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The West’s cultural revolution is over The return of censorship, speech codes and taboos suggests society returning to normal

Now there's a haircut you could set your watch to. Photo by Shaun Botterill - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Now there's a haircut you could set your watch to. Photo by Shaun Botterill - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images


July 9, 2021   7 mins

Gareth Southgate is the sort of man you’d want your daughter to marry. He’s reliable, conventional, high in conscientiousness. Of the big five personality traits, conscientiousness is the one that correlates with political conservatism, and conscientious people historically vote for conservative parties.

Southgate is the sort of footballer who, in team photos from the early Seventies, would have been the last one to sport a short, back and sides when everyone else was looking like Charlie George. A haircut to set your watch to, as Grampa Simpson put it.

That someone like Southgate would support England players taking the knee, the gesture associated with Black Lives Matter, is telling, then, about how far social attitudes have changed in the last few decades. Although Southgate felt the need to write an elegant defence, it’s perhaps more surprising how little opposition taking the knee faced, and how even most critics proclaimed to support BLM’s aims, if not methods. Indeed, it’s arguable that there has never been so little doubt in public life about what is morally wrong and right, at least in our lifetimes.

The past 50 years or so have seen a cultural revolution in western society comparable in scope to the Reformation. Most of us have known only that period of transition, when morality and norms were up for debate, but perhaps it is now over. Perhaps we have returned to the sort of world we lived in when England last reached a final, in 1966 – a world of strictly enforced social mores.

The year 2020 marked a convenient end to the cultural revolution, because of the vastly different nature of the protests that took place that summer, compared with 1968. In the late Sixties, student radicals were protesting against the system. American academia itself was politically mixed; there were around three Democrat professors for every Republican — it’s now about 15 to 1 — but the higher echelons of the Ivy League were quite conservative. The Boston Brahmin elite were still pretty traditional, as was big business (although, not coincidentally, far more egalitarian than it is now). The Army was obviously very Right-wing, and one of the causes of student protests was the prospect of being drafted into a war to defend the honour of a conservative American establishment.

In 2020, almost all the major institutions in the US, aside from the actual President, were loudly vocal along with corporations, charities and NGOs in their support for the BLM protests. Parts of the media were sympathetic to the point of actively playing down some of the violence, the phrase “mostly peaceful protests” becoming an example of American journalism’s Pravda-like bias.

The protesters themselves tended to come from America’s upper-middle-class, displaying a feverous zeal that felt alarming. And there was no debate to be had about race and policing, opponents simply had to educate themselves.

During those decades of social change, the problem of Left-wing “moral relativism” was often a complaint of conservative commentators, but look today at the young protesters demanding that  “Rhodes must fall” or “black trans lives matters”. They certainly aren’t moral relativists.

Relativism is a position you employ when you’re weak, to be abandoned when you win. On a wide range of issues, including race and gender, the Right has been more relativist for some time. Before the 1968 revolution those outside of power (the Left) argued for moral relativism, those in power (the Right) argued for moral absolutism. Now it is the opposite. Even things like claims to absolute truths (“trust the science”) have changed. Likewise with censorship, which is by definition a tool of the powerful.

Before the Sixties, book publishing was restricted on grounds of obscenity; I still have as a family heirloom, an early copy of Ulysses published in Paris because it was too obscene to be printed in London. It’s in fine condition, being unreadable.

But book censorship began to break down with the 1960 Lady Chatterley’s Lover trial; there were still a few obscenity cases afterwards, but this was seen as the end. Most famous of all in the public imagination were the prosecutor’s comments about this not being the sort of thing you’d want your servants to see, a comment so laughably out-of-touch that it made a mockery of the old ruling class – and no ruling class or moral order can survive being openly mocked in that way.

Yet liberals demanding a permissive society in the Sixties were pushing at an open door, with an establishment that was often sympathetic. At the time of the case the Bishop of Woolwich had argued, in pure Thought for the Day-ese, that “what Lawrence is trying to do is to portray the sex relationship as something essentially sacred… in a real sense an act of holy communion”. It’s hard to see a leading voice of morality today defending a play or novel that was seen as obscenely close to racism or homophobia.

But the British and American establishments of the late 20th century were historically quite unusual in allowing themselves to be mocked; from the mid-Sixties onwards, television regularly made fun of the habits and beliefs of the powers-that-be, with Monty Python — the most prominent product of the satire boom — pointing fun at the people who ran the country. Their 1979 film Life of Brian even mocked the beliefs of that old establishment. Two of the Pythons debated an Anglican bishop and Catholic writer Malcolm Muggeridge, but no one serious tried to stop the film.

Life of Brian couldn’t be made 20 years earlier, and neither could it be made now; its satire of Jesus, a prophet of Islam, would risk upsetting Muslim sensibilities, which it’s fair to say people have become slightly wary of doing. At the very least it would need to cut out the scene pointing fun at a man who, absurdly to the filmmakers and audiences, identifies as a woman; absurd in 1979, as it had been in 1879 and 1779 and in every year before that, but a sacred idea in 2021.

It’s sacred in the sense that its believers have captured the moral citadel where the most powerful ideas are protected by taboo, achieved either by emotional argument or intimidation (and both can be effective).

This is not some dark new age of cancel culture, however, it’s just a return to normality. Those who grew up in the late 20th century were living in a highly unusual time, one that could never be sustained, a sexual and cultural revolution that began in 1963 or 1968. But it has ended and, as all revolutionaries must do after storming the Bastille, they have built Bastilles of their own. The new order has brought in numerous methods used by the old order to exert control — not just censorship, but word taboo and rituals which everyone is forced to go along with, or at least not openly criticise. You might call it the new intolerance, or woke extremism, but all societies need the policing of social norms.

No one would satirise the transgender movement today; no one would dare point fun at BLM, or Pride month; no one would dare joke about George Floyd, because like the publishers of Gay Times in 1977, they might face jail for blasphemy.  Instead leading satirist Sacha Baron Cohen makes a living making jokes at the expense of the little people. Indeed the only satire made now pokes fun at the old establishment, like punching the corpse of a once-ferocious zoo animal, or the people who still hold the old beliefs; the elderly, the less educated, the rural and provincial. The powerless.

The Nineties and Noughties were a time of outstanding comedy partly because so much of public morality was up for grabs, and in transition; it was a period in between two quite rigid societies.

A sign of how the environment has changed can be seen in the changing tone of the word“controversial”. The term once had a neutral, or even positive, undertone, to denote cutting-edge artwork that challenged us. Now it is used entirely by the media to denote a policy or position they disapprove of, and which you are therefore supposed to disapprove of. It means something beyond the pale of acceptable opinion, a pale that has shrunk as the cultural revolution has ended, illustrated by neologisms like “problematic”.

