Imbibing the doctrine of secularism
“They’ve knocked the tops of all the crosses and turned them into T’s… Our Lord is now Our Ford who, when he was speaking on psychological matters liked to be known as Our Freud… Streptocock-G to Banbury-T to see a fine bathroom and WC…”
Just a few lines from one of the greatest books and, in my view, the best extended satire of the 20th century: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley who died 50 years ago. The title is taken from The Tempest: “O brave new world that has such people in it.” Huxley wrote this wonderful, prophetic book inside six weeks and confessed that he produced it “…only as a squib to annoy HG Wells.”
Brave New World, published in 1932, imagines a techno-psychotropic totalitarian regime in which a scientific elite holds in subjection an extremely socially-stratified people by dishing out tranquilising drugs and drilling them into the recitation of mind-numbing slogans.
This drug is called soma, which happens to be the Greek word for body. And in Huxley’s dystopic mechanistic world, the body is all. It is also a deterministic world where freewill and the natural range of human emotions – especially love – are denied. Surveillance is inescapable. Infallible, universal contraception is compulsory by means of a device entertainingly described as a “Malthusian belt.” All babies are born out of test tubes, and there is even the parody of an old Cockney song about this: Bottle of mine It’s you I’ve always wanted Bottle of mine Why was I ever decanted? Skies are blue Inside of you The weather’s always fine There ain’t no bottle in all the world like that dear old bottle of mine.
Huxley’s predictions have mostly come true, but it is not given to anyone to envision the future in its entirety. He was dead right about our scorning of God in favour of a secular, atheistic social philosophy and, of course, accurate too in his warning of the coming of a society whose members are halffrightened (by that universal surveillance) and halfbribed, by drugs and squalid entertainment, contraception and loveless sex, into dull acquiescence.
Huxley was too sanguine, too kind, about human nature to imagine the greater evil of our world in which the wholesale slaughter of the unborn is now used as a method of contraception, in case parenthood should threaten to interfere with the right to an unimpeded hedonistic lifestyle.
But, among all the follies and evils perceived by the impudent visionary Aldous Huxley, there was one thing he failed to notice: the resurgence of militant Islam. This oversight had consequences for the shape his novel would take but, far more importantly, for the shape of the world we now inhabit.
Brave New World imagines that Christianity will simply fade away, and so there is no explicit persecution of Christians in the book. Huxley’s hero then is not some Christian saint battling against the godless technocracy but “the Savage” – a natural man borrowed from such writers as Montaigne and Rousseau.
It is the Christian who stands in the gap, in the place of extreme danger, like the brave 300 at Thermopylae
Now - as they say employing a metaphor straight out of the technological dystopia itself – fast forward the 80 years since Huxley’s remarkable prophecies and what do we see? All the things he predicted but, alongside them, the worldwide rise of aggressive Islam.
So who is the rebel today? Who stands oppressed and persecuted on the one side by atheistic techno-materialism operating a drugged-up, dumbed-down consumerist culture of vacuous hedonism, and on the other side by imperialistic, fundamentalist religionists determined to achieve global hegemony?
It is the Christian who stands in the gap, in the place of extreme danger, like the brave 300 at Thermopylae. Our predicament is made the more dire by the fact that we refuse to recognise it for what it is. Instead of looking to its defences - both intellectual and, if necessary physical – western civilization, which was created by Christianity, is in denial. We despise our Christian inheritance and tradition as something “primitive” which through our scientific enlightenment we have outgrown.
And at the same time, through the effete and cowardly doctrine of political-correctness, we make excuses for our militantly religious enemies. Faced with the aggression and terrorism of these enemies, we offer no firm rebuttal but instead suicidally blame ourselves. We are like a man on the operating table who awakes screaming in agony out of failed anaesthesia and offers immediate apologies to the medical team for the noise he is making.
There is only one question remaining to be answered: will what’s left of the formerly Christian West rouse itself in time to confront the twin dangers of aggressive atheism and militant Islam? Our fellow Christians in Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and many states in Africa are facing violent persecution, dispossession and religious “cleansing” at the least, and at worst extermination. The response of European governments is indifference.
The leaders of a continent that was until very recently defined by its Christianity are instead enamoured of the pie-in-the-sky effusions of protests for “democracy” and all unseeing of the darker forces of militant Islam that will soon squash these innocents flat.
Resistance is made impossible by the unfortunate fact that the Christians who hold positions of authority and leadership throughout Europe are of the so-called “liberal” sort – the very people who are most anxious to decry their own tradition and who lead the chorus of apologies for the supposed, usually imaginary, sins of our Christian past. Their policy in the face of threats from the militants is to set up a high-level and everlasting talking-shop with moderate Muslims. They fail to notice that the Islamists have a taste for slaughtering moderate Muslims, which equals or even exceeds their appetite for murdering Christians.
And when it comes to the persecution of Christians in Britain by the avid and contemptuous secularist culture, bishops, synods and the like are equally indifferent. This is because they have so imbibed the dogmas of secularism – equality, universal rights, diversity and a general progressivism – that they have developed a fiercer disapproval of traditional Christianity than of the godless culture itself. In the terribly prophetic words of TE Hulme: “A civilisation is only defeated when it has been penetrated by the ideas of its enemies.”
We have been so penetrated. What is there left to do except fight and pray?
“O brave new world that has such people in it!”