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The Puritan spirit of America’s civil war This July 4, the nation is convulsed with revolution

Why reignite a conflict in which the good guys won? (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Why reignite a conflict in which the good guys won? (Alex Wong/Getty Images)


July 4, 2023   10 mins

It is hard not to look at modern America without getting the sense of a country that is frantically shedding its skin, in the process of becoming something new. But what will that be?

The country once defined by its powerful middle class is now a flagship of inequality that looks more like a high-end version of Brazil or Nigeria than the mid-20th century bastion of strong unions, churches, civic associations and inclusive political parties. In place of the promise of the American Dream, which was geared towards ordinary men and women, the new America now offers a paradoxical mixture of extreme wealth and glaring disempowerment, which is both intimidating and dispiriting. A glittering oligarchy of a type not seen since the late-19th-century Gilded Age, during which American robber barons plundered the art treasures of Europe, presides over a simmering landscape of uncontrolled low-skill immigration, drug addiction and dead-end service jobs.

More worrying than record levels of inequality — whether measured in income, or in the ability to exert any meaningful control over the circumstances of one’s own life — is the sense of an irrevocable fracturing, which seems to gain strength from month to month, regardless of the fact that most Americans prefer some version of the old America. Propelled by the rise of identity politics, the fragmenting logic of market capitalism or the force of new technologies that reconfigure space and time — or all three forces working hand-in-hand — America has become the prize for a set of tribes engaged in a zero-sum contest for power and spoils.

That a central aim of the American experiment was to create a sense among disparate peoples of belonging to a single whole has been a relatively uncontroversial statement throughout even the worst periods of the country’s history. The agreement that every citizen inherently possessed the same rights as every other citizen, however incomplete in practice, has been a powerful engine for social change, from the fight to end slavery to the campaigns for women’s rights and gay marriage. Yet while the slogan e pluribus unum — “out of many, one” — retains its place in the American currency, it is hardly embraced by most of the country’s leading social and political voices, who depict the country’s history as an unrelieved march of racism and oppression, opposed by the forces of justice.

Where the idea of an American nation or community is increasingly rejected as a remnant of a hegemonic and oppressive past, the celebration of particularity reigns. There is the mandatory replacement of the American flag by sectarian banners — the Black Lives Matter flag for Black History Month; the ever-changing LGBTQA+ symbols for Pride Month — along with elaborate ceremonies of printing new postage stamps, and rewriting history books to focus on the laudable achievements of tribal heroes. These rituals of civic replacement are eagerly embraced by both the oligarchs and the state, and celebrated by large corporations, city halls, the US Congress and US Embassies around the world. Meanwhile, the failure to participate — by, say, flying a large American banner instead — is cause for suspicion of allegiance to a bygone order that has turned rancid, like the bitter-enders down South who decorate their pick-ups with Confederate flags.

The paradoxical nature of the current American predicament is therefore hard to miss. On the one hand, Silicon Valley has cemented America’s place as the wealthiest and most powerful nation on Earth, the unchallenged global leader in fields like AI and biotech — capable of disintegrating any would-be rival by pushing a button and detaching them from the global banking system and the internet. On the other, the digital revolution propelled by American technology and finance is visibly disintegrating America itself. The meritocratic universities and other institutions that once made America the envy of the world are hostages of a new political system in which rote repetition of Democratic Party catechisms about race, class, gender and identity has replaced institutional values such as intellectual independence and critical inquiry. Such ambitions, along with the pursuit of beauty and other forms of excellence, are now signs of Right-wing heresy, to be stamped out by party administrators who administer, well, pretty much everything.

The Democratic Party plays a central role in the new American order, serving as a kind of shadow state, or state-within-a-state — the supremacy of the former being characteristic of so-called revolutionary regimes overseas. Once a vehicle for working Americans to achieve tangible goals such as home ownership, decent healthcare, national parks and a dignified old age, the Democrats under the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama found a new place in the sun as the address to which the oligarchs pay protection money and do deals with the security agencies in Washington — after endorsing a global trade regime that cost millions of Americans their jobs and flooded their towns with fentanyl.

The Republican Party, meanwhile, once the party of America’s richest moneymen and biggest industrialists, now poses as the party of small business and the dispossessed, under the leadership of an oft-indicted figure who surrounds himself with the dregs of American political life. Whatever threat Donald Trump once posed to the robber barons and the bureaucracies they have allied themselves with, he long ago revealed himself to be a clownish figure, alternating populist rhetoric with self-pitying conspiracy theories while repeatedly failing to protect himself or his followers from forces that mean them harm. The result has been political suicide for Republicans who support him, as well as those who oppose them.

If one side of the new American coin is oligarchy and political failure, then the other is sectarian rule — another of those recognisable miseries that afflicts revolutionary countries, along with poverty, ignorance, corruption, the use of security agencies to fight personal battles, state censorship and the jailing of political opponents. Perhaps the overwhelming characteristic of such places is the colonisation of every aspect of life that might otherwise provide solace to ordinary people — the arts, academia, law, office life, even family life — by “politics”, a word that is carefully chosen to obscure the absence of coherent thought, which is in any case impossible, since the only fixed principle of such revolutionary politics is sectarian warfare, a danger that the country’s founders worked mightily to avoid.

Yet to claim that America has succumbed to a revolutionary coup seems more than a little overheated. Nigeria doesn’t dominate the global banking system or run the internet — America does. Brazilian presidents may indict and jail their political enemies, as American presidents of both parties clearly itch to do — but America’s favelas are wildly more luxurious than their Brazilian equivalents. Unlike Cuba or Venezuela, America is the home of Starbucks, Microsoft, Apple, J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs, as well as Tesla and Elon Musk. In recent decisions on abortion and affirmative action, the country’s conservative Supreme Court has provided a powerful counterweight to the progressive enthusiasms of the moment, just as the country’s founders intended.

Meanwhile, Americans continue to invent new ways of seeing and being, just as they have always done — even though other Americans may experience them as noxious. In other words, the simple narratives of national decline, the rise of tribalism and even the fracturing effects of revolutionary new technologies hardly suffice to explain the scale and totalising nature of the changes America is experiencing, which are entirely real.

A clue to the real nature of the sweeping and convulsive changes that have overtaken the familiar American social and political order can be found in the aftermath of the killing of a black man by a white policeman in the city of Minneapolis in 2020. A petty criminal who was high on fentanyl and suffered a fatal heart attack while a police officer named Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck to restrain him, George Floyd was an ideal symbolic victim for both sides of the American political divide: a black martyr who incarnated the ills of a community whose members saw themselves as historical victims of an organised system of white supremacy enforced through police brutality. Chauvin was sentenced to over 20 years in prison after being convicted of murder.

Surprisingly, given the massive street demonstrations and accompanying riots that followed Floyd’s death, virtually no public attention nor energy was devoted to the underlying economic and social inequalities that helped destroy his life. No public programmes were announced to fight drug addiction or promote job training, employment or education. Even as the Democratic Party leadership knelt down in the hall of Congress with pieces of colourful kente cloth around their necks to confess their own culpability for the evils of racial inequality, the Party embraced prolonged Covid lockdowns and school closures — measures which had a particularly negative impact on children in marginalised and underserved communities.

Instead, the response to Floyd’s death consisted of a public campaign targeting symbols of “white supremacy”. This campaign centred on attacks on America’s Civil War past, including taking down statues and portraits of Confederate generals and officeholders, removing funeral monuments from cemeteries, and even exhuming Confederate bodies from their graves. As part of this nationwide burst of iconoclasm, universities and other institutions issued long reports apologising for slavery, and solemnly “reckoned” with the crimes of past donors. A cynic might have observed that issuing apologies for crimes committed 160 or 300 years ago provided a convenient cover for universities such as Harvard and Yale to continue accepting hundreds of millions of dollars from individuals and governments around the world whose activities today are no less criminal and exploitative.

Yet, as universities scoured their walls for depictions of historical figures who had directly or indirectly profited from the slave trade, and large corporations and media companies embraced the wholesale adoption of language such as “white supremacy”, it became apparent that something deeper was at work. “White supremacy”, a term that had only recently been the province of historians and a handful of contemporary academic race theorists, became a primary target of the FBI, despite the absence of any evidence that white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other race-conscious extremists had become any more common or acceptable in America today than they were 10 or 20 or 50 years ago. Displays of the Confederate banner, which had been a part of Southern culture to the point where they had in most cases become generalised symbols of rebellion, were suddenly forbidden. To a historically-minded observer, the renewed obsession with race, the attacks on symbols of the Confederacy, the agonised institutional self-searching, all pointed to a single overarching theme of the cause that had captured the imagination of the country’s elites: refighting the American Civil War.

