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The arrogance of fighting extremism Both Left and Right are parodies of each other

Julia Ebner has gone very mainstream


August 24, 2023   6 mins

In Christopher Rufo’s new bookAmerica’s Cultural Revolution, the conservative writer and professional shit-stirrer argues that a malevolent woke ideology, promoted by misguided Left-wing activists, has taken over America’s core institutions, “effectuating a wholesale moral reversal” under the rule of “diversity, equity, and inclusion”.

“The wider effects on public discourse have been chilling. Many… have started to self-censor… In theory, progressives campaign in the name of diversity and inclusion. In practice, they destroy open debate and suffocate those who hold different views… In theory they say they want to protect their democratic rights. In practice, they destroy all trust in democracy.”

Except this isn’t Rufo. This, in fact, is the extremism expert Julia Ebner, writing in her new book, Going Mainstream: How the extremists are taking over, on how the fringes of the far-Right have taken over the mainstream. I simply substituted “progressives” for “the enemies of progressive liberalism” and “diversity and inclusion” for “free speech”. The alarmism was all her own.

We have reached a curious juncture in the culture war where the most entrenched combatants on either side have come to believe that the most deranged ideas of their enemies have politically and culturally triumphed, conquering the mainstream. Both believe that their sacred way of life is under existential threat from dangerous and deviant ideas that have marched from the margins to the centre. Both believe that some form of counter-revolution is needed to stop the rot. Both, bewitched by the excesses of their adversaries, have succumbed to the very derangement and loss of perspective of which they accuse the other side.

The crucial difference between Ebner and Rufo, however, is that Ebner bills herself as an expert and academic, while Rufo is explicit and unapologetic about being an activist with political aspirations. I won’t comment on Ebner’s credentials as an academic or extremism expert, but she’s certainly not a conventional one. For a start, it is rare for an extremism expert to be the subject of a long and lavish feature in a leading national newspaper. “I infiltrate incel groups posing as a man: my life undercover,” ran the headline of a recent Times magazine piece on Ebner, accompanied by two glossy photographs of her, brandishing her weapon of choice: an Apple laptop.

Clearly, the cloak-and-dagger intrigue of going behind enemy lines is a big part of Ebner’s appeal. Equally clearly, it isn’t something she feels particularly bashful about: “Views based on data + undercover research,” her Twitter bio says. In an earlier bookGoing Dark, Ebner put on a blonde wig to disguise herself (she was meeting a far-Right activist in a café in Vienna). This was one of five fake identities she used as part of her research for that book. “There is an adrenaline rush in doing any kind of undercover work,” she told a Guardian journalist in 2020.

In Going Mainstream, Ebner deploys three new fake identities: a French-British mother of two toddlers who is “opposed to Black Lives Matter, climate change action and Covid vaccines”; a white American incel who is “is fed up with feminism”; and a pro-Russia Bavarian whose “social vacuum” is filled with German QAnon and anti-vaxxer groups on Telegram. As Ebner explains, she uses these aliases to “infiltrate movements that I wouldn’t be able to join using my real identity”. One might well recoil at the use of “infiltrate” here, since Ebner doesn’t so much infiltrate any particular “movement” as marvel at and “fact-check” the misapprehensions of the extremists she comes into contact with.

In any case, this still leaves the larger question of whether Ebner has any right to deceive these people, however odious they may seem. There was an (arguably more ethical) alternative: like most researchers and journalists, she could have just requested to interview the extremists. This may well have given her a much richer perspective into their lives.

In choosing to do “undercover research”, as she calls it, Ebner is fundamentally and irrevocably at odds with the academic community in which she now finds herself. She is currently doing a PhD at Oxford, where she studies online radicalisation. And deceiving human research subjects is not only frowned upon in academia, but is strictly forbidden and potentially career-ending for the academic who engages in it. It has been this way for some time, certainly since the controversy that engulfed the American sociologist Laud Humphreys, who went undercover for his book on men who visit public restrooms in search of sex with other men. More recently, Peter Boghossian came under trenchant criticism for hoodwinking the editors of several academic journals as part of a hoax intended to expose the intellectual lunacy of grievance studies. Boghossian resigned from Portland State University in September 2021.

Ebner, who is scarcely a junior researcher, must surely know the stakes here, yet the insouciance with which she discusses her undercover approach is quite extraordinary. “Adopting a fake identity,” she writes in Going Dark, “is not unlike developing the character in a novel.” Or acting. According to The Times, Ebner’s spell as a children’s TV actor — she played “the part of a villainous bicycle thief called Lady Lila in an Austrian children’s TV show, Tom Turbo” — helped her “to develop her research abilities”.

As evidence for her thesis that “extreme ideas have conquered the mainstream”, Ebner doesn’t so much conduct research as selectively gather material from news websites and progressive NGOs and think-tanks to confirm it. The picture she paints of contemporary Britain is particularly bleak, and if you had never visited these shores and with only Ebner’s book to go on you could be forgiven for thinking that the UK is a freak show of racist football fans, misogynist cops, climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers and despicable “Terfs”. In her discussion of racism in English football, she cites an Economist article on how non-white players performed better when stadiums were empty during Covid lockdowns. “Experts linked this to the absence of racist abuse during games,” she relays, accepting this finding at face value and neglecting to add that the research was carried out in Italy.

But the cardinal error at the heart of Going Mainstream is that it conflates Right-wing populism and even liberal opposition to radical progressivism with the beliefs of violent extremists and mass-killers. Tucker Carlson, for example, is accused of purveying the so-called “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, an idea that “has inspired multiple deadly terror attacks in recent years”, including the 2019 Christchurch massacre in which Brenton Tarrant murdered 51 Muslims in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Carlson, of course, has never sought to justify, much less called for, the use of mass-murder to halt migration to the West, but in Ebner’s rendering there is little daylight between Carlson and Tarrant, the former simply the mainstream incarnation of the latter. Ebner doesn’t flatly say this, but she assuredly implies it.

Insinuation is also the means by which she seeks to tarnish gender-critical feminists. “Transphobia is not limited to online commentators,” she writes, citing the Labour MP Rosie Duffield as an example of a “high-profile” politician who has “lent legitimacy to anti-trans attitudes”. Immediately after quoting Duffield’s comment that trans women are “male bodied biological men”, Ebner seamlessly transitions to Vladimir Putin and his “defence of traditional family values”. Duffield, apparently, is on Team Putin. As for Ebner, it’s very clear whose side she is on, because she takes pains to tell us. “As a cis-gender woman I refuse to yield to those voices who want to sow divisions in the feminist and LGBTQ communities,” she writes.

Ebner’s elisions and exaggerations also extend to the political power and cultural prestige of those she denounces as extremists. “Andrew Tate is an example of toxic masculinity that has made it to the mainstream,” she writes, despite him being a globally reviled figure, albeit one with a huge online following. Similarly, she describes “dangerous” Jordan Peterson as “an establishment figure”, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he been ritually vilified in legacy media outlets and faced numerous cancellation efforts.

Towards the end of the book, Ebner approvingly cites her fellow extremism expert Cynthia Miller-Idriss, who in 2018 published a book with a near-identical thesis. Last month, Miller-Idriss came to public attention for an article she had written on “the intersection of extremism and fitness” and how neo-Nazis were using gyms and combat sports to lure in new recruits. The piece was roundly mocked, prompting Miller-Idriss to respond on Twitter by insisting that “I was a high school & college athlete. I work out several times/week. Fitness is key to my own well-being…” In Going Mainstream, Ebner has her own Miller-Idriss moment when she suggests that the UK parenting platform Mumsnet is a hotbed of extremist radicalisation. “Many parents who come to Mumsnet for knowledge, advice and support find themselves in a breeding ground for transphobia,” she remarks, citing one user called “Mike” as an authority for this statement.

While much of Going Mainstream is taken up with curating and correcting the most extreme views of anti-progressives, Ebner also interviews — using her real name — radical activists on the Left, including the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion’s London offshoot and a Black Lives Matter activist from Brooklyn called “Dr J”. Here she praises their idealism and bravery and resilience. There is no fact-checking. There is only credulous deference.

As a guide to how people become extremists, Going Mainstream offers scant illumination because it’s rooted in a tremendous epistemic arrogance that sees extremism as a deviation from the cosmopolitan liberalism to which Ebner subscribes. From her perspective, people become extreme because they have fallen prey to disinformation or are working through some psychological issue, and that, were it not for this, they would be on the side of the angels. And until they realise this, she seems certain that they should be “deplatformed” and that “harmful content” on social media should be removed.

