No to political perversions

February 13, 2014

According to Laura Frost in her review of Celibacies (Books, 30 January), the author, Benjamin Kahan, seeks to debunk the pathology of abstinence. But, leaving aside a monk’s vocation, celibacy in the population at large may be a strange choice.

Mahatma Gandhi’s celibacy was apparently due to his great guilt at his having intercourse with his young wife at the time his father was dying. And Gandhi was not celibate just for himself but enjoined it on others, even married couples, thereby ruining marriages and causing needless unhappiness, as explained by Arthur Koestler in Bricks to Babel.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell shows celibacy as a matter of the totalitarian policy of Big Brother: sex not for pleasure but a duty for procreation for the sake of the Party: an attitude that ruins Winston’s marriage with Katharine. Young people are urged to abstain by joining Junior Anti-Sex Leagues. There is a sinister motive behind this: as Julia says, all this marching and flag-waving is “simply sex gone sour”. Orwell is hinting that the damming-up of sexuality is an attempt, conscious or otherwise, to redirect normal human vitality into the perverted course of politics. The Nazi single-sex compulsory youth organisations fit this pattern well.

Surely such redirection – misdirection – of human energies is pathological.

Nigel Probert
Porthmadog

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework