I guess from the viewpoint of academia, so thoroughly left wing now for at least a generation, everything outside their worldview looks like “right wing extremism”.
One wonders if they’ll ever have their “Wait. You mean we’re the bad guys?” moment, but they seem too far gone now.
They never will. I recommend Counter Wokecraft by Charles Pincourt and James Lindsay. The book lays out, in detail, the bad faith debating techniques, evident in spades in this article, that the woke use to advance their agenda.
Unherd censored my comment when I called him out on this.
“What is the centre ground between racism and anti-racism” asks the author.
The answer, that he doesn’t seem to see is the simple idea that we are one race and that the existence of separate races is an unscientific 18th century concept that should be jettisoned. I am certainly not racist but neither am I anti-racist which seems to be simply another form of racism. Only an idiot considers the colour of a man’s skin indicates anything of fundamental importance about him as a person – something both racists and anti-racists seem to subscribe to.
The pro vs anti examples TE uses are often specious, JB is right. I was struck by the argument that ‘there’s no middle ground between rapists and anti-rapists..’ – well, no, but who would ever describe themselves as ‘anti-rapist’ on their CV? Or ‘pro-rapist’, which would be the actual opposite term…? I’m sort of anti-death and anti-punching-people-unexpectedly, but struggling to find the middle ground between my position and those other (err..) straw men who are in favour of both.
For an article lamenting the binary thinking of the states, then says there’s no middle ground between two positions is a bit rich. Clearly if racism was a binary it could be as simple as racist and anti-racist, but it’s not, the very fact that it isn’t binary means there are tons of things in the ‘middle’
Even something starker as the rapist example, there are a myrid of ways to attempt to prevent rape. We could require that all men be jailed to prevent rape, or we could give women self defense classes, those are both anti-rape positions, but they are clearly not the same position.
So-called anti-racism is deeply and disgustingly racist. We shouldn’t tolerate it.
There can’t be a centre-ground between so-called “anti”-racism and racism because anti-racism IS racism. However, if one posits that anti-racism is different from racism — even though it isn’t — then non-racism would be the middle ground, and a very comfortable middle ground at that, based on colour-blindness, meritocracy, etc.
If our ancestors hadn’t enslaved Africans, there would have been no call for slave uprisings.
Ah, so it’s perfectly fine for Africans to enslave other Africans and for Arabs to enslave Africans, both of which had been going on for centuries before the Europeans showed up. It’s just something that white people shouldn’t do. Good to know.
It’s nice to know that they’ve airbrushed the main reason why apartheid was dismantled when it was: the collapse of communism and USSR funded international revolution meant that Marxist militants in southern Africa had lost their funding and support and the DeKlerk et al decided it was as safe a time as ever to open up.
Forty years of sanctions and international protests achieved very little by comparison, despite the self aggrandisement of left wing radicals everywhere.
and why does no one look at the economic, financial, commercial, cultural, and non- democratic disaster that the continent of Africa is now, and start asking the question… ” Why”?…… Because the answer will cause prosecution for ” racism?
Same could probably be said of the Northern Ireland conflict. There’s little doubt that the Provos received help from the USSR.
And don’t forget the Africans (Barbary pirates) who enslaved white Europeans in their millions during the 17th~19th centuries.
There is a major problem with this type of thinking, a problem that borders on racism – if it is acceptable/excusable for Middle-Eastern and African people to hold slaves and not Euopeans the implication is that somehow Europeans should know and behave better because they are expected to be more moral than the “poor benighted heathen”. Doesn’t this smack of racial superiority?
Yes it does. But, that is to be expected. If we Europeans entirely sink to this level, and feel OK about it, the world is going to be in trouble.
“What is the centre ground between racism and anti-racism” If you took those words at face value there is indeed no middle ground, but we live in a topsy-turvy world now where progressives have butchered language, in this world the middle ground would be… not being a racist (that’s the centre, where most people already are). Unfortunately words have lost meaning, the “anti-racists” are often racists, the new generation of “liberals” aren’t liberal, and the “anti-fascists” don’t even know what fascism is.
I don’t think classical liberals are scared of conflict, they just don’t get involved with the daily manufactured grievances the “progressives” come up with.
The terms anti-racist and racist, in so far as they’re both racist, remind me of the distinction between, a gnostic atheist and a gnostic theist. Supposedly opposite stances but so similar as they are both gnostic. To take neither stance is to be the other, when they’re actually agnostics who frankly couldn’t care less and dont want to waste their time on an fruitless debate.
can someone please define ” racist”?!!!
It used to be simple: one who marginalizes and stirs resentment against individuals not because of their actions but because of their race. Now it just means “breathing” if you were born Caucasian.
“Racist” means “Black Lives Matter activist”.
“the “anti-racists” are often racists”
*the “anti-racists” are always racists
Excellent comment otherwise.
The reason why “NATO keeps provoking Russia by expanding” is because Russia keeps provoking its neighbours into joining, and the existence of Far Right militias in Ukraine pales in comparison to the scale of the misery Putin has inflicted on the world. The Russo-Ukrainian War is about as binary a conflict as you can get.
The NATO expansion is a false justification, Putin himself recently said it’s essentially a land grab in Ukraine comparing himself to Peter the Great. As you say, none of those countries that joined NATO were forced into doing so, they joined because they were fearful of Russian aggression and realised they realistically weren’t strong enough to defend themselves on their own. Putins actions in taking swathes of territory from Georgia and Ukraine show they were probably right to do so
One thing you’ve got to hand the left wingers like this writer is that their views are utterly predictable and meaningless.
He’s a “critic and literary theorist”, thus eminently qualified to pontificate on all subjects.
I agree, but it’s also the same with right wingers; their views are utterly predictable and can often be meaningless too.
Actually I believe this to be untrue. Peter Hitchens. ‘Obviously’ a rabid Tory? But he favours a nationalised railway.
The most important thing for a left-winger is not to have left-wing beliefs per se, but for all left-wingers to hold the same beliefs simultaneously and to publicly advertise the fact, a fact demonstrated most easily on Twitter.
I detect no danger of Terry moving to the centre ground when he refers to the ‘railway workers, who are going to have to fight if they are to keep their families fed.’
(So difficult to make ends meet on £60,000 a year.)
Quite. This household’s income is barely half that, and yet we haven’t starved yet, nor had to use food banks or demand handouts.
Actually some railway workers are not paid that much – guards get £30-35k; conductors >£30k. Not low-paid by any means but not the £55k – £65k that train drivers get paid.
‘The almost total exclusion of republican voices during the recent orgy of British self-adulation is a case in point. There are a large number of anti-royalists up and down the country, men and women who with the best will in the world can’t detect the slightest aura of mystery about Prince Andrew, but balance doesn’t extend to letting them speak.’
Whilst there are numerous contentious corkers in this oafish article (or is it a spoof?!), the above paragraph captures Tezza’s monstrous political ego perfectly. The Platinum Jubilee was a celebration of our monarch’s 70 year reign, shared by millions of her subjects at home and overseas, a very happy long weekend of unity from what i experienced and observed. But NO! Why weren’t Tezza and his mates given the opportunity and airtime to be anti-everything and protesting about all sorts of stuff and spoiling everyone’s fun?! Perhaps he did what i suggested to a Republican friend – stay at home all weekend and pull the legs off spiders………
I wan’t actually aware that anti-royalists were prevented from speaking; I have anti-royalist friends and neighbours who were very vocal. However, there is a difference between having the right to speak and having the right to be listened to; I reserve the right to not listen when the speaker is just ranting.
Twitter was a complete ‘republican’ anti-monarchist beanfest for about a week. This point of view is so heavily suppressed to the extent of every mention of it only gaining anything from tens to thousands, and occasionally even hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets.
Eagleton is actually an establishment figure.
I think it was Steven Pinker who said something about this. I hope I got that right. He called it the North Pole effect. He was talking about left wingers but I think it’s more generally applicable. If you stand on the north pole then whichever way you face is south. The north pole represents left wing opinions and any other view is south or right wing. Of course a right winger standing on the south pole might see all views as left wing.
Except left wing opinion is often little different to right at the extremes. I remember comparing Fascist Spanish propaganda with Czech Communist propaganda with a Czech friend and they were almost indistinguishable in substance. The German National Socialist Workers party was merely an extreme nationalist form of Socialism as the name of the party implied.
A similar experiment was done a few years back: https://www.timesofisrael.com/duped-academic-journal-publishes-rewrite-of-mein-kampf-as-feminist-manifesto/
Oh no not again. The Nazi party was an extreme right party, as evidenced by 1) Hitler’s hatred of socialists and communists; 2) the support Nazis received from big industry; 3) the support Nazis received from other far-right parties like Hugenberg’s Nationalists; and 4) Hitler’s racial policies.
The fact that Hitler’s party had “socialist” in its name is about as meaningful as the “democratic” in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, i.e. North Korea.
Poles apart, indeed.
Thats the problem we have though isnt it, you, on the left think your views are reasonable and fine and anyone who’s views are to the right are fascists, extremists and beyond the pale…likewise the weak argument about the middle graound, – of course there is no acceptable middle ground between rapists and anti rapists, thats childish in the etxreme, but however, there is plenty of middle ground on the race, gender ideaology and political playing fields. For example, me thinking that immigration needs managing carefully and there is a problem with, within a generation sowing the seeds for the majorty of people within this country to become black and asian does NOT make me racist or extremist, it just makes me someone who has a differing view from yours – I happen to think that a sensible proportion of immigrants is a good thing, just that we are well past that sensible proportion now. My view is just as valid as yours and not a whif of racism or extremism there at all….I have nothing against differntly coloured people etc per se, I simply dont want their culture taking over mine……In much the same way we defended this country from another culture taking over 70 years ago…….
I would posit there is a middle ground even on rapist and anti-rapist. For example, “She could reduce her risk of assault by avoiding excess alcohol intake at the house party.” This is not a statement as to how the world should be, but a statement of how the world is. Many Twitterati, however, place the mere utterance of this or similar sentiments on par with being a rapist.
Exactly. We have to live in the world as it is, that’s not to say that we shouldn’t try to improve it, only that we have to acknowledge it as it currently is. If a young woman totters down a dark alley whilst half cut she is risking an attack, again, I’m not saying that she deserves it, but she is placing herself at risk because of the way the world is.
Yes indeed. Anybody who drinks to excess and then totters down a dark alley is asking for trouble. But that does not mitigate the actions of an attacker. Their responsibility is to help that foolish person to a place of safety not to take advantage of them.
Zero-sum thinking is the mark of any true zealot, and it’s used liberally here. The author states “you can’t back the planet and oil producers at the same time” reducing a very complicated set of economic, environmental, and societal problems to ‘good’ and ‘evil’, and then, of course, cites something nearly universally loathed, rape, as the analogous good vs. evil. Classic bait and switch. There’s no debate, no nuance, just good and evil, the faithful and the heretic, the pure and the unclean. To quote a favorite pop-culture phrase, “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”
I read that line about oil companies and all I can think is nothing has done more to reduce our use of coal in the US than the fracking revolution. And much of the modern coal use dates to Jimmy Carter, the Proto-Progressive President who had to deal with massive oil shortages and required the diversification of energy (ie burn more coal, not oil or gas).
The Manichaeans are boring generally, but when they get into complex issues it becomes unbearable.
I used to live in a town that had 17 clones of this author serving on its council. Every decision they made was a disaster, the city hemorrhaged money, businesses closed, drug addicts OD’d at ten in the morning on Main Street. The Terryclones simply couldn’t see beyond their own ill considered, ego-based articles of faith. We sold up and moved to Florida.
“Postmodernism first took off in the United States, where binary thinking is deeply entrenched, and represents a reaction to it among other things.”
A dominant ideology and its adherents who hold power do not like a challenge, even when the whole movement is running headlong over a cliff.
Postmodernism was a liberal challenge to conservative orthodoxy in order to unfreeze the rigid standards and change them.
But once the liberal challenge was successful, many liberals turned radical progressive and jettisoned the remaining Classic Liberals from their midst.
Now that the Left is fully dominant in the US within the government, academia, business and the media, postmodernism is jettisoned and in its place is the same binary rigidity that conservatives held 70 years earlier.
To suggest that there may be another side (or 10) that’s worth listening to even if it’s uncomfortable is now far more accepted/acceptable on the Right than the Left. And this is why Classic Liberals, Libertarians and Conservatives are often aligned against the fanatical Progressive movements of today. Something unthinkable 70 years ago.
“What is the centre ground between racism and anti-racism …?”
Not being racist, you moron.
“Those of us who are on the far-Left happen to regard our views as entirely reasonable.”
Own your fascism.
“We recently witnessed an example of that deference outside Westminster Abbey.”
Whenever you lot get hold of the levers of power, terror, torture, famine, and mass murder inevitably follow. We’re grateful to the Monarchy for its 330 year role in preventing this.
“The point is not to accommodate the neo-fascists but to keep their hands off the levers of power.”
Stunning lack of self-awareness.
“An alarmingly large section of the European population support far-Right politics or outright fascism.”
Your own Marxism is outright fascism.