It is here that her tactics bear a striking resemblance to Rufo’s, who, as a recent appointee of Governor Ron DeSantis to the board of New College of Florida, hopes to dismantle its gender studies department. Both Ebner and Rufo would no doubt be horrified at this: their political views and judgements are radically at odds with each other. But in their alarmism, selectivity and censoriousness, they are surely kindred spirits, transfixed and perennially triggered by the Twilight Zone-like unreality of the extremists they’re obsessed with.


Simon Cottee is a senior lecturer in criminology at the University of Kent.


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Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago

The intellectual incompetence and arrogance of Ebner is truly breath taking. She simply can’t comprehend that a normal human being might not consider a trans person a biological woman.2

There’s no doubt that extremism exists on both the left and right. The big difference is that progressives have captured the institutions, while the radical right have to be smoked out on Reddit.

And how do we know progressives control the institutions? Nothing will happen to Ebner for her research tactics. She will become a hero in fact, celebrated and venerated by academic colleagues and the regime media. Meanwhile, Boghossian was hounded out of his job, and was vilified by colleagues and the regime media.

Another big difference. Ebner directed her research at hapless internet trolls with zero power, while Boghossian directed his research at university researchers with tremendous power.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Also, he and his fellow hoaxsters James Lindsay came Helen Pluckrose have a sense of humor, something the wokies seem to pride themselves in not having.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago
Reply to  Studio Largo

Another factor is ignorance. Some polling in the US sought to test basic knowledge both of society and of other groups’ real political positions. Unsurprisingly, the most ignorant group was Republican high school dropouts but coming a close second was Democrats with two or more degrees. Many of the best educated progressives appear to live in a self contained bubble with a very poor understanding of the rest of society.

Last edited 8 months ago by Alex Carnegie
George Venning
George Venning
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

If you have the link…

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

I think I first saw this in a PEW survey which I can’t find but the same point is made on

http://www.perceptiongap.us

in the section marked “Education doesn’t help”.

Last edited 8 months ago by Alex Carnegie
George Venning
George Venning
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Interesting. I don’t know whether to be encouraged by the fact that my own “perception gaps” are lower than those of Americans in general or slightly horrified by the fact that Americans apparently know each other less well than I do.

George Venning
George Venning
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Interesting. I don’t know whether to be encouraged by the fact that my own “perception gaps” are lower than those of Americans in general or slightly horrified by the fact that Americans apparently know each other less well than I do.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

I think I first saw this in a PEW survey which I can’t find but the same point is made on

http://www.perceptiongap.us

in the section marked “Education doesn’t help”.

Last edited 8 months ago by Alex Carnegie
Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

At the risk of beating a drum already beaten so many times, the word “far” somehow attaches itself only to those on the right, even though those on the left are “far” in ways the right could hardly imagine. Is it correct to describe what the left has become as “labelism?” Put a label on something and it becomes that?

T Bone
T Bone
8 months ago

It’s just Repressive Tolerance. Adorno created the F-scale for Authoritarianism that could only be applied to the Right. That F-scale has become doctrine and other thinkers like Marcuse specifically outline how traditional conservatives are to be treated as Pre-Fascists. Clowns today want to act like its some Conspiracy Theory when its in fact a rebuttal to a thoroughly documented Conspiracy Theory known as Critical Theory.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
8 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Now I have to read Marcuse.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
8 months ago

Oh god for your own sake don’t!

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
8 months ago

Oh god for your own sake don’t!

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Fascism is a left wing phenomenon, and Marxists and Communists should be treated as outright fascists.

George Venning
George Venning
8 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I mean, sure, if you want only to refer to people with whom you disagree. But, all of those terms have distinct, non-conflatable meanings

George Venning
George Venning
8 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I mean, sure, if you want only to refer to people with whom you disagree. But, all of those terms have distinct, non-conflatable meanings

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
8 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Now I have to read Marcuse.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Fascism is a left wing phenomenon, and Marxists and Communists should be treated as outright fascists.

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
8 months ago

There are other liguistic nuances played around The Far, e.g. The Far Right is invariably The Far White. Islamists, and you can’t get further to The Right than that level of fascisim are never referred to as The Far Right!

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago

What you’re calling “labellism” I call “nominative determinism”.

T Bone
T Bone
8 months ago

It’s just Repressive Tolerance. Adorno created the F-scale for Authoritarianism that could only be applied to the Right. That F-scale has become doctrine and other thinkers like Marcuse specifically outline how traditional conservatives are to be treated as Pre-Fascists. Clowns today want to act like its some Conspiracy Theory when its in fact a rebuttal to a thoroughly documented Conspiracy Theory known as Critical Theory.

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
8 months ago

There are other liguistic nuances played around The Far, e.g. The Far Right is invariably The Far White. Islamists, and you can’t get further to The Right than that level of fascisim are never referred to as The Far Right!

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago

What you’re calling “labellism” I call “nominative determinism”.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Is that not an issue for the USA? The USA is massive country: much news is local, barely state level let alone national. Few Americans learn French, German, Latin or Greek. Few Americans have lived lived and worked overseas or even taken holidays overseas.
In the 19th century British Politicians read Latin and Greek and could converse in Fench and German. Most travelled overseas, many served in Armed Forces and some spoke Indian languages.
C Northcote Parkinson, the historian said a 19th century don had a degree in Classics, probably maths as well and spoke three to four European Languages. and divine would have read Hebrew as well .

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

True but the British system channeled the brightest school children into “two cultures” – classics and science – far too early. Nothing is perfect … but “Parkinson’s Law” is brilliant, very funny and still worth reading

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I’m not a don but have a Latin A-level, a degree in Eng. Lit. and a Philosophy PhD, and speak four European languages.

Last edited 8 months ago by Richard Craven
Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

True but the British system channeled the brightest school children into “two cultures” – classics and science – far too early. Nothing is perfect … but “Parkinson’s Law” is brilliant, very funny and still worth reading

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I’m not a don but have a Latin A-level, a degree in Eng. Lit. and a Philosophy PhD, and speak four European languages.

Last edited 8 months ago by Richard Craven
George Venning
George Venning
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

If you have the link…

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

At the risk of beating a drum already beaten so many times, the word “far” somehow attaches itself only to those on the right, even though those on the left are “far” in ways the right could hardly imagine. Is it correct to describe what the left has become as “labelism?” Put a label on something and it becomes that?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Is that not an issue for the USA? The USA is massive country: much news is local, barely state level let alone national. Few Americans learn French, German, Latin or Greek. Few Americans have lived lived and worked overseas or even taken holidays overseas.
In the 19th century British Politicians read Latin and Greek and could converse in Fench and German. Most travelled overseas, many served in Armed Forces and some spoke Indian languages.
C Northcote Parkinson, the historian said a 19th century don had a degree in Classics, probably maths as well and spoke three to four European Languages. and divine would have read Hebrew as well .

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago
Reply to  Studio Largo

Another factor is ignorance. Some polling in the US sought to test basic knowledge both of society and of other groups’ real political positions. Unsurprisingly, the most ignorant group was Republican high school dropouts but coming a close second was Democrats with two or more degrees. Many of the best educated progressives appear to live in a self contained bubble with a very poor understanding of the rest of society.

Last edited 8 months ago by Alex Carnegie
George Venning
George Venning
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The central thesis of this piece is that “right” and “left” are mirror images of one another, not in the bullshit sense of horseshoe theory but in their conviction that their enemies have captured the heights of public institutions.And, to some extent they are right, because there is evidence of daft ideas creeping into institutions. But the reason that the mirroring is possible is that each side is blind to their own cultural heft.
.
You’ve just illustrated this point yourself – noting that “nothing will happen to Ebner”. And, assuredly, it won’t. She will continue to pursue her research for a Phd at Oxford. But you neglect the fate of Rufo – appointed to the board of a University, with the explicit backing of the State Governor (and long-shot presidential candidate) Ron DeSantis – for the express purpose of disbanding an entire faculty. Even taking account of the relative cultural heft of Oxford and New College Florida, it would be hard to argue that “the establishment” was doing more to elevate Ebner than Rufo.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Nice try. For every Rufo, there are literally hundreds of Ebner’s. Let’s look at music. The guy singing try that in a small town is shredded by all the very important people. CMT won’t play the song. When was the last time that happened to a rapper? Jordan Peterson will likely lose his license to practice in Canada. Think that happens to a psychologist who says there is no difference between men and women? Do you think there is a balance between extreme right wing views and left wing views in the – bureaucracy, academia, culture, big tech, finance, the legal profession?