The MeToo movement was to some extent an end-of-cultural-revolution moment. Janice Turner made the point that the Seventies and Eighties were the worst periods for abuse because sexual freedom had been achieved but not yet sexual equality. It was an ambiguous, revolutionary period, always fun times for abusive men, but that can’t last; someone has to police sexual behaviour in a species in which males have 40% more upper body strength than females. The stricter sexual atmosphere since then reflects that revolutionary period ending.

Revolutionaries who establish themselves in power inevitably start thinking about firming up that power. They have a vested interest in making the times before seems worse than they really were, which is why contemporary films or plays set before the Sixties must always show it as racially prejudiced or portray traditional marriages as unhappy. Revolutionaries also need to start thinking about public rituals that imitate faith, something the Soviets, Chinese Communists and Jacobins all imitated in various ways. Rituals in particular attract children and adolescents; just as young people across Europe once dressed up to celebrate Corpus Christi, run riot on Shrove Tuesday or flirt on St John’s Eve, now Pride month and the other new feasts of the calendar are increasingly popular with children, spread through TikTok and other social media.

The religious nature of the 2020 protest has been much commented on, with strange outpourings of hysteria and feet-washing, and with Floyd becoming an icon.

Perhaps the most powerful, and obviously quasi-religious, symbol of the new order is taking the knee. Indeed, intelligent people have even argued that taking the knee before games or displaying the rainbow flag at stadiums are not “political” acts, when critics have pedantically pointed out that they clearly are; because when you doubt your politics so little it barely registers as politics anymore. And to believers, something like racism or homophobia is non-negotiable; there is no moral relativism allowed.

Before the cultural revolution, public morals were patrolled by volunteers, believers in the dominant religion (Christianity) and typically women, Mary Whitehouse being the archetype of the disapproving great-aunt. Now the revolution has ended, public morality is patrolled by volunteers, believers in the public religion (and typically women, although gender differences are one of the taboos of the new age).

The way in which the Left had taken the role of the Right was best summed up by Scott Alexander, who asked what happened to the stodgy old conservatives who used to enforce public morality in the Fifties. Where would they be now? Of the archetypal disapproving great aunt figure, he said, it’s hard to argue she is “not a proud leftist by now, still chattering about how scandalous it is that people read books with the wrong values, still giving her terminally uncool speeches to the school board about how they had better enforce her values on the children”.

The revolutionaries were always going to create new rituals, new speech codes and new forms of censorship. England has changed a huge deal since our great victory in 1966, but in many ways it has barely changed at all.


Ed West’s book Tory Boy is published by Constable

edwest

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J Bryant
J Bryant
3 years ago

An interesting article that makes a plausible argument but I’m not quite convinced…yet. Or perhaps I don’t want to believe the article is correct when it asserts that a new moral order, based on progressive politics, is now clearly entrenched in Western society.
The author might be right but I’m waiting to see if an effective resistance builds to the cult of wokedom. Pre-1960s I think most people generally believed in the prevailing moral code and its taboos. In contrast, I’ve read that successive polls have shown that the majority of Americans (not sure about Brits and Europeans) do not accept the woke ideology.
The current moment in political history feels more like an invasion and forced occupation rather than a revolution welcomed by the masses. I guess time will tell.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

There is certainly a feeling of hypernormalization which pervades large sections of society. A majority know Britain isn’t a racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic society but those with legal and cultural power say it is, regardless of any evidence to the contrary, because it suits their political agenda and those without the means to speak back keep our heads down and live our lives.

But as the Soviet Union found out. Power built on lies can look stable but that stability, is also part of the lie.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

I wish people wouldn’t engage in so much exaggeration, tempting though it is when making a case. ‘Those with legal power’ – does that include the current government and the Conservative Party? Robert Halfon MP and his committee’s recent report on poor educational outcomes of white working class boys…

Last edited 3 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The revolutionaries have invaded and the masses aren’t pushing back hard enough. Many of the masses don’t understand the extent of the invasion and need to wake up before it is too late.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The current moment in political history feels more like an invasion and forced occupation rather than a revolution welcomed by the masses.

That’s exactly what it is. You need only look at Critical Theory and the way it’s taught in schools and colleges across the US. It is a curriculum designed to demoralize and subjugate the children of a conquered nation.
Thankfully, there is now pushback in the US. Parents from all religions and races are waking up to this pernicious movement. If living in America has taught me one thing it is that American parents will fight tooth-and-nail for their children. However, I’m not sure the UK is quite there yet.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
3 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Today’s political culture is a cross between of ‘The Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ and the ‘Twilight Zone’.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Well, a huge chunk of Islamic parents don’t seem to want modern education for their male children, they don’t seem to want the sort of education that makes children think.

Islamic parents, don’t seem bothered about their female children being educated, if the number of female children dropping off school rolls is anything to go by.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

A good comment on a good article. It’s getting the children indoctrinated into the new mores that will make the crucial difference. Hence the vociferous push in that direction by Stonewall and BLM; until then there’s a conservative voting majority.

Last edited 3 years ago by Martin Smith
Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Progressives always think they can alter ‘human nature’ and they’re always wrong in this regard.

Last edited 3 years ago by Cathy Carron
David Yetter
David Yetter
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The majority of Chinese did not accept the tenets of Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” either. The question at hand in America is whether the general populace can successfully oppose the elites who are have embraced the intellectual idiot-children of Gramsci, Marcuse and the anti- and post-colonialist thinkers, whether as part of a cynical divide-and-conquer strategy to oppose populism or because they actually embraced these baleful ideas in college and didn’t experience enough of the “school of hard knocks” afterwards to see the absurdity of their stance.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

That’s a good point. Same with Nazism I suspect. Goes to show the power of propaganda, fear, peer pressure and the downward exertion of power, backed by the instruments of state like the police. It lasts for a while – but eventually people do rebel as we saw with the collapse of the Soviet Union. People in power decry ‘populism’ and ‘populists’ but ultimately populism just means people power, the activation of the masses, and that’s what the ruling classes are always afraid of. The people saying Boris shouldn’t remove the *legal* restrictions on the liberty of 67 million people because some people might die of Covid, they are the ones to watch out for. They like government control. I bet they’re the kind who would snitch on you to the stasi.

