges, it should not be treated as a legitimate political viewpoint but a dangerous condition.

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