The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth, and Power
By Melanie Phillips. Now in paperback with a new foreword by David Mamet
Encounter Books, New York, (December 2011) , ISBN: 978-1-59403-574-6
In what we tell ourselves is an age of reason, we are behaving increasingly irrationally. A loss of religious belief has led the West to replace reason and truth with ideology and prejudice. The result has been a kind of mass derangement, as truth and lies, right and wrong, victim and aggressor are all turned upside down. There is widespread belief in ludicrous conspiracy theories, such as the
9/11 terrorist attack being an American plot.
The basic cause of all this unreason is the erosion of the building blocks of western civilisation. We tell ourselves that religion and reason are incompatible, but in fact the opposite is the case. It was Christianity and the Hebrew Bible that gave us our concepts of reason, progress and an orderly world—the foundations of science and modernity.
The loss of religious belief has meant the West has replaced reason and truth with ideology and prejudice, which it enforces in the manner of a secular inquisition. The result has been a kind of mass derangement, as truth and lies, right and wrong, victim and aggressor are all turned upside down. In medieval-style witch-hunts, scientists who are skeptical of global warming are hounded from their posts; Israel is ferociously demonized; and the United States is vilified over the war on terror—all on the basis of falsehoods and propaganda that are believed as truth.
Thus the West is losing both its rationality and its freedoms. It is succumbing to a “soft totalitarianism”, which not only is creating an ugly mood of intolerance but is undermining its ability to defend itself against Islamic aggression. While the Islamists are intent on returning the free world to the seventh century, the West no longer seems willing or able to defend the modernity and rationalism that it brought into being.
Reviews of The World Turned Upside Down
“Well, the new religion, as Ms Phillips teaches, is ‘secular humanism’ which, although it lacks logically consistent precepts, does contain innumerable sanctions and taboos. Of these latter, the most observed is loud and clear: do not tell the truth.”
David Mamet, foreword to paperback edition
“One is disturbed each day by verifiably untrue statements touted as incontrovertible facts about hot-button issues. With cold, perceptive, exhaustive and persistent passion, Melanie Phillips dissects the phenomenon among disparate movements, to reach disturbing but compelling conclusions about the erosion of modern liberal society by ideologies whose surprising interconnections are meticulously identified. One can only hope that her book will penetrate the information cocoon into which many of our intelligentsia have sealed themselves.”
Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, MIT
“A brilliant tour de force, beautifully written and powerfully argued.”
Norman Podhoretz, author of Why Are Jews Liberals?
“A trenchant sequel to George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language. Melanie Phillips courageously flushes out today’s equivalents of Orwell’s targets-those who with indignant self-righteousness suppress free debate and liberty itself.”
R. James Woolsey, former director of the CIA
With ferocious courage, Melanie Phillips challenges a series of myths and irrationalities that have achieved canonical status in the contemporary world. If civilization depends on the ability to give dissenting voices a hearing, then The World Turned Upside Down may well be one of the most important tests of Western civilization in our time.”
Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks