Culture Wars, Identity Politics, and the Politicisation of Everything
24 June 2020
We need the bigger picture on the current round of rage and rioting:
Yes, an ambitious title, but we live in ambitious times. At least for the radical secular left, their ambitions never cease as they seek to endlessly engage in cultural warfare, intersectionality, and the politicisation of society. Indeed, that last phrase is one I have used often. It comes from the title of an incisive 1979 book edited by Kenneth Templeton. As I said of it in an earlier article:
This collection of essays examines how private institutions and associations are being supplanted and usurped by the ever-expanding state. In his introductory essay R. M. Hartwell defines the concept. It is “the now pervasive tendency for making all questions political questions, all issues political issues, all values political values, and all decisions political decisions.” He continues:
“Where once individuals saw their problems as private and sought private solutions for them, now they seek political solutions. Where once private initiative dominated, for example, in areas like cultural entertainment, now political initiatives dominate… Politicization thus takes the manifest form of increasing the power of the state, of increasing political power as against all other forms of power in society, of increasing the power of the politicians and the bureaucrats as against the power of individuals, private institutions, and voluntary associations. For the individual this has meant increasing political dependence and awareness, along with increasing political ineffectiveness and frustration.”
And this point is especially crucial here:
“Powerlessness, and the sense of frustration that accompanies it, has been intensified, moreover, by renewed visions of the millennium, of that better world which the intellectuals dream up, and which the politicians promise but never deliver. With the failure of promises has come the identification of obstacles to progress, those individuals and institutions which prevent change.”
The current round of rage and rioting by the secular left witnessed throughout the West is one indication of all this. Things like the death of George Floyd, as tragic as they are, can easily be hijacked and used as yet another excuse to pursue the revolution. Marxists have always sought to exploit a crisis and politicise life. It has been going on for quite a while now.
As I told a group of students yesterday, I was up to my ears in all this as a radical youth in the ’60s. Being part of the counterculture and the New Left, I sought to make everything political, and bring the revolution to every area of life. Things are no different today. Sure, we have new terms thrown into the mix, such as intersectionality, the woke culture, and identity politics — but it is the same old Marxist mindset and the same old hatred of the West.
They still want to see the West destroyed and taken down – just as they are doing on a smaller scale with statues. Indeed, the pulling down of statues is just a picture of what they want to do to an entire culture — to Western civilisation.
Thus their incessant chanting: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go.” And most of the radicals are now well and truly entrenched in our institutions, especially in all layers of education, so the rewriting of history and the demonising of the West is nearly complete. With an entire generation of students taught to hate the West, it is not surprising to see the mass protests and rioting of late.
Perhaps it is one thing to have various social and political groups going along with these woke practices. But when you see all of our football players taking the knee during AFL and NRL games over the weekend here in Australia, then you know the politicisation of all things is almost complete. Millions of people go to the footy on the weekend to get away from politics and the concerns of life, NOT to get even more of it.
Thankfully not everyone is enamoured with this destruction of the West and the politicisation of all things. Some voices are speaking out against this, as best they can. Let me draw upon five of them — three Brits and two Yanks. First, English commentator and atheist Douglas Murray looks at the big picture of the politicisation of our lives. He concludes his important new book, The Madness of Crowds, with these words:
The aim of identity politics would appear to be to politicize absolutely everything. To turn every aspect of human interaction into a matter of politics. To interpret every action and relationship in our lives along lines which are alleged to have been carved out by political actions. The calls to spend our time working out our own place and the places of others in the oppression hierarchy are invitations not just to an era of navel-gazing, but to turn every human relationship into a political power calibration. The new metaphysics includes a call to find meaning in this game: to struggle, and fight and campaign and ‘ally’ ourselves with people in order to reach the promised land. In an era without purpose, and in a universe without clear meaning, this call to politicize everything and then fight for it has an undoubted attraction. It fills life with meaning, of a kind.
But of all the ways in which people can find meaning in their lives, politics — let alone politics on such a scale — is one of the unhappiest. Politics may be an important aspect of our lives, but as a source of personal meaning it is disastrous. Not just because the ambitions it strives after nearly always go unachieved, but because finding purpose in politics laces politics with a passion — including a rage — that perverts the whole enterprise. If two people are in disagreement about something important, they may disagree as amicably as they like if it is just a matter of getting to the truth or the most amenable option. But if one party finds their whole purpose in life to reside in some aspect of that disagreement, then the chances of amicability fade fast and the likelihood of reaching any truth recedes.
