I was talking with my friend Oban last. He is a never-Trumper, a subject we do not actually discuss so much as to check in on our state of disagreement from time to time.
I asked him whether we are living in normal times, or whether we are living in a time of social contest. His reply was well-considered. Oban said that we have not lived in a time where everything – everything – was so contested. The last time we faced so much social friction was the 1930s, when society was faced with choices among fascism, parliamentary democracy, and communism. Those options concerned who (which social class, which race) would run government and society, or whether the tried methods of parliamentary government would prevail. To the surprise of many, parliamentary government emerged the victor from World War 2, along with communism. The latter took another 50 years to collapse.
Today the zones of social contestation seem to be about everything. Economic class is less important to this fissures than it used to be. By contrast, modes of self-identification seems to have generated a large and expanding class of differences about which people are demanding respect and recognition.
Fukuyama: “By taking on political correctness so frontally, Trump has played a critical role in moving the focus of identity politics from the left, where it was born, to the right, where it is now taking root.” [p119]
“What is notable, however, is that the right has adopted the language and framing of identity from the left: the idea that my particular group is being victimized,that its situation and sufferings are invisible to the rest of society, and that the whole of the social and political structure responsible for this situation (read: the media and the political elites)needs to be smashed. Identity politics is the lens through which most social issues are now seen across the ideological spectrum” [p122]
It is the nation that gives birth to rights, to identity, and to systems of political accountability. No one has found a way to make international institutions accountable or democratic. No one is proposing a return to religion as the basis of the polity. So we are stuck with the nation. Who belongs to it? who may belong to it?
In Canada the French-English divide obscures the issue of national belonging. The French are assured that they are a nation. The English are scolded that they should not think of themselves as a nation, but they manifestly are a nation. However multinational in origin English speaking Canadians have become one in beliefs and aspirations.
I would love to hear a political conservative in Canada talk a language of nationhood and identification with the nation, rather than intersectionality, which is the analysis of everything on the basis of a myriad lesser and divisive self-identifications. Intersectionality, I need hardly state, is the official doctrine that the Liberal government of Canada has imposed on the federal government,
“Back then, Whyte … saw signs that in the struggle for dominance between the Sociopaths (whom he admired as the ones actually making the organization effective despite itself) and the middle-management Organization Man, the latter was winning. He was wrong, but not in the way you’d think. The Sociopaths defeated the Organization Men and turned them into The Clueless not by reforming the organization, but by creating a meta-culture of Darwinism in the economy: one based on job-hopping, mergers, acquisitions, layoffs, cataclysmic reorganizations, outsourcing, unforgiving start-up ecosystems, and brutal corporate raiding. In this terrifying meta-world of the Titans, the Organization Man became the Clueless Man. Today, any time an organization grows too brittle, bureaucratic and disconnected from reality, it is simply killed, torn apart and cannibalized, rather than reformed. The result is the modern creative-destructive life cycle of the firm, which I’ll call the MacLeod Life Cycle.“
“Himmelfarb was a great historian, and reported fairly on all sides, but it was always clear which side her heart was on. She grew up working-class and preferred the prosaic bourgeois values that fueled her family’s rise: work, thrift, temperance, self-discipline, cleanliness, moderation, respect for tradition. These are not aristocratic virtues, such as honor, genius, and heroism, but they are sensible virtues available to everyone. In its original definition, a neoconservative was a leftist who broke with the left when, in the 1960s, its leaders rejected bourgeois values for the counterculture. By this definition, she was a neoconservative.
“Himmelfarb shared the Victorian awareness of sin. She detested the snobbery of cultural elites and narcissism in all its forms. She quoted George Eliot with approval: “We are all of us born in moral stupidity, taking the world as an udder to feed our supreme selves.”
