“Over the past few years it has often been remarked that our so-called culture war is to some extent a publishing phenomenon, driven by clickbait and careerism rather than sincere conviction. This is true, but frothing right-wing columnists aren’t the only ones on the make; liberals, too, are doing their bit to impoverish the discourse.” (Houman Barekat, “False Alarm A Political Warning Where None is Needed” in The Guardian 23/04/22, a review of Yascha Mounk’s How to Make Diverse Democracies Work, 2022, London: Bloomsbury)
Re-reading my previous posts, I’ve noticed how alarmist they sound. The invasion of Ukraine has shown us how trivial most of our grievances are, even when perfectly valid. The stakes are simply not that high, for us. I should probably lighten up.
To clarify: I am not Right-wing. I agree with most of the criticisms of society put forward by Critical Race Theorists and Social Justice activists: they are my people, but I disagree with many of their assumptions and attitudes.
So, I’m not claiming that challenges to the status quo or criticisms of the virtue of our cultural codes will instantly plunge us into bloody revolution. I don’t think that the moment somebody says, “I’m not sure we’ve always been entirely fair…”, the whole country will immediately descend into a hell of anarchy, riots and murder. That is a deeply reactionary, conservative way of thinking that seeks to suppress all dissent or alternative thought.
But, I do believe that some Social Justice activists draw their power and influence from conflict and antagonism, from self-righteous anger and a hypocritical prejudice. They thrive on manufacturing tribes and using the word “Justice” to promote revenge, long held resentment, and antipathy. These attitudes, conducts and activities damage the fabric of society that weaves us all together. They attack us as individuals, although respect for the individual is the basis of the moral code that justifies their grievances. This, along with the divisions they intentionally promote, weaken our sense of community and thus community identity. They erode the moral and spiritual health of our society. They lower our collective morale because they make us dislike each other and thus have no loyalty to each other.
Ok. They’re young. The young always think they ‘re the first to have ever thought about, or fought for justice. They think they know best. But in trying to remake society, they are dismantling the good along with the bad. They’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
And, in the case of the influencers and writers, the theorists and the leaders of the movements, they’re doing it for their own personal gain.