Long-read

The identitarians are winning the culture wars

Since the 1970s, regressive political forces have colonised the institutions of education, culture and even business.

Frank Furedi

This is the second part of a two-part essay exploring the development of the culture wars. Read the first part here.

Until recently, discussions about the culture war tended to be confined to the margins of public life. Often, academics and commentators portrayed the culture war as a relatively insignificant phenomenon, or as an episode that belonged to the past. A history of the culture wars, published in 2015, concluded that ‘the logic of the culture wars has been exhausted’, adding that ‘the metaphor has run its course’ (1). That the culture war is far from exhausted has been strikingly demonstrated by the recent focus on BAME victims of the Covid pandemic and, above all, by the Black Lives Matter protests.

Yet while the reality of the culture war is now widely recognised, its profound influence over the conduct of public life is not. There is still a tendency to see the culture war as a distinct, isolated discourse or approach, separate from mainstream public life. Hence, one commentator talks of the ‘culture war’ as something the Tories are deliberately promoting, almost like a policy. Others contend that the culture war is a distinctly American phenomenon that should have no place in British and other European societies. Or as Madeline Grant put it in the Telegraph, ‘our freedom is under threat from an American-exported culture war’.

In one sense, it is true that many of the issues, idioms and symbols through which culture is now being politicised globally derive from the US. However, while the culture war is especially intense in the US, it is also potent in Britain and many other parts of the world, too.

That is because the culture war is not one political domain among many others. It does not come and go as certain issues, such as gay marriage or Brexit, drop in and out of the headlines. Rather, the culture war now constitutes politics in general. Indeed, since the 1970s, the politicisation of culture has succeeded in displacing, or fundamentally altering, all the powerful ideologies of the modern era. It has successfully marginalised conservative and classical-liberal ideas, be they tolerance or democracy, within institutions of socialisation, such as schools and universities. And it has turned many cultural institutions, from the arts to the media, against humanist sentiments and ideals associated with the Western tradition that runs from Classical Greek philosophy through the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. Even classical socialist ideals of solidarity and internationalism have been torn asunder by the politicisation of culture and identity.

These developments take the form of a one-sided war against the past in general, and the legacy of the West in particular. Those upholding the importance of tradition and historical continuity now appear to be always on the defensive. Indeed, they seem to be resigned to losing the battle for the soul of society.

That air of resignation is understandable. Those upholding a principled commitment to the civilisational accomplishments of humanity have been on the receiving end of several defeats in recent decades. In her 1965 lecture, Some Questions of Moral Philosophy, Hannah Arendt reflected on the disappearance of values that once seemed permanent. She noted that ‘without much notice’ the moral values that helped people ‘tell right from wrong’ had ‘collapsed almost overnight’. Fifty-five years later, those moral values really have ceased to influence the conduct of public life. Indeed, in universities the language of morality is frequently denounced as a sham, or as a discourse to be deconstructed and exposed.

The apparent loss of the moral imagination, which so haunted Arendt, has profoundly affected contemporary life. As I note in my new book Why Borders Matter, the ability to ‘tell right from wrong’ has been compromised by the cultural devaluation of boundaries, such as those between good and evil; adult and child; man and woman; human and animal; and private and public. All of these symbolic boundaries have been called into question in recent decades. The binary distinction, for example, between man and woman is now denounced as transphobic. Even the very concept of the binary itself is castigated as exclusionary and discriminatory.

The main casualty of this war against traditional ideals has been the collapse in the moral status of judgement. Today, moral judgment — the attempt, that is, to distinguish right from wrong — is considered suspect, discriminatory, judgemental. Instead, it is the ethos of non-judgmentalism that is ascendant today. And that loss of faith in moral judgement indicates the extent to which the war to uphold the precious gains of civilisation is being lost.

The cultural turn

The present phase of the culture war began in the 1970s. It was during this decade that traditional Western elites quietly abandoned the fight against the countercultural movements of the 1960s. By the end of the 1970s, the values of the counterculture had gained hegemony. They were institutionalised, first in education and the cultural industry, and later in other sectors of society. Some scholars and observers have characterised this development as the cultural turn.

In the late 1970s, the cultural turn was attributed to a ‘new class’ of cultural elites, which was committed to so-called non- or post-material values. According to the political scientist Ronald Inglehart, this new class was concerned with post-material needs, such as the need for aesthetic satisfaction, and what psychologists called ‘self-actualisation’ (2). Its members were increasingly interested in environmentalism, and sought out therapeutic self-help groups. More broadly, they were increasingly preoccupied with the question of identity.

From the outset, the emerging post-material values were not presented neutrally, as one set of values among others. Rather, they were seen by their advocates as superior to traditional values, such as patriotism, nationalism and deference to authority. Inglehart himself thought that the move from traditional values to post-material values was positive, because it would erode the influence of greedy materialism in society.

But the significance of the cultural turn lay less in the so-called post-material values it promoted than in its effect: namely, the further politicisation of culture and of identity. For opponents of the old society, this took the form of a war on previously hegemonic values.

Trans activists rally outside New York City Hall, 24 October 2018.
Trans activists rally outside New York City Hall, 24 October 2018.

It is important to note that advocates of the cultural turn against traditional values consistently refused to acknowledge their role in politicising culture. Instead, they blamed their opponents for starting the culture war. One can see this happening during the current phase of the culture war. For instance, in Cultural Backlash: Trump, Brexit and Authoritarian Populism (2019), Inglehart and his co-author Pippa Norris, portray populism as being responsible for a culture war against post-material values. They appear unaware of their own side’s role in politicising culture, and forcing those who uphold different values on to the defensive.

Gaining control over language

The cultural turn marginalised traditional values. In the main, this was achieved through the capture of the institutions of socialisation by the new post-material elites. As sociologist Alvin Gouldner explains, a new class of intellectuals and knowledge workers achieved a monopoly over institutions of education and expertise, promoted the cultural turn, and unleashed forces that worked towards the de-authorisation of traditional cultural values.

Gouldner contends that this development was facilitated by changes within the family. The twin forces of women’s emancipation and the expansion of education in the context of growing prosperity had weakened paternal authority. This, in turn, damaged the capacity of the prevailing system of socialisation, which had been centred on the family, to communicate the legacy and the values of the past.

Gouldner’s analysis provided fascinating insights into the relationship between the disrupted socialisation within the family unit and the intensification of cultural conflict. He claimed that schools and universities provided the ‘institutional basis for the mass production of the new class’. In these institutions, teachers claim to represent society as a whole and, in that capacity, are ‘not defined as having an obligation to reproduce parental values in their children’. The expansion of education works towards insulating children from their parents’ cultural influence. Gouldner wrote:

‘The new structurally differentiated educational system is increasingly insulated from the family system, becoming an important source of values among students divergent from those of their families. The socialisation of the young by their families is now mediated by a semi-autonomous group of teachers.’ (3)

As a result of this development, ‘public educational systems’ become a ‘major cosmopolitanising influence on [their] students, with a corresponding distancing from localistic interests and values’. Gouldner asserted that ‘parental, particularly paternal, authority is increasingly vulnerable and is thus less able to insist that children respect societal or political authority outside the home’ (4).

One of the ways in which children become, through education, culturally distanced from the values of their parents is through their ‘linguistic conversion’ to a form of speech that reflect the values of the new class. What Gouldner characterised as the ‘culture of critical speech’ of the new classes ‘de-authorises all speech grounded in traditional societal authority, while it authorises itself, the elaborated speech variant of the culture of critical discourse, as the standard of all “serious” speech’ (5). Although published in 1979, Gouldner’s analysis anticipated the later institutionalisation of speech codes and the policing of language. It also provides important insights into the vitriol that often accompanies disputes about words and ‘offensive’ speech.

The linguistic conversion of the young was paralleled by their cultural distancing from the values of their parents and their ancestors. By the time they had graduated, many young people had internalised a set of values alien to those that their parents were socialised into. As successive cohorts of young people became ‘educated’ in accordance with the value systems of their institutions, they became increasingly distanced from what Gouldner called ‘localistic interests and values’.

By the turn of the 21st century, institutions of learning, especially universities, were not simply involved in the business of education. They were also concerned with re-education and re-socialisation. In the US in particular, new students were expected to attend numerous workshops to ‘raise their awareness’ on certain issues. ‘Raising awareness’ is best understood as a euphemism for converting individuals to the values of the awareness-raisers themselves.

Campus initiatives designed to raise awareness provide participants with virtues and moral qualities that distinguish them from the supposedly ‘unaware’ and unenlightened. The exhortation to ‘acknowledge white privilege’ is a very clear model of awareness-raising. Those who confess and acknowledge their guilt are able to distinguish themselves from the supposedly narrow-minded, prejudiced people who have not done likewise. The possession of awareness is therefore a marker of one’s superior status. And its absence marks one out as inferior. That is why the refusal to abide by the exhortation to ‘be aware’ invites moral condemnation.

Over recent decades, the cultural distancing of successive generations of young people from the moral outlook of their parents has ensured that the values of the past have lost much of their purchase. Through the medium of linguistic conversion, new cultural values have successfully displaced old ones. The goal is to develop conventions about what can and cannot be said and thought.

At present, this desire to overhaul language is most systematically expressed by advocates of trans culture. Almost overnight they won the support of officialdom for the introduction of laws and rules to govern the language around sex and gender. The elimination of binary language in relation to sex, and the introduction of an ever-growing range of pronouns, is testament to the influence of language purification. Society has become increasingly sensitive and hesitant about which words are appropriate, and which are not. It is a short step from being able to control language to gaining influence over the way people think.

The politicisation of culture

During its current phase, the culture war encompasses virtually all areas of everyday life. It has encouraged an unprecedented level of polarisation over matters that once would have been seen as non-political. That is why today just about anything, from the food you eat to the clothes you wear, can become a subject of vitriolic argument.

Conflicts over values have acquired an enormous significance in political life. Recent debates on abortion, euthanasia, immigration, gay marriage, trans pronouns, whiteness and family life indicate that there is an absence of consensus on some of the most fundamental questions facing society. The contestation of norms and values has politicised culture to a profound degree. Even people’s personal decisions, including who one chooses to have sex with, are interpreted as political statements.

The personalisation of politics can be interpreted as an example of what the German sociologist Max Weber called the ‘stylisation of life’. Through the embrace of styles, people set themselves apart, reinforce their status and draw a moral contrast between their styles of life and those of others. As Pierre Bourdieu, in his influential essay Distinction, noted, ‘aesthetic intolerance can be terribly violent’. Struggles over the ‘art of living’ serve to draw lines between behaviour and attitudes considered legitimate and those deserving of moral condemnation (6). The fury with which the culture war is fought out on social media over trivial matters such as one’s hairstyle or taste in fashion speaks to the unrestrained emotionalism at work these days.

Twenty-first-century cultural conflict is waged over the art of living. In universities, this trend is apparent in the numerous conflicts over cultural appropriation. The outbreak of rows over the consumption of culturally insensitive food or the wearing of inappropriate clothes shows that nothing is too trivial or too personal to constitute a political battleground today.

Increasingly, in the culture war, hostility is directed less at people’s beliefs than at people’s cultural identity. This can be seen in the project of pathologising male identity as ‘toxic masculinity’, or of stigmatising white people through the self-serving concepts of ‘whiteness’ and ‘white fragility’, both of which assume white people to be inherently racist. The politicisation of identity in this way is divisive, and gives all arguments an intensely emotional force.

Demonstrators hold placards during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on 9 June 2020 in Oxford.
Demonstrators hold placards during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on 9 June 2020 in Oxford.

The advocates of the politicisation of identity and culture have been relatively successful in forcing their opponents on the defensive. Through their control of language and institutions of culture, they have certainly emerged as the main beneficiaries of the culture war. But while they have undermined the influence of traditional norms and values, they have failed to elaborate a positive vision that might inspire society as a whole.

The war is lost

That identity politics has become the dominant force in Western life today serves as a powerful reminder of the hegemonic influence of the cultural turn. The advocates of identity politics see this as positive, of course. Hence they present the politicisation of culture as a triumph for diversity over discrimination and oppression. But this is misdirection. The politics of culture has no redeeming qualities. It has rarely allowed the forging of strong bonds between different groups, as the acrimonious dispute between feminists and trans activists shows. Quite the opposite. The intensely personal dimension of identity politics actively impedes the development of human solidarity. And the unprecedented level of polarisation of public life is only going to intensify if the politicisation of identity continues unchecked.

The sacralisation of identity is all the more remarkable given the shallow moral and intellectual resources that support it. Not that it needs much support, given the absence of resistance. Indeed, it is precisely the absence of resistance that has allowed Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility, a superficial and trashy exercise in guilt-tripping, to become a set text in schools and universities.

What is most remarkable about the experience of the past 50 years is the historic failure to challenge the forces politicising culture. With a few exceptions, representatives of the key strands of the modern era – be they conservative, liberal or socialist – pretended not to notice what was going on. In many cases, they simply left the field of battle altogether. This has allowed their opponents to monopolise the institutions of socialisation and influence the young.

There is little doubt about it: the post-1970s cultural crusaders are winning. Their influence is no longer confined to institutions of culture and education. With every generational transition they have succeeded in influencing an ever-growing proportion of society, from business to sport.

Even the judiciary has been won over to the identity-obsessed worldview prevailing in the West. Hence a supposedly conservative-dominated US Supreme Court recently ruled to extend LGBT rights in the workplace. It is worth noting that Trump appointee Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion for the majority in the six-to-three ruling. This shows that, like those other elected conservative leaders — Reagan and Thatcher — Donald Trump lacks the intellectual and moral resources to take on his opponents in the culture war.

The war against the narrow-minded ethos represented by identitarians will be lost unless those of us concerned with defending the legacy of human civilisation step up and take the fight to their favoured battleground – the sphere of education. At present, children are educated to regard themselves as vulnerable and fragile individuals, and to obsess over their identity. We need to adopt a different approach – one that educates children for freedom and cultivates their aspiration for independence. This might seem like a modest objective. But the outcome of the culture war will be determined by the ideals with which we can inspire our children.

Frank Furedi’s latest book, Why Borders Matter: Why Humanity Must Relearn The Art of Drawing Boundaries, is published by Routledge.

Pictures by: Getty.

(1) A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars, by Andrew Hartman, University of Chicago Press, p285

(2) See The silent revolution: Changing values and political styles in advanced industrial society, by R Inglehart, Princeton, 1977

(3) The Rise of the Intellectuals and the Future of the New Class, by A Gouldner, Palgrave, 1979, p3

(4) The Rise of the Intellectuals and the Future of the New Class, by A Gouldner, Palgrave, 1979, p14

(5) The Rise of the Intellectuals and the Future of the New Class, by A Gouldner, Palgrave, 1979, p29

(6) See Distinction: A Social Critique Of The Judgment Of Taste, by P Bourdieu, Routledge, 2010, p49

Let’s cancel cancel culture

Free speech is under attack from all sides – from illiberal laws, from a stifling climate of conformity, and from a powerful, prevailing fear of being outed as a heretic online, in the workplace, or even among friends, for uttering a dissenting thought. This is why we at spiked are stepping up our fight for speech, expanding our output and remaking the case for this most foundational liberty. But to do that we need your help. spiked – unlike so many things these days – is free. We rely on our loyal readers to fund our journalism. So if you want to support us, please do consider becoming a regular donor. Even £5 per month can be a huge help. You can find out more and sign up here. Thank you! And keep speaking freely.

Donate now

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

Comments

dom torato

13th July 2020 at 7:05 am

The woke / protest thing seems to afflict those with no such aspirations and those in government jobs who can be extorted to join in HERE► Read More

dom torato

12th July 2020 at 8:03 am

The woke / protest thing seems to afflict those with no such aspirations and those in government jobs who can be extorted to join HERE► Read More

Stuart Warren

29th June 2020 at 10:11 am

I don’t think the war will be lost…
I’m proud to say none of my three children went to university but parted company with the education establishment early on and have studied online as and when they decided to. I’m more proud that they are all well adjusted members of society in managerial or self employed work and definitely not woke headed…
The woke / protest thing seems to afflict those with no such aspirations and those in government jobs who can be extorted to join in…
The education sector will soon fall apart and only good and useful ones will survive because there will only be demand for courses doing real learning….

Stuart Warren

29th June 2020 at 9:53 am

Rr

Vivian Darkbloom

28th June 2020 at 9:39 pm

Sedwill has gone! Bloody marvellous.

Zammo McTrotsky

28th June 2020 at 3:45 pm

He can’t conclude the first paragraph without bullsh*t. BLM protests are characterized as a function of “culture wars” rather than having any basis in the long history of (resistance to) American racial supremacism, or of present social realities. If Frank, as a sociologist, were constrained by the evidential requirements of intellectually serious disciplines, he would look a right c*nt trying to wave away the enormous body of quantitative data demonstrating racial inequality, and trying to pretend that a whole section of society is in revolt because, er, “wokeness.”

Zammo McTrotsky

28th June 2020 at 1:18 pm

Jesus Christ. What a load of free-floating dogsh*t . Frank doesn’t know what he means by “culture war,” doesn’t define it, doesn’t know why it’s here or how it got here, just knows that it is bad and his readers don’t like it, and somehow believes that he isn’t part of it, while pushing a v. similar narrative of the culture wars to the American “moral majority.” He recognises that the sphere of culture has expanded to include the political, but what does that mean? It means, apparently that people get very emotional about haircuts. When his cult was operational, a senior member used to date blonde RCP members whom he would convince to shave their heads as a sign of their liberation from bourgeois sexual norms. So perhaps his global analysis of social change is just a bit subjective?
Having divided the world into two arbitrary but homogenous camps, the great intellectual then simplistically adduces a couple of examples that can be perceived as fitting the narrative, if you squint, and hey presto! Every Ayn Rand-loving ultra-neoliberal, every inconsistent libertarian who believes that the “right” to sell yourself into slavery is fundamental but all other rights are transferable, and even every Christian conservative can find some solace in Frank’s false narrative. But he and his w*nk*r ex-disciples are the real progressives, though.

Glenn Bell

28th June 2020 at 12:16 am

And now it seems that the ultra fems movement are trying to get in on the act and are demanding that paintings by the likes of Van Gogh, Rembrandt etc etc should no longer be called “Old Masters” as this is offensive to females! Will this puke making rubbish never end?

James Conner

27th June 2020 at 1:36 pm

BLM. Blacks Love Moaning.

Neil John

27th June 2020 at 5:49 pm

Burn Loot Murder

Constantine Sotiriou

27th June 2020 at 1:11 pm

Spiked, that bastion of free speech, moderating comments questioning the necessity of writing about this nauseous subject over and over and over again offering nothing new just constant pontificating about a pathetic twitter battle and calling people who actually do something about it ‘twats’

Constantine Sotiriou

27th June 2020 at 11:46 am

I’m starting to find all spiked articles increasingly irrelevant. If this is a ‘culture war’ we can all agree It’s being fought online and in the media. So switch it all off. Stop giving it the oxygen it craves to keep dragging on and on and on. Stop supporting the major organisations that endorse it. Oh but then you’d have nothing to write about.

Neil Rich

27th June 2020 at 9:47 am

What all this identity politics stuff pervading the West means is that more than ever it will be extremely unlikely a hijab-adorned young lady of the Muslim faith or background, a citizen of a Western country, will ever realise her secret dreams of becoming a star of stage and screen. What with the proprieties of her religious social milieu combined with many a university-educated, spotless woke enthusiast reminding her that they are there to protect her and “her religion”!

During Prohibition in America in the 1920s, when inhibitions were thrown to the wind, and speakeasies and jazz and the mixing of classes and races secretly for a jolly time, what with the emergence of the motor car and “talkies”, too, all started to lift the spirits of many (with the ban on spirits ending only in 1933), and the dreamers quickly became doers – the rock of conservative, Protestant America started to relinquish its hold on the nation. And many Jewish immigrants in that time showed their diverse talents in the arts and entertainments. Many stamped their name on popular culture, in the fields of cinema, stage, literature and popular music. And the sons and daughters of these immigrants did, too. America had changed by way of a cloud with a silver lining – and, moreover, did not go to war – the crusty old white men back then were not so old and crusty after all.

However, had identity politics been all the rage too in the 1920s, Jewish immigrants who felt hidebound by their religion would never have found artistic self-expression to the degree they did. If America had been suffering self-loathing to the same degree then as now, and the identitarians were in the business in the early 1900s of saying to Jewish immigrants who were strict observers of their faith that they are there for them and to protect “your religion” and “your culture”, say, through the media and through the courts, then it would have been much more difficult for the young new Americans who were Jewish to foster and realise any artistic hobbies or dreams they might have had. They would have (effectively) been told what their place was, in that society.
Where we once made progress and gladdened souls, we now regress – and into deep unhappiness.

Graham Southern

27th June 2020 at 8:24 am

The first step for an organism when it is infected by a virus is to recognise the exact nature of the threat. After that It is normally dealt with swiftly and ruthlessly. I am optimistic that we are at this stage.

Mor Vir

27th June 2020 at 8:28 am

LOL

Mor Vir

27th June 2020 at 11:26 am

If anyone is likely to be ‘dealt with swiftly and ruthlessly’ at present then it is you. Keep up.

Graham Southern

27th June 2020 at 5:55 pm

True. If the Marxist nihilists came fully to power, anyone who questioned them would be up against the wall. I would take that as a badge of honour.
Of course, the next up against the wall, squealing and protesting, would be the pathetic fellow-travellers such as yourself.