“In more than a dozen books and many articles and essays, Ms. Himmelfarb melded scholarship of Victorian Britain with barbed reflection on contemporary affairs. Her subjects ranged from the pitfalls of modern approaches to history and philosophy to the moral relativism she perceived, with dismay, in the public’s attitude about the conduct of President Bill Clinton — his lying about a sexual affair — that led to his impeachment in the 1990s.
“Her cause was to imbue today’s social policies with a Victorian moral sense. Conservative politicians cheered. Newt Gingrich, the Republican speaker of the House, cited her in his book “To Renew America” (1995), writing that the time had “come to re-establish shame as a means of enforcing proper behavior.”
“In France, political correctness is more than a ridiculous set of opinions; it’s also—and primarily—a tool of government coercion. Not only does it tilt any political discussion in favor of one set of arguments; it also gives the ruling class a doubt-expelling myth that provides a constant boost to morale and esprit de corps, much as class systems did in the days before democracy. People tend to snicker when the question of political correctness is raised: its practitioners because no one wants to be thought politically correct; and its targets because no one wants to admit to being coerced. But it determines the current polarity in French politics. Where you stand depends largely on whether you believe that antiracism is a sincere response to a genuine upsurge of public hatred or an opportunistic posture for elites seeking to justify their rule.
Guilluy is ambivalent on the question. He sees deep historical and economic processes at work behind the evolution of France’s residential spaces. “There has been no plan to ‘expel the poor,’ no conspiracy,” he writes. “Just a strict application of market principles.” But he is moving toward a more politically engaged view that the rhetoric of an “open society” is “a smokescreen meant to hide the emergence of a closed society, walled off for the benefit of the upper classes.”
I am struck often by how the French get themselves absolutely stuck, where only violence gets attention, and revolution seems the most effective way of changing governments. I see this particularly in the different outcomes in Great Britain and France: how Boris Johnson was able to break through the Brexit impasse, while week after week the French yellow-vests riot and disrupt, to no particular effect.
“Guilluy argued that peripheral France should be seen as a bigger concern than the country’s troubled, immigration-heavy banlieues, traditionally seen as its major social problem, because of the sheer numbers of people struggling to make ends meet and their relative isolation from dynamic economic centres. If nothing changed, he warned, the French Socialist party, the historical defender of the underprivileged, would collapse, Le Pen’s far-right Front National – now renamed Rassemblement National (National Rally) – would soar, and France risked a popular uprising the likes of which it had not witnessed in decades, if not centuries….
“It is not so much “big capital” that is to blame for the divide, Guilluy writes, as when “previous generations of the bourgeoisie lusted nakedly after power or money”, but the “laid-back, unostentatious dominance … without hatred or violence” of the “bobo-ised upper classes” in what he calls the “new citadels”. They have “supported the economic policies of the upper class for 30 years now” (policies which only really work for them) and developed “a single way of talking and thinking … that allows the dominant classes to substitute for the reality of a nation subject to severe stress and strain the fable of a kind and welcoming society”. Because hipsters are also hypocrites, Guilluy argues: they denounce globalisation, but never challenge it because it serves them so well; they preach diversity, but send their children to private schools; they love the “authenticity” of living in working-class areas, but contribute to their destruction through rising property prices.
“The revolution is coming, he warns: “The existing order will finally break down not as the result of some decisive event, but as the result of a slow process of social and cultural disaffiliation of the working class.” It has already brought us Brexit in Britain and Trump in the US; “a new form of class conflict” is upon us, and a “modern slave rebellion” is on its way.
Totalitarianism from below. In the West we are too inclined to see Communism as something imposed from outside, from on top, by Bolsheviks and their goons, by foreign conquest. But Communism is also imposed from below, by people empowered by envy, spite and malice, who hate distinction, independence, and anything that does not smell of themselves. But it can also occur from efforts to be nice, to respect newly invented rights not to be offended. Enforced speech is everywhere.
“The Party doesn’t get its power from spying on its citizens, or turning them into snitches, or punishing sex crimes. All were presented as mere tools of the state. How did it come to wield that control in the first place?
“Orwell, aka Eric Blair, a socialist freedom fighter and a repentant former colonial officer who had a lifelong fascination with language and politics, knew that no control could be total until you colonized people’s heads too. A state like his could only exist with loud, constant, and obvious lies.”
” To be a totalitarian, he knew from his contemporary totalitarians, you had to seize control of truth itself. You had to redefine truth as “whatever we say it is.” You had to falsify memories and photos and rewrite documents. Your people could be aware that all this was going on, so long as they kept that awareness to themselves and carried on (which is what doublethink is all about).”
A tax accountant, Maya Forstater, a woman, in England was fired for saying that people cannot change their sex. The Court ruled that such views were not acceptable and “unprotected”. This from the Guardian:
“A researcher who lost her job at a thinktank after tweeting that transgender women cannot change their biological sex has lost a test case because her opinions were deemed to be “absolutist”.
“In a keenly anticipated judgment that will stir up fresh debate over transgender issues, Judge James Tayler, an employment judge, ruled that Maya Forstater’s views did “not have the protected characteristic of philosophical belief”. (skip)
“But in a 26-page judgment released late on Wednesday, Tayler dismissed her claim. “I conclude from … the totality of the evidence, that [Forstater] is absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”Advertisement
“In response to the ruling, Forstater said: “I struggle to express the shock and disbelief I feel at reading this judgment, which I think will be shared by the vast majority of people who are familiar with my case.
“My belief … is that sex is a biological fact, and is immutable. There are two sexes, male and female. Men and boys are male. Women and girls are female. It is impossible to change sex. These were until very recently understood as basic facts of life by almost everyone.”
This is the aspect that is so disturbing, as Douglas Murray has observed, that truths which everyone held since conscious thought began are declared by some pompous ass dressed in robes as “unprotected”, and worse, that one can be mobbed, harassed, fired with impunity, and subject to disgrace on social media for insisting the obvious fact that a person born with XY chromosomes is a genetic male, no matter what surgeries he undergoes and costumes he dons.
While it may be polite to address a person by their desired gender, this does not abolish biology.
The core of the case for the judgment was that
“A number of commentators have viewed this case as being about the claimant’s freedom of speech. Employment Judge Tayler acknowledged that there is nothing to stop the claimant campaigning against the proposed revisions to the Gender Recognition Act or, expressing her opinion that there should be some spaces that are restricted to women assigned female at birth. However, she can do so without insisting on calling transwomen men. It is the fact that her belief necessarily involves violating the dignity of others which means it is not protected under the Equality Act 2010.”
Transwomen are men. There, I said it. I have now committed thoughtcrime. And notice how this totalitarian lie is achieved: by excessive niceness. It has become a firing offence to insist that a transwoman is still a man. My feelings are hurt. The tyranny of hurt feelings is the origin of the social compulsion being enforced by courts. Many of my beliefs necessarily involve violating the dignity of others, and so do yours. But if I have made my dignity depend on your addressing me as a woman, or as a Duke, or anything I can imagine – and the rules change every day – am I obliged to treat you as you claim, or as a preposterous mountebank?
Trump has a three point program, on which he and his regime are executing (as the business guys so love to say).
raise American working wages by controlling trade, hence managed trade deals with all trading partners;
raise American working class wages by restricting unskilled and illegal immigration from any source, especially central America;
No wars, so no expenditure on fixing a world that refuses to be fixed.
It is a program so simple you can remember it. Three points. So what are the results? Have working class wages been raised?
The poorest fourth of US wage earners garnered 4.5% wage growth, better than the other income quartiles.
When I listen to all my bien-pensant haters of Trump, and they are legion, I have to remind them that Trump is acting rationally to defend the interest of Americans, as he conceives the problem. His policies are to me utterly transparent. That he fights bare knuckled against the Democrats, the media, and the pretensions of both to govern us, is an entertainment. That he succeeds is a source of happiness. Yet it will be those working class people whose newly improved wages can be felt in their pockets who will put him back for a second term. Why is this not obvious?
He goes further, of course, because our former Prime Minister has bought into the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) scam in its entirety. By which I mean he assumes that human energy production is warming the climate, that this warming is potentially catastrophic, unless we do something, and that something can be done at an acceptable political price. I deny two of the three premises of the argument, if you ask me about the politics of it. Though, as regards the first premise, I would hold it quite possible that human energy production of late has had a minor warming effect, and that this is good for the planet.
I observe the the depression in Alberta and the hardships in Saskatchewan are caused in great part by federal energy policy, and that federal policy has been to tax the industry more heavily, to block its exports by obstructing pipelines, and to tax consumers on their projected CO2 emissions.
We are already experiencing the drop in economic activity that green energy policy would have us endure. It is always easy to contemplate the economic woes of the Canadian West from the comfortable perch of Laurentian Canada, and even easier when you are a federal Liberal. You can combine the derision of the enlightened with the assurance of the woke, and say “they deserve it because they are pulling those nasty hydrocarbons from the ground”.
Let me propose an alternative and less popular view. The green energy delusion – for it is a delusion – is the equivalent of Mulroney’s effort to “bring Quebec into the constitution”. Instead of splitting us along linguistic lines, as the Meech Lake Accord did, this one will split us according to whether we produce more energy than we consume, or something like from the east of the Selkirks in BC to the Manitoba border. I think significant parts of British Columbia and Manitoba will side with Alberta and Saskatchewan. I say it will split us because it is already doing so. Look at the results of the last election. The West has given the Liberals not a seat west of Manitoba.
Mulroney proposes that the Conservatives will not attain power unless they cave in on green energy scams and the AGW panic. I shall boldly predict the contrary. Their path to power lies in assembling a coalition that, while concerned with the environment, is skeptical of the pain of higher energy prices and bad technologies, such as wind and solar, and is ready to say so.
While it is necessary and proper to show concern with the environment, the Conservatives will not get back into power until they start shedding some of their forced reverence for the “science” of global warming. In a choice between those who really believe the bullshit of AGW, and those who only half believe, or pretend to believe, the electorate will choose the true believers, until such time as the full implications of the doctrine are borne by the public generally. Then the turn around will begin.
When I have discussed politics with some Conservatives (of the partisan kind) I have been struck by the gap between how they talk among themselves (realistically) with how the media force them to talk , which is out of both sides of their mouths. The average Conservative is not a green, though he or she is concerned with the environment. The leader of the Conservatives in Canada must be able to endure the howls of outrage from the green mobs, the CBC – the voice of the establishment – the Liberals, the NDP and the latest instantiation of the Quebec nationalists, and say, right out loud, the climate scam is a scam. The emperor has no clothes.
Of course, Brian Mulroney won two majority elections, but he also drove the party into near oblivion with his signature policy of appeasing Quebec.
I also want to draw attention to something that Matthew Goodwin said in a recent interview on Triggernometry. After dissecting the recent loss by the Labour Party, which was roughly speaking the dissociation of the concerns of the well educated intelligentsia from the concerns of working class Eng;and, he was asked at the end of the interview “What is the one thing we are not talking about that we ought to be talking about”, at 1:03:45. Hear him: “The politics of climate change is going to be the next huge big disruptive moment in our political world”.
I agree that thinking about environmentalism in a reasonable way is the most sensible thing you can do as a conservative. I do not believe that acting on global warming, to the extent it is occurring, by central planning, predicated on bad science, is the way to go about it.
Matt Ridley is a tonic for the soul. One of the few voices of optimism around.
” The quantity of all resources consumed per person in Britain (domestic extraction of biomass, metals, minerals and fossil fuels, plus imports minus exports) fell by a third between 2000 and 2017, from 13.7 tons to 9.4 tons. That’s a faster decline than the increase in the number of people, so it means fewer resources consumed overall.”