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Why is Greta wearing a Keffiyeh? The Omnicause won't bring down Western civilisation

Greta Thunberg (Credit: Johan Nilsson/TT / TT NEWS AGENCY/ AFP/Getty)

Greta Thunberg (Credit: Johan Nilsson/TT / TT NEWS AGENCY/ AFP/Getty)


May 15, 2024   6 mins

Why is Greta Thunberg wearing a keffiyeh? The Swedish activist is the poster-girl for climate change. The keffiyeh, though, symbolises a wholly different cause: solidarity with Palestinians in the current conflict with Israel. What does that have to do with global warming? 

It’s not just Greta who sees a link. When the current conflict in Gaza began, the climate activist group, Just Stop Oil, known for polarising, clickbait-friendly protests, such as blockading the M25 or throwing soup at Van Gogh paintings, promptly organised a sit-in at London’s Waterloo Station. 

 This sort of campaign creep is far wider than just climate and Palestine: all contemporary radical causes seem somehow to have been absorbed into one. A protean animating energy seems to ingest every progressive issue it encounters, to create a kind of ever-spreading, all-encompassing omnicause.

But what is it trying to achieve? Right or Right-adjacent figures as ideologically disparate as James Lindsay and Bronze Age Pervert have suggested it is the destruction of America. Or, perhaps, of “Western Civilisation”. And there may be something in that, at least if you conflate “Western Civilisation” with the American empire. After all, a great many ethnic-cleansing events are casually ignored, even as the state whose existence is explicitly underwritten by American hard power gets taken to court over such allegations. 

“Participants often seem hazy at best about what they’re actually protesting.”

Given this, one might be forgiven for suspecting that Gaza’s absorption into the Omnicause really is due to its role as a proxy for hostility to the American project: a suspicion unlikely to be allayed by the sound of Palestine supporters from Yemen to Harvard Yard chanting “Death to America”. And yet, the fact that this chant is heard not just in overseas territories hostile to the American project, but also (and perhaps even more vociferously) within Ivy League campuses, suggests something more ambivalent at work. 

It might seem bewildering to hear young scions of the empire calling for the destruction of the very order that nourishes them. But that’s not what’s happening here; not really. Rather, in calling for “Death to America” they’re breathing new life into the idea they claim to deplore, and expressing a modern version of the same impulse that drove America’s original founders to leave the Old World behind, with its weight of authority and tradition, and seek to begin again in a purer, higher register.

It’s hardly original to notice the Puritan streak in modern progressivism. During the BLM riots in 2020, numerous commentators made that connection. The critic Alan Jacobs characterises this form of progressivism — the moral matrix that now marches as the Omnicause — as religious in this sense: less a precise set of doctrines than a style of believing. A “mythical experience”.

Further out on the neoreactionary fringes, the writer Curtis Yarvin argues that this “nontheistic Christian tradition”, which he calls “Universalism”, has become “the dominant modern branch of Christianity”. And the philosopher Nick Land maps this secularised-but-triumphant Puritan-heritage Christian sensibility squarely onto the American empire:

“After its military victories in the American Rebellion and the War of Secession, American Puritanism was well on the way to world domination. Its victories in World War I, World War II, and the Cold War confirmed its global hegemony. All legitimate mainstream thought on Earth today is descended from the American Puritans, and through them the English dissenters.”

The secularisation of this tradition began in earnest after the Second World War, along with its embrace by the engines of commerce. That was the point where American marketers coined the term “teenager”  — and created modern “youth culture” with it. For, strange as it may seem, after nearly a century of American cultural hegemony, the notion of adolescents challenging their forebears is not universal. Rather, it propagates in tandem with American culture: for example the Inuit community on Victoria Island, Canada, experienced no youthful delinquency until television was introduced in 1980. In the context of the American paradigm, by contrast, rebellion is not just normal but natural, whether presented “compelled” by culture or an inevitable consequence of brain development.

Though my own memories of adolescence are hazy, I don’t remember ever questioning the idea that it was “normal” to feel rebellious — for all that, in my case, this preceded having any substantial  grounds for rebellion. Rather, it was a matter of looking around for a cause, a seemingly backward causality that’s since led me to wonder whether the normalisation of “rebellion” is the driving force behind youth activism, rather than the other way round, as young people go looking for a cause to rebel about.

And if this is so, it perhaps explains how such issues often seem to spread by social contagion, as in Thunberg’s snowballing school protests — or indeed contemporary LGBTQ activism. A similar mimetic quality can also be seen in the current American Palestine protests, where participants often seem hazy at best about what they’re actually protesting, and mostly there for the vibe. In this sense, it seems less a programme, than a sensibility: a social norm of rebelliousness, sanctified by idealism and spread mimetically, that expresses a secularised version of the Puritan style of faith and has become central to identity-formation.

Crucially, though, this has historically been oppositional only in a superficial sense. The music industry serves to illustrate: when your chief means of signalling rebellion against the staid, venal world of adulthood is buying products marketed to you and manufactured by that very same adult world, the relation between rebellion and conformity is ambivalent at best. In turn, this dynamic has propelled every “counterculture” movement since the Fifties along the same seamless conveyor-belt, from edginess to mass-market conformity, exhaustion and replacement by the next contender.

In each case, the chief by-products were a lot of money for the culture industry’s stars and producers, and a measure of youth identity-formation. But this 20th-century model of pseudo-rebellious youthful self-definition via music and clothing was scuppered by the internet, as streaming made all musical styles simultaneously available, and “fast fashion” emulsified sartorial subcultures into an eternal present. Things haven’t changed much under the surface though. The cultural norm of youthful rebellion, idealism, and mimesis is as powerful as ever. It’s just that since the inception of the internet, the locus has migrated from music and fashion to political opinions, as testified by the booming podcast and political influencer economies.

In turn, it’s this underlying drive that explains the protean quality of the Omnicause, and its seemingly endless ability to ingest new causes and transcend new contradictions. The Protestant tradition — and especially the Puritan one — always repudiated religious authority in pursuit of religious purity. And the same mix of idealism and secession persists to this day in secularised form, in the ritual of adolescent “rebellion” incubated by 20th-century American marketeers and granted idealistic form today as “youth activism”. The myth of “the West” is that you aren’t Westerning properly unless you’re seceding from something, and what powers “the West” — really, America and its provinces — in its restlessness is this impulse to keep seceding until you find the purer society you were seeking. At the smaller scale, the myth of the American teenager is that you aren’t teenagering properly unless you’re rebelling against something and pursuing something higher. Each American teenager is thus “the West” in miniature, complete with the modern West’s baked-in will to consumerism.

The flip side of this, of course, is that rebellion never succeeds on its own terms. Instead, it simply ends up powering the civilisational engine. Thunberg isn’t American, of course, but she attained prominence in, and orients her critiques to, the America-dominated post-war order. It is, after all, only in the context of broad adherence to its rules-based internationalism that climate policies of the kind she gained prominence for proposing can even theoretically be implemented. Accordingly, we can perhaps assess the success of her mimetic and Omnicause-coded youth climate movement, against every other America-led “youth culture” movement since the Fifties.

We might suggest, indeed, that it’s heading the same way as the rockers, the hippies, the punks et cetera: first edgy, then institutionalised, and on its way to toothlessness, save as a means of powering the machine for another turn or two. Thunberg was internationally feted, and invited to address national Parliaments, the European Parliament, and even the WEF meeting at Davos: surely the climate-activist equivalent of a multi-album HMV recording deal. She became a darling of elites and internationally recognisable for a season. Meanwhile, global emissions went on rising.

So, perhaps she has pivoted to a different facet of the Omnicause simply out of frustration at the effortless ease with which her climate idealism has been absorbed, digested, and neutralised. If so, I suspect she will be disappointed again. To the extent that ongoing campus protests cause a genuine nuisance, they have already been suppressed. Where they persist, we can assume they are serving broadly the same social purpose as a music festival: fostering youthful social bonds in an idealistic context, that helps define popular culture for a generation, but changes very little in material terms.

Does this mean I’m a pessimist about “the West”? Far from it: this paradoxical and seemingly self-destructive cultural juggernaut is in fact flourishing, for the Puritans are still winning. Far from being on the brink of collapse, in their restless wake “Western Civilisation” continues to be reborn, generation after generation, in the very act of seeming to destroy itself. The Omnicause may be hated by conservatives for its destructiveness and seeming hostility to all established authority, all traditions and all institutions. But it is also the vector for that ongoing rebirth — and, with it, however galling Greta Thunberg may find it, the ongoing supremacy of the American project.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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sal b dyer
sal b dyer
8 days ago

Isn’t the keffiyeh traditionally worn by men? Surely if protesters wanted to show solidarity, women should wear the burka, particularly the full letterbox variety.

jane baker
jane baker
8 days ago
Reply to  sal b dyer

Greta should

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 days ago
Reply to  jane baker

Exactly! Such a humorless child. I seem to remember she was at the Oscars one year and Jimmy Kimmel wandered in the audience picking on people to joke with. He picked on Greta but she was unable to laugh at herself.

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
7 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

She’s autistic. People with autism don’t really get humour – they have to, very consciously, learn its rules.

Rory Cullen
Rory Cullen
5 days ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

As an autistic person myself that is absolutely false, greta just has no humour and lots of neurotypical people are miserable like her too. Albeit Kimmel isn’t exactly funny to almost anybody so he’s a bad example.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
6 days ago
Reply to  jane baker

Or maybe just a gag.

sal b dyer
sal b dyer
8 days ago
Reply to  sal b dyer

And then there’s all those concrete tunnels. Google it-
“Worldwide every year cement and concrete production generates as much as 9 percent of all human CO2 emissions.”

Bernard Brothman
Bernard Brothman
8 days ago
Reply to  sal b dyer

Excellent point! Here in the US the tunnels wouldn’t get built. It takes too long for the environmental reviews and permits.

Campbell
Campbell
7 days ago

They might get built by the pro-“immigration” crowd for other (obvious) purposes. Or perhaps we could use tunnels to house perennially protesting and/or purposefully homeless people?

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
8 days ago
Reply to  sal b dyer

How DARE you!

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
8 days ago
Reply to  sal b dyer

Yes. The full niqab. If they wanted to show real fervour they could also consider undertaking female circumcision.

Don Lightband
Don Lightband
7 days ago
Reply to  sal b dyer

With maybe, you know, a bonus (vertical) slit for her bum? Just for, you know, shits and giggles like?

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
4 days ago
Reply to  sal b dyer

And shut up and go wait in the kitchen until the men want some tea. That would be true solidarity.

Matt M
Matt M
8 days ago

The other side of the perpetual Puritan/teenager rebellion in Anglo-American culture is the perpetual counter-reaction from the Grown-ups. As a fully-fledged Grown-up, I find myself immediately and instinctively opposing the latest manifestation of the Omnicause regardless of the details merely because the annoying teenagers promote it. I’m anti-Hamas, net zero, immigration, wokery, feminism etc. I don’t need to know the identity of their next fad, I already know I am against it. And so the world turns: the kids rebel, the adults harumph: the Teenagers go left and the Grown Ups turn right and the Smart Ones make a bit of money on each revolution.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
7 days ago
Reply to  Matt M

Yes, sometimes. But sometimes those annoying kids become annoying adults, who end up being head of an HR department, or, worse, the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Then they go from being grating to being dangerous.

Ian Guthrie
Ian Guthrie
9 days ago

Very interesting article. Thanks.Not sure if an orange lightning bolt is the same as a heart or thumbs up

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
8 days ago

While agreeing with a lot of what Mary has written here, I wonder if mass immigration, partly fuelled by the ‘Universalism’ Mary refers to, may be something significantly different to the past cycles of youth rebellion. ‘Western civilisation’ may be permanently changed by a generation of maturing young voters who are happy to see their countries become ever more ‘multicultural’.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
8 days ago

Good point. Perhaps our ability to absorb migrant influence, i.e. non-Protestant / Puritan cultural memes, is the ultimate test of the strength (or otherwise) of our cultural dominance.

Meanwhile, surgency from the East seems to mimic the means of hitherto Western dominance through technology – all of it originating from Western intellectual capital.

What new ideas have arisen outside the West? Even the founding ideals of modern China and Russia are Western (Marxist)! Communism and its seeming successor, state capitalism based on control and repression, just aren’t capable of the kinds of constant renewal Mary suggests are baked into our way of being.

Which will ultimately prove to be stronger? We shall see… but let’s not downplay the innate strength of our ability to constantly renew ourselves.

Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
8 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Agree the ability to renew is key. Do we still have that though? Even parts of Mary’s article suggest said ability may be in peril (“eternal persent”). I’d suggest the greater threat to civilisational stability is not from progressives, but from the Right. Admitedly fringe elements of the Right explicitly say they want a societal collaspe (as it would end feminism etc.) . No sane progressive explicitly says they want civilisation to end for the same reason. May be some projection going on from Bronze Age Pervert.
If we look at Left & Right in the widest sense, then sure it’s reasonable to assume those on the right are overall more at home with the current social order, at least in the sense that it’s USA led. But also the right as a whole may be more prone to “social hubris” – according to e.g. Prof Scott Johnon, this is a leading reason past civilisations collasped, as conservative pride generated too much resistance to corrective action & needed renewal.

Norfolk Sceptic
Norfolk Sceptic
8 days ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

The current social order is USA led?

DC led, along with Hollywood, Ivy League Academia and the Legacy Media, perhaps, but are they the heart and soul of America?

You only have to look at their controllers, their financial backers, who finances their pictures, buys their paintings …… 🙂

If all that collapsed, even more than it already has, the opportunity for renewal would be for the taking. Energy production, Farming and Manufacturing: there would be too many jobs, and customers, for hubris.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
5 days ago

What are you trying to imply?

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
5 days ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

The ‘progressives’ are against logic, science, reason, meritocracy, individualism, free speech, humor, personal responsibility, stoicism and anything else that’s good about Western societies. Don’t take my word for it, just ask them.

Stephen Feldman
Stephen Feldman
8 days ago

The backlash has begun. Look at the Irish rebellion against their gvt mandating mass immigration and dilution of what Irish patriots fought for,,!

Hazel Gazit
Hazel Gazit
8 days ago

Are these young people “maturing”? Methinks they are remaining spoilt little brats.

William Fulton
William Fulton
8 days ago

Well, she’s desperate to stay relevant. I don’t believe that she ever was.
Next up: Throw everything against the wall, maybe something new will stick.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 days ago

Great essay as usual. Kids with too much time and privilege will rebel. We’ve been doing it in the west ever since we became wealthy enough to indulge such things. I’m no better than kids today. I rebelled in a different way, but the motivation was probably similar.

The big difference IMO is their relationship with adults, institutions and technocrats. It seems to me that the fashionable causes have been pushed on kids by adults, and that supporting these causes actually harms the kids.

Climate alarmism was definitely a top down process. The concept was developed in universities and the bureaucracy, and filtered down to young people. The net zero solution will hit young people and the working class the hardest.

It seems to me that kids are actually being taught this stuff in school. It used to be exclusively in university, but now it has filtered down to every level of education.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
8 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The overwhelming preoccupation of the vast majority of young people is the need to be attractive to the opposite (or same) sex. Idealism is attractive and activism provides opportunity.

I suspect that about sums it up for most of these kids.

We pay far too much attention to the opinions of spoilt and over-privileged people with little genuine life experience, whether it’s Greta Thunberg, Bono Emma Thompson or our own children.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
8 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Speak for yourself. I’ve leaned a lot from my children.

carl taylor
carl taylor
7 days ago

No, you really haven’t; you’ve learned a lot from the experience of having had children.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 days ago
Reply to  carl taylor

You don’t know that.
In fact they have introduced me to a wide range of political thinkers and writers and new ideas.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

My wife intrigued me on our first date when she said that Vietnam protests and now the sensitive man pose were all just the latest come-on lines. I was a dumb guy from the ‘burbs while she was Israeli/Brooklyn with Polish parents. She was — and is — way ahead of me, a smart non-intellectual.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
8 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

“The net zero solution will hit young people and the working class the hardest.”
That is true in the developed world, in the developing world it hurts everyone. Perhaps someone should ask climate activists why they hate Africans so much.

Norfolk Sceptic
Norfolk Sceptic
8 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

NET Zero Intelligence, NET Zero Wealth Creation, NET Zero Leisure Time, and NET Zero could be even worse than we thought. When those with the technical knowledge and experience to provide our amenities retire, it will be as though the wind stopped blowing.

Robbie K
Robbie K
8 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

There’s always countless truly ignorant posts on this website, but that is legendary – well played Adrian.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
8 days ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Perhaps you could enlighten everyone as to how trying to achieve global CO2 reduction targets does not curtail developing countries ability to develop and therefore provide a better life for their people so those people do not need to mass migrate to find a better life.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
6 days ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Well, I suspect if we curtail food production in the way that George Monbiot and other fanatics are demanding it won’t just be Africans who get hurt.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
5 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

When the time comes – Monbiot (and family?) – Do we Boil or Roast?

A D Kent
A D Kent
8 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Your motivation was similar was it Jim? Which particular relentless and depraved mass slaughter got you activated?

Tony Plaskow
Tony Plaskow
8 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

I would imagine Hamas was before his time, Hezbollah, IRGC, Houthis too. Maybe an earlier islamic hate-filled terror org like the Muslim Brotherhood or original states that wanted to destroy Israel and America but failed miserably, like Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt. I do wonder too

Another Username
Another Username
5 days ago
Reply to  Tony Plaskow

Hamas is a Muslim Brotherhood project. All of the Muslim NGOs at these campus protests in the U.S. are Muslim Brotherhood projects. There is certainly some large percentage of the American state department that is Muslim Brotherhood. They haven’t accepted defeat, they’ve gone for integration in order to gain longer term, mass influence. Read The Scroll Substack, Woke Army by Asra Nomani, etc. All the same cast of characters.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
8 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

If kids were truly interested in being rebellious, they’d ditch all the boring lefty “causes” of their elderly and middle aged professors and don a MAGA hat.

Mangle Tangle
Mangle Tangle
8 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Yep. If teachers can tell your 9 year old that they can change gender, teachers telling them to consider armed rebellion against the establishment is chicken feed.

Liam F
Liam F
8 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Good observation.

David McKee
David McKee
8 days ago

The weakness of this article is that it is eurocentric, and more specifically American-centric, which also assumes the rest of the West is a bunch of mini-Americas.

The spread of Palestine encampments on campuses is a clear example of social contagion. It’s a form of mass hysteria. But it has spread almost exclusively to the equivalents of Ivy League/ Russell Group universities in the Anglosphere. It has not spread to colleges of further education in the West, nor (with rare exceptions) to universities in Asia, Africa or Latin America.

This resembles the uproar over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, in that the world outside the West reacted with indifference.

For that matter, our obsessions with climate change and trans rights are peculiar to the West.

We have looked with these issues individually. But are they linked? Harrington’s observation of protest crossover suggests they are. This needs to be explored, but in a global context, not a provincial Western context.

Aidan Twomey
Aidan Twomey
8 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

The students in London that copy the encampments do tend to be the ones at universities with Ivy League envy, like the LSE or UCL. That is, the students who are most enamoured with the American tradition and regard Harvard and Columbia with reverence.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
8 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

I made this point last week; I walked past a ‘Palestine ‘ encampment at Leeds Uni last weekend, and it’s only Whites and Middle Eastern types that are there.

The vast numbers of other foreigners (especially the Chinese) walk past as if it’s not there.

We shouldn’t confuse our world with the world.

Pedro the Exile
Pedro the Exile
8 days ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

and I wouldn’t assume our world is represented by the preening ,narcissists wearing Keffiyeh’s and masks on campus.This performative protesting was rampant during my time at LSE in the early 1970’s- it usually involved a small number of political activists ,generally from Public Schools with wealthy parents. The rets of us, like the above mentioned Chinese etc were too busy playing sport, consuming drink & drugs,trying to get laid and trying to get a first class degree so we could work for the big boys in the City.Plus ca change!

Norfolk Sceptic
Norfolk Sceptic
8 days ago

I expect it’s predominantly those with wealthy parents, studying Arts, Humanities and Social Science degrees. It appears History and PPE graduates are prone to this intellectual virus.

They become infatuated with Historical narrative, think they are Churchill, Mark II, and, in the middle of their fantasy, realise that all credible ways to accumulate wealth involve some wealth creation by themselves; and that requires technical knowledge, of which they have NET Zero amounts.

An ex Energy minister, setting up a support group within Parliament for Climate Change policies was a splendid example of Responsibility with NET Zero Awareness of Reality. And the same can be said for his advisors. 🙂

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 days ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Well said. The encampments and protests in the US were noticeably lacking in color.

Martin M
Martin M
8 days ago

Greta is simply embracing another of the loose grab-bag of Left-Wing policies – Antisemitism.

General Store
General Store
8 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

That’s the one

Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
8 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

The cause doesn’t really matter to her, it’s just the attention and celebrity that she craves.

Jack Robertson
Jack Robertson
8 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

Incredibly unbelievably amazingly and profoundly awesomely impossible concept to contemplate, I know, but….not everything is about Jews, every time, all the time, always.

IKR – scarcely believable, isn’t it!?!?!

Oy effing vey.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
8 days ago
Reply to  Jack Robertson

I think it’s because Israel recently suffered a terrorist attack and then was reviled by Western media for retaliating and defending itself. I might be wrong, though.

Jack Robertson
Jack Robertson
7 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Yes, yes…but what has that got to do with the overly-narcissistic, too-solipsistic self-pitying of a faraway (maybe Diaspora-Jewish, maybe not, I dunno anything about Martin M) plonker living the good safe secular life in London or New York or wherever?
Look, you silly herding-up ‘UnHerders’ – 22 ups to only 1 down for your stern little bum kick, Julian! – I’m a very strong supporter of Israel’s right obligation to hit back hard in defence (or pure retribution, if you prefer, I’m easy with either) against the bestial thugs who attacked [some of] its [gentlest and most lefty, peace-loving] citizens on Oct 7. I’m astounded and not a little moved at the restraint and (as an ex-soldier myself) professionalism of the IDF in their operations to date. If anyone had done to, say, the western suburbs of Sydney what was done in southern Israel, I suspect in my incoherent rage I’d have demanded that the Australian Defence Forces obliterate the perpetrators a whole lot more bloodily and quickly than has been the case in Gaza.
But it’s Israel that is engaged in an existential fight for survival, not Diaspora Judaism. I know it’s convenient to link the two different kinds (and degrees) of fights against anti-semitism together, for all sorts of reasons (genuine and cynical) but the ‘Jew hatred’ that the latter faces is, bluntly, as often as not…not ‘anti-semitism’ at all; rather just a slightly-contrived overly-touchy response to the sting of garden variety narcissistic exceptionalism that we can all feel, apparently, in these Victimhood Arms Race times of ours.
It’s unbecoming of Judaism, frankly. Next thing you know a Howard Jacobsen is going to be sooking on about ‘micro-aggressions’, like some whining BLM or trans lobby blubberer.
Greta Greeny-Teeny-Bop may or may not be ‘antisemitic’, I dunno, but nor, frankly, do I really GAF. But just putting on a trendy-meme tea towel tells us little either way, and turning into some great big hateful symbolic gesture is somewhat counter-productive. Cheers.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
6 days ago
Reply to  Jack Robertson

No, but this shit is.

Jack Robertson
Jack Robertson
5 days ago
Reply to  Studio Largo

meh

OH Conservative
OH Conservative
8 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

“How Dare you Greta” is no longer the face of climate change and she has to jump on a new bandwagon to remain current and somehow make money off herself. She’s only a prostitute of her Activist persona as opposed to the more common type.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
7 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

Anti-capitalism, antiwesternism, anti-Zionism, antisemitism, and ironically enough “anti-fascism” are all basically the same.
They’re just slight variations on neo-Marxism.

carl taylor
carl taylor
7 days ago

I’m glad you put ‘anti-fascism’ in quotes. Any serious anti-fascist would be opposed to Hamas.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
4 days ago
Reply to  carl taylor

Not the modern ilk! They are not even capable of defining fascism.

jane baker
jane baker
8 days ago

As has already been said -Greta is desperate to stay relevant,because that’s where the money is. I believe that as she grew up and in COVID time that had us all reexamining life,I believe she saw how she had been used but chose to stick with it as she saw it was lucrative -then. One of Greta’s problems is that her fan base like her have all grown up. When they were 15 they were happy to be those screaming fans,their grandmas screamed at The Beatles. Mum and Dad taxi’d them everywhere and provided meals. Now they’re all in their early 20s,most of them have got jobs,careers even for which they need a car,to get to work. And they want to travel and see interesting places. Again at a simple level we are all appalled to see GENOCIDE played our in front of our eyes,unlike a lot of the German population in 1945 we can’t fib that we dont know what’s happening because they tell us In malicious glee to make us complicit. But just as Greta knows jackshit about the environment same goes for Palestine.
A slight digression but have you noticed all the celebrities,men and women,who have with undisguised delight given up veganism and are eating MEAT again now they have a suitably superior reason to hide behind. Under the guise of “not eating over-proccessed food,the newest food fashion,you can eschew all those horrible plant based ready meals in the freezer and cook a steak instead. I dont suppose it will take the big food companies long to create “not over processed but convenient for the busy Mum plant based ready meals”,it will say so on the packaging. Maybe they could license a picture of Greta endorsing it. Or would that put everyone off their food.

AC Harper
AC Harper
8 days ago
Reply to  jane baker

I’d differ slightly – Greta is desperate to stay relevant, because that’s where the acclaim is. She has become comfortable with the recognition accorded her by (some) adults. She realises that ‘Climate Change’ is becoming ‘boring’ and is looking for the new spotlights.

Peter B
Peter B
8 days ago
Reply to  jane baker

Not sure I agree with your statement that Greta has “grown up”. Nor all her followers. Some of them are just older, but no wiser.
Mary fails to recognise in this article just how much damage Greta’s impractical beliefs have done. I suspect that when we look back at this period with its manias and near-hysterias (the US seemed to lose some sense of proportion following 9/11), there will be few individuals with more blame at their door than Saint Greta.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

Hardly.

Pedro the Exile
Pedro the Exile
8 days ago
Reply to  jane baker

Great post but picking up on we are all appalled to see GENOCIDE played our in front of our eyes, I can’t help wondering why the televisual display of “genocide” is so selective. If it was so truly appalling, where is the daily clickbait porn about the Rohingya in Burma,South Sudan,Ethiopia,South Sudan, Uyghur “re education” camps,>).5m dead in the Syrian Civil war etc.I mean,there’s enough of it to sustain a full 24 hour news channel.But all we get is “Gaza”.
And thats why Lineker refers to Gaza as “the worst thing I have seen in my lifetime”-ie he has seen b****r ALL.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
8 days ago

The worst thing he’s seen in his lifetime is his missed header which would’ve equalised against Argentina in the 1986 World Cup quarter final, thus restoring parity with the “Hand of God” ‘goal’.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 days ago

“And thats why Lineker refers to Gaza as “the worst thing I have seen in my lifetime”-ie he has seen b****r ALL”

He definitely hasn’t watched his own crisp adverts then

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
8 days ago
Reply to  jane baker

Genocide?

Paul
Paul
8 days ago
Reply to  jane baker

“Genocide”? That pretty much undermined any credibility your post had.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 days ago
Reply to  Paul

Exactly.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
4 days ago
Reply to  jane baker

Speaking of trends – what are Hollywood celebrities going to do with their trans kids now that transing your children is no longer a thing? “Julie – your name is John again. Now get that stupid dress off and go eat a steak.”

Archibald Tennyson
Archibald Tennyson
8 days ago

Some good points, Mary, but I disagree that the West is getting stronger through these rebirths. I see it more like a bouncing ball that’s losing energy with each rebound.

Consider the different youth subcultures post-war. Just think of the sheer creativity and exuberance that the Beatles and their ilk had in their time – that was the “cut flower” in its full beauty. I just don’t see that same attitude and energy on display today. It’s much more nihilistic and individualistic. Indeed, there are those that see this as inevitable – that the “dark logic” of a worldview will gradually become more apparent over time, as people increasingly act in accordance with its fundamental presuppositions. That’s why I see this as an unravelling rather than a process of constant rebirth.

Finally, as to your point about Puritanism – you could trace the problem far further back than that particular strain of Protestantism. Maybe it goes back as far as the Great Schism of 1054, and perhaps even further, to the coronation of Charlemagne in 800. After all, Orthodox theologians have long predicted that Catholicism would lead to endless schism and, ultimately, widespread atheism in the West. They weren’t wrong, were they?

jane baker
jane baker
8 days ago

They’ve listened to Grannies and sometimes Grandpas tales of rioting in Grosvenor Square and hanging out with the Rolling Stones. And they missed it all. But quite soon theyll have a real cause to fight over – conscription. They’re not joking,the ones suggesting it I mean. Is Sweden still available?

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
5 days ago
Reply to  jane baker

Available for what?

Andrew D
Andrew D
8 days ago

Surely Orthodoxy and Protestantism are themselves products of schism?

Archibald Tennyson
Archibald Tennyson
8 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

That depends how you look at it. Unless you’re a believer in papal supremacy, the Roman Catholics broke away from the Orthodox, not the other way around. Same goes for the Nestorians some centuries before.
From the Orthodox perspective, all other churches are heretical. That’s why it’s called Orthodoxy.
Under this view (which is little known in a Europe dominated by the legacy of the Latin West), Protestantism is a heresy splitting from the Catholic heresy, and liberal secular atheism is a heresy splitting from Protestantism.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
8 days ago

Interesting perspective and history. One could also argue that it’s simply another form of tribalism i.e. breakaways and further subdivisions from the mainstream, seen in most historical movements. From my perspective, that looks more like a spent force than anything heretical; always bearing in mind that the human race developed successfully for many, many millennia before Christianity came along (if you’re looking for a real perspective).

Archibald Tennyson
Archibald Tennyson
8 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Here we go again, laddie! Your atheistic worldview has no means of determining what a “real” perspective is. It’s all just matter and energy. There is no “successful human development”, just the random interplay of chemicals.
I get the argument you’re trying to make, but it relies on theistic assumptions about the nature of reality. Don’t steal from them; make your own “argument” based on the meaningless universe in which you claim to “believe”.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
7 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

It was among the Zoroastrians. The breakaway monotheists started this whole business, and look what happened.

Winston Adam
Winston Adam
8 days ago

“Catholicism led to endless schism and, ultimately, widespread atheism.” Catholicism did that? Perhaps many people started recognizing that religion is mythology and trying to make some logical sense out of it is a fool’s errand. I do like your “bouncing ball’ analogy.

Robbie K
Robbie K
8 days ago

Poor clickbait piece. I don’t subscribe to Greta’s point of view on this, but she can protest how she wants, can’t she?

jane baker
jane baker
8 days ago
Reply to  Robbie K

No,because it’s stupid,she’s stupid,and it’s damaging to civil society but I can’t explain why. I just know it is. Someone should Pie in the Face her.

Robbie K
Robbie K
8 days ago
Reply to  jane baker

Or in other words, you and others here just don’t like her, therefore she has no right to free speech. Intriguing take.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
8 days ago
Reply to  Robbie K

That’s quite a straw man. Not a single person has said she “has no right to free speech.” On the contrary, it is her exercising of that right that led to this article.

David Morley
David Morley
7 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Though it’s true that there is something really irritating about her.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
5 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

You should increase your tolerance of autism.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
8 days ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Of course she can. But her fifteen minutes was up long ago. It’s time the fawning media found a new darling. The novelty has worn off.

Norfolk Sceptic
Norfolk Sceptic
8 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Greta can continue to protest, but should the BBC continue to promote the cause, or should they allow informed discussion on this unresolved matter.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
6 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

The BBC will continue to promote the cause until it starts to hurt them personally – which, given that they are generally wealthy thanks to the parasitic nature of their enterprise, will be a long time after everyone else has begun to suffer.

Saul D
Saul D
8 days ago
Reply to  Robbie K

A campaigner tends to focus on one topic that they then become deeply familiar with. A politician divides his/her time across many topics. So one longer term reading is that this might well be part of a broader transition into generalist politics.

J Dunne
J Dunne
8 days ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Nobody said she can’t. The article simply expressed an opinion on her actions and possible motivations…and deliciously ridiculed the narcissistic spoilt brat.

John Riordan
John Riordan
8 days ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Well no, she can’t.
The way she protests is illegal and rightly so.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
8 days ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Totally agree, she can protest her little heart out. It is just so ridiculous that people like Bill Gates, senior politicians on both side of the Atlantic and Soros NGOs attached themselves to this poor autistic child and made her into a “Climate Saint”. Now as Greta has matured, it seems she aimlessly tries to attach herself to anything, which is the current left wing craze.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
8 days ago

The problem is that being an activist is now a career choice. There is a lot of money in promoting the right cause which is why we now have activist journalism, teaching, governing, medicine, science, etc. There are very few professions left where you can declare that you are in it just for the money.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Religion.

Cristina Bodor
Cristina Bodor
7 days ago

No politician “ attaches” self to their puppet. Waste of time / a distraction to read about this kid. Otherwise, always a pleasure to read Mary H, no matter the subject

Aidan Twomey
Aidan Twomey
8 days ago

I think Mary has put her finger on something here, and it would especially explain why establishment organisations like the Democratic Party or the faculty of Columbia (but I repeat myself), are so susceptible to the demands of these child radicals. On electoral grounds, Biden should run a mile from the pro-Hamas demonstrations, but his people just cannot bring themselves to do so. It’s like the link in their mind between the ontological nature of what America is and teenage rebellion is just too strong.

AC Harper
AC Harper
8 days ago

In ‘my day’ wearing jeans was an individual act of social rebellion… so we all did it.

Terry M
Terry M
8 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Yes, I want to show my individuality, just like everyone else.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
8 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

“You’re all individuals!”
“I’m not”.

ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
7 days ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

“He’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!

David Morley
David Morley
5 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I think that’s what’s called a collective act of rebellion. At the time it was generational. There’s no real contradiction.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
5 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

The weird thing is a collective act of individualism.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
8 days ago

Ms. Harrison may be right, but I think the problem these days is that the adults in the room lack either the spine or the intellectual confidence to ignore this nonsense, which is bit closer to the bone of real life and actual prosperity than whether blokes have long hair or have the odd punch-up at a seaside town. The pendulum may now be swinging the other way, but we’ve sabotaged our economies generally, and our auto industries in particular, in response to a Net Zero movement that got an awful lot of the wind in its sails from Thunberg and her ilk.

Anthony Roe
Anthony Roe
8 days ago

The only way to be a real rebel now is to walk down the high street in a three-piece suit smoking a large cigar. The horror, the horror.

Amelia Melkinthorpe
Amelia Melkinthorpe
8 days ago
Reply to  Anthony Roe

There are a couple of videos on YT showing a beautifully dressed lady – dress, shady hat, perfect hair, gloves, good shoes, excellent carriage and poise – walking through a modern street (not sure where) and sitting at a café table. What is revealing is the reaction from the people around her, particularly the hostility of the women (dressed like slobs, overweight, and generally not native populations). Their menfolk, however, are appreciative.

John Riordan
John Riordan
8 days ago

Do you have a link for one of them?

David Morley
David Morley
8 days ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Yes link please.

Anthony Roe
Anthony Roe
8 days ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Don’t be a bore, search for it yourself. It’s on YT, there is no ‘truth’ there. Just use your imagination.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
5 days ago
Reply to  Open Mind

And that was not a setup ?

El Uro
El Uro
8 days ago

My wife once upon a time complained that when she goes to work past a cafe, any group of men sitting at a table stops their animated conversation and follows her with their eyes. She doesn’t understand that we learn to do this automatically from the age of thirteen, and this skill does not disappear until death. When the woman leaves, we continue the conversation from the point at which it was interrupted, without even realizing the pause.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
8 days ago
Reply to  El Uro

Wait till they stop looking and see what she thinks.

El Uro
El Uro
8 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I know 🙂

Gerry Quinn
Gerry Quinn
8 days ago
Reply to  El Uro

Skill? In the right circumstances we do not even have effective motor control over our eyes!

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
8 days ago

I thought Marlon Brando nailed all this in ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ –

Barkeeper: what you rebelling against, kid?
Brando: Whatta you got?

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
8 days ago

That was James Dean.

El Uro
El Uro
8 days ago

Proofreader, alas, is a forgotten profession

Paul
Paul
8 days ago

No, it was Brando, in The Wild One.

David Morley
David Morley
7 days ago

Definitely Brando. Not a well delivered line if I recall and Brando comes across as way too camp in the whole film. Not his finest hour.

John Riordan
John Riordan
8 days ago

“It’s hardly original to notice the Puritan streak in modern progressivism.”

True. But I diagnose it as possessing a different motive: it’s because of the increasing perception amongst younger generations that they are excluded from full and fair participation in capitalism’s game, so they respond with a set of beliefs and actions that amount to saying “If you won’t let me play the game, I’ll destroy in instead”.

One one level it’s stupid because it’s not true or fair, and going on disruptive climate change protests and singing in support of the worst, most murderous Islamist scum on the planet displays a level of obtuseness that would be spectacular if it wasn’t so awful to witness. But on another level they have a point: they face career instability and a cost of living challenge that the previous two generations didn’t experience and didn’t expect to be a problem for future generations, and they are right to see this as an injustice.

David Morley
David Morley
8 days ago

A protean animating energy seems to ingest every progressive issue it encounters

Theres nothing very mysterious or new about this. We see it on left and right, and it seems to be due to a psychological need to bundle all one’s concerns (and enemies) together. Almost a metaphysical need. Indeed the people on the right who see it as an attack on western civilisation are doing exactly the same thing.

Terry M
Terry M
8 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

You don’t think pulling down statues, renaming buildings, throwing soup on paintings, supporting the import of millions of non-westerners, etc isn’t an attack on Western Civ?
What would be such an attack, in your opinion?

David Morley
David Morley
8 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

Terry – you’ve just done exactly what I described.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
7 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

I’m not sure these are all random unrelated events, though. When you dig beneath the surface, you see that a lot of these destructive movements are concerted attacks that have a lot of Big Money behind them. Just Stop Oil, for instance, is funded by the Getty family who own Getty Images. And then there is the transgender movement which is being pushed by the Pritzker family, of which one member sits on the board of the Harvard Corporation, another is governor of Illinois, and yet another is owner of Hyatt Hotels.
I see where you are coming from. It is seductively easy to lump everything into one big conspiracy theory, but it is just very hard to shake off the feeling that there is a group of extremely wealthy people who would like nothing more that to flatten the structures that provided so much dignity and security to so many in the West and to replace these with structures that, although seemingly benign, actually funnel power and money to themselves.
I think this is what constitutes the majority of Unherd readers – that something has gone dreadfully wrong in the West. Many of us are old enough to remember there being a more universal and objective way of doing things, but which now seems to have been replaced by a crueler system that rewards ‘allies’ (those who follow the narrative) and punishes ‘enemies’ (those who question the narrative).

David Morley
David Morley
5 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Thanks for a really thoughtful reply. I don’t doubt that things have gone wrong. I also think that some well intentioned people are inadvertently doing harm. Also that some less well intentioned people are doing harm in the pursuit of their own self interest.

What I dispute is that these people are setting out in a deliberate, planned and coordinated attempt to destroy the west. For many of them that would mean destroying the goose that lays the golden egg. That does not, of course, mean that that’s not where their actions will lead us. I just don’t think that it is some sort of deliberate conspiracy.

Another way of seeing it is perhaps that their are a variety of things happening that are symptoms of decline.

But caution is needed. When we bundle a ragbag of things we personally don’t like into signs of decline, or conspiracy we are mistaking our own psychology for a unified theory of history.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 days ago

That is a really interesting idea.

A D Kent
A D Kent
8 days ago

 Interesting, if rather excessively wordy, piece, but it could just be as simple as these people demonstrating don’t like their governments being involved in the industrial slaughter, maiming and torture of men, woman and children.  Occam’s razor and all that.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
8 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Did you miss the part where the alleged casualty counts from Gaza were revised downward by at least half? Those Jews. They can’t even get industrial slaughter right.

A D Kent
A D Kent
8 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

You’re right, I did miss that, but that’s because it never happened.

Some pricks confused the number of corpses the UN have fully identified with the total they had seen. What that count excluded though were all the bodies the UN had not yet managed to identify. These unidentified bodies do not cease to exist because the UN haven’t managed to put a name to them.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/article/2024/may/13/gaza-ministry-revises-figures-for-women-and-children-killed

Even if they were rounded down, perhaps you could give us an estimate of how many would be an acceptable level worthy of demonstration. It seems that the overwhelming number of Unherd commentators agree that about 850 dead civilains is sufficient to justify a massive bombing campaign – so how many would be enough to justify students occupying some lawns?

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
8 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Are you referring to October 7th or simply all of the pogroms conducted throughout history?

A D Kent
A D Kent
8 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Sorry you’ll have to explain to me how the current US & UK governments were involved in those atrocities and then I might be able to answer you.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
8 days ago

Mary is right to identify the Puritanical source of Extreme Progressive and the potency of the similar Universalist Christian ideology. But I think she is v wrong to box them up neatly into an Omnicause youth rebellion. The mean Calvinist urge to divide the world into the chosen hyper virtuous ‘Elect’ has taken over the ruling elites of the West. It has inspired a destructive socially toxic Equality Cult that has led to Mobs on the Street, two-tier policing dependent on your skin colour, the smashing of the idea of meritocracy and the linked disdain for and hatred of the ‘Damned’ – all those outside the Virtuous Rainbowers (such as Brexiiteer white gammons who do not deserve the vote and their oiky kids who get zero help in schools). This is a nasty dangerous cult and its identitarian/open border multicultural credo, and anti capitalist net zero degrowth insanity, make it a huge danger to our society. It is NOT about the kids. Our State machinery and politics has been captured. And that Progressive EU Legacy 30 Year State is already falling apart.

David Morley
David Morley
8 days ago

There are doubtless links between Puritanism and modern youthful moralism but you’d have to overlook quite a lot of hedonism, drug taking, free sex and non moral rebellion to claim a simple line of descent.

I would also suggest that the moralistic turn dates from the 70s – totally obvious in the feminism of that time – and was perhaps a reaction to 60s hedonism. Suddenly there was an awful lot of “thou shalt not” in the air.

William Amos
William Amos
8 days ago

Omnicause‘ is fine way to describe it.
This unending sublunary thing.
I have sometimes thought of it as a Perpetual Stew.
It is what we are left with once we have allowed the great spiritual journey homewards to become occluded by the Prince of This World.
My Dad used to take me to the Royal Docks in East London not long after they’d been closed off from the river and the the sea beyond. There was a man there who spent his weekends catching eels by the dozen. The eels just seemed to writhe about in the enclosed water, furiously but totally aimlessly. Refusing to copulate and incapable of escape. Apparently by the early 90s the whole floor of the Royal Albert Dock was a seething mass of trapped and bewildered celibate eels.
Well, as I now think back on it “The Sea of Faith/ Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore/Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.”
I was minded of this when I re-read Tennyson’s wonderful poem about spiritual return, Crossing The Bar, recently:
Sunset and evening star,
      And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
      When I put out to sea,

   But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
      Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
      Turns again home.

0 0
0 0
8 days ago

Come on, Mary. The Omnicause is the epitome of Western Civilization?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
8 days ago
Reply to  0 0

All the grand narratives collapsed into one Grand Narrative. I found many interesting and well-made points in this article but the central claim is way overstated.

David Morley
David Morley
8 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Yes because Mary is doing precisely what she criticises the left for: putting all the things she is concerned about into one big hold-all as if they all belong together.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

You’ve been absent for a while, AJ.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
7 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I was fully censored for about six days recently. I think one or more subscriber’s waved the “outrage flag”. All my comments–long or short, friendly or contentious–were disappeared upon posting. I had to email UnHerd support about four times before they fixed it.
I do think the people here deserve an occasional break from me.

Stephen Feldman
Stephen Feldman
8 days ago

Greta held her breath for a few yrs. Carbon ppm continue to rise. Shes frustrated. Attention no longer paid to her tantrums. So she bought a new costume. She is too self absorbed to understand that Israelis are not settler colonialists. Born in Israel, tied fo a 3000 yr old love of that land from Hebron to Mt Hermon.

When Greta releases her breath again, perhaps she’ll go to school and learn a needed skill, like sewage engineering. I don’t think day care teacher would be a good choice.

Nice to be privileged. You get a very extended childhood.

Toby Aldrich
Toby Aldrich
8 days ago

Surely it’s obvious that Greta, having solved climate change, has simply moved on to a new project? BLM, Occupy Wall St, Extinction Rebellion, Rhodes Must Fall, #metoo, Trans rights, Just Stop Oil are all a bit stale these days, so what’s a school striker now past her school days to do?
No doubt she will be equally effective in her cause du jour.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
8 days ago

Sorry, but this is a lot of wasted words on clueless children paid to disrupt. The Harvard idiots yesterday disbanded their performance art “encampment” because school was out and no one was paying attention to them. Plus, summer break had begun and the beach was beckoning.
Greta Thunberg was brought up by her disgusting parents to be an attention wh*re. It’s all she knows. She, too, will go away when columnists stop paying attention to her.

David Ryan
David Ryan
8 days ago

I’d have a small modicum of sympathy for Thunberg inasmuch as she was just a kid when thrust into the glare, and she’s still pretty much a kid. When she’s forty or fifty she’ll look back at this time and cringe, I’d imagine

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
5 days ago
Reply to  David Ryan

She’ll be a lonely little old lady in a rocking chair telling the cats how very well known she was. The cats won’t care.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
8 days ago

Mary channelling Tom Holland ….The omnicause won’t bring down the West directly, but it is only a symptom of the depletion of any underlying shared value-system rooted in Judeo-Christian understandings of virtue. This will bring down western civilization – first of all by making it impossible to stand firm against mass muslim immigration; against any concerted cultural integration; and eventually against an Islamic caliphate. Civilizations DO fall Mary. Don’t kid yourself. The cycle of iconoclasm you describe is real. But most of Hadrian’s hand hewn stone has been reworked into the foundations of Northumbrian farmhouses. Nothing to stop those farm houses from being turned into Mosques. In Brampton in the GTA, just outside Toronto, there are indeed plenty of chapels and farmhouses standing incongruously in the Ontario green belt (such as it is) that have become Mosques. Plus ca change….

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
8 days ago

The part about the “shared value system” cannot be repeated often enough. Anyone who needs further explanation of this need only look at the annual lists of the world’s happiest countries. They are exclusively cultures that are extremely homogeneous, with shared customs and traditions, a common language and history, and a notable absence of self-hatred.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Apparently, it’s Norway.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 days ago

I wonder what the academic demographics of the student protesters look like? What is the ratio of social scientists to physical scientists?

El Uro
El Uro
8 days ago

I am not sure about the author’s optimistic conclusions. The smell of communo-fascism is too distinctly felt in these movements. For me who grew up in the Soviet Union, it’s especially familiar. I am Israeli, but I have already written here, anti-Semitism is just the trigger of this Millenarianistic movement. Therefore, it is not at all surprising to me that BLM, Just Stop Oil, apologists for Covid restrictions, LGBTQQIP2SAA, etc merge into one destructive mud flow. Israel is just an excuse for these offended idiots, who are sure that society owes them and must be destroyed.
PS. In conclusion, I repeat: the creation of the institution of gay marriage was the fork in which the road to the destruction of the basic moral institutions of society was chosen.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 days ago
Reply to  El Uro

I was with you up until your PS. What on earth is your objection to gay marriage? Do you know any gay people? Read Simon Edge, he has written books about similar viewpoints to yours and guess what? He’s gay.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
8 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

El Uro was not complaining about gay people, but about the institutionalization of gay marriage. These are two separate issues.

General Store
General Store
7 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Marriage is about children and the reproduction of society. Gay people living together is about lifestyle, personal commitments, no problem…..but not children…or shouldn’t be. Gay adoption and the buying and selling of babies through surrogacy should also be made illegal. We were assured that gay marriage would be the end of the cycle of ‘liberation’ but instead it led to an active campaign to destroy all gender categories and sex roles, and the creation of a leviathan state to manage and regulate societal reproduction…..The aim is what it has always been for Marxists which is the destruction of the family. And we are on the cusp of a technical revolution which will make this particular version of Jahr Null quite possible: baby factories producing and ‘birthing’ thousands of artificially gestated foetuses a year. Don’t say ‘it will never happen’ – because a German company is already taking out patents. We can do it with sheep…certainly with humans. So absolutely – roll back gay marriage, ban surrogacy, ban these technologies, create massively pronatlist pro family social policy and accept that a great many people, like you, are going to be very upset. It’s quite literally the entire future that is on the line

carl taylor
carl taylor
7 days ago
Reply to  General Store

That would make sense if everyone within the institution of marriage had children, which they don’t, and if all unmarried couples didn’t have children, which they do.

El Uro
El Uro
7 days ago
Reply to  carl taylor

It’s a very weak objection and you know that

El Uro
El Uro
7 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

It’s not about gays. It’s about institution which can’t be applied to them.
I do not want to discuss religious motives here, although they are only an honest recording of both biological and social necessity.
Let’s do it simpler.
If we’re talking about a gay couple, which one is the dad and which one is the mom? How to resolve this issue when it comes to divorce? Let’s measure the diameter of the rear hole to find out who was passive more often?
What about polygamists? Is gay polygamy acceptable in Western society? Should we leave the gay’s harem for Muslims only?
The institution of marriage was created by society. Lawyers do not have the right to reform it, they can only determine the relationship of the parties, but not their composition and number, this is beyond their competence.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
5 days ago
Reply to  El Uro

Sorry, I don’t get why there would have to be any need for a judge to decide who is “father” and “mother” in a gay divorce case. Whatever you think about the legitimacy of gay marriage, it is obvious that it is to fathers, or with lesbians two mothers. Why should a judge resolve anything else during a divorce?

Terry M
Terry M
8 days ago

Rather, it was a matter of looking around for a cause, a seemingly backward causality that’s since led me to wonder whether the normalisation of “rebellion” is the driving force behind youth activism, rather than the other way round, as young people go looking for a cause to rebel about.
Chicken, egg.

Hazel Gazit
Hazel Gazit
8 days ago

Oh the irony. A few years ago, these pesky Palestinians in Gaza were sending incendiary devises by balloon over the border into Israel, causing untold ecological damage. Plus the tyres they were burning at the border fence causing air pollution.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
8 days ago

Disturbing to see how a disabled young person has been groomed by the Left. And it feels like grooming when a child previously worried about the natural world has now ‘progressed’ as a young adult into promoting terrorism.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
8 days ago

“young people go looking for a cause to rebel about”
Exactly. The 1955 James Dean film “Rebel Without a Cause” explicitly parsed the phenomenon, though in a manner pretty much devoid of self-knowledge – as is most adolescent rabble rousing.

William Amos
William Amos
8 days ago
Reply to  Daniel Lee

John Milton also did a fair job of dissecting it in Paradise Lost.
As C.S. Lewis put it in his preface to Paradise Lost -“His [Satan’s] rebellion begins with talk about liberty, but very soon proceeds to ‘what we more affect, Honour, Dominion, glorie, and renoune’ (Paradise Lost Book VI, 421). The same process is at work in Eve. Hardly has she swallowed the fruit before she wants to be ‘more equal’ to Adam; and hardly has she said the word ‘equal’ before she emends it to ‘superior’

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
8 days ago

“Though my own memories of adolescence are hazy, I don’t remember ever questioning the idea that it was “normal” to feel rebellious”
So the only act of true rebellion is to conform. I recall Martha Albrecht’s daughter saying that she rebelled by going to school

Dawn Muir
Dawn Muir
8 days ago

Fantastic analysis! But I think your prognosis is overly optimistic. The rebellious movements of the past century, including the 60s and the sexual revolution, and current anti-west pull down of stabilizing norms and worldviews, seem to be unravelling the culture rather than ultimately renewing it. I agree that something else will inevitably emerge in the near or distance future, but this civilisation could easily be lost and replaced by something decidedly inferior and permanent, with the sad understanding that history never repeats itself. I was surprised to see you flirting with the idea of renewal in a way that suggests the optimism of belief in perpetual progress.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
8 days ago

Why is Greta Thunberg wearing a keffiyeh
Because she is engaged in performative protest, the publicity keeps her name in the public eye, and her handlers get a bit more mileage from a tired act. Of course, the climate cult will side with people from a part of the world whose primary legitimate business is oil. This bunch is not keen on intellectual consistency; it just propagates whatever version of the oppressed/oppressor narrative it can.
It’s a bit comical that people in the West, who are among the top one percent of humans who have ever existed, pretend to care for the downtrodden and poor while showing no real commitment to helping either. If these people went to Gaza, half of them would be dead inside of a week and the rest would be useful idiots.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
8 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

It does take a fairly twisted mind to rally for a death cult, whose main mission in life is to eliminate Jews from the world and install a global caliphate that will completely eradicate the very freedoms the protesters assume.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Exactly. One can imagine Hamas gleefully laughing at the stupidity of the protesters who are supporting them. One never hears any protests against them.

james elliott
james elliott
8 days ago