Mor Vir

27th June 2020 at 7:01 pm

The British state is not a ‘Marxist nihilist’ state, it is a liberal capitalist state and it is that which is doing it to you.

Please do not resort to personal abuse, I did not.

Brandy Cluster

26th June 2020 at 11:49 pm

This article by Furedi is very disturbing.

I’ve been thinking about all this culture war stuff for a long time. Those of us who can afford it must bolster our own children with as many assets as we can because finally this IS all about who gets what. Boil it down and it’s about access to the wealth of any nation.

The people running the culture wars are NOT the wealth creators – they’re institutions, public service, media and the like. Apart from News Corporation and sites like “Spiked” and The Rubin Report there is little push-back. And the essays on this are large correct; the conservatives ceded the field to the Left decades ago. This is because they were out working, making money and creating wealth!! This is the major weakness for the Left and the culture wars; yes, this runs through large corporations too – but the shareholders control the purse strings, as least notionally. Look what happened to the the MD at Qantas; diversity, inclusion and equity have gone out the window because THERE’S NO MONEY NOW and the airline is being bailed out by government. In short, cut off the money and you’ll kill this cancer. And this MD is only as good as the trust his shareholders have in him. And, of course, the Left is never smart enough to understand that corporates play this game in order to distract the people from what they’re really up to – not paying tax, ‘wage theft’ and any number of dodgy enterprises. In short, the Left are gulls. If they were smarter I’d be more worried than I am now.

Hand over the assets to your own children before you die and make sure that they’re economically bolstered to withstand the twin horrors of identitarianism and thought control. And teach your grandchildren to think independently! That’s the best any of us can do.

Michel Houllebeq

26th June 2020 at 10:55 pm

Immigration has destroyed the UK – Multicultural societies do not work – same across the west we see stark and often murderous evidence of every single day.

Brandy Cluster

26th June 2020 at 11:50 pm

I agree, but essentially the feminist movement has its paws all over this identitarianism. Who knew women were so pent up and viciously resentful?

Andrew Shaughnessy

27th June 2020 at 9:10 am

I’m tempted to say “men”, but that would be a cheap shot. History has shown that when oppressed groups gain the upper hand they almost invariably become oppressive themselves. The quest for equality turns into the quest for vengeance. We’re seeing that in South Africa, where white-owned farmland is being appropriated without compensation – a policy which proved disastrous in Zimbabwe.

PAUL ROGERS

27th June 2020 at 9:51 am

It’s what we now called intersectionality, secondary picketing if you will.

It doesn’t really matter where you start in the Oppression Olympics, but once you’re trained for it (and some have now grown up thinking that it’s a worthy thing to do with your life in entirety) you cannot get off the treadmill. So as each little victory is won, you latch onto another.
Of course, once you hit peak shriek and always talk with the volume at 11, real mainstream people are not listening any more.

Andrew Shaughnessy

27th June 2020 at 3:32 pm

Douglas Murray refers to it as “St. George in Retirement Syndrome”, although he didn’t invent the term. Even though things have never been better for many minority groups, activists manage to convince them that things have never been worse simply to justify their own existence. If there are no dragons left to fight they’ll go so far as to invent them.

Neil John

27th June 2020 at 5:50 pm

Hasting Keith

26th June 2020 at 8:17 pm

An interesting and thought-provoking essay, but I do not share Frank’s pessimism about the culture war being already lost. My reasons for thinking so are based on the sharp divide in opinion between middle class, cosmopolitan graduates and ordinary working class folk (I mix with both – a working class boy with a professional job). Up until the last couple of weeks, this identitarian strand of politics only raised its head in my middle class, work-based world. It has been creeping up over the last several years, seeping out of academia and into the workplace, and instilling an atmosphere where, if they didn’t believe in it, nobody dare dissent from the new orthodoxy. But in the real world (my working class home town world) it has had zero influence – nobody has time to worry about the niceties of political correctness when you have to worry about whether you can pay the bills at the end of the month. The last couple of weeks, though, has seen the culture war explode via the BLM protests to the point where everyone has had to take notice. And this is going to cause a kickback – working class people who have little to lose are not going to be cowed into taking the knee. How this kickback might occur, I don’t know. It won’t be in the form of arguing for the return of rationalism, liberalism and enlightenment values – it will be in the form of a big “f… off!”. Unfortunately, there are no referenda or national elections coming up soon in the UK, so it won’t be like the Brexit or Trump votes. How and if it happens will depend on events. But there could be a big “f… off!” coming.

Linda Payne

27th June 2020 at 1:14 pm

People have very much had to worry about political correctness if saying the wrong thing means losing your job and not paying the bills, people do not exist in a vacuum

jmNZ

26th June 2020 at 8:09 pm

And it has already led much further to a degree of fanaticism that few yet perceive:
https://www.zerohedge.com/political/students-are-demanding-professor-be-fired-opposing-slavery

Gorge On the Gopher

26th June 2020 at 6:19 pm

This is a very long article and apparently what’s here is only half of it.

Can’t we have summary articles for those of us with a very short attention….oh look a squirrel

Lancelot Gobbo

26th June 2020 at 4:24 pm

It does seem that the madness is accelerating. I’ve often wondered whether my father was right when he spoke in the 1970’s about what happens to cultures of organisms as they grow and become more populous and then run short of resources. The (bacterial, say) growth curve is well recognised: slow initial growth, moving to exponential increase, then a deceleration as resources run short and crowding becomes a factor, the a brief flattening of the curve and a crash which kills most of the population. This is what happens to any reproducing set of organisms in a fixed-size environment with limits on resources. How could it be otherwise, you quickly ask yourself? It can’t. The interesting question my father asked was what would that look like for us? There are some parallels with animal populations we might draw:
1. Decreasing speed of population growth followed by falling population. Check!
2. With decreasing interest in mating, alternative sexual behaviours become prominent. Double check!
3. Resource shortages lead to famine and war. We have worked a brief magic trick with the oil-based “green revolution” in farming, but it can’t last. Check!
4. Can’t leave out the other Horseman; overcrowded populations are far more vulnerable to infectious diseases. The current pandemic wasn’t caused by that (or maybe having 1.4 billion Chinese people living in close proximity with poultry and pigs, and eating whatever kind of protein they can catch does count!), but its rapid spread reveals how easily we can be destroyed by the right pathogen.
5. And here’s the fun part! The only way we can alleviate these symptoms is to return ourselves briefly to the steep part of the curve with lots of immigration to simulate natural population growth. Ultimately, that’s like drinking seawater when you’re dying of thirst. Brief respite, but then you’re worse off.

No doubt a lot of our culture war symptomatology is also related to lack of parenting, the old-fashioned concept of being spoiled (lots of kids have no idea what delayed gratification means, or what it’s like to be thwarted in their desires and how to cope gracefully with it), and other such ills of modern life. But I can’t help wondering if my old father isn’t chuckling to himself in some dark underworld.

juliusB

26th June 2020 at 7:01 pm

Agree with all of your post. I’ve been thinking along similar lines. I don’t foresee a happy outcome for western civilisation.

Graham Southern

27th June 2020 at 8:20 am

The ‘Mouse Utopia’ experiment illustrates this well.

Arthur Daley

26th June 2020 at 2:22 pm

Good grief, Spiked is censoring my comments, which merely contain facts. I thought this journal believed in free speech? Perhaps I’m mistaken.

Arthur Daley

26th June 2020 at 5:29 pm

Why have my comments been removed? I’m a doctor and wrote medical wrote facts, namely that men have XY chronosomes and women XX chromosomes and unusual syndromes, such as Klinefelter’s Syndrome have XXY chromosomes. Apart from the latter, and cases of intersex congenital variants, other variations from normal behaviour are by definition ABnormal.
What can be objectionable about these statements? Yet my comments on these lines were censored, despite this journal’s proud history of free speech. I’m confused………

James Conner

27th June 2020 at 7:45 am

One person’s fact is another person’s fake news. And that’s a fact.

Mark Houghton

26th June 2020 at 2:09 pm

The culture wars are really nothing new. Groups have always pointed to other groups as being not us, the oppressor, the enemy. Now blacks point to whites as the enemy, Feminists point to men as the enemy. The left point to the right as being the enemy. Back in the not too distant past one religion would point to followers or another religion as being the enemy and even today Muslims point to Christians as being the enemy.
And so it goes.

James Knight

26th June 2020 at 2:57 pm

Having a war on statues is like having a war on which way to break an egg. BLM are like the Lilliputian religion.

George Whale

26th June 2020 at 3:51 pm

I disagree. Unlike eggs, many of these statues are loaded with huge historical, cultural and symbolic import.

KATHLEEN CARR

26th June 2020 at 1:58 pm

The Archbishop of Canterbury seems to have decided on an alternative career as a stand up comedian.

Mor Vir

26th June 2020 at 2:17 pm

What is he up to now?

KATHLEEN CARR

26th June 2020 at 4:52 pm

He says the church must think again about portraying Jesus as white and he has revealed plans to possibly remove some statues from Canterbury Cathedral.He has offered no comment on the BLM graffitti on the mosaic of Jesus and Mary made to honour Polish soldiers , he makes no comment on the millions of Christians being oppressed through the world-instead he seems to agree with BLM agitator that ‘all murals and stained glass depictions of white Jesus and his European mother must come down’ As the Cof E is also the custodian of works of art created when Britain was still Catholic , can they be relied on to protect the nation’s great Cathedrals and Churches?

Mor Vir

27th June 2020 at 1:12 am

Oh I see. This is what they reckon that Jesus would have looked like, so it does make sense to depict him in that way in the pictures and the statues.

https://i.dailymail.co.uk/1s/2020/06/26/13/30084876-8462735-image-a-1_1593172803322.jpg

They wanted a god to worship, well there he is. They are able to knock out pictures and statues a lot quicker these days, so it should not be a problem to get a load ready.

Graham Southern

27th June 2020 at 6:10 pm

Mor Vir. It doesn’t matter what Jesus looked like. What matters is that the Archbishop of Canterbury is appointed to protect the religious and historical artwork connected to the organisation he is head of. A clown who bends to the ludicrous fashion of ‘intersectionality’ is not fit for purpose.

Mor Vir

28th June 2020 at 12:04 pm

That is one perspective but it is not the only one, certainly ABC wants a more nuanced approach.

In particular there are moves to remove statuary of slavers from Bristol cathedral, which is full of them as they donated money. There are a lot of monuments to rich folk in churches for that reason, whether they want to keep that stuff is another matter. ‘Blessed are the poor’, not ‘blessed are the rich and the slavers,’ that would be quite another gospel.

Also they are uncomfortable with imagery that depicts J ews as blind and p erfidious and they want to get rid of that stuff.

Does it matter what Jesus looked like? It does if people think it does. It depends on what message is being seen in that. Why is Jesus depicted as a Nordic ‘ideal’, even on the cross?