The decision to reignite a conflict in which more than 600,000 Americans died, and which resulted in a resounding Northern victory, the end of slavery and the continuation of a national project that would benefit hundreds of millions of people in the 20th century, might seem like a perverse choice. As far as I know, no one in England or France calls for refighting Cromwell’s Revolution, say, or the French Revolution, on account of their victories being incomplete. Moreover, the monuments that the iconoclasts removed in 2020-21 were not erected by the Confederate government, but under Union rule; they were symbols of the national truce that followed the war, in which Southerners acknowledged defeat and Northerners let them bury their dead and rejoin the Union. So why reignite a conflict in which the good guys won, after nearly drowning the country in blood?

The answer, of course, is that while the national truce that followed the Civil War may have benefited the nation as a whole, it did not meet the aims of some of the victors — Southern slaves, whose descendants are rightly more concerned with economic progress and the safety of their children, and Northern abolitionists, whose heirs had apparently retaken power, and whose true radicalism had been largely edited out of the American story.

While Abraham Lincoln’s chief war aim was to preserve the Union, the hymn of the Northern abolitionists was “John Brown’s Body”, which commemorated the death of the firebrand who was executed by the US Government in 1859 for his attempt to initiate a Southern slave revolt through a suicidal raid on the town of Harper’s Ferry, in which 17 people died, most of them freed blacks. Northern soldiers with abolitionist sympathies sang the hymn as they marched into battle, announcing themselves to be soldiers in a holy war in which “John Brown was John the Baptist of the Christ we are to see”. Rewritten by Julia Howe, who cleansed the song of any mention of John Brown, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” became the most popular marching song of the American military after the Civil War, attesting to America’s new sense of national purpose:

“In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.”

Northern Abolitionists, the direct heirs of the New England Puritans, could claim to be entirely consistent in their rejection of the national truce, both in the aftermath of the Civil War and also 160 years later. The civic compact that followed the war was not of their making. Neither was the original compact on which the Union was founded in 1789, following the successful American Revolution against the British. Both compacts were secular instruments, in which the demands of God and justice were subordinated to the requirements of getting disparate peoples — including New England Puritans and Southern slaveholders — to somehow live together.

For the Puritans and their contemporary heirs, the successes of the earthly compromises on which the country was founded — the US Constitution, victory in the Civil War, the rise of America to Great Power status, victory in the Second World War, the success of the Civil Rights movement, the defeat of Soviet Communism — were immaterial. Puritans understood evil as a foe to be rooted out without compromise, on pain of endangering one’s soul. While earthly wealth was nice, the Kingdom of Heaven was far better.

What made the 17th-century Puritans who settled New England unique in their moment was the transmutation of religious militancy from opposing earthly foes to internal struggle. According to Perry Miller, the great historian of New England Puritanism, the Puritans — themselves a radical faction of the English Puritans who won, and then lost, the Glorious Revolution — arrived in New England with the goal of building a “city on a hill”, in the words of their leader John Winthrop. The Puritans imagined their settlement as a model community that would serve as a beacon to Europe, which was then mired in seemingly intractable religious wars. Through the shining example of the small New England colony, old Europe would come to realise its folly and embrace the truth of Puritanism.

When Europe predictably ignored the Puritans’ example, New England was engulfed by a spiritual crisis, which resulted in a collective turning-inwards — an attempt to relocate the crashing failure of their mission into the American wilderness within the inner lives of the colonists themselves. The resulting turn from outward-looking grandiosity towards a narcissistic obsession with the scouring of one’s own soul in search of sin would remain characteristic of the American Puritan consciousness, and of the country that was at least partly built on the foundation they established.

Today’s America, caught in a war between the demands of national coexistence and absolutist obsessions with racial sin, is a place that the country’s Puritan ghosts would easily recognise. And despite the careful clockwork of the country’s Enlightenment founders, the Puritan ghost has never ceased to exist within the national machinery. Sometimes, the ghost presents itself as the nation’s conscience, as it did during the Civil Rights movement. During the Great Depression, FDR sought to contain this impulse by refounding the Democratic Party, and mid-20th-century American culture, as an alliance between Northern ethnic Democratic Party machines and the Old South, breathing new life into the country’s original Constitutional forms — but also renewing its anti-Puritan compromise with evil.

The current American revolution, by contrast, represents another outbreak of the Puritan spirit, which is guilt-ridden and self-obsessed, and at the same time determined to realise the kingdom of heaven on earth. At once deeply and inherently American, it is also opposed to what has been the American social and cultural order of the past three centuries. It is a mistake to believe that the Puritan ghost can ever be satisfied, especially through compromise. Puritanism is a revolutionary, iconoclastic and totalising movement, whose truths are religious and uncompromising. The question for Americans now is which of the country’s two founding visions they will choose: that of the country’s rationalist Enlightenment Founders, whose imagination of a great, continent-sized American nation has already been achieved, or the wilder visions of its founding saints.


David Samuels is a writer who lives in upstate New York.


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Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

My take is that we are experiencing the failure of the regime of the educated class (all over the world, not just in the US).
Remember? The educated would help the workers to prosperity, with wage and hour laws, unions, pensions. Only the market economy doesn’t work like that.
Then the educated would liberate women with the vote, divorce, the Pill, abortion, careers. Only life doesn’t work like that, particularly for women.
Then the educated would make blacks free at last. But with welfare and quotas, many blacks have descended into cultural Armageddon.
And then there is the LGBT madness.
So everything that the educated class knew would transform the world has failed.
Rule One in politics. You cannot admit you were wrong. No, it’s the enemy white supremacist ordinary middle class that’s to blame,

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago

For all the talk about about colleges turning into overpriced daycare centers where kids leave with useless Gender Studies degrees, everyone should have been just as worried about the next generation of the West’s elites being taught myths about the world and blunt interventionalist foreign policy as well as the economic distortion of traditional capitalism into corporate cronyism. Now our new generation of leaders are incapable of coming up with new ideas, have no clue how things functioned in the past, and think everyone who is unimpressed by them are evil racists.

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt Hindman
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Yes, Totalitarianism is lurking just around the corner.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Yes, Totalitarianism is lurking just around the corner.

Cate Terwilliger
Cate Terwilliger
1 year ago

Fair enough.
Please, though, no more “LGBT” or “LGBTQ+” or any such. We LGB have suffered enough in having our historical civil rights movement associated with gender ideology; most of us oppose that madness as fully as most straight people, seeing it as clearly misogynistic and homophobic. Personally, I find it repugnant.
If you are not LGB, please help us dismantle this forced teaming by purposefully rejecting it in your thinking and language. We are not them.

Tom O
Tom O
1 year ago

Here’s a reasonable suggestion: Rein in the nutjob trans activists who want to force genital mutilation and trans ideology on kids. Because they’re starting to marginalize LGBTQ folks, as parents react to this weird indoctrination.

S Wilkinson
S Wilkinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom O

The LGB can’t evict the TQ+ cuckoo from the nest. They can only stand against them by leaving the toxic parasitic invader to inhabit that space alone and being part of the general stand against them. Every time we use LGBT or LGBTQ etc we play into the trans lobby’s hands.

S Wilkinson
S Wilkinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom O

The LGB can’t evict the TQ+ cuckoo from the nest. They can only stand against them by leaving the toxic parasitic invader to inhabit that space alone and being part of the general stand against them. Every time we use LGBT or LGBTQ etc we play into the trans lobby’s hands.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

This piece was about much more that the rights of one group of people.

Tom O
Tom O
1 year ago

Here’s a reasonable suggestion: Rein in the nutjob trans activists who want to force genital mutilation and trans ideology on kids. Because they’re starting to marginalize LGBTQ folks, as parents react to this weird indoctrination.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

This piece was about much more that the rights of one group of people.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago

Do you think education is a bad thing then? Which labour laws would you agree or disagree with? Would you be happy sending your kids to work down a coal mine? What about the 5 day week? Is that a market distortion you would like to dispose of? Where do draw the line?

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

I draw the line at discriminating against Asians and whites on the basis of race. I draw the line at people who demand I agree that there’s no definition of the word “woman,” that vaginas be renamed “bonus holes” and that men can become pregnant. I draw the line at people who think the government has not just the right, but the duty, to censor free speech and a free press. I think my country’s flag should have precedence over any political flag of many colors. I don’t believe that the secular religion of LGBTQ++ should be the established religion of the US, particularly when the Constitution prohibits the establishment of any religion.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago

That’s a very effective reply, Douglas, partly because it’s what Christopher was trying to say in the first place. The problem is not education per se but the misuse of education, which is the result not only of foolishness but also of arrogance.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

This piece was about much more than one group of people.

Julian Pellatt
Julian Pellatt
1 year ago

Well stated, Sir!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

Almost. The full language is “Congress shall make no law concerning the establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof”. According to that wording, the People can do whatever they please or can get away with (within limits, of course) as far as religion goes, but Congress can neither enshrine a particular faith nor prevent its advance.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago

That’s a very effective reply, Douglas, partly because it’s what Christopher was trying to say in the first place. The problem is not education per se but the misuse of education, which is the result not only of foolishness but also of arrogance.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

This piece was about much more than one group of people.

Julian Pellatt
Julian Pellatt
1 year ago

Well stated, Sir!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

Almost. The full language is “Congress shall make no law concerning the establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof”. According to that wording, the People can do whatever they please or can get away with (within limits, of course) as far as religion goes, but Congress can neither enshrine a particular faith nor prevent its advance.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Yes, bad education is a bad thing. The rest of your post is one straw man after another.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jerry Carroll
Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

I draw the line at discriminating against Asians and whites on the basis of race. I draw the line at people who demand I agree that there’s no definition of the word “woman,” that vaginas be renamed “bonus holes” and that men can become pregnant. I draw the line at people who think the government has not just the right, but the duty, to censor free speech and a free press. I think my country’s flag should have precedence over any political flag of many colors. I don’t believe that the secular religion of LGBTQ++ should be the established religion of the US, particularly when the Constitution prohibits the establishment of any religion.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Yes, bad education is a bad thing. The rest of your post is one straw man after another.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jerry Carroll
Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
1 year ago

Interesting the profile of the people who think the US & the world are going to hell in a hand basket. They all seem to be of a certain subset & position, pigeon holed frustrated with their theories on the good life, unable to find their way in the great modern world

Tom O
Tom O
1 year ago

We are truly descending into Orwellian times, and the sad fact is that the smug activists who find themselves on the same side as the institutionalists and cultural gatekeepers lack the historical context to understand that it’s only a question of time before the mob comes for them. Intersectional victim hierarchies keep pushing people further and further down the tree. Progressives have shifted chameleonlike from supporting women to pushing women aside in favor of a narrow fragment of transsexuals. Blacks apparently “ain’t black” unless they support the mob. The working class is apparently comprised of a bunch of rubes and simpletons who “vote against their self-interest.” It’s clear that the Left needs to keep stoking the outrage machine in order to prevent people from engaging in any kind of critical thinking about how horrible their policies are. All you have to do is look at any major American city dominated by progressive politics to see epic failure related to crime, drug trade and abuse, homelessness, and poverty. This is why the Left needs to keep your eye off of the ball and keep you arguing over subjects that are of little import to the vast number of people.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago

For all the talk about about colleges turning into overpriced daycare centers where kids leave with useless Gender Studies degrees, everyone should have been just as worried about the next generation of the West’s elites being taught myths about the world and blunt interventionalist foreign policy as well as the economic distortion of traditional capitalism into corporate cronyism. Now our new generation of leaders are incapable of coming up with new ideas, have no clue how things functioned in the past, and think everyone who is unimpressed by them are evil racists.

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt Hindman
Cate Terwilliger
Cate Terwilliger
1 year ago

Fair enough.
Please, though, no more “LGBT” or “LGBTQ+” or any such. We LGB have suffered enough in having our historical civil rights movement associated with gender ideology; most of us oppose that madness as fully as most straight people, seeing it as clearly misogynistic and homophobic. Personally, I find it repugnant.
If you are not LGB, please help us dismantle this forced teaming by purposefully rejecting it in your thinking and language. We are not them.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago

Do you think education is a bad thing then? Which labour laws would you agree or disagree with? Would you be happy sending your kids to work down a coal mine? What about the 5 day week? Is that a market distortion you would like to dispose of? Where do draw the line?

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
1 year ago

Interesting the profile of the people who think the US & the world are going to hell in a hand basket. They all seem to be of a certain subset & position, pigeon holed frustrated with their theories on the good life, unable to find their way in the great modern world

Tom O
Tom O
1 year ago

We are truly descending into Orwellian times, and the sad fact is that the smug activists who find themselves on the same side as the institutionalists and cultural gatekeepers lack the historical context to understand that it’s only a question of time before the mob comes for them. Intersectional victim hierarchies keep pushing people further and further down the tree. Progressives have shifted chameleonlike from supporting women to pushing women aside in favor of a narrow fragment of transsexuals. Blacks apparently “ain’t black” unless they support the mob. The working class is apparently comprised of a bunch of rubes and simpletons who “vote against their self-interest.” It’s clear that the Left needs to keep stoking the outrage machine in order to prevent people from engaging in any kind of critical thinking about how horrible their policies are. All you have to do is look at any major American city dominated by progressive politics to see epic failure related to crime, drug trade and abuse, homelessness, and poverty. This is why the Left needs to keep your eye off of the ball and keep you arguing over subjects that are of little import to the vast number of people.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

My take is that we are experiencing the failure of the regime of the educated class (all over the world, not just in the US).
Remember? The educated would help the workers to prosperity, with wage and hour laws, unions, pensions. Only the market economy doesn’t work like that.
Then the educated would liberate women with the vote, divorce, the Pill, abortion, careers. Only life doesn’t work like that, particularly for women.
Then the educated would make blacks free at last. But with welfare and quotas, many blacks have descended into cultural Armageddon.
And then there is the LGBT madness.
So everything that the educated class knew would transform the world has failed.
Rule One in politics. You cannot admit you were wrong. No, it’s the enemy white supremacist ordinary middle class that’s to blame,

Rob C
Rob C
1 year ago

The decision has already been made. All the country’s institutions have been take over by the Puritans and the Liberals tossed out. No one can oppose them any longer, we can only watch and see what they do.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob C

At this point, that’s my attitude exactly. When the covid madness started, and the BLM madness, I began reading Unherd, Quillette, various substacks, watching podcasts such as Triggernometry, watching youtube videos with Jordan Peterson, Victor Davis Hanson and others, all in an attempt to understand how we reached this cultural catastrophe and what could be done to turn the situation around.
I have learned a great deal, not least from Unherd articles. I think I have a better understanding of how we reached this point in Western culture. I still read fine articles, such as the current one, on Unherd that describe how we got here, but they’re starting to feel redundant.
Sadly, I find very little discussion about how we can get out of this mess. Admittedly, over the last year or so, more of that type of content has started to appear (although rarely on Unherd). But the suggestions seem generic and tepid. There’s a tone of resignation beneath the indignation. I am particularly struck by how the West now seems ruled by a uniparty: increasingly, left and right seem to differ only in rhetoric. They both seem unwilling to address the wishes of the vast majority when in power. Over the past year I’ve read that globalisation is coming apart. Really? It still feels to me like a globalist, one-culture agenda is being forced on us by the technocrats and lefties who think they know what’s best for us. The terms “nationalism” and “populism” are still dirty words in the msm, government and the bureaucracy.
But most of all, I’ve noticed that the vast, silent majority in the West are exactly that: silent. Ok, they grumble occasionally, and might even boycott a particular brand of beer when particularly incensed, but for the most part people in the West seem to be passive, even in the face of governments, bureaucrats and big business that run roughshod over our rights and aspirations. I think that’s why I’m now so pessimistic about the West. Overall, we just don’t seem to care enough to stand up for ourselves (yes, I know, certain Unherd readers will immediately respond, “Not me! Speak for yourself!” And of course there are some people who do take a stand, but not nearly enough).
I used to often ask in the Unherd comments section, “But what’s the solution to these cultural problems?” Now I’ve given up. History seems to have move past the majority of people in the West and we’re now nothing more than receding images in the rear view mirror. The only real hope, imo, is true revolution, but that’s a high barrier to cross.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Don’t give up. Try to synthesize a potential solution or two yourself from all your reading, but read from across the non-lunatic sociopolitical spectrum, if you don’t or no longer do. Hope and willingness to seek consensus can be contagious, just like resignation and despair.
I strongly disagree with the notion that the Puritans have the utterly prevailing upper hand, or that dividing the culture into Puritans and “Enlightenmentist” Liberals is very useful or insightful. Samuels makes sweeping, largely abstract generalizations that in my view are neither deeply true nor deeply false: they are sweeping. His grand-scale pathologizations have a measure a truth, but reveal a condemnatory and despondent pathology of their own–wait, now I’m doing it too!
But your “diagnosis” of a tendency toward lamentation an commiserating complaint here at UnHerd and elsewhere is spot on. Physicians, heal yourselves!
What sort of revolution do you hope for and how many might have to die to bring it about?

