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Why is the woke mob so scared? The no-platforming of yet another academic raises uncomfortable questions about free speech

Uncomfortable questions still deserve an answer (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Uncomfortable questions still deserve an answer (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)


February 26, 2021   4 mins

Whenever a person is “cancelled” or “no-platformed”, a public battle is inevitably waged. On one side, there are those who uphold the value of free speech; on the other, those who insist free speech depends on what is being said, or believe the whole debate is some kind of smokescreen for smuggling extremist ideas into society. What goes unnoticed, however, is that there is a pattern to these eruptions.

The recent cancellation of Professor Gregory Clark at the University of Glasgow is a case in point. Yesterday, it was reported that Clark — a professor of economics at the University of California and visiting professor at the London School of Economics — was last week unable to give a lecture in Glasgow because of its title: “For Whom the Bell Curve Tolls: A Lineage of 400,000 Individuals 1750-2020 Shows Genetics Determines Most Social Outcomes”. The reference to John Donne’s poem, later appropriated by Ernest Hemingway, was not the problem. The allusion to the work of Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein clearly was.

The Bell Curve, a 1994 book by Murray and Herrnstein, remains one of the most controversial pieces of analysis in the modern era. Though its critics tend not to have read the work, they insist that it not only argues for but positively rejoices in the idea that intelligence is largely determined by a person’s race. It is a misunderstanding that has rumbled on for over a quarter of a century, and every discussion of the book usually ends in acrimony. And so when Professor Clark hinted at the work in his lecture’s title, the university asked him to change it.

In some ways, this was to be expected. The University of Glasgow had recently published a new report titled “Understanding Racism: Transforming University Cultures”, which sets out an action plan to make the university “an inclusive space for all”. As Clark himself put it: “My talk was regarded as a provocation in this situation. I had a half-hour Zoom meeting with the dean. He would reschedule the talk if I agreed to change the paper title to not have any reference to ‘bell curve’. I have refused.”

As soon as the disagreement was publicised, the online mob did what it always does and swiftly became an expert on a person previously unknown to them. Clark was slandered — just like Noah Carl and other academics before him — as a “eugenicist”, with one critic suggesting that the talk was due to be “a thinly disguised piece of book promotion by an economist who manipulates and misrepresents genetics to advance his pseudoscientific opinions”.

Indeed, the claim of Clark’s critics to know not only the content of his undelivered talk but also his intentions is all too characteristic of contemporary pile-ons. Today, it is not enough just to claim foresight, it is also necessary to pretend that you have complete insight into the motivations of those with whom you disagree.

No doubt this row will continue to roll on, with the university continuing to deny that it had “cancelled” Professor Clark’s lecture; its administrators claim that they will “continue to be in discussions” with him about finding “a suitable event” for his talk. Meanwhile, critics of cancel culture will add his name to the growing list of academics who have been uninvited from events due to their views.

Yet it is worth pausing for a moment to reflect that, following this most recent incident, a pattern in the cancel-culture conflict has started to emerge.

If today’s censors only attempted to cancel events about one particular subject or historical individual, it would be easy to discern their motivations. But because the prevailing ethos of the age is so all-pervasive, we appear to be less able than we should be to discuss it and dismantle it in turn. However, as Professor Clark’s treatment shows, that ethos has become increasingly clear. It goes something like this: human beings are born with equal abilities, and any sub-optimal outcomes in their lives are caused by societal factors beyond their control but which can be adapted with enough collective effort.

The fact that this mantra prevails goes a long way to explaining why transgenderism has become such a focal point in the culture wars in recent years. For if you are able to move between the sexes at will, then it’s only natural to conclude that nothing about the situation we are born into can or should limit us. You may have been born with male chromosomes and have male genitalia, but if you wish to become a woman any day then you can. And vice versa. Whether you are male or female isn’t determined — it’s something you can choose.

And this is where Professor Clark’s cancellation is extremely revealing. Given we know little about his speech beyond its title, you could be forgiven for thinking that the university’s fearful authorities were simply scared about the prospect of activist pressure and a toxic fall-out.

But this approach fails to explain why a talk that references Murray and Herrnstein’s book would inspire such vitriol in the first place. The university was not simply concerned that the content of Clark’s lecture may have been racist. It is about something far more profound: the fear that he would touch on another aspect of the The Bell Curve’s thought that goes against the emerging ideology of the time. The reason why so much energy is dedicated to shutting down any discussion of the issues addressed by Murray and Herrnstein in their book is that, just like with transgenderism, it raises an undeniably fearful spectre — the possibility that our life-outcomes are to a great extent reliant on factors over which we have no control.

Of course, there are dangerous avenues in discussions over the relationship between race and IQ. Eugenics poses one of the worst moral nightmares imaginable. But there are only two things you can do to tackle it. The first is to shut down all debate; a prospect incompatible with modern democracy. The other is to allow responsible discussion of it, along with many other uncomfortable subjects. And if this cannot take place in a university, it is hard to know if it can take place at all.

Still, Professor Clark’s cancellation reveals there is also a deeper discussion that we need to have — one that questions what our attitude should be towards the situation we are born into. The ethos of our era holds that if we organise society well enough, everyone can be whatever they like. And ultimately, the fact that the counter-position — that we are all to some extent dictated by factors outside of our control — is so little heard is an ominous sign. For if it is false then we need not be troubled by it. But if it is true, surely it is better that we find out now, while some semblance of rational discussion is still possible.

 


Douglas Murray is an author and journalist.

DouglasKMurray

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Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
3 years ago

IMO fear is a core element of the woke movement that is not discussed nearly enough and it manifests itself in different ways.
The architects of the woke revolution, the usual much-discussed suspects in academia and politics clearly fear, in the operational sense, the danger of having their “this time we’ll get it right” revolution stalled by consensus-building or critical examination.
Eliminating opposition is more efficient than ‘hearts and minds’.
Been there. done that.
I have more concern for the younger followers of this burgeoning disaster because I think they are actually afraid in the visceral sense.
For a least a decade we’ve seen reports from mental health professionals describing the near epidemic levels of fear, anxiety and lack of confidence in young adults, who having been kept safe in the swaddling clothes of ‘every child gets a prize’ just can’t seem to deal with the brutal honesty of the real world.
At the age that many of us recall as being when Life was finally going to really get started these kids are acting like they’ve been dropped off in the middle of nowhere.
Now what?
This is strictly a personal observation but perhaps it is to be expected that such a group, feeling vulnerable and keenly aware that one can go from ‘hero to zero’ by the careless, or crass, use of a thumb would be susceptible to the pied piper tactics of card-carrying woke mongers.
That’s very sad,

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

the near epidemic levels of fear, anxiety and lack of confidence in young adults

Not quite sure whether the levels of fear / anxiety have actually grown, but they have certainly been widely cultivated and encouraged. Neuroticism is the “new normal”, while being somewhat healthily adjusted is looked upon with suspicion as “privilege” and aberration.
I was born in 1965 (and in the ex-soviet block, no less – ha!) – i remember quite well having all the requisite social anxieties / phobias / teenage angst & whathaveyou at the time, until i grew out of it. We all did.
This current fetishisation of mental infirmity is infantilising the young adults. Locking them in a fearful and anxious state cultivates a pliable, insecure future society = fertile ground for all sorts of indoctrination. The barely disguised flipside of the soft-swaddled “every child gets a prize” coin.

Last edited 3 years ago by Allons Enfants
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

‘Not quite sure whether the levels of fear / anxiety have actually grown, but they have certainly been widely cultivated and encouraged.’
6% of US students study psychiatry/psychology or whatever. Thus there is an urgent need to encourage and cultivate ‘anxiety’ and ‘depression’ etc in order that all those studying it can earn a living. It is as simple as that.

Stephen Murray
Stephen Murray
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Makes me think of all the kids who are encouraged to play “music” at ear splitting volume, so that all the hearing specialists etc will have work for the future. I speak as someone who has suffered from severe tinnittus for the last 20 years!

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Murray

Sympathy on the tinnitus – But are you saying your tinnitus is the result of a conspiracy by a shadowy cabal of hearing specialists who have somehow infiltrated and controlled the music industry?

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

And I read yesterday that they are bringing back your (almost) namesake, Frasier – a comedy about two psychiatrists and all of their problems. Maybe your 6% will go up to 10% in the near future.

Last edited 3 years ago by Chris Wheatley
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

As we say in engineering/technology business development, “you can’t sell the solution until you’ve defined the problem”.
All these psych graduates are solutions looking for problems to fulfill.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago

You obviously led a sheltered existence and didn’t meet the sales reps I did.

Jean Fothers
Jean Fothers
3 years ago

I always had the idea that the reason they give a white coat to psychiatrists is so that you can tell which is the patient.

Toby McInnis
Toby McInnis
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Have you got a reference for that stat? To become a psychiatrist, you first get a medical degree. So I’m imagining rather a lot less than 6% of all US students are on track to become psychiatrists.
Psychology is I’m sure very popular, though it’s an incredibly broad discipline and a relatively small proportion of people studying it will go into jobs that directly ‘benefit’ from an increase in anxiety or depression.
There’s a far better argument to be made that pharmaceutical companies create an incentive for greater anxiety etc.. But even that still massively underestimates how complex the causes of increasing anxiety and depression are.

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
3 years ago
Reply to  Toby McInnis

Indeed. It is certainly the pharmaceutical industry that benefits. It rakes in billions. The supposed epidemic of mental health problems hasn’t even been shown to exist. People are often surprisingly resilient.
But there is, IMO, a tendency to pathologise everyday stresses that were previously regarded as part of the ups and downs of life, in order to try to sell pills. When my wife died after several years of illness it was a terrible blow. I mourned for perhaps two years, and it affected most things I did, including work. However, I did recover, both emotionally and professionally, and even remarried. Grief is normal, it’s a process you work through, and it doesn’t usually need pills or therapy. It may do if a person stops progressing, but that’s an adjustment disorder – the grief itself isn’t.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

“a tendency to pathologise everyday stresses that were previously regarded as part of the ups and downs of life . . .” A psychotherapist friend immediately diagnosed me, when we first met, as having OCD. Why do the letters O & C need to be followed by D? It used to be called just, the Protestant Ethic; or maybe, just being a Boy Scout . . .

David Jory
David Jory
3 years ago

A friend with OCD and a sense of humour says he calls it CDO, because that is alphabetical!

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

No it isn’t. Don’t be absurd. Most psychologists actually don’t work in mental health.

Bits Nibbles
Bits Nibbles
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

Correct; the vast majority work for tech, errr, ad companies.

Margaret Lavery
Margaret Lavery
3 years ago
Reply to  Bits Nibbles

And increasingly, politics.

chancerybunch
chancerybunch
3 years ago
Reply to  Bits Nibbles

During the university introduction to the phycology degree my then wife started she was told the single most job phycology graduates did was…… accountancy. ……
Yes I know my post doesn’t scan well. I’ve been reading too many Amazon product reviews

Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I would agree with that but for the fact that there aren’t enough MH professionals to go round. MH.clinics are swamped with referrals, partly due to the adding of new diagnoses to the table, and every youngster who has a rough day deemed to have “problems with their mental health”.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Allie McBeth

Is this “ the adding of new diagnoses to the table” what they call inventing new “illnesses” these days?

I just typed a long paragraph went to correct spelling of one word using the built in right click function and it ate everything I typed .. now I’m depressed and can’t be bothered to remember and retype.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

Right click and then click undo

Jean Fothers
Jean Fothers
3 years ago

or, JFDI

Reed Howe
Reed Howe
3 years ago

Or ctrl-z if you have a keyboard.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Oooo nasty – take 3 upvotes and let that be a lesson to you <G>

steve eaton
steve eaton
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I have another take on this. In my personal experience, every single person that I know who has studied psychology has had some problematic issue that caused them anxiety. I have always thought that the reason that they took psychology was in the hope of eliminating the problem themselves and in doing so keep the larger world from seeing that they had a vulnerability. As a result, the very field of psychology has a predisposition to normalize these sort of insecurities. So bottom line is that I don’t believe that the number of psychology students is driving the need to cultivate anxiety and depression, but instead, the high levels of anxiety and depression in the young people are instead driving the increasing number of psychology students, and this in turn normalizes the issues..

Dorothy Slater
Dorothy Slater
3 years ago
Reply to  steve eaton

Some years ago there was an American tv series called Therapy starring Gabriel Byrne that proved your point. It was clear that he had a lot of “issues” as we say.

The therapists I have known – either professionally or those to whom I took one of my troubled child years ago – are also dealing with their own stuff. In one case, a grief counselor whom I saw with my grieving sister spent most of the time talking about grieving for her cat. It got so bad I finally went to her supervisor and told her we were all traumatized by her loss but she wasn’t really helping us although I spent years grieving my beloved dog so being an animal hater was not the problem.
There is a school of thought that much of todays’s mental illness comes from the isolation that people live with today especially during Covid. Kids are totally cut off from anyone but their “friends” on their phones, Thank God there are plenty of drugs to cure their problems.

steve eaton
steve eaton
3 years ago
Reply to  Dorothy Slater

“Thank God there are plenty of drugs to cure their problems.”
LOL, Like the Monsanto slogan says, “Better Living Through Chemistry”

Last edited 3 years ago by steve eaton
Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
3 years ago
Reply to  steve eaton

If I were stark mad but also lucid, I think I would become a psychotherapist — hiding in plain sight. Who would dare analyze me?

Jayne Lago
Jayne Lago
3 years ago
Reply to  Dorothy Slater

I actually think the increase in mental health issues is
caused through their phones/technology. Two of my closest relatives have had mental health issues, my father being one of them, so a good portion of my life has been spent connected to this very issue.a lot of his problems occurred because he couldn’t cope with the real world. All these kids live their lives through one platform or another also not the real world. They see celebrity’s who seem to have everything., looks, money, power. When you are seeing success everywhere and you are not part of it , and it is in your face day in day out of course mentally you will be affected. Add to that the constant indoctrination of one form or another which the social media sites achieve, is it any wonder that things are so serious. I attended many discussions with my fathers doctor, I know he would now say…throw away the phones, iPads, laptops, and live in the real world……..your real world not someone else’s.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Jayne Lago

Wasn’t a very similar state (celebrities who seem to have everything… seeing success everywhere and you are not part of it…mentally you will be affected) supposedly caused by glossy magazines before phones were invented? Is this really so new?
Even with a phone, it is possible to ignore celebrity culture. Maybe it’s harder now, but I’ve been ignoring it for so long that I wouldn’t know.

Jayne Lago
Jayne Lago
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul N

People were firstly more mature I’m afraid to say and also you didn’t become addicted to magazines in the same way as technology is today.

Jean Fothers
Jean Fothers
3 years ago
Reply to  Dorothy Slater

For God’s sake, why cannot people just get on with life instead of all thinking they have a mental health issue

Bits Nibbles
Bits Nibbles
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The 6% may be onto something. I have a friend (in his mid 40s now, so no longer a student), who after the pandemic hit, has started to charge around $300/hr for, largely work or court-mandated substance abuse and addiction issues. After struggling to provide for his family the last 15-20 years at middling-to-low wages as a counsellor, he’s finally hit a gold mine.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

Good point.
My bride and I have often remarked that parents seem to treat their kids as if they’re 10 years younger than their true age.
Maybe it’s the helicopter parenting, but it seems uncanny at times, 20’s talked about like they’re 10 and need total parental supervision. 25’s having angst and self-doubt issues we had at 15. 30’s getting primed to leave the nest like they were 20.
I have no idea if this is related but the youth of previous generations broke into adulthood during world wars, a depression, a cold war and Vietnam so there was plenty to be afraid of but it seems to me the young always saw hope, an optimism that despite the bad there were good things just waiting to be built.
The woke movement seems to lack that hope and optimism. They don’t understand that good things need to be built, nurtured and maintained but rather seem to think that Good is the natural residue that remains after they have destroyed the Bad (as they define bad).
Like weeding a garden but not bothering to learn the difference between weeds and plants. Eventually you have neither.

Last edited 3 years ago by Walter Lantz
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

My father, a Cambridge double-first lawyer and prize-winning accountancy student then embarking on a stellar career in investment banking, was 23 when I was born. My mother, a former refugee, was 22. Both were migrants.

Last edited 3 years ago by Drahcir Nevarc
Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

So a young couple starts a new life and a new family in a new country. To those of us of a certain age it’s almost like “what’s your point? millions of people did that”.
Yet I’m sure it sounds like an adventure worthy of Hollywood treatment to a those that can’t walk to the end of the block without someone saying “text me when you get there”.
That said, I do think that migrant spirit in its purest (we just want a better life) sense is still out there but sometimes it’s hard to see for the grime and dirt thrown up by all of the political axe-grinding.

Last edited 3 years ago by Walter Lantz
Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

What grinds my gears is that the success is put purely down to the individuals and their status as immigrants – rather than celebrating the country and its culture that made it possible.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
3 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

And that’s a whole can of worms in itself but I would say such problems stem from failure of host countries – especially in the West – to distinguish between ‘welcoming’ and ‘accommodating’. We are supposed to be welcoming and haven’t always been so, and we need to be mindful of that but in the past decade or two we’ve tried to be accommodating which has hollowed out many of the very strengths that made us attractive to immigrants in the first place.
By being welcoming we will naturally attract those that are anxious for at least a fair chance at a new life and see the need to make a few “when in Rome” accommodations as an acceptable price to pay.
Conversely, when the host country engages in accommodation it is natural that we should also be attractive to ‘have your cake and eat it too’ chancers.
As we all know when you try to make everyone happy no one is happy.

Last edited 3 years ago by Walter Lantz
Rob Stirling
Rob Stirling
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

I rather think he was agreeing with you re the infantilisation of today’s youth more than anything else, Walter. Not every migrant (assuming my deductive powers haven’t deserted me) went to one of South Africa’s top private schools…

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
3 years ago
Reply to  Rob Stirling

Actually, I was agreeing with Drahcir – I was probably being too obtuse which came off as insulting which is my fault. My in-laws’ immigrant story is very much the same. Of course not everyone was as incredibly successful but the point being 20-something was adulthood and you went out and did what you needed or wanted to do to carve out a life. It wasn’t easy and it was probably scary but you just did it.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

I do think that migrant spirit in its purest (we just want a better life) sense is still out there 

I think it’s really simple actually. Anyone who has enough gumption to up sticks, move to a new country and (probably) learn a new language is just going to have a lot going for them and succeed at a lot of things they do. It’s attitude.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

If one looks at immigrants, generally it is those who have employable skills who do best. The Hugenots( silk weavers and bankers); middle class Jewish and East African Asian professionals have generally prospered. Russian aristocrats post 1917 often did not do well because they lacked skills and I thinkthey had problems coping with the massive loss in status.
There is also immigration pre and post welfare state.
There is also whether one fleeing for ones life or for economic benefit. Generally, if one knows one cannot go back, then one will make more effort to to fit in.

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

So am i (still a migrant, always a foreigner), and i achieved jackshyte. Then again, i haven’t come here to achieve things but rather out of my love for the noble landscapes, historical architecture and various aspects of English culture. (Also out of disgust for my birth country’s people who elected a rotten socialist government yet again in the 1990s, as if the horrors of state-communism never happened.) I’m a migrant of leisure, if you will.
My millennial children were migrants too (migrated at early primary school age), one has a stellar career in STEM, the other doing nicely too. They are foreigners to a much lesser extent than me, having grown up here. A lot of wokery have rubbed onto them by peer pressure at university, it’s just about starting to peel off now that they are gathering their wits as adults.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

“wokery” — let’s keep that one. Rhymes with jiggery-pokery.

bsema
bsema
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

You’ve got a great command of English language and humour. “I achieved jackshyte” lol.

Richard Audley
Richard Audley
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Would I be correct in assuming that your father came from that incredible ‘tribe’ of people who dominate the Nobel Prizes, made an interesting crossing of the Red Sea and invented the world’s first Cruise Liner?

Last edited 3 years ago by Richard Audley
Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Audley

Off-topic, but the name Drahcir Nevarc almost fooled me into thinking he’s of vaguely ex-Yugo origin from the Balkan wars, until i realised it’s Craven Richard spelt backwards. (I’m a bit slow like that…) Yours – Yeldau Drahcir – has a pleasantly Yiddish ring to it, aren’t we all hailing from the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy perchance?

Richard Audley
Richard Audley
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

Cisleithania.

Last edited 3 years ago by Richard Audley
Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Audley

Oh, i know that place. It’s the second left turn on the B52 just after Lower Euthanasia.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Audley

Do any non-cis leithanic people live there?

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago

Not a single one. They all autogenocided when the parish was annexed by Greater Transeuthanasia back in 1997 by a freak draw of the electoral map.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

They don’t understand that good things need to be built, nurtured and maintained but rather that Good is the natural residue that remains after they have destroyed the Bad (as they define bad).
Like weeding a garden but not bothering to learn the difference between weeds and plants. Eventually you have neither.”

Very astute observation.

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

 to treat their kids as if they’re 10 years younger

If only 10 years.
We still do the Easter egg hunt for the kids (they are 28 and 30) in the back garden. At one point they started to revolt against it, having to crawl all over the garden in freezing rain, with a hangover, first thing in the morning. Daughter exclaimed “enough of this palaver!” while flicking off a large slug from a chocolate egg. Then past-20 they grew rather fond of it, now they expect it. We’ll lay it off once they have their own kids, so they can do it by themselves.

Richard Audley
Richard Audley
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

You have obviously contracted a severe dose of that notorious virus known colloquially as Anglo-Saxonism.
There is no known cure.

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Audley

Oy vey. Here i was hoping a cocktail of Sinovac and Sputnik V washed down with a mug of Talisker will sort it out, but seems i’m beyond repair now.

Richard Audley
Richard Audley
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

G&T, never fails!

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Audley

True that.

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

No Easter egg hunt in my family, but my sisters and I all got Christmas stockings at the ends of our beds until we left home; it was just understood by all that it was a tradition that had to continue, long after we knew that Santa Claus was actually Mum. However, we were all long gone by the time we hit 30.

Mathieu Bernard
Mathieu Bernard
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

“Good is the natural residue that remains after they have destroyed the Bad.”

It’s all about negation of the status quo with no view to what will replace it. The invalid assumption is that things are fundamentally rotten to the core and must be deconstructed, dismantled, and ultimately destroyed. Apparently, the vain hope is that a Phoenix will arise from the ash heap that remains.

Micheal Lucken
Micheal Lucken
3 years ago

I suspecthe status quo that they feel the need to negate has them placed lower down the social order than they believe they deserve. They may not know exactly what will replace it but they believe whatever it is will see themselves positioned more favorably or at least they will be able to navigate to that.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

Locking them in a fearful and anxious state cultivates a pliable, insecure future society = fertile ground for all sorts of indoctrination. 

Isn’t it possible that the replacement of moderately secure and comparatively well paid employment – in swathes of the economy – with precarious, zero-hour, minimum wage “gigs” is a contributing factor to the state of fear and anxiety you describe?
It’s fertile ground for all sorts of abuse.

Bits Nibbles
Bits Nibbles
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

I wouldn’t even attribute these characteristics to the ‘younger’ crowd. I know plenty of 40 year old men who literally cry when tasked with things they’re uncomfortable with like “doing laundry”, or “cooking for yourself”. It is mind blowing and a bit awkward to watch unfold in front of you.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

A good post.

… the near epidemic levels of fear, anxiety and lack of confidence in young adults, who having been kept safe in the swaddling clothes of “every child gets a prize” ...’

A similar argument is made by Jonathan Haidt (author of The Righteous Mind and co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind: how good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure). His concern is that young people in the US are having their ability to function in the adult world undermined by excessive protection from risk.

This may be at play, where super-safe environments prevent them from developing autonomy by taking physical risks, getting (a little) hurt, and learning from that.

It may also be intellectual, where they are protected from ideas (!) that might harm them, so they fear others’ opinions and do not learn critical thinking.

It is also, as you say, in the sphere of success, where they find difficulty in accepting that they don’t get a gold star for every task and immediate promotion.

David Uzzaman
David Uzzaman
3 years ago

Most of the beliefs of the woke are superficial and won’t stand in any reasoned argument. That’s why the woke refuse to debate. It’s a belief system so fragile that a slight breeze will blow it away.

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

Precisely.
Came across this excellent piece about why the woke won’t debate:
https://newdiscourses.com/2020/07/woke-wont-debate-you-heres-why/

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

Great link. I encourage others to follow it and read the essay.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

I am stunned at the nilism implied by the woke crowd. I had no real concept given a classical background, I see why now. Rejection of all seems to be the message.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

Interesting analysis of the extremes of cultural relativism. But it seems to me, by analogy with “if you ignore problems associated with how we handle migration, you feed the racist far right“, there is a real risk here too…
Isn’t it possible that if we throw out the “social justice” baby with the bathwater of the nihilistic relativism of the Frankfurt School, then the very real injustices that are not addressed will feed the nihilists in exactly the same way as we feed the far right by ignoring the need for integration and social capital among migrant communities?

Terry M
Terry M
3 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

A great treatise on this is ‘The Coddling of the American Mind’. The authors lay out 3 untruths that need to be overcome: 1 What doesn’t hurt you makes you weaker 2 Always trust you feelings 3 Life is a battle between good people and evil people.
Woke-ism is merely these principles in action.

Jayne Lago
Jayne Lago
3 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

You are right but then how come they are being so successful. It’s not just a few idiots or immature people, our institutions are coming out in support, ie banks, judges, doctors, car manufacturers, Disney, advertising etc. The whole sorry lot so where does it end….I wouldn’t be so sure it’s that fragile!

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  Jayne Lago

There are profits to be made, at the same time as publicly polishing haloes, win win, for now.

Last edited 3 years ago by Claire D
Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago

Well argued and interesting article as always, but I’m not sure they are scared. Their motivation seems to be hatred of people with whom the disagree, and a wish to dominate and control society so that Only their viewpoint is allowed. And they’re winning.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

I agree. They are not scared and they have the MSM, the state and the major corporations on their side.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

That’s the thing that concerns me most about this… Although these “woke” (not a word I like) views are held by a tiny minority of people, those that enforce those views hold all the positions of power and influence in government and media, and are using those positions to impose them on the populace.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Especially power in education.
I’m truly afraid for the future. In the 70s, when I was at college, the youth reaction amounted to long hair, flared trousers and saying ‘Peace’ to each other. Then, we grew out of it when we had work, mortgages and children.
But today work, mortgages and children don’t mean the same things. Work is hard to get, mortgages tend to go with stable work and children are delayed to a later date, maybe never.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

It’s so subjective, isn’t it? I was at College in the late 80s – most of my friends have mortgages and children, though we pretty much all delayed that til our thirties (we were a lucky generation in many ways) but still hold progressive/leftist views. Not sure it’s so simple as assuming people grow out of progressive/leftist views as they get older any more.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Surely a confusion of terms – progressive/left?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Exactly. There is nothing traditionally left-wing about the woke progressives. Quite the reverse, they hate the working classes and buy Apple and Nike products etc made by slaves in China.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I used progressives to avoid using woke. What about people who believe in things like Trade Unionism, wealth redistribution, trans-gender rights, the existence of systemic/institutional racism, man-made climate change and abolition of nuclear weapons? Are they not left wing and progressive?

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Except for perhaps trade unionism, the rest is based on misguided Utopian thinking.

Micheal Lucken
Micheal Lucken
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Are there still people on the “left” who believe in trade unionism and wealth distribution? They stopped talking about such things a few years back, its all race and gender now with the odd foray into climate.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

retrogressive/left?

jcurwin
jcurwin
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I like John McWhorter’s term for this crew: he calls them the “neo-racists”

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

You forgot the main thing – moaning about how to convert from proper money to this weird decimal stuff to work out if you hand enough for a sausage roll between lectures.

J A Thompson
J A Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

I have been saying the same to those who tell me it does not matter, it’s only a small number of people. It’s not how many, it’s who!

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

All the positions of power in government and media? Rupert Murdoch, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Priti Patel, the Barclay Brothers, Michael Gove?

John K
John K
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Yes. However, they *are* to an extent scared: afraid that someone with more points in the “intersectionality bingo” game will “cancel” them in their turn. If you howl down and cancel person X, what happens when the mob turns on you in your turn for not being sufficiently extreme in your denunciation of the “privileged”? IMO that is why it is all ratcheting up to hysterical levels.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Might this be because recently people tend to dislike those who agree with them. Some seem to think their opinions are facts.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

when you drive yourself into that level of frenzy to prevent someone from speaking, you’re scared of something. No one tries to silence a person who is not perceived as a threat of some sort. And their fear is just what you point out – that other viewpoints might find traction and that people might come to look at the mob as well, a mob.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

If you ever work with dog rescue, sooner or later you’ll come across ‘fear biting’.
I’ve been nailed a couple of times, mostly because I was too dumb to pick up the signs. The dog bites, not because it’s an evil man-killer, but because it is so anxious and scared it just doesn’t know what else to do.
It’s Fight or Flight.
That certainly doesn’t explain away all woke behaviour because there truly are some vicious attack dogs in that pack, but there are also ‘fear biters’ that are petrified of the consequences for not going along with it all. They couldn’t bear the thought of flight from their peer group.

Richard Lord
Richard Lord
3 years ago

Universities, aka big businesses, have become a slave to their commercialism. They are so large, so dependant on students money that they are frightened to do anything that will, supposedly, offend the poor dears. They should be opening young minds to wide ranging debates and be there to support, not always to protect. They are letting down the country and the young people they are supposed to be educating.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago

In the nature vs nurture argument one side has decided to ban the other.

Then some people have pointed out massive cultural differences in high vs low performing groups. This too must be disallowed, or if some parts of the culture like 20x higher violent crime rates are accepted as ‘bad’ then this is just a sign of oppression. If a large number of people from group X are killed by people from group X, then this must be the fault of group Y.

As far as the whole genetics thing goes the idea that no intellectual capacity is genetic is laughable at an individual level. However it should be remembered that this argument is not needed to explain away different racial/ethnic outcomes – because the outcomes are so varied, depending on culture. It’s well recorded now that many recent Asian & African immigrants are easily outperforming native whites and blacks in the US & UK. This puts to bed idiotic ‘racial’ intelligence ideas and the idea of massive discrimination based on race or class. Instead it’s almost certainly 90% culture: get educated, work hard, don’t commit crimes, get married, be a good parent. All very dull and small c, but it’s a winning formula.

Last edited 3 years ago by LUKE LOZE
Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

Careful, that kind of radical thought crime will get you cancelled.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Laughing so hard, it’s been flagged by someone. I presume it’s somebody with a sense of irony.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

 Instead it’s almost certainly 90% culture: 
Yet no one wants to go there. Point out that one culture’s single parent birth rate is off the charts, or that its homicide rate is grossly disproportionate vs the population, or how it often denigrates itself in song, and no one wants to listen. Because none of those points allow for someone else to be credibly blamed. Culture means having to take some responsibility for behaviors and outcomes, and the wokeltariat cannot abide that.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Good word.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

It’s not just one culture, there’s multiple cutlures including large chunks of the ‘native’ UK culture that are stuck with similar issues, though in provincal towns less violent crime and but less life opportunity. One could spend years discussing whose fault the formation of these cultures is – the thing is admitting that these cultures have a strong correlation with negative outcomes, and that they’d benefit from change. It is of course always much easier to blame others.
And yes it’s far easier to “make it” or at least end up with a reasonable career if you’re from a well off connected background. But in both class and race there are so many millions of people that have proven that it’s not only possible, but relatively simple.

Peter Kaye
Peter Kaye
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

There’s a sort of middle ground which the Woke accept, between culture and external, which is culture changed by external. At Princeton it is taught that Black men don’t want to marry because of the after-effects of slavery on Blsack culture. The rational argument, that the Johnson reforms made it better financially to be single is dismissed.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Kaye

Thomas Sowell does a few great bits on this.

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

 it’s almost certainly 90% culture

Absolutely; however, sometimes biology is downstream from culture.
Exhibit 1: cosanguinity (“inbreeding”, ie cousin marriages etc.), a practice specific to certain cultures, does result in congenital abnormalities. Rolls down the line of generations.
Exhibit 2: prenatal / infant malnourishment, prevalent in cultures with high birthrates (subsaharan Africa esp.) is proven to result in compromised mental development. Rolls down the line of generations.
Neither is directly connected to “race” but to cultural practices certain races opted into. The old canard “correlation is not causation” rings true here too.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

It is not 90% culture at all. The culture springs from the base attributes, and thus it is from genetic base if you take the long view.

But there is IQ, a very good score at determining ones outcomes in income within a group, and then there is this other kind of genetic propensity. I have kept dogs with me for decades, each breed had traits innate, the Lab retrieves, the beagle smells and chases, the German Shepard guards, the border collie herds, all just innately. People are similar. Some creatively artistically, some independent, some dependent, some intellectual, some craft, some fighters, some cowards, some social, some unsocial, some verbal, some mathematical,…. and like the dogs a genetic code may underlay these traits, which training (culture) enhances.