The Bible describes him as ‘he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.’ Why not show him as he was, as a Middle Easterner who personally was a bit of an ugly bloke by local standards?

Christians are largely non-white in England now, so there seems to be no particular reason to depict Jesus as Nordic. A lot of the images in parish churches are of no great historical or artistic value, their role is functional. The best policy would seem to be to simply show Jesus as he was, according to the Bible accounts, rather than r acially ‘idealising’ him.

The image linked above is based on skulls excavated from the period, so we have a good idea of what he looked like. Just use that as a basis for images of Jesus.

Mor Vir

28th June 2020 at 12:36 pm

If Jesus is depicted in a r acially ‘idealised’ form as an ‘Aryan ideal’ then it sends out a message to parishioners and visitors that they are r acially ‘inferior’ the more that they diverge from that ‘ideal’.

I do not think that the COE or other churches are going to put up with that for much longer, as it is totally contrary not merely to the ethos of the time but to Christianity itself.

So, it is not that it matters what Jesus looked like, per se, it is a matter of how he is depicted and according to what guiding principles, and what message that sends out to people.

The best policy is to simply depict him as he was and according to the Bible descriptions. Old depictions can easily be replaced and now may well be the time to do that.

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

26th June 2020 at 2:52 pm

He seems to be a professional coward with little or no grasp of Christian theology and the basic principles of leadership.

Mor Vir

27th June 2020 at 8:30 am

Christians all disagree on the theology, so that seems to be part and parcel of the job.

Carl Bung

26th June 2020 at 1:48 pm

Ultimately it’s important to understand that you’ll never be fully satisfied and then deal with that reality.

As an example of this mundane reality, a lot of the Mary Whitehouse generation are now dead but if they were alive today they would be unhappy to see the scenes of violence and drugs and sex in Sky’s Gangs of London series. Life rolls on despite them.

Gangs of London was made, despite Mary Whitehouse being born. Almost as if life/the world is quite difficult to fully control. Chaos, if you like.

One day you’re moaning about a gay couple in Eastenders, 30 years later you’ll be moaning about an orgy scene in Gangs of London.

That’s 30 years of moaning about what’s on the telly.

Life just carries on. One moan after another.

There are various techniques you can use to make yourself happier, of course but death comes for us all in the end so the outcome is guaranteed.

You should also note that unhappiness at something is not necessarily universal. As an example, a divorced 60 year old woman in America might be deeply upset by the toppling of a statue in her town whereas a teenage boy in England who has just lost his virginity might be too busy googling for information on the female orgasm to even be aware that a statue of some old dead dude has fallen in America.

We pick and choose.

Life just carries on, you know? One thing after another.

Put things into perspective.

you know what millions of people did when Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was released? They never went out and bought it. They totally ignored it.

You know what millions of people did when Take That split? They didn’t care.

You know how many millions of people couldn’t tell you the names of the Beastie Boys? Millions. Billions.

My auntie has no idea who Nirvana were. Never heard of ‘em. Doesn’t care about ‘em.

My mum spent the 1980s partying and working and watching telly in England but has no idea whatsoever who Depeche Mode are. Wouldn’t recognise them if they sat next to her on a bus.

Life is a lot messier than you probably imagine. People are inherently messy and complicated.

An alternative to twitter can’t and won’t change the world, or save you, just as most of us haven’t made our fortunes from cryptocurrency.

The big change I see in my town in recent years is that the young men looked so sculpted. Skinny jeans and big upper body muscles. Gym bunnies with skin care regimes. That’s the biggest change I’ve seen to the men in England in 40 years. They look very different to myself and my dad.

I’ve still got a hairy chest and nasal hair. Sometimes I feel like a dinosaur compared to the well groomed, preening lads round my way. I figure I’m already obsolete.

Life goes on though, yes? Yes.

In Negative

26th June 2020 at 1:58 pm

I really enjoyed this comment.

Jerry Owen

26th June 2020 at 3:15 pm

Carl
Just be happy your’e not a soyboy!

George Whale

26th June 2020 at 3:53 pm

So, in summary, anything goes.

Carl Bung

26th June 2020 at 5:16 pm

In summary, you can drive yourself mad worrying that today’s teenagers are consuming too much Korean pop.

But life rolls on anyway.

Gotta keep things in perspective.

There’s possibly money to be made by setting up an anti-Korean pop movement. An anti-Korean pop league. But Korean pop music will outlive you.

In summary: take it easy.

George Whale

27th June 2020 at 1:46 am

K-pop doesn’t bother me too much.

Neil Rich

27th June 2020 at 8:41 am

The “Mary Whitehouse generation” (a good name for a pop band) had enough misery or hardship to contend with in daily life in their youth and adulthood, I’m sure, without having to wonder whether misery guts stuff like Sky’s Gangs of London was to be off-loaded on them on the chance they went to the pictures or switched on the two-channel television (if they had had one or could afford it).
Nowadays, people are, aided by their tech gizmos, steeped in cheap and trivial thrills, and therefore tolerate, even demand, their dose of misery guts entertainment on the box. Like a work-out after lying around all day.
British culture existed before the age of the moving image, of course. The moving image brought the opportunity to be entertained. But now “entertainment” has come to mean anything. The relativisation of things has been detrimental to society. But Mary Whitehouse and her kind will have had the last laugh, from wherever they are now.

Michel Houllebeq

26th June 2020 at 11:56 am

The far-left cult wokery mob is an evil and a disgusting belief system – it should be treated as Nazism. Might as well bring on the civil war – nothing to lose when you’re treated second class by the police, media, government, public sector, jobs market because you’re a straight white man.

Carl Bung

26th June 2020 at 1:09 pm

Why would straight white men give up their lucrative careers in politics, the media, sport, construction, pharma, tech, agriculture and the arts to fight in a civil war that might result in their deaths?

My white make dentist likes to charge me 500 quid an hour and shows no signs that he’s at all ready to engage in armed combat.

Carl Bung

26th June 2020 at 1:11 pm

* my white, male dentist.

(Statistically likely he’s straight as well but he hasn’t discussed his sexuality with me so I can’t know for sure)

George Whale

26th June 2020 at 3:57 pm

Do you understand the difference between straight white men and elite/professional straight white men?

Carl Bung

26th June 2020 at 11:07 am

‘Traditional norms and values.” Meaning what?

These kind of Spiked articles are ‘fascinating‘ in that they add up to nothing and will be read by almost no one.So much work for so little point.

Why shouldn’t Conservative judges rule in favour of LGBT from time to time? Why should I care as I’m in England and I’m heterosexual. My ability to dictate to the US Supreme Court is even lower than my ability to dictate to Torquay council. Not one Tory in England listens to me and yet i crack on with life.

Spiked might as well write regular articles about the hidden messages in video games then ponder – without providing any actual answers – how best to stop women in England buying a Playstation 5.

Yesterday’s footage from Bournemouth beach should be a wake up call to Frank: no one in Britain actually gives a toss about your weird theories, mate. You’d be better employed as an ice cream and burger vendor.

Spiked readers – if you actually want to help the pensioners of Britain then get a job in a care home. Less armchair philosophy and more physical Labour.

Many Brits have got a new passport in recent weeks. The excitement round my way appears to be zero however.

You guys will never be happy.

Get to a beach and have a burger while watching your other half turn lobster pink.. Like ordinary people.

Claire D

26th June 2020 at 11:38 am

Love it.

Mor Vir

26th June 2020 at 12:03 pm

I doubt that Frank represents the mainstream within Sp. I cannot see any other writer on here going on about ‘traditional norms and values’. The mainstream Sp is more about criticism of the authoritarianism and conformism of the present rather than any desire to go back to the authoritarianism and conformism of the past. Frank seems to be more about traditional RC, family values, anti-m igration, Fidesz sort of stuff. It seems to have very little currency among the rest of Sp, which is more about freedom.

Claire D

26th June 2020 at 12:56 pm

I can think of at least 2 articles when Brendan has talked about family values in a positive way :
30th Sept 2019 Anti-Woke article
3rd Oct 2019 on Scotland’s new anti smacking law

Spkd would be a very poor magazine if it only represented one outlook. I’d guess the readership is quite varied and judging by the number of interesting comments in response to Frank Furedi’s long reads, he’s popular.

Mor Vir

26th June 2020 at 2:16 pm

Likely B is more concerned with parental prerogative over state interference than with ‘family values’ per se, he does not come across as a general Mary Whitehouse character. He can speak for himself anyway, maybe do an aritcle, ‘Am I a General Mary Whitehouse Character?’ : )

Claire D

26th June 2020 at 3:43 pm

Made me laugh.

Linda Payne

26th June 2020 at 12:35 pm

So what do you do for a living? Why don’t YOU get a job in a care home?

Carl Bung

26th June 2020 at 1:21 pm

I don’t work in a care home but I have the intelligence to recognise that the people who do work in my Nan’s care home do something much more useful and practical for her than I do.

Armchair philosophising is all well and good but it didn’t feed any pensioners during the lock down.

Armchair philosophers can be so caught up in online/virtual dialogues that they totally forget their mum could do with some help peeling the spuds.

British men could certainly spend less time on ousting drivel on Parler and more time hoovering or taking care of their weight problem.

We all like the sound of our own voices.

As I type this, one of my female relatives had driven into town to get my dinner. The mundane fact is a lot of opinions are posted online by people with plenty of free time/the bone idle.

I’ve always been a bit of a slacker.

George Whale

27th June 2020 at 1:52 am

“‘Traditional norms and values.’ Meaning what?”

Only a fool or a teenager could seriously ask such a question. I presume you’re trolling?

David J

26th June 2020 at 10:59 am

By ‘identitarians’ I take it you mean the apparently brain-dead sheep who have had little or no meaningful history education.

Carl Bung

26th June 2020 at 11:57 am

Could mean anyone.

My best mate at school had an interest in the Krays and a desire to engage in football hooliganism. He fathered his first baby at the age of 16.

I don’t know where he is in England now but I am going to guess he hasn’t got a degree in History and knows less about, say, the repeal of the corn laws than many of today’s 15 year olds. But he knows a lot about the Krays and The Great Escape and VHS porn.

So we have to be careful when trying to divide the men of England into two groups: history buffs and the brain dead.

One thing the right and left do agree on is a lot of Brits are thick as mince, of course. But only a cretin would argue that all the pig ignorant Brits are under 30 and can be called “snowflakes
‘ and “Identitarians”

I have a keen interest in history and like most Brits I fit in the “average intelligence, no formal degree in history” category. I learn new stuff every day.

Because I’m not an absolute cretin, I don’t feel the need to sign up to Parler to see what pearls of wisdom Katie Hopkins has got for me today, nor do I feel the need to head to the Isle of Wight to join 3 teenage girls in a BLM protest.