Arild Brock
Arild Brock
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

NEW POWER, BUT NO NEW MORALITY
I guess the author has a point saying that the new establishment is building a new (kind of) Bastille. But I am not sure if we are seeing a new morality. Isn’t it rather a destruction of morality – a destruction which is being policed against attempts to restore/maintain? What would be the (positive) content of the alleged new morality?
No, the “new morality” is not saying how you should live your life. It is saying that nothing can be said about that.
I can see that some groups and interests have a certain sympathy, though, and thereby some power – female, ethnic non-white, non-straight sexuality and something about class – but is that morality? And even the definition of those “sympathy-groups” is mostly negative.
The “new morality” does not say how you should live your life. It says who you should (not) be (by birth). 

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
3 years ago

When Life of Brian was made I was a child attending Sunday Mass in an Irish Catholic council estate. I recall a bit of complaining from some but there was certainly no widespread demand for censorship. I fully acknowledge that Catholics were murdering Protestants in Northern Ireland at the time, but that certainly wasn’t over transubstantiation or other doctrinal differences. Now of course, teachers have to go into hiding over a single picture, used as a teaching aid, while teaching unions and politicians refuse to object. And the teacher remains in hiding because he offended against a tenet of one religion. That for me, is far scarier than what was happening in Northern Ireland.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Shaw

Peter – well put. Episodes like this always remind me that I am unsure why Islam is considered a religion at all.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Islam isn’t really a religion so much as a totalitarian or at least authoritarian political movement, is that what you’re saying, Jon?

Last edited 3 years ago by Tom Krehbiel
Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Shaw

“Not the Nine O’Clock News” responded with a sketch with a Clergyman promoting a film called “Life of Python”, with a disciple of John Cleese furiously calling for it to be banned. In fact I found an old LP record of sketches and was surprised at the content of their sketches, many of which couldn’t be broadcast today.

Retanot King
Retanot King
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Shaw

The only danger that Islam poses to the west is in its fusion with woke-left movements and ideology, despite its inherent philosophical contradictions. Just check out Ilhan Omar and Linda Sarsour and the hijabis that Trudeau brought into parliament, to see how effective that has been.

Oliver Friendship
Oliver Friendship
3 years ago

I feel like I always need a stiff drink after reading an Ed West article. They are always so bleak yet so hard to disagree with.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

It is also hard to disagree with a phone book, which does not mean it presents a reasonable argument….Just reading the article wore me out thinking of the arguments every paragraph call for, so I give up on this one, it has more wrong with it than I would have thought possible –

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Oh go on, just scribble down a few headlines. Otherwise you’re just cakewalking (is that allowed?)

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
3 years ago

Cakewalking! I’ve never heard the term. Just as I was giving up all of my social media accounts and preparing to forgo all internet comments sections, I’ve finally found a way to describe the person who chimes in on a thread only to say “that’s the stupidest things I’ve ever read.”

L Walker
L Walker
3 years ago

Trolling in America.

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I often disagree with the phone-book

L Walker
L Walker
3 years ago

Reading the phone book is as useless as Ulysses. Made it through about 5 pages of that blather before calling nope.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  L Walker

Rubbish plot in the phone book!

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
3 years ago

I would say “bracing” rather than “bleak” myself, and strangely optimistic in that often his points go to the cyclical nature of human affairs. For radicals of the 70’s, there’s a new establishment to actively undermine you know….

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

But the radicals of the 70s are old and tired….

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
3 years ago

…the parrots are dead? No we’re not, we’re just resting….

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago

No they just became politicians and academics.

John McKee
John McKee
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

AMEN!

Sue Ward
Sue Ward
3 years ago

It doesn’t feel like the reformation, it feels like the later years of Cromwell’s rule when committees of the most fanatical puritans went from community to community testing the faithful, stamping out anything joyous, and imposing state sanctioned standards of morality. This is not conservatism as I wish to know it.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 years ago

A good article but there’s a weakness in your argument, Mr West. It is that the social norms being so heavily policed today go heavily against the grain of human nature. As you say, the fun poked at a man calling himself a woman would have obtained in 1879, 1779 and all the 79s before that. Why? Because the fun arises from the absurd which in turn proceeds from a universal sense of the fitness of things. That’s why the underlying assumptions did NOT need to be enforced by the state but could rely on ordinary, public reactions.

Last edited 3 years ago by Simon Denis
Gordon Black
Gordon Black
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

The slight unease it induced in me …” – Yes, Mother Nature has equiped us with that feeling of revulsion called disgust. I am fed up having to experience that squirm and churn of disgust and, in this rights-filled society, if I were to complain the answer would be “Tough – get over it …you hater”.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 years ago
Reply to  Gordon Black

Yes. I got rid of that part of my contribution. Thought it might be going too far. Even a detached and semi-self-critical expression of “slight unease” is now electric with danger.

Laura Pritchard
Laura Pritchard
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

“Tough – get over it …you hater”. I find this phrase, when used, extremely debilitating because it doubles down so neatly on that squirmy feeling. In fact, in me, it creates a flipping massive sense of unease. However my logical brain soon kicks in and I then notice the rage and pain of the user and wonder what else they really need to get through. I don’t mind being sensitive to other people’s problems. I find it intriguing to look at how we express our inner damage by the way we relate to other people. Generally however, the only way to respond to this kind of conversation ending bludgeon, if at all possible, is to duck and walk away. Surely, thus has it ever been? Even this article bludgeons quite a bit. It’s such an easy human trap. (Looks around and wonders what I’m bludgeoning about).

Retanot King
Retanot King
2 years ago

What are you talking about? Some 3rd order meta-feelings and psycho-normative cultural pseudo-rationalism? Try to be less obfuscating. Learn from Ed West with his very clear and precise prose. The English literature department made you no favors. As much as I may agree with your worldview, I find it very counter-productive to speak in your language. Because that is exactly how the left speaks in order to obfuscate things and win over the intellectually infirm. Remember, the foremost weapon of the left is language, and goading us away from the brain to the heart. Let us not approve of their methodology and play to their rules.

Last edited 2 years ago by Retanot King
Michael James
Michael James
3 years ago

In 1973 the late Samuel Brittan brought out ‘Capitalism and the Permissive Society’. He noted that the left valued personal freedom but not economic freedom, whereas on the right it was the other way round. He thought he had only to demonstrate this and the left would come to value economic freedom and the right would value personal freedom, resulting in a new liberal consensus. It never occurred to him that the left might give up on personal freedom and the right on economic freedom, resulting in an illiberal consensus that is both anti-capitalist and hostile to free thought and expression. George Orwell might also be turning in his grave now that his novel ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’, written as a warning, could as well be used as a guide to enforcing totalitarian woke rectitude through doublethink and newspeak.

