In 2020, we need to fight the new thoughtpolice

Speech, thought and culture are being policed on a terrifying scale.

Frank Furedi


During the past decade, and especially this year, those in positions of influence have tried to change the narrative through which society understands itself.

There is an insidious crusade afoot aiming at controlling what the public sees, hears, thinks and believes. This project, which seeks hegemony in various Western cultures, is no less pervasive and thoroughgoing than previous attempts at thought control by totalitarian and theocratic regimes.

But since this campaign to control the narrative has no name, and does not promote an explicit ideology, its significance tends to be underestimated, even by those who oppose the many attempts to police language and thought.

A new identity-obsessed, anti-humanist and anti-civilisational narrative has taken hold. We are increasingly encouraged to change our language, adopt hitherto unknown words, and accept deeply questionable claims.

This campaign has been so successful because its opponents have failed to grasp its significance. Typically, the demands of extreme identitarians are dismissed as either of no significance or as a joke. Take one example that emerged last week.

A group of 16 scientists – from such prestigious universities as Cambridge and Oxford – wrote a letter to the journal Nature denouncing its use of the term ‘quantum supremacy’. This was on the grounds that it conveys racist and colonialist ideas.

They said that, in their view, ‘supremacy’ has ‘overtones of violence, neocolonialism and racism through its association with “white supremacy”’, and demanded that the term be replaced by ‘quantum advantage’.

It is of course tempting to dismiss this as a silly gesture by self-important scientists with too much time on their hands. And that is precisely how many people responded to this ludicrous letter. But its authors are not alone in thinking as they do.

In August, a team at the Human Interface Technology lab in New Zealand asserted that it was problematic that most robots were manufactured out of white plastic, since it smacked of imperialism and white supremacy.

Here we can see how white supremacy has been redefined, turned from a distinct and vicious political ideology into a kind of original sin possessed by all those born with light skin. This is ridiculous, of course, but the impact of this nonsense is no joke.

This redefined notion of white supremacy is now an integral feature of a certain cultural narrative, one that is designed not only to pathologise white people, but also to discredit some of the important legacies of human civilisation.

In the United States, there is a growing industry of consultants who advise organisations about how to rid themselves of their supposed ‘white-supremacy culture’. According to these zealots, some of the attitudes and behaviours associated with white-supremacy culture include ‘individualism’, ‘a sense of urgency’ and ‘perfectionism’.

In other words, those who take their work too seriously may be tainted by white supremacy. Thinking logically is basically thinking white.

The transformation of white supremacy into an all-purpose term of abuse, and the rapid acceptance of this by the private and public sectors, is a remarkable development. And it has been forged out of the policing of speech, culture and thought.

Increasingly, the project of controlling the narrative is directed towards regulating what you can watch, hear, read and think. And this doesn’t just revolve around issues of race.

In some instances, the policing of culture can rely on the police themselves. Earlier this year, Harry Miller, a docker from Humberside, was contacted by the police after he retweeted a trans-sceptical limerick on Twitter. The officer informed him that ‘we need to check your thinking’.

Though Miller was informed that he had not committed a crime, he was told that his retweet would be recorded as a ‘hate incident’ and his social-media account would be monitored. Thought has literally become a police matter.

The task of controlling the narrative is by no means monopolised by the police, of course. The new narratives are mediated through a variety of institutions and gatekeepers.

‘Sensitivity readers’ are now employed by publishing houses and other institutions to ensure that the language used by authors does not violate the norms and values of the cultural elites. In a different world, these sensitivity readers would have been called censors. But in an era when the new narrative is characteristically opaque and euphemistic, the term censor is replaced by that of sensitivity reader.

Though they may be very sensitive, these readers have no inhibition about dictating what books should or should not be published. This broader culture is having a serious impact on creative freedom. A young-adult fiction author, Amélie Wen Zhao, withdrew her debut book, Blood Heir, earlier this year because reviewers and colleagues who had seen advanced copies deemed her depictions of certain groups to be ‘problematic’.

The world of advertising has also been affected by all this. Here, images rather than words are policed. Earlier this year a ban on adverts containing ‘dangerous’ gender stereotypes was brought in by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority. According to the new rules, images of women doing housework while lazy men look on, or women driving badly, are outlawed.

The media in general are increasingly drawn in to this project of telling people what they should think. The new streaming service Disney+ has adopted the policy of attaching warnings about ‘outdated cultural depictions’ to classic films and cartoons. These warning messages are designed to protect viewers from being contaminated by old classics such as Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp and Dumbo.

The term ‘outdated cultural depictions’ is significant. Through self-consciously distancing the public from the values of the past, and condemning them as both wrong and irrelevant, this term reinforces the message that we have no choice but to embrace the new cultural narrative.

Indeed, one of the principal objectives of this crusade to control the narrative is to distance society from the ideals and values of the past, and not just those that we are all glad to have left behind. The way in which communities understand themselves and their role in the world has been called into question, as have the breakthroughs and achievements of previous generations. There is a relentless attempt to render the past as outdated, bad and even evil.

Exhibitions in museums and other cultural institutions constantly denigrate what humanity has achieved in the past. The glories of Ancient Greece are forever tainted by slavery. The Renaissance and the Enlightenment are presented as products of Western ethnocentrism. The magnificent Victorian era is depicted as an age of irredeemable evil. There is no relief from the war against the past.

In June, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London posted signs outside an exhibition on the history of British humour, stating ‘this display confronts uncomfortable truths about the past’.
None of this should surprise us: wresting control of the narrative requires a diminishing of the influence that the past has on contemporary society. The success of this project can be measured in the way that people can now be humiliated for voicing beliefs which have been held for centuries.

Take the case of disability assessor, Dr David Mackereth, from Dudley in the West Midlands. Earlier this year he was fired from his post because he refused to use transgender people’s chosen pronouns, as it went against his Christian faith. An employment tribunal ruled that his views were ‘incompatible with human dignity’, and that ‘a lack of belief in transgenderism and conscientious objection to transgenderism in our judgment are incompatible with human dignity and conflict with the fundamental rights of others’.
In effect, the tribunal ruled that it is not enough simply to spout the vocabulary of the new narrative — you must also believe it! That the act of punishing someone for his ‘lack of belief in transgenderism’ goes almost unnoticed today shows how powerful the new narrative is.

Perhaps even worse was the recent ruling in the case of Maya Forstater, who lost her job at a charitable organisation over tweets questioning government plans to let people declare their own gender. The final sentence of this sinister ruling states that Forstater’s views do not have the ‘protected characteristic of philosophical belief’. That is another way of saying that it is okay to criminalise the belief that there are only two biological sexes.

The ideal of tolerance emerged in the 17th century through a struggle to protect people’s beliefs against state repression. Centuries later we are entering a new dark age of intolerance.

In the 2020s, liberating society from the spell of the intolerant anti-humanist narrative is the key challenge facing those committed to freedom and democracy. What is at stake is not just language and words, but the preservation of the most precious ideals of human civilisation.

Frank Furedi’s How Fear Works: the Culture of Fear in the 21st Century is published by Bloomsbury Press.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Willie Penwright

31st December 2019 at 2:14 pm

The police and universities need to employ moderators to judge what is suitable comment for public consumption. Surely there are moderators hereabouts who could do this work, maybe even free of charge.

Michael CrackMonkey

30th December 2019 at 3:48 am

This issue with redefining terms out of a manufactured concern for gender fairness started a long time ago. In the English language the word “Man” originally meant a “person” or “human being” but liberal feminists in their permanent state of mental illness decided that words ending in “man” such as policeman, fireman, mailman were an offense against non-males and insisted those terms be altered to police-person, fire-person, mail-person and so on. The problem is in these cases the renaming is redundant because policeman and police-person mean the same thing. The world Mankind literally means “Human Kind”. No one thinks “Mankind” refers only to males. English is a truly gender neutral language but these supposed intelligent, highly educated people apparently aren’t very educated in their native tongue or they would know that in their attempts to create true gender neutrality the English language already accomplished the task. Or they did know this but their bias against anything they consider “White” drove them to ridiculous ends to avoid recognizing the strengths of the English language.

Neil McCaughan

29th December 2019 at 6:48 pm

Will someone be kind enough to let me know when I am expected to apologize for the suppression of widow burning in India and cannibalism in Africa and other marvellous expressions of non-white culture?


31st December 2019 at 9:59 pm

Just apologise for stuff like genocide in Tasmania, concentration camps in South Africa, bankrolling of Apartheid, murder of native Americans, the Irish famine of the 1840s, the Bengal famine of 1943, destruction and rape of the Indian economy and culture, genocide in Tasmania, Amritsar, the partition of Ireland, destruction of Celtic culture and languages, etc. Of course, you were just ‘civilising’ these people, weren’t you?

Ed Turnbull

8th January 2020 at 12:45 pm

Hello ZP, you exhort Neil to apologise for a number of historical tragedies. I’d point out that only the chronically deluded (or cretinously virtue-signalling) believe it’s possible to apologise for something for which you bear no accountability.

Or are you merely trolling again? If so you really need to up your game. Trolling can be funny if it’s done well (Amelia was amusing for a while, if derivative, but then ran out of steam), but I’m afraid you come across as merely tiresome. Remember Churchill’s advice about keeping one’s gob shut and being thought a fool, rather than opening it and removing all doubt. Chin chin.

TrappedInTheOffSide .

29th December 2019 at 10:19 am

I agree with Frank’s point, however it’s a reaction to having too many people in our society willing to follow the preachers of hate and division. we do not educate well enough, or give people enough opportunity and aspiration as a genuine alternative.

Take a look at the 30’s hate speech went largely unchallenged, added to economic disaster and look what happened. Don’t challenge hate speech and your an apologists for it, speak against it and your accused of shutting down debate, you can’t have it both ways. Free speech should be the noblest of goals for any society but Im afraid to say we lack the responsibility to have it.

Tim Cogswell

28th December 2019 at 4:32 pm

As Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe told the Nazis… I now say to the Leftists: “NUTS!”

Phil Ford

28th December 2019 at 12:19 am

I’m currently re-reading Orwell’s 1984. Page after page, I’m staggered by just how prescient this author was. How on earth, back in 1946-48, did Orwell forsee speech codes, thoughtcrime, politically correct authoritarianism, etc? It’s mind-blowing. Was he a time-traveler?

Ray Gunn

28th December 2019 at 11:52 pm

Orwell saw it all during the 1920’s and 30’s – the totalitarian dictatorships of the left and right – the suppression of free speech, the show trials with their false ‘confessions’ etc. etc. He was personally aggrieved by Soviet perfidy during the Spanish Civil War. See his account in ‘Homage to Catalonia’ (1938).

John Marks

27th December 2019 at 4:57 pm

The ‘Woke’ Cult has led to these bigoted, intolerant ideas, such as “no-platforming”, ‘safe spaces’, gender-bending and other anti-democratic behaviour.
Let us hope Johnson refutes this cancer which, although begun by Blair’s spivs, has made its advances under a decade of Tory rule.


28th December 2019 at 12:40 pm

Boris should launch a crusade on this -he could appeal to the Right and normal people withoiut any economic commitments.

John Ryan

27th December 2019 at 12:49 pm

Wow! I can’t believe I stumbled upon this piece. What truly gives me hope for humanity are the comments of the “commoners” who respond to this piece. Merry Christmas! and a Happy New Year!

Dominic Straiton

27th December 2019 at 12:43 pm

At the same time Trinity college Cambridge has more Nobel prizes than France while Cambridge university like all the others is reverting 700 years to places of orthadoxy and new religious tyranny. They will make themselves irrelevant .


31st December 2019 at 10:03 pm

That was incoherent. Meanwhile, Cambridge University continues to be one of the world’s best universities.

Claire D

27th December 2019 at 8:30 am

Mockery, satire and parody can be powerful weapons (thank you Andrew Doyle for starters).

I hope there are some writers and comedians able to use words in subtle enough ways to escape the censors, Shakespeare had to do it. Authoritarianism can be the mother of invention, paradoxically.

steve moxon

27th December 2019 at 7:48 am

Well how about blaming the Marxist apologists responsible, eh Frank?! No surprise that the founder of the RCP doesn’t come clean.
THE ORIGIN OF ‘IDENTITY POLITICS’ & ‘POLITICAL CORRECTNESS’: Not Consideration for Minorities but Hatred Towards the Mass of Ordinary People; Specifically ‘the Workers’ — Tracing the Roots of Why and How it Arose and Developed Reveals the Greatest Political Fraud in History. SUMMARY
‘Identity politics’ (often or even usually dubbed ‘political correctness’) is the result of a political-Left major backlash against the mass of ordinary people (in Europe and ‘the West’), beginning in the 1920s/30s, in the wake of the persistent failure of Marxist theory to be realised in European ‘revolution’ or any real change through democracy. In shifting the blame away from Marxist theory and its adherents, and on to those the theory had prescribed and predicted would have been the beneficiaries — the workers — if only they had responded accordingly; then the cognitive-dissonance within the political-left mindset caused by this crisis to an extent was salved. [It is NOT at all the same as what the Left mistakenly term ‘the politics of identity’ to tag the new movements against the elite, on the false assumption that they are essentially nationalistic and ‘white backlash’. Trump and Brexit triumphed because the general populace have come to realise that the government-media-education uber-class has an unwarranted profound contempt for and visceral hatred towards them; and, therefore hardly is liable to act in their interests.]
The intellectual rationalisation was first by invoking Freud’s now comprehensively discredited notion of ‘repression’ to attempt to explain a supposed impact on ‘the workers’ of ‘capitalism’ acting within the context of the family. With most workers (the group considered the principal ‘agents of social change’ in a ‘revolution’) being male, then the theoreticians had in mind the male as ‘head’ of the family. It was a simple extension in political-Left imagination for ‘the worker’ to change from being the putative conduit of the impact of ‘capitalism’ to its embodiment, leaving women to be deemed a replacement supposed ‘oppressed’ and ‘disadvantaged’ ‘group’.
This implausible and unfalsifiable non-scientific nonsense mainly festered within academia until the co-option after 1968 by the political-Left of a movement which appeared to be akin to the revolutionary activity predicted by Marxism: the US ‘civil rights’ movement. This added to the ‘new oppressed’ the category ‘non-white’, which like that of women could be envisaged as an inversion of a retrospective stereotype of ‘the worker’. In the wake of the similarly seeming revolutionary Stonewall riots of 1969, the ‘gay rights’ lobby was also co-opted to further add to the abstract demonised aspects of ‘the worker’, thereafter retrospectively stereotyped as male plus ‘white’ plus heterosexual.
The strands of the ‘new oppressed’ combined in a new (neo-Marxist) conceptualisation to account for these political shifts after the fact, which came to be termed ‘identity politics’ (or more pejoratively but accurately, ‘cultural Marxism’, and latterly dubbed ‘modernising’ [sic] in political parties). The deemed ‘groups’ replacing ‘the workers’ – subsequently expanded to embrace the disabled, the elderly, trans-sexuals and the obese – are abstractions rather than groups per se, and in any case far too heterogeneous to be in reality ‘oppressed’ or ‘disadvantaged’; providing a window on the sophistry and origin of this politics as other than it purports.
This absurd situation arose through the political-Left’s forcing of specific conflicts to be considered as emblematic of Marxist struggle, rendering them as generalisable, with their participants abstractions. US Afro-Americans became generic ‘ethnic minorities’, and ‘gays’ became ‘homosexuals’. The history of feminism — not just of the ‘third wave’ — is of upper-class or upper-middle-class women demanding to somehow to be the same as their very high-status husbands and males within their rarefied social milieu; which even if it could make any sense given profound sex difference, hardly was a basis of anything comparable for the great majority of either women or men. The upshot is that ‘identity politics’ is a ‘gravy train’ for the already privileged. Worse, it is an instrument of oppression against the very ‘group’ perennially disadvantaged and the victim of prejudice, which formerly had been identified as worthy of the liberation Marxism promised: the vast majority of (necessarily lower-status) men.
The pretence to egalitarianism is perfect cover for what ‘identity politics’ actually is: the very perennial and ubiquitous elitist-separatism the political-Left ethos attacks and denies; rendered a quasi-religion, being an ideology in the wake of the Christian notion of ‘the promised land’ in the utopia/dystopia of equality-of-outcome.

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27th December 2019 at 5:57 am

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Christopher Tyson

26th December 2019 at 11:28 pm

I met the RCP back in the 90s, I was pretty sceptical about the left and kind of went along to a meeting because a friend of mine invited me. I was really surprised, mainly because they were intelligent and well-read, open to discussion and really not like the lefties that I generally avoided. My point is that there are some who post here who for whatever reason, want to put spiked and/or Furedi in the frame for identity politics, when they were amongst the first to critique identity politics and have done so for decades in fact, to the extent that others on the left accused them of being Tories of being middle class intellectuals and much else. The logic is poor to say the least, in some cases there is deliberate misrepresentation, in other cases people who want to rehabilitate or deny racism, colonialism, and whatever. Certainly we have the demise of analytical thinking, defining our term so that we know that we are talking about the same thing. We have a lack of historical specificity whereby people assume that the same concept has the same meaning in all at times and circumstances. But worst of all is to take an idea like ‘Left’ presume its meaning, put ‘whoever’ in the group of ‘Left’ and then castigate them for holding view or beliefs that make up your definition of ‘Left’. At best this is a bit dumb at worst its a deliberate attempt to mis-represent or propagandise. Why talk about what Furedi ‘would have done’? Rather than what he has actually done. In any case the logic is circular, you’re saying that Furedi would have done AB and C because he is a Leftists and your definition of a Leftist is some one who has done AB and C. Someone on the Left may have done A and B but not C, you might then say that maybe that person does not fulfil your criteria of being on the Left.

Jim Lawrie

27th December 2019 at 10:39 am

Given the long history of hostility of the RCP and its members to all things British and their scorn for the working class, it is reasonable to ask whether they have retracted and recanted, or to suspect that their present position is a tactical convenience and necessity.
Your post is an ad hominem against us who question – short on content, long on insinuation.
The RCP was unable to attract and hold high calibre working class people. Even had they figured the reason, they could not have done anything about it.

Christopher Tyson

27th December 2019 at 11:44 am

The RCP’s ‘scorn for the working class’? I don’t know where you get that from. Hostility to all things British? They were always pretty keen on Orwell and JS MIll to name just two British things. ‘Their present position’? They don’t exist anymore, they folded longer ago than I can remember, their memory is kept alive by conspiracy theorists and those who want to exhume them so that they can bury them again. Most of the writers on spiked would have been in primary school, when the RCP folded.

Jim Lawrie

27th December 2019 at 3:31 pm

Nope. I heard them rubbish Orwell in the 90’s as a voyeur playing poor, and for his correct insights into Marx and Lenin and Stalin.

As for the writers and their connections to the RCP – look at the author of this article. Who owns this publication? You? They either own or disown their past.

The did not “fold”. They simply decided on a different bent than that of a political party. They are entitled to do that. But an article such as this when seen against the author’s politics right into his sixties. The RCP dissolved with a parting shot at the working class as being a major disappointment and the reason for them no longer being able to go on. In that they most certainly upheld the traditions of the British left.

You talk of exhumation. Such was their Lenin worship that one would have thought that only his re-incarnation could save us. Made flesh in the sobriquet of their leader. Control is still in the hands of the old guard.

Cedar Grove

10th January 2020 at 10:35 pm

Thank you for a rational post.

ThePigman Cometh

26th December 2019 at 10:35 pm

Dragging everything back to pre-Enlightenment times by pretending to be progressive — it’s the new plutocratic project, folks!

K Tojo

26th December 2019 at 9:00 pm

Are the far Left’s chickens coming home to roost I wonder?

Frank Furedi with his backround as a Left wing radical (founder and leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party) would have spent much effort railing against all the Left’s favourite evils: sexism, racism, xenophobia, patriarchy, capitalism, colonialism etc. Why is he shocked that a whole generation, reared on a diet of socialist morality and Western guilt, should seek to eradicate those evils which they have been told are all around them and must be challenged?

Tolerance of free speech must seem a pointless excercise if it simply permits freedom of expression to those who would perpetuate the evils identified by radicals Furedi and his fellow radicals. A generation have been told that those who are principled and caring will not stand idly by – they will fight for social justice. Did he really expect that the struggle would all remain on the level of student debate and impotent protest chants?

Be careful what you wish for Furedi.

steve moxon

27th December 2019 at 7:54 am

Too right!
When will Frank come clean that all he now complains of is the work of apologists for Marxism?
It’s good he speaks out against ‘identity politics’, but he doesn’t concede that it arose as a giant Left backlash against ‘the workers’ for not buying Marxist bull.
The problem is that Marxism is philosophically and scientifically illiterate. It’s to try to cover this fact that ‘identity politics’ arose.
So Frank needs to admit that Marxism is the junk it is, and to ditch it.
Nothing less will do.

K Tojo

27th December 2019 at 9:22 am

Long term Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, in his book “Judgment in Moscow: Soviet Crimes and Western Complicity”, states that the 1989 fall of the Berlin wall was not quite the triumph of Capitalism it is portrayed as in Western media. In his view there should have been something along the lines of the Nuremberg trials or the trials of Japanese military leaders post WW2.

As it stands, the brutality, oppression and mass deaths of the great Soviet communist “experiment” have been downplayed to a disturbing extent. There are historians who would have us focus on the alleged achievements of Lenin, Stalin and their successors rather than worrying too much about their crimes against humanity.

So that old adage “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs” makes a comeback. Perhaps young activists see the downfall of the Soviet Bloc as an undeserved victory for the greedy capitalist West. Perhaps they think Marxism should be given yet another chance because (in the eyes of its advocates) it is morally and intellectually superior to anything the selfish consumerist West has to offer.

steve moxon

27th December 2019 at 12:31 pm

Yes, I’m familiar with Bukovsky’s interesting view, and I agree he’s right.

Modern Money

26th December 2019 at 8:49 pm

Well Thatcher done it with economics and most cheered. The narratives were all myths.

No such thing as society, no such thing as state money ( even though it is written in the front of every note where it comes from) only tax payers money. Blah, blah, blah she lied and got Satchi and Satchi to advertise these myths.

Government finances operates like a household budget. Satchi and Satchi brainwashed a generation.

Where was the thought police then ?

There is a long list of them

That do not reflect the £.

Christopher Tyson

26th December 2019 at 6:43 pm

I was half awake in front of the TV on Christmas Night when I heard somebody say that the rules for organ donation were changing, we will now be required to opt out if we do not want our organs donated after we die. Who decided to announce it on Christmas day? Were they thinking that people would either be to pissed and exhausted to notice or perhaps too full of good will? I checked on the NHS website, and indeed I wasn’t dreaming, this really is happening. There were all kinds of reassurances, no-one is going steal your dead body, relatives will be consulted, yada yada, nothing will really change. But a principle will have been established dead bodies will be nationalised. Many trends in our society come into play here. When and where was the debate? How about our parliament, so recently celebrated by those trying to prevent Brexit. Surely parliament is the forum to debate profound moral and intellectual problems. Who does your dead body belong to, also begging the question who does you living body belong to, does it make sense to talk about ‘your’ body, are we presuming a mind/body dualism, do we own our body when it is possessed by consciousness, is our body up for grabs when consciousness is extinguished, and many other questions. As a common sense philosopher I would say that we have dealt with this question for generations, we regard our body as ours, and when we die we either stipulate our wishes or our nearest and dearest decide on our behalf. The state has no right to intervene in this, the state has no justification. This is where the other aspect of our culture come in. Emotionalism – all that suffering and you choose waste the organs which the state has permitted you to use during ‘your’ life. What works – never mind the morality think of all the people who will benefit.
No meaningful debate – the political class are of one mind, policy wonks and think tanks come up with an idea, it’s touted in the media, voila, it’s the law. Philosophically, we have an idea that the point of life is to live as long as possible, that we are entitled to good health and a long life. We may or may not have empathy, I would suggest that most of us have sympathy for those suffering from illnesses, at some point that category includes all of us and everyone we know. But we are not obliged to assist everyone certainly not at the behest of the state. We do no live in a socialist utopia/dystopia. The poor are not obliged to assist the poor. The charitable impulse is, I would argue, something of great value for humanity and civilisation. It is certainly a cornerstone of Christianity, Victorian society and charities such as Red Nose day show that this instinct is live and well and I think this is a good thing. But charity is voluntary, you might want my lung or liver, but I might not want to give it to you, you might think I’ a selfish so and so, but it is my prerogative yo be a selfish so and so. The state does not feel the need to make a moral or intellectual argument or to persuade us ( as charities have traditionally done), for the ‘what works pragmatists’ our organs are useful and we must hand them over. The reality of ‘nudge theory’ – if nudge does not work bring in the big battalions of the law. ‘Don’t worry’ they say ‘nothing has really change’ but it has changed, they have established a principle, the state now has a claim on our corpses.

Christopher Tyson

26th December 2019 at 6:54 pm

Typo corrections.
Should be ‘aspects’ of culture not ‘aspect’. Should be ‘the rich are not obliged to assist the poor’.

Neil John

4th January 2020 at 8:44 pm

Will this encourage the harvesting of those injured who might make good ‘donors’ but of less ‘social value’? Or even worse will those who need a donor, for themselves or a family member, consider ‘creating’ a ‘potential’ donor? Desperation can be a terrible thing and lead people to do terrible things…

Cedar Grove

10th January 2020 at 11:07 pm

Thanks for mentioning that. I might be willing to donate organs when I’m no longer using them, but the idea that the state can demand this is utterly abhorrent.

Eric Wood

26th December 2019 at 5:48 pm

I was shocked the other day to find a popular yuletide movie had been left with the racist, Islamophopbic moniker White Christmas. When will it be renamed Ethnically Diverse Non-Denominational Festivity?

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Jim Lawrie

26th December 2019 at 5:32 pm

“The magnificent Victorian era is depicted as an age of irredeemable evil.” It is not so long since you and the rest of the left were denigrating everything Victorian and British as exactly that, and cheering on the destruction of much of what the Victorians built. Have you retracted? It is one hundred years since the censors and murderers of Bolshevism and your hero Lenin started on their 70 year journey of destruction against the working class, and laid the seeds for the present situation. Those whom you lambast are not the only ones trying to distance themselves from the past.
The current state of the UK, the destruction of our society and history and the attempts to replace with mass immigration by people alien and hostile to our ways is what you wished for. It will not be the likes of you who will lead the fight back. You are part of the problem.


26th December 2019 at 4:58 pm

I cannot recall the quotation but I’m nearly certain that Thackeray lamented that, in his age, no author could depict a man as fully as Fielding had done in Tom Jones. From his age until the ‘Lady Chatterley Trial’ was a little over a hundred years. That took place sixty years ago and although the modesty and primness of the book’s language would probably make it acceptable to a Sunday School class today, many classics wouldn’t have a hope of being published by the mainstream press had they been written recently. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? Heart of Darkness? Black Mischief? How soon before they’re barred from public libraries, lest the chronically sensitive be exposed to them?

Bella Donna

26th December 2019 at 4:17 pm

Great article Spiked but how can we overturn it? I want to tell them all to FO and mind their own business but that isn’t going to change their agenda. The future is a bleak one!

Michael Lynch

26th December 2019 at 1:18 pm

It’s all down to Priti Patel now. A lady who, known for her Thatcherite Conservative views, will not tolerate this ideological nonsense. In my opinion, the Police are now in an extremely safe and pragmatic pair of hands for the immediate future.

James Knight

26th December 2019 at 12:06 pm

We need less politics in science and more science in politics. It is no good blaming fake news for the fall in vaccination rates, it is the loss of credibility of scientists that is the issue. Cases like this only confirm scientists are prone to be corrupted by ideology. It brings science into further disrepute and makes scientists appear a public laughing stock.

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Jim Lawrie

26th December 2019 at 10:57 am

White plastic is the cheapest to make and recycle. It lasts longer when left in the sun.
Black plastic is the most expensive to recycle because it is invisible to sensors. Ditto black robots.

The scientists making these claims know this. They are most likely angling to stick their snouts into a deeper trough of funding, platformed on the veneer of scientific objectivity, with no regard for truth, scientific or otherwise. All done willingly and knowingly. Shame on them.

To counter this it would be good, in an article like this, to hear from the scientists who refused to go along with this degradation and hijacking of their profession. It would also reduce the feelings of impotency such depressing news induces in us.

TrappedInTheOffSide .

29th December 2019 at 10:55 am

Most are designed and built in Japan and China

Ven Oods

26th December 2019 at 10:24 am

If the law is going to oblige us to use plural pronouns (they, them, their) for a singular human, then the lunatics (no offence intended) really have taken over the asylum. What’s wrong with “it, it and its”? (I think I know, but don’t wish to rush to judgement.)

Hugh Oxford

26th December 2019 at 10:22 am

This is all very true, but it doesn’t explain or expose the forces behind it which must be attacked and destroyed for this to end.

Danny Rees

26th December 2019 at 10:10 am

2020 will be the year when people finally realise that freedom of speech means some people get to say whatever they want whenever and wherever they want and other people get to shut up.

Brandy Cluster

26th December 2019 at 4:17 pm

In his excellent book “Ship of Fools” Tucker Carlson has a chapter entitled “Shut Up, They Explained”. This covers the issue you’ve raised very nicely indeed.


31st December 2019 at 10:03 pm

Tucker Carlson wears bow ties. Never trust a man who wears bow ties.

Stephen Nash

26th December 2019 at 9:49 am

This covers the cultural war against the Past. We also need to consider the economic imperative of the last 40 years. In order for our short term debt driven economy to work (of which education is a part) people need to live only in a recurring present. Any lessons from the Past must be denigrated in order to convince people that this is the best possible outcome. It is being driven on by an unprincipled elite and the ever present energy and aspiration of the population in general.

Gareth Edward KING

26th December 2019 at 9:47 am

The 2010 Equality Act includes nine ‘protected characteristics’ under the law including the usual bag of age, disability, gender re-assignment, race and religion, but much more worringly: ‘protected philosophical’ beliefs’ which already incorporate pacifism and supporting Scottish independence! Recently, a Catalonian nut-case: Jordi Casamitjana who was sacked from his role as policy adviser to the League of Cruel Sports due to his ‘ethical veganism’, which for the uninitiated, includes such helpful beliefs as not ‘using public transport due to the possibility of an animal being run over’ (I kid not) wants his dyed-in-the-wool veganism to be included in the act. These people are looking for the state to protect them from those of us who could well disagree with their silly ideas. Sounds like an example of not being able to argue one’s case and expecting everyone else to fall into line.

Missus Warner

26th December 2019 at 10:15 am

Harron v Dorset Police

The EAT considered whether a belief relating to the proper and efficient use of public money in the public sector constituted a “philosophical belief” for the purpose of the Equality Act 2010.

The Claimant worked for a police force in Dorset. He claimed he had been discriminated against for holding the belief that public money ought not to be wasted.

Philosophical belief is a “protected characteristic” under the Equality Act 2010. It is unlawful to discriminate against an individual on account of the individual holding or not holding a particular philosophical belief.

How do you measure whether a particular belief should be afforded protection under the Equality Act 2010? Five criteria have to be met:

(i) The belief must be genuinely held.

(ii) It must be a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information available.

(iii) It must be a belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour.

(iv) It must attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance.

(v) It must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, and compatible with human dignity and the fundamental rights of others

The EAT followed this criteria and commented that the bar under the Equality Act 2010 should not be set too high; however, for the belief to qualify, it must be more than trivial. A belief that was held purely in the workplace would not meet the criteria.

The EAT sent the case back to the Employment Tribunal to be re-heard applying the correct test. The Tribunal will now decide whether, in this particular case, the test is met.

Employers should remain aware that the concept of “belief” extends beyond religious belief and, for example, a belief in man-made climate change has amounted to a belief in terms of the Equality Act 2010.

James Knight

26th December 2019 at 12:12 pm


J Chilton

26th December 2019 at 9:40 am

Frank Furedi’s commentary on the ideological narrative being imposed in public and private life, has no constructive proposals on how “common readers” or the passengers on the Clapham bus, can effectively resist the Thought Police. We know what’s going on, but can’t do anything about it except share our fears with others of a like mind.

Nothing will be done, nothing can be done to combat institutional intolerance and censorship unless the opposition to it finds political expression. Until the liberation of
“society from the spell of the intolerant anti-humanist narrative” becomes an aim of high politics, the policing of the culture will intensify.

There is no hope whatever of a Tory government led by Boris Johnson making any effort to preserve “the most precious ideals of human civilisation”.

Linda Payne

26th December 2019 at 6:27 pm

a long with the death of freedom of speech there is also a loss of solidarity; embittered individuals who lose their job and livlehoods will find themselves hung out of dry, they will want recompense but find there is no outlet for them to persue it. People will learn to put up and shut up to protect what they have and they won’t risk that to defend anyone even people they like. Once they have done that they will learn to think in the ‘correct’ way in order to justify their actions while those who have been targetted will become more and more resentful and the divisions will get bigger. We already know the political class hate democracy as Brexit has shown and how long will it be when the ‘wrong type’ of people lose the vote?

JP Edwards

26th December 2019 at 9:07 am

There are no short term solutions. We have to counter the illiberal leftist takeover of the education system. The education system does not reflect a cross section of society. Centric and Conservative educationalists are small in number and keep their heads down for fear of prejudicing their livelihood.
Education is predominantly funded from the public purse; primary, secondary and universities. Most university student loans will not be repaid in which case they become a tax payer subsidy to universities. Since all parts of society are paying, it is only right that society expects that educationalists should not be drawn from only one side of the political spectrum and that illiberal leftist ideas should not be allowed to dominate and drive out all other strands of university discourse. The BBC (again publicly funded) also has a problem with attracting staff from only one side of the political spectrum. This is not an easy problem to solve, there are no quick fixes.

J Chilton

26th December 2019 at 9:46 am

“We have to counter the illiberal leftist takeover of the education system.”

Who are the “we” you’re talking about? The general “we” can do nothing to counter the leftist takeover of any institution. Those that have the power to reverse such takeovers are part of the problem.

Brandy Cluster

26th December 2019 at 4:37 pm

Bingo!! All occurring on the watch of so-called conservative governments. They’ve consumed the Cool Aid and they take the blame.

Philip Humphrey

26th December 2019 at 7:58 am

In order to get rid of the thought police, you need to have a definite goal. I would suggest a couple of things. First of all ripping up the useless Human Rights Act and replacing it with a proper UK bill of rights that includes amongst it a guarantee of freedom of speech and religion along the lines of the U.S. constitution. That would render much of the activity of the thought police illegal especially if the act sought to guarantee freedom of speech in places like university campuses.
Secondly, the media needs to be opened up, the present arrangements of broadcasters being supposedly politically neutral is a joke, BBC and channel four are perceived by many to be out about leftist biased. We desperately need an equivalent of Fox News in the U.S. to provide some sort of balance and to speak out against the politically correct and “wokes”, and it would probably happen if the market were open.
These are achievable political goals that could be campaigned for.

Ed Turnbull

26th December 2019 at 9:06 am

I would love it if we had a properly written constitution / bill of rights that contained the equivalent of the US first amendment. However, for such a constitution to endure it will need to contain the equivalent of the US second amendment… And while I’m wishing, can Santa bring me an Aston Martin? I won’t mind it being a day late.

Merry Xmas to all lovers of liberty, and perdition upon its enemies.

Neil John

26th December 2019 at 11:49 am

I’d suggest you follow for a while, it’s quite revealing on how badly freedom of thought in US Universities and colleges is doing. Here the fight is against many of the same types of non-state actors, though monitoring the Wonkhe often shows the next target for admin/management types in UK Universities. Club group-think is alive and well in UK Universities, and it’s killing ‘academic freedom’ slice by tiny slice.

Cedar Grove

10th January 2020 at 10:58 pm

I wrote to the Babson President to ask whether it was his view that it is no longer one of the duties of the intellectual to comment on society, or to do so in a lighthearted manner.

I suggested that perhaps Babson was on the list of 52. And enquired whether he believed Swift had a taste for eating Irish babies.

It’s beyond belief how pious and self righteous people whose fundamental purpose is to safeguard freedom of mind and expression have become.

Brandy Cluster

26th December 2019 at 4:39 pm

The Left is dumb and smart simultaneously. Dumb because of their idiotic ideologies and smart in that they knew what Goebbels did; if you control the media and educate the young you’ve got them for life.

Alfred Coombe

27th December 2019 at 2:52 pm

As a “Yank” I hate to offer disillusionment, but our 1st Amendment protecting religion and speech is essentially worthless under corporate and political pressures. As is our 4th prohibiting unreasonable search and seizure, the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th defining prosecutorial misbehavior and trial rights. The only thing holding back the change from authoritarian to totalitarian government in the U. S. of A. is the 2nd amendment. It too is being attacked and, unfortunately, it is already too late for the UK, having already surrendered one of the most basic human rights, the right of self protection, including the right to protect one’s self from oppressive government. Quite frankly, the only government you can trust is one that fears you, not vice-versa.


31st December 2019 at 10:02 pm

Alfred Coombe — what use are assault rifles against a nuclear-armed state?


26th December 2019 at 7:56 am

When I was at school (a few years ago now, the 1960s and early 1970s) I was told by my history teachers that culturally English society alternated between repression and licence. Hence the Puritan 17th century was succeeded by the licentious 18th, the straight-laced 19th and then the liberal 20th. Obviously it is easy to pick holes in that theory in detail but it has value. I reckon the most recent change of direction from cultural freedom to cultural repression started in the late 1980s or early 1990s. According to Wikipedia this country passed its first ‘hate speech’ law in 1986, an event that surely signaled a change of direction. The publication of Rushdie’s Satanic Verses in 1988 was a more public tipping point. But the change of direction only became apparent in the very early years of this century. I rather suspect that those fighting for freedom of public conscience (which is surely what it is, in essence) are going to lose more ground before they regain any.


31st December 2019 at 10:06 pm

Bit rich of you guys to complain about Rushdie’s treatment when you did absolutely nothing to stand up against him in the face of an Islamic injunction to kill the guy. Western conservatives are just as cowardly as the liberals when it comes to defending western culture against Islamic bigotry. The number of mosques in this country is 3000 – that number is growing and still nobody stands up to resist. This has something to do with the wholesale rejection of Christianity in the UK, which has left us powerless to resist.

Mike Stallard

26th December 2019 at 7:27 am

Police find it nice to sit in their offices with a hot cup of coffee looking online. They do not find it nice to get out on the street doing what they ought to be doing: talking to people. They enjoy taking down people who are thinking different and new thoughts and thinking critically; they hate investigating burglary and, in our case, a shopkeeper being battered with the butt of a rifle.
Command depends on clearing out the offices and making police go out into the streets to do their proper job.

Ven Oods

26th December 2019 at 10:26 am

Yes; our local police station (tiny) always has two or three liveried police vehicles parked outside it. Instead of being out on the streets fighting crime, they’re sat indoors, fighting their waistlines.

H McLean

26th December 2019 at 5:13 am

Around 10-15 years ago radicals began to assert their ideological dominance in the academy but when Trump was elected it really went into overdrive, especially denouncing everything as white supremacist. Culture is now drowning is a sea of bad ideas while progressives, liberals, moderates and most mainstream centrists find themselves passively going along because, well, they don’t understand at all why they’re going along, but they know they simply MUST, or they’re Nazis, or worse, Conservatives.

The centre ground must be retaken and defended against this deluge of bad ideas.

Jane 70

26th December 2019 at 4:22 am

The woke inquisition is steadily enforcing what might be described as a liberal dictatorship: until now, a contradiction in terms, but no longer.

Ellen Whitaker is right: how do we fight this ?

We see that it’s no longer ‘alright to be white’, that even quantum research and robotics have now fallen prey to the thought police.

If the past is to be cancelled or extensively revised to comply with the woke canon, and all hitherto widely accepted social norms and demonstrable truths are to be ridiculed and rejected, where will this lead us?

A kind of touchy-feely anarchy: no rules, no allegiance, no commonality, no identity-chaos.

Jim Lawrie

26th December 2019 at 6:20 pm

The destruction of our society is under way and is irreversible. What arises from this will be either something akin to what The Ottomans created in the Balkans, or the indigenous people reclaiming their country.
This publication celebrated the demise of New Dawn in Greece, but made no mention of how it was crushed, and its leaders jailed, followers murdered and political rights removed. New Dawn was a movement of reassertion by the Greek People in their ancient homeland. It has gone not away, but underground.


31st December 2019 at 10:00 pm

You’ve got your ‘Brexit’ thing and can now kick all the foreigners out. What more could you want?

Cedar Grove

10th January 2020 at 10:47 pm

Someone rebuked me for using a phrase from 18th century novels, where an immature young woman is often described as “tossing her ringlets” and flouncing out of the room.

I was solemnly instructed that that might be offensive to Hasidic Jews. My response was that if that were so, I would recommend that the Hasidic Jews read some 18th- century novels & enlarge their understanding.

Of course no actual Hasidic Jew would consider it worth their time to engage in such pointless stupidity, but the “Woke” take it upon themselves to suffer imaginary slights on their behalf.

It’s ridiculous, but also toxic and dangerous. No group should be made to denounce their own history, apologise for their ancestors, and resign any right to a place of belonging – especially when it’s so prejudiced a demand. Deplore slavery, by all means, and compensate for it – but that means deploring the Africans who sold their fellows, & the Arabs and Ottomans who bought literally millions of slaves, as well as the brief but industrial-scale purveying of captives carried out by Europeans.

I long for a politician who will enunciate the basic principle that this is a secular democracy, with free citizens of many origins, who cooperate to create an open society, free of religious ideology and thought-crime.

Ellen Whitaker

26th December 2019 at 12:35 am

Totalitarianism supported by the state but enforced mainly by global capitalism and institutions of higher education. How do you fight it?

H McLean

26th December 2019 at 5:13 am

Welcome to the Great Meme War of the Twenties.


31st December 2019 at 10:01 pm

I doubt ‘global capitalism’ has got much to do with the excesses of PC culture in the UK.

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