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I don’t hope for a revolution but things seem so bad revolution is now a viable option. Perhaps hope lies in the passage of time. Common sense might eventually reassert itself but it could take many years and much damage will be done in the interim. I should probably stop spreading my despondency.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Nah, honesty is cool too. But I wouldn’t mind seeing more of that hopeful or stubbornly constructive J Bryant you “reminisced” about above. It’s not like we have an excess of optimism or (not violent) solution-oriented comments here at the moment! Cheers.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

P.S. Though sometimes I forget that it’s hard to “read tone”, to me you don’t sound despondent, but frustrated and maybe a bit pleading, understandably so.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

P.S. Though sometimes I forget that it’s hard to “read tone”, to me you don’t sound despondent, but frustrated and maybe a bit pleading, understandably so.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Come off it!

‘We’ in the WEST have never lived in such benign times. We live far too long, eat far too much, and are obsessed by meaningless trivia such as this Trans rubbish, because we have no really serious challenges to deal with………yet.

In short we are luxuriating in a period of epic decadence not seen since the glorious days of Ancient Rome. As one who has spent his entire life plundering the planet to the best of my limited ability I can only be thankful that I had the opportunity to do so thanks to the sacrifice of my forefathers.

However as with Rome, ‘nothing last forever’ and the barbarians are indeed beginning to mass at the gates. Yet I detect among the educated young (those around 40) at least in the UK, a realisation that they will soon to have to ‘fight’ to preserve their way of life and that regrettably apathy just won’t do anymore.

Someone will emerge from the proletarian swamp and speak with the ‘voice of authority’, another Cromwell perhaps (hopefully.) Their immediate concern will be to reverse world population growth and stop subsidising the useless. We need a period of Darwinian realism whilst we can still execute it.
A harsh message perhaps but far better than the alternative which is cultural suicide.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

This is about the most sustained and sincere thing I’ve ever seen from you, sir. Engaging vehemence with good points until your tough-non-love concluding message. “Darwinian realism” sounds like an ominous euphemism for lethal population control or “enhanced” Malthusianism. As much as war games make the world go round or fertilize all things according to a certain worldview, we are not faced with a true binary choice between suicide and murder.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“we are not faced with a true binary choice between suicide and murder.”

No not yet, but we would be unwise to ignore the problem. Perhaps there will be a benign solution?*

Otherwise we will inexorably follow in the footsteps of the Mayans, Angkor Wat, Ireland, the Chinese, and countless others, who opted for greed rather than restraint.

(* Blissfully ignoring the fact we already have one called “birth control “.)

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

Fair enough. I almost said “not yet” myself. I want to say “not ever” but that’s not quite accurate or honest in this existential type context, hypothetical or not.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Exactly.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

Fair enough. I almost said “not yet” myself. I want to say “not ever” but that’s not quite accurate or honest in this existential type context, hypothetical or not.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Exactly.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“we are not faced with a true binary choice between suicide and murder.”

No not yet, but we would be unwise to ignore the problem. Perhaps there will be a benign solution?*

Otherwise we will inexorably follow in the footsteps of the Mayans, Angkor Wat, Ireland, the Chinese, and countless others, who opted for greed rather than restraint.

(* Blissfully ignoring the fact we already have one called “birth control “.)

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago

Population growth is already reversing. The problem is global warming.
And since the Northern industrialists who made America number one were Cromwell spiritual heirs, a new “Lord Protector” is about the last thing we need.
Doesn’t seem to work very well in the most polluting and polluted place on earth.
Russia

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

According to the ‘sainted’ UN the world population in 2050 will be about 10 billion.

Quite an increase on today’s 8 billion and FAR too many I would have thought.

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago

That will start falling sharply and of course unevenly. It’s the consensus now and predicted to be quite painful for the oldsters who will have no social safety net or protection from invasion and conquest.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Exactly.

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago

That will start falling sharply and of course unevenly. It’s the consensus now and predicted to be quite painful for the oldsters who will have no social safety net or protection from invasion and conquest.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Exactly.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

According to the ‘sainted’ UN the world population in 2050 will be about 10 billion.

Quite an increase on today’s 8 billion and FAR too many I would have thought.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
1 year ago

I am not convinced that the world population needs thinning. I think that relatively free market capitalism can put everyone to work if it’s allowed to. Paying people not to work is a double barreled waste. The subsidies could be more usefully invested privately, and the workers could be employed to produce something useful.

Relatively free market capitalism, with limited liability companies, has provided humanity with an unprecidented period of growth and prosperity, since about 1650. I will never understand why “experts” want to turn back the clock to pseudo feudalistic socialism, when socialism has failed disastrously every place it’s been tried.

Last edited 1 year ago by Douglas Proudfoot
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

It’s really not just about politics anymore. It’s more desperate and deeper than that.

Last edited 1 year ago by Clare Knight
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

Not “ thinning “ exactly, but the policy of prolonging useless lives must cease, and the subsidies must be better spent, as you so rightly suggest.

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago

Prolonging useless lives? What’s your solution to that?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Kat L

The elderly are kept alive by science, and I speak for myself. If I was offered a way to peacefully slip out of this life I would take it, and I suspect there are many others who feel that way too. It’s a b****r just waiting to die, yet we offer a peaceful way out to our pets. Of course it won’t happen in my lifetime, and it’s debatable whether the young will get to grow old.

Last edited 1 year ago by Clare Knight
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Kat L

The elderly are kept alive by science, and I speak for myself. If I was offered a way to peacefully slip out of this life I would take it, and I suspect there are many others who feel that way too. It’s a b****r just waiting to die, yet we offer a peaceful way out to our pets. Of course it won’t happen in my lifetime, and it’s debatable whether the young will get to grow old.

Last edited 1 year ago by Clare Knight
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Exactly.

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago

Prolonging useless lives? What’s your solution to that?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Exactly.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

It’s really not just about politics anymore. It’s more desperate and deeper than that.

Last edited 1 year ago by Clare Knight
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

Not “ thinning “ exactly, but the policy of prolonging useless lives must cease, and the subsidies must be better spent, as you so rightly suggest.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago

Within living memory, Charles, the British did defend their way of life. Could that courage and stamina have disappeared in two or three generations? It could have. But remember that very few people in the 1920s and 1930s, just after World War I, predicted any resistance at all to the Nazis. On the contrary, appeasement and pacifism (even a flirtation with fascism in some circles, their “voice of authority” being that of Oswald Mosley) prevailed until the day that World War II broke out.
I do hope that you re-think your hope for “Darwinian realism,” Charles. Though once fashionable in many democratic countries as “Social Darwinism,” this was precisely what they fought against in World War II.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul Nathanson
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Well said, Charles, not harsh at all just realistic. However, I fear it may be too late, that civilization has passed the tipping point with overpopulation and it’s effect on the envoronment. God forbid anyone in power should suggest that the religious stop breeding.When we’re still stuck at the point of bickering over the life of a fetus what hope is there for that!

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

A declining birth rate nearly everywhere that can afford no children paints a dire future. The Japanese are seeing that now because they dislike immigration or other cultures. We are seeing a population decline. Nature has forces at work that can improve the environment if we stop wasting so much..

james goater
james goater
1 year ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

Japan is beginning to deal with its precipitous population decline in a rather intelligent way — by allowing relatively large, by Japanese standards, numbers of foreign workers into the country to do the jobs that Japanese workers would prefer not to do, but only on a strict visa-controlled basis. Workers are sent packing*, as soon as their time is up and replacement workers are brought in! Overstayers are dealt with swiftly, so there is very little “illegal immigration” of the sort that has bedevilled Western nations for generations.
*Of course, workers with specially needed skills are issued with longer-term work visas which may or may not lead to permanent residency.