One of the ways to distance ourselves from the madnesses of our times is to retain an interest in politics but not to rely on it as a source of meaning…
English commentator Peter Hitchens begins his important article on how “the Left now controls every lever of power,” this way:
What we now face is regime change. That is why these strange crowds have begun to gather round ancient and forgotten monuments, demanding their removal and destruction. They do not know what they want, or understand what they are destroying. But that no longer matters. They think their moment has come, and they may well be right.
This is why the memorial to Winston Churchill, and the Cenotaph itself, were shamefully boarded up on Thursday night — an act of appeasement if ever there truly was one. That is why police chiefs kneel like conquered slaves to the new gods of woke, and the leaders of the Labour Party do likewise. I have seen it happen before, but only when things were moving in the opposite direction.
Then, as the Soviet Empire fell and an evil thing was swept from the world, it was a matter for rejoicing. The bloody mass murderer Vladimir Lenin, and his equally gory secret police enforcer Felix Dzerzhinsky, were pulled from their pedestals by a people sick of being ruled by their heirs.
This time, as ignorant armies seek the final abolition of Britain, it is very frightening. I would not like to say where it will end. I cannot claim to have known this would happen but I will say that I had an instinctive fear of very bad things to come when the country began its mad, wild shutdown in March.
And he concludes as follows:
For the past few weeks have also demonstrated that all the pillars of British freedom and civilisation are hollow and rotten, and that we are ripe for a sweeping cultural revolution as devastating as the one Lenin and Dzerzhinsky launched in Petrograd in 1917.
Except that this time there will be no need to storm the Winter Palace, seize the railway station or the telephone exchange or the barracks. The Left are already in control of every lever of power and influence, from the schools the Tories are too weak to reopen to the police, the Civil Service, the courts and the BBC.
It is regime change. Do not worry too much about the statues which are now coming down. They mean surprisingly little. Worry more about the ones they are soon going to be putting up, and what they will represent. Perhaps our grandchildren will find the courage to pull them down.
English Jewish writer Melanie Philips has recently written about Brits ‘taking the knee’:
Various groups have seized the opportunity offered by Floyd’s death to whip up hatred, criminality and insurrection in pursuit of their aim of overturning western society which they claim is incorrigibly bad. The hundreds “taking a knee” on Britain’s streets have duly acted as their useful idiots by falling into line — some raising clenched fists — behind that utterly malign agenda.
These scenes have given rise to the sickening realisation that much of Britain has simply spun off its moral compass. All too eager to show off to everyone else what nice people they are by identifying with what they have been told is a protest against injustice or oppression, these knee-bobbers have merely advertised their replacement of reason by emotion and their unwitting endorsement of resentment, prejudice and moral bankruptcy.
Over this past ten days or so, we have witnessed the nauseating death of George Floyd, the manipulated nihilism and violence that followed, and now the disgusting endorsement of that agenda and the twisted and hateful falsehoods at its core by so many who have credulously swallowed it all wholesale.
Millions of decent people in the west will be aghast at this further evidence of the steady disintegration of their once-magnificent culture of civilised values. The great question, of course, is whether this desperately sad process can be halted; and if so, how.
And American Christian writer Michael Brown has said this about the war we are in and our response to it.
Every one of us must stand up to the mob and refuse to move an inch from our core convictions and values. I mean in our homes. Our schools. Our neighborhoods. Our places of business. On social media. Wherever we have a voice, we must stand and speak.
Of course, we do abhor police brutality when it occurs. We do stand in solidarity with victims of injustice. We do oppose racism. But we do it our way, not the mob’s way. And we do it based on our values, not those of the radical left. I tweeted this last night (June 8): “Rather than bowing the knee to the mobocracy of the far left or the hyper-nationalism of the far right, I say we bow the knee to Jesus, then get His marching orders and obey Him at any cost.”
I appeal to you strongly, no I warn you: this is a critical hour in our history. If we do not push back righteously today, we will have deep regrets tomorrow. And what will we say to our children and grandchildren? In the famous dictum of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.” What will it be?
I close with a few words from American poet Tom Graffagnino’s, as found on his social media page:
Witness Mao’s youth revolution…
Juggernaut… Full speed ahead!
It’s Aquarius rebooted.
Watch the Deep Blue states turn Red.
Thought Police Force (masked and hooded)
Making dissidents behave.
Watch your language…(Mao is watching).
Digging Western Culture’s grave.
Quite right Tom.
Originally published at CultureWatch.[Photo by Thomas de LUZE on Unsplash]
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