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

The culture springs from the base attributes, and thus it is from genetic base if you take the long view.

I couldn’t agree more, yes. Accounting for all the atypicals / outliers, what you say is correct.

IQ, a very good score at determining ones outcomes in income within a group

Indeed, and as such it can determine a negative outcome if the group (‘society’) has an inverted value system forced upon it, as we had in the Eastern Bloc back in the day. Socialism / communism / marxism / bolshevism (“leftism”) being deeply anti-intellectual dogmata, intelligence assigned you to financial underclass status. We were all either poor, or thick. Unless of course you sold yourself out. Many did; most for personal gain but a very few out of sacrifice to secure funding for their field of work/research (i happened to know 2 of those, both big shots in archĂŠology – both died early, after a tormented life).

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

IQ is a mediocre measure, it measures aquired as well as natural intelligence. Me and most of my A level maths class scored over 150 in IQ tests, were we all geniuses – or did spending the last week looking at linear and geometric progression prime us. If Madame Curie and Einstein had a child, but said child was raised with no education and limited vocab in a primitive society- it would probably be considered bright nothing more.

I00 years ago 99% of the world were at best dirt poor peasants/plebs or lived in tribal societies.
Look into things like the Flyn effect, IQs increasing by 3+ points per decade for 100+ years, within the same population group.
Either one thinks that there was genetic improvement, which suggests that earlier generations had ever smaller IQs or its cultural. The fact that modern ‘progressive’ ideas have slammed the IQ advances it into reverse suggest that its was cultural.

I suppose as a white chap I have a vested interest in the idea that it’s cultural. Because on average white chaps are exceptionally sub mediocre incurrent in education, career or scientific achievement.

Last edited 3 years ago by LUKE LOZE
Sean Meister
Sean Meister
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

IQ is not one monolithic measure, indeed the Flynn effect confounded intelligence researchers for years until the use of General Intelligence (“g”). Whilst IQ can be environmentally impacted it was found that g was highly heritable (about 80%). More importantly when controlling for g it was found that it correlated strongly with the many Socio-Economic factors predicted by high IQ.
So to suggest that because you can train the more inconsequential non-g elements it can somehow help you train the more important, but highly heritable g, is incorrect. The apparent poor outcomes of Blacks across the West (which is to say in vastly different cultures) is evidence of this.
Also you say that the “average” intelligence white chap seems to not excel, it was the “average” intelligence white chap that fuelled the European Empires into their global domination. The “average” intelligence black chap on the other hand never did so. Worth thinking on.

Last edited 3 years ago by Sean Meister
LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean Meister

Not really sure what your point is? If Empires prove ‘superiority’ then the 1000 years of Islamic empire in Europe proves that they were more intelligent?
The Steppes peoples must have had the highest IQs in the world.
The European empires like most empires were backed up by being (relatively) less corrupt, better organised, wealthier – no more, no less.
And apart from looking at current test scores, also look up African civilisations and genetics. The entire human population is Sub-Saharan African in origin, outside of there we’re just sub-sets of their gene pools.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

People are not similar to dogs.
Dogs have the greatest genetic diversity of any terrestrial mammals. Human genetic diversity is famously exceptionally low.
There is obvioiusly a genetic component to intelligence (as our entire physical beings are genetically determined, so brains must be) . However the full range of intelligence related genes (and abilities) are seen within every large group.

Sean Meister
Sean Meister
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

You are correct but it’s not “sometimes” at all: culture is 100% due to the genetic factors that make up a population. The way we distinguish between British, Italian, West African or Chinese culture is all downstream from how those groups evolved over the years. The culture simply adapted to best represent that. A good example is how NW-Europeans developed a culture which is predicated on Individualism and out-group altruistic behaviour. This is unique in the world and likely developed due to the harsh climactic conditions of NW-Europe. Compare and contrast with, say, the various Middle Eastern cultures which are very heavily Communal. Individual trust for strangers is non-existent and instead is based on kinship groups (tribal/clan as is often mentioned in regards to Africa). This is likely why some early dominant cultures eventually lost to NW-Europe (China, Ancient Mesopotamian civilisations etc.) over time as such a system stymies the risk/reward dynamic found in Europe.

So I caution anyone to consider that culture is completely separated from the people that practice it. For sure there are aesthetic edifices which can fool one into thinking that, for example, Africans can be “British” but when it comes to their basic nature they never can be. Just as the Briton in Sierra Leone would never fully understand the fanatical devotion to kinship groups that seemingly never allow for individual excellence. In the latter this is what the anti-colonial drive was dedicated to resolve, to ensure that those countries were run by their people familiar with their culture. Sadly it seems that favour has not been returned to us.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean Meister

That’s a remarkable claim:

“culture is 100% due to the genetic factors that make up a population”

Are you saying that historical and environmental factors have zero effect on culture? And that religion, for example (especially where spread by missionaries or other non-genetic means of conversion), is equally powerless to affect culture?
And are you claiming that any changes in a country’s culture over time are entirely due to genetic change brought by migration?
It seems… unlikely.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul N

Unlikely… try impossible.
Until recent times the West was dominated by a culture spread from the Middle East – Christianity, it’s still for good or bad a huge influence on our culture.
Ideas, memes – spread around human populations a lot easier and quicker than genes. Consider how gunpowder, printing and other Chinese inventions changed the world, consider how British Industrialisation and Empire uttterly changed the world within 200 years. Consider how one Karl Marx’s writings shape far away North Korea, China and plenty of other countries around the world.

Last edited 3 years ago by LUKE LOZE
nigel roberts
nigel roberts
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

Similarly, if you want a recipe for failure, skip school, do drugs, fornicate and get involved in crime.
Culture and values-systems are like business plans for society. And, progressive mantras notwithstanding, some business plans are better than others.

Carl Goulding
Carl Goulding
3 years ago

Well if the woke minority mob are scared of the truth how is the rest (majority) of the western world feeling? Full of despair because they know the truth, have no real voice and their gut instinct is giving them a real sense of foreboding.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Carl Goulding

The rest of the world does not fool themselves with such pathologies of the woke west, like replacing themselves with very different peoples and cultures, destroying family, and paying for the children of the least productive wile taxing the productive to have less children than it takes to replace themselves. The West hates its self and so wants to die out. It is all in the 11 points of the Frankfurt School from 1930s Germany, and is now 100% adopted by the woke, and academics.

Alex Hunter
Alex Hunter
3 years ago

Thank you Douglas for this thought-provoking piece.
My suspicion is that Woke will eat itself. Consider JK Rowling, once the standard-bearer for all things inclusivity, now attacked for having the temerity to suggest that people who menstruate are, well, women.
Here’s a thing – however fast one drives on the motorway, there will always be someone driving faster. Woke is similar – someone will always want to signal their virtue more than the person next to them. The rate it’s going, in 5 years Owen Jones will be seen as totally unwoke.
That said I am worried by one particular element of the madness. These people cannot win at the ballot box so there’s a creeping and anti-democratic dimension to what’s going on. Businesses and public institutions are running scared from a tiny number of people who should be dismissed as little more than shadows.
Don’t get me started on ** Potato Head. A piece of plastic which is more troubling environmentally than for its pronouns.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Hunter

So why do you think it is that businesses are running scared? Businesses are there to make money – why would they be scared of ‘a tiny number of people’?
‘These people cannot win at the ballot box’ – we have laws making discrimination against people because of sex, gender reassignment and sexual orientation illegal passed by elected MPs. Surely ‘these people’ have already won at the ballot box?

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

I agree with you. There is a naĂŻve belief that as long as the Tories win, we are safe. But the Tories are helping to push through the legislation, if only by not opposing it.
To repeat myself, politicians of all types play for upticks. Tory politicians will never tackle the woke-oriented teaching in schools and universities because just joining in the argument will get them downticks, which can’t be allowed. So, soundbites and discussions will be neutral (no downticks), the Civil Service unions will step in and nothing will change.
As Mr Denis says above, the only hope is that the woke regime goes into self-destruct (my words, not his) and that is just a hope.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

And these are the knots you tie yourself in when you label anything socially liberal as “woke”. Are you suggesting that civil partnerships and gay marriage were a Labour plot? They were introduced in the UK by a socially liberal Conservative government. It went a lot further than simply “not opposing” it.

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul N
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Hunter

First the woke will Eat Your ilk, then when it has eaten every dissenter it will eat its self. “President Ronald Reagan wasn’t the first to say it, but he said it well when he declared that “to sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last – but eat you he will.” (from pj media Tapscott – did not read that article, just hunted the quote)

Richard Audley
Richard Audley
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Pinched from WSC.

Alison Houston
Alison Houston
3 years ago

If we are all atomised individuals in a liberal society in which we are expected to be nothing but consumers and where the values and morality of a monk are held in exactly the same regard as those of a porn star, it is not surprising that people go hopelessly off the rails seeking some alternative vision of a well intentioned community where there is hope and support for everyone. The woke go so wrong because they are still fixated on liberal individualism, consumer choice, but what they long for is deeper meaning and community.

The fall out from the idiotic political and economic reaction to Covid, in terms of economic depression, might be the catalyst that brings about the end of this dreadful experiment in extreme individualism, self-centredness, meaninglessness, neuroticism and the vanity that says man is God and can be whatever he chooses. When times are sufficiently hard that we are stirred to make some practical effort in loving our neighbours as ourselves we will stop fixating on the rights of fictionalised, homogenous victim groups and as we come to recognise the practical struggles of our individual neighbours, begin to build a community based on the needs of our fellow man, once again.

J Bryant
J Bryant
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

I’d uptick you fifty times for that comment if I could.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago

We fear what we do not understand. I do not believe that axiom absolutely, as I feel I understand the woke, yet nevertheless I fear them. But generally speaking it’s a useful truism. If someone has a multitude of irrational fears about sweeping things at the center of their worldview, I believe that speaks to their lack of understanding about the world. If you have rational fears about specific things, that can be because you understand them well enough to see their dangers.

We fear the woke because they are fear based, and we understand historically what that leads to.

Alex Wilkinson
Alex Wilkinson
3 years ago

When I read these kind of articles by Douglas I get a strong emotional reaction in my gut, so intense it becomes slightly unbearable to carry on reading.
This culture war that is happening right now is so important. The outcome vital.
Are we really going to sacrifice all of our progress and freedoms out of moral cowardice, defeated by conformist bullying and the loud minority.

Jayne Lago
Jayne Lago
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Wilkinson

Well said Alex if only our politicians and our ‘leaders’ had the same attitude/gumptiion, things wouldn’t have got this far. It sickens me to see what is happening to our country and indeed our society. As for the culture war, which we can see every day ( you only need to look at your tv ) , at such a pace , has come about in the uk because of a drug user/criminal in the US, says a lot about the character of the supporters.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jayne Lago
Alex Wilkinson
Alex Wilkinson
3 years ago

The woke begin from the assumption of a world living in racial and cultural harmony, and work backwards, thinking.. how can this situation be arrived at?
They believe in this vision passionately, and you can’t argue with the admirable idealism of it. But in order to get from reality to this dream, it is necessary for them to utterly dis-regard certain difficult aspects of nature.
As Douglas suggests that is why the trans debate is such an uncompromising area for them – to achieve their dream nature must be denied. Hence, get behind the whole ‘self-identification beats biology’ schtick.
This is a broken logic putting the cart before the horse. Yes, they are afraid. Afraid of themselves and the true, logical consequences of seeing nature as it is and working from the ground up.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 years ago

Bravo, Mr Murray – another brave article. You ask, what are the Woke scared of? Answer: Each other. As in all waves of extremist hysteria, anyone judged insufficiently zealous is quickly scapegoated and expelled. Witness the goings on at Munster in 1534, where the “lukewarm” were beheaded. If the whole vile process can be interrupted; if a sufficient number of these unfortunates can be liberated from the crushing pressure of the crowd; if they can be brought to discuss things in a safe environment with trusted “confessors”, then Woke would begin to fizzle out. Keep turning out your words of wisdom. They will constitute an important resource in the rescue of our sorrowful, indoctrinated children.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Woke will disappear with the revolution of the next generation, for sure. But the next generation is being delayed nowadays. Whether it will self-destruct, as you suggest, is not so clear. It is certainly a viewpoint.

Richard Audley
Richard Audley
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Surely the iron cages on St Lamberts Church illustrate the ultimate fate of such fantasies?

Sholto Douglas
Sholto Douglas
3 years ago

I followed a link to this page from the Free Speech Union (https://freespeechunion.org). Given cancel culture is, as far as I can see, an exclusively left wing speciality, it is naturally a right-of-centre site. Even so, it seems most of the twitter posts are from lefties. Heck, don’t these guys ever work?
Anyway I recommend you click on the various twitter links to see their ‘logic’. I have been vainly trying to rebut their extraordinary assertions, but its groundhog day. They send you round in circles with endless non-sequiturs and denials, before arriving back at their original position.
Here are some of the remarkable affronts to common sense I have been trying to combat.

  • They firstly deny there is a free speech problem. When I posted a link to a Spiked article describing ten recent ‘cancellations’, the response was that Spiked is – wait for it – transphobic, misogynist and racist. Just an assertion, mind, no need to back it up with evidence or examples. And because it is all the above, those cancellations were justified. So simultaneously no one is being cancelled, and those being cancelled deserve to be. As soon as you dislodge them from one absurd position, they take up residence in an even more absurd one!
  • I try to explain that the act of calling someone transphobic etc doesn’t make it so, and that these assertions should be subject to a reasonable person test. Clearly that doesn’t get much traction with this lot.
  • They then claim that no-platforming arises from democratic decisions. I reply that a group are perfectly within their rights to not invite someone, but once invited, they cannot be uninvited because a noisy minority objects, post factum, as per Amber Rudd and Selina Todd. It is also against the Education Act 1996 (s34). They then revert to groundhog mode and repeat that it is democratic decision making.
  • They seem to be of the opinion that preventing someone else’s free speech is itself an act of free speech, and that the government’s plan to introduce a free speech advocate is an attack on them. Enjoy their affront when you explain that such an advocate won’t stop their speech, but might stop them stopping someone else’s speech.
  • Likewise they claim the Free Speech Union is just a right wing group who only support rightist speech. I explain that it has also supported leftists, like Suzanne Moore and JK Rowling. That doesn’t calm them down because when lefties are cancelled, it is not by the right, but by those even further left. And as mentioned above, given cancel culture is exclusively on the left, it’s hardly surprising that the pushback is on the other side. Leftist speech doesn’t need protecting, ours does.
  • Another gem is that a public figure who is cancelled can still speak elsewhere, so their speech has not been curtailed. The notion that someone should be able to speak to anyone who wants to listen, anywhere, is beyond them. The inference is that the ability to speak is at the grace and favour of the left. Try dislodging them from that.
  • When you finally beat them into submission over the above, the next claim is that the right are just as bad, apparently. I ask them to provide a single example of a leftist figure silenced by the right. No one has yet risen to that challenge, but you can’t keep a good man down and they go round again.

Commenters here on Unherd seem very erudite, so if you are up to the challenge, feel free to help me out. Go to the main page and scroll down to the list of latest wokery and click on the twitter link.
Frustrating but fun.

Last edited 3 years ago by Sholto Douglas
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 years ago
Reply to  Sholto Douglas

A marvellous post and evidence of excellent work. Sadly, it is such a long way down the thread that far too few readers will find it. As for helping out, I fear I have neither the time nor the patience to deal with the left directly; or to venture among them in a spirit of Socratic disruption. In any case, it’s too frequently a matter of pearls before swine. But many of them are more than happy to scatter their accusations and provocations on sites like this.
I put it down to their priggishness and spite.
Why are they so aggressive? I have a short sketched answer. You know the old adage that nobody does so much harm as when they think it’s justified? Well, it seems to me that being “left” is a corruption of the conscience, that uneasy sense that somehow you’ve done wrong. It’s a form of neurosis. And in appeasing it too much; in trying to silence it completely; in veiling or rejecting all the things it feels uneasy about, one becomes a monster of pride and resentment: pride that one is so superior; resentment that others are so much happier.
Eventually, at the far end, a person morphs into a squalid little Owen Jones, revelling in the basest sophistry and the most puerile abuse of opponents because the spite becomes a reward – yes, an actual reward – for being a prig! And it’s further bolstered by the ignorant insistence that all non-prigs are much worse, so one’s own revolting conduct doesn’t matter.
My only hope for these people is that eventually they will tire of this morbid, miserable, maundering way of going on.

Sholto Douglas
Sholto Douglas
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

I am in Australia, so given the time differences these articles have always been up for a day by the time I see them. As a result my comments are always playing catch-up at the end of the queue!

Lucy Smex
Lucy Smex
3 years ago
Reply to  Sholto Douglas

As Ben Shapiro (I think it was) said: debating or arguing with a social justice warrior is like trying to nail jello to the wall.

Rowli Pugh
Rowli Pugh
3 years ago

Intentionally or not, curtailing freedom of speech allows extremes to publish their intolerance and bend thought, deliberately denying a view is not creating a level playing field in fact it is the exact opposite. The woke are as divisive as any extreme right or left political activists. The woke are a virus in society attacking history and the future to create an Orwellian nightmare.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago

‘Why Is The Woke Mob So Scared?”
What I don’t understand is the title. Maybe you could use the word ‘scared’ if they had lost the battle and the lecture had taken place but, like similar battles in the last five years or so, they won the battle. I can’t imagine them sitting there shaking in fear when they always seem to win.
As the report explains, everybody in wokedom must be regarded as equal, except those categories which were dominant in the past, which are sub-equal. So, the wokes have to fight these battles regularly and the more they win the stronger they get!!
Why is it good to use words like ‘scared’ when they seem to win at the moment? Surely, that is the the wrong psychology (sorry, Fraser). The correct way must be to formulate a battle plan – and one that wins. Then ‘scared’ will really be apt.

Last edited 3 years ago by Chris Wheatley
Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

There is so much about this opinion piece I disagree with – but agree the title is a good place to start. Even if you accept there is a ‘woke mob’ where is the evidence they’re scared? I think Murray is suggesting they’re scared because of the fundamental challenge to their world view that they see if they accept that biologically inherited characteristics could influence social outcome. Which is nonsense as the ‘woke mob’ would be the first to argue that those with an inherited illness or disability should be given every opportunity to thrive, do well and not be considered socially inferior or suffer materially.
I think it’s more likely the students just objected to the suggestion in the title of the lecture that genetics determines social outcomes. Put another way, it suggests poor people are poor because of their genes. criminals are born, not made and those at the bottom of the social pile are there because that’s where nature puts them.
Secondly, was Clark really cancelled? He was asked to change the title of his lecture and chose not to. Yes, you could call it censorship – or you could call it just not putting in the necessary effort to get the job. If he really wanted to be heard he could have been.
Incidentally, I’ve read an interesting piece by Clark in the Guardian from 2015 where he talks about family privilege leading to generational inequality and the absence of social mobility without mentioning genetics. So he’s perfectly capable of cutting his cloth to fit when required.

David Fitzsimons
David Fitzsimons
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

You wrote:

I think it’s more likely the students just objected to the suggestion in the title of the lecture that genetics determines social outcomes. Put another way, it suggests poor people are poor because of their genes.

Murray wrote:

Indeed, the claim of Clark’s critics to know not only the content of his undelivered talk but also his intentions is all too characteristic of contemporary pile-ons

PS. It seems that it was not students who objected to the title but the Dean.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago

The Times article that Murray gives a link to says it was a ‘backlash’ from students that led to the Dean taking action. That bit of the Times article is free to read before the paywall kicks in.
It’s Murray who says the objection was to the title and it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that the title of a lecture gives a flavour of its content or intentions. If I proposed to give a lecture titled ‘Why the IRA was right’ would you think it reasonable to make assumptions about what I was going to say?

Chris Rimmer
Chris Rimmer
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

I think a better analogue would be something like “Armed resistance to the British State: genuine grievances of Irish Republicans in the 20th century”

Chris Rimmer
Chris Rimmer
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Maybe you could use the word ‘scared’ if they had lost the battle and the lecture had taken place but, like similar battles in the last five years or so, they won the battle. I can’t imagine them sitting there shaking in fear when they always seem to win.

I suppose it’s because if your worldview is that it only takes one person advocating what you consider dangerous far-right ideology for it to spread throughout the population quicker than you can counter it, you’d be scared that it could be happening at any time. You’d think that no matter how many battles you won, you could still lose the war if you don’t constantly clamp down on your opponents as ruthlessly as possible.

Monty Marsh
Monty Marsh
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

“…they won the battle. I can’t imagine them sitting there shaking in fear when they always seem to win.”

They are scared of eachother.
They are dragging eachother into a purity tailspin, and they are all too scared of being the first one to say “That’s it, I’m out, this has turned into a witch hunt” because whoever does that is the next one tied to the stake.

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago

Douglas Murray characterises the prevailing ethos thus: ‘human beings are born with equal abilities, and any sub-optimal outcomes in their lives are caused by societal factors beyond their control but which can be adapted with enough collective effort.’
But that’s just old-fashioned leftishness, and at least it has a consistency of a sort. The new ethos seems to be more dangerously conflicted in that it maintains this while, however, adding that the characteristics of ‘whiteness’ and ‘blackness’ are, apparently, both socially determined and inherited (they must be genetic, or why give them colour labels?)
This inconsistency makes the whole doctrine contradictory and nonsensical, which is the point. Enforcing it becomes a demonstration of power, pure and simple.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago

‘whiteness’ and ‘blackness’ … must be genetic”
In the USA, Italians, Greeks, Poles, Hungarians, Slavs and others used not to be considered white. Which rather puts paid to the notion that ‘whiteness’ must be genetic. Even whiteness as in physical colouration is only partly genetically determined. Farm workers tend to be darker-skinned than factory workers, which is probably why women in Jane Austen novels were praised for their alabaster skin, but nowadays a ‘healthy’ tan is seen as desirable.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Amen to that.

Bring on the downvotes, but it’s cobblers, quite frankly.