Apsley
Apsley
1 year ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

The birthrate is declining significantly in the western democracies and Japan. But elsewhere the opposite is the case, especially Africa where birth and fertility rates are soaring – and it has one of the youngest continental populations in the world. Overpopulation is the root cause of whatever environmental problems we face (‘climate change’ is such a trite, meaningless term I refuse to employ it in discussion). At the end of WW2 in 1945 the global population was about 2.2 billion. in 2022 the global population exceeded 8 billion for the first time. That’s an increase of nearly 6 billion people in 78 years. No wonder natural resources are being depleted massively to support this out-of-control growth in our numbers. And the UN celebrated this disturbing statistic, rather than seeking to take action to address the problem. Some forecasts predict a global population by the end of the 21st Century! But it is politically incorrect, unWoke, call it whatever, to discuss overpopulation, especially that of Africa. Ergo the problem merely multiplies. Quod erat demonstrandum!

Apsley
Apsley
1 year ago
Reply to  Apsley

I should have stated: “Some forecasts predict a global population of 12+ billion by the end of the 21st Century.”

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Apsley

I’m glad you corrected that I was really confused! I second evrything you said.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Apsley

I’m glad you corrected that I was really confused! I second evrything you said.

Apsley
Apsley
1 year ago
Reply to  Apsley

I should have stated: “Some forecasts predict a global population of 12+ billion by the end of the 21st Century.”

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

Replacing the populace isn’t a good answer.

james goater
james goater
1 year ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

Japan is beginning to deal with its precipitous population decline in a rather intelligent way — by allowing relatively large, by Japanese standards, numbers of foreign workers into the country to do the jobs that Japanese workers would prefer not to do, but only on a strict visa-controlled basis. Workers are sent packing*, as soon as their time is up and replacement workers are brought in! Overstayers are dealt with swiftly, so there is very little “illegal immigration” of the sort that has bedevilled Western nations for generations.
*Of course, workers with specially needed skills are issued with longer-term work visas which may or may not lead to permanent residency.

Apsley
Apsley
1 year ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

The birthrate is declining significantly in the western democracies and Japan. But elsewhere the opposite is the case, especially Africa where birth and fertility rates are soaring – and it has one of the youngest continental populations in the world. Overpopulation is the root cause of whatever environmental problems we face (‘climate change’ is such a trite, meaningless term I refuse to employ it in discussion). At the end of WW2 in 1945 the global population was about 2.2 billion. in 2022 the global population exceeded 8 billion for the first time. That’s an increase of nearly 6 billion people in 78 years. No wonder natural resources are being depleted massively to support this out-of-control growth in our numbers. And the UN celebrated this disturbing statistic, rather than seeking to take action to address the problem. Some forecasts predict a global population by the end of the 21st Century! But it is politically incorrect, unWoke, call it whatever, to discuss overpopulation, especially that of Africa. Ergo the problem merely multiplies. Quod erat demonstrandum!

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

Replacing the populace isn’t a good answer.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Thank you.

Peter Coffey
Peter Coffey
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

We’re not beyond the tipping point. In fact, we’re at or approaching the point at which world population declines. All of Europe is at that point, China is at that point, and the underdeveloped world will do so as it develops, following a long trend of declining birth rates with improved economic security. The best prospect for population stability is economic development.

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Do you have any children?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Kat L

No.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Kat L

No.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

A declining birth rate nearly everywhere that can afford no children paints a dire future. The Japanese are seeing that now because they dislike immigration or other cultures. We are seeing a population decline. Nature has forces at work that can improve the environment if we stop wasting so much..

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Thank you.

Peter Coffey
Peter Coffey
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

We’re not beyond the tipping point. In fact, we’re at or approaching the point at which world population declines. All of Europe is at that point, China is at that point, and the underdeveloped world will do so as it develops, following a long trend of declining birth rates with improved economic security. The best prospect for population stability is economic development.

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Do you have any children?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

This is about the most sustained and sincere thing I’ve ever seen from you, sir. Engaging vehemence with good points until your tough-non-love concluding message. “Darwinian realism” sounds like an ominous euphemism for lethal population control or “enhanced” Malthusianism. As much as war games make the world go round or fertilize all things according to a certain worldview, we are not faced with a true binary choice between suicide and murder.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago

Population growth is already reversing. The problem is global warming.
And since the Northern industrialists who made America number one were Cromwell spiritual heirs, a new “Lord Protector” is about the last thing we need.
Doesn’t seem to work very well in the most polluting and polluted place on earth.
Russia

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
1 year ago

I am not convinced that the world population needs thinning. I think that relatively free market capitalism can put everyone to work if it’s allowed to. Paying people not to work is a double barreled waste. The subsidies could be more usefully invested privately, and the workers could be employed to produce something useful.

Relatively free market capitalism, with limited liability companies, has provided humanity with an unprecidented period of growth and prosperity, since about 1650. I will never understand why “experts” want to turn back the clock to pseudo feudalistic socialism, when socialism has failed disastrously every place it’s been tried.

Last edited 1 year ago by Douglas Proudfoot
Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago

Within living memory, Charles, the British did defend their way of life. Could that courage and stamina have disappeared in two or three generations? It could have. But remember that very few people in the 1920s and 1930s, just after World War I, predicted any resistance at all to the Nazis. On the contrary, appeasement and pacifism (even a flirtation with fascism in some circles, their “voice of authority” being that of Oswald Mosley) prevailed until the day that World War II broke out.
I do hope that you re-think your hope for “Darwinian realism,” Charles. Though once fashionable in many democratic countries as “Social Darwinism,” this was precisely what they fought against in World War II.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul Nathanson
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Well said, Charles, not harsh at all just realistic. However, I fear it may be too late, that civilization has passed the tipping point with overpopulation and it’s effect on the envoronment. God forbid anyone in power should suggest that the religious stop breeding.When we’re still stuck at the point of bickering over the life of a fetus what hope is there for that!

Anthony Roe
Anthony Roe
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Most people are just figuring out how to prosper in the new dispensation. Puritans are not very bright and easily led-much booty can be amassed. The rest ignored all such fevers pass.

Last edited 1 year ago by Anthony Roe
Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Our intellectuals (in the sense of those who trade in received ideas) have become self-loathing and, beyond this, immune to argument. However, the universities, which are one of their bastions, may be on the point of sharp change as common people realize how debased they are when it comes to the humanities and how overpriced they are when it comes to STEM studies. This change may mean the dissolution of some of these institutions themselves or, at least, the worst divisions of them. We may thus be able to ignore these “elites” as they become more and more deprived of the power to inform the culture. One can hope so anyway. If the modern university is a thing of the past (please ignore the oxymoron), this may be true of other institutions that may collapse under the weight of their own absurdities.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Revolution due to rage and frustration is one possibility, J, to be sure. But remember that revolution is not the only possibility.
Periods of cultural disease, such as hedonism and nihilism, can lead either to “puritanical” cures (which explains the current series of moral panics along with their iconoclastic prototypes in seventeenth-century England and eighteenth-century France) or to spiritual renewal (which explains the Renaissance and the Reformation, each being one of several).
Another possibility is conquest–that is, being overrun by a more brutal and more primitive but also less passive and less neurotic society.
So, I can think of at least four possible scenarios. (1) We might succumb in the near future to paralyzing chaos (a.k.a. anomie) and therefore end up with a totalitarian reaction. (2) We might succumb in the near future to foreign aggression. (3) We might succumb in the near future to both, because the former is like an invitation to the latter. Or (4) we might succumb to any or all of those fates but recover nonetheless in the more distant future.

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

You are describing what many feel, nothing wrong with that.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Nah, honesty is cool too. But I wouldn’t mind seeing more of that hopeful or stubbornly constructive J Bryant you “reminisced” about above. It’s not like we have an excess of optimism or (not violent) solution-oriented comments here at the moment! Cheers.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Come off it!

‘We’ in the WEST have never lived in such benign times. We live far too long, eat far too much, and are obsessed by meaningless trivia such as this Trans rubbish, because we have no really serious challenges to deal with………yet.

In short we are luxuriating in a period of epic decadence not seen since the glorious days of Ancient Rome. As one who has spent his entire life plundering the planet to the best of my limited ability I can only be thankful that I had the opportunity to do so thanks to the sacrifice of my forefathers.

However as with Rome, ‘nothing last forever’ and the barbarians are indeed beginning to mass at the gates. Yet I detect among the educated young (those around 40) at least in the UK, a realisation that they will soon to have to ‘fight’ to preserve their way of life and that regrettably apathy just won’t do anymore.

Someone will emerge from the proletarian swamp and speak with the ‘voice of authority’, another Cromwell perhaps (hopefully.) Their immediate concern will be to reverse world population growth and stop subsidising the useless. We need a period of Darwinian realism whilst we can still execute it.
A harsh message perhaps but far better than the alternative which is cultural suicide.

Anthony Roe
Anthony Roe
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Most people are just figuring out how to prosper in the new dispensation. Puritans are not very bright and easily led-much booty can be amassed. The rest ignored all such fevers pass.

Last edited 1 year ago by Anthony Roe
Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Our intellectuals (in the sense of those who trade in received ideas) have become self-loathing and, beyond this, immune to argument. However, the universities, which are one of their bastions, may be on the point of sharp change as common people realize how debased they are when it comes to the humanities and how overpriced they are when it comes to STEM studies. This change may mean the dissolution of some of these institutions themselves or, at least, the worst divisions of them. We may thus be able to ignore these “elites” as they become more and more deprived of the power to inform the culture. One can hope so anyway. If the modern university is a thing of the past (please ignore the oxymoron), this may be true of other institutions that may collapse under the weight of their own absurdities.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Revolution due to rage and frustration is one possibility, J, to be sure. But remember that revolution is not the only possibility.
Periods of cultural disease, such as hedonism and nihilism, can lead either to “puritanical” cures (which explains the current series of moral panics along with their iconoclastic prototypes in seventeenth-century England and eighteenth-century France) or to spiritual renewal (which explains the Renaissance and the Reformation, each being one of several).
Another possibility is conquest–that is, being overrun by a more brutal and more primitive but also less passive and less neurotic society.
So, I can think of at least four possible scenarios. (1) We might succumb in the near future to paralyzing chaos (a.k.a. anomie) and therefore end up with a totalitarian reaction. (2) We might succumb in the near future to foreign aggression. (3) We might succumb in the near future to both, because the former is like an invitation to the latter. Or (4) we might succumb to any or all of those fates but recover nonetheless in the more distant future.

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

You are describing what many feel, nothing wrong with that.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

It seems unfair, let alone unrealistic, to expect that readers of UnHerd will be able not only diagnose titanic problems correctly, AJ, but also to solve them. Frankly, I’m glad to know that some readers are at least trying to think clearly about this festival of folly.
And it seems equally unfair, even judgmental, to rebuke readers for expressing their anxiety or sadness. After all, that’s why people seek communities: to experience the sense of belonging in good times or bad times. Even though UnHerd is not a community in the sense that historians and anthropologists would describe, it might be the closest substitute that many people will ever find.
I don’t think that you mean to be unfair, or even that you are unfair, only that your words give me that impression.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

I didn’t get the feeling of unfairness. As you say this piece is about issues of Titanic proportions, and in this forum it’s challenging to come up with theoretical solutions when none of the “leaders” can.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

I would like to try and counteract that impression, Paul. That wasn’t my intended message or tone at all. The commenter I was responding to, J Bryant, had expressed a kind of reluctant or regretful pessimism, which had followed on his more can-do-how do-we-fix it outlook of comments past. As an inconsistently hopeful person myself, who has both felt and resisted despair or stark resignation, I could also be talking to myself when I urge that he not give up trying to find or refine (partial, changing) solutions for himself and others.
Or course massive global and social problems cannot simply be fixed, especially with ideas or principles that don’t reach the heart or hand. We have to put rubber and fuel to the road, testing our speculative pathways in real life travels, so to speak. Actually we don’t have to, many don’t. I often don’t. Sometimes I do but I’d like to much better in that key regard.
However, I think that mere commenters can assess and analyze major problems in ways that might be valuable, to themselves and others. The brain works to synthesize what it initially can’t understand. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, many of the commenters here are quite intelligent (some of whom I usually agree with, some rarely). Now that won’t tend to result in a Grand Synthesis or Unified Plan for Cultural Success–such universalisms lead in totalitarian directions anyway. But why should someone require a PhD or paid column to develop personal, thoughtful responses to the problems of our day, and then offer possible solutions? As a general assessment, I’d say we’re in no danger of being too optimistic or solution-oriented in our current cultural moment.
I also don’t mean to suggest that there is no value in commiseration, even group lamentation. I participate in such “rituals” too. just wish it were more rare and more often followed by something more balanced or practical. I disapprove (I know, “so what?!”) of the number of articles here and elsewhere that are mere lamentations, or general charges of error, with no achievable goal or suggested road to improvement. That how I feel about what Samuels wrote to kick off this lively board: It is a vague series of more-or-less persuasive claims that offer no useful conclusion or recommendation. Articulate futility.
And articles or comments in which the proposed “answer” to our current woes is a complete victory for one side of the culture/political struggle are quite pointless. That cannot, will not, should not ever happen. OK, maybe for years or decades in a place like Germany or China, but not forever and not everywhere. Forces and people that seek to preserve/restore will always be in dynamic tension with those the seek to innovate/disrupt.
And that is how it should be. Most people have sympathies that lean one way or the other, not entirely to one side of the “preserve-innovate” construct. That’s good, because we need both. Let’s argue over and find consensus about the details. Articulate diagnoses of how (uniquely! hopelessly!) bad things are these days can be of interest or have cathartic effect from time to time–especially if they contain at least some good humor or human cheer–but such stuff comes a dime a dozen. Look around. Thanks for a typically thoughtful and detailed reply.
*In future I will not use term optimism in a favorable sense, for whereas in popular usage can be mean: “resilient and hopeful; willing to see the bright side of life’s struggles”. some are (quite fairly) returning it the original hyper-idealistic sense of believing in clear optimal practices and results, or the “this is best of all possible worlds” dreaminess that Voltaire satirized in Candide.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Sorry, AJ, I was feeling frustrated or frightened for some reason. Well, it is easy to imagine these days that we’re all sailing on a “ship of fools.” But this medium does work for me. Honest. And I’m grateful to UnHerd. The comments are often as helpful, or more helpful, than the articles. I like opportunities to think and argue.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

No worries, Paul. I respect your passion and honesty, even on those rare occasions when your take seems slightly unfair in some way. If everyone wrote me off when I was unfair–and I really don’t think you were in any notable way–I’d have exactly no one to talk to.
You’ve proven yourself to be fair-minded and courteous, and I’m trying to take a page out of your book and that of a few other polite commenters (I still tend to get riled up or rude at times–hope no one’s noticed). Disagreement and counterpoint can be worthwhile, even the best part of the whole deal. Let’s rock the boat *(or scuttle it, or steer it)–ship of fools though it can seem–not sink it.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Me too.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

No worries, Paul. I respect your passion and honesty, even on those rare occasions when your take seems slightly unfair in some way. If everyone wrote me off when I was unfair–and I really don’t think you were in any notable way–I’d have exactly no one to talk to.
You’ve proven yourself to be fair-minded and courteous, and I’m trying to take a page out of your book and that of a few other polite commenters (I still tend to get riled up or rude at times–hope no one’s noticed). Disagreement and counterpoint can be worthwhile, even the best part of the whole deal. Let’s rock the boat *(or scuttle it, or steer it)–ship of fools though it can seem–not sink it.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Me too.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Sorry, AJ, I was feeling frustrated or frightened for some reason. Well, it is easy to imagine these days that we’re all sailing on a “ship of fools.” But this medium does work for me. Honest. And I’m grateful to UnHerd. The comments are often as helpful, or more helpful, than the articles. I like opportunities to think and argue.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

I didn’t get the feeling of unfairness. As you say this piece is about issues of Titanic proportions, and in this forum it’s challenging to come up with theoretical solutions when none of the “leaders” can.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

I would like to try and counteract that impression, Paul. That wasn’t my intended message or tone at all. The commenter I was responding to, J Bryant, had expressed a kind of reluctant or regretful pessimism, which had followed on his more can-do-how do-we-fix it outlook of comments past. As an inconsistently hopeful person myself, who has both felt and resisted despair or stark resignation, I could also be talking to myself when I urge that he not give up trying to find or refine (partial, changing) solutions for himself and others.
Or course massive global and social problems cannot simply be fixed, especially with ideas or principles that don’t reach the heart or hand. We have to put rubber and fuel to the road, testing our speculative pathways in real life travels, so to speak. Actually we don’t have to, many don’t. I often don’t. Sometimes I do but I’d like to much better in that key regard.
However, I think that mere commenters can assess and analyze major problems in ways that might be valuable, to themselves and others. The brain works to synthesize what it initially can’t understand. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, many of the commenters here are quite intelligent (some of whom I usually agree with, some rarely). Now that won’t tend to result in a Grand Synthesis or Unified Plan for Cultural Success–such universalisms lead in totalitarian directions anyway. But why should someone require a PhD or paid column to develop personal, thoughtful responses to the problems of our day, and then offer possible solutions? As a general assessment, I’d say we’re in no danger of being too optimistic or solution-oriented in our current cultural moment.
I also don’t mean to suggest that there is no value in commiseration, even group lamentation. I participate in such “rituals” too. just wish it were more rare and more often followed by something more balanced or practical. I disapprove (I know, “so what?!”) of the number of articles here and elsewhere that are mere lamentations, or general charges of error, with no achievable goal or suggested road to improvement. That how I feel about what Samuels wrote to kick off this lively board: It is a vague series of more-or-less persuasive claims that offer no useful conclusion or recommendation. Articulate futility.
And articles or comments in which the proposed “answer” to our current woes is a complete victory for one side of the culture/political struggle are quite pointless. That cannot, will not, should not ever happen. OK, maybe for years or decades in a place like Germany or China, but not forever and not everywhere. Forces and people that seek to preserve/restore will always be in dynamic tension with those the seek to innovate/disrupt.
And that is how it should be. Most people have sympathies that lean one way or the other, not entirely to one side of the “preserve-innovate” construct. That’s good, because we need both. Let’s argue over and find consensus about the details. Articulate diagnoses of how (uniquely! hopelessly!) bad things are these days can be of interest or have cathartic effect from time to time–especially if they contain at least some good humor or human cheer–but such stuff comes a dime a dozen. Look around. Thanks for a typically thoughtful and detailed reply.
*In future I will not use term optimism in a favorable sense, for whereas in popular usage can be mean: “resilient and hopeful; willing to see the bright side of life’s struggles”. some are (quite fairly) returning it the original hyper-idealistic sense of believing in clear optimal practices and results, or the “this is best of all possible worlds” dreaminess that Voltaire satirized in Candide.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I don’t hope for a revolution but things seem so bad revolution is now a viable option. Perhaps hope lies in the passage of time. Common sense might eventually reassert itself but it could take many years and much damage will be done in the interim. I should probably stop spreading my despondency.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

It seems unfair, let alone unrealistic, to expect that readers of UnHerd will be able not only diagnose titanic problems correctly, AJ, but also to solve them. Frankly, I’m glad to know that some readers are at least trying to think clearly about this festival of folly.
And it seems equally unfair, even judgmental, to rebuke readers for expressing their anxiety or sadness. After all, that’s why people seek communities: to experience the sense of belonging in good times or bad times. Even though UnHerd is not a community in the sense that historians and anthropologists would describe, it might be the closest substitute that many people will ever find.
I don’t think that you mean to be unfair, or even that you are unfair, only that your words give me that impression.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The Covid madness huh. Tell me, why the disparity in those who were treated and those who were not? Anyway the premise of the article is stupid. The civil war wasn’t fought to end slavery it was fought to preserve the union. That’s why the monuments were granted. That’s why whites went on the rampage and killed blacks when Lincoln implemented a draft. Lincoln said it himself. If he could preserve the union and not deal with slavery he would. Even long before slavery the “union” lied, cheated, killed, raped and pillaged to gain territory. Facts! There was never a purity as a whole in this country. Never! So stop with this nonsense it’s the liberals. It’s odd that no where in the article did he mention Republicans actively tried to undermind the democratic process. You guys are pathetic.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

While I wouldn’t say that it’s “equal opportunity”, I respect that there’s a measure of balance in your contempt.
“There was never a purity as a whole in this country. Never! So stop with this nonsense it’s the liberals”. Good that you reject “radical nostalgia” at least. But I’d go further. There was never a enduring or thoroughgoing purity of any kind: moral, ethnic, genetic, intellectual, etc., in any society of two people or more, not since the (rigged) rules of the Garden got violated by the First Couple.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Have you read Harry Jaffa’s book “Crisis of the House Divided?” It zeros in on your core point.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

No, UnHerd, that argument is too facile. The North fought to preserve the Union, it’s true, but the Civil War would never have occurred at all had it not been for slavery. Southern states made their commitment to slavery explicit as the casus belli. The South went to war over slavery, which is why the North went to war. The North did propose other solutions, such as buying the slaves and then freeing them, instead of allowing slavery to continue and spread into new territories. But the South rejected those proposals.

james goater
james goater
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Your observations on the American Civil War seem perfectly correct — the war was fought principally to preserve the Union. It must’ve been your other points which brought on all the down votes. Here’s a balancing up-vote!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

It’s unfortunate that you don’t seem able to make your points without getting snarky.Also, It might feel less offensive if you had a name.

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Perhaps the author was British? Either way most people haven’t been educated beyond the simplistic version. I keep seeing the same argument repeated on various forums, 600k died to free the slaves…

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

While I wouldn’t say that it’s “equal opportunity”, I respect that there’s a measure of balance in your contempt.
“There was never a purity as a whole in this country. Never! So stop with this nonsense it’s the liberals”. Good that you reject “radical nostalgia” at least. But I’d go further. There was never a enduring or thoroughgoing purity of any kind: moral, ethnic, genetic, intellectual, etc., in any society of two people or more, not since the (rigged) rules of the Garden got violated by the First Couple.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Have you read Harry Jaffa’s book “Crisis of the House Divided?” It zeros in on your core point.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

No, UnHerd, that argument is too facile. The North fought to preserve the Union, it’s true, but the Civil War would never have occurred at all had it not been for slavery. Southern states made their commitment to slavery explicit as the casus belli. The South went to war over slavery, which is why the North went to war. The North did propose other solutions, such as buying the slaves and then freeing them, instead of allowing slavery to continue and spread into new territories. But the South rejected those proposals.

james goater
james goater
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Your observations on the American Civil War seem perfectly correct — the war was fought principally to preserve the Union. It must’ve been your other points which brought on all the down votes. Here’s a balancing up-vote!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

It’s unfortunate that you don’t seem able to make your points without getting snarky.Also, It might feel less offensive if you had a name.

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Perhaps the author was British? Either way most people haven’t been educated beyond the simplistic version. I keep seeing the same argument repeated on various forums, 600k died to free the slaves…

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I used to despair about this – but I think change is going to come. The energy issues in Europe have shown the geeen emperor has no clothes. The failure of US cities under progressive leadership can’t be hidden. Kids are starting to walk out of high school in protest over LGBT indoctrination. Most of Europe is backing away from medical transitioning of youth. Trust in the MSM is plummeting year over year. I don’t think a revolution is going to be needed. Normal people are pissed off and they are less and less afraid to say so.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

In retrospect COVID may well prove to have the catalyst for change?

Just as 1914-18 (sadly) destroyed our faith on the Patrician class, so COVID has quite correctly exposed the utter worthlessness of our current rulers. Their spineless, venal behaviour will not be forgotten nor forgiven.

“Every cloud has a silver lining”, as we used to say.

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Or “a blessing in disguise”? Not that I think that was neceessarily the case.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Or “a blessing in disguise”? Not that I think that was neceessarily the case.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

In other words, we’re mad as he!! and we’re not gonna take it any more.

James Stangl
James Stangl
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

I’m inclined to agree with you, only because we desperately need a catalyst for change. And while it may be a distinction without a difference, I don’t see the current radicals in the article as Puritans, who at least had a belief in a transcendent God. They are Jacobins, and may find themselves on the same scaffold as Robespierre.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  James Stangl

Yes, James, but there’s one problem. Who will replace the current Jacobins? Which moral panic will replace the current one? It’s not as if these aberrations emerge from nowhere. We had several during the twentieth century, and many others before those. As with ideologies, the names and causes change, but the deep structure doesn’t. If we’re going to stop these outbreaks of something like mass hysteria or even collective suicide, we’ll need to understand the phenomenology. And some academics are working on that (despite the political pressure), but they’re working mainly on the current outbreak. We need to see what links it to so many others, which is what Samuels is trying to do in this article. I give him credit for that, even though he could probably improve his argument in one way or another.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Quite solid point. Are we in another cycle, swing of the pendulum, where because of excesses the public rejects a lot. Government worldwide seem to have all lost reason and pushed a bit too hard.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Quite solid point. Are we in another cycle, swing of the pendulum, where because of excesses the public rejects a lot. Government worldwide seem to have all lost reason and pushed a bit too hard.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  James Stangl

Yes, James, but there’s one problem. Who will replace the current Jacobins? Which moral panic will replace the current one? It’s not as if these aberrations emerge from nowhere. We had several during the twentieth century, and many others before those. As with ideologies, the names and causes change, but the deep structure doesn’t. If we’re going to stop these outbreaks of something like mass hysteria or even collective suicide, we’ll need to understand the phenomenology. And some academics are working on that (despite the political pressure), but they’re working mainly on the current outbreak. We need to see what links it to so many others, which is what Samuels is trying to do in this article. I give him credit for that, even though he could probably improve his argument in one way or another.