Last edited 3 years ago by Michael James
Retanot King
Retanot King
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael James

For the left, “economic freedom” is meaningless. The left, by and large, produces very little. Production is the job of the proletariat, and the awoken left is too good for that – but ostensibly has the good of the proletariat in mind. The left either works in government, in particular in the red-tape departments, or in institutions and organizations funded by government such as academia, NGOs, activism, or simply stay-at-home ‘art’.
The left does not believe in production. They are above economic activity, as that is materialistic and demeaning, and economics does not have a cultural, social, or idealistic significance.
They believe economics only exists because of capitalism, and is the bastion of the right, hell bent on making profit on the backs of the proletariat – and for no other reason. For them, economic freedom means exploitation and thievery, and amassing political power by a segment of society through the ownership of the means of production, and economic freedom and markets have no productive or rational purpose.

John McKee
John McKee
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael James

Orwell was prophetic. He should be read by all, especially the young.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago

I am actually surprised the life of Brian hasn’t been censored (yet…)

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

Timeous warning to watch it again soon.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

Interesting that the author makes the obvious point that “males have 40% more upper body strength than females”. I don’t know why he stopped at the torso.
When I suggested in a comment here earlier in the week that women need the safety of certain separate spaces, a male commentator made the point (supported by other men), that women shouldn’t be able to demand equal pay for an equal job while also demanding some separate spaces – like prisons, sports events and the like. The West’s cultural revolution seemed definitely to be over in that moment for me.
The hard won things like equality of opportunity are increasingly being hijacked by the woke cult of intolerance and the illogic of intersectionality. Does this woke cult provide fertile ground for other intolerant groupings to exert their influence?

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
3 years ago

An interesting reply. Perhaps this is the obvious irony thrown up with the equal pay dispute between female and male tennis players at Wimbledon?

Laura Pritchard
Laura Pritchard
3 years ago

I used to love watching my male compatriots beat the hell out of a piece of wood instead of just getting better at sharpening their tools. When a man (anyone) thinks equality is all about strength, they might well be revealing the heart of the problem. And themselves.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
3 years ago

Yes. The specifics matter.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago

I used to love watching my male compatriots beat the hell out of a piece of wood instead of just getting better at sharpening their tools

Yes, I’m sure that happens to you all the time. I used to love watching my female counter clerk colleagues failing to balance their till, bursting into tears, and running off the to the toilets for a cry comforted by other females, while a man took over and balanced their till for them. I’m sure we’ve all got great anecdotes like that.
But back to the example. If a man can move 1,400 bricks a day and a woman only 1,000, what should they be paid? If they’re paid by the brick he’ll earn more. Would that be OK?
Incidentally, re those three women-only colleges at Cambridge – guess whose labour built them. Clue: it wasn’t women.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jon Redman
Rach Smith
Rach Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Yes, pay by the brick then; if the disparity in production is really that skewed.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
3 years ago

That wasn’t the point he was/they were making. Equal opportunity and women-only spaces for things like prisons and sports are both fine and a reasonable combination to have together.
But you and other feminists don’t actually believe in equal opportunity. You believe in “equal” outcomes, except only when it’s advantageous to women. Even here, you say: “equal pay for an equal job” in the context of male body strength, which as Jon points out, means for some types of job that they are not equal and thus would not lead to equal pay.
This is such a common problem with feminism that people hardly remark on it anymore, for example the lies about the “pay gap” which is in reality an earnings gap caused by the unequal nature of what jobs women choose to do. Men die a lot more at work because they do the most dangerous jobs, almost exclusively so. That should naturally lead to more pay. When it does, it’s attacked as sexism by people like you. There are many other factors like that and it all gets ignored by people who cannot or will not distinguish between equality and equity.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

I am not a ‘feminist’ and that was exactly the point he was making.
I am not suggesting that a woman can do a physicalIy demanding job as well as a man either – the woman cannot do an ‘equal’ job in cases like these – I specifically said ‘equal pay for an equal job’.
I have a perfectly logical and reasonable view of the interplay between the sexes and do not generally view men as the enemy. I’ll make an exception for ‘people like you’ to borrow your phrase, as you seem quite aggressive and I am fairly sure that you have some toxic masculinity bubbling away there. Huge laughter.

Last edited 3 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
Norman Powers
Norman Powers
3 years ago

Then we’re all talking past each other, and the points are getting lost in all the subtlety.
(edit: I think you just rewrote your comment as well, so parts of my reply won’t make sense anymore + Jon’s comment appears to have been deleted, which is a pity)
His point was this: if someone can hire a male bricklayer who lays more bricks than a female bricklayer, should that man not get paid more even though it’s the same job? Even though his advantage is perhaps ‘unfair’ in some way? If the answer is no then you are talking about equity, not equality of opportunity, and that opens a pandora’s box like “what about a bricklayer who is partially disabled? do they also get equal pay?”. If the answer is yes then the pay gap disappears as a problem and isn’t worth talking about, along with most other forms of supposed discrimination that exist in the world today (where there’s no actual evidence of discrimination, just unequal outcomes).
The reason the current feminist vs trans fight is so bitter, is that the trans activists are taking the position that feminists claim they themselves have, namely that men and women should be treated the same way in everything. They come at it from a different angle than normal, one of “there is no actual biological meaning to gender/it can be switched at will”, but the end results are the same – they say you can’t have different policies for men and women.
So the original point was not some (non-existent) direct link between “safe spaces” and equal pay, those are different things. The point was indirect: that if someone believes that men and women are not the same and should not be treated the same due to innate biology, then it makes sense that acting on other differences in other ways should also not be a problem, which leads naturally to a whole host of other conclusions and policies. Yet those are policies most women, let alone most feminists, reject.
I don’t myself have much of a dog in this fight. I think women have a lot of privileges and special rights in society they don’t recognize, and it’d be nice for men and women to be equal (again?), but on the other hand I’m not a big fan of activist tactics. Implication: support neither side.

Last edited 3 years ago by Norman Powers
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

I’m sure we are talking past each other Norman. Right now however I am having to egg Djokovic on… my hero since he gave the middle finger to lockdown rules last year.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
3 years ago

🙂
I suspect if we met in real life we’d actually agree on a lot of stuff, and I apologize for calling you a feminist if you don’t see yourself as one.
I often think a good half of all arguments on the internet can be boiled down to differences in how people define words. People think they’re disagreeing over something fundamental, and sometimes it turns out they actually just disagreed over what certain words meant. In our case I suspect we’re using slightly different definitions of the word feminist.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Thanks for your gracious reply Norman! My husband tells me I am not a feminist because I expect him to do the heavy lifting if I do some more cleaning… but I must hasten to add that I really admire some feminists (but not all – think wooden headed Cathy Newman blathering nonsense whilst being pulverised by Jordan Peterson). I don’t like unthinking man haters.
The ‘feminists’ I admire are the strong women who take the fight to the Wokesters. These women are fighting for themselves and other women, for children, for the gay community, for society and mankind and for the future. They are also fighting against other women – women are enabling the cultural decay we are witnessing happening. I stand with these strong women.

