I think some people may believe we are still fighting the culture war. It is debatable whether we ever fought the culture war. We certainly are not now. The culture war was lost years ago. Yet some good people are inclined to think we are still fighting that war – rather like those (apocryphal?) Japanese soldiers who were still emerging from the jungle twenty years after WW2.
I do not mean to be unkind, especially to those few who put in the effort to pushback against the narrative, however forlorn. These endeavours remain essential. But it is important to appreciate the reality of our position.
Let me convince you by extending the war analogy. Suppose the enemy has invaded your country and is now occupying every city, every town, every village. Suppose national government and local government are in their hands, as are the news media, the police force, the judiciary and the armed forces. Would you be prepared to concede that the war was lost?
Ah, you say – but I am still fighting!
Of course, even when a war is lost there may be a resistance movement. But it is important to understand that we are a few scattered dissidents. We are a resistance movement operating within an occupied country.
You may think this is mere semantics; that I am splitting hairs. I think not. I think it is important regarding what activism is worth pursuing, and what can realistically be expected to be achieved.
What exactly do we mean by “culture war”? The culture war is (was) a replacement of one moral system by another. It is (was) a war over what is regarded as right and wrong. The enemy “occupation” is an occupation of our minds by an alternative moral system. It is an occupation of the (ostensible) moral high-ground.
The mechanism underlying this moral usurpation is something I shall expand upon elsewhere (but see Alinsky for Insiders). The minds of the public – or, at least, large swathes of the public – have been occupied. We dissidents are the ones who have resisted the brave new morality (or have discovered its corruption by hard experience).
The terrible power of moral take-over is that it subverts the democratic process. The democratic process fails if a large proportion of the public are seriously misled. Moral usurpation facilitates misleading the public. This can be done with great conviction by leaders because many of them have been misled themselves (though some are more knowing and cynically exploit the opportunities presented).
The other feature of the falsity now passing as morality is that it involves a moral hierarchy. This is betrayed by the creeping tendency for true democracy to be replaced by rule by “the people who know best”. We saw this in Parliament in 2019 with the declared intention of a huge proportion of MPs to act contrary to a clear plebiscite – because they knew better than the “deplorables”. Melanie Phillips pointed to the same phenomenon years ago when, being disturbed by The Guardian’s tendency to be – let us say, misleading – she was given to understand that such an attitude was unsophisticated. The cognoscenti knew that they were operating in the interests of “the Greater Good” or “the Broader Truth” – broader, that is, than anything so plebian as actual truth.
Let me give you a couple of recent examples of the moral elite overruling us plebs. In the debates on the recently passed Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act (see Marriage Is Dead) it transpired that a public consultation on the matter had been totally ignored because it gave the wrong result. This is what Baroness Eaton said during the second reading of the Bill in the Lords,
“I am also concerned by the way in which the Government appear to have dealt with the consultation process that preceded the Bill. Consultations are intended to ensure that the Government have listened to the public and adjusted their proposals in the light of the concerns expressed. In the consultation on divorce reform, 80% of those who responded did not agree with the proposal to replace the five facts demonstrating that a marriage had irretrievably broken down with a notification process. A mere 17% were in favour of the proposed change.
Furthermore, 83% of those who responded disagreed with the Government’s proposal to remove the ability of a spouse who does not want divorce to contest the assertion that their marriage has irretrievably broken down, while only 15% supported the plans. Can the Minister please explain how much of the consultation was taken into consideration, because this appears to conflict with the process that the Government are taking forward? I have serious concerns that the Bill will have negative consequences for families.”
Lord Farmer made the same observation, noting that the Ministry of Justice had simply dismissed the strength of feeling in response to its own consultation.
Here’s another example. In an interview on The Glass Blind Spot, Richard Lucas, leader of the Scottish Family Party, told of public meetings where civil servants were promoting the case for hate crimes and hate speech but receiving an overwhelmingly negative response from the public. When asked what message the civil servants would take away from the meeting they replied “we need to communicate better with people what this is about”. Here again we see the unshakeable mindset that “those who know best” are right, and if the public do not agree then the public simply need to be better instructed – or ignored.
This is the same mindset that has a Women and Equalities Committee and cannot be brought to understand that the title is a contradiction. It is the same mindset that appoints an all-feminist Family Justice Review Panel and excludes all representatives of fathers, and then reacts to complaints by adding further feminist members – as if to teach us a lesson. It is the same mindset that leads to a Public Bill Committee which invites witnesses only from feminist organisations. It is crucial to appreciate that those in charge do not perceive these things as bias or prejudice; they are just and laudable within the purview of the new culture – the culture that has come about because we lost the culture war.
Any dissent on these matters can now only be interpreted as your moral error, which is why we meet with such angry responses.
The acquisition of power by capturing the (ostensible) moral high ground in this way is not new. Religions have been doing it for millennia. And it tends to be forgotten that the power of kings used to be morally based. Kings used to claim that they ruled by divine assent. It is hard for us to get our heads around the fact that this was accepted by most of the populace. Even in revolutionary times, the revolting peasants tended to believe that the king was being misled by wicked advisers, rather than culpable himself. One is naturally inclined to try to salvage one’s moral perspective.
The Cromwellian civil war can also be interpreted as a culture war, as it was essentially a war between opposing religious views. I am hardly the first to note the psychic similarity between woke intolerance and Puritanism.