Patti Dunne
Patti Dunne
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

We’ve also seen some encouraging Supreme Court decisions.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

There’s much to be said for hope (which relies on moral courage) as distinct from optimism (which relies on nothing more than naïve sentiment). On good days, I’m hopeful. On bad days, I’m not. Let’s try to encourage each other.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Lets encourage each other to be realistic.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Indeed. But not if that’s a synonym for fatalism or doomsaying. To hold that there is no hope at all (at least not in meaningful proportions) is neither an established fact nor helpful, If it were true, we would still need to pretend it were not, just to function and be (more) mindful of our neighbors, and of Posterity.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I seem to be able to face the reality that this civilization’s days are numbered, and still function. But that maybe because mine are also numbered.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I seem to be able to face the reality that this civilization’s days are numbered, and still function. But that maybe because mine are also numbered.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Indeed. But not if that’s a synonym for fatalism or doomsaying. To hold that there is no hope at all (at least not in meaningful proportions) is neither an established fact nor helpful, If it were true, we would still need to pretend it were not, just to function and be (more) mindful of our neighbors, and of Posterity.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

As you know from previous exchanges and my other “output’ I think every ism uses a smudged lens, especially when the view is isolated. I acknowledge that optimism can be no more than “naive sentiment” (instead of “wise sentiment”?) but what is dismissed as mere optimism is sometimes the stubborn, saving grace of Hope. I dislike pessimism more than “naive-ism” and find fatalism to be even worse from a mental and social standpoint. Often, so-called realism is in fact, fatalistic. Or resorts to ruthless pragmatism and other forms of hardheartdness in the name of what is considered factual or “real”. In closing, I reject all isms, whether practical or ideal–even contrarianism!

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Lets encourage each other to be realistic.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

As you know from previous exchanges and my other “output’ I think every ism uses a smudged lens, especially when the view is isolated. I acknowledge that optimism can be no more than “naive sentiment” (instead of “wise sentiment”?) but what is dismissed as mere optimism is sometimes the stubborn, saving grace of Hope. I dislike pessimism more than “naive-ism” and find fatalism to be even worse from a mental and social standpoint. Often, so-called realism is in fact, fatalistic. Or resorts to ruthless pragmatism and other forms of hardheartdness in the name of what is considered factual or “real”. In closing, I reject all isms, whether practical or ideal–even contrarianism!

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

There are other things at stake here apart from LBTQ+ and Covid. They’re relatively easy issues to rant about but one needs a bit of perpective. What about the very real possibility of the end of civilization? Yuval Noah Harari’s writings are worth a read as is ‘The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace Wells. If books aren’t your thing there’s David Attenborough’s brilliant documentaries.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

In retrospect COVID may well prove to have the catalyst for change?

Just as 1914-18 (sadly) destroyed our faith on the Patrician class, so COVID has quite correctly exposed the utter worthlessness of our current rulers. Their spineless, venal behaviour will not be forgotten nor forgiven.

“Every cloud has a silver lining”, as we used to say.

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

In other words, we’re mad as he!! and we’re not gonna take it any more.

James Stangl
James Stangl
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

I’m inclined to agree with you, only because we desperately need a catalyst for change. And while it may be a distinction without a difference, I don’t see the current radicals in the article as Puritans, who at least had a belief in a transcendent God. They are Jacobins, and may find themselves on the same scaffold as Robespierre.

Patti Dunne
Patti Dunne
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

We’ve also seen some encouraging Supreme Court decisions.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

There’s much to be said for hope (which relies on moral courage) as distinct from optimism (which relies on nothing more than naïve sentiment). On good days, I’m hopeful. On bad days, I’m not. Let’s try to encourage each other.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

There are other things at stake here apart from LBTQ+ and Covid. They’re relatively easy issues to rant about but one needs a bit of perpective. What about the very real possibility of the end of civilization? Yuval Noah Harari’s writings are worth a read as is ‘The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace Wells. If books aren’t your thing there’s David Attenborough’s brilliant documentaries.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Here are some solution suggestions for what you could do, selected for not being ‘tepid’:
Begin the development of the world’s first designed religion. Wokeness as an ideology or religion fills a gap in people’s souls, it tells them what a good person is, and it’s modern enough to feel relevant where Christianity doesn’t. But it doesn’t have to be wokeness. There are all kinds of spiritual value systems that could be formulated and adopted. After all, the world’s great religions may have an evolutionary flavor but someone had to actually write them down and set up their infrastructure.Create a website that argues persuasively that the Nazis were in fact a far left organization. Given that their name is literally short for National Socialists this shouldn’t be very hard. Give it a snappy domain name and make sure it’s hosted somewhere relatively bulletproof. Then start sharing it around. It should be a one-click rebuttal of the idea that leftism is more moral and kinder than classical liberalism (libertarianism).Study the exact process by which the law is changed, as if you yourself were a minister faced with a recalcitrant civil service. Begin creating an oven-ready body of proposed legislative changes that roll back the legal foundations of wokeness, e.g. the Equality Act 2010, the laws that allow governments to fund “charities” and so on. The idea here is that the sort of people who are effective at campaigning and building political movements don’t necessarily have the time to figure out all the details of what they should actually do to achieve their goals. Think tanks exist for this reason, they allow politicians to outsource the exact policy details to “wonks” who come up with concrete executable plans. You don’t have to work for a think tank to do this work, though. It can be a side project.

Last edited 1 year ago by Norman Powers
Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

You have to be willing to say the unacceptable. For example, Critical Racist Theory is racist, because it uses skin color, not character content, as the determining factor in evaluating everyone. You have to be willing to say that a university with a HEED award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion got it for successfully implementing discrimination against Asions and whites.

You also have to be willing to boycott things like Bud Light and Target. If companies involve themselves in woke, punish them by buying substitutes.

Last, but not least, you have to be willing to vote for people polite society tells you are unacceptable alternatives, racist or whatever. My enemy’s enemy is likely an improvement. I voted for Trump twice, not because I liked him, but because he was the best viable alternative. His opposition was demanding, and getting, censorship. Trump attacked the press, but never tried to shut them down. (I didn’t vote for him in the primary.) In a parliamentary system, your calculation is different, but the rule is the same.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Yikes!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Yikes!

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

My gut tells me that that the WOKE rabble-rousers are actually few in number, let’s say compared to ordinary folks who are just trying to get by in life. It’s as if a fever has hit the young, restless & silly which will soon dissipate as time passes and they have to start figuring out how to live as well…let them deny human nature, let them try to redefine thousands of years of culture…eventually they will realize that somethings just never change no matter how much they try. Too much focus is placed on these needy cohorts and activists groups; whereas very little has been written about ordinary people who are just getting on with their life. Going to school. Saving money to buy a house, Traveling & partying. Celebrating life’s passages. If possible, ignore & avoid the crazies. These people are mentally unwell, ingrates, unhappy, discontent. Don’t let them in.

Last edited 1 year ago by Cathy Carron
Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

The wokers are few? Maybe. But that no longer matters, because wokism has taken on a life of its own by now. It has already been institutionalized in legal codes, government policies, school curriculums and so on. Even if the wokers themselves were to join churches tomorrow, or have lobotomies or eventually end up in old-age homes, the damage that they’ve caused will nonetheless last for many years. It’s easy to forget now that countless targets and their families were destroyed during the moral panic over “repressed memory syndrome,” to take only one recent example. Moreover, we still have to live with the fallout of public cynicism, which resulted from the incompetence (at best) of professional psychologists, social workers, journalists and politicians.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

I don’t disagree with the prevalence of wokeism. That said, a backlash is there and it’s increasing. This moment is not over by any means.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

I don’t disagree with the prevalence of wokeism. That said, a backlash is there and it’s increasing. This moment is not over by any means.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago