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Polarisation, intolerance and Americanisation

Just 20 years ago when this site got rolling, many of the best ideas flowing into UK came from USA, whilst at the moment, I would say they tend to be the very worst.

Yet outside the distorting funhouse mirror of social media, we have ‘progressed’ somewhat less towards shrill intolerance and a preposterous rejection of objective truth than ‘progressive activists’ wish was the case. I contend race relations in Britain, whilst not optimal (but what is?) are much better than preposterous Brits cosplaying at American civil rights activists pretend.

That said, on other issues our police have gone off the deep end in their rainbow painted cars. Perhaps this indicates the UK needs an explicit and un-caveated ‘First Amendment’ of some kind. That is the kind of ‘Americanisation’ we might actually need.

Also, support for Brexit, by no means confined to the lumpenproletariat of Guardian reader’s imagination, might not indicate what purveyors of the high status opinion fondly imagine. The conflation of Brexit with the ‘Trump phenomenon’ was always overblown, given the deep social and structural differences between UK and USA. Yes, we are influenced by America, but we are not the same in oh so many ways.

But western civilisation, not just Britain, is undeniably going through a very strange phase. The insane and demonstrably pointless covid lockdowns seem to have had a pressure cooker effect, with every -ism being dialled up several notches. The mainstreaming of transsexuality, a largely harmless hobby until a lunatic fringe grabbed hold of it, indicates the world is not running in well-oiled grooves. An inability to define “what is a woman?”, by sages and politicians who nevertheless expect to be treated as serious people, would have seemed implausible just a few years ago.

But the covid lockdowns, that is the ‘biggie’: an egregious abridgement of liberty & common sense that placed the global economy into repeated bouts of cardiac arrest. The worldwide end of the Nuremburg code.

The lockdowns were an even more polarising issue that Brexit or Trump or indeed anything else. Why? Because there was no opt-out, you could not just go to work, or visit granny, no ability to ignore the whole thing and just head down the pub or retire for a macha latte in some café. The effects of that will be enduring. That was the issue that taught a lot of people to fear what other people believe to be true, and people always hate what they fear.

Now just wait to see what happens when the green lunacy that stopped investment in reliable power supply and new reservoirs means we start running out of power and water. I suspect that will be what makes the cork finally blow off.

45 comments to Polarisation, intolerance and Americanisation

  • lucklucky

    a largely harmless hobby until a lunatic fringe grabbed hold of it

    It is not a frinje. They rule a big part of educational-political complex, the media-political complex, they are a sizable quantity of people that came from Universities.

  • Ferox

    Woke-ism was always a game of Tweak The Normies; that is, the object of the game was to get lots of attention of the “what in the hell is he doing?!?” variety.

    But the normies started to get pretty tolerant of strangeness; frankly, they just didn’t care that much if men wanted to wear makeup and dresses or if women wanted pretend that they were men. Whatevah.

    Which makes TweakTheNormies not much fun at all. The only thing to do: up the game. Men are women; not like women, mind, but actual women, indistinguishable from any other women. All whites are racist. Islam is peace (but not right about women .. ?) Fossil fuels must be banned .. but only here. Etc etc.

    The extreme wackiness of the wokies is a function of our not caring very much what they do – because our outrage at their antics is the object of the whole game.

  • Lucklucky, they are not a fringe *now*, but they certainly were.

  • decnine

    “Why? Because there was no opt-out”

    And yet, the drive for subsuming nation states into larger and larger manufactured entities, such as the EU, remains strong. What does one do when there is nowhere to go that is ‘outside’ the regime’s control?

    It isn’t a new question. Romans who fell foul of the Emperor had a weaker version of the same problem. Mostly, it did not end well for them.

  • Patrick Crozier

    People will allow their beliefs to kill them.

    The English – in particular – have a great deal of faith in their institutions especially democracy.

  • Tammly

    Ferox has put his finger on the whole phenomena – it’s only devilment.

    Speak roughly to your little boy
    And beat him when he sneezes
    He only does it to annoy
    Because he knows it teases.

  • Now just wait to see what happens when the green lunacy that stopped investment in reliable power supply and new reservoirs means we start running out of power and water. I suspect that will be what makes the cork finally blow off.

    We can only hope. Even Rishi Sunak in his most desperate need to get the PM-ship, only offered a temporary suspension of green taxes on energy bills.

    Hopefully, at some point, Liz Truss PM will realise there’s big votes in both anti-woke and anti-NetZero across Tory, lost Labour and floating voters.

    Want to start tax cutting? Then cut both the green taxes and the subsidies to greenery (because they should balance, right)? Kick NetZero into the long grass and replace it with a move to carbon free via nuclear. Then remove all the statutory bollocks preventing construction of more nuclear power stations.

