It is a war, rather, between the Enlightenment and what was once called Irrationalism: a belief that violence and blind faith are truer and nobler than reason. ~The Daily Telegraph
As if to prove my earlier point, the Telegraph comes out on cue to endorse the Enlightenment. Let me say this as simply as I can: I am glad that the so-called Kulturkampf represented by the war with Al Qaeda jihadis is not a war for the Enlightenment, because I would not fight for the Enlightenment or support its defense if those were the stakes. I wouldn’t because I don’t accept that the Enlightenment represents human reason in any way that is deserving of admiration or defense; I don’t accept that the Enlightenment was opposed to “violence and blind faith” (some of its apostles have been very violent and blindly obedient to the dictates of their political creed). It was opposed to revelation, Christianity and reason illuminated by faith. Against the fighting faith of the jihadis, the sterile and all together deficient “values” of Enlightenment liberalism will not be enough; if we are fighting primarily for these things, we do not have much to fight for.
Besides, no one really wishes to die in the service of the Enlightenment any more than a man is willing to die for any other set of abstractions. If we are not fighting for our civilisation (and according to civilised means) and to protect our homes and countries, we are in for a rough time. This is the problem with trying to construct a grandiose “ideological struggle” from a simple political conflict. The ideologues who cook up this rhetoric think that it is necessary to rally public support behind the effort, but what they do not understand is that these increasingly strained and tiresome invocations of the glories of Locke and Voltaire do not inspire and only serve to convince the public that the ideologues will say just about anything to whip up support for the conflict. Worst of all, they may indeed believe what they’re saying, which begs the question why the flagship paper of Toryism is going on about the Enlightenment and “liberal values.”
Yes, I understand by “liberal values” they mean 1688 and All That, Locke, Sydney and the rest, and so I ask again: why are Tories going on about these things? Yes, I know that Tories have accommodated themselves to all those ideas, however grudgingly, but there once was a time when Enoch Powell could say completely without irony that the most recent political innovation he approved of was Magna Carta. He still had his reservations about the rest. Nowadays Tories shout their approval of either the Enlightenment or Cromwell–what has the world come to?