The Mallard

Five Truths from Dostoevsky’s The Devils

Whenever I scroll through the news on Twitter or listen to talk radio, I like to play a game called “Dostoevsky called it.” As one can guess, it consists of identifying events or trends that correspond with those in Feodor Dostoevsky’s novels and letters. Because Dostoevsky devoted so much ink to warning about the motives and effects of atheist-utilitarian socialism from the radical left, the game often points to his most direct attack on those ideas: The Devils.

Published between 1871 and 1872 and written in response to the Nechaev affair, where an underground group of socialist-atheist radicals, planning to ultimately overthrow the Tsarist government through propaganda, terrorism, and assassination, murdered a former comrade who had left their secret society, The Devils (Бесы; also translated as Demons or The Possessed) is Feodor Dostoevsky’s most explicit expose of and polemic against the revolutionary nihilism growing in late nineteenth-century Russia. Although, due to his own participation in a socialist plot aimed at educating and ultimately liberating the serfs, he often gave the benefit of the doubt to the moral idealism of the younger generation of radicals—assuming their hearts, if not their methods, were in the right place—in The Devils he nonetheless skewers the radical ideology and his generation and the next’s culpability for it.

While his main focus is on the characters’ psychologies and their symbolic significance, Dostoevsky nonetheless lays out many of the ideas populating late-nineteenth-century Russia, displaying a thorough understanding of them, their holders’ true motives (which, like those of that other ideological murderer Raskalnikov, are rarely the same as those consciously stated by their loudest advocates), and what would be the results if they were not checked. In several places, Dostoevsky unfortunately calls it right, and The Devils at times reads as a preview of the following fifty years in Russia, as well as of the modes and methods of radicalism in later places and times.

It would be too great a task to cite, here, all the places and times where Dostoevsky’s visions were confirmed; at best, after laying out a few of the many truths in The Devils, I can only note basic parallels with later events and trends in Russia and elsewhere—and let my readers draw their own additional parallels. Nonetheless, here are five truths from Dostoevsky’s The Devils:

1: The superfluity of the preceding liberal generation to progressive radicals.

The Devils is structured around the relationship between the older and younger generations of the mid-1800s. The book opens with an introduction of Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky, father to the later introduced radical Peter Stepanovich. A Westernized liberal from the 1840s generation, Stepan Trofimovich represents the upper-class intelligentsia that first sought to enlighten the supposedly backwards Russia through atheistic socialism (a redundancy in Dostoevsky).

However, despite his previously elevated status as a liberal and lecturer, by the time of The Devils Stepan Trofimovich—and, with him, the 1840s liberals who expected to be honored for opening the door to progress—has become superfluous. This is highlighted when his son returns to the province and does not honor his father with figurative laurels (when such a symbol is later employed literally it is in satirical mock).

Though never the direct butt of Dostoevsky’s satire, Stepan Trofimovich cannot (or refuses) to understand that his son’s nihilism is not a distortion of his own generation’s hopes but is the logical, inevitable product of them. The older man’s refusal to admit his ideological progeny in his literal progeny’s beliefs, of course, enables Peter Stepanovich to mock him further, even while he continues to avail himself of the benefits of his father’s erstwhile status in society. This “liberal naivete enabling radical nihilism” schema can also be seen in the governor’s wife, Yulia Mikhailovna von Lembke, who believes that she can heroically redirect the passions of the youth to more socially beneficial, less radical, pursuits but only ends up enabling them to take over her literary fete to ridicule traditional society and distract the local worthies while agents set parts of the local town ablaze. Stepan Trofimovich, Yulia Mikhailovna, and others show that, despite the liberal generation’s supposed love for Russia, they were unable to brake the pendulum they sent swinging towards leftism.

The same pattern of liberals being ignored or discarded by the progressives they birthed can be seen in later years in Russia and other nations. While it would historically be two generations between Belinsky and Lenin (who was born within months of Dostoevsky’s starting to write The Devils), after the 1917 Revolution, Soviet Russia went through several cycles of executing or imprisoning previous generations who, despite supporting the Revolution, were unfortunately too close to the previous era to be trusted by new, socialistically purer generations.