Last edited 3 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago

You mean women like Cath Eliott, or Julie Bindel? I might not go quite as far as admiring them, but I would certainly respect them.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

We had Maya Forstater on this site just this week. And if you can bear it have a look at Twitter and elsewhere on the Internet. Huge quantities of people pushing back… against a tsunami it must be said.

Rob C
Rob C
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

That’s the point. They *do* distinguish between equality and equity and are all in with equity (but make an unprincipled exception when equity hurts them).

Rach Smith
Rach Smith
3 years ago

I concur. I don’t think a man can ever fully understand how a woman feels when a colonising man tries to take over their safe space in the guise of a moral superiority. It is outrageous that we, as women, are being bullied and told to ‘just be kind’’. The only people being consulted in all of this hot mess btw, are men TRAs. The attitude of the most forceful (and maliciously triumphant) colonisers seems to be that woman must stand aside as our silly little bigoted minds cannot fathom such complicated feelings.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  Rach Smith

Most men know very well, from experience, how it feels when colonising women try to take over your space, culture, and vocabulary in the guise of moral superiority. In fact that is what drives a lot of the anti-feminist bitterness in these comments. It may be worse when your physical security is involved, sure. Still, it would add depth to your comments – and maybe gain you some allies – if you made more of an effort to understand how non-women experience the world.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Quite so. Men have one fewer freedom than women – we are denied freedom of association. If I want to found a sports club or company or institution for men, I cannot. I am forced to admit women. The reverse does not apply.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

You can have your all male sports and your all male washrooms and your all male prison. No problem. That is what most reasonable women are asking for.

Rach Smith
Rach Smith
3 years ago

Exactly! Btw for many years I’ve worked as flyman and stagehand and have flown exactly the same scenery as my male counterparts. I have loaded the same (if not more) amount of weights to rig bars, I have carried the same weight of props/furniture; so equal labour is something I have personally championed. I also never considered myself a feminist, but the Trans lobby insist that not only am I a feminist, but a radical one for not pandering to their cult.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Rach Smith

The trans lobby are toxic… as are their handmaidens.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
3 years ago

Yes, of course, reasonable women. But the world is full of unreasonable people of both genders, isn’t it? That seems to be what the article on which we are commenting is all about.

Last edited 3 years ago by Tom Krehbiel
Rach Smith
Rach Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I’m specifically talking about safety, about rape crisis centres, women’s prisons, changing rooms where young children are allowed. I believe in equality.

Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
3 years ago

I have been directed to believe by the fanatical wokeists that ‘males’ and ‘females’ are equal = the same. No difference at all. In fact the very concept of predefined separate sexes is abhorrent – imposed by sexist misogynists. At any given moment in time an individual can be several ‘sexes’ out of up to 100 different genders (according to the BBC).

So the notion that ‘male’ upper body strength is 40% more than ‘female’ must – according to the new woke ‘Bible’ – be garbage devoid of any meaning.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

Not many wokeists round here!

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago

That was indeed a silly and overblown comment, from your ‘male commentator’. But he was addressing the real contradiction that you can get hounded out of your job (conf. Damore) by suggesting that gender imbalances might be caused by gender differences in average interests, priorities, or attitudes. Whereas it is good mainstream progressive to suggest that female prime ministers are better at handling COVID or that Salomon Sisters would never have caused Wall Street to crash. At some point the double standard just becomes too much.

Last edited 3 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Thanks. However this individual determinedly decided to miss my point and leapt onto attack with a lot of hot invective – …and made a straw-man argument.
Discernment is required. I do not ascribe to woke groupthink and I will defend equal opportunity for all – not equity – I have never demanded equity.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago

I concur

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago

“…Life of Brian couldn’t be made 20 years earlier, and neither could it be made now…”

I can only hope you are wrong. LoB is my personal touchstone. If we are inching towards the point where the law allows such a movie to be made, but the modern variety of societal puritanism would prevent the same in practice, then *now* is time to put it to the challenge.

The Arts turn often into exercises in banality unless they are subversive enough to operate at the boundaries of tolerance, and I wonder why this is not obvious to the huge lot of luvvies who purportedly now earn a living by feeding off the Arts industries built on hard won freedoms, while simultaneously attacking the practice of those freedoms. Artists, at least those worthy of the name, have always operated heedless at the edges, albeit surreptitiously when in circumstances where they are directly threatened.

Someone from those who identify with the Arts and consider themselves Artists today need to have the courage to make a LoBigMo or something like that, to punctures the modern puritans. Seriously. Otherwise they are not worth the furlough money that was poured into supporting them in the Arts and preserving their industries over the last 18 months.

David Owsley
David Owsley
3 years ago

Good article except you ruined it with the BLM thing at the beginning (almost didn’t read on.

Indeed, it’s arguable that there has never been so little doubt in public life about what is morally wrong and right, at least in our lifetimes.

Yes, yes but you are handing ‘a win’ to the BLM racists, we all know racism is bad. Should they do a black power salute at the final? maybe one footballer should cover himself in fuel and burn himself alive. BLM is based on a lie since its beginning and based on more lies since then; as is ‘take the knee’ another protest based on a complete and 100% lie. To follow suit because not being a racist is morally right is to lose everything, hence the booing and absolute ridicule with which those kneelers are held – despite being admired for winning – and the looks on the faces of the other teams (all racist or support racism?) is wonderful to behold.

Last edited 3 years ago by David Owsley
hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
3 years ago

Having reflected on this article I am not as concerned with the mad lefties at the moment as I am concerned by the inevitable backlash that will follow the mad lefties.
In places like South Africa it is at least politically smart to scapegoat whitesIt is, in contrast, irrevocably stupid to scapegoat white people where they are the majority, as Labour is demonstrating.
First, doing this scapegoating inevitably galvanises white voters into a voting block. Second, groups labour courts inevitably atomise further into entities that are difficult (or impossible) to represent.
Both the above happenings suggest to me that the conservatives will increase their influence and power, rather than the reverse.
It could be argued that the mid 1950s were, in many ways the “peak” of conservative thinking. But how many people would have known at the time that the antithesis of that conservatism would explode into a cultural revolution in just a few short years to come?
In truth we never know when a cultural inflection point will come, but it would be unwise to imagine that a minority of people can cast the white majority as evil, morally corrupt and fallen, for the benefit of a few hallowed groups, indefinitely.
Sooner or later the majority will participate in identity politics and, when that happens, a rather uglier scene will emerge.
I do my best to warn my progressive friends about this, but the fumes of momentary power seem to make them too giddy to contemplate the bag of ghouls they are unleashing.