No one will have difficulty regarding a religious establishment or a power hierarchy centred on an absolute monarch as being cultural structures. Our brave new moral order is also a culture, defined by its own scriptures: the equalities industries, political correctness and identity politics. And like the earlier culturally appropriated moralities, its true purpose is to support the elites in their privileged position.
This is why it is pointless to approach the centres of power as a supplicant. You are asking them to dismantle the structures upon which they have built, not only their sense of self and self-worth, but also their material benefits. You will always be scum so that they can remain virtuous and deserving.
The practical significance of these observations relates to what activism is worth pursuing, and why. Direct campaigning and lobbying against unfair legislation, etc., is valuable, in fact essential. But its purpose is not to effect change. Its purpose is to act as a rallying cry to the uncorrupted. Its purpose is to continually reconfirm the validity of our own moral position.
To effect change is another matter. For that, greater subtlety, even subversion, is required – and far greater ambition – and a far, far longer timescale.
A glimmer of hope in the culture war. This article appeared in Quillette
Also reassuring is that the lead author is a female social scientist.
I find gynocentrism a very useful concept. In essence it means the feminists always have it made, so long as they can present women as victims. There will always be the Birkenhead Drill. Think Mr. Collins is right. The “push back ” had to be clever given that it is traditional masculinity to be gynocentric. The challenge has to be being even more “equalist” than the feminists. For instance the trans issue has grown out of feminist ideology, the idea gender and sex are all in the mind, yet feminists lead the charge against it because in fact it challenges gynocentric ideas of safe spaces and special statuses as “women”. Men have never enjoyed such a heightened right to privacy or saintly pedestal so, madness though it is I,’m thinking “you go trans”. Though it’s clearly madness for industry let’s get behind equal parental leave! Do women really want their role as “mother” usurped? Or have to put in more hours to cover men as well as women on “mat leave”. And lets by all means have equality in all manner of physical pursuits and simply watch the girls struggle. I do think taking the logic of “equality” to its final point is the way to confront the current “cake and eat it” position.
I cannot disagree. One thing I do think would be a “nuanced” response to this take over; is to join in. By which I mean take the same ground. One obvious example is the much more frequent use of equality rights and legislation in the USA, Australia and some Scandinavian countries by men, taking the equality mantra at its word. Rather than appear to “turn the clock back” but to “embrace” the new culture but in ways that actually highlight the holes in the new ideology. Thus far feminism has fulfilled many aspirations through harnessing the ancient desire to protect and serve women. So in fact far from equality the actual effect has been to increase the burden on men. But instead of pushing against this change and embracing equal rights for a new equality the real “cost” to women will become more evident.
I good example is the growth of cohabitation following from the end of marriage increasingly is seen as harming women because, less resilient, it is women who gain nothing in a broken cohabitation. Also in work it is men who are discriminated against illegally, whose health needs go unmet, whose experiences and opportunities are blighted and so on. I think on a practical basis there is every reason for men to learn about and push for application of Equal rights because because understanding the traditional is lost means there is nothing to lose. But some reduction in burdens to gain.
I don’ think the war analogy works at all not least because there is no end to struggles to shift the moral, legal and cultural window of what is consider ethical, acceptable and legal. It is an open set if you like, there is no final boundary.
The definition of domestic violence can still be shifted further, limitations on what evidence a man can use to prove is innocence in a trial can be further restricted. The definition of what speech is allowed can be furrther changed. Family courts can become still more stacked against a woman, false rape allegations can be decriminalised, women can be further advantaged in education, discrimination in favour of women in the workplace can be further institutionalised…
The war can’t end if the victor keeps fighting.
In any case I think the situation is multi-dimensional. There is at the moment in academia and the media a strong anti-liberal ideology of victimhood. Having a contrary position or arguing against the ideology is described as violence, an attack and something which itself which should be outlawed. This is empowered by claims of victimhood and is taken to ludicrous extremes where taking a position believed by the majority of the population and well established main stream science is denounced as victimisation and worthy of suppression. This ‘meta-ideology’ is incorporated or instantiated in many different areas, trans rights activists, feminisim, anti-racism etc. I think this meta-ideology has been applied toowidely has already overstepped the mark and is seen as ridiculous and will fade.
Feminism however will despite this remain strong because it is based on innate human characteristics to see females as worthy of protection and support and males as disposable relative to females.
I think this is a very good comment. Maybe it’s not a “war”. On the other hand, to keep the analogy: the war is lost, but many, many battles remain to slow the encroachment of the victor.
The war was lost the day it became an axiomatic “truth” that everything male is bad and everything female is good, or at least “a victim”, which is now basically the same thing as “good”. I couldn’t venture a guess on an exact date for that. Everything else is just details.
Heck, if there is a new war going on, it is waged against white feminism by her old vassal states of LGBT and trans activism and by her old ally of race activism. This is a big part of cancel culture. “Moderate” progressives caught in the crossfire are just people who don’t understand the nature of the new regime they were supporting.
I wouldn’t cross my fingers about any of this making things better for men, though. If anything, the ideology behind Black Lives Matter made it very clear that it was about “black men” and emphatically NOT about “men” who are black. I mean, that would be ridiculous, duh!