The Puritan Hypothesis and Charlie Elphicke

The Puritan Hypothesis and  Charlie Elphicke
Sean Gabb
5th November 2017

Sean Gabb with Charlie Elphicke 2017 07 01

Charlie Elphicke is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Dover and Deal. This makes him my Member of Parliament. On Friday the 3rd November 2017, he discovered – via the media, he says, not from any official notification – that he was suspended from the Conservative Party, and that the Police had been asked to investigate him. No reason for this was given. However, Mr Elphicke’s name was on a confidential list, compiled by Central Office, and immediately leaked on social media, of politicians said to be unable to keep their hands to themselves.

Nothing more has been said about him in the news. Speaking for myself, I know him hardly at all, but find it unlikely that he has committed anything that would once have been thought a criminal offence. It is conceivable – and I have no private information on this point – that he has cast the occasional lewd glance at a member of the opposite sex. He may even have issued an invitation to more intimate contact. But I do not find it conceivable that he has taken part in any sexual act without the consent, as reasonably understood, of the other party. Assaults of any kind require a lack of forethought I have never detected in Mr Elphicke. I do not hold him in high political regard. On the other hand, he is the best representative my constituency has had in the past twenty years, and I look forward to his continuation in this role at least until 2022.

And that is nearly all I have to say about Mr Elphicke. If you want more fact, you must look, as I must, on the news websites. My real purpose in writing is to give an answer to a question that may be expressed in the language of ordinary people as “What the **** is going on in this country?” We are approaching a set of interlocking crises in our departure from the European Union. We have a bloated state machinery eating more than the most rapacious taxes can bring to its table. We are importing enough welfare claimants every year to fill a large town. That, plus our lunatic foreign policy, has given us a campaign of domestic terrorism and a police state. All this, and more – and the people in charge are vanishing into a holiness spiral. Things that, until a few years ago, might have provoked a bored rolling of the eyes, are being made matters for resignation and even police enquiry. What is going on?

The simple answer is political correctness. A new class has come into power, and is trying to remould human nature. How we vote has no bearing on who is employed in the bureaucracy, in education, in the media, and increasingly in the formally private corporate sector. These people are the ruling class. They are united by common interests and by a shared outlook. So long as the present order of things endures, they are irremovable.

I will pass over the more conspiratorial theories. Their ambition, as said, is to remould us. They want us to be good as they conceive The Good. They want us not to think too well of ourselves – not, that is, unless and until we have been made good. When that time arrives, we shall not be a free people living in our own undisputed land according to our traditional ways. But we shall then have earned our places at the gigantic love feast our rulers are preparing.

To be sure, this puts them at war with most tradition – and, in large degree, with human nature. They fight these wars by a tidal wave of propaganda, and by hounding out of their jobs anyone who resists them, or simply fails to think like them. Where that is not enough, they have already taken over the Police and the administration of justice, and will use the criminal law to beat down dissent. They are at war with tradition and human nature. Of necessity, as well as in practice, they are at war with liberty.

I turn now to the further question of what motivates these people. Again leaving aside the more conspiratorial theories, there are two main answers. The first is the Cultural Marxist Hypothesis. According to this, the Orthodox Marxists viewed seizure of the means of production as all that was needed for progress to their Heaven on Earth. After the Great War, this assurance became less compelling, and various kinds of revisionism came into fashion. Antonio Gramsci, Theodore Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, and many others – the generality of their view is that progress requires taking over the means of cultural transmission and establishing a hegemony that will bring on a transformation of all other relationships. Roughly twenty cycles of undergraduate have passed through universities dominated by the Cultural Marxists. The present order of things is a natural consequence.

The problem with this hypothesis as stated is that there is only a loose fit between the teachings of the men just mentioned and the obsessions of our ruling class. They were sexually liberal in ways that the persecutors of Charlie Elphicke must think “inappropriate.” They were socialists, and our ruling class is happy to preside over a system of market corporatism. They believed in racial equality – but were not noticeably opposed to smoking and eating and drinking. Nor are they likely to have approved of the vast child welfare bureaucracy their supposed followers have created. What would Herbert Marcuse have thought of Harriet Harman? Not, I think, very much.

