Julian Mann, Christians in the Community of the Dome. Evangelical Press, 2017
Visiting the Millennium Dome in the spring of 2000 was something of a seminal moment for me. New Labour had been in government for just under three years, and although I had started to grow uneasy about what they were all about, I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly that was. The Dome changed all that. I travelled there with a reasonably open mind, thinking that given the huge sums of money they had spent on it, it ought to at least have some redeeming features.
Alas, no. As I stood inside that vast monument to the New Labour Project, it began to dawn on me what that was all about: the consigning of Christian Britain to the dustbin of history, and the embarking on a radical journey to become a completely different people in the way we think, behave and live. As Tony Blair himself would have said, it was all about ‘the future, not the past’. Of course, they called it progressivism, but in reality it was the opposite. We were turning the clock back to paganism. New Paganism, of course, but paganism all the same.
In the years that followed, a series of changes occurred which demonstrated this radical shift, but the details often seem to get lost in the mists of time. Which is why I’m grateful to Julian Mann (of Conservative Woman fame) for his book, Christians in the Community of the Dome, which, amongst other things, charts many of these changes.
Interestingly, Mann also seems to have recognised the Dome as a symbol for what came after, as he begins his book with a short story imagining the Community of the Dome – a place where all that was has been forgotten, and all that is was made up about five minutes ago. There is a Modernisation Commission and a People’s Media. A Winterval break and a Guevara term. A Lennon Zone and a Spirituality Zone, lined with banks of computers. There is Voluntary Self-Euthanasia, available to all ages. Some of it is reminiscent of the Dome, some of it is pretty close to where we are today, and some of it hints at where we soon might be.
‘Had I paid better attention,’ says Mann, ‘I might have realised earlier that New Labour’s core aim of “modernising” the country inevitably entailed clashes with biblical Christianity because this faith had been so important in shaping Britain’s past.’
And so it did. He follows with four timelines, documenting some of the most important political, social and cultural changes from 2001 to the present day. As the book progresses through the period, the sheer number of people who have been fined, arrested, prosecuted and persecuted, simply for expressing opinions that would have been considered normal before the Project began, is very apparent. Whatever else the Project was about, it has made us far less free to air non-conformist opinions in the public square.
One of the things these cases demonstrate is how the Cultural Marxist Elites (CMEs) have decided to change us. They don’t go after everybody; rather they make public examples of some in order to frighten others into silent subservience. They don’t do it with gulags or thumbscrews but, as Peter Hitchens pointed out here, via a sort of ‘marshmallow totalitarianism’ in which ‘the dissenter’s job and standing are threatened, and if he does not give in, his livelihood and his reputation are taken away’.
The plethora of cases Mann mentions also demonstrates a fundamental truth about societies, which give the lie to what the CMEs have been incessantly telling us. They say they are about creating the tolerant society. The non-discriminatory society. Yet there is no such thing. Every society will tolerate some things and will be intolerant towards others. The question is not whether a society is tolerant or intolerant, but what it is tolerant or intolerant of. This is an inevitable and inescapable concept, and any attempt by the CMEs to claim otherwise is what is called a barefaced lie.
In the midst of the four timelines, there is a short interview with Peter Hitchens, which is fitting as he was perhaps the only journalist in a mainstream paper who saw what New Labour was about from the very outset. Whereas others saw their abandonment of a commitment to nationalisation (ditching Clause 4) as their conversion to the free market, Hitchens rightly recognised it as a conversion from economic Marxism to the kind of Cultural Marxism espoused by Antonio Gramsci.
Which is why the New Labour Project isn’t finished. It was a cultural revolutionary movement which set in motion the radical steps to set this country on a different path from the one it had been on for more than a thousand years, and the fact that different parties with different-colour rosettes came to power after New Labour left the scene doesn’t change that one jot.
So where are we heading? Towards the end of the book, Mann gives us three fictitious scenarios which imagine this. The first is the Islamic future, in which Britain officially becomes an Islamic State with a Wahhabi ideology in 2040. The second, written by Andrew Symes of Anglican Mainstream, pictures a Britain which – largely due to the feebleness of the 20th century Church versus the ferociousness of the Cultural Marxists – has become both totally secular, and utterly draconian. In the third, Mann imagines himself as a retired minister in 2050, both surprised and thrilled to see a genuine revival of Christianity, together with the undoing of a massive amount of destructive social changes that had occurred throughout his lifetime.
The reader is left to both speculate about which of these scenarios is most likely, and to ponder what each of them means. Looking at the trajectory we’re on at the moment, the most likely outcome seems to be the totally secular state. But, ironically, I think this to be the least likely of the three. Why? Because secularism contains within it the seeds of its own destruction. It is sterile in more ways than one, not only killing at the start of life (abortion), and desiring to kill at the end of life (euthanasia), but also discouraging fruitfulness in between, not to mention offering people no hope beyond work, holidays and more stuff. But man is more than this, and he needs more than this. And so I expect to see the materialist secularism of modern Britain to collapse at some point – in much the same way as another type of secular materialism collapsed in 1989 – with people turning to something that seems to offer more than shiny plastic stuff and gadgets.
Will that be Islam or Christianity? Being the optimistic Postmillennial Christian that I am, and being persuaded that the Sovereign God of Heaven and Earth hasn’t done with us yet, I rather think that King Jesus will prevail. He will have the nations for his possession (Psalm 2), and that includes Britain. But I would recommend that you get Mann’s thoughtful and very useful book, and consider why we’ve taken the path we have, what we’ve lost, and where we are heading. The answers we give to these questions, and the actions we take following those answers, will shape the country our children and their children inherit from us – for good or ill.