Umbridge Syndrome

Above: Dolores Umbridge, from whom Umbridge syndrome derives its name.

There is something intrinsically feminine about this lockdown. The desire to keep everyone locked up, safe, at home, to protect not only ourselves but the National Health Service which also keeps us free of harm. The nanny state, it seems to me, has reached its apex.

In an article I wrote for Bournbrook when the lockdown had only just begun, I referred to "the over-fretful housewives of the nation (who are sure to become the prudish informers of the new regime)". I was inspired to do this after seeing #CloseTheSchools trending among worried mothers one day, and school closures being introduced as Government policy a day later. It became apparent to me then that this quarantine was not driven by sound scientific advice, but the whim of a hysterical mob (as this article by Christopher Snowden likewise suggests).

As I predicted, the informers did rise to the occasion as they are inclined to do in any country where private life becomes subject to the State. Northamptonshire Police received "dozens and dozens" of calls from those wishing to get their neighbours into trouble, and I'm sure we've all seen creepy, widely-shared and widely-shamed videos on the internet of people having parties in their back gardens or standing too close together in supermarket aisles, things which were perfectly legal and acceptable in that long-forgotten age called 2019.

It would have been interesting to know the sex ratio of the calls Northamptonshire Police received. Here's a quote from the clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, from his lecture "12 principles for a 21st century conservatism",

"I’ve done some research with my graduate students on political correctness per se, because we’ve been interested in the personality predictors of political belief ... One of the things we found out about the politically correct types is that they’re high in a trait called agreeableness. Now you might think, "really, now that isn’t what I would have guessed". But agreeableness is a maternal trait [my emphasis], and women are higher in agreeableness than men – that’s cross-cultural, and that difference really seems to start manifesting itself primarily at puberty, and so agreeableness is likely the trait that stops you from throwing your baby out the window at three in the morning when it’s had colic for three hours and you haven’t had any sleep and you’re not in very good shape and you just got laid off. It’s a very, very tight bonding mechanism. It’s primarily driven by what you might describe as compassion. Now compassion is great for dealing with infants, and maybe it’s great for dealing with hurt people and really elderly people. It’s good for taking care of people who can’t take care of themselves. But it’s not a great doctrine to be building a political system on. And so one of the things that happens with the more politically correct types by temperament is that they suffer from an excess of impulsive compassion, and they assume that if there’s an inequitable distribution of anything that the people who are at the bottom are all victims who should be treated like infants and that everyone at the top is a vicious snake-like predator ... And so what you see at least in part is undifferentiated empathy, and that’s not a virtue. You have to think, you can’t just feel. Even when you’re taking care of kids, part of what you’re doing is being compassionate, but if you’re too compassionate towards your kids then you do everything for them and if you do everything for them then they grow up useless and they never leave and they hate you and they hate everything else too. It’s a bad idea. And so you use compassion judiciously. There’s a rule if you’re working in a place like a nursing home and the rule is – it’s a harsh rule – do not do anything for the people you’re taking care of that they can do for themselves. And so if they have to struggle to feed themselves you don’t bloody well intervene and feed them – you let them maintain their damn independence, and you have to be a hard-hearted bastard to do that, to watch someone struggle like that. But you’re furthering their medium to long term independence and development and you do the same thing with your children. Treating your children like they’re endless permanent victims is a very bad idea..."

Here's another, from Peterson's Biblical Lecture "God and the Hierarchy of Authority",

"We were talking about the relative evolutionary roles of men and women – this is speculative, obviously – because our research did indicate, it’s tentative research so far, that the SJW sort of "equality above all or else" philosophy is more prevalent among women. It’s predicted by the personality factors which are more common among women, so agreeableness and high negative emotion; primarily agreeableness; but in addition it’s also predicted by being female. And that’s interesting because in most of the personality research that I’ve done, and as far as I know in the literature more broadly speaking, most of the time you can get rid of the attitude and differences between men and women, or at least reduce them, by controlling for personality. So if you take a feminine man and a masculine woman then the poles reverse. That didn’t seem to be the case with political correctness ... I don’t know what you think about this proposition but imagine that, historically speaking, it’s something like women were responsible for distribution, and men were responsible for production – something like that. And maybe that’s only the case really in the tight confines of the immediate family but that doesn’t matter because that’s most of the evolutionary landscape for human beings anyway. What the women did was make sure that everybody got enough. And that seems to me to be one of the things that’s driving, at least in part, the SJW demand for equity and equality – it’s like, let’s make sure everybody has enough. Well, look, fair enough, you can’t argue with that. But there’s an antipathy between that and the reality of differential productivity – because people really do differ in their productivity ... I think that the SJW phenomena ... is associated at least in part with the rise of women to political power ... we don’t know what a truly female political philosophy would be like, but it might be, especially if it’s not been well-examined and it isn’t very sophisticated conceptually, it could easily be "well let’s make sure things are distributed equally.""

Interesting, no? Of course I'm not suggesting that all women are politically correct, or that they are all unthinkingly compassionate. In fact the social conservative movement with which I am (currently, at least) affiliated is led by many brilliant and thoughtful women. I would also like to make it clear that pointing out sexual differences does not in any way imply that one hates the opposite sex. Both sexes have their strengths and weaknesses; and the weaknesses of men are quite obvious and abundant. Merely, I have written this article to describe a particular class of woman that has burdened me throughout my life, and to which I have applied the descriptor "Umbridge syndrome" - named for Dolores Umbridge, a Harry Potter character I believe most aptly represents this personality.

I am talking of what is nowadays fashionably called the "Karen", which is usually stereotyped as a middle aged, middle class white woman with bureaucratic tendencies and entitlement issues. But I believe this a universal archetype. It could be applied to the prudish old spinsters of the Victorian era, or the busybody aunties that kept the Gestapo, Stasi and KGB in business. In modern Britain it takes the form of Health and Safety & Equality and Diversity apparatchiks, and the aforementioned "think of the children!" Helen Lovejoy-tier mothers that nagged this lockdown into existence and snoop and sneer to enforce it.

I believe it's the reason boys underperform in our current education system, which punishes energy and creativity, and rewards obedience and brown-nosing. I remember the swotty girls of my own school - the tattletale teacher's pets; the Hermione Grangers. There were more of that sort than there were boys, and they all went on to great success.

I also remember a woman at my last workplace, a real Ilse Koch, obsessed with catching rulebreakers, who would spy on me and get me to perform the most inane tasks like rearranging pencils if I didn't have anything to do. Even my mother, as much as I love her, has an occasionally overpowering mothering instinct that, before I first moved out, I was inclined to find quite suffocating at times.

Biological proclivities to compassion and obedience attract some women to serving, using and enforcing authority, whatever that "authority" happens to be. This is why they make such efficient, compliant wageslaves. Feminism released women of the burdens of housewifery only to shackle them to 9-5 jobs instead. As G.K. Chesterton put it, "Ten million young women rose to their feet with the cry, We will not be dictated to: and proceeded to become stenographers".

I do not necessarily believe this, but it's worth pointing out as somewhat of a Devil's advocate - perhaps it isn't a coincidence that the expansion of the welfare state followed female suffrage. Perhaps our politics have been subtly feminised over the last century - maybe the nanny state really was to some extent made by nannies. Certainly, I believe our society is too feminine in most respects, in that we have an abundance of what Peterson calls "undifferentiated empathy". There is no room for the warrior or the executioner in modern Britain; nor for the bawdy comedian or the rugged individualist.

But in this fallen world civilisations can only be built or sustained on difficult sacrifices only "hard-hearted bastards" can make. It seems to me male leadership is a universal value for a reason. Now, male leadership must be distinguished from the "male tyranny" of such places as Saudi Arabia. Contrary to what postmodernists will tell you, there is a difference between benevolently leading women and malevolently oppressing them (as any housewife in a loving relationship with her husband understands). The latter is to be condemned, but the former, I think, is to be strived for.