In a more recent UK, Dostoevsky’s schema can also be seen in the Boomer-led Labour of the ‘90s and ‘00s UK paving the way for the radical, arguably anti-British progressivism of the 2010s and ‘20s (which, granted, sports its share of hip Boomers). In America, it can be seen in the soft divide in congressional Democrats between 20th-century liberals like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and “the squad” comprised of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and others who have actively tried (and arguably succeeded) in pushing the nation’s discourse in a left progressive direction.

2: Ideologies as active, distorting forces rather than merely passive beliefs.

“I’ve never understood anything about your theory…” Peter Stepanovich tells the serene Aleksei Nilych Kirillov later in the book, “I also know you haven’t swallowed the idea—the idea’s swallowed you…” The idea he is referring to is Kirillov’s belief that by committing suicide not from despair or passion but by rational, egotistic intention, he can rid mankind of the fear of death (personified in the figure of God) and become the Christ of the new utilitarian atheism (really, Dostoevsky intends us to understand, not without pity for Kirillov, an antichrist thereof). The topic of suicide—rising in Russia at the time of the book’s writing and a result, Dostoevsky believed, of the weakening of social institutions and national morality by the subversive nihilism then spreading—is a motif through the book. Countering Chernyshevsky’s romanticized revolutionary Rakhmetov from What is to Be Done?, Kirillov is Dostoevsky’s depiction of the atheist rational egotism of the time taken to its fullest psychological extent. Like others he had and would later write (Raskalnikov, Ivan Karamazov), Kirillov is driven mad by an idea that “swallows” him in monomania and which he has admitted to being obsessed with—the idea of a world without God.

Though Dostoevsky considered it the central issue of his day (which still torments Western culture), my focus here is not on Kirillov’s idea, itself, but on his relation to it. Countering the Western Enlightenment conceit that ideas are mere tools to be rationally picked up and put down at will, Dostoevsky shows through Kirillov that ideas and ideology (ideas put in the place of religion) are active things that can overwhelm both conscious and unconscious mind. Indeed, the novel’s title and Epigraph—the story of Legion and the swine from Luke 8—already suggests this; for Dostoevsky, there is little difference between the demons that possessed the pigs and the ideas that drive characters like Kirillov to madness.

Of course, a realist-materialist reading of Kirillov’s end (I won’t spoil it, though it arguably undercuts his serenity throughout the book) and the later Ivan Karamazov’s encounter with a personified devil would contend that there was nothing literally demonic to the manifestations, but for Dostoevsky that matters little; for him, whose focus is always on how the individual lives and experiences life, being possessed by an ideology one cannot let go of and being in the grasp of literal demons is nearly synonymous—indeed, the former may be the modern manifestation of the latter, with the same results. In his work, such things almost always accompany a lowering of one’s humanity into the beastial.

The problem with ideology, Dostoevsky had discovered in Siberia, was in their limited conception of man. By cutting off all upper transcendent values as either religious superstition or upper class decadence, the new utilitarian atheism had removed an essential part of what it meant to be human. At best, humans were animals and could hope for no more than thus, and all higher aspirations were to be lowered to achieving present social goals of food, housing, and sex—which Dostoevsky saw, themselves, as impossible to effectively achieve without the Orthodox Church’s prescriptions for how to deal with suffering and a belief in afterlife. Of the lack of higher impressions that give life meaning, Dostoevsky saw two possible results: ever-increasingly perverse acts of the flesh, and ever-increasingly solipsistic devotion to a cause—both being grounded in and expressions not of liberation or selflessness, but of the deepest egotism (which was a frankly stated element of the times’ ideologies).

From this view, Dostoevsky would have seen today’s growing efforts to legitimate into the mainstream things like polyamory, abortion, and public displays of sexuality and increasingly aggressive advocacy by groups like Extinction Rebellion or NOW (he predicted both movements in his other writing) as both being attempts to supply the same religious impulse—which, due to their being cut off by their premises from the transcendent metaphysic required by the human creature and supplied by Christianity, &c, is a doomed attempt.

3: Seemingly virtuous revolution motivated by and covering for private vices.

By the time he wrote The Devils Dostoevsky had seen both inside and outside of the radical movement; he had also depicted in Notes from Underground and Crime and Punishment characters who discover, to their angst and horror, that their actions were not motivated by humanitarianism, but by envy, cravenness, and the subsequent desire for self-aggrandizement. The Devils features the same depth of psychology beneath the main characters’ stated ideas and goals, and the book often shows how said ideas cannot work when applied to real people and real life.

As the chronicle unfolds, characters often speak of the petty vices that undermine the purity of the revolutionaries’ stated virtues and goals. “Why is it,” the narrator recounts Stepan Trofimovich once asking him, “all these desperate socialists and communists are also so incredibly miserly, acquisitive, and proprietorial? In fact, the more socialist someone is…the stronger his proprietorial instinct.” So much for those who seek to abolish property; one can guess to whom they wish to redistribute it! The revolutionary-turned-conservative Ivan Shatov later continues the motif, digging deeper into the radicals’ motives: “They’d be the first to be terribly unhappy if somehow Russia were suddenly transformed, even according to their own ideas, and if it were suddenly to become immeasurably rich and happy. Then they’d have no one to hate, no one to despise, no one to mock! It’s all an enormous, animal hatred for Russia that’s eaten into their system.”

Leftists might accuse Dostoevsky of merely wishing to make the radicals look bad with such an evaluation; however, as addressed by Joseph Frank in his chapter on the topic in Dostoevsky: The Miraculous Years, 1865-1871, the “bad for thee, fine for me” mentality of The Devils’s radicals (if their ideology doesn’t completely blind them to such inconsistency in the first place) was straight from the playbook of men like Nechaev: the Catechism of a Revolutionary. Far from trying to evade contradictory behavior, such a work, and other later analogues (Marcuse’s “Repressive Tolerance”; Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals) advocate being inconsistent and slippery with one’s principles for the sake of the revolution. Indeed, contradicting the rules one was trying to impose on others was and is seen not as an inconsistency but as a special privilege—of which several examples can be found, from upper party opulence in the USSR to modern champagne socialists who attend a $35,000-per-seat Met Gala while advocating taxing the rich.

4: Social chaos and purges as necessary and inevitable in achieving and maintaining utopia.

Perhaps the single most prophetic scene in The Devils occurs in the already mentioned chapter “‘Our Group’ Meets,” which depicts the various local radicals meeting under cover of a birthday party. A cacophony of competing voices and priorities, the scene’s humorous mix of inept, self-serving idealists is made grotesque by the visions they advocate. Most elaborate of the speakers is Shigalyov, whose utopian scheme for the revolution was insightful enough that Boris Pasternak and Alexander Solzhenitsyn both referred to the Russian government’s post-October Revolution policies and methods as “Shigalevism.” 

While Shigalyov’s whole speech (and Peter Stepanovich’s commentary) is worth reading as a prophecy of what would happen less than fifty years after the book, here are some notable excerpts:

“Beginning with the idea of unlimited freedom, I end with unlimited despotism…One-tenth will receive personal freedom and unlimited power over the other nine-tenths. The latter must forfeit their individuality and become as it were a herd [through re-education of entire generations]; through boundless obedience, they will attain, by a series of rebirths, a state of primeval innocence, although they’ll still have to work…What I’m proposing is not disgusting; it’s paradise, paradise on earth—there can be none other on earth.”

A direct goal of the purges in Soviet Russia, and of the alienation of children from their parents, was to create a new, purely socialist generation unburdened by the prejudices of previous or outside systems.