    That would bring energy security, lower CO2 emissions from gas power generation and construction jobs. For an added bonus ensure that the new nuclear power stations are built up North (but not Scotland) as part of “Levelling up” or whatever Liz calls the updated “Red Wall” plan.

  • Kevin B

    JG:

    Then cut both the green taxes and the subsidies to greenery (because they should balance, right)? Kick NetZero into the long grass and replace it with a move to carbon free via nuclear. Then remove all the statutory bollocks preventing construction of more nuclear power stations.

    Try that and you’d be mired in lawfare everywhere from the local council through the Supreme Court to the Euro Court of Human Rights for decades.

    The whole green bollocks is coded into law now but even if you could repeal the laws in the Commons and the Lords and get King Charlie to sign off on it, there’s no guarantee you could actually get anything done.

    No, the whole thing will have to come crashing down before we can begin to get back a functioning energy infrastructure and by then we won’t be able to afford it.

  • The whole green bollocks is coded into law now but even if you could repeal the laws in the Commons and the Lords and get King Charlie to sign off on it, there’s no guarantee you could actually get anything done.

    Sure, getting rid of the green nonsense is a priority, but ensuring energy security through nuclear is also important.

    Once the lights go out the party whose manifesto commitments focus on making sure this situation doesn’t happen again will get elected. Just like 1974. Heath was booted out and Wilson voted in because Wilson could deal with the unions and keep the lights on.

    Liz Truss puts a commitment to energy security (nuclear, fracking, North Sea oil and gas, etc.) in her 2023/4 manifesto along with removal of all NetZero, greenwash, Identitarianism and wokery and she’ll walk it.

    As for interference from the usual suspects, there would be a lot fewer of them if we stopped funding them. They ain’t charities, but political action campaigns.

  • John

    They certainly were a fringe like Uncle Arthur who once a month would struggle into his frock and take the train to London returning 48 hours later with at least one black eye.

    The likes of Arthur would have been horrified today. He knew he was different and that it was his cross to bear, no-one else’s. He just wanted to be allowed to act out his harmless kink in relative peace.

  • Steven R

    We are watching night fall on civilization itself.

  • “America is at that awkward stage; it’s too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.”

    ― Claire Wolfe

  • bobby b

    It’s a bit scary that both movements – wokery and CAGW skeptics – seem to believe that “the whole thing must come crashing down” in some way for them to move forward, to gain adherents, to prevail.

    Scary, but believable. Average IQ is 100.

  • Always remember: half of everything is below average. That includes intelligence and common sense. (I realize I should be saying “median”, but such is not the mode.)

  • lucklucky

    Lucklucky, they are not a fringe *now*, but they certainly were.

    Yes.
    Today Example.

    NatWest to pay for hormone treatment for transgender staff
    Taxpayer-backed lender overhauls practices to be more inclusive

  • lucklucky

    Average IQ is 100.

    There are a lot of very intelligent persons but unidimensional ones in Wokery and CAGW.

  • lucklucky

    Note how The Telegraph writes “Prioritise for” instead of “Discrimination against”

    AF prioritised women and BAME candidates to hit diversity targets, reports claim
    Sources allege recruitment officers ‘artificially inflated’ numbers because of ‘pressure’ from senior leaders to meet government quotas

  • bobby b

    Ellen
    August 20, 2022 at 6:29 pm

    “Always remember: half of everything is below average.”

    Yeah, that’s exactly what’s scary. 😉

  • lucklucky

    Vilfredo Pareto enters the chat.

  • Martin

    There are elements of American culture that are likable. Unfortunately most of them are from the past and those good elements still left don’t export well. The American culture that does get exported is increasingly the worst aspects of it. Whereas there used to be a lot of good American films, music, TV, books etc, it’s 99pc dross now, so much of it just blatant propaganda for the contemporary woke Americanism that prevails. American sports are totally unwatchable now. Many US corporations are so degenerate nowadays that it becomes difficult to defend capitalism, although I am thankfully not naive about socialism.

    Although what can be described as woke ideologies have origins within Europe, it does seem that the ideologies became supercharged in America, particularly in American academia, government, and corporations. And have spread like wildfire from there. ‘Anglosphere’ countries seem particularly vulnerable to it. I take it as a little consolation that England at least seems a tad more resistant. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, and Ireland have swallowed this contemporary woke cultural imperialism faster. It does make me laugh that so many of our native wokists have typically leftist views about America being a racist, patriarchal, imperialist etc society, while they are actually the footsoldiers of woke American imperialism.

    As an Englishman, one reason I support Trump so much is that, while he’s far from perfect,he was the first American president for decades, maybe close to a century, who doesn’t have an underlying ideology that the whole world should ultimately be like America. He’s clearly a proud American, which as a nationalist for my own country I can respect, but in his own way doesn’t seem that bothered about spreading ‘American values’ across the globe.

    And after the way the woke elites, deep state, the media, the US military etc have treated him, if he can get a 2nd term Trump will hopefully seek revenge against these people, which will both strengthen the good people left in the US (Trump’s mainly working and lower middle class constituencies) and weaken the capability of the US woke elites to spread their poison globally.

  • BelgianBrian

    I realize I should be saying “median”, but such is not the mode

    ☺ That sounds a lot like one of those mathematicians jokes.

  • Paul Marks

    Frankfurt School Marxism and French Post Modernism (the latter is officially not Marxist – but is riddled with Marxist assumptions about “exploitation” and “oppression”) do NOT come from the United States.

    Such ideas come from Germany and France – and they were influential in Britain (for example in the Home Office – which was under Marxist “advice” from at least the 1970s, for example Lisa Nandy’s father was a Marxist academic adviser to the Home Office back then), before they were influential in Britain.

    It is true that they have become a massive plague in the United States – and their fashion status has reflected here from America, but they still have more legal force outside rather than inside the United States.

    For example, every member of the European Union must now have Herbert Marcuse style “Hate Speech” laws (and Britain has them to) – the United States does not.

    “But Herbert Marcuse made his name in America” – so he did, but he came from Germany.

    As I often point out – Frankfurt School Marxism does not mean Frankfurt Kentucky.

    And the refusal to even name “Woke” doctrine what it is, Frankfurt School MARXISM, makes it impossible to fight it.

    Ask Black Rock, State Street and Vanguard – why are yo pushing Frankfurt School Marxism under the name of the Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (DIE) agenda?

    “Paul – you mean the agenda of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is Frankfurt School Marxism?” – YES, that is exactly what it is. And it was drawn up by Marxist academics for (for example) the United Kingdom Equality Act of the year 2010.

    Again if people will not even call Frankfurt School Marxism, Frankfurt School Marxism (if they do not understand that this is what “Woke” means), then we are wasting our time.

  • I realize I should be saying “median”, but such is not the mode. (Ellen, August 20, 2022 at 6:29 pm)

    🙂

  • Frankfurt School Marxism and French Post Modernism (the latter is officially not Marxist – but is riddled with Marxist assumptions about “exploitation” and “oppression”) do NOT come from the United States.

    Utterly irrelevant to the point I am making. The ideas they represent did not arrive in the UK from Germany or France, but via the USA, in particular the surge over the last couple years. The absurd identitarianism currently in florid manifestation in UK is as American as rancid apple pie.

    Again if people will not even call Frankfurt School Marxism, Frankfurt School Marxism (if they do not understand that this is what “Woke” means), then we are wasting our time.

    Who is “we”? I’m not calling the current shit Frankfurt School Marxism because it isn’t. Waste of my time.

  • […] Samizdata, Perry de Havilland considers how British culture has been impacted by many of the worst notions coming out of American […]

  • if people will not even call Frankfurt School Marxism, Frankfurt School Marxism (if they do not understand that this is what “Woke” means), then we are wasting our time. (Paul Marks, August 21, 2022 at 8:06 am)

    Nil desperandum, Paul. There are truck drivers in Canada and farmers in Holland who understand that woke means something bad. We may yet be saved by people whose inability to trip ‘Frankfurt School Marxism’ off the tongue goes naturally hand-in-hand with resistance to its indoctrination.

    “Protect Pregnant Men from Climate Discrimination.”

    “Open the jails. Open the borders. Close the schools. Vote progressive in November.”

    “Violent criminals deserve our compassion and respect. This fall, stand strong for progressive values.”

    (all these h/t instapundit)

    I very much understand why the woke-resisting group trying to save the US in November do not instead put up posters saying

    “This fall, stand strong against the Frankfurt School of Marxism.”

    That there is some kind of dangerous reset of meaning going on can be vaguely grasped by – and communicated to – many who don’t know where Davos is.

  • Sure @Niall, but the vast majority don’t vote for slogans (progressive or not), they vote for change, either “for” something they like or “against” something they dislike.

    It is arguable that in 2016 they voted “Against Killary” and in 2020 they voted “Against Trump” (excluding electoral fraud, obviously).

    MidTerm voters in the fall won’t be voting “against the Frankfurt School of Marxism”, they’ll be voting against the policies and practices of the Democratic Party that have led to massive inflation, high fuel prices and a shit economy.

    Slick Willy’s campaign strategist James Carville wasn’t wrong when he pointed out “It’s the economy, stupid!” as being the primary focal point of the 1992 presidential campaign.

    Same is true today and will be demonstrated, much to Democratic chagrin and tears at the MidTerms in November.

  • Randomizer

    The governmental response to Covid was the test to see if the lid would blow off. If it had, governments had a medical emergency to hide behind. People mostly submitted, so the deviants and Marxists no longer feel the need to be incremental or subtle. The tyranny in Canada is one example. Gender surgery on kids in the US is another example..

  • lucklucky

    MidTerm voters in the fall won’t be voting “against the Frankfurt School of Marxism”, they’ll be voting against the policies and practices of the Democratic Party that have led to massive inflation, high fuel prices and a shit economy.

    When you have parents going to school assemblies to protest neo-marxist(woke) indoctrination it is nothing anymore just about the economy.

  • @LuckLucky – Sure, but that’s not the number one priority at the moment, is it?

  • MidTerm voters in the fall won’t be voting “against the Frankfurt School of Marxism”, they’ll be voting against the policies and practices of the Democratic Party that have led to massive inflation, high fuel prices and a shit economy.

    Quite so.

  • lucklucky

    @LuckLucky – Sure, but that’s not the number one priority at the moment, is it?

    Yes it is. A strategic threat to language is much worse than financial and economic incompetence that is not disconnected from that strategic threat. The Woke strategic threat will mean that a contract will not be valid if it goes against Woke(or against who have power over language), that a law is not valid if it goes against Woke, etc. Like i posted above about the Telegraph article about the RAF. You can be a racist discriminating against or a saviour prioritising for.

    Note that all that the “Conservatives, Republicans, Tories, Libertarians etc” have been doing last 30 years is talk about economy and what that lead to? To their largest defeat.

    Here is Matt Walsh asking a professor what is a woman and he don’t understand the question because for him it has no meaning outside a chosen identity tag.

    https://youtu.be/i_UE-yVyNo8

  • lucklucky

    And to explain these are the “Conservatives, Republicans, Tories, Libertarians etc” defeats in last 30 years:

    In Anglo Saxon world they lost:

    Armed Forces
    Police Forces and law application.
    Major capitalist multinationals
    1:9 in most major Universities
    1:18 in Media
    The only thing that does barely resist are the judicial system up to a point. The Democratic party was able to have a low level political violence manufactured by the Media in 2020. There was no cost.

  • bobby b

    Lucklucky: They were smarter and more forward-thinking than we were. They knew what they needed to capture and did it. Not sure what we were doing at the time, except maybe thinking that all reasonable people must surely eventually accept that we were right. We overestimated humans and undervalued marketing and psychology.

  • lucklucky

    Yes. The first thing Libertarians need to understand is that Humans don’t like narrative void and that Humans are always going somewhere. The End of History do not exist.

    Even if you think you won proved by facts because you made everyone prosper you are wrong. Others will fill the narrative void after your victory and take the narrative from you. They will say you had lucky circumstances or say they your win was done at expense of the planet or that prosperity is not that important etc etc.

    Besides new generations will want to do things their own way. The new generation want to “kill the father”… So how a Libertarian make the new generations to know and value free market – which includes free speech?

  • BelgianBrian

    In Anglo Saxon world they lost:

    The ‘Anglo Saxon’ world does not exist. The Anglo Saxon world was obliterated in 1066 and its remnants extinguished during the Norman ethnic cleansing campaign in England, otherwise known as the ‘Harrying of the North’.

    Once utterly pacified, the Anglo Saxons were employed as cannon fodder in the European continental wars for the next thousand years. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.

  • BelgianBrian: if the not uncommon term confuses you, think Anglosphere. But don’t be a dick.

  • BelgianBrian

    if the not uncommon term confuses you, think Anglosphere.

    It’s hardly about confusion, it’s about accuracy. The Normans invaded, subjugated the Anglo Saxons, then forced the remnant of the population to speak a foreign language in the courts of law, and the Crown for the next three hundred years. Basically, Anglo Saxons were second class citizens in their own country.

    But Anglo Saxons were handy for the Normans to use in their internecine squabbles on the Continent.

    But don’t be a dick.

    You are an unnecessarily rude person.

  • It’s hardly about confusion, it’s about accuracy.

    No, it is an irrelevance & a pointless digression. This discussion is not about medieval England, and “Anglo-Saxon” is just a common usage term in this context, used much the same way as ‘Anglosphere’. You don’t have to like it, but that is how it is used. A bit like “decimate”, which people rarely use correctly but which requires a certain dickishness to correct people on the Roman military meaning 😉

  • Once utterly pacified, the Anglo Saxons were employed as cannon fodder in the European continental wars for the next thousand years. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. (BelgianBrian, August 22, 2022 at 6:58 am)

    That timescale would make WWII an example of the Normans using their Anglo-Saxon serfs as cannon-fodder fighting their continental war against Hitler. It’s a novel interpretation of WWII, to be sure; even the UK hard-left early in the war, claiming that ‘British Capitalism is fighting for loot’ as instructed by Hitler’s ally Stalin, didn’t add that thesis. 🙂

  • Snorri Godhi

    I agree with Perry about BelgianBrian being, er… pedantic.
    But it should also be pointed out that not all the people whom the Normans subjected were Anglo-Saxons: there were Celts and Danes, too. And some Norwegians in the North-West. (Am i forgetting anybody?)

  • Snorri Godhi

    I also agree with Perry and Niall, if i understand their meaning:

    1. Wokeness is not Frankfurt Marxism, but a heresy thereof.

    2. We intellectual types find it useful to trace the intellectual ancestry of Wokeness, but there is little point in preaching about it from street corners. (Make that Speakers’ Corner in London.)

  • lucklucky

    Just to explain, anglo-saxons is a term often employed by latin countries to designate the British islands or anglosphere – note that expression also do not have the Normans.


    Returning to the subject, people need a narrative to live for. Prosperity is not enough and with Christianism as a structure disappearance many after getting rich then get into “causes” and the so called “luxury beliefs”. They want to stop being identified as bourgeoise and start to move to aristocracy/social priesthood.

  • Snorri Godhi (August 22, 2022 at 10:06 pm), I’m not at all committed to the idea that

    1. Wokeness is not Frankfurt Marxism, but a heresy thereof.

    nor am I that concerned whether (on some technicality) it is or is not (nor do I think the leaders of wokeness truly are). One of Alinsky’s ‘Rules for Radicals’ is

    A good tactic is a tactic your people like.

    Earlier Adolf Hitler expressed a related idea to Goebbels when the latter remarked on the problems caused by Robert Ley.

    Ley is a fanatic and this makes him useful for tasks that require a fanatic.

    (Both quotes are from memory.) Lenin’s useful idiots were, by his very definition of ‘idiot’, also heretics – but nevertheless useful. Alinsky and Adolf were both in their way noting that activists are likewise useful, indeed necessary, to a movement that intends to seize power – who therefore must accept that this usefulness matters more than pedantic doctrinal orthodoxy, which can be enforced after power is fully seized.

    As regards Snorri’s point 2., I (and Perry IIUC) think that western culture is better protected by connecting wokeness in the public mind to devalued savings, high energy bills, getting arrested for daring to disagree with a wokist, a rising crime rate and etc., than by connecting it to the Frankfurt School of Marxism. Many members of the public are already experiencing woke-caused problems, and more will have experienced more by the end of the year. Meanwhile, those who have already heard of the Frankfurt School of Marxism are mostly either freedom-hating aficionados of it or already bitter enemies of it.

    If someone asks and the context is a long-enough conversation/email debate/whatever, then it may be worth saying that all this comes from the fall of the Soviet Union and the need for those intellectuals left desolate by that public humiliation for the left to reinvent themselves – if you’re interested. In that follow-on conversation – if it happens – there is room for saying, “It goes back further still – right back to the very first great ‘crisis of marxism’ in the 1890s and its very first reinvention – if you’re interested.”

    However distaste for wokeness may start in a well-grounded distaste for people who talk like intellectuals with agendas, and the world is even fuller of people who will listen to what sounds like an analysis of their problems and will stop listening to what at first hearing sounds like a discussion of something else.

    All of which is very long-winded way of saying that I generally agree with Snorri’s point 2 – a way appropriate (I hope) to this blog but not (as he says) to a street corner. 🙂

  • lucklucky

    I disagree with all of that. It is the tactic that gave us woke. Neo-Marxists-Woke only appeared because the ideological combat stopped in every work place and every university after cold war. The end of History. They had the battlefield deserted to take over.
    You go nowhere sustained with economic argument, it don’t fight woke in workplace or in schools, universities.
    You fail to understand that Conservatives having next 30 years of electoral victories and great economy will not stop wokification. Power is not only waged by the elected Government. Is also waged by the unelected Government and the culture at large that influences the application of the law.
    And i remind that the US bill of rights and Constitution did not prevented black people from being legally prejudiced until mid-late XX century because culture had that power.

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