This “Wokeism” era reminds me of my adolescent days in the late 1960’s…. My parents and their ilk were convinced that anarcho communism was on the verge of destroying the world… Viet Nam, where no other country would support America, the draft, and its protest, the long haired, Afghan coated hippies, and the ” come the revolution” pop groups, Paris ’68, The free sex and pop festivals all proclaiming the revolution, race riots, Rhodesia, Britain facing an exodus from Aden, Israel Arab conflict…… Northern Ireland brewing, and yet, it all faded, and disappeared, like the then pop stars, now found farming estates, shooting, judging Fox Hounds and sending their kids to smart public schools, and the ” come the revolutionites” perhaps all becoming line managers, local authority clerks or solicitors.
However, as there were no mobile phones or internet, it all travelled more slowly: summer holidays on the Italian Riviera dei Fiori were devoid of would be hippies,and revolutionaries, and short haired young men preferred big motorcycles, monogrammed hand made shirts, hand tooled loafers … and yet by the 1970s The Red Brigade appeared in Italy….
Perhaps it it is ” plus ca change’ and change back?
Marxists like Terry subscribe to the BLM school of race relations. They sneer at Martin Luther King’s message.
Well, I do know, that were I in Europe, I would be an extremist, far-right in particular. In Europe to be a far-right extremist, it suffices to have noticed that every fiqh of Islamic sharia is deeply illiberal and to conclude as a result that unfettered immigration to the West from the Islamic world is a very bad idea, and to say so publicly. I have noticed this and drawn the conclusion (and as you may notice just said so publicly).
On my side of the Pond, I’m not sure that makes me an extremist. Here, I suspect the fact that I regard the statistics about black-on-black violence and black-on-police violence as vitiating the dominant narrative about racism being the cause of police shootings of unarmed black suspects (and the fact that I won’t as a matter of course capitalize black in reference to people of sub-Saharan African ancestry), and moreover regard the biological fact of human sexual dimorphism as relevant to public policy suffices.
Of course, in a rational world, I would most assuredly be regarded as a moderate: my economics is thoroughly Hayekian (including embracing his views on universal basic incomes and a state role in health insurance — properly so called, not pre-paid health care, insurance against unforeseen catastrophic expensed due to the need for medical care) and my political philosophy is Lockean, even if I have some sympathy for pre-Enlightenment view (being an Eastern Orthodox Christian, tends to give one sympathy for monarchist positions, even if one really doesn’t fully embrace them).
Alas, we live in an irrational world, and as a Lockean, I will echo Barry Goldwater, “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
You’re a good bloke.
‘You can’t back the planet and the oil producers at the same time.’
Stopped reading this nonsense right there. There is a perfectly rational argument for backing current oil production and future world saving and whatnot. The modern world currently runs on oil and you simply cannot shut off the taps. Its that blessed simple.
Personally, I have embraced the fact that I am an extremist in the viewpoint of many of my fellow Americans. We live in a bizzaro world and, as far as I can tell, being a sane rational person makes you an extremist.
Fellow American here! Could not agree with you more. Being sane is extreme these days. Like you believe a woman is born a woman?? No way, dude!
His comparison between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the US-backed assault on Cuba in April 1961 is far too close. The “Bay of Pigs” fiasco was an invasion of Cuban exiles trained and financed by the US. It was not a full-blown attack by the US military, who pleaded in vain for Kennedy to give them the go-ahead.
if one is seeking truth, wisdom or understanding, one may well end up with an extreme opinion. Fine.
Politics is different, especially if votes have a say. Here, we are right to seek some kind of middle way, a way that is acceptable to all. It was Margaret Thatcher’s aim (and achievement) to move the middle ground.
Eagleton talks about NATO “expansion” as though NATO were a conquering force steadily gaining territory until it reaches Russia’s borders. Like so many lefties (and others), he completely ignores the democratic wishes of the countries that pleaded to join NATO because of their extremely justifiable (and historical) fear of Russian domination. Also, like all lefties, he gives us the usual mash about the Iraq invasion, British imperialism, blah blah blah, as a “whatabout, whatabout” counter to the West’s condemnation of Russia’s invasion. Frankly, I find him quite revolting.
White Europeans didn’t invent slavery and reported rape incidents massively increased in post – apartheid South Africa.
I really enjoyed this article because for once I found myself reading the opinions that I hold, only expressed coherently. I was then amazed and distressed to find a barrage of disagreement expressed in the comments. I am beginning to find a nasty tide of opinion growing in the country nicely encapsulated in the conservative back benchers who seem to drive Boris. I am not really interested in labels. I am neither Tory nor Socialist, neither woke( whatever that new fangled word means) or I awoke. My only loyalty, and the source of my moral compass, is to the values of JC as captured in the Biblical accounts of his actions and teachings. All of the evils referred to in the article and responding comments can be judged against the Sermon on the Mount. Ultimately by the two commandments Jesus emphasised -Love God and Love your neighbour. It’s not complicated to understand although of course difficult to follow. Finally I do not understand how being anti-racist can be construed to be a form of racism. Being anti vegan is not a form of veganism. They are both philosophies of life but that’s a different matter. Have a happy productive day trying to make the world a better place.
Hmm. Those “Puritan founders” of the United States wanted to build their Utopian “City on a Hill,” a place where they could impose conformity to their norms. That Utopia did not tolerate tolerance.
Meanwhile, the author leaves out those other “founders”–like the folks who settled Virginia or ventured beyond the mountains into the Ohio River Valley. They just wanted to make a buck and be left alone.
Today’s progressives may perceive themselves as liberal, but they’re not. They just want to impose their neo-Puritan vision on the rest of us.
Religious Freedom: Who Cares?The neo-Puritanical will to build a “City on a Hill” motivates a militant cultural imperialism.https://dvwilliamson.substack.com/p/religious-freedom-why-we-should-care
Only Progressives think they’re Liberal.One person’s concept of the “common good” does violence to another person’s individual rights.https://dvwilliamson.substack.com/p/stop-calling-progressives-liberals
Cutting the King’s head off was not particularly deferential, nor was creating a huge army and killing thousands of his supporters in battle.
The only explanation is that they are reduced to scraping the bottom of the barrel. Perhaps they only pay a pittance.
I believe in Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt’s notion that the political is the distinction between friend and enemy. I.e., there is no politics without an enemy.
So, naturally we all think of people that think like we do as nice fuzzy centrists that get together down the pub. Whereas people that disagree with us are enemies. And we agree with Capt. Hastings, viewing his vandalized Lagonda, that “hanging’s too good for some people.”
Yes, what DO you think about extremists that vandalize Lagondas?
I think that Aston Martin provides skilled and fulfilling employment to thousands of hardworking people, and if Capt. Hastings whoever he is wants to buy a Lagonda, good for him.
And I’m an aggressively anti-woke conservative with some classical liberal sympathies, not a nice fuzzy centrist, so speak for yourself.
Don’t think most people would call u extremist for those views? I mean right of centre for some of them sure but we’ve had a democratically elected conservative government in the UK for the last 12 years who agree with most of that so are you really saying 43% of the electorate are being consistently called extremist? Don’t think it really adds up and is more a boogie man image of a few people on the left taken out of context
Thanks Terry, interesting article about liberalism and instinctive centralism
It is so hard to discern the left from the right these days. Even if one lightly questions the USA’s undying love for Israel they are accused of being antisemitic.If one points out how gun laws did not stop crime in Central American countries then that person is a paranoid White Supremest. I guess the best move right now is to wait untill the USA is nolonger a functional sosciaty. Then we can try something new.
“The almost total exclusion of republican voices during the recent orgy of British self-adulation is a case in point.”
Yes, it’s rather like going to a jazz concert, which of course excludes by definition any other type of music. This is not ‘disappearing’, ‘suppressing’ or ‘handicapping’ non-Jazz music fans. In fact it doesn’t involve even thinking about them at all. Yet more thought-free BS from Eagleton.
Totally agree with the main point, and here’s a quick way to self-diagnose. Ask yourself if there is any significant issue on which you hold an “extreme” (non-mainstream… let’s define this as outside the Overton Window) opinion? If not, you are an unthinking liberal. This doesn’t mean of course that you then have to rush off to join an ideology which rejects the mainstream to every particular, which would be just as mindless. Healthiest is most likely to be holding a mixture of views some of which are mainstream and some of which are not – although you shouldn’t hold any particular view for that reason! Funnily enough this is a key factor in the shrinking of the space of free speech… because opinions then become determined largely by social positioning… otherwise known as virtue signaling (which is imho ubiquitous along the political spectrum, as Eagleton points out).
‘If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear’.
However I am delighted to see that UnHerd has cancelled Arnaud Almaric, whose recent controversial remarks were well ‘beyond the pale’.
One small complaint for the author:
model ourselves on Bill Clinton, of whom it was said that when he came to a fork in the road, he took it
The quote is “When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” was said by Yogi Berra well before Clinton even got into politics.
Many women’s experiences of Sexism and Blacks experiences of Racism have left many of them hurt and angry and feeling powerless and outside the charmed white male world. That seems to be OK with many of the commentators in this discussion. However anti-racism and anti-sexism are the best intellectual tools for white men to use to change their attitudes and behaviour and to reduce some of the damage done in this society.
Racist and sexist