Last edited 3 years ago by hayden eastwood
Retanot King
Retanot King
2 years ago

Sooner or later the majority will participate in identity politics and, when that happens, a rather uglier scene will emerge.” — I think this fear is quite overblown. Conservatives by and large are very politically and economically liberal. In fact they are the mainstay of classical liberalism. They will not allow this to happen. The far-right, being the minority that it has been (as of WWII), will have to face the other 90% of the population mitigating against them. This scare mongering is a true and tried tactic of the activist left. That is how the left can be anti-Nazi at the same time as being quasi-fascist (Antifa), or remember the holocaust while at the same time selectively condemning Jews for Israel.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
3 years ago

No, a man identifying as a woman is still absurd in 2021.

Retanot King
Retanot King
2 years ago

Not to 90% of western media, and 100% of academia.

Nick Wright
Nick Wright
3 years ago

If I read this right, the article argues that one set of moral norms has gradually replaced another, creating entirely new sets of insiders and outsiders. Yet, how can one even describe these unproven and logically inconsistent ideas as moral values at all? It seems to stretch ‘moral relativism’ as a philosophical concept to new grounds; ‘making it up as you go along because it sounds cool and different’ is possibly more appropriate.

Last edited 3 years ago by Nick Wright
Tom Watson
Tom Watson
3 years ago
Reply to  Nick Wright

If you think post-’68 structural racism theology is unproven and logically inconsistent, wait until you hear about this guy 2000 years ago who was tortured to death then seen walking around again three days later, who’s the Son of God and also God, and whose mother was a virgin, and who worked all his life as a carpenter when his skills were clearly better suited to the catering industry.
Moral relativism is not ‘belives wrong things and does wrong things based on those beliefs,’ it’s ‘does not mind other people believing and doing things they think are wrong.’ Neither proof nor logic is a necessary or sufficient condition for either moral absolutism or moral relativism.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

Actually, many scholars believe that Jesus never practiced carpentry. (Good line on the catering though.) It all depends on a passage that says something to the effect that Joseph taught his stepson in the craft. Many took the craft to be carpentry, whereas it is now believed that “the craft” was then idiom for literacy.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Krehbiel

Very interesting! Thanks

Allen Roth
Allen Roth
3 years ago

Mr. West’s conclusion (the cultural war is over) reminds me of U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright, counseling President Johnson to declare victory in Vietnam as he withdrew U.S. forces. At that point there was no chance of a U.S. victory and declaring it wouldn’t change the facts on the ground. Mr. West’s declaration comes as, in the U.S. poll after poll shows growing rejection of BLM, ANTIFA, and critical race theory. In America racism against blacks or whites or Asians is not popular. The other day as the largest teacher’s unions declared support for CRT, a poll showed 73% of Americans want traditional morality and values taught to their children. In schools throughout the country parents are challenging woke school board members, teachers, and administrators who are pushing the revolution’s racism. The Courts have also weighed in against Biden Administration racist initiatives — such as government bailouts going to Blacks while excluding qualified white businesses.,

David Yetter
David Yetter
3 years ago
Reply to  Allen Roth

Notice Mr. West didn’t say the culture war was over, he said the West’s cultural revolution was over. This is not the same thing. The revolution West is speaking about is the one that started in the 1960’s, the anything goes, absolutizing Voltaire’s defending the right to say objectionable things, even obscene things. It is over because the side that formerly held that view is now demanding censorship on behalf of their new cult of victimhood in which “people of color” are all saints and white people are all irredemable sinners, with its own blasphemy code against “dead-naming” and “microaggressions” (defined on the fly by whatever a person of color or “woke” white liberal decides offends them today). The culture war between that cult and what remains of Western Civilization is only heating up because that earlier revolution is over.

Last edited 3 years ago by David Yetter
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

WHAT A LOAD OF ABSOLUTE TWADDLE. I mean if this is what 2020 takes for logic and reason it is no wonder things are circling the plug hole, about to carry the West down the drain for good.

“the young protesters demanding that “Rhodes must fall” or “black trans lives matters”. They certainly aren’t moral relativists.”

That is moral relativism – it says this minority is superior to the majority by complete inference, with no logic, no argument, no system of reason, nothing, it is just stating something and claiming it is MORAL, well, because it just is.

from the article….””””Relativism is a position you employ when you’re weak, to be abandoned when you win. On a wide range of issues, including race and gender, the Right has been more relativist for some time. Before the 1968 revolution those outside of power (the Left) argued for moral relativism, those in power (the Right) argued for moral absolutism. Now it is the opposite. Even things like claims to absolute truths (“trust the science”) have changed. Likewise with censorship, which is by definition a tool of the powerful.””””

WORD SALAD

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

No it isn’t. “Stating something and claiming it is MORAL, well, because it just is” is about as absolutist an argument as it’s possible to make. It’s not necessarily a strong argument, or a correct one, but it’s definitely an absolute one.

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
3 years ago

Great article. Profoundly depressing because it’s true. Things will change because nothing can stay the same. But the change will be even more depressing. Time to plan my exit from the UK. Thinking Poland or Hungary.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
3 years ago

Great article. Thanks! It is not just the usual suspects (leftists, students, etc.) who support the new moral order. Many huge corporations and prominent civic institutions have embraced them as well. Many commentators have noted that the critique presented by BLM, etc. has the characteristic that there is no solution to the issues that are raised, apart from never-ending self-flagellation. But this explains its popularity with the elite: it is permanently divisive. The motive of the corporate supporters of the new moral order is simple: divide et impera.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
3 years ago

Great article. I particularly like your point about Sacha Baron Cohen. I am still waiting for him to release, “Moviefilm For Make Great Benefit Glorious Nation of Saudi Arabia”

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
3 years ago

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial contains wonderful, universal, truths. Personally, I view BLM as a distraction and actually counter-productive in the areas where progress as has been made in the UK, post Scarman (1981).

Retanot King
Retanot King
2 years ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

BLM is just a potent Marxist hook at the heart.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
3 years ago

… but a sacred idea in 2021.
It’s sacred in the sense that its believers have captured the moral citadel where the most powerful ideas are protected by taboo, achieved either by emotional argument or intimidation (and both can be effective).
Hints of Eric Kaufmann in there? His thesis of ‘woke’ is that it is essentially the sacralisation of certain groups defined by particular characteristics. This sacralisation then manifests in quasi religious behaviour. I think, as Jordan Peterson would point out, this resolution is an interesting level of analysis although there are other complementary levels of analysis out there.
But although this article raises interesting points, it does not really answer, for me, the questions as to what is the axiomatic motivation of the so-called ‘revolution’. What is the grounding driving force for this hypothesised moral revolution?