Chipoko
Chipoko
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You are right. There is no balance between extreme Left and Right wing views. The reality is that the extreme Left wing dominates every sector, including the corporate (and especially education from pre-school to postgraduate), whereas the extreme Right wing is generally marginalised in the nooks and crannies of society. While George Venning makes a valid point that the extreme Left and Right mirror each other, he has not identified the enormous imbalance between the two in our modern era or acknowledged that extreme Left is mainstream in contrast to the peripheries occupied by the extreme Right. Moreover, there is no discernible boundary layer between the extreme Left and the general Left (the whole is an amorphous continuum) in contrast to the much sharper delineation between the extreme Right and the majority of a more moderate Right wing disposition who generally occupy the centre ground.

George Venning
George Venning
8 months ago
Reply to  Chipoko

It depends what you mean by “Left”. If you regard a resistance to racism, misogyny etc as a property of the left alone then sure, the left is everywhere. If, however, you regard a general belief that we should aspire to regard one another as equals as an ideal of all decent people since at least the Enlightenment then the distinctive views of leftists are less dominant.
For example, the characteristically left-wing view that workers should control the means of production is not much in evidence in the capitalistic economy. Nor is the notion that workers should be able to band together to create effective trade unions and participate in collective bargaining ascendant (at least in the US/UK).
Again, the characteristically left-wing view that we should work at least as hard to avoid wars as to win them has been rather eclipsed since the 90’s too…
And there was even a time when a commitment to transparency and free speech was a property of left-wing thought. Although what has happened to that is a subject for a different day.

George Venning
George Venning
8 months ago
Reply to  Chipoko

It depends what you mean by “Left”. If you regard a resistance to racism, misogyny etc as a property of the left alone then sure, the left is everywhere. If, however, you regard a general belief that we should aspire to regard one another as equals as an ideal of all decent people since at least the Enlightenment then the distinctive views of leftists are less dominant.
For example, the characteristically left-wing view that workers should control the means of production is not much in evidence in the capitalistic economy. Nor is the notion that workers should be able to band together to create effective trade unions and participate in collective bargaining ascendant (at least in the US/UK).
Again, the characteristically left-wing view that we should work at least as hard to avoid wars as to win them has been rather eclipsed since the 90’s too…
And there was even a time when a commitment to transparency and free speech was a property of left-wing thought. Although what has happened to that is a subject for a different day.

George Venning
George Venning
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

And yet, Oliver Anthony, is all over the internet, has been streamed approximately one gazillion times and is the biggest breakout music star of the year. His unreleased breakout single having prompted a vigorous on-going argument about the plight of people like him. When was the last time that a hip hop tune caused that kind of a ruckus?
Likewise, Jordan Peterson has scarcely been cancelled. He makes a handsome living as a self-help guru and losing his licence to practice will only enhance his self-projected imageas a martyr to common sense.

Chipoko
Chipoko
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You are right. There is no balance between extreme Left and Right wing views. The reality is that the extreme Left wing dominates every sector, including the corporate (and especially education from pre-school to postgraduate), whereas the extreme Right wing is generally marginalised in the nooks and crannies of society. While George Venning makes a valid point that the extreme Left and Right mirror each other, he has not identified the enormous imbalance between the two in our modern era or acknowledged that extreme Left is mainstream in contrast to the peripheries occupied by the extreme Right. Moreover, there is no discernible boundary layer between the extreme Left and the general Left (the whole is an amorphous continuum) in contrast to the much sharper delineation between the extreme Right and the majority of a more moderate Right wing disposition who generally occupy the centre ground.

George Venning
George Venning
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

And yet, Oliver Anthony, is all over the internet, has been streamed approximately one gazillion times and is the biggest breakout music star of the year. His unreleased breakout single having prompted a vigorous on-going argument about the plight of people like him. When was the last time that a hip hop tune caused that kind of a ruckus?
Likewise, Jordan Peterson has scarcely been cancelled. He makes a handsome living as a self-help guru and losing his licence to practice will only enhance his self-projected imageas a martyr to common sense.

Kat L
Kat L
8 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Florida is but one state…honestly the two are not comparable.

George Venning
George Venning
8 months ago
Reply to  Kat L

A single academic at Oxford is indeed non-comparable with the large and populous state of Florida.

George Venning
George Venning
8 months ago
Reply to  Kat L

A single academic at Oxford is indeed non-comparable with the large and populous state of Florida.

T Bone
T Bone
8 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

George- Are Rufo and DeSantis open about what they’re doing or are they trying to embed vague concepts into academic research and then complain about the “reactionaries” calling out the obvious infiltration of transgressive nonsense?

What concepts is Rufo promoting that you disagree with? Like where is he wrong? I’m talking about actual concepts that New College will teach. Point out an idea in the New College program that lacks objectivity.

When you’re dealing with a left wing ideology wholly constructed by radical subjectivity and suppressing debate, what is the solution to that? How does one engage with Critical Theory when the whole point of Critical Theory is to suppress the engagement of its opposition?

Last edited 8 months ago by T Bone
George Venning
George Venning
8 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

I don’t give two hoots what concepts Rufo is promoting. That’s what academic freedom means. But I am (slightly) troubled by his desire to close down an entire department. Whatever that is, it is not academic freedom.
I am less troubled by the prospect of Oxford apparently lowering its academic standards to admit a single Phd candidate who may, or may not be bats. You would doubtless say that this is because her entire department is already bats and this shows their bias. And you might be right but my own experience of University suggests (to me at least) that they haven’t run out of fusty old conservatives yet.
As to openness or covertness. I think it’s pretty clear what all of the above are up to.

George Venning
George Venning
8 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

I don’t give two hoots what concepts Rufo is promoting. That’s what academic freedom means. But I am (slightly) troubled by his desire to close down an entire department. Whatever that is, it is not academic freedom.
I am less troubled by the prospect of Oxford apparently lowering its academic standards to admit a single Phd candidate who may, or may not be bats. You would doubtless say that this is because her entire department is already bats and this shows their bias. And you might be right but my own experience of University suggests (to me at least) that they haven’t run out of fusty old conservatives yet.
As to openness or covertness. I think it’s pretty clear what all of the above are up to.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Nice try. For every Rufo, there are literally hundreds of Ebner’s. Let’s look at music. The guy singing try that in a small town is shredded by all the very important people. CMT won’t play the song. When was the last time that happened to a rapper? Jordan Peterson will likely lose his license to practice in Canada. Think that happens to a psychologist who says there is no difference between men and women? Do you think there is a balance between extreme right wing views and left wing views in the – bureaucracy, academia, culture, big tech, finance, the legal profession?

Kat L
Kat L
8 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

Florida is but one state…honestly the two are not comparable.

T Bone
T Bone
8 months ago
Reply to  George Venning

George- Are Rufo and DeSantis open about what they’re doing or are they trying to embed vague concepts into academic research and then complain about the “reactionaries” calling out the obvious infiltration of transgressive nonsense?

What concepts is Rufo promoting that you disagree with? Like where is he wrong? I’m talking about actual concepts that New College will teach. Point out an idea in the New College program that lacks objectivity.

When you’re dealing with a left wing ideology wholly constructed by radical subjectivity and suppressing debate, what is the solution to that? How does one engage with Critical Theory when the whole point of Critical Theory is to suppress the engagement of its opposition?

Last edited 8 months ago by T Bone
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Society produces far too many intellectuals, with the consequence that far too many intellectuals are forced to adopt ever more hare-brained ideas in order to attract attention to themselves and earn a living. Meanwhile it’s harder and harder to find people with the practical skills that society actually needs. Ebner should re-train as a nurse, physiotherapist or bus driver. She would have a happier and more fulfilling life. So would we.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

She’s not even an intellectual.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

She’s not even an intellectual.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Also, he and his fellow hoaxsters James Lindsay came Helen Pluckrose have a sense of humor, something the wokies seem to pride themselves in not having.

