Philosophy has been known to be a bit of a struggle for many of us, except, of course, if we happen to be professional footballers, pop stars, film actors, reality TV performers or hedge-fund managers. Although in last week’s Spectator Quentin Letts offered a primer on how to pretend to be an Egypt expert, the poor little Greek boy, always ready to offer more to the sacrosanct Spectator readership than an Englishman, will now take you to the wilder reaches of philosophy as applied to real life.
One of the reasons I always write about the past is ‘anamnesis,’ which is the exact opposite of amnesia, the latter a condition suffered by every single one of the world’s dictators and then some. Take, for example, Queen Rania of Jordan, quite a dish but one who has obviously not read my Greek colleague Aristotle. (More about old Ari in a jiffy.) European royal friends of mine have commented on how Rania got off on the right foot by asking advice and playing humble, but how quickly she reverted to type once inside the castle. This is a not uncommon state of being known as Lukatmi among us philosophers. Living an extravagant lifestyle in a country such as Jordan is the equivalent of sniffing an ounce of Bolivian pure and attending a Tibetan monks’ gathering where silence and meditation is all. It is bound to attract attention and disapproval. Rania is a Palestinian lass who funnels business to her family — unheard of in the Arab world — and pulls rank on her subjects, also unheard of.
Last summer she threw a party for her 40th in southern Jordan for 600 of her closest. Most guests were straight out of the pages of Hello!, which is par for the course. Rania’s amnesia with regard to a party thrown by the Shah at Persepolis 40 years before to the day should have come to her mind. No one likes parties more than me but it depends where one gives them. When one’s population is close to 70 per cent Palestinian and poor, and you are surrounded by enemies like Syria, Iraq and, yes, Israel, flashy parties are not to be recommended.
But back to Aristotle. He basically taught civic virtue and excellence as being the goal any citizen should strive for. The etymology of the word idiot is Greek, ‘idiotis’, and it means a private person. An individual. In other words, not partaking in politics means that one’s an idiot. Politics was always, to the Ancient Greeks, an art as well as a science. Aristotle and Immanuel Kant were born 2,000 years apart, and, come to think of it, Jesus was born in between them, but all three men basically said the same thing: one has to be a moral person to be a good citizen and good citizens work together for a better world. (Philosopher Taki’s Categorical Imperative.)
Now just think, dear readers. Aristotle, Jesus, Kant and many more after them preached virtue and morality, yet in the developed world, the ghastly shrinks have turned selfishness into a virtue, and Lukatmi has become the be all and end all of our existence. Recently in Davos such smiling wallet-lifters as Bill Clinton, George Soros and Larry Summers paraded themselves — at a very high price, mind you — dispensing financial and moral advice to the rest of the peasants, advice that they assure us will make us all rich and famous and subjects of Hello! quicker than you can say Madoff.
One of the most prominent Athenian statesmen was Lycurgus, an old pupil of Plato, hence a contemporary of Aristotle, who professed to be a democrat, despite looking with a friendly eye toward Spartan ideas and ideals. Lycurgus had a regard to the interests of the propertied classes and was described as a financier with a moral mission. It might sound like an oxymoron today, but a state needs both the propertied classes, the capitalists, as well as the martial classes, the Spartans. What a state does not need are the money-shufflers, those billionaires who create and build nothing but enjoy the profits from the works built by others. By this I mean the Soroses, Kravises, Abramoviches, and other such jackals who know how to shift money around and how to bet which weakling will go down next.
Which brings me to the pathological individualism syndrome, as the French philosopher Guillaume Faye calls it. Because our rulers think only about the individual — and not about nation or race — they promote policies at home and raise armies to fight abroad, which one day will see our children attacked by the very policies these conmen have foisted upon us. Everyone not busy watching the grotesque Simon Cowell knows that Africa has lost her traditional societies and is incapable of replacing them with anything that is not squalid and cruel. The Middle East is not as bad but almost. Yet the Tony Blairs and Bill Clintons of this world insist that flooding old Europe with Turks, Middle Easterners, Pakistanis, Bengalis and Africans is a valid expression of human solidarity. Multimillionaire celebrities and other demented do-gooders want our taxes to subsidise them, and we — like the proverbial sheep to the slaughter — go along with it.
If Taki the philosopher had his way, most of the baddies mentioned above would be jailed as enemies of the state of Europe, starting with the Brussels thieves playing dictator, Blair, Bush, Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright — Richard Holbrooke did the correct thing and dropped dead — the whole kit and kaboodle. Albright’s favourite, Hashim Thaçi, head of Kosovo, was and is a drugs dealer but also sells human organs. We took his side against Christian Serbs. Pathological altruism is what the good prof. calls the desire to become extinct.