An Uncivil Society

Whatever else may be said about Marxism, it provided (for those who needed it) an eschatological philosophy in a post-religious world. It served more than one psychological purpose: It gave those who adhered to it the comforting feeling that they understood the inner or hidden workings of the world; that they were far superior in this understanding to those who did not adhere to it; and that they were participating in something far bigger than themselves. In short it gave them a sense, or illusion, of transcendence.

But though many Marxists claimed that the downfall of the Soviet Union did not affect their faith in the truth of their secular religion—because they said that the Soviet Union had never been a properly Marxist state in the first place—there is, in fact, no doubt that Marxism as an intellectual system was deeply discredited by the now-undeniable failure of the Soviet Union to deliver on any of its utopian promises. Marxism had, on the contrary, provided the pretext for the murder, as well as causing the miserable living conditions, of many millions of people; and it was as implausible to deny the connection of these with Marxism as it is now to deny the connection of terrorism with Islam.

But the desire for ideology did not die with its failure; on the contrary, the desire simply found its fulfillment in a variety of strange sub-ideologies. Future historians will surely find one of the strangest of these to be that of strident transsexualism.

There have probably always been transsexuals, and I remember the days when those who declared themselves such were sent to specialist clinics for various treatments and procedures. Everything was arranged in a somewhat hole-and-corner way, without the glare of publicity and the influence of ideology. The numbers were small and no political demands ensued.

In the space of the past few years, however, a full-scale ideological movement has grown up that will not be satisfied until the rest of society accedes to its demands, which include the reform of language itself. The demands, in fact, are kaleidoscopic, constantly changing, as the ideology itself twists and turns in an attempt to overcome its inherent contradictions. It cannot decide, for example, whether gender is a question of feeling or expression, whether it is inherent and fixed or flexible and socially constructed, whether it is binary or on a spectrum. Those who want a forensic dissection of this ideology, and a masterly exposé of its absurdities, as well as an account of its disastrous practical consequences in a society too lacking in moral confidence to oppose it (or any other sufficiently strident ideology), would do well to read a recent book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment, by Ryan T. Anderson.

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