This brings me to the second answer, which is the Puritan Hypothesis. Rightly considered, this does not reject its alleged rival. What it does instead is to provide a deeper explanation. It begins with the observation that has been, for at least the past five hundred years, in England, and then in Britain, and then in Britain and America, a substantial number of intelligent people who believe they know better than ordinary people what is The Good, and that they have both the duty and the right to have their way by making everyone else feel guilty about their nature as human beings.

Now, this is not a product of any religious doctrine. The conflation I have often seen of Puritanism and Calvinism does more to obscure than to explain the hypothesis. If we want to write a history of Botany, we need to know who wrote what and who read it and what eventual influence it had. Where the Puritan strain in our history is concerned, the actual opinions of the Puritans in any one age are of limited importance. In the great majority of cases, opinions are not the cause of particular dispositions. They are a symptom of particular dispositions – which are themselves products of deeper cultural forces, or are perhaps genetic.

The function, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries of what we loosely call Calvinism was to produce a shared language for a disposition that already existed, and an ideology that legitimised the actual or attempted political supremacy of those possessed of that disposition. In political terms, it was a failure. Puritanism was checked in England after 1660 by a set of laws and policies that kept anyone away from power who was inclined to take Calvinism seriously.

However, this was not the end of the story. The next Puritan advance came after about 1850, and had little to do with Calvinism. Its legitimising ideology was “social improvement.” This was often expressed in wholly secular terms, and was even opposed in some of its measures to religious belief. People who would once have justified their drive to power by talk of seeking the Lord now spoke about the declining birth rate and the need to maintain Britain as a great power. Often, they were Darwinists. Sometimes, they were atheists.

It is the same with our own Puritans. Ideologies and religions come and go. What remains more constant within a stable population is the balance of dispositions. During the 1970s, Mary Whitehouse and her friends were undoubted Puritans. They wanted an end to the social liberalism that had followed the Second World War. But they were religious Puritans in an age that had no time for traditional religion. The successful Puritans never looked in The Bible. Instead, they took up and shaped the doctrines of Cultural Marxism into their legitimising ideology. Men and their books were dragged out of the obscurity in which they might otherwise have remained, and were put to uses they might not themselves have had in mind. The restored Puritan ascendency in Britain and America has nothing to do with the religious disputes of the Reformation. Harriet Harman believes in gay marriage. Oliver Cromwell was a chain smoker. They have nothing in common but a particular disposition. Bring them face-to-face, and each would itch to persecute the other. They are Puritans not because of their form, but because of their possibly innate substance. The latter is unchanging across the generations. The former depends on circumstances.

Therefore the persecution of Charlie Elphicke. He is the victim of a Puritan holiness spiral. For the early Protestants, this began by denying that indulgences were mentioned in The Bible. Once this became too familiar to be exciting, the debate shifted to bishops and church establishments. Each moral entrepreneur tried to jump over the others, until they ended with the Anabaptist tyranny of John of Leyden. Our own cycle began, I think, with Stephen Lawrence and the discovery of “institutional racism,” and has now reached the point where sexual banter will soon be punished as if it were rape. The feminists are our Anabaptists. What each cycle has in common is the obsessive search for error, and its painting as sin, and the competitive display of those who think themselves most without sin. This is sad for the lecherous inebriates who traditionally get elected to Parliament – I am, by the way, not discussing Mr Elphicke here. But they should have seen it coming. Perhaps they deserve it, so far as they have done a shocking job of choosing and controlling their underlings.

I have two further points to make. The first is that, if the moral environment of England has at present no room for God, our Puritans are still in need of a certain religiosity. They have their martyrs and their rituals, and they set the Police on anyone who makes too much fun of these. They also feel a need for self-mortification. The books they read at university preached the case for socialist equality. They all have, or are desperate to get, rather cushy jobs and pensions in an economic order that, for the rest of us, resembles a game of musical chairs. They claim to despise inherited wealth, but give work to an army of tax lawyers to keep what they have for their own children. They abominate racial prejudice, but live in white enclaves. They are hypocrites. At some level, they feel guilty.

I have never, I grant, been a fan of exercise. Nevertheless, I feel there is an dash of mortification in all this long-distance running that so many of our rulers take up. Running more than a few hundred yards is painful. It sometimes causes death. They do it, even so. Those who run farthest expect, and sometimes get, the kind of veneration once given to stylite monks in the Syrian desert.

And public exercise is also a means of displaying virtue. Anyone who really cares about spastic children in Peru has only to write a cheque and keep his mouth shut – “[W]hen thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.” The preferred option among the ruling class is to nag others into paying via sponsorship forms, while the projector puts on a sad face and expensive sports clothes and gives interviews to the ruling class media.

But I digress. My second further point is how these people can be defeated. This will not happen by way of a frontal assault. As said, the ruling class is irremovable within the present order of things. But I return to the example of 1660. Calvinism was not formally refuted. The Restoration Monarchy instead limited its employment of Calvinists. The Church was purged. The Army was shut down. The next thirty years were not the most edifying period in English history. But there was an end to holiness spirals.

What I am saying is that the economic base of our present ruling class must be destroyed. The BBC and the universities must be shut down. So too the many bureaucracies of control. So too the mass of fake charities funded by the taxpayers. Corporate privileges must be ended. The remaining organs of the ruling class should be ruthlessly purged. Perhaps a hundred thousand people should be ejected from their cushy jobs and left scrambling for work in telesales centres. Let this be done, and the moral environment of England will be transformed in a month.

So to my conclusion, and to my closing advice to Charlie Elphicke. Let us assume he can survive his present difficulties and remain in Parliament. His best revenge, and his best service to the people, will not be to start speaking in the terms I have outlined above. It will instead be to discover a tender regard for the taxpayers. He will not bring down his enemies by denouncing them for what they are. But much good work can be done at the margins by contesting every grant of public money, and by denouncing every inflated salary.

Yes, a conservative Conservative MP – that would be a man worth voting for in 2022.


  1. 1) A mere glance at the picture of Mr Elphicke tells me that it is inconceivable that he is guilty of anything that a reasonable person would describe as a sexual assault.
    2) “It is conceivable – and I have no private information on this point – that he has cast the occasional lewd glance at a member of the opposite sex…..” “Lewd”? What is ‘lewd’ about casting an admiring glance?
    3) ” by hounding out of their jobs anyone who […] fails to think like them….” . Methinks you meant to say “who thinks as they do…” 😉

  2. I admire and appreciate your loyalty to your constituency MP, however speaking for myself, I’m afraid any residual sympathy I may have had for individuals in the Establishment is at an end.

    I am in little doubt that most of these women will be lying, but whether the accused are guilty or innocent is of no concern to me. I hope each and every one of them, including your MP, goes down. I hope there are queues of these sluts ready to perjure themselves in the courts and send these MPs to gaol for “knee-touching twenty years ago” or whatever. That would be hilarious, and they won’t spend long in prison anyway – but put them on the Sex Offenders’ Register, so they know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of their own laws. If this were you or me, we would certainly be facing that Fate, so they can suffer the same. It’s called equality, you know. It’s what they deserve. They allowed this situation to arise, where sexual accusations from women are given credence, and it is at this point that the country’s tradition of having a gutter press comes into its own: it’s one of the few levers available to us for destroying tyrants.

    If a political revolution has to be on the backs of female liars, then so be it. You take what comes along. I hope the entire ship sinks and Elphicke and all the others are laughed off the stage before being condemned to harsh prisons; and, I hope that the four main parties (Labour, Tory, Lib Dem and SNP) are wiped out forever.

  3. I suggest that political correctness took hold when class politics gave way to identity politics. When I was an undergraduate in the early 1980s, student politicians were cocky, pseudo-proletarian tribunes of the people who pretended that they actually liked the working classes. Nowadays they are things like Anti-Racism Officer, LGBTQ Officer and Trans and Gender Identity Officer (these last two are now distinct things)..

    In an age when it is assumed that society consists of blocs such as blacks, women, Muslims, gays etc and that the main function of government is to prevent discrimination against them, the advancement of the groups and the personal ambitions of those who represent them have merged. To those whose job it is to make it a grievance that there aren’t enough black newsreaders / blacks at Oxbridge / black members of Parliament and so on, it can genuinely seem that “I was passed over for promotion” is an injustice of the same kind.

    • I was an undergraduate at the same time, and remember the start of the transformation from class to identity politics. It confused some of the mature students in the Labour Club. One of them could remember the 1945 election, and had opinions about certain topics that would nowadays get him locked away.

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