by Ed West
Friday, 27
March 2020
Idea
07:00

I miss the culture warriors

I want to go back to a society where problems are invented
by Ed West
A recent Vice headline fretted that transgender people’s care can be treated as ‘non-essential’

Imagine being stuck on a plane which has found itself in trouble. The captain tells everyone there is engine failure and he’s going to attempt an emergency landing. You all adopt the brace position and get ready for the worst and… the guy sitting next to you is on a work call, busy arguing because he’s convinced his manager should cop the blame for losing the Japan deal. “This is important,” he tells you when he sees your puzzled expression.

I feel this way when I look at the few remaining culture warriors in our midst using the coronavirus as a hammer to hit what they hope might be a nail. Do you really care, anymore?

Last week, for example, with the British government about to order a lockdown, Vice was giving us their take: “The coronavirus pandemic has shed light on how transgender people’s care can be treated as ‘non-essential’.” Meanwhile only yesterday the activist/journalist Saira Rao was linking coronavirus to “white supremacy” in a deleted tweet.

A few weeks ago I would have found that sort of thing mildly annoying or silly, an accepted part of the ongoing and relentless culture war; now it just seems like something from another era.

That era arguably started in December 2001, when China’s admittance to the WTO allowed for the enrichment of both the western upper-middle-class and the People’s Republic of China. This ramping up of globalisation increased America’s wealth divide while also pushing the rich and poor in different directions, politically.

It was the upper-middle-class who became radicalised during the 2010s, not the poor, with progressivism partly becoming a replacement religion but also reflecting the fact that upper-class wealth relied on globalisation. The culture wars that flared up were essentially the product of wealthy people in a wealthy society with no real, existential problems.

The real dark side of this “great awokening” was that, while woke capital lectured us on how progressive they were, they did so on the back of near-slave labour in China; while young western liberals convinced themselves that their countries were on the verge of fascism — when they were in fact becoming more liberal than ever by almost every measure — they were tweeting on devices made in a state where Muslims are put in concentration camps.

Political activists are the white blood cells of a country, and when society faces no real threats, they turn in on society itself, ripping up its institutions in a desperate attempt to rid them of non-existent dangers. And so social problems had to be essentially imagined and invented, and there were plenty of journalists and activists willing to imagine them.

Now society faces an actual threat, and meanwhile our devil’s alliance with China has been irreparably damaged, it all seems so dated. Don’t these people know that it’s 2020?

I suppose maybe it looks like I’m doing the same, and just hoping that we’ll see a return to conservatism. I certainly don’t feel that way right now, and if anything I’d rather live in a society where social science graduates have to be employed to invent problems rather than one where we face real dangers. Most of all, though, I just hope that we land the plane.

Join the discussion


To join the discussion, get the free daily email and read more articles like this, sign up.

It's simple, quick and free.

Sign me up
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
6 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago

‘I’d rather live in a society where social science graduates.’

And I would rather live in a country where there are no social science graduates, and where the people who pursue such nonsense are deployed to useful activities like sweeping the streets or filling in potholes.

David Waring
David Waring
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Put the social “science “graduates to work making the consumables the medical personnel need.

James Chilton
James Chilton
2 years ago

This pandemic is providing a context in which thoughtful people will reflect on the fragility of our way of life and begin to perceive the causes for which culture warriors fight as utterly bogus.

Shiv Ram
Shiv Ram
2 years ago

Brilliant piece Ed! Spot on. This woke garbage is a bigger global pandemic than corona and shows no sign of flattening. Like you said, this thing has taken over the US in a short time. Even in India, these wealthy globalists who are less than 0.001% of the population are wreaking havoc on the rest of the 1.3 billion population. They are a miniscule % of world population but they have megaphone way disproportionate to their size. Just about every publication which has any sizeable following is woke these days. Like you said, these are humanities graduates who are completely unglued from the real life problems every one else is facing around the world. But then those who shine a spotlight on their idiocies dont have the reach. I accidentally discovered your site.

jayathisrinivasan
jayathisrinivasan
2 years ago
Reply to  Shiv Ram

Same here. Very relevant. Time to close down JNU type shit holes.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
2 years ago

Properly conducted social science has its place and its uses -often a critically important role to play in the analysis of our culture -it’s when the social science faculties are overrun with progressive ideologues, as they doubtless are currently, that the subject just becomes a coathanger for various progressive groups to hang their ill-thought out grievances on. The result is then just poor science (and poor humanities too).

I think the question of how such poor thinking gained such traction in these institutions needs to be addressed. The answer may be linked to various pedagogues exploiting young people so as to enlist them as rabid functionaries of their own skewed (and failed) political beliefs. It’s very easy to co opt young people who have not yet found their feet in the world -to enlist them to join some or other cause that appears to have the fire and force of passionate libertarianism about it -always apparently coming to the aid of some or other downtrodden group.

No self respecting teacher should want their students to follow blindly the teacher’s own beliefs. A good teacher seeks to help the student develop and master capacity for critical thinking.

My sense is that most of the leaders of these sorts of progressive groups are usually highly narcissistic individuals -they want power and they want followers; grown up thinkers usually do not want to follow them because they see right through the simplistic nature of the world view presented.