A lot of older Brits are thick as mince with no interest in history. It’s not because of a Marxist conspiracy though

Spiked readers like to imagine they are in a “culture war” with half of humanity, just as the internet encourages David Icke fanboys to gather in one place to work out their plans to save us from the reptilians.

In the real world, away from the internet, you’ll struggle to find a well educated working class man who spends his evenings fretting that the Queen is a shape shifting lizard and telling his wife that she “has to get on Parler quick” as “they’re trying to stop us speaking freely, babe”

Spiked readers and Icke fans are outliers, in the real world.

Number of Spiked readers getting burnt on Bournemouth beach yesterday while ogling teenage girls in bikinis while thinking about the next stages of “the culture wars: and ‘looking back in anger at the Reading terrorist attack” ? I’ve no idea but it has to be pretty low. Maybe 2 men at most.

Linda Payne

26th June 2020 at 5:22 pm

But how many of their ancestors went on strike for better pay?

Linda Payne

26th June 2020 at 5:33 pm

In the time of class politics people’s experience gave them the political education they needed-when you fight for better pay and conditions you quickly become politicised. Today people’s experince are teaching them a lot, they might be a bit ‘thick’ but they are not stupid

Brandy Cluster

26th June 2020 at 11:55 pm

That only makes them more dangerous and not less so.

Christopher Tyson

26th June 2020 at 10:49 am

When I studied politics, it was the idea of ‘the state’ that grabbed my attention. I believed that people who were serious about politics or political theory, would have a theory of the state.
The charge that identittarians are lacking a theory of the state would be baffling and meaningless to them and to many others today.
Perhaps we have a pragmatic emotionally manipulative state. It is the state that hands out funds for quangos and community support groups, the state offers position and patronage, identity activists are regularly ennobled. The state is responsible for the public sector; schools, universities, civil service, BBC, where these identitarian ideas have flourished. The state enacts legislation such as the 2010 Equality Act, and the major parties of state, which today seem to be themselves state institutions, have endorsed or simply gone along with these developments.
We can speculate for a long time on the uncritical response of state institutions towards identity politics its willingness to support and promote these developments. The Liberal democratic state today lacks a clear vision of its own, some believe that we have reached the end of history in terms of political development and theory, that there is no alternative to our current state organisation. In these circumstances we can understand why there is a make do and mend mentality, and identity politics might give tired and stale state institutions and bureaucrats an infusion of energy, and ersatz radicalism that gives them some kind of organising principle, and at least does not challenge the power of the state at all. The emotionally manipulative state, stoops to conquer, formally troublesome groups like black activists or feminists are agreed with, flattered and rewarded, and state power remains intact. Whether this is evidence of a weak state or a strong state is a difficult question, but the former Marxist or anarchist notion of ‘overthrowing’ or ‘smashing’ the state doesn’t make much sense today, and that is some kind of victory for the state. I was arguing with my brother a couple of weeks ago, I said that today’s middle class white liberal identitarians are now true believers, he thinks that they are fickle and ‘box-tickers’. Even if they aren’t true believers, they seem to be and might just as well be (no pun intended Welby), a bigger problem than fickle box tickers.

Brandy Cluster

26th June 2020 at 11:20 am

Brilliant comments and a pleasure to read.

In Negative

26th June 2020 at 10:32 am

“In the main, this was achieved through the capture of the institutions of socialisation by the new post-material elites. As sociologist Alvin Gouldner explains, a new class of intellectuals and knowledge workers achieved a monopoly over institutions of education and expertise, promoted the cultural turn, and unleashed forces that worked towards the de-authorisation of traditional cultural values.”

Now, you see, I think there is a lot that is right about this analysis. The decay of the moral imagination, the disappearance of boundaries – gender, moral, private/pubic etc. (typo was deliberate), but it isn’t correct, I don’t think, to say this was the result of a ‘culture war’. It of course has the appearance of struggle – one system of values replacing another will always have the appearance of struggle, but it is a perfectly natural process when measured against the super-structure of our society. The dominant cultural illusion cannot be separated from its material and social base.

I get that this might be perceived as anti-humanist and anti-human-agency, but being human is a complicated and profoundly diverse business. Being a creature of my time, I do not believe in universal progress – rather, I have a belief that my notion of progress is contingent. And I don’t believe that this is due to a march through the institutions of Lefty Cultural Marxists that have indoctrinated and socialised us all into a particular way of seeing the world (where is the respect for human agency in that view?), rather, I simply feel that the traditionalist conservative view is untenable in a modern setting – from Christianity upwards, the whole thing is ridiculous.

That is not to say I think Christianity is ridiculous in itself – it has been a remarkable configuration of the human soul and has begat a great many wonderful things, but you can easily see why, in a world of mass communication, mass integration, mass tribalisation, mass aesthetic and spiritual consumption, why the whole business would collapse. Long long long before I read Foucault, I was listening to Black Sabbath and the Sex Pistols (cultural Lefty Marxists?) – the hymns we sang in school made no sense whatsoever in this context.

And somehow, Black Sabbath and the Sex Pistols had to get to you – they required a society that was willing to sell them to you and they needed a state of mind that could enjoy them. In your own language, this may mean:

“This development was facilitated by changes within the family. The twin forces of women’s emancipation and the expansion of education in the context of growing prosperity had weakened paternal authority. This, in turn, damaged the capacity of the prevailing system of socialisation, which had been centred on the family, to communicate the legacy and the values of the past.”

In my own language, I’d say my mum and dad liked the Sex Pistols and Black Sabbath and rather than doing her school-work, my old ma preferred to stare out of the window dreaming about Mick Jagger. The only institution of socialisation my mother and father attended were the comprehensive schools and at the time, they were hardly run by the new post material elites. Rather, they were traditional CofE – they both hated school, disliked their parents music, disliked the way their parents dressed. My ma was a mod, my dad a rocker. My ma still loves the Queen (a passion she’s never managed to transmit to me), she likes to watch the vets on VE day, something else I’ve never had a deep interest in.

Furthermore, by my own thesis, the ’emancipation of women,’ which so revolutionised the family, was part of this trajectory. Again ‘progress’ is a contingent illusion – it’s not a real and eternal thing. That women felt they needed to be emancipated was a cultural turn. Why on earth would they not want to participate in leisure, the hierarchical illusion of the professional and the freedom to prosume?

My point is that the ‘post-material elites’ come from somewhere and come from something. The children they communicate with go their own way (Fleetwood Mac). What we actually need is a middle way through these tendencies – the seduction of the maligned traditional vs. hyper globalisation. We need something that better accepts the new mind which is one of deterritorialisation and tribalisation through the market. At present, the very poor analysis of this situation is what energises the culture war. Everyone wants their tribe to win, but the world is a world of tribes. No one will win. The only reason it looks like the identitarians are winning is because they at first glance appear pluralistic.

“Believe what you like, but stay out of my lane – I have work to do” (quote from some bint on Ella’s new radio thing).

James Knight

26th June 2020 at 9:58 am

Woke is not a culture, it is anti-culture. It is not that these kids can trash the statues of the founding fathers (as Trump predicted) or that they can beat a democratic senator in Wisconsin to a pulp. It is that the mainstream is too cowardly to challenge them.`

Brandy Cluster

26th June 2020 at 11:23 am

That’s perfectly true but I suggest it’s because the ‘mainstream’ conservatives are doing all the work, earning and the money and doing the spending. The rest are the Woke Brigade. I don’t care what they do because my spouse and myself are financially independent and can buy what we want. We know that the shills doing all the noise-making seldom fit into that category. And, yes, it provides quite a lot of comfort.

Three years ago we bought a top of the range Mercedes Benz AWD which we enjoy. Do you imagine, for a moment, that we care about losers whose only power and agency is in changing the language or tearing down statues? I think not.

Brandy Cluster

26th June 2020 at 11:26 am

PS: And how much nuance and education is required to ask “will that be fries with that today”?

McDonalds Education: over-educate the people, boil them up with expectations and thwarted sense of entitlement and they’ll end up selling fries every time. Too bad for them, but it’s an image I have in my head when they’re rampaging through the streets in T shirts and Tatts.

Carl Bung

26th June 2020 at 12:25 pm

Well yes Brandy. A man in 1980s London with a Mercedes and regular flights to New York via Concorde for work … of course he knew nothing of the miners’ strikes.

One of my retired relatives was working in fashion in the 1980s. As a 30 year old millionaire flying from London to Hong Kong 3 times a month, he’d not have had time to notice if the police tied to you a lamp post and beaten you to death.

Not every adult engages in protest. Some adults earn good money and buy nice things and keep their heads down.

One of the reasons we venerate the WW2 generation is that we recognise we are people mostly like you – we just want a flash car and loads of money. Fighting is dangerous.

Enjoy your flash car. You’ll be dead one day, for certain, and won’t feature in any history books.

In Negative

26th June 2020 at 2:09 pm

@Carl
I don’t want a flash car at all. I don’t really care about having lots of money neither. I have no interest whatsoever in status symbols and the baubles of economic achievement. I would however like to be free of the market to pursue the things that interest me more deeply. I wish Brandy well with her car and dreams, but the life there described means absolutely nothing to me.

Carl Bung

26th June 2020 at 11:27 am

History didn’t begin in the Summer of 2020 though.

‘Kids” were beating people to a pulp 700, 400 and 200 years ago and then becoming the wealthy and pampered old fogeys shaping/creating/building the modern world we grew up in.

Beating people to a pulp has a long tradition.

Brandy Cluster

26th June 2020 at 11:53 pm

I take all your points. What I’m saying is that having nice stuff is MY personal salve against these cultural horrors – mine and spouse personally. Because most of the people I know who are Lefty and espouse this rubbish either having much less than I do or have it but are AFRAID to show the face of affluence to the world. No put their heads above the parapet. I have neither concerns, but I do know that anger, resentment and grievance can be pushed to a siding when you actually don’t have to buy into any of it for your own peace of mind.

Martin Judge

26th June 2020 at 9:48 am

Another succinct and eloquent analysis from Frank Furedi. Thank you.

I particularly liked the historic perspective and the noting of the lack of opposition from Conservative forces. Does this correspond with Peter Hitchen’s analysis?

Just a short thought: the effect of the last weeks on my mainly non-academic family and friends could be fairly described as “shell shock”. None have any idea what cultural Marxism means let alone identity politics. However, they are deeply concerned by what they are witnessing on their television screens and the implications for their grand-children. They have no confidence in the TV news broadcasts and they feel they and their values have been abandoned. They simply do not know what has happened to the world.

I do not subscribe to the view that the war has been lost as no war has been fought. How can a war be lost if the war was never fought?