Peter Harris
Peter Harris
3 years ago

No one would satirise the transgender movement today; no one would dare point fun at BLM, or Pride month; no one would dare joke about George Floyd, because like the publishers of Gay Times in 1977, they might face jail for blasphemy.  Instead leading satirist Sacha Baron Cohen makes a living making jokes at the expense of the little people. Indeed the only satire made now pokes fun at the old establishment, like punching the corpse of a once-ferocious zoo animal, or the people who still hold the old beliefs; the elderly, the less educated, the rural and provincial. The powerless.

Peter Mott
Peter Mott
3 years ago

The big date is 1967 when the Pill was made generally available in UK and homosexuality was made legal over the age of 21.
In 1994 this age was reduced to 18. In 2001 it was reduced to 16. In 2003 the Sexual Offences Act removed “any legal distinction in the criminal law between heterosexual and homosexual activity”. Same sex marriage was introduced in 2013 (not legalised because it was previously not illegal but impossible)
Note that this process took 46 years. Note: 46 years: change is very very slow.
I doubt that many readers would wish to reverse these changes which are in the direction of kindness and tolerance and represent a new consensus
“Cancel culture”, odious people on Twitter, the heat and muddle of transgender issues, the divisiveness of “identity” politics and Critical Race Theory, the chaos of climate policy, and the craziness and “Extinction Rebellion”: these are signs of our world in flux. There is nothing permanent in them, they have no message beyond the need to resist their excesses
Gramsci’s famous saying is apt for our times “the old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters”
Alternatively, in economist speak, Ed West mistakes a shock for a new equilibrium.

Laura Pritchard
Laura Pritchard
3 years ago

There are some really weird parallels drawn in this article but I do love the desire to bracket time periods. What is that about humans?
One statement I really like however is “Revolutionaries who establish themselves in power inevitably start thinking about firming up that power.” I’m not particularly an opera buff but any chance to go to any form of group entertainment and I’ll take it. So I am amused that the production of Farnace by Vivaldi that I went to see at the Teatro Malibran, in Venice last night, decided to end their staging of a opera whose synopsis give us half way through with “Somehow, it ends happily and everyone is spared” by killing all opposition in a vicious military coup and then place the victors into that very exact firmed up role with the next generation child holding a sub-machine gun out towards the audience.
I’d say, isn’t the fact that this article and theatre productions in opera houses are still pointing this stuff out evidence that the brackets are not quite so firm and final as the article itself might suggest? I mean when you get thrown in jail, tarred and feathered or sexually dominated for trying to discuss it at all, we might be at some sort of homeostasis for the worse again but until then I think we should keep the brackets open..

S B
S B
3 years ago

Bravo to the Teatro Malibran, but I doubt the production will ever make it to the U.S., unless the smg is loaded with live ammo.

Fintan Power
Fintan Power
3 years ago

I find it very odd that the author claims Jesus to be prophet of Islam. Indeed it is a major blunder by Ed West. Jesus may be recognised as having a minor place in that belief system but it does not give him his rightful role as the founder of Christianity and that is what the Monty Python actors were satirising in the Life of Brian(for which read Jesus).

Retanot King
Retanot King
2 years ago
Reply to  Fintan Power

Jesus is one of the top prophets of Islam. Jesus, unknown to himself, is a Muslim and is born a Muslim. You see, Islam is all encompassing, and Mohammad knew he had to reinforce the prophecy narrative in order to consolidate his own power. Ed West is correct.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
3 years ago

Wokey Gareth’s business advisors are telling him the advertising industry will reward a woke stance and pay him more .

D Ward
D Ward
3 years ago

Thought-provoking article which made a lot of sense when I read it, but I see a lot of disagreement so far btl.
Not sure if Mr West is American or not. If he’s not, he needs to be called out for this mangling of the English language: “Two of the Pythons debated an Anglican bishop and Catholic writer Malcolm Muggeridge,

LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
3 years ago

This seems to be quite accurate. Move along now. What’s next?

Alan Groff
Alan Groff
2 years ago

Ed West strikes an outstanding balance to achieve subtle ridicule, like Colin Jost on SNL, that respectfully points out what hides in plain sight.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
3 years ago

Ed West, when you say “our great victory in 1966”, are you referring to England’s winning the World Cup that year? That puzzled me when I first read it, before I thought of soccer.

Bob Pugh
Bob Pugh
2 years ago

The Nineties and Noughties were a time of outstanding comedy” . True, outstandingly bad.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
2 years ago

There was little public outcry until right thinking fans were allowed back into stadiums and those fans made ir clear what they thought of football fans and players kneeling in support of vile, violent BLM types who riot, smash up statues, the BLM type of Loons who want the end of normal families, all violent criminals released from jail, and the imposition of an alien political creed into the UK.

James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago

Nice try. Only, the conservative/authoritarian orthodoxy, which was challenged in the West first in the 1960s by various civil rights movements, was built upon centuries of tradition, exploitation and oppression.
Can there be any serious comparison with other actual revolutions? Spontaneous, simultaneous challenge over decades is not ‘revolution’. Don’t we have to be historically specific? Otherwise, we’re into some sticky post-modern quagmire, not really applicable to politics, history etc.
It’s only right to question any zealous ‘neo-orthodoxy’ of today, but the implied lament, which runs through this piece, for the passing of pre-1960s rigid tradition, sexism, racism and homophobia seems weird to me.

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

The problem is that the -isms and phobias you mention are being used as ideological tools to bludgeon the mainstream into submission. You are either 100% for special rights groups or 100% against them. Unfortunately, no matter how noble the cause, if I feel coerced into acting or feeling a certain way, I dig my heels in even if I’m socially punished for it.

James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Clearly the ‘bludgeoning’ that you mention is counter-productive. But the reaction by some to this – under the cover of anti-‘wokeness’ – could take us backwards. ‘Throwing out the baby…etc. Sorry, poor idiom choice.
If we know we respect others, regardless of race, culture, sexuality etc., how can a handful of opportunistic puritan zealots, make us shift from our own core values? Simply ignore them, let the youth followers grow up, and they should wither away.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

So, what you mean to say is: “It is OK when we do it, because it just so happens that we are right”? No offense, but I am sure the slave owners of yore were saying the exact same thing.

Last edited 3 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Sorry, not following. When ‘we do what’?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

‘We’ are the progressives in this case. You seem to be saying that when reactionary forces once tried to impose their ideology, shut down debate and squeeze out the progressive it was horrible, but when progressive forces today try to impose their ideology, shut down debate and squeeze out the bigots it is great.

As for ‘this is not a revolution’, the only examples of statue toppling I can think of is when a new ideology takes over and is at pains to consign its predecessors to the trash heap. The fall of Ceausescu, Mussolini and Soviet hegemony, The ISIS caliphate, and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Normans getting rid of pre-1066 landmarks, …

James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

‘…but when progressive forces today try to impose their ideology, shut down debate and squeeze out the bigots it is great.’
Well, bigotry itself can never be a good thing, can it? Equality and recognition is hardly an ‘ideology’. Why does it need ‘debate’, to be shutdown in the first place? Who has the ‘problem’?
I don’t support violence, attacking police and no, offending others just the sake of it is destructively crass and ultimately counter-productive.
Yes, the statue toppling/vandalism issue is a ‘home-goal’. But if a society like ours is not robust enough to respond proportionately on something like this, then we are in a poor way.
(The fate of the image of Colston is precisely correct.)

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

‘Bigotry can never be a good thing’? That is just another way of saying ‘my norms are right and theirs are wrong’. Who decided that your enemies are bigots, if not yourself? Why does it need ‘debate’? Because a lot of people do not agree with your rules on what words you can use, what statues to leave up, what to teach in schools. They think they have a right to their opinions. You seem to disagree.
This is not (solely? mainly?) about equality. It is about which group dominates. Whose norms, myths, assumptions rule society, whose are tolerated, and whose are condemned. Colston was a great benefactor to Bristol and the colonial era was a time of British greatness, enterprise and success. Colston was also a slaver with many many deaths on his conscience, and the colonial era was a time of ruthless exploitation. Both sides are true. If you are black, originating from Jamaica or Ghana, it is the second part that is part of your story. If you are white English, it is the first part that forms a good national myth. You could try to allow both sides to be part of the story, much like both cavaliers and roundheads are accepted and respected as parts of English history. Or you can try to privilege one and condemn the other. As the statue topplers are trying to do.

Last edited 3 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Leave out respective ‘enemies’ – bigotry is negative. From the ‘left’ towards the ‘right’ and vice-versa. That’s all I attempted to say. ‘Bigots’ was introduced by yourself, with respect.
If we have laws that have established protective norms for racial, cultural, gender and sexuality equalities then what do we debate? (Agreed, transsexual issues are still very much alive and contentious.)
In the second paragraph having stated reasonable historical methods of balance and objectivity, parts of the response sounds like an apology for a contrived ‘Culture War’, if I may so.
The added anthropological determinism is absurd. .
I am ‘white English’. Absolutely no way do I see that the colonial era was [unequivocally] a time of British greatness, enterprise and success.‘ 
That doesn’t mean that I ‘hate’ England but it should mean that I don’t delude myself into thinking this country is somehow ‘special’ or ‘superior’.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Lawdy – we are into semantics here. Ok, I’ll draw you a diagram.

Your original point seemed to be that the conservative suppression of alternative viewpoints was based on centuries of oppression, and so clearly very bad. Wheras contemporary suppression of alternative viewpoints is pretty much OK, since it is done in the name of ‘good’ values, like equity, antiracism, and gay rights. And I tried to point out that this only holds if you start from the assumption that your values are good and competing values are bad, i.e. that you are right and others are wrong. Which pretty much disenfranchises anyone who does not agree with you.

If we have laws that have established protective norms for racial, cultural, gender and sexuality equalities then what do we debate?

We debate whether the laws and their implementation are the right ones. How we should balance the ‘right’ of minorities to feel comfortable and at home with social norms, with the ‘right’ of other groups to feel comfortable and at home with social norms, and in general which groups should do how much of the work of adjusting to a shared culture. Whether we should treat individuals on their merits regardless of race, sexuality etc., or whether we should aim for proportional group representation regardless of the average merit of available candidates. Which words and comments should be enough to get you fired if they emerge ten years later, and which things you can say without fearing for your livelihood.

And especially we debate how to arrive at a shared story that can make all inhabitants feel part of a whole, or whether we prefer that each group has its own competing identity and some identities trump others. History suggests (to me) that a functioning democracy requires some kind of shared, positive story that most people can identify with. And with all respect I do not think that ‘we are not special or superior’ is going to cut it.

Last edited 3 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

T

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Actually, I do not particularly want to move back to 1960 – I just think that whatever you are offering might suit me even worse. On the whole I would prefer to talk about setting up some kind of inter-group compromise. But as long as I am up against people who insist that there is nothing to debate, it does not sound like I will get the chance.

Retanot King
Retanot King
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

As Ed West says, this movement is a quasi-religious movement. Since when could you debate religion with religious believers? If they have power, they will cancel you. If they don’t have power, they just disappear to fight at another place at another time.
Latter-day moral puritanism is not up for debate.

Last edited 2 years ago by Retanot King
Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Colonialism was a function of certain European nations relative economic and technological superiority . Talking as though it was the result of some uniquely British or European moral failing is absurd .

Retanot King
Retanot King
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

Well said. The colonialists did not go to the Indies to satisfy some oppression urge. They went there for the spices.

David Yetter
David Yetter
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Are you sure? Google’s online dictionary provides the definition of bigotry, “obstinate or unreasonable attachment to a belief, opinion, or faction; in particular, prejudice against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular group.”
I am obstinately and, some would hold unreasonably attached to the belief that the free market allocates goods and services more efficiently than does state planning. I am prejudiced against self-proclaimed white supremacists and actual Nazis (not those accused of being such thing by the “woke”). Heck I am prejudiced against anyone who takes the monicker “woke” to him- or herself. I would suggest that all of these particular examples of bigotry are actually good things.
Equality and recognition of what? Declaring unequal things to be equal is an absurdity, as is recognition if by “recognition” you mean playing along with someone else’s delusions.

James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

E

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
Retanot King
Retanot King
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

How bigoted is it to declare “if you are not an anti-racist then you must be a racist”, do you think? None? Wrong.

Retanot King
Retanot King
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

was built upon centuries of tradition, exploitation and oppression” — There are some very lofty and sociophilic traditions. You can’t just dismiss them all. “Oppression” — how different is that from cancel culture and social opprobrium on worldwide social media? “Exploitation”? With economic freedom, labour markets, and massive government regulations, where is the exploitation? Can you give some examples of egregious exploitation in the modern era not committed by a state-like monopoly corporation?