Sunday 10 February 2008

So show me!

Nothing quite wakens the beast within the ideologue like a confrontation with reality. The steady glow of conviction splutters into a spitting flame, the quiet face of false certainty contorts, and mellifluous mews turn into daggers.

As a traveller to countries where phantasies abound you begin to tread warily once you get close to the nerve. A mercurial debate dons the straightjacket as soon as the other ego feels challenged. It helps to be informed beforehand.

The fates of Galileo, of Giordano Bruno, of Martin Luther attest to the sheer ferocity we can expect from the owners of beliefs whose cherished monsters are exposed to the light.

Nor does it help if the usurpers have their own foibles. Even thieves practise a certain collegiality but not here. From the purveyors of religion to the officials of authoritarian governments, the instruments of coercion are brought to bear upon those who threaten. Even the mere perception of a threat evokes the hatred.

Think of the security forces during the French Revolution, the police under the tsars and the communists, the watchers of the Reich, the spies in Islamic countries.

The only calming influence - and really the only one - comes from the culture of the times. The sheer size of the state lends a certain inertia to the fever of individuals provided it is their environment which is more measured by comparison. Turn it around and the opposite is true.

Nothing has changed. For the present the stake may be relegated to history, but every age has its own dungeons hidden from the common view.

Those who find themselves in the Family Court will know what it means to question the tenets of feminism; those who are untouched by heated moralism discover the perils of the human eros; and so many agendas in the name of peace are anything but when put to the test.

"So show me!" - the mere asking for evidence - is enough to loosen the hounds.

Indigenous tribes the reservoir of wisdom and harmony - where is the evidence? No collective character of a people - where is the evidence? The wide range of sexuality determining the life and death of society - where? The wrath of some god - really?

True democracy is for those who don't mind loosing. So far our houses of parliaments are still only shells.

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