The largely false, simplistic concept of ‘race’ all too often plays into the hands of those from ALL quarters who seek to exploit it for their own ends.

The mere act of accepting the validity of its existence is in and of itself divisive, hence the reason that ‘experts’ in the field currently estimate that there are between as little as 3 and as many as 60 definably different ‘races’ in the world.

Discriminating against someone purely because of one essentially aesthetic, ergo more obvious to eye factor clearly happens both within these groups of people and without, but to define it as a question of ‘racial differences’ is clearly simplistic and helps no-one, and nor I fear will it ever should this pseudoscientific nonsense persist.

Last edited 3 years ago by G Harris
G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Well I certainly upvoted it!

Looks like downvotes cancel out upvotes.

Good to learn.

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

I have read Murray’s Bell Curve, and throughout, he goes to extreme lengths, time and again, to make the point that he is talking about group differences in IQ between “races”, not individual differences, and that nothing he says provides an argument for discrimination based on “race”.

But this distinction is to nuanced for his critics, who place words in his mouth by misunderstanding his argument, then attack him for their own lack of comprehension.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

I suspect the distinction is also too nuanced for some of those who cite him in admiring terms – which may be part of the problem.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
3 years ago

Try a different theory. Every society has a certain number of sadists within, who would dearly love to attack, humiliate, shame and otherwise harm other people. Stop looking for reasons that ‘make these people the way they are’ — economic, say, or psychological. These factors make have make some difference in their pasts, especially in their childhoods — and make a nice argument for why we should work to see that children don’t grow up under conditions that are conducive to making sadists — but at some point we are going to have to deal with the people who are cancelling others, not because they are frightened, but because it is fun.

Acknowledging that these people exist would be a nice first step.

Jack Ingham
Jack Ingham
3 years ago

Douglas touches on a point I’ve never quite made the connection to think about before.
It’s often said that nobody “chooses” to be gay, yet it seems increasingly apparent to me that transgender identities are something people “choose” to adopt for themselves. Eddie Izzard requesting to be referred to with the “she” pronoun recently is the most prominent (and admittedly only) example of this that immediately springs to mind.
As a straight white male, I steer clear of forming opinions on this stuff when I know so little, but this has made me think. Great article.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Jack Ingham

Is wokeism a choice, or the result of a genetic aberration? Or is it culturally determined, ie. forced on us?

Sholto Douglas
Sholto Douglas
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

I think there is a genetic component to wokery. When I was at Uni in the Dept of Maths & Comp Sci, I can’t recall any woke folk around (mind you the word wasn’t invented then). Ditto Engineering, Chemistry, Accountancy.
They were concentrated in the soft sciences, in fact the softer the science the lefter its participants. I can’t help but think this must be because their brains are different. A predilection to artistic and linguistic interests does seem to correlate to ‘wokery’.
Does anyone have a better explanation?

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Sholto Douglas

Interesting point, but I’m not sure it’s as direct as that.
It’s quite possible that if your field of study is how society or individuals work (sociology or psychology) for instance, then you are more likely to notice (or have your attention drawn to) systemic issues in society, or behavioural patterns. It could be your job to assess them, in fact.
Comp Sci is more likely to pick up on issues with technology and (for those with a broader interest) on the effect of tech on society – including issues like censorship or surveillance. They are less likely to notice discrimination (this seems to have led, for example, to worse AI recognition of “black” faces). But for many in a Comp Sci culture, an interest in science fiction and the concept of intelligent non-human beings (and even robotic lifeforms), means that minor differences like skin colour may not seem so important.
There could of course be a difference (in nature or nurture or both) between those who chose different fields of study. But the area of study itself will affect the social issues you are aware of.
It may also follow that comp sci majors might be more annoyed than those from other disciplines, if they actually notice how pervasive discrimination can be. It can go the other way too, of course – a largely male environment, with reduced socialising outside the department, can lead to a degree of sexism.

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul N
Steve Hall
Steve Hall
3 years ago

The hierarchy of intellect, no matter what its aetiology may be, is not the real problem. The real problem is the narrowing of a formerly broad spectrum of livelihoods that provided a decent income.

barbara neil
barbara neil
3 years ago

I fear that many are looking too deeply for the reasons behind this plague. Mostly I see just a lot of people competing for diminishing prestigious jobs/positions (in Universities, Journalism, where this all began) and realizing that the competition is too steep, from Degree to Masters to Doctorate to post Doc – where will it end? Not being accustomed to thinking (beyond the first steps) or to understanding that success in society is based on talent/hard work/luck, mostly, and in varying degrees. (that last one’s the least palatable, and might explain the Blank-slateism), and suspecting they won’t make the cut, they take a short cut. Short cuts are human and expedient, mostly.They have to get rid of most of the competition and start by toppling the pillars – like the principle of Merit, Rules of civilization, fair play etc – and move on to toppling the people in the positions they want (I mean the statues are just collateral!) Eventually they’ll have to turn on each other.They can’t abide reasonable discussion, nor are they concerned with logic, simply because that’s not the point. They are banishing Luck and taking control.They are busy building an alternative ladder to success, and knocking the rungs out as they scale.

steve eaton
steve eaton
3 years ago
Reply to  barbara neil

I wish this was all true. I know it is supposedly the path to success in a meritacracy, but I’m pretty sure that what we live in is anything but a meritocracy. It may against the narrative but the truth is that well-off people do better than those who are not and one’s family’s weath is a better indicator of future success than is intelligence, hard work or just about anything else. I know first hand the difference as there both money and middle class sides to my family.
The Moneyed side sends their kids to places Like VMI and Smith. Many of those kids are spoiled, shiftless and entitled brats. These spend much of their college career and a few years after getting drunk, drugging, chasing sex, thrill seeking and getting into scrapes that would put the rest of us into the doghouse of life. But Dad is always there with bail. hush money, a donation to get them reinstated or yet another Frat brother who can get them into a different elite school.
By contrast, the middle class and working side of our family has to send it’s kids to the state schools and rely of student loans and etc.Of course there are some of those kids who make a mess of that too. The difference is the results.
The working class who make a mess of their college career at a 3rd rank school, rarely recover., while the Elite kids by age 30 are safely ensconced in an upper middle class life with a job that Dad found through contacts.It is almost always a job that the working class college grad will never have access to.

D Ward
D Ward
3 years ago
Reply to  barbara neil

You can bet your life the one thing they will never admit is that there are too many d a m n people on this planet.

Sean Meister
Sean Meister
3 years ago
Reply to  barbara neil

Yes Elite over-production is a real thing. When the orthodox ideology rewards you for being viciously “woke” is it any surprise that 28-year old fresh PhDs are targeting their 60-something Professors? They may no consciously think this way but subconsciously it is surely alluring.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean Meister

Are you arguing that some sort of “unconscious bias” is at work here?

nigel roberts
nigel roberts
3 years ago

The narcissistic need among the progressives always to be smartetest guy in the room means they are utterly terrified of being wrong. (When was the last time you heard a progressive say “I was wrong”? Thus anything that could possibly reveal error in their thinking is perceived as an existential threat.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  nigel roberts

James O’Brien of LBC says he’s wrong quite a lot. He welcomes being shown where he is wrong, as a way of becoming less wrong. That seem admirable to me. Does he count as progressive?
Is it possible that you’re stereotyping just a little bit?

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul N
Peter Fisher
Peter Fisher
3 years ago

I remember watching a TV programme about the race and IQ a very long time ago. The most intelligent comment in the programme, and the most intelligent comment I have ever heard about it since, came from a professer at Georgetown University. It was words to the effect, regardless of wheter it is true or not, the differencs of IQ within races far exceed the differences between races.
That spoke to me on two levels, the most important level in my mind being we need to stop diving races up and looking for differences as it serves no social cohesive purpose.
Tribalism/ identity politics inevitably ends up in the place of conflict. Growing up on a council estate in Northern Ireland in the 70s and 80s has given me some insight into this. It is a really bad idea. People don’t get how easily the tipping point is reached and it’s really scary.

Sholto Douglas
Sholto Douglas
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Fisher

Of course the intra-racial differences will be much greater, but that doesn’t mean the inter-racial ones don’t exist.
Racial issues are tearing western societies apart, ironically at a time when they have never been less racist. The lazy default narrative that all racial problems are down to whitey’s malevolence will be increasingly hard to sustain.
It’s a debate we will need to have eventually.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Sholto Douglas

Of course the intra-racial differences will be much greater, but that doesn’t mean the inter-racial ones don’t exist”

But it may mean that the inter-racial ones are utterly insignificant, and of interest primarily to those who benefit from tribalism. Peter makes a good point about the lessons from Northern Ireland on where tribalism can get us.

Lucy Smex
Lucy Smex
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Fisher

“the most important level in my mind being we need to stop diving races up and looking for differences as it serves no social cohesive purpose.”

Unfortunately, the far left are determined to upend society, introduce positive discrimination, force “unconscious bias training” etc, precisely because they won’t accept that there might be some genetic differences, and that different outcomes might not be due to rampant institutional racism.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Lucy Smex

‘the far left are determined to upend society, introduce positive discrimination, force “unconscious bias training” etc, precisely because they won’t accept that there might be some genetic differences, and that different outcomes might not be due to rampant institutional racism’

The moderate left and the centre also think there may be institutional factors that disadvantage certain groups, and want to take steps to mitigate such discrimination. They further accept that class, culture and genetics (though not necessarily race as such) have a significant effect on outcomes, and would like to ensure that all groups can benefit from the opportunities available in our society.
And the far right and the ruling elite are prepared to launch a culture war against anything they label as wokery either because they won’t accept that there is anything wrong with how society works, or because they do very well as things are now, or because they dislike other races and fear losing any advantage they may have.
Some truth in those stereotypes too?

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul N
Hilary Tait
Hilary Tait
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Fisher

There are no outside forces promoting tribalism and “identity politics”. Tribalism is innate. Humans support and promote those mostly closely genetically linked with themselves. This ensures the survival of their genetic group. Aristotle noted that harmonious societies were bound together by what he called ‘Philia’ – a flesh and blood fraternity, while Darwin observed the existence of ‘group selection’.

Jeff Mason
Jeff Mason
3 years ago

Thought provoking article. In modern society, we are told that nothing is impossible. That is simply wrong. I am 6’1” tall. I loved basketball but I knew the NBA was not going to come knocking at my door to fill the next power forward vacancy in the line up. That was because of my genetics. Some people are smarter. Some are more artistic. Some are stronger. Some are nicer. Some are more attractive. We should be celebrating these differences, not denying them. The transgender conundrum is sticky. If you have to physically and chemically change your body to make it conform to who you think you really are, then you are not who you think you are. The only organ that is not performing optimally is your brain. That is not to say you should not be able to live your life as you want but it does not make it right to denigrate those who admit openly what is clearly obvious to all.

Lucy Smex
Lucy Smex
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Mason

I’m 5ft tall. I had even less chance with the NBA. Perhaps I was wrong, and should have insisted on being able to join the NBA on grounds of being discriminated against because of my height and inability to play.
It’s worked for the fire service, so why not other professions completely unsuited to my talents and ability.

Paul S.
Paul S.
3 years ago
Reply to  Lucy Smex

I am an idiot. Should this be an obstacle to my becoming a University Lecturer?

Richard Marriott
Richard Marriott
3 years ago

The point is that we do not choose our genes or our chromosomes, we are born with them and we have to make the best of them we can. You cannot change your genes (at least not with current technology) and you cannot change your chromosomes. Naturally, life chances depend upon more than simply your genetic or chromosomal inheritance, but they are the raw materials you have to work with. Say you are born with brown hair and would prefer to be blond, no amount of peroxide will alter the fact that you are naturally brown haired, just as no amount of hormone therapy and surgery will alter the fact that you were born with either XX or XY chromosomes.

Harry Onstone
Harry Onstone
3 years ago

The woke are afraid of having their dumb views and beliefs questioned. The only way they can maintain their delusions is to prevent (preferably permanently) anyone questioning them.
Fundamental difference between left and right. Those on the right can support their views with fact and argument. Those on the left can only support their views with each other.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
3 years ago

Mr Murray makes a telling point; but does not this essay take the Cancel Culture as a whole more seriously than it deserves?
The point of first Political Correctness, then the Internet Ochlocracy (rule by a feral mob), and now the Cancel Culture is, and always has been, the joys of bullying.
Very many human beings today come from broken homes, or homes where they never had any real love and discipline, were never given boundaries, have never been offered lives with meaning in them – and who, in consequence, are corroded by inward rage.
Their fury is against God, the Universe, their progenitors and themselves.
This anger looks for an object to spend itself upon.
The movers and shakers of the Hard-Left, whose aim in life is power in order to destroy what there is of civilisation on Earth, use these fellow human beings as their shock troops (if need be, cannon-fodder).
They switch them on to anyone who offers a rational critique of Leftism; and, by cancelling one voice after another which does not glorify loony leftism, makes the public areopagus a market-place where only the latest leftie mantras have utterance.
A real debate on the Nature versus Nurture question would be as unhelpful to the Left as any other real debate about anything.
If your goal is a totalitarian society (already now achieved in the USA), then rational discourse is itself a deadly phenomenon. How could Mussolini’s Fascism, Hitler’s Nazism or Stalin’s Communism have survived ten minutes of forensic examination in a civilised debate?
Is Mr Murray still making the mistake of most conservatives worldwide, and supposing that the Lefties actually want to improve the human condition?
Most of them do not. Most of them want goodness destroyed.

Last edited 3 years ago by Peter Scott
barbara neil
barbara neil
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Oh, I agree. Far too much benefit of the doubt! This is but another version of a play for power. Power, prestige, money…we’ve been there before. I suspect this is the final convulsion of the fall of the Berlin wall and the loss of narrative (partly because Conservatism, by accepting a good deal of the Left’s ideals has nudged them over so far that they lost the thread of their own values) that entailed. Trouble is, they’re out on a limb now, without a narrative that makes sense and open to ridicule. Hence the ruthless rage.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

An excellent critique of totalitarianism, if not of the left as a whole.
As a matter of interest, to what extent does our own dear Prime Minister subject himself to “forensic examination in a civilised debate“? Could there be a risk of totalitarianism there too? If not under the blessed Boris, then possibly under a less benevolent and dear leader who might follow him, and take advantage of the lack of scrutiny and forensic debate that Boris is enabling.
Democracy needs openness, scrutiny, and as you say, forensic examination and civilised debate. Let’s not label our enemies as monsters and claim that “most of them want goodness destroyed.”

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul N
VĂłreios ParatiritĂ­s
VĂłreios ParatiritĂ­s
3 years ago

Ideas and speech are not dangerous, people are. We have blinded ourselves to this fact and parade around covered in the most outrageous lies. The University of Glasgow has become an institution of Higher Lying.

Last edited 3 years ago by VĂłreios ParatiritĂ­s
G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

‘I don’t like what you’re saying, and I’ll defend to the death my right to stop you from saying it.’

Sholto Douglas
Sholto Douglas
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

…I’ll defend unto death your right to agree with me

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
3 years ago

They’re a pathetic bunch these days if some book that hardly anyone has heard of is what they protest about. Hardly revolutionaries, just babies who’ve never grown up and never will. Meanwhile, the real world outside Britain moves on.

Philip Burrell
Philip Burrell
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Andrews

“Meanwhile, the real world outside Britain moves on.” So true and indeed of Britain itself. This endless debate about woke and cancel culture reminds me of the medieval argument about the number of angels that can dance on a pinhead. No one cares outside of predominantly right wing / libertarian publications like this one and currently the government is using it to distract attention from their woeful response to Covid and will no doubt continue to use it to distract from their failure to do any of the levelling up they have promised.
One can only hope that Unherd will have more articles on issues that concern social and racial justice, awareness of which is the accepted definition of “woke” and less of this sort of irrelevant trash. Culture wars, schmulture wars!

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago

I was born male – I’m OK with that but I want to be a native of the planet circling 61 Cygni – oh and while I’m about it I also want to be more intelligent than hmmm – I’ll go for Stephen Hawking. Its a shame reality will poke its nose in!

Jack Ingham
Jack Ingham
3 years ago

What about something slightly less distractingly exaggerated and outlandish, such as if you just wanted to simply change your name? Is that drifting from reality or is that acceptable to a certain interpretation of reality?

Monty Marsh
Monty Marsh
3 years ago
Reply to  Jack Ingham

The woke are demanding much more than that through Jack. They will settle for nothing less than the re-writing of history. So that if tomorrow, you should declare yourself to be a Canada Goose, not only should you be humoured by all organs of the state, but anyone alluding to the fact you were never a hatchling and were born a human baby would risk prosecution for a hate crime.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago

Reality is a culturally determined construct. You should punch in on the nose and enjoy 61 Cygni.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Increasingly this is looking like the hill some of the so-called wokedom are choosing to die on and in doing so, I fear, they are inviting the none too tempting prospect that the pendulum might swing back too far the other way in time.

Whilst they have indeed made some extremely valuable, righteous and long overdue gains in expanding societies’ tolerance and kicking in to touch many of their unsavoury, unfounded and, frankly, unhelpful prejudices, this insistence now, with the bit between their teeth, on essentially controlling what people now may say and think is so clearly a step too far in any society that likes to think of itself as open, curious and free.

Bombshell I know, but bigotry cuts both ways, and the only way to counter it isn’t to stifle it but to shine a light on it and reveal it for what it truly is and that, I’m afraid, often means talking about uncomfortable things and sometimes forcing us to honestly examine and confront our own inbuilt prejudices whatever end of the ‘correct’ political spectrum we think we’re on.

J Reffin
J Reffin
3 years ago

Every youth generation thinks that its parents’ generation just don’t “get it”. Previous generations managed to find more meaty issues to argue over than whether or not it is appropriate to reference “The Bell Curve” in a lecture title (although Malcolm Bradbury’s 1970s The History Man has a previous iteration of this issue as a sub plot). Compared to the inter-generational disputes of the 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s – this is pathetically weak beer.

Last edited 3 years ago by J Reffin
Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  J Reffin

No youth generation, however, has used stomping its feet t until the bad man or woman is made to go away as a debate tactic.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  J Reffin

Can’t agree with this because the wokery has highjacked education. Earlier this week, a plumber explained that he was working in a primary school classroom when the teacher was talking to ‘nonplussed’ children of 7 or 8 years about slavery.
When you start as early as this, keep on through secondary school and into university, you have a degree of brainwashing which would be hard to shake off.
In my intergeneration dispute in the 70s, people dressed up, marched around, got the Viet Nam war stopped but education remained the same – OK it changed slightly and slowly. Today’s education has gone through a seismic shift and how do you correct it? What is the mechanism for teaching children how to have open minds.
This all started with the idea of man-made global warming where adults were still discussing the issue but educationalists decided to remove the discussion and present the ‘facts’ to children. No more discussion. Now our history is about guilt for slavery – no discussion. Who is responsible? Not the Left because the Right did not argue.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Are you saying it’s “wokery” to teach that slavery is wrong? Or just that it’s “wokery” to mention it subject to 8-year-olds? What is exactly the right age to talk about slavery, without fear of being castigated as a woke hijacker of our children’s unsullied minds?

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago

“The reason …is that, just like with transgenderism, it raises an undeniably fearful spectre — the possibility that our life-outcomes are to a great extent reliant on factors over which we have no control.”
Fate vs Will-to-Power. Science is the narcissistic fetish of our own power to dominate and shape Nature. But the advent of global warming, the return of Nature with a vengeance, has caused Science to be perceived in some quarters as the anti-Christ, … or, at best, just another “god that failed”. This is high order heresy, crying “God is dead!”, which clearly can’t be tolerated within the very halls of His cathedral (University).

Last edited 3 years ago by robert scheetz
Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
3 years ago

I agree Douglas, we need to better understand the relationship between genetics (vis a vis epigenetics) and individual skills and abilities.

Clearly the woke mob (the elect) are afraid that genetic determinism will stratify society according to skills and abilities but this premise is built on genetic essentialism rather than genetic adaptation.

This perhaps says more about the Woke mob who perhaps think they are essentially genetically more superior which would mean their underlying assumptions are essentially eugenic.

The reality is that our genetics (DNA) have a complex and adaptive relationship with epigenetics (RNA) and so, as you point out, we should be seeking to rationally better understand our biological makeup so we can help individuals adapt in accordance with their aspirations.

In this respect, genetic/epigenetic adaptation takes us on a journey from biological inequality to cultural equality which can be guided by the individual themselves whereas genetic/epigenetic essentialism takes us on a journey from cultural equality to biological inequality and is guided by the group.

The former is empowering, the latter is disempowering.

Last edited 3 years ago by Steve Gwynne
Sean Meister
Sean Meister
3 years ago

You have to remember that all modern political discourse is built upon the foundation of “environmental determinism”. The idea that just a bit more funding, a bit more tolerance and a bit more acquiescence to these groups will bring us the utopia we deserve is intrinsic to Liberalism in all its guises. Any assault on that environmentalist ideal: such as that Intelligence is genetic and up to 80% heritable or that a man by birth cannot ever be called a woman is completely forbidden. If even a slight inch is given in this direction to modern political edifice will collapse in on itself in spectacular fashion.
This is also how the modern ultra-woke Left have become the foot soldiers of international corporations dedicated upon furthering global capitalism. It’s all about the status quo.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

Great piece by Douglas as usual. The exaggerated sense of what it is possible for most human beings to accomplish is not just to be found on the woke left, but has generally infected society. As Ann Coulter wrote (“Michelle’s speech was trite too”, July 20, 2016): “We ought to be honest with people. You can do some things and have a happy life, but there are other things you probably can’t do. Most of you are never going to be a nuclear scientist, an NFL quarterback or a dancer with the Joffrey Ballet.” Like most people, I am aware of my own mistakes in achieving my potential, and bear grudges against people who stifled it. However, I know I was never going to make the Canadian Olympic team in the marathon, or win the Nobel prize in economics. Everyone must deal realistically with their own physical and intellectual limitations.

Lana H
Lana H
3 years ago

Whenever the dreaded nature/nurture debate rears its head, I simply ask: 3 x 5 = 15. Which is more important? The 3 or the 5? As to the impasse presented by the woke mindset, if they’re so woke then surely they’ve heard by now that binary thinking is … well, it’s not really thinking, is it? It’s tribalism, doomed for eternity to chase its own tail. Like any backlash against the prevailing order, its biggest danger is throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Nelson Mandela is a rare example of a leader who rose above binary thinking, but sadly couldn’t be here long enough to get his message properly through. Thank you to those rare souls who defend critical thought. There really is no higher cause.

anna.sunter44
anna.sunter44
3 years ago

There seems to be a trait in the human species that leads to a need to judge and persecute others to enforce conformity to the dominant trends of the time. For example in the past when, under the flag of Christianity, people were put to death for presenting ideas that were counter to the prevailing social/religious belief systems. All in the name of some ideology or other, evidence of alternative beliefs is suppressed or condemned ensuring that anyone who does not tow the dominant cultural line is silenced and excluded from conversations.

Jet
Jet
3 years ago

If you watch Adam Curtis’s new documentary series to the end it completely agrees with your conclusions here.

I wonder if his woke fans will notice.

Peter KE
Peter KE
3 years ago

Good article. The University of Glasgow should be defunded for advancing the woke agenda. Universities that pursue this approach should all be on notice and defunding should be actively pursued, one strike and you are out philosophy.

Ceelly Hay
Ceelly Hay
3 years ago

The woke believes that “human beings are born with equal abilities..” Therefore, we have equal opportunities in life. But the world is complex, and it is so true that things beyond our control often dictate our lives. These things, such as class and work opportunities, are ’emergent’ properties that can only be explored by comparing people’s perspectives of their situations – through discussion.
‘Emergent properties’ – properties that can not be observed in an individual component of a system. “It takes more than one water molecule for a liquid to be wet.”

Last edited 3 years ago by Ceelly Hay
Pagar Pagaris
Pagar Pagaris
3 years ago

The reason for the panic amongst the woke mob on this subject is because the link between race and IQ level is based on empirical evidence. It is not an opinion. It can be proved.
And it is understandable that facts terrify them.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Pagar Pagaris

I hardly think that the phenomenon that, when you sample individuals of different racial groups and test “IQ”, you get means that differ slightly, and a range that almost completely overlaps, is going to terrify anyone.
Of course, if misrepresented as “Group A is smarter than Group B” it may cause ill-informed glee among some members of Group A, and equally ill-founded consternation among those who remember humanity’s shameful history of racism, supported as it has been by dodgy scholarship.

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul N
Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago

Douglas Murray asserts:

“The university was not simply concerned that the content of Clark’s lecture may have been racist. It is… the fear that he would touch on another aspect of the The Bell Curve’s thought that goes against the emerging ideology of the time. “

I suspect the fear (raised by the speaker’s reference to Murray [presumably no relation] and Herrnstein’s Book) was not that he would “touch on” aspects of their work that reach conclusions that go “against the emerging ideology of the time”. It seems more likely that the concern was that he might uncritically use their (debunked) research to advocate racist tropes.
That sort of thing does happen. Consider Andrew Wakefield, who used his platform for years to raise long debunked concerns about the MMR jab. I’ve no idea whether Prof Clark is of that ilk – and I have no evidence either way – but that may have been the concern, rather than that “debate might happen”.
Whether the appropriate response is to cancel his speech, or to ensure that the format permits a robust debate and rebuttal of any such attempt, is an entirely different question.
I tend to support debate, rather than silencing, but the format and framing is all important – it is not sufficient to have questions from the floor, however well informed a minority of them may be (in such a scenario, any informed rebuttal is likely to be lost among uninformed and emotive denial from the floor, and failure to engage from the platform). Nor is it sufficient to have a kindly moderator who nods sagely at the “interesting and provocative perspectives” and “legitimate concerns”.

As for “the possibility that our life-outcomes are to a great extent reliant on factors over which we have no control” – there is truth in this. And genetics is one such factor. But “race”, for the most part, is not – for a very simple reason. Any non-cosmetic differences within a racial group are much larger than the differences between groups! Race tells you almost nothing useful in this context. Interestingly, class and parental wealth are much better predictors of success – and we have little control over that.

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
3 years ago

 “Today, it is not enough just to claim foresight, it is also necessary to pretend that you have complete insight into the motivations of those with whom you disagree.”
I was thinking about this recently and wondered if it has anything to do with the fact that for quite a number of years now it has been possible to gain GCE and A level qualification without actually having to read a book.
Google how to get an A without reading the book and a plethora of helpful hints spring up.

Frank Finch
Frank Finch
3 years ago

I suspect that the fear is quite reasonable insofar as any resident of a glass castle floating in mid-air would be rightly alarmed about their situation. Add to that their experience of joining lynch mobs which hurl all kinds of missiles at anything that floats or moves and they need awesome levels of self deceit to project an image of “knowing answers”.
Perhaps they suspect that the “idealist” notion that one can be whatever one wants to be does not make a good bedfellow with the determinism and materialism on which so much of their “politics” and “economics” are based.

Seb Springbett
Seb Springbett
3 years ago

Why are so many articles appearing saying how terrible “woke” is? I didn’t bother to read this one as they all appear to much the same.

Sholto Douglas
Sholto Douglas
3 years ago
Reply to  Seb Springbett

The word ‘woke’ was coined by, well, the woke folk themselves. So you can hardly complain of the word.
It has come to mean not just woke opinions, which of course they are perfectly free to entertain, but an implacable hostility to the notion that anyone can express un-woke opinions. That is what this article is about.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 years ago
Reply to  Sholto Douglas

Oh, they’ll not let that stand in their way. They revel in making petty, pedantic jabs about word-choice. It’s like arguing with a very strict maiden aunt of circa 1950 – all the attitudes completely reversed, of course, except the pomposity, the rigidity, the malicious, hat-pin eagerness to needle people over “gaffes”…

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Sholto Douglas

Sometimes “it has come to mean…”, when you unpack it, means “someone thought it helpful to redefine it as…”. Could this be happening with “woke”? If not, why not?

Lucy Smex
Lucy Smex
3 years ago
Reply to  Seb Springbett

Because the wokerati are destroying lives, society, making everyone paranoid and miserable.

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
3 years ago

“Yet another academic no-platformed”, when in fact there have been very few (but those heavily publicised by whatever the mob is that opposes the “woke”: sleepy, perhaps?). But let’s not allow that incovenient fact to get in the way of a story.
The thing that was wrong with Murray and Herrnstein wasn’t that they had unpopular views, it was that their science was bad. Take the issue of academic achievement. At the time of writing, black kids were doing much worse in schools than others. Now they are doing better, and the white boys are doing worst. Should we now assume that the white boys don’t have the genes any more?
As for IQ, many psychologists would question whether it represents more than a distinctly Western version of ability. To give but one example, Australian aborigines don’t do well on IQ tests, but they do far better than whites on memory for where things have been placed. This is an ability not much needed in Western society, but damned useful in the relatively featureless Australian outback. The fact is that there is genetic as well as cultural diversity, and both contribute to behaviour. No serious researcher thinks otherwise. Pretending they do is just manufacturing a story.
But if Clark seriously thinks any research can show that genetic endowment is responsible for more or less any outcome, then he needs some instruction in basic social science. Of course, he’s an economist, so maybe he does. It may be news to him, but in 1750, or indeed 1850, or 1950, it was not possible to analyse DNA. For most of the period he wanted to talk about, genetic, economic and cultural factors were hopelessly intertwined. In those circumstances, economic status would determine most outcomes (and that we can show). It still determines educational outcomes to a greater degree than anything else. What determined economic success is another matter, but inherited wealth (rather than genes) had a large role, and still does. Hence those politicians who urge the poor to get off their supposedly lazy bottoms and work harder, when they themselves inherited millions.
Here’s an interesting fact: when black kids do an IQ test in a group situation, they do better when there’s a black invigilator than a white one. The factors involved in social outcomes are many and complex. Pretending otherwise is silly, which is why no serious scholar does.

Chris Rimmer
Chris Rimmer
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

What you’ve just done is to show that you don’t need to cancel people with ideas which you believe (or assume) are bad, dangerous or stupid. You can just use argument against them. Surely that’s Douglas Murray’s whole point?

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

You are arguing that it was right to ‘cancel’ Professor Clark because his talk may have supported bad science.

steve eaton
steve eaton
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Emphasis on the word MAY

Alex Wilkinson
Alex Wilkinson
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

‘Woke’ is a parody of ‘awake’ – the opposite of ‘woke’ is merely ‘awake’.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Wilkinson

According to the OED, woke (obsolete) = weak a. in various senses. a. Pliant, flexible (only OE.). b. Lacking in strength, vigour, endurance, or courage; inferior physically or morally. c. Lowly in status or degree; insignificant. 

Chris Rimmer
Chris Rimmer
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

Here’s an example of why we should support people making bad arguments. There’s a 45-minute animated film called “Money As Debt” by Paul Grignon, which claims that the entire monetary and banking system is fraudulent, inherently making bankers rich at other people’s expense, and that it is impossible for everyone to repay their loans as well as the interest because there isn’t enough money in the world.
It turns out that these claims are false, but there was some valuable truth in the film – specifically the process by which money is created, which is not well-known. Without watching the film, I wouldn’t have discovered a very important truth, or inadvertently developed a novel economic model (https://www.bitchute.com/e1l) which shows up lots of errors in other theories of economics. So I support his right to make and publish the film, even though it’s not only incorrect – it’s dangerous, because it encourages people to see bankers as targets. (It does pass the Brandenberg Test though).
P.S. I didn’t downvote you.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Rimmer

‘the entire monetary and banking system is fraudulent, inherently making bankers rich at other people’s expense, and that it is impossible for everyone to repay their loans as well as the interest because there isn’t enough money in the world.’

I think you’re making a valid point, but that is not what the film is about.

There is no particular genius in money creation.

Money IS debt and that is essentially its message, not that there ‘isnt enough money in the world’ to ever pay it back.

Debts are of course repayable but money, or the debt plus interest attached to it, is essentially potentially infinite.

Not quite the same thing.

Last edited 3 years ago by G Harris
Marcus Millgate
Marcus Millgate
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

‘In fact there have been very few’ sounds like an excuse for de platforming. In the current climate, it wouldn’t surprise me if many are self censoring or are being warned off in case someone, somewhere deem their studies offensive

steve eaton
steve eaton
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

Not a bad argument, but unfortunately you are making it against what you can only assume would have been the thrust of the lecture that was not allowed to happen. The truth is that since the lecture was blocked out, we can’t have the real discussion. We only have you and the woke arguing against your own assumptions. I’m sure this situation seems ideal to you, but it is in fact illogical.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago

Mr Murray claims there is a “prevailing ethos of the age” that is “all-pervasive” – and he describes it thus:

“human beings are born with equal abilities, and any sub-optimal outcomes in their lives are caused by societal factors beyond their control but which can be adapted with enough collective effort.”

ï»żThat’s absurd. And it’s so manifestly absurd that I’m sure few if any (even on “the left” actually believe it.
So why the straw man?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago