Award-winning columnist Melanie Phillips, recipient of the Orwell prize for journalism in 1996 and author of acclaimed Londonistan, has written an explosive new book systematically exposing chapter and verse of the hypocrisy, cant and blatant falsehoods which currently dominate much of contemporary Western thought. The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle Over God, Truth and Power will leave readers breathless as they follow her perceptive and ferocious exposé of the strains of insanity inherent in the “correct” attitudes currently being promoted by politicians, pseudo-academics and much of the Western media.
The book encompasses an extraordinarily wide range of prevailing public perceptions, which Phillips methodically demonstrates as not merely being utterly false but frequently deliberately fabricated as a vehicle to promote bizarre agendas. In addition to the author’s commendable writing skills, what makes this book particularly impressive is her almost renaissance mastery of a multitude of complex issues – combined with a knack for communicating them in a form that most readers are able to comprehend.
In addition, she substantiates her assertions with research backed by meticulous documentation.
Phillips strongly repudiates the commonly accepted view that faith and reason are incompatible, persuasively demonstrating that in many cases the opposite is true. Her central thesis is that the trivialization of religious belief, rejection of the Judeo-Christian heritage and post-modernism, have all combined to erode the foundations upon which our civilization is based. This in turn created a vacuum which opened the floodgates for the emergence of a host of irrational cults and weird, even insane conspiracy theories.
Some of the bizarre examples cited by Phillips include the wacky belief that Princess Diana was assassinated to prevent her from marrying a Muslim; Tony Blair’s wife belief in the transcendent properties of stones and the utilization of her and her husband’s hair and toenails to detect signs of “poisons and blockages” in their bodies; the allegation that AIDS was created in a CIA laboratory; the pagan practices of the “Kabbala” followers of Madonna, the icon of Western modernity, who wear red threads on their wrists to ward off the evil spirit and meditate on stem cells to achieve immortality of the body; the allegations that the 9/11 attacks were either created by the Mossad or were an inside job by the Bush administration; and the “post religious mythology” inherent in the hubris and narcissism employed in the Obama election campaign.
THE MORE significant practical implications of these trends are reviewed as separate sections of the book. The opening chapter titled “The Myth of Environmental Armageddon” deals with global warming which has swept the planet. Phillips ruthlessly dissects the lies and distortions employed to promote what she regards as one of the greatest scientific scams of the modern age, “reminiscent of a medieval witch-hunt,” with dissenting scientists being hounded from their posts by the equivalent of a secular inquisition.
In relation to the Iraq war, she alleges that irrespective of the rights and wrongs of ridding the world of Saddam Hussein, the chattering classes have concocted bogus conspiracy theories in which legitimate differences over a divisive war have been reduced into accusations of a plot by neoconservatives to promote the interests of Israel. She claims that the UN and its Human Rights Council, which most Western progressives regard as the arbiter of acceptable behavior, exemplify the reversal of reason by “putting the foxes in charge of the henhouse.”
She explains why the United Kingdom has emerged among the vanguard of countries which have repudiated rationality and reason.
A number of chapters are devoted to the most extreme example of the denial of reality – the double standards and shameless bias reflected in the attempts to demonize and delegitimize the embattled Jewish state. In the chapter titled “The Jihad against Western Freedom,” Phillips highlights the double talk and refusal to relate to reality in the Middle East. She concludes that it is a byproduct of the lack of determination by the West to resisting new forms of “soft totalitarianism” in which the onward march of Islamic aggression is compromised, with the US becoming marginalized and the war on terror vilified.
Phillips points to the bizarre linkages and alliances forged between these irrational elements with conflicting agendas. They include veteran leftists, purported campaigners for human rights, neo-fascists and Islamists who have merged to form “the red-black-green-Islamic axis.”
The World Turned Upside Down is a courageous expose of many of the myths and fallacies which are being imposed on us and which our society has absorbed.
One is not obliged to endorse each of the extraordinary individual case studies selected to recognize that Phillips makes a highly convincing case to substantiate her broad thesis about the corruption of rationality which now dominates much of liberal society. She is effectively sounding a clarion call for reversing the tidal waves threatening to overwhelm Western civilization by the collapse of modernity and rationalism in which verifiably false statements are continuously reiterated, while truth and lies, right and wrong, victim and aggressor are all reversed. Phillips warns that this brainwashing is threatening to lead us into a new anti-rational dark age.
In a concluding chapter summarizing her findings, Phillips observes that today as during the Middle Ages, if universalism has become the accepted dogma, Jews (substituted by Zionists and Israelis) have again become the contemporary heretics to be burned. “It was the Jews who gave the world the concepts of an orderly universe, reason and progress – the keys to science and our modern age. In repudiating Jewish teaching and its moral codes, the West has turned upon the modern world itself. The power of reason offers no protection against bigotry… Today it is once again among the most progressive and enlightened people… the secular rationalists and the most liberal Christians, who march behind the banners of human rights and high minded conscience, that one finds the most virulent hatred of Israel and medieval prejudice against Jews… In turning upon the State of Israel – the front line of the defense of the free world against Islamist assault on modernity – the West is undermining its defense against the enemies of modernity and the Western civilization that produced it. The great question is whether it actually wants to defend reason and moderation anymore, or whether Western civilization has now reached a point where it has stopped trying to survive.”
This cri de coeur is a stunning and thought-provoking book that should be read by all who seek to understand the sources of the malaise of this generation in Western society.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post