George Venning
George Venning
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The central thesis of this piece is that “right” and “left” are mirror images of one another, not in the bullshit sense of horseshoe theory but in their conviction that their enemies have captured the heights of public institutions.And, to some extent they are right, because there is evidence of daft ideas creeping into institutions. But the reason that the mirroring is possible is that each side is blind to their own cultural heft.
.
You’ve just illustrated this point yourself – noting that “nothing will happen to Ebner”. And, assuredly, it won’t. She will continue to pursue her research for a Phd at Oxford. But you neglect the fate of Rufo – appointed to the board of a University, with the explicit backing of the State Governor (and long-shot presidential candidate) Ron DeSantis – for the express purpose of disbanding an entire faculty. Even taking account of the relative cultural heft of Oxford and New College Florida, it would be hard to argue that “the establishment” was doing more to elevate Ebner than Rufo.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Society produces far too many intellectuals, with the consequence that far too many intellectuals are forced to adopt ever more hare-brained ideas in order to attract attention to themselves and earn a living. Meanwhile it’s harder and harder to find people with the practical skills that society actually needs. Ebner should re-train as a nurse, physiotherapist or bus driver. She would have a happier and more fulfilling life. So would we.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago

The intellectual incompetence and arrogance of Ebner is truly breath taking. She simply can’t comprehend that a normal human being might not consider a trans person a biological woman.2

There’s no doubt that extremism exists on both the left and right. The big difference is that progressives have captured the institutions, while the radical right have to be smoked out on Reddit.

And how do we know progressives control the institutions? Nothing will happen to Ebner for her research tactics. She will become a hero in fact, celebrated and venerated by academic colleagues and the regime media. Meanwhile, Boghossian was hounded out of his job, and was vilified by colleagues and the regime media.

Another big difference. Ebner directed her research at hapless internet trolls with zero power, while Boghossian directed his research at university researchers with tremendous power.

leonard o'reilly
leonard o'reilly
8 months ago

If your objective was to illustrate how both “Left and Right are parodies of each other” then you have left a very great asymmetry in your wake. Apart from the first and last paragraphs, in which you briefly mention Rufo, all of your ire is directed at taking apart the ‘extremism expert’ Ebner. That’s all well and good, but as you inadvertently demonstrate, there is no equivalence between objecting to exposing children to gender confusion, as Rufo does, and going deep into the online viral swamps of the right, as Ebner does.
It is ‘woke’ that is mainstream. The far right, as usual, is reactionary. And so, it seems, is Rufo, in the sense that he wants to build a bulwark against a rising tide of lunacy.
But perhaps you know all of this. Perhaps you feel the balance you pretend to strike will distance you from the crazies on the Right and shield you from the opprobrium of the crazies on the Left. I would vouch for you on the first part but I don’t like your chances with the latter. They do opprobrium really well.
And finally, it is interesting to know that you can get a PhD at Oxford in online radicalization. Just what the world needs.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago

I think it was more a clumsy book review. Maybe I’m wrong. The Rufo thing seemed a bit forced.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
8 months ago

Oxford is going through one of its lean periods. They usually last for decades.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

Or longer.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

I wouldn’t want my kids to go to Oxford Wokiversity.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

Or longer.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

I wouldn’t want my kids to go to Oxford Wokiversity.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago

Is woke mainstream? They may dominate media and academia but only 13% of the population are members of the “progressive activist” tribe according to the More In Common website.

Kat L
Kat L
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

It doesn’t matter much if they are the ones running things does it? Every societal institution is overrun. what are the numbers listening only to NPR and legacy media for their news? Just visited an art museum in Philadelphia; woke was prevalent even through the cafe. They may not identify that way but many really are left, especially the young.

Suzanne C.
Suzanne C.
8 months ago
Reply to  Kat L

I’m from Philadelphia and I’ve been avoiding going to museums because I will just get sick over this stuff. I was recently in London, only for a day, and was so relieved to see that the Victoria and Albert was so traditional.
I know it sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory but the role of the CIA in promoting modern art like Jackson Pollock is really stunning and explains a lot. They probably are still behind what is going on.

Suzanne C.
Suzanne C.
8 months ago
Reply to  Kat L

I’m from Philadelphia and I’ve been avoiding going to museums because I will just get sick over this stuff. I was recently in London, only for a day, and was so relieved to see that the Victoria and Albert was so traditional.
I know it sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory but the role of the CIA in promoting modern art like Jackson Pollock is really stunning and explains a lot. They probably are still behind what is going on.

leonard o'reilly
leonard o'reilly
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Two points to be made about that: there are always several concentric layers of more or less sympathy surrounding ‘activist’ positions. Their extremism doesn’t come out of nowhere. Second, if someone were to offer me Academedia, as I call it, as part of my cultural war brigade, and they would keep everything else, I would wonder that they had lost their minds. But I would take the wager, of course.

Kat L
Kat L
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

It doesn’t matter much if they are the ones running things does it? Every societal institution is overrun. what are the numbers listening only to NPR and legacy media for their news? Just visited an art museum in Philadelphia; woke was prevalent even through the cafe. They may not identify that way but many really are left, especially the young.

leonard o'reilly
leonard o'reilly
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Two points to be made about that: there are always several concentric layers of more or less sympathy surrounding ‘activist’ positions. Their extremism doesn’t come out of nowhere. Second, if someone were to offer me Academedia, as I call it, as part of my cultural war brigade, and they would keep everything else, I would wonder that they had lost their minds. But I would take the wager, of course.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago

I think it was more a clumsy book review. Maybe I’m wrong. The Rufo thing seemed a bit forced.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
8 months ago

Oxford is going through one of its lean periods. They usually last for decades.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago

Is woke mainstream? They may dominate media and academia but only 13% of the population are members of the “progressive activist” tribe according to the More In Common website.

leonard o'reilly
leonard o'reilly
8 months ago

If your objective was to illustrate how both “Left and Right are parodies of each other” then you have left a very great asymmetry in your wake. Apart from the first and last paragraphs, in which you briefly mention Rufo, all of your ire is directed at taking apart the ‘extremism expert’ Ebner. That’s all well and good, but as you inadvertently demonstrate, there is no equivalence between objecting to exposing children to gender confusion, as Rufo does, and going deep into the online viral swamps of the right, as Ebner does.
It is ‘woke’ that is mainstream. The far right, as usual, is reactionary. And so, it seems, is Rufo, in the sense that he wants to build a bulwark against a rising tide of lunacy.
But perhaps you know all of this. Perhaps you feel the balance you pretend to strike will distance you from the crazies on the Right and shield you from the opprobrium of the crazies on the Left. I would vouch for you on the first part but I don’t like your chances with the latter. They do opprobrium really well.
And finally, it is interesting to know that you can get a PhD at Oxford in online radicalization. Just what the world needs.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
8 months ago

I would like Ms Ebner to explain precisely why Jordan Peterson is ‘dangerous’.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
8 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

They never answer.

I tend to ask similar ones; sometimes a little sarcastically, sometimes pretty straight. I’m fairly sincere, I wonder if I’ve missed something.

If you get an answer, it’s “educate yourself”.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
8 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Her answer would be that he thinks. No person with a raised consciousness need do that.

David Yetter
David Yetter
8 months ago

I’ve always wondered whether that should be written as “razed consciousness” instead.

Andrew E Walker
Andrew E Walker
8 months ago

I wonder why you say ‘no person,’ rather than no-one.

David Yetter
David Yetter
8 months ago

I’ve always wondered whether that should be written as “razed consciousness” instead.

Andrew E Walker
Andrew E Walker
8 months ago

I wonder why you say ‘no person,’ rather than no-one.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
8 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

His words are hurtful!

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
8 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

They never answer.

I tend to ask similar ones; sometimes a little sarcastically, sometimes pretty straight. I’m fairly sincere, I wonder if I’ve missed something.

If you get an answer, it’s “educate yourself”.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
8 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Her answer would be that he thinks. No person with a raised consciousness need do that.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
8 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

His words are hurtful!

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
8 months ago

I would like Ms Ebner to explain precisely why Jordan Peterson is ‘dangerous’.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
8 months ago

I’d like to know, based on the above picture, why this woman has not been canceled for cultural appropriation: she is clearly wearing a Chinese qipao, yet she is also clearly not Chinese. My understanding of modern social mores is that no one is allowed to partake in cultural modes from any culture besides their own, unless said modes are Anglo-American/Western European, in which case it’s not cultural appropriation because the Anglo-American species of the Western European genus doesn’t actually have a culture of its own, just a bunch of stuff that everybody does and can’t be called on the carpet for doing, because come on, I mean, really.
At the same time, it’s somewhat disingenuous to equate moderates who understand that gender is a transcendent quality affixing itself to the ab-soul and not to the body with those vicious extremists who, like some heinous hybrid of a sheep and a lemming, mindlessly and in lock-step promulgate the hateful and simplistic view that men are men and women are women and not vice versa. Science has validated the former, while the latter have mere biology on their side. And I don’t know about you, but if I have to choose between science and biology, I’m going to choose science every time. It’s just good science.

David Yetter
David Yetter
8 months ago

That’s a good question about the qipao. Of course, maybe it’s a sign of hope.
There was an American high-school student not long ago who wore a qipao as a prom dress, was savaged by a social media pile on by white liberals offended by “cultural appropriation”, then defended with equal fervor by Chinese posters. Curiously the modern Chinese qipao is, itself, actually an instance of cultural appropriation, drawing at least as much from Western 1920’s cocktail dresses as from the ancient Chinese qipao, which was actually a rather different-looking garment.
Perhaps those facts — that the Chinese like it when Westerners wear qipao and that the Chinese partially cribbed it from the West — have sunk in with the usually censorious guardians of cultures not their own, and they’ve given up on the objection.

Last edited 8 months ago by David Yetter
Studio Largo
Studio Largo
8 months ago
Reply to  David Yetter

You don’t understand these people. They’re inordinately proud of their pigheadedness.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
8 months ago
Reply to  David Yetter

You don’t understand these people. They’re inordinately proud of their pigheadedness.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
8 months ago

It’s more than just good science, it’s The Science.

David Yetter
David Yetter
8 months ago
Reply to  Studio Largo

Always remember to include a trademark sign: The Science™.
It’s actually more scornful than scorn quotes, and works equally well with other things, for instance as Anti-Racism™, when referring to Ibrahim Kendi’s notion.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
8 months ago
Reply to  David Yetter

Also known as Dr Anthony Fauci™.

Last edited 8 months ago by Studio Largo
Studio Largo
Studio Largo
8 months ago
Reply to  David Yetter

Also known as Dr Anthony Fauci™.

Last edited 8 months ago by Studio Largo
David Yetter
David Yetter
8 months ago
Reply to  Studio Largo

Always remember to include a trademark sign: The Science™.
It’s actually more scornful than scorn quotes, and works equally well with other things, for instance as Anti-Racism™, when referring to Ibrahim Kendi’s notion.

David Yetter
David Yetter
8 months ago

That’s a good question about the qipao. Of course, maybe it’s a sign of hope.
There was an American high-school student not long ago who wore a qipao as a prom dress, was savaged by a social media pile on by white liberals offended by “cultural appropriation”, then defended with equal fervor by Chinese posters. Curiously the modern Chinese qipao is, itself, actually an instance of cultural appropriation, drawing at least as much from Western 1920’s cocktail dresses as from the ancient Chinese qipao, which was actually a rather different-looking garment.
Perhaps those facts — that the Chinese like it when Westerners wear qipao and that the Chinese partially cribbed it from the West — have sunk in with the usually censorious guardians of cultures not their own, and they’ve given up on the objection.

Last edited 8 months ago by David Yetter
Studio Largo
Studio Largo
8 months ago

It’s more than just good science, it’s The Science.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
8 months ago

I’d like to know, based on the above picture, why this woman has not been canceled for cultural appropriation: she is clearly wearing a Chinese qipao, yet she is also clearly not Chinese. My understanding of modern social mores is that no one is allowed to partake in cultural modes from any culture besides their own, unless said modes are Anglo-American/Western European, in which case it’s not cultural appropriation because the Anglo-American species of the Western European genus doesn’t actually have a culture of its own, just a bunch of stuff that everybody does and can’t be called on the carpet for doing, because come on, I mean, really.
At the same time, it’s somewhat disingenuous to equate moderates who understand that gender is a transcendent quality affixing itself to the ab-soul and not to the body with those vicious extremists who, like some heinous hybrid of a sheep and a lemming, mindlessly and in lock-step promulgate the hateful and simplistic view that men are men and women are women and not vice versa. Science has validated the former, while the latter have mere biology on their side. And I don’t know about you, but if I have to choose between science and biology, I’m going to choose science every time. It’s just good science.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
8 months ago

Whatever his faults, I am grateful to Rufo for drawing the public’s attention to the vileness of Critical Race Theory.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
8 months ago

Whatever his faults, I am grateful to Rufo for drawing the public’s attention to the vileness of Critical Race Theory.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
8 months ago

What worries me is whether Julia Ebner is in danger of being de-banked at Coutts. I mean, any bank would be scared to death of having its name connected with such a kook. Right?
And I would hate for her to face the trauma of de-banking.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
8 months ago

What worries me is whether Julia Ebner is in danger of being de-banked at Coutts. I mean, any bank would be scared to death of having its name connected with such a kook. Right?
And I would hate for her to face the trauma of de-banking.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
8 months ago

Another example of inversion. As the fantasy world of misnamed liberal progressives such as Ebner collapses, its terrified adherents go to ever greater extremes to paint innocent folk simply living in the real world as “extremists”.

In particular, the “climate change deniers” that Ebner so reviles aren’t the ones calling for a collectivist political revolution fomented through the deliberate sabotage of our basic life support systems and upending of our socio-cultural norms. That will be the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC). If you don’t believe me, please read what they have to say in Section 9.7 (“Steps for Acceleration”) of Chapter 13 of the third part of their sixth assessment report, which was finalised in April 2022:

“Explicit transformational system changes are necessary, including efforts at directing transformations, such as clear direction setting through the elaboration of shared visions, and coordination across diverse actors across different policy fields, such as climate and industrial policy, and across governance levels” with a “focus on undermining carbon intensive systems, thereby reducing opposition to more generalised acceleration policies”. The underlying logic of this, they say in conclusion, is that “If high carbon systems are weakened then this may reduce the opposition to policies and actions aimed at accelerating climate mitigation, enabling more support for low-carbon systems … new modes of governance may be better suited to this approach in the context of transformative change”.

In case any is not clear what “new modes of governance” (ie government) they have in mind exactly, they also helpfully point out that “Corporatist societies, where economic groups are formally involved in public policy making, have better climate related outcomes (lower CO2 emissions and higher low-carbon investments) than liberal-pluralist countries”, and emphasise the need to move from “a single policy instrument or mix of policies approach to a systemic economy-wide approach” with “coordination of actions and coherent narratives across sectors and cross economy”.

Now if that isn’t extremism, what is? Please, if you can interpret this as anything other than an explicit call for an anti-democratic, collectivist, political revolution, I would be very interested to understand your perspective because maybe I have just missed something.

Read Chapter 13 for yourself here: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-working-group-3/

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

And of course ‘corporatist society’ is just a polite way of saying ‘police state’ (or something worse).

Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

“Corporatist societies, where economic groups are formally involved in public policy making, have better climate related outcomes than liberal-pluralist countries”. What possible evidence is there for this? What societies could they even mean? Some tribes in Papua New Guinea?

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
8 months ago
Reply to  Paul Devlin

Wasn’t the old soviet Union and the Eastern bloc in general notorious for pollution?

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
8 months ago
Reply to  Paul Devlin

Interesting question. To be fair to the IPCC they say that agreement and evidence is only “medium” about this rather bold claim. But your question piqued my interest and I explored the references they cite, on p1371 of the third part of the sixth assessment report, for this claim.

There are three of them.

First, Duncan Liefferink and three fellow co-authors’ 2009 effort, “Leaders and laggards in environmental policy: a quantitative analysis of domestic policy outputs”. This was, apparently “generously funded by the European Union RTD programme ‘Improving the human research potential and the socio-economic knowledge base’,” but sadly my will to truth doesn’t extend to forking out the 50USD one would now have to part with for the privilege of 48 hours’ access to this gem of wisdom that our endeavours collectively helped to fund so generously back in the day. Anyway, Dunc and his pals say in their abstract that “Statistical analysis identifies EU membership as the most important factor explaining a strong domestic policy output [quelle surprise!] whereas environmental problem pressure, institutional structure (neo-corporatism) and the level of economic development appear to be of secondary importance.” Not that the EU is any way “neo-corporatist”, of course.

https://research.wur.nl/en/publications/leaders-and-laggards-in-environmental-policy-a-quantitative-analy

Second, Detlef Jahn’s 2016 book The Politics of Environmental Performance: Institutions and Preferences in Industrialized Democracies. Again I don’t have the time or inclination to buy and read this probably rather boring book, and if I did I would likely decline Amazon’s kind invitation to be the first to write a review of it on their wonderful platform. However the academic publisher’s summary suggests that Jahn “argues that moving towards a service society does not by itself solve the environmental challenge” and that “economic globalization fosters environmental deterioration, and undermines efforts in domestic politics and international coordination to improve the environmental record”. So, go figure. No mention of any Papua New Guinean tribes, though.

https://www.cambridge.org/us/universitypress/subjects/politics-international-relations/comparative-politics/politics-environmental-performance-institutions-and-preferences-industrialized-democracies

Third, Jared Finnegan’s 2018 paper, “Changing prices in a changing climate: Electoral competitiveness and fossil fuel taxation”. This lovely chap laments that, “For decades economists have been championing the use of carbon taxes as the most efficient policy instrument to address climate change. However, not all governments have been eager to obey such advice.” Such naughty governments not obeying the will of those wise, learned economists who just want what’s best for everyone! The answer to this riddle that Jared offers us? Well, it is that “carbon tax increases are most likely when competitiveness is low and politicians are insulated from voter punishment”. So bye bye democracy, hello rule by misguided, hyper-motivated, unreproachable, activist nerds.
https://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/working-paper-307-Finnegan.pdf

This is, genuinely, how low our institutions have stooped. Maybe the IPCC simply assume no-one will actually look into what they pump out into the public domain with a critical eye, but it will not and it cannot last.

It’s all very, very sad.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Excellent review. Thank you

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Excellent review. Thank you

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
8 months ago
Reply to  Paul Devlin

Wasn’t the old soviet Union and the Eastern bloc in general notorious for pollution?

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
8 months ago
Reply to  Paul Devlin

Interesting question. To be fair to the IPCC they say that agreement and evidence is only “medium” about this rather bold claim. But your question piqued my interest and I explored the references they cite, on p1371 of the third part of the sixth assessment report, for this claim.

There are three of them.

First, Duncan Liefferink and three fellow co-authors’ 2009 effort, “Leaders and laggards in environmental policy: a quantitative analysis of domestic policy outputs”. This was, apparently “generously funded by the European Union RTD programme ‘Improving the human research potential and the socio-economic knowledge base’,” but sadly my will to truth doesn’t extend to forking out the 50USD one would now have to part with for the privilege of 48 hours’ access to this gem of wisdom that our endeavours collectively helped to fund so generously back in the day. Anyway, Dunc and his pals say in their abstract that “Statistical analysis identifies EU membership as the most important factor explaining a strong domestic policy output [quelle surprise!] whereas environmental problem pressure, institutional structure (neo-corporatism) and the level of economic development appear to be of secondary importance.” Not that the EU is any way “neo-corporatist”, of course.

https://research.wur.nl/en/publications/leaders-and-laggards-in-environmental-policy-a-quantitative-analy

Second, Detlef Jahn’s 2016 book The Politics of Environmental Performance: Institutions and Preferences in Industrialized Democracies. Again I don’t have the time or inclination to buy and read this probably rather boring book, and if I did I would likely decline Amazon’s kind invitation to be the first to write a review of it on their wonderful platform. However the academic publisher’s summary suggests that Jahn “argues that moving towards a service society does not by itself solve the environmental challenge” and that “economic globalization fosters environmental deterioration, and undermines efforts in domestic politics and international coordination to improve the environmental record”. So, go figure. No mention of any Papua New Guinean tribes, though.

https://www.cambridge.org/us/universitypress/subjects/politics-international-relations/comparative-politics/politics-environmental-performance-institutions-and-preferences-industrialized-democracies

Third, Jared Finnegan’s 2018 paper, “Changing prices in a changing climate: Electoral competitiveness and fossil fuel taxation”. This lovely chap laments that, “For decades economists have been championing the use of carbon taxes as the most efficient policy instrument to address climate change. However, not all governments have been eager to obey such advice.” Such naughty governments not obeying the will of those wise, learned economists who just want what’s best for everyone! The answer to this riddle that Jared offers us? Well, it is that “carbon tax increases are most likely when competitiveness is low and politicians are insulated from voter punishment”. So bye bye democracy, hello rule by misguided, hyper-motivated, unreproachable, activist nerds.
https://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/working-paper-307-Finnegan.pdf

This is, genuinely, how low our institutions have stooped. Maybe the IPCC simply assume no-one will actually look into what they pump out into the public domain with a critical eye, but it will not and it cannot last.

It’s all very, very sad.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

And of course ‘corporatist society’ is just a polite way of saying ‘police state’ (or something worse).

Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

“Corporatist societies, where economic groups are formally involved in public policy making, have better climate related outcomes than liberal-pluralist countries”. What possible evidence is there for this? What societies could they even mean? Some tribes in Papua New Guinea?

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
8 months ago

Another example of inversion. As the fantasy world of misnamed liberal progressives such as Ebner collapses, its terrified adherents go to ever greater extremes to paint innocent folk simply living in the real world as “extremists”.

In particular, the “climate change deniers” that Ebner so reviles aren’t the ones calling for a collectivist political revolution fomented through the deliberate sabotage of our basic life support systems and upending of our socio-cultural norms. That will be the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC). If you don’t believe me, please read what they have to say in Section 9.7 (“Steps for Acceleration”) of Chapter 13 of the third part of their sixth assessment report, which was finalised in April 2022:

“Explicit transformational system changes are necessary, including efforts at directing transformations, such as clear direction setting through the elaboration of shared visions, and coordination across diverse actors across different policy fields, such as climate and industrial policy, and across governance levels” with a “focus on undermining carbon intensive systems, thereby reducing opposition to more generalised acceleration policies”. The underlying logic of this, they say in conclusion, is that “If high carbon systems are weakened then this may reduce the opposition to policies and actions aimed at accelerating climate mitigation, enabling more support for low-carbon systems … new modes of governance may be better suited to this approach in the context of transformative change”.

In case any is not clear what “new modes of governance” (ie government) they have in mind exactly, they also helpfully point out that “Corporatist societies, where economic groups are formally involved in public policy making, have better climate related outcomes (lower CO2 emissions and higher low-carbon investments) than liberal-pluralist countries”, and emphasise the need to move from “a single policy instrument or mix of policies approach to a systemic economy-wide approach” with “coordination of actions and coherent narratives across sectors and cross economy”.

Now if that isn’t extremism, what is? Please, if you can interpret this as anything other than an explicit call for an anti-democratic, collectivist, political revolution, I would be very interested to understand your perspective because maybe I have just missed something.

Read Chapter 13 for yourself here: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-working-group-3/

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
8 months ago

I wish people would stop referring to the great replacement as a conspiracy theory when it is merely a valid factual observation. Blair and Brown radically increased immigration with a view to rubbing the noses of ‘Little Englanders’ in it and mixing the country up. The London Borough of Brent is 99.6% Asian ethnicity. The white population of vast areas in this country has literally been replaced. Whether you think this matters or not is your opinion but it is intellectually dishonest to claim (like cancel culture) that it isn’t happening.

Thuzbuz
Thuzbuz
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

99.6%? Citation needed mon ami. Claims like this undermine your position.

(Brent’s own figure is 64% https://data.brent.gov.uk/dataset/vqkrd/community-profile-evidence-pack ).

ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
8 months ago
Reply to  Thuzbuz

You think that a population replacement of 64% and still growing, ISN’T replacement?

ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
8 months ago
Reply to  Thuzbuz

You think that a population replacement of 64% and still growing, ISN’T replacement?

Thuzbuz
Thuzbuz
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

99.6%? Citation needed mon ami. Claims like this undermine your position.

(Brent’s own figure is 64% https://data.brent.gov.uk/dataset/vqkrd/community-profile-evidence-pack ).

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
8 months ago

I wish people would stop referring to the great replacement as a conspiracy theory when it is merely a valid factual observation. Blair and Brown radically increased immigration with a view to rubbing the noses of ‘Little Englanders’ in it and mixing the country up. The London Borough of Brent is 99.6% Asian ethnicity. The white population of vast areas in this country has literally been replaced. Whether you think this matters or not is your opinion but it is intellectually dishonest to claim (like cancel culture) that it isn’t happening.

Harry Child
Harry Child
8 months ago

I think that Clem Atlee got it right when he commented “There are a lot of clever people about who have no judgement”

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Harry Child

But perhaps his best remark was never use one word when NONE will do.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Harry Child

But perhaps his best remark was never use one word when NONE will do.

Harry Child
Harry Child
8 months ago

I think that Clem Atlee got it right when he commented “There are a lot of clever people about who have no judgement”

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
8 months ago

A great piece except for the astonishing and laughable conclusion that somehow a woman actively working to deny and suppress the principles of logic, truth and freedom and a man working to defend them are equivalent.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
8 months ago

A great piece except for the astonishing and laughable conclusion that somehow a woman actively working to deny and suppress the principles of logic, truth and freedom and a man working to defend them are equivalent.

Peter B
Peter B
8 months ago

Ebner is clearly neither an expert not an academic. Though she may well be one of the ever-growing cohort of those engaged in academic sleight-of-hand.
Or perhaps simply no longer compos mentis: “Mumsnet is a hotbed of extremist radicalisation” !!!
Or perhaps she’s simply here as a wind-up merchant.

Peter B
Peter B
8 months ago

Ebner is clearly neither an expert not an academic. Though she may well be one of the ever-growing cohort of those engaged in academic sleight-of-hand.
Or perhaps simply no longer compos mentis: “Mumsnet is a hotbed of extremist radicalisation” !!!
Or perhaps she’s simply here as a wind-up merchant.

j watson
j watson
8 months ago

I thought the article was going to major a bit more on the theme of extreme right and left parodying each other, but instead it spent too long, for me, critiquing one specific Researcher.
The ‘parody’ has always been there IMO. The psychological reflex is v similar on both extremes and usually includes a large degree of narcissism to sustain it too.
Certainly something about how the extremes at both ends of the spectrum appear sometimes to have hollowed out the moderate centre. But I think it’s more ‘appearance’ and in truth their is a yearning for more moderate centre common sense and balance. Trouble is tends not generate as many clicks or subscriptions.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
8 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Do you consider yourself to be on the ‘moderate centre’?

j watson
j watson
8 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Pretty much. Of course to some UnHerd regulars I’ll be a pinko-Commie but that’s primarily because they are rattling around in a right wing conspiratorial echo-chamber a little too much.
I’m no fan of some of the more outlandish Woke twaddle, but no problem with kindness, tolerance, inquisitiveness and ‘live and let live’ generally too.

Last edited 8 months ago by j watson
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
8 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Yet you have no difficulty with describing anyone who disagrees with you in even the mildest terms as ‘rattling around in a right wing conspiratorial echo-chamber’?

j watson
j watson
8 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Absolutely. Being moderate centre means essential one does.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
8 months ago
Reply to  j watson

The problem is almost everyone thinks that they are nice moderate centrists and that it’s the other who is extreme. This is why I dislike the left-right political dichotomy so intensely; it’s an effective way of ‘herding’ people’s thoughts. What helps me a lot is to try to approach issues from the side of those who have an opposite stance to me. Although I struggle with it, it has taught me the value of entertaining an opinion without necessarily agreeing with it.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
8 months ago
Reply to  j watson

The problem is almost everyone thinks that they are nice moderate centrists and that it’s the other who is extreme. This is why I dislike the left-right political dichotomy so intensely; it’s an effective way of ‘herding’ people’s thoughts. What helps me a lot is to try to approach issues from the side of those who have an opposite stance to me. Although I struggle with it, it has taught me the value of entertaining an opinion without necessarily agreeing with it.

j watson
j watson
8 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Absolutely. Being moderate centre means essential one does.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Do you think there is power imbalance between extreme left wing and right wing ideologues? Do the institutions have an equal balance of both extremes?

Guy Haynes
Guy Haynes
8 months ago
Reply to  j watson

I wouldn’t classify you as a pinko-communist in any way, j watson. In fact I completely agree that you are a centrist.

In fact you’re the very embodiment of a centrist, in that you are completely unwilling to listen to, or engage with anyone who dares to question your views. Granted, some non-centrist beliefs are bonkers and worthy of your scorn, but you appear equally dismissive when presented with more sensible stuff.

For example, I don’t think the following views are in any way extreme or ridiculous, yet are regularly treated as such by the so-called moderate centre:

1. That transgender people need to be treated according to their biological gender when it comes to stuff such as sport or prison.

2. That there are sensible ways in which we can protect the environment without resorting to reducing standards of living for all but the richest worldwide and de-industrialising to the point where large swathes of the world populace no longer has a vocation.

3. That in many cases immigration has positive effects, but that unlimited immigration creates issues and allowing people in without any checks and balances is downright stupid.

4. That it’s completely inconsistent to argue that people have the absolute power over their body in terms of abortion, but should be excluded from society if they don’t have an experimental vaccine injected into them multiple times.

5. That law enforcement should be consistent and without fear or favour, and should certainly not favour one set of political beliefs over another.

These are all, in my view at least, sensible arguments that the centre consistently dismisses out of hand. And guess what? When the moderate people who are not clapping seals for the centre see this happening, they start to seek out those on the fringes who might listen. And this is why the centre is failing so miserably, and this is why those on the left and right fringes are growing in popularity.

From your contributions on here, j watson, you think you are the solution, but you are, in fact, part of the problem.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
8 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Yet you have no difficulty with describing anyone who disagrees with you in even the mildest terms as ‘rattling around in a right wing conspiratorial echo-chamber’?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Do you think there is power imbalance between extreme left wing and right wing ideologues? Do the institutions have an equal balance of both extremes?

Guy Haynes
Guy Haynes
8 months ago
Reply to  j watson

I wouldn’t classify you as a pinko-communist in any way, j watson. In fact I completely agree that you are a centrist.

In fact you’re the very embodiment of a centrist, in that you are completely unwilling to listen to, or engage with anyone who dares to question your views. Granted, some non-centrist beliefs are bonkers and worthy of your scorn, but you appear equally dismissive when presented with more sensible stuff.

For example, I don’t think the following views are in any way extreme or ridiculous, yet are regularly treated as such by the so-called moderate centre:

1. That transgender people need to be treated according to their biological gender when it comes to stuff such as sport or prison.

2. That there are sensible ways in which we can protect the environment without resorting to reducing standards of living for all but the richest worldwide and de-industrialising to the point where large swathes of the world populace no longer has a vocation.

3. That in many cases immigration has positive effects, but that unlimited immigration creates issues and allowing people in without any checks and balances is downright stupid.

4. That it’s completely inconsistent to argue that people have the absolute power over their body in terms of abortion, but should be excluded from society if they don’t have an experimental vaccine injected into them multiple times.

5. That law enforcement should be consistent and without fear or favour, and should certainly not favour one set of political beliefs over another.

These are all, in my view at least, sensible arguments that the centre consistently dismisses out of hand. And guess what? When the moderate people who are not clapping seals for the centre see this happening, they start to seek out those on the fringes who might listen. And this is why the centre is failing so miserably, and this is why those on the left and right fringes are growing in popularity.

From your contributions on here, j watson, you think you are the solution, but you are, in fact, part of the problem.

j watson
j watson
8 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Pretty much. Of course to some UnHerd regulars I’ll be a pinko-Commie but that’s primarily because they are rattling around in a right wing conspiratorial echo-chamber a little too much.
I’m no fan of some of the more outlandish Woke twaddle, but no problem with kindness, tolerance, inquisitiveness and ‘live and let live’ generally too.

Last edited 8 months ago by j watson
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
8 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Do you consider yourself to be on the ‘moderate centre’?

j watson
j watson
8 months ago

I thought the article was going to major a bit more on the theme of extreme right and left parodying each other, but instead it spent too long, for me, critiquing one specific Researcher.
The ‘parody’ has always been there IMO. The psychological reflex is v similar on both extremes and usually includes a large degree of narcissism to sustain it too.
Certainly something about how the extremes at both ends of the spectrum appear sometimes to have hollowed out the moderate centre. But I think it’s more ‘appearance’ and in truth their is a yearning for more moderate centre common sense and balance. Trouble is tends not generate as many clicks or subscriptions.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
8 months ago

Spot on. The ranty left and right look and sound like each other. It’ll be mortifying for both sides when they find out [I hope].

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
8 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

The PR problem for moderates is that we’re boring. It’s a hard sell. The modern world (helped greatly by the Internet) prefers the simple sexiness of certainty.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

You’re right, but I think the appeal of performative outrage and easy answers is wearing off, at least in the UK, because people have twigged that its got us into the mess we’re in right now. The next election here will be a contest between culture war shouting and dull competence. I think dull competence will win this time.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

You’re right, but I think the appeal of performative outrage and easy answers is wearing off, at least in the UK, because people have twigged that its got us into the mess we’re in right now. The next election here will be a contest between culture war shouting and dull competence. I think dull competence will win this time.

Kat L
Kat L
8 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

The right is a reaction to the left. The left forced the issue of ssm on society and then asked why the right was so obsessed with peoples sex lives when they objected. Not the same.

Dominic A
Dominic A
8 months ago
Reply to  Kat L

…and the left does not, is not a reaction to the right? The problems only started with the left? Please, this is an article challenging polarisation. It was doing a fair job, why pull it back into splitting processes. I admit some ignorance though – what is ssm?

Last edited 8 months ago by Dominic A
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
8 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

There is a difference. It is the left that wanted to change the status quo – and then complains about meaningless culture wars when people object to the changes. Take the trans mess. There was complete harmony, 99.99% agreement across society that a woman is an adult, human female, defined by biology. It was the progressive side that started a war here.

Dominic A
Dominic A
8 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Ah Rasmus you’re back! I agree on those specific, recent points, but cast your mind further back, and look also to the contemporary exceptions – there are just as many examples of the right being reactionary. Surely the nomenclature – conservatives/progressive – is heavily suggestive of the right position being the established position with the left challenging it? (of course now it’s tumble dryer of causation) I’m not trying to solve the chicken/egg conundrum, just pointing out that we don’t know either way, and that the question itself is likely some sort of fallacy

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
8 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I think we do know. Even your wording – ‘reactionary’ means someone who wants to move back to a previous state, no? On general principles you cannot get out of the fact that it is the people who try to force a change against the wishes of a large (if possibly minority) group who are causing the war. Certainly if they make no efforts to carry their opponents with them – as progressives tend not to do, since they generally believe that they are the moral future and their opponents are the evil past. So it was the US supreme court (abortion and gay marriage, and the Dred Scott decision earlier), the suffragettes, and the abolitionists, who caused the relevant culture war. I’d agree that some of these cases had right and justice on their side, but it is still the conservatives who are reacting to the changers.

When it comes to tactics I’d agree that both sides do things that worsen the polarisation and trigger their opponents.

Could you give em some good examples of the right starting a culture war that the left is forced to react to?

Dominic A
Dominic A
8 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

An example? I think you gave a few – equal treatment for women, foreigners, gays, worker’s rights etc. At an early stage, some people (likely the male leaders – those with innate or developed strength of mind, body, family etc ) decided women/gays/working class/Africans etc were not to be treated as equals – those groups, usually after centuries of abuse, said enough and pushed back.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
8 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

That is a very loaded way of putting it. ‘Equal treatment’ means what, exactly? If you are a gay minority in an overwhelmingly straight nation – or a Swedish-speaking minority in a Japanese-speaking nation – you can never be fully equal. The others grow up in a culture where their assumptions, their attitudes, their culture is shared by almost everyone around them – and you do not. You can share out the trouble in various ways, and be more or less open to variation, but you can never have a situation where everybody is equally free to express their innermost being and expect the same degree of affirmation from people around them.

Also, blaming it all on ‘male leaders’ is a cop-out. You have entire groups or tribes with shared culture and attitudes, who want to live in a world that reflect their identity and culture, which automatically means not reflecting someone elses. And the group (not just the leaders) try to organise society to fit their culture, if they have the power. Just as an example, it is *all* the Afghan men who want to keep women suppressed, not just a few mullahs.

I’ll grant you that the conflicts, between classes, sexes, sexualities, nationalities … are pre-existing. And for, say, the abolition of slavery or votes for women I’d be on the side of the rebels too. But it is still the case that it is the people trying to force a change in status quo who create the war. You may be on the side of right and justice to rebel against slavery or female disenfranchisement – but you can still not deny that you are the ones who create the war, not the people who were happy to live in peace and keep things the way they were.

Last edited 8 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Dominic A
Dominic A
8 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

but you can still not deny that you are the ones who create the war

So from your last paragraph it follows that you’d put the causative responsibility of starting a slave revolt upon the revolting slaves. I understand that this has some literal truth, at the time of the uprising (it was indeed the slave who picked up a cudgel and bashed the ‘owners’), but it seems you have missed the start of the story – when slavers (black and white) captured slaves and dominated them with violence – is that not the start of the war?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
8 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

To some extent we are talking semantics here, I am not sure we disagree that much. But you have to distinguish between who started the war, and who has right on their side – because otherwise you end up down a rabbit hole. The argument becomes “You started the war, because you refused to give me what I want and therefore I had to attack you”. At which point you could argue that Saddam Hussein started the Iraq war, by refusing to let in enough weapons inspectors. That the Afghans started the was with the US – by refusing to hand over Al Quaeda. That Ukraine started the war with Russia – by refusing to become part of Russia’s sphere of influence and keep western influence out. That Britain started the trouble is in Ireland – by not giving independence to the whole island of Ireland. Or that the bar fight victim started the fight – by not vacating his bar stool when the aggressor demanded it.

Back to the slave revolts: Yes, there was a pre-existing conflict, and yes it was caused by the slave traders and plantation owners enslaving and mistreating people, and yes, the slaves had right on their side. You should blame the owners for that. But you still cannot say that the owners started the revolt – or blame them for shooting back when they get shot at.

As for the culture wars – we had a stable and peaceful situation that most people were OK with – and a minority admittedly were not. The culture wars came about when one group tried to force the other group to submit to their demands for change. We can discuss which side is in the right, and which solution is ultimately better for humanity. I tend to think in terms of groups with legitimately different desires that have to compromise on living together. There will be conflicts, but people still have conscious choice whether they choose the damage and trouble of going to war -metaphorically or literally – to resolve them. So as I see it we cannot get out of the fact that it was the progressive side that started the culture war by trying to force a change, not the conservative side that caused a war by refusing to submit.

Last edited 8 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Dominic A
Dominic A
8 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

We’re almost there in agreement, as you say, semantics and details. I absolutely agree that the current culture wars are largely the result of an excess of intolerant, self-righteous activism bordering on bullying/mental illness. I think they would not have been so shrill, or listened to by otherwise serious media/government/public/private organisations, if not for the backstory – the progressives have inexorably won the war on workers/womens/gays rights – voting/gay legality marriage/race, and leading on abortion, liberalisation of drugs (more messy). I learned just last night that it was illegal for women to wear trouser in the USA until 1965 and in the Senate until 1990. In retrospect conservatives have often sounded every bit as ridiculous and bullying as Mermaids/GLAAD today.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
8 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I’m surprised that neither of you has mentioned the “burden of proof,” a longstanding legal and philosophical principle that relies on common sense. Whenever people challenge conventional wisdom (or status quo), the burden of proof is surely on them to convince others of the need to think or behave differently. In the law courts of Anglo-American countries, for instance, the initial assumption is that the accused are innocent until proven guilty. The state, therefore, has the burden of proving otherwise.
This doesn’t mean that the accused are innocent, only that the state must demonstrate their guilt or innocence. Otherwise, there would be no need for a trial at all and we’d all be at the mercy of vigilantes.
So this debate is of more than “semantic” or theoretical importance. The threat to due process (formerly conventional wisdom) comes not from conservatives at all but from the wokers and progressives (often with implicit or explicit support even from liberals). And this was already the case on countless college campuses at least a decade before the #MeToo movement.

Last edited 8 months ago by Paul Nathanson
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
8 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

I’d follow you, but only up to a point. Yes, the status quo has priority as it were. You need a justification for changing it, but not for keeping things as they were. Which nullifies a common progressive debating trick of saying ‘of course women/gays/transsexuals/animals must have the exact same rights as you – Prove to me why they should not!’ And more generally the people who are thinking about starting a struggle have the responsibility of considering whether the damage from struggling, polarisation etc. outweighs the gains.

But ‘burden of proof‘ is too strong – it would give the conservatives an effective veto. Also it only works within an agreed system. In a legal system you can agree on standard requirements for proof. But if you look at women against men in the 1800’s (or contemporary Afghanistan), workers against capitalists, or blacks against whites in the Antebellum south, there is no way that the dominant group will ever let itself be convinced by pure argument that they need to change their ways. You cannot avoid a struggle.

My favourite model would be an acceptance of diverse interests and viewpoints as legitimate (also from progressives, who notoriously think they have a monopoly on virtue) and a continuous jostling between groups, with a tension between struggling to get everything your way, which is understandable but zero-sum, and compromising for the sake of social harmony, which is in everybody’s interest.

Last edited 8 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
8 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

No, Rasmus, I don’t think that the burden of proof gives conservatives an “effective veto” on any change. (And giving liberals a veto, albeit on other grounds, has done nothing to maintain the civility of public discourse.) This legal and moral principle merely requires convincing arguments for change. It might take time to convince most people, sure, but that’s what happens all the time in democracies. So your counter argument rests on examples that ignore the current context of this discussion.
We don’t live in Afghanistan, for instance, where the Taliban acknowledge no arguments at all (let alone democratic ideals and institutions).
Nor do we live in the antebellum South, although even that society was democratic enough (despite the aristocratic pretensions of its elite) to allow arguments against slavery