2020 could be a turning point. The silent masses might start to slowly retaliate and say no more.
I think the social psyche has been fundamentally changed by recent events. I do not say this is good or bad but I do say the days passive acceptance of the new identity politics have ended. The resistance will come from the bottom up and outside of academia and the MSM. It might take a few decades to have full effect, but it will come

Claire D

26th June 2020 at 9:37 am

I cannot help noticing that if the culture wars have developed over the past 50 years, that perfectly coincides with the gradual increase of women in public life.
As well as the reasons Furedi cites, and Steve Moxon perhaps, it may also be the influence of ‘the feminine’ as an overt political force on society, that is part of the problem.
Essentially feminine qualities like emotionalism and subjective response do not always work for the common good.

George Whale

26th June 2020 at 11:32 am

Well said. The feminisation of Western society has made emotionalism (‘refugees welcome’) a governing principle and produced a generation of men too emasculated to defend their culture, values and borders.

Claire D

26th June 2020 at 11:45 am

Thank you, but I think, when push comes to shove, there’s plenty of thoroughly masculine, great men out there.

Carl Bung

26th June 2020 at 12:07 pm

Well yeah but it’s like arguing that Microsoft and Sony have ruined English men.

If you have a grandson spending his evenings with an XBOX then instead of posting comments on Spiked why not sit him down and ask him painful questions about his masculinity?

It is not for the state or the BBC or McDonalds to turn the men in your family into proper hunter gatherer type men.

Take responsibility.

If your grandson has a pathetic “man cave:, batter its door down, kick over his home entertainment system and have strong words with him. Don’t be afraid.

Take a knife to his Armani sweatshirts and Nike trainers.

Put your fist through the artworks on his wall (they are probably degenerate in some way).

Man up.

George Whale

26th June 2020 at 3:59 pm

I like your optimism. Let’s hope they show their faces soon.

Christopher Tyson

26th June 2020 at 11:51 am

I think there are feminists who would strongly question the idea of ‘essentially feminine qualities like emotionalism and subjective response’. Even if we accept that there are masculine and feminine qualities, it doesn’t follow that men and women respectively are wedded to these qualities in a deterministic way.
The former Libyan leader Gaddafi, famously had a cohort of exclusively female bodyguards, he liked to portray himself as progressive, and score a few points off his ‘patriarchal’ western opponents.
We wouldn’t buy that though would we? We’d think it more likely that he had some girls in uniform fetish, more plausibly he didn’t trust men and thought that they were more likely to stab him in the back (literally). That’s by the by, my point is that feminism is not in and of itself a problem and that it can take many forms. The idea that there are questions of politics and society that have specific interest and concern for women should not be contentious, nor should it be contentious that a woman wants to challenge or question a traditional role that she has been allotted in society, whether due to systematic oppression or long forgotten historical or evolutionary reasons.
Feminism can be used by the state for its own purposes, if the state wants to promote ’emotionalism and subjective response’ that cannot be laid at the door of feminism. We can argue with feminists, but feminists with powerful state backing, are a different proposition. Furthermore powerful state or media institutions can decide which version of identity politics they do business with, they give power to chosen individuals and then treat the individuals that they helped to create as authorities. What I’m saying is that feminism isn’t in and of itself a problem.

Claire D

26th June 2020 at 1:15 pm

That’s interesting Christopher but, and this happens to me often on here, where in my comment did I mention “feminism” ? Nowhere.
I agree that feminists may well have a problem with my comment, but I could’nt care less, I don’t have a very high opinion of feminist ideology, I think it is based on a false premise, ie, that women have been oppressed throughout history. It’s nonsense, it is rationalising modern women’s need to compete with men for status and hard cash since the industrial revolution, and the erosion of community and family life as a consequence of that.
I respect a lot of what you write on other subjects, but not this time.

Vivian Darkbloom

26th June 2020 at 5:13 pm

I reckon you’ve both made some interesting points. Hey, look at me coming over all ecumenical!

I’ll add one thing, and that is the tension and symbiosis between capitalism and feminism, the capitalist imperative and the gradual absorption of women into the workplace. As recently as the 1960s it was quite viable for a man to work and a woman to stay at home running the household or looking after the kids. One income was enough to fund a household and pay for a mortgage. Gradually it’s become necessary for both to work as one salary is no longer sufficient. As property prices and domestic outgoings rise inexorably two average incomes are now not enough to buy a house. I’m looking mainly at the South, of course, but the North has pockets of this no doubt.

Tinfoil Hat

26th June 2020 at 12:06 pm

My wife agrees totally with your comment but I daren’t agree.

Linda Payne

26th June 2020 at 12:41 pm

Your right actually, it is not women per se but the influence of the feminised way of thinking that has dominated

Brandy Cluster

28th June 2020 at 12:11 am

This is actually what most of us have been driving at!!

Christopher Tyson

26th June 2020 at 3:17 pm

I’m quite relaxed about terminology, left, right, far right, feminist, I don’t believe that these things have precise unchanging definitions. I didn’t mean to ascribe to you any particular views when I invoked feminism. In regarded to the point I made I could have said that I was giving my own view, not the view of feminists in general.
However you did say ‘I cannot help noticing that if the culture wars have developed over the past 50 years, that perfectly coincides with the gradual increase of women in public life.’
And you went on to say ‘Essentially feminine qualities like emotionalism and subjective response do not always work for the common good.’
It seemed to me that you were making a connection between ‘ gradual increase of women in public life’ and the rise of ‘essentially feminine qualities’. This is a feminist question because some feminists have critiqued the idea of feminist and masculine qualities, and celebrated traditional masculine values such as reason, self-discipline, assertiveness, and military prowess, arguing that masculine and feminine values should not be associated to men and women respectively. This sounds sensible to me, but I think that there are questions that women need to work out in terms of their ambitions and how they see and experience the world, hence my defence of feminism. For example I don’t think it would be right for a man to say, we are all equal now so we should all share the same toilets.

Claire D

26th June 2020 at 4:09 pm

Now I wonder what makes you think “self discipline” and “assertiveness” are traditional masculine virtues ?
“Reason” and “military prowess”, Yes, but self discipline and assertiveness ? I’ve never come across those character traits as traditionally masculine except by feminists themselves. I’m thinking of nuns, nurses, women who ran farms alongside their husbands, fathers and brothers, the women who dominated the brewing industry throughout the Middle Ages, ladies who had to abide by strict codes of social etiquette but pushed forward their menfolk’s careers with their diplomatic interactions in society, there are many more.
This is the thing with feminism, it’s built on a tissue of fiddle faddle, feminists have created myths that have no basis in historical reality.

Christopher Tyson

26th June 2020 at 6:19 pm

You raised the question of ‘essentially feminine qualities like emotionalism and subjective response’, and there have traditionally been ideas about feminine and masculine qualities, but these are not my categories, I threw in ‘self-discipline’ and ‘assertiveness’ for the sake of some examples, I don’t have any commitment to these ideas as masculine qualities. The point I’m really making is that ideas like emotionalism and ‘subjective response’ have taken root in society today (I think we can agree on that), I’d agree that identity politics has played a role in this too. But my argument is that without state or institutional support, identity politics could not be as influential as it is, an argument between individuals or you and me, is inconsequential, but if one of us turned up with a team of lawyers, policemen and diversity consultants, that is a different thing altogether.
Whether there are masculine and feminine values and what these respective values might be, is not what I’m interested in, if people feel constrained by expectations that they should conform to traditional male or female roles, then they should be free to challenge this, and supposed feminine or supposed masculine values can be embraced by men and/or women.
Reading Mary Wollstonecraft I was struck by her commitment to Reason and to what would have been considered in her time masculine values, her view was that the intellectual and social potential of women was being stifled. What I think you might be getting at is that contemporary feminism has taken on an anti-rational form and the victim narrative of identity politics. I don’t think that it is difficult to unpick the ideological weaknesses of feminism. I’m more interested in why this form of feminism has become so successful. If we lay the problem at the door of women or feminists, we can all have a big fight and not achieve anything very much. This might even look like divide and rule, the state is strengthened, presented as an impartial arbiter above a fractious society. Defining and critiquing feminism no doubt has its place, but the point is to change the world. My questions is why does identity politics have so much purchase today? My answer is that it serves the interests of the state. Aiming fire at specific identity groups is sometimes required, but for some this is obsessional, and does not get to the heart of the problem with identity politics.

Claire D

27th June 2020 at 8:58 am

Thanks Christopher,
I base the “essentially feminine qualities of emotionalism and subjective response” on my experience, spending 7 years at a huge Girls Comprehensive school with 2000 other girls, studying, working and interacting with women (and men) all my life, at the same time as observing women in public life, from which I’ll give you an example of “emotionalism and subjective response”. The response of women MPs in the House of Commons to the President’s Club palaver. Those were women at the pinnacle of achievement, supposed to make serious decisions on how to run the country, completely hysterical.

I have’nt read Mary Wollstonecraft for many years so I cannot respond usefully on that point, but take it to Steve Moxon and I think he might have something interesting to say about her theories.

I am definitely not trying to say that feminism is taking an irrational form. I have said many times that feminism is a completely understandable development arising out of the Industrial Revolution, and Capitalism, with the resulting breakdown of close and supportive communities and marriage. Women are now faced with having to compete with men for jobs, status and hard cash and most of them (there are always exceptions to the rule) do not have the capacity to do that in a straightforward manner, so they do it in an underhand way, they do it strategically, by fabricating an imaginary history of oppression, to force men to give ground out of courtesy or guilt.
This is not to say that there are not some very fine women in the world who never use feminist tactics.
Apparently only 7% of UK women consider themselves feminists. Nevertheless the effect of feminism is universal, politically and socially.

My initial comment means what it says, nothing more, nothing less.

Christopher Tyson

27th June 2020 at 11:19 am

Reply to Claire D
Thanks for your reply, I have previously mentioned Wollstonecraft on these pages, and Moxon replied saying that she’s an ‘upper class twit’, or something of that nature. I’ve tried to take issue with him on occasion regarded his views on biology and evolution, he generally resorts to abuse or personal insult. He’s previously said to me that his purpose for being on this site is to counteract me personally, a dubious privilege, that he’ll be here as long as I’m here, of course he might not remember that, he doesn’t remember what he writes. Of course if you respect his views that is your prerogative.

Claire D

27th June 2020 at 2:51 pm

Christopher, I’m sorry to hear that, I did’nt know. I seem to remember him saying something about Wollstonecraft’s misunderstanding the relevance of the law at the time, which made sense to me because from what I’ve read of the law in history, protecting women and their inheritance was quite a high priority in society. It’s worth remembering that Wollstonecraft and her associates were rebels and intellectual revolutionaries who admired the French Revolution.

I understand that you are a feminist sympathiser, I don’t know the reasons for that but you’re entitled to hold whatever views you please as far as I am concerned, but I am sad for young women who believe in feminism and allow it to poison their outlook on the world, wasting time and youthful energy being cross about something that does’nt exist, view themselves as downtrodden halfmen, when the reality of all their potential as female human beings is expressed only negatively and destructively.

