How noble causes turn people into monsters

People can do terrible things when they’re convinced they are on the side of good.

Patrick West

Topics Brexit Politics UK

There was a growing mood of disgust and disquiet in the approach to the BBC’s release on Tuesday of its league table of highest earners. After all, it is barely weeks since the corporation announced that over-75s would no longer be automatically exempt from paying the licence fee. In the event, the BBC only antagonised matters further by presenting a greater representation of women in its league table as a triumph for equality, when the vast gap between the incomes of its presenters and its viewers represents the very opposite.

The football presenter Gary Lineker came top of the league table, earning £1.75million a year. While this was no shock, what is surprising is that Lineker, unlike some of his high-earning male colleagues at the BBC, has not had a reduction in earnings in order to help narrow the gender pay gap. Of all the males at the BBC, one would have thought that Lineker, the tireless and tiresome Twitter mouthpiece for all fashionable opinions, would have been the first to volunteer for a pay cut. But no. Why not?

Some might make the charge of hypocrisy. But one might equally conclude that Lineker is behaving with ‘moral licence’, or what Americans call ‘self-licensing’. This is the tendency to behave ‘immorally’ if we have already displayed our ‘moral’ goodness. For instance, one study has shown that people are more likely to express racist or sexist views ‘when their past behaviour has established their credentials as non-prejudiced persons’. Perhaps Gary thinks his work is already done by saying woke things on Twitter.

Moral licence can be witnessed in many walks of life. Consider the behaviour of some cyclists, who, having deemed themselves to be eco-saints, consequently feel free to jump red lights, ride on pavements and scream at vehicle drivers. The revelations of even worse behaviour by Oxfam workers are another example. Once they convinced themselves that they were saviours, they could indulge themselves in sinful behaviour as recompense.

The milkshaking of a pensioner wearing a Brexit Party rosette, or the general abuse directed towards Brexiteers, can be seen in this context. So can the vile behaviour of antifa, the group that goes around beating up individuals in the righteous name of fighting ‘fascism’. Indeed, the often abusive and sometimes despicable behaviour of the ‘caring’ progressive left on social media is a classic example of noble causes turning people into monsters.

Yet, it has forever been thus. It has usually been those with righteousness on their side who become the most evil. This is why it is religious types, from the Crusaders to Islamists, who are capable of extreme barbarism and brutality. If you’re on the side of God, anything is permitted. Likewise, if you’re on the side of good – and most on the modern-day left believe they are – you can do whatever you want to whoever you want.

The European Parliament deserves no respect

The Twitterati was this week quick to condemn the decision of Brexit Party MEPs to turn their backs at the ceremonial opening of the European Parliament. Condemnation ranged from the patronising, with the party members branded petulant schoolkids who were failing to take this democratic chamber seriously; to the egotistical, with the #NotIInMyName-istas protesting that they were embarrassed; to the hyperbolic, with the most babyish types reminding us all that this is exactly what the Nazis did in the Reichstag in 1930.

Sure, the Nazis went in for this kind of thing. But so have many others done likewise since. As one tweeter pointed out, protesting Canadian women MPs once turned their backs in the presence of prime minister Justin Trudeau. As did former British servicemen upon the visit of the Japanese Emperor, Juventus fans towards their Liverpool counterparts, NYPD officers in the presence of Mayor de Blasio, and those attending the funeral of Margaret Thatcher.

The Brexiteers were also deemed barbarians for performing their stunt during the EU ‘national anthem’ — ie, Ode to Joy, taken from Beethoven’s 9th symphony, a work considered to be a paragon of European culture and civilisation. Yet Adolf Hitler adored the 9th symphony, and musicians waiting for their deaths in concentration camps were ordered to play it… which makes the heads of the European Union ‘just like the Nazis’.

The most substantial difference between the Nazis and the Brexit Party is that the Reichstag in 1930 was a proper functioning democratic parliament. The European Parliament is not. It is there to review and amend legislation – legislation drafted by the unelected European Commission, whose members are decided by the European Council. The Brexit Party’s gesture was not therefore an insult to democracy. It was a judicious insult to a sham parliament that deserves all the derision and contempt it got.

The BBC has unearthed long-forgotten exchanges among the crew of the Apollo XI mission that landed on the Moon. Here are some which didn’t make the cut for its latest documentary.

‘At a height of 42 metres, weighing nearly three million kilograms and with five engines giving a thrust of 35,000 kilonewtons, Saturn Five has to be the greatest launch rocket… *in the world*’

‘Five, four, three, two, one, *power*!’

‘Oh gawd, what’s the ignition key again? You know what? I think I’m still drunk from last night.’

‘Jeez. Will you stop going “beep” after every sentence? It’s getting really annoying. I’d rather be stuck in a North Vietnamese prison camp than spend another single hour with you.’

‘God I really hate the way you eat.’

‘What kind of name is “Buzz”, anyway? Is it some kind of faggot thing?’

‘This weightlessness sucks, dude. I think I’m gonna barf up your ass.’

‘That’s no moon. That’s a space station.’

‘Hey, moron! Of course it’s a fucking moon!’

‘Goddamn it, Neil. Can you see that? That’s some big motherfucker of a crater. You dig?’

‘Jesus-fucking-christ Buzz! We’re actually on the fucking Moon! Get the fuck out of here.’

‘I report from the Sea of Tranquility, where this man took his one giant leap for humanity. But what is a man? A laughing stock, a thing of shame. I teach you the Superman.’

‘Well, gentlemen, I think we can agree this has been mankind’s greatest ever achievement, and it’s all thanks to Wernher von Braun and the Nazis. A toast, gentlemen: to the Nazis!’

‘Let’s get the mutha out of here. I’ll drive.’

‘No, I’ll drive. And we ain’t never coming back.’

Patrick West is a spiked columnist. His latest book, Get Over Yourself: Nietzsche For Our Times, is published by Societas.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Brexit Politics UK


James Clow

7th July 2019 at 9:26 pm

Isn’t Brexit a noble democratic cause? What monsters, if any, have come from this? Or is the Captain Brexit shield made out of the same hipocritonium cognitivedissonancium alloy as the Captain Remain shield? Probably, but objectivity and tribal loyalty signaling can’t really occupy the same space-time can they?

Unfortunately these shields seem to be standard issue with any group membership. I imagine a good test would be to look at what you accuse your chosen opponent of and if you can’t see anyone in your own group that needs to be held to account for similar behaviour, there’s probably an accountability problem.

Let they who are without hypocrisy cast the first stone.

BTW, I understand the article is categorising Gary Lineker, cyclists, Oxfam workers, people who throw milkshakes at people, generally abuse brexiters, antifa, and progressive left as monsters (i.e evil and non-human), but are we talking about Monsters Inc kind of monsters or Ridley Scott Aliens kind of monsters? I only ask because I wouldn’t want to challenge a hypocrite and end up face hugger latched to by head because I took a banishment door to the argument. Neither would I want to barbecue Sully Ellen Riply style, it would be a bit OTT. You see the dilemma?

Christopher Tyson

5th July 2019 at 10:39 pm

Lineker learnt his craft at the knee of Des Lynam, now Lynam really was a brilliant presenter, which sounds like a contradiction in terms these days. Lynam had effortless charm, Presenters are actors, or course they are, but as Marx (Groucho) said when you can fake sincerity you’ve got it made. As a caveat my loss of innocence came back in the day, 70s or 80s, when Frank Bough a predecessor of Lynam in a similar mould became embroiled in a sex and drugs scandal. Lineker, though has a killer instinct, not just a competitive sportsman but a predatory goal scorer, the most ruthless and egotistical breed in sport, but some find him charming. Footballers are notoriously harsh with their banter, maybe the BBC need to pay up so that Lineker can hold his head high amongst the pros that he rubs shoulders with, ‘here’s a fiver Gaz buy yourself a drink mate’.
But there’s also another economic explanations, relating to snob value goods, in micro economics there are certain goods which defy demand and supply, demand falls as price falls. By paying their talent highly the status and the real value of the talent is raised, they become worth what they’re paid rather than paid what they’re worth. In sport, entertainment, business, you are worth what people are prepared to pay you.

Jonnie Henly

5th July 2019 at 1:07 pm

So let it be known, if you say a few left wing things on Twitter, Spiked reasons it can judge your entire worldview. Because they’ve got such a prejudiced and simple minded opinion of everyone who dares to disagree with them.

gershwin gentile

5th July 2019 at 1:02 pm

“Your emotions make you a monster” Dead Kennedys

Bríd Hehir

5th July 2019 at 11:56 am

‘How noble causes turn people into monsters.’ This rings so true in regard to the #FGM ‘industry’. Representatives – activists, politicians, professionals and campaigners behave immorally because they really believe they are saviours with righteousness on their side. So have convinced themselves that the fallout is justified. Bristol’s zealous safeguarding approach provides a perfect example:

Linda Payne

5th July 2019 at 10:50 am

Yes self righteousness can bring out the worst in people, I hear that ‘extinction rebellion’ plan to disrupt people’s holiday plans by targeting airports, they are treated with kid gloves by the police; never made to explain their ‘science’ and somehow think they are doing us all a favour

Phil Ford

5th July 2019 at 10:36 am

ANTIFA are not ‘anti-fascists’, they are communists and anarchists (but mostly communists). Going forward, the media have to stop pretending these malignants are ‘protesters’. They are communists, doing what communists have always done: cause chaos and commit violence in service of their political goals. And, as usual with communist organisations, they disingenuously – and with abject cynicism – hide behind a fake name which means precisely the opposite of what they are actually about.

Jerry Owen

5th July 2019 at 12:07 pm

Phil . Their violence linked to the fact that they have a common dress code of black, black rucksacks, black balaclavas etcetera makes them terrorists, they act illegally.. terrorism in my book. In a paradox way they don’t even earn the title of communists.. I doubt most of them have a clue of what communism is anyway.
If they did you’d have to ask the question, why are they supporting multinational capitalist big business by purchasing their milkshakes ?

Freddie Steele

9th July 2019 at 9:46 am

I like Bret Weinstein’s distinctions between those at the top of these movements who understand it’s a power grab and those in the rank and file who think they’re working to improve things. He doesn’t use the phrase useful idiots, but that’s what they are to those aware of what is really going on.

Philip Constable

5th July 2019 at 9:03 am

I was thinking along the same lines, when Dylan mocked the establishment for believing God sided with them he could not have imagined that every self-righteous protester would go the same route to justify any and all behaviours.

christopher barnard

5th July 2019 at 7:44 am

Why do people expect all cyclists to be well behaved when there is no evidence than they are any less law abiding than other road users?

The author is treating himself to the same sort of righteous indignation that he accuses others of.

Hana Jinks

5th July 2019 at 10:24 am

The kinds of people that have those expectations are actual nazi’s.

Hana Jinks

5th July 2019 at 5:11 am


Hmmm. Is that anything like what they used to call hypocrisy?

mister wallace

5th July 2019 at 2:06 am

With regard to the sham parliament, why don’t all the anti EU MPs just propose and pass legislation to abolish the European (read Central Committee and Politburo combined) and make the parliament supreme? Oh, that’s right, it’s because it is a sham where the MEPs have no power and is only cake crumbs for the masses to make them think they have some sort of power while the elites, who know everything, rule over them.

mister wallace

5th July 2019 at 2:00 am

What, luvvies take a pay cut? How weird is that idea? You would think all the luvvie “progressives” at Their BBC would simply work for the average wage, you know, like the masses they claim to represent.

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