“[We’ve] been urged to close ranks and even form groups for the sole purposed of bringing about total destruction, on the pretext that however much you try to cure the world, you won’t be able to do so entirely, but if you take radical steps and cut off one hundred million heads, thus easing the burden, it’ll be much easier to leap over the ditch. It’s a splendid idea…”

While hundred million murders may seem like hyperbole in the scene’s darkly comic context, in the end it was an accurate prediction of what communism would accomplish if put into systemic practice; however, we should also not miss the stated method of destabilizing society via conspiratorial groups aimed not at aid but at acceleration—a method used in early 20th-century Russia and employed by modern radical groups like Antifa.

“It would take at least fifty years, well, thirty, to complete such a slaughter—inasmuch as people aren’t sheep, you know, and they won’t submit willingly.”

Besides the time element, the identifying of the individual human’s desire for life and autonomy as a lamentable but surmountable impediment to revolution—rather than a damning judgment of the radicals’ inability to make any humanitarian claims—is chilling.

“[Shigalyov] has a system for spying. Every member of the society spies on every other one and is obliged to inform. Everyone belongs to all the others and the others belong to each one. They’re all slaves and equal in their slavery.”

A corrollary to the section above on freedom-through-slavery, this part accurately identifies the system of paranoid watchfulness in the first half of the USSR, as well as the system currently in place in the DPRK, among other places.

“The one thing the world needs is obedience. The desire for education is an aristocratic idea. As soon as a man experiences love or has a family, he wants private property. We’ll destroy that want: we’ll unleash drunkenness, slander, denunciantion; we’ll unleash unheard-of corruption… [Crime] is no longer insanity, but some kind of common sense, almost an obligation, at least a noble protest.”

Anti-traditional-family advocacy and the flipping of the criminal-innocent dichotomy as a means of destabilizing the status quo all took place in the early years of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, they are all too familiar today in the West, whether we’re talking about the current argument in the US that children’s education belongs to the community (i.e. teachers, public unions, and the government) to the exclusion of parents, or the argument heard at several points in the 2020 that crimes and rioting committed during protests were an excusable, even “noble,” form of making one’s voice heard (while nicking a TV in the process!).

More recently and ongoing here in California (often uncannily parallel to the UK in certain policy impulses), our current District Attorney George Gascon, in an attempt to redefine the criminal-victim mentality in the state, has implemented policies that benefit criminals over victims by relaxing the definitions and sentences of certain crimes and refusing to try teenagers who commit felonies as adults (among other things); as many expected would happen, crime has risen in the state, with the Los Angeles PD recently advising residents to avoid wearing jewelry in public—which, to this resident, sounds oddly close to blaming the victim for wearing a short skirt by another name, and is certainly a symptom and example of anarcho-tyranny.

To nineteenth-century readers not as versed as Dostoevsky in the literature and ideas behind the Nechaev affair (which was publicly seen as merely a murder among friends, without the ideological significance Dostoevsky gave it), this section of The Devils would have seemed a comic exaggeration. However, to post-20th-century readers it stands, like a clarion pointing forward to the events later confirmed by Solzhenitsyn, as a dire warning not to forget the truth in the satire and not to dismiss the foolishly hyperbolic as impotent. Even in isolated forms, the ideas promoted by Shigalyev are real, and when applied they have been, as Dostoevsky predicted, disastrous.

5: Socialism not as humanitarian reason, but as religious poetry; revolution as primarily aesthetic, not economic.

An amalgam of, among other members of the 1840s generation, the father of Russian socialism Alexander Herzen, Stepan Trofimovich is, by the time of the 1860s setting of The Devils, an inveterate poet. This reflects Dostoevsky’s evaluation of his old theorist friend, whom he nonetheless cites as the enabler of men like the nihilist terrorist Nechaev, despite Herzen’s claims that the terrorist had bastardized his ideas (see truth number 1, above).