All the best.

Christopher Tyson

27th June 2020 at 5:12 pm

Reply to Clair D
I’m happy for you to have the last word, but it’s putting it too strongly to say that I’m a feminist sympathiser. I’ve been very critical of feminism for a long time and of identity politics too, but it’s the case with any critique, trying to draw out what’s positive, putting things in historical perspective, and whether someone is or isn’t a feminist or ought or ought not to be is not a judgement for me to make.
My argument is for freedom really not for feminism, so I would have an open mind on feminism. In it’s current form I believe that it can be pernicious, but I respect that women or some women, may want to campaign about issues relevant to women or that they deem to be relevant to women, this is more my commitment to freedom of speech, protest or association than being a feminist sympathiser.

Mor Vir

26th June 2020 at 9:27 am

We have more than two options, to simply go back to the a pre-1960s approach to values and social order – sometimes termed 1950s-ism among traditional RC – or to uncritically embrace the wokeness of the present. We also have the option of a critical approach to both the past and the present that seeks to recognise what has been gained over the past half century and what can yet be improved. Some important errors have been made, PC intolerance, woke, moral fashionistas, but that is no reason to think that we can or should revert back to some previous, supposedly timeless, past. In other words, it is important not to try to chuck the baby out with the bath water. We have achieved a more open, tolerant, free society and we need to build on that, not to tear it down. We do not have to choose between a packaged past and a packaged present as if those are the only options.

We have moved away from a more rigid, authoritarian culture that imposed preconceived, one-size-fits-all, identities, values and norms on society. That is to be welcomed. Economic progress has freed women from the home and allowed them to develop their personality through engagement with the wider society. We no longer tell women what they are, what are the limits to their lives, and what they must do with them. Higher education has allowed the lower classes to develop their minds and their independence. We have become a more tolerant society that allows women to work, g ays to marry, and t rans to be more self-confident. The liberty and tolerance is good. The problem lies in the intolerant, PC approach to tolerance, which would force everyone to agree with other people’s choices and to speak and act as if they do. So, the problem is not one of increased liberty and tolerance but rather that liberty and tolerance need to be increased further. Tolerance is a two-way street, and the more that principle is recognised, the more the path toward a tolerant, liberal society will be advanced along.

There is nothing good per se about authority. A society ‘needs’ authority when its options are limited, as to what it can allow, and the population is unlikely to want to comply. Authority is not a good in itself, as if it is ordained; it has a function that allows society to act in certain ways, and to achieve certain goals, in certain circumstances. It is better that a society is more developed and more open in the options that it allows, so that people can make up their own minds and make their own choices and decisions. Authority is at best a necessary evil in certain conditions, it hinders liberty and genuine, open democracy. Society has continued to develop, and to allow greater autonomy and liberty, and individuality, and that is to be welcomed. In fact we need to take that further and to challenge PC intolerance, which is a new form of authoritarianism. (cont…)

Mor Vir

26th June 2020 at 9:28 am

(cont…) The ancient world, the renaissance, and the enlightenment were all times of less authority and conformity, compared to the feudal Dark Ages. Times of freedom and tolerance, and a breakdown of the old authoritarian social structures correlate with times of rapid material, intellectual and social progress. Progress and social development are to be welcomed, along with the increased freedom and non-conformity that goes along with it, the freedom to look at things differently and to live life in new ways. The real historical divergence from Western humanism and liberalism was the authoritarian Middle Ages, a belief in authority, hierarchy, and given truths to which all had to conform their minds and their wills, their words, their behaviour and their lives. Feudal times were times of very slow intellectual, material and social progress and we have exploded out of that with capitalism and rapid material, and now social progress. That shift is to be welcomed. No one wants to back to the Dark Ages, or very few people anyway, a few eccentrics aside.

That approach does not imply a non-judgementalism; rather tolerance of choices and opinions is good and intolerance is bad. That is our judgement. It is good when people can live their lives as they like, and it is good when people are tolerant of each other; it is bad when that is not so. It is good when people can express their own thoughts and opinions, and it is bad when they cannot. So, the liberty to make one’s own judgements is good, and the intolerance that disallows people from making their own judgements is bad. Judgement is good in so far as people are able to make their own judgements, and judgements are bad in so far as they stop people from making their own judgements. Liberty and tolerance are good, and the precondition of good judgements; authority and intolerance are bad, and the precondition of bad judgements. Solidarity in difference, not in uniformity; solidarity in liberty, not in authority – that is our judgement.

To pick up on the metaphor of borders; borders provide a limit, which in ontological terms is necessary to determinate-being, to being this or that particular thing (definition). However, not everyone in this society is the same nor do we wish to be; we do not all have the same opinions or make the same choices and neither do we wish to. We want the freedom to develop our own opinions and to make our own choices. We want to be able to develop and to express our personality in our choices and in our expressed opinions. ‘Being’ is diverse, not uniform; people have their particularity, their personality as well as their universality. We are defined by our personality, and we define ourselves with our free choices. That is what it means to be a free human person with control over one’s own personality, opinions and choices in a tolerant, liberal society.

So, within a society, liberty allows people to make their own judgements, to choose their own ‘being’, their own metaphorical ‘borders’ of what they personally are and what they are not. Some may wish to be religious or conservative in their personal culture and that is fine; others may wish to be secular and liberal in their personal culture and that is fine too. We decide for ourselves who we are and what we want to do with our lives, we do not allow other people to decide that for us. Liberty and tolerance are good; authority and intolerance are bad – that is our judgement. Freedom good, authority and conformism bad.

Jack Sprat

26th June 2020 at 9:04 am

Interesting article in the Independent today re BLM inspired look at treatment of blacks in the Middle East eg Iran & Turkey. Quite revealing. British meddling in traditional African /M East slave trading meant that the Royal Navy & British colonization of E Africa stopped slave exports And liberated slaves but as U.K. never ruled Turkey or Iran. , Turkey didn’t abolish slavery until 1933 and Iran 1929 after which liberated slaves had citizenship but treated as a ….. Wonder if BBC would do a feature on this .

Andrew Shaughnessy

26th June 2020 at 8:56 am

I was talking to a friend a couple of days ago and he said that when he was at uni pretty much all the lecturers were Marxists.

Jim Lawrie

26th June 2020 at 8:49 am

Winning the culture wars will not magic into existence one penny of new wealth. On the contrary, it will leech it even faster.

George Whale

27th June 2020 at 2:03 am

But it might restore free speech and sanity to public life.

Jesse Franklin

26th June 2020 at 7:37 am

*Speaking as a person from the United States.
Great Article. I am currently reading and listening to “Revolt of the Elites” and “Empire of Illusion” which touches upon the subjects that you wrote about.
From my experience, I don’t think that classical liberals, conservatives, or socialist stand a chance of winning when it comes to identity politics. One of my reasons is that I think that identity politics has mixed with modern capitalism.

Vivian Darkbloom

26th June 2020 at 5:19 pm

“Identity politics has mixed with modern capitalism”.

This is a very important point. Classical liberals, conservatives, and socialists can’t compete with an ideology – if we can call it that – which has been taken up by supranational corporations.

steve moxon

26th June 2020 at 7:23 am

Frank Furedi remains in denial about the origin and development of this new totalitarian backlash by the Left. He’s still an apologist for the Left in this.
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, 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.
The intellectual rationalisation was to build on false notions of Engels (co-author with Marx of The Communist Manifesto) that ‘capitalism’ created the family and ‘false consciousness’, by theorising mechanisms of how ‘the workers’ were somehow prevented from revolting. This was by invoking Freud’s now comprehensively discredited notion of ‘repression’, first 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 by default women to be deemed a replacement supposed ‘oppressed’ and ‘disadvantaged’ ‘group’. The false notion of ‘repression’ was also considered in a wider sense to produce ‘false consciousness’ in the ‘proletariat’, supposedly obscuring what was in their own best interests.
This implausible and unfalsifiable non-scientific nonsense mainly festered within academia until circa 1968 the New Left in the USA, spurred by, indeed aping the Chinese ‘cultural revolution’, co-opted a movement which, though having nothing do do with the Left, appeared to be akin to the revolutionary activity predicted by Marxism: US ‘civil rights’. This added to the ‘new oppressed’ another category, 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 also was co-opted (again, despite having had nothing to do with the Left) to further add by inversion to the abstract demonised aspects of ‘the worker’, thereafter retrospectively stereotyped as male plus ‘white’ plus heterosexual.
This prizing into the role of being emblematic of Marxist struggle naturally rendered the specific conflicts more generalisable, allowing expansion into more widely encompassing categories. US Afro-Americans, in being championed as the ‘ethnic minority’ supposed warriors of the Left thereby meant anyone generically of an ‘ethnic minority’ was deemed to belong to the club. Likewise, ‘gays’ became generic ‘homosexuals’. The problem thereby arose of false identification. The category non-white / ethnic minority includes such as migrant Indians and Chinese, who by no criteria are ‘disadvantaged’ or ‘oppressed’. Likewise lesbians drawn into the category homosexual. As for women, by objective, non-ideological analysis, women are privileged, as they are bound to be with the female being the limiting factor in reproduction. As has been regularly pointed out, Western middle-class women are the most privileged large ‘group’ in history. The ‘groups’ are 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.
The strands of the ‘new oppressed’ naturally combined as a new (neo-Marxist) conceptualisation to account for these political shifts after the fact, which came to be termed identity politics (or more pejoratively though actually more accurately, cultural Marxism). The deemed ‘groups’ replacing ‘the workers’ subsequently were not only expanded in their scope but added to — by the disabled, the elderly, trans-sexuals, the obese … . Again, all are abstractions rather than groups per se. This relentless expansion and then the use and abuse of these mis-identifications of under-privilege by educated individuals belonging to one or more of the categories, has been dubbed ‘the oppression olympics’, making ‘identity politics’ a gravy train for the already privileged, serving actually to substantially increase inequality. Worse still, 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 workers’. This was the whole point of the political development, of course.
The pretence to egalitarianism is perfect cover for what actually is ‘identity politics’: the very perennial and ubiquitous elitist-separatism (status-grabbing) the political-Left ethos (supposedly) is to attack, and which Left zealots vehemently deny exists in themselves. Leftist bigotry betrays either unusually high status-seeking motivation or particularly deep frustration in the quest for status, which is ‘projected’ on to everyone else, who actually have normal levels of motivation to achieve status and manage to ride the ups and downs of life without requiring such dysfunctional ideation. The Left’s egalitarianism is a feint for selfishly pursuing the very opposite. If everyone else is held at a uniformly low status, Leftists thereby become ‘the chosen few’. Transparently, this is an ideology in the wake — a residue — of Christianity. A quasi-religion of supposed inevitable progress towards ‘the promised land’, rendered a utopia of equality-of-outcome. The high priests of this faith — the social justice warriors — are the ‘saved’ striving to convert the rest of us on the promise of entry to ‘heaven’. This represents a continuation of secularisation: a shift in religiosity from envisaging a ‘god’ as being in man’s image, through the humanist deification of mankind, to worship of a supposed dynamic of teleological social change (Marxism). ‘Identity politics’, in being profoundly not what it pretends to be and so deeply entrenched across the whole and every facet of the establishment in Anglophone nations especially and to a large extent in ‘the West’ generally, can properly be regarded as the greatest political fraud in history

PAUL ROGERS

26th June 2020 at 8:50 am

Long comment, but I do very much like this bit. Spot on.
“Leftist bigotry betrays either unusually high status-seeking motivation or particularly deep frustration in the quest for status, which is ‘projected’ on to everyone else, who actually have normal levels of motivation to achieve status and manage to ride the ups and downs of life without requiring such dysfunctional ideation. ”

Self seeking narcissists craving attention.

Michael Green

26th June 2020 at 8:55 am

Great comment.

Carl Bung

26th June 2020 at 12:17 pm

Upon discovering “the greatest fraud in political history” why not just kill yourselves?’

Genuine question.

When David Icke fans first discovered that the aliens have built mind control technology on the moon, why do they go online to chat about vaccines and feminists and subliminal messages? Why don’t they just sit indoors quietly and slash their wrists?

If there’s mind control machines on the dark side of the moon, resistance would appear to be futile, right? Right.

steve moxon

26th June 2020 at 3:56 pm

Surely you need the euthanasia given your total absence of logic or grey matter and without even the ability to carry off facetiousness.

Philip Humphrey

26th June 2020 at 7:05 am

I’m not so pessimistic about the culture war being lost. 2016 was a significant reverse for the identitarians (or cultural marxists as they are sometimes known). The left and those parts of the right that gave in to cultural marxism have suffered a significant reverse, and have little prospect of getting back into government at least in the UK. But is essential that this opportunity is not squandered, and I would suggest the following.
A new freedom act guaranteeing the right to free speech short of direct incitement to violence. Protection against being sacked over expressing opinions in free time except for things directly damaging to employer’s business. Also guaranteeing freedom of religion and non-religion and as far as reasonably possible to live whatever lifestyle you choose.
“Defunding” the BBC and large parts of our universities of taxpayers’ money except for essential subjects such as STEM and technical subjects. They’ll still be able to teach “gender studies” etc. But it’ll have to be run as a proper business with no subsidy whatsoever for either students or college.
I think this would do much to take away the power of the identitarians and cultural marxists.

PAUL ROGERS

26th June 2020 at 9:01 am

I also do not share the gloom. The BBC is losing its stranglehold and the next generation simply do not know what Channel 4 is. (Mine don’t).
We have Jordan Peterson, Thomas Sewell, Douglas Murray, Coleman Hughes, Jason Riley… the list is long… in longform interview now. Half a Billion views of Peterson alone. We never saw their side when I was growing up. So it’s getting better. The reach of the podcast is immense.

Don’t tell me there isn’t a place for intelligence. There is.

Once Twitter is replaced by Parler (or whatever) and Youtube by Locals (or whatever) and we defund nonsense degrees (only fund STEM) and let the silly 50% university degree target die things will improve. My own three young nearly grads are already aware of the great university Ponzi scheme.

I am optimistic.

Brandy Cluster

28th June 2020 at 12:12 am

Bret and Eric Weinstein, Ben Shapiro and Dave Rubin: don’t forget about the IDW.

Claire D

26th June 2020 at 9:20 am

Good ideas.

Dominic Straiton

26th June 2020 at 6:03 am

Channel 4 last night subjected a ginger child to race baiting lunacy. Wheres his privilege. This kinds of thing drives them to join ISIS.

juliusB

26th June 2020 at 6:26 am

I agree, it was an appalling programme. The whole premise was wrong, bring in an American woman who had the idea of the “test” ? “quiz”? and subject the children to dealing with the results on national television. The results were that the white children were made to feel guilty for being white. There was a black boy who had experienced racism in a shop. He hadn’t told anyone u til he described it in the programme. The majority of the white children looked unhappy at suddenly being confronted with their “white privilege” throughout the programme

Andrew Shaughnessy

26th June 2020 at 8:52 am

What did you expect from Channel 4 ? It makes the BBC look like Fox News.

James Knight

26th June 2020 at 3:00 pm

Chilling to see the effects of zealotry. Splitting kids into “affinity groups” which I guess is the PC way of saying “segregation” and then have them talk about white privilege.

The school that tried to revive racism.

Carl Bung

26th June 2020 at 5:07 pm

But no idea is taboo, right?

Right wingers are obsessed with free speech and the sharing of ideas, right?

Therefore if a school in England and Channel 4 wish to do an experiment, what is everyone so afraid of?

I didn’t watch it because I had zero interest in the premise. For the exact same reason I never watch that Channel 4 show about dating nude people or the one with the horrible medical conditions.

Right wingers like free speech but constantly fret that I’m exposed to things that might mess with my mind.

I will never watch the show – not because the new right wing whingers have adopted the stance of hating C4, but because I’d rather watch something else.

Free speech and exchange of ideas means Channel 4 can take a muslim child and put him in a Christian house for 24 hours. Boring telly it might be, but the idea is not illegal nor should right wingers fret that the resulting footage will lead to the downfall of the U.K.

Once you’ve seen 4 episodes of “The secret millionaire” or “Northerners on the Dole” , only you can decide if watching the 5th episode is worth it or if it’s better to watch something else.

George Whale

27th June 2020 at 1:43 am

No right winger is demanding that these things be banned or criminalised, which is one fundamental way in which they differ from the left.

KATHLEEN CARR

26th June 2020 at 3:25 am

Until the middle classes realize their children are receiving indoctrination and not education, nothing will be done. Protest movements like the Chartists have to be organized. At the moment middle class parents still think their children will get the winning ticket if they go to a ‘good’ school, get into a ;trendy’ university ( used to be Bristol) on a ‘trendy’ course and will then get a well-paid job and help them get on the ‘housing ladder’ and so are prepared to go with PC nonsense as they think it seperates them from the rough people . With a lot of unemployment expected in middle management they might have to rethink their plans and become less tolerant. Oswald Mosley supporters were always portrayed as working class thugs but there was a lot of middle class support for his ideas in the hungry thirties.The middle classes supported left wing ideas post war as there were a lot of jobs for them in the public sector, nowadays they have a virtual monopoly on the arts for example -take away self interest ( a lot of theatres look like they will close) and I don’t think they will find the Jacques Derrida ‘deconstruction for dummies’ that passes for education nowadays so funny.

Rod Conrad

26th June 2020 at 1:55 am

All that hot air … we don’t like the past … suck it up and get over it …. Blah feckin blah
Ayn RAnd .. she is such a laff

John D Henry

26th June 2020 at 12:47 am

Interesting essay, and in some ways quite a depressing read. This line by Frank Ferudi’s just about sums up what we’re dealing with: While they have undermined the influence of traditional norms and values, they have failed to elaborate a positive vision that might inspire society as a whole.

I believe most people irrespective of race or creed intuitively know right from wrong, but are largely ‘silenced’ by various representatives (MSM, Political, Law, Education) of a collection of minorities who believe their own narrow interests trumps society as a whole. The essay does much to explain how we got to what appears to be a dark place for Western society, the real question is: how do we get out of it?

Jim Lawrie

26th June 2020 at 8:46 am

“While they have undermined the influence of traditional norms and values, they have failed to elaborate a positive vision that might inspire society as a whole.” That is fundamental to the leftist approach – destruction as an achievement. Destroy Capitalism, but keep schtum about what will replace it, hiding behind deflections like “We cannot be sure what will come after the revolution, so best not to say.” etc …..

Many of those on the demos and vandalism sprees know that the money is running out and are lashing out in the hope of securing more state borrowing for themselves and their BAME allies.

The bottom rungs of the economic ladder have, on their way to work, walked past the furloughed, idle, middle classes for three months now. And back again to deliver their groceries and gadgets. The very class who do constantly judge and condemn them. Those same middle classes say nothing about the low pay and brutal conditions throughout the delivery chain.

Carl Bung

26th June 2020 at 2:03 pm

We’ll pay and working conditions of the poor are regularly discussed in Tory voting England.’

Typically it’ll be the “leave our statues alone” brigade and their right wing press supporters who argue that the poor need a kick up the backside.

Brexiters and the PM themselves said that our working class are idle and feckless. And the right wing working class English cheerfully voted for that type of person into power.

Please don’t ever blame a teenage girl on a BLM demo for the bedroom tax. It’s not her fault at all that older people voted it into existence.

A 15 year old BLM activist/protestor never once said in the pages of the Telegraph: “well if you don’t like your working conditions leave and get another job”. Nor “we need to stop the working class having so many children”

It was anti-woke Katie who recently tweeted that if you can’t afford to feed your children you shouldn’t be having them – not any teenage boys on a BLM protest.

John Pretty

26th June 2020 at 12:39 am

“Today, moral judgment — the attempt, that is, to distinguish right from wrong — is considered suspect, discriminatory, judgemental.”

I really dislike the crude metaphor of war that is being applied here to what might be seen as a modernisation and politicisation of language. The government of Boris Johnson also uses this crude metaphor to describe his response to coronavirus.

I do think Furedi is right in highlighting that this modernisation and politicisation of language has been going on since the 1970s and that Left liberal ideologues have seized the initiative.

But conservatives and classical liberals have been caught with their trousers round their ankles. They’ve been lazy. They’ve been slow to catch up. The Left’s crude ideas and their intolerance of freedom of thought, word and expression have been allowed to germinate and grow.

The Right has not engaged the Left in debate. There is feminism. So where is “masculism”? Why is there no male equivalent of feminism?

I don’t agree with Furedi that old concepts of “right” and “wrong” are no longer relevant. They are only too relevant. The crudest versions of it are only too present in Woke culture. Those they label “racist” are bad and evil. They – the Woke – are enlightened and good.

Where is the opposing argument? The Right is still asleep.

John D Henry

26th June 2020 at 12:57 am

Good points. I think one simple law designating employment dismissal resulting from making lawful free speech as unfair dismissal, would give the ability of the right (of far left) to engage in fair debate.

Michael Green

26th June 2020 at 12:30 am

This was insightfully and accurately diagnosed and described by Ayn Rand in her collection of essays The Return of the Primitive.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to comment. Log in or Register now.

Deplorables — a spiked film

More long-reads

Racialising the crisis in policing

Luke Gittos

Racialising the crisis in policing

The self-making of the British working class

Helene Guldberg

The self-making of the British working class

The lethal folly of humanitarian interventionism

Cunliffe and Hodgson

The lethal folly of humanitarian interventionism

Social media: the state of things to come

David Gunnlaugsson

Social media: the state of things to come