The Covid culture wars

The spiked team discusses identity politics, lockdowns and celebrities.

Is the coronavirus crisis fuelling the culture wars? Do lockdown policies actually work? What’s the point of celebrities in an age of crisis? Tom Slater, Ella Whelan, Fraser Myers, and special guest Wilfred Reilly, discuss all this and more on the latest episode of the spiked podcast.

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


Mor Vir

26th April 2020 at 12:30 pm

Here comes the Megxit block buster.

That pair are really growing on me, Megharry. My fav celebs.

I joked when their engagement was announced that it would not be long before Meg dumped Harry and then marketed a ‘tells all’ book to world to give her side of it.

Well, it looks like Harry has got his head screwed on. Rather the pair of them dumped the Royals and went for the book.

The Dynamic Duo took my advice about how to go independent. And the more that the British press snipes at them, the more material they will have for Vols. 2-6. A delightful symbiosis and good for a massive giggle.

“The True Story of That Trial”, “What it was Really Like Whining and Dining with That Lot.”

> Meghan and Harry biography bombshell for Royals: Couple help two ‘friendly’ journalists write their Megxit story amid fears they’re out to settle scores

Palace insiders expect the biography – provisionally entitled Thoroughly Modern Royals: The Real World Of Harry And Meghan – to paint a flattering portrait of the couple.

The 320-page biography, due to be released on August 11, is expected to be a global bestseller.
Last week, Harry and Meghan launched an extraordinary broadside against the British media from their Hollywood hideout, announcing they would no longer ‘engage’ with certain newspapers in protest at the way they claim their lives are covered.

Echoing Princess Diana’s secret involvement in the blockbuster biography, Diana: Her True Story, when she encouraged her friends to speak to author Andrew Morton, questions are being asked whether members of Meghan’s inner circle were being urged to help Scobie and his American co-author, Carolyn Durand.

Christopher Tyson

26th April 2020 at 11:14 am

An aspect of expertise that we haven’t discussed. Where to we place diversity and inclusion advisors, or consultants and trainers who create packages and workplace training and courses on unconscious bias or instructing employees about what language is or isn’t appropriate? The government pays considerable amounts of money to these people, but what qualifies them as experts?
They are experts in their own estimation and accepted as such by the government, but how do you become an expert in diversity and inclusion?
If we look at the concept of unconscious bias, we can go back to Freud for the origins of this idea. Freud sought to crate a science of human psychology. However with the emergence of analytic philosophy, there was a search for a more rigorous definition of ‘science’. Freud failed the test, his idea of the ‘unconscious’ could not be measured, tested or falsified.
So our idea of ‘unconscious bias’ is not necessarily a bad or uninteresting idea, but it is a contentious idea, and yet it is an idea that government has bought into and paid for and imposed on its employees. The answer is that if you want to seek our a Fruedian analyst in your own time you are free to do so. If you are sceptical about the idea of ‘unconscious bias’ you should be free to exempt yourself from the mandatory training and workshops provided by your employer.
In terms of ‘diversity’, here’s a question, at what point will we be allowed to criticize or disagree with Baroness Doreen Lawrence? The Baroness is not an expert in anything. Is it the case that for ethnics what we are looking for is a therapeutic experience, an emotion catharsis, a symbolic ritualistic acknowledgement of our pain and suffering, led by a shamanistic personage, a witch doctor perhaps? Is a different standard of ‘expertise’ accepted for ethnics?
With the demise of analytical philosophy something has been lost. We are often using the same word to talk about different things, with no one noticing or caring, we end up with conclusions that can be interpreted in numerous ways or nonsense.
There are experts who know a great deal about their subject areas, there are also people recognised as experts and paid as experts, who don’t know very much, or perhaps know slightly more than anyone else or are able to convince the person with the purse strings that they do.
So some experts are ‘experts’, and some experts aren’t ‘experts’, but of course that depends on what you mean by expert.

Mor Vir

26th April 2020 at 7:57 pm

“The Baroness is not an expert in anything. Is it the case that for ethnics what we are looking for is a therapeutic experience, an emotion catharsis, a symbolic ritualistic acknowledgement of our pain and suffering, led by a shamanistic personage, a witch doctor perhaps?”

Powerfully put.

Hopefully she will do a good job but I fancy that many ethnic Brits will suppose that she has been chosen simply b/c of the incident with her son, the idea being that her name is intended to have an intimidating effect on general discussion within the society. And I fancy that they are correct thus far.

It raises questions about how the British state generally, and not just the LP, sees Brits, as in need of intimidation, and how it sees ethnics as in need of assurance that the state is on top of race relations through intimidation. It does not suggest a healthy attitude toward the condition of contemporary Britain.

It also raises questions about how the two main political parties play on race relations to get votes; how the TP pretends to oppose the mass migration of workers to get votes; and how LP also pretends that TP is against the same, and that LP is in some special sense for migration or for migrant rights to get votes.

The two parties have a long-standing imaginary scenario going on between them to keep ppl voting for them, so it raises questions about whether they exaggerate and perpetuate the race issue in order to get votes. Both parties feed off it, TP as much as LP. Likely their constantly-ongoing electoral strategies reinforce an exaggerated and distorted view of the society that is not healthy for any of us.

A good start would be for TP and LP to admit that both parties are equally committed to the mass migration of workers and to equal rights for all citizens, neither party more than the other. The trouble is that TP pretends to be against immigration and the LP goes along with that and pretends that LP is more committed to it.

The dishonesty needs to end in British party politics. Both parties are giving a false impression of themselves and of each other when it comes to race and immigration. They both feed off a sense that race and immigration are a problem in this society in order to get votes. Very likely their constant posturing on the matter is actually reinforcing and perpetuating problems.

The parties need to cut it out. Be honest and put an end to this nonsense, TP and LP alike. They need to be clear that they are working together to address outstanding issues of inequality.

Why is this enquiry not done jointly, why is it a LP enquiry? Simply b/c the two parties wish to continue the illusion that there is any difference between them on race and immigration. TP wants to pose as somehow against it to get votes, while LP wants to pose as specially for it to get votes. It is the same old nonsense, posturing to get votes. It is completely moronic.

The two parties need to grow up and to get real.

bf bf

25th April 2020 at 3:55 pm

Is it just me or do you think that it looks like plod (world wide) are taking 1984 as an instruction manual rather than a warning. Must be something in the physiological makeup of those who become plod.

Graham Southern

25th April 2020 at 6:42 pm

Policing attracts bullies like moths to a flame and bullies are usually of low intelligence. Such applicants should be easy enough to weed out – instead they seem to be actively encouraged.

In Negative

25th April 2020 at 10:06 am

Celebs – ‘their role is to entertain us’: what do you mean by ‘entertain’ here?

Madonna’s entertainment has always been political. One cannot involve oneself with the Material Girl without involving oneself in her politics. Like a Prayer, Human Nature, ‘express yourself, don’t repress yourself’, Papa don’t Preach, Substitute for Love. To be entertained by Madonna is to have your politics flattered by Madonna. She is an experience of politics as entertainment and an experience of entertainment as politics. And this was her genius back in her day, that she was so able to seamlessly incorporate the two.

So what about the celebrity failure to embody politics during the Corona times? One of the interesting things about Gaga back in her day was her failure to embody anything. She performed sex and politics, not like someone living it, but like someone performing it. In this, she embodied something else and gave her fans something else. Gaga, no matter how many fishnets, handcuffs or chains she wore could ever do what Madonna did with Erotica or Human Nature. Nor could her fans have been connecting to her in the way Madonna’s fans were connecting to her (or they’d have just gone to Madonna). So they were connecting through some other kind of experience.

Aside this, there has always been the possibility of failing to incorporate politics and music. When you can see the politics more vividily than the entertainment, when the politics is no longer lost in the experience of the entertainment, it becomes awful. That’s what’s happening here. But I do wonder if this appeals to a certain generation – that they want the politics more than they want the entertainment. Or rather, that to be entertaining the politics must be more visible albeit less real?

Dunno, just thoughts. I’m really liking Billie Eilish right now. Just sayin.

Bear Mac Mathun

24th April 2020 at 11:44 pm

While I am very concerned about the loss of our liberties in these times and the expansion of state control, this is not helped by sifting through “academic” opinion until you find one that you like. We have a lecturer in political science being presented as an Epidemiologist. The good gentleman’s acquaintance with statistics and statistical modelling is undergraduate at best. He is at odds with others who live and breathe Epidemiology and who have access to the data, and have extensive knowledge and experience with this type of modelling.

In the sneering at celebrities Ella reveals her real problem with them – that they do not push her politics. Since they are not promoting Ella’s politics, they are essentially airheads with nothing to say. Yes, they are airheads with nothing to say, but that is regardless of whether they are pushing particular politics or not.

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