The Paris attacks have exposed the glaring weakness of the ISIS regime. We now know how easy it is to defeat them.
The locations of the Paris targets, and the wording of the ISIS statement after the bloodshed, indicate a desire to cut deep to the core of what western civilisation represents.
Already the the faux-leftist rationalisations are being paraded out, and shrieks of ‘Islamophobia’ drown out the necessity of a long overdue, long hard look at the fascistic tendencies of a persistent strain in one of our major world religions.
If the attacks on Paris were vengeance for French foreign policy, why not attack French military targets, or places that represent the establishment?
Why attack the cafes of the right bank, or The Bataclan?
The Paris attacks were attacks on youth culture, progressivism and bohemian, creative culture.
That is why they evoke a special kind of grief.
Social media is awash with smug, self-congratulating cries about the Kenya attacks, the Lebanon tragedy and another Iraq car bomb.
As if to feel any special rage or sadness at the brutal slaughter in the Paris nightlife is to suffer from some kind of western centric myopia.
This plays exactly into the hands of ISIS.
These thugs are not interested in military tactics. They know that’s not going to work. They don’t have the manpower, and they will be annihilated.
Their tactic, as was evident in January’s Charlie Hebdo massacre, is to create rift in western European culture.
You see, the Paris attacks betray a rampant philistinism on the part of ISIS. Something which they are normally proud of – their Goebbels-esque disdain for high art and the power of culture.
The wording of the ISIS statement is all we need to know, and exposes a crucial weakness at the heart of their ideology.
They regard bohemianism, culture and dissent as a weakness. What they don’t understand is that it is this dissenting tradition that gives western culture its superior resilience over other cultures.
To understand this, we have to understand the rise of the free press.
It’s not just an incidental aspect of western European society, it’s the fundamental keystone of it.
When John Milton wrote his Treatise on Ecclesiastical Matters in Civil Government, he was articulating a new idea, something so new and so hated by both sides of the Christian reformation, that it was profoundly dangerous.
It was also, however, an inevitable consequence of the free press and the decentralisation of cultural knowledge.
His point was not just that there should be a separation of church and state, but more importantly that the very strength and survival of a free and liberated society was heresy.
And before the smarty-pants out there start firing back quotes from Chesterton, Milton’s idea of heresy was not just a nihilistic or delinquent spitting on the sacred.
Far from it in fact.
Milton’s idea rather was something he also articulated in the Areopagitica. That is, the importance of opposing views, of the continual renewal and challenge of received values.
This is different from Camus’ Rebel, in that it is not just placing value on dissent for some aesthetic reason, or some kind of primal virtue ethics.
No. Dissent and heresy for Milton, are the only guarantees of liberty. Heresy was not an ideal, but a practical. work-a-day political policy.
As soon as society atrophies into dogma, ideology and fundamentalism, it ceases to serve its purpose.
What is bohemianism?
Bohemianism is not a Marxist phenomenon. It’s not the rising up of the working classes, and it’s not the desire for a tyranny of the proletariat.
Bohemianism is just another word for dissent – the desire to push against the edges of our values from within those values.
Bohemianism is not predicated on a conflict of classes.
It is to challenge not from a place of enslavement, or subjugation, but actually from a place of privilege.
In fact, the higher class the bohemian, the more effective she is. The more independent financially, the closer to the halls of power, the better.
That’s why the Bloomsbury Group were mostly upper class. It’s why the later Romantics came from privately educated backgrounds (yes, even Keats).
Bohemianism in Britain, can actually be traced back to Milton, despite his puritanism and his overtly patriarchal Christianity.
This was a man who dared to write a treatise in favour of divorce in a time when such views could see you hanged.
Milton dared to assert that it was actually MORE Christian to cut the church off from the politics of power, that to let theocratic concerns determine the law.
Milton, for all his grandstanding and his propaganda work for Cromwell, was the revolution within the revolution.
Bohemianism is the dissent within the winning side, within the privileged class.
That’s why ISIS have attacked the bobo bars and multicultural restaurants of Paris’s nightlife.
They mistakenly think that the anti-authoritarianism of Charlie Hebdo and the spirit of 1968 can be used against the establishment in Europe.
They believe that by attacking the greatest critics of the establishment within the establishment, they are going to sow seeds of unrest so deep so as to fragment the society from within.
How silly, how uneducated, and how disgracefully and unforgivably vulgar they are.
The very thing these medieval morons think is our weakness as a culture, is actually the very thing that will ensure we outlast them.
Dissent, bohemianism and the absence of dogma are not signs of nihilism.
Ironically, ideological intransigence, fundamentalism and zealous attachment to rigid values are the very indication of a nihilistic pathology.
This porn-watching, KFC munching, Prov Evo-playing bunch of toy soldiers think they have scored a victory.
In reality they have exposed the irresistible softness of their underbelly.
This is not a time for platitudes about peace, and false declarations of religious tolerance.
I simply will not trust anyone that wants to hide behind calls for ‘balance’ and ‘non-judgementalism’.
This was an act of war, and if we must respond with military action I will forgive my government for joining in.
Having said that, it’s obvious and laughably easy to get one back at these thugs.
As artists, as musicians and poets and dissenting thinkers, we only need to reach deeply into the resources our culture has bequeathed us.
Let us turn now to Rousseau, to Baudelaire, to Shakespeare and Milton, to Camus and Sontag.
Let us dig deeper trenches in the front lines of our culture, embrace the spirit of heresy and dissent, a holy spirit that is more dangerous to ISIS that any bomb, bullet or airstrike.