The brilliantly mixed critique of and homage to Dostoevsky’s own generation that is Stepan Trofimovich presents one of the book’s main motifs about the nihilist generation: that they are not pursuing a philosophically rational system of humanitarian goals, but a romantically poetic pseudo-religion. “They’re all bewitched,” cries Stepan Trofimovich about his son, “not by realism, but by the emotional and idealistic aspects of socialism, so to speak, by its religious overtones, its poetry.” Later, at the aforementioned pivotal meeting scene, Peter Stepanovich shows he is completely conscious of this fact—and willing to use it to his advantage. “What’s happening here is the replacement of the old religion by a new one; that’s why so many soldiers are needed—it’s a large undertaking.” In the next scene, Peter Stepanovich reveals to Stavrogin his desire to use the enchanting nobleman as a figurehead for revolution among the peasantry, intending to call him Ivan the Tsarevich to play off of the Russian folk legend of a messianic Tsar in hiding who will rise to take the throne from the “false” reigning Tsar and right all the world’s wrongs with his combined religious and political power.

Peter Stepanovich, himself, is too frank a nihilist to believe in such narratives; focused as he is on first destroying everything rather than wasting time pontificating about what to do afterwards, he even treats Shigalyov’s utopian visions with contempt. However, the rest of the radicals in the book are not so clear-sighted about the nature of their beliefs. Multiple times in the book, susceptibility to radical socialism is said to inhere not in reason but in sentimentality; showing Dostoevsky’s moderation even on a topic of which he was so passionately against, this critique often focuses on younger men and women’s genuine desire to good—which ironically makes them, like the naive and forthright Ensign Erkel, susceptible to committing the worst crimes with a straight, morally self-confident face.

It is this susceptibility to the art of revolution that causes Peter Stepanovich to be so sanguine about others’ romanticism, despite its falling short of his own nihilism. His intention to use others’ art for his own advantage can be seen most clearly in his hijacking of Yulia Mikhailovna’s  literary fete to use it, through his cronies, as a screed against the social order and to mock artistic tradition. His doing so is just a follow-through of an earlier statement to Stavrogin that “Those with higher abilities…have always done more harm than good; they’ll either be banished or executed. Cicero’s tongue will be cut out, Copernicus’s eyes will be gouged out, Shakespeare will be stoned…it’s a fine idea to level mountains—there’s nothing ridiculous in that…we’ll suffocate every genius in its infancy.”

Against his son’s leveling of mountains, Stepan Trofimovich, to his infinite credit and speaking with his author’s mouth, declares, with the lone voice of tradition amidst the climactic fete, that “Shakespeare and Raphael are more important than the emancipation of the serfs…than nationalism…than socialism…than the younger generation…than chemistry, almost more important than humanity, because they are the fruit, the genuine fruit of humanity, and perhaps the most important fruit there is!” In this contrast between the Verkhovenskys, it is not different views on economics but on art—on Shakespeare, among others—that that lie at the heart of revolution, with the revolutionaries opposing the English Poet more viscerally than any other figure. This reflects Dostoevsky’s understanding that the monumental cultural shift of the 1800s was not primarily scientific but aesthetic (a topic too large to address here). Suffice it to say, the central conflict of The Devils is not between capitalists and socialists (the book rarely touches on economic issues, apart from their being used as propaganda—that is, aesthetically), nor between Orthodox and atheists (though Dostoevsky certainly saw that as the fundamental alternative at play), but between the 1840s late Romantics and the new Naturalist-Realists.

The prophetic nature of this aesthetic aspect of The Devils has many later confirmations, such as the 20th century’s growth of state propaganda, especially in socialistic states like Nazi Germany or the USSR, though also in the West (Western postmodernism would eventually make all art as interpretable as propaganda). Furthermore, the Stalinist cult of personality seems a direct carry over of Peter Stepanovich’s intended desire to form just such a pseudo-religious cult out of Nikolai Vsevolodovich.

Having written a novel on the threat posed to Shakespeare by the newest generation of the radical left (before reading of Verkhovensky’s desire to stone Shakespeare—imagine my surprise to find that Dostoevsky had called even the events in my own novel!), I hold this particular topic close to my heart. Indeed, I believe we are still in the Romantic-Realist crossroads, and in dire need of backtracking to take the other path that would prefer, to paