An asymmetric culture war has been fought for too long
Adam King’s piece in UnHerd about the Government’s Higher Education bill, which brings in legal protections for dissenting academics and will implement swingeing fines to universities that no-platform or censor, is a worthy rejoinder to the ‘culture war’ debate. He argues that a top-down approach from the Government cannot solve the problems of self-censorship and the climate of fear that pervades Britain’s universities. In other words, you “simply can’t legislate for cultural change,” as the Index on Censorship reports.
But both the Bill and Adam’s response seem to be based on a premise of Enlightenment modernism, the idea that we can talk these issues out and agree some sort of muddy compromise, and everyone can go home if not happy, then at least not actively homicidal.
I think this is naive, and a fundamental misunderstanding of the opposing force. Because wokeism — and let us say the word, loud and proud — is not a rational belief system that can be discussed freely. It’s not about reason, logic or dialectic debate but a power grab by a pre-modern pseudo-religion.
This is an inherently destructive sectarian ideology, laden with Kafka traps and the justice of the ducking stool. It is Salem with pronouns and an anime avatar. Any criticism of it is met not with argument and counterpoint but with ‘ah, that’s just what a witch would say!’ It is the opposite of what it says on the tin — not kind, not just, not inclusive.
And crucially, it is not popular.
Contrary to what the Index on Censorship says, there hasn’t been a cultural change, merely the illusion of one. The mass media gives the impression of an organic change, but this is in fact fringe crankery, a rout perpetrated by an upper middle class elite with a grotesque amount of unaccountable power.
We have a situation where enormous effort is spent on preventing radicalisation of one kind, while another carries on in broad daylight. Entire academic fields — ‘queer theory’, ‘decolonising’ — have sprung up based around unquantifiable rubbish, and have started to infect the real ones such as maths, biology, even geography.
So I think a hatchet must be taken to wokeism, and that all state funding should be removed from institutions that spread it. There would inevitably be bleating about academic freedom, ironically using the tolerant discursive ideas of the Enlightenment to defend its opposite. To which the reply should be that there’s no freedom to teach creationism, flat earth or theocratic fascism either.
It all starts with the universities. The financial legs need to be cut out from beneath woke. We currently have a situation where working people pay for middle class children to be taught to despise them, and to hate their own civilisation. This must end.
If it isn’t cut out then there will over the coming decades be civil strife, an increase in racial division and hatred — a cruel, suspicious, totalitarian society that will likely face disorder and possibly eventual collapse. America is a terrible warning in this regard. ‘It couldn’t happen here’ is a comforting delusion.
There is a culture war, and wars aren’t won by sticking your fingers in your ears going ‘la la la, this isn’t happening’, or by legal quibbling. Wokeism must be cancelled. By firm government.