Patrick West

Let’s stop pretending the culture wars aren’t real

Are the culture wars real? Some assume that they’re an imaginary affair, or, at best, a distraction from the real, pressing bread-and-butter concerns of today. As Matthew Syed put it in the Sunday Times yesterday:

‘The culture wars…may be seen not as genuine debates but as a form of Freudian displacement. The woke and anti-woke need each other to engage in piffling spats as a diversion from realities they both find too psychologically threatening to confront.’

We are familiar with this line of thinking, both from left and right. The culture wars about race and gender are irrelevant and ‘piffling’, so some say. It’s all fuss and nonsense.

Many on the left decry with airy disdain that complaints of ‘cancellation’ and ‘wokery’ are just antediluvian grunts of conservatives who don’t like, or don’t understand, the modern world – with its new, strange manners concerning matters race and gender. Then there are the shopkeeper-type conservatives, who think the culture wars are all a silly hoo-ha about pronouns, toilet usage, dramas about Cleopatra and the Royal Family as seen on TV. They scold that we should be properly concerned with material materials: the cost of living, inflation, mortgage payments, industrial disputes, the future of the Conservative party.

Both conclusions, from the complacent left and bean-counting right, are based on misapprehensions. They derive from a double falsehood. The culture wars are really taking place, whether the left likes or not. And the culture wars are a bread-and-butter issue, whether the right likes or not. 

The rest of us live in material and financial fear of what might happen if we make public what we think

The consequences of wokery are having a tangible effect in the USA – which always heralds what is to come – where withdrawal for support and funding of the police has grown at a time of rising crime in Los Angeles, San Francisco and even now New York (the Big Apple a few years ago being the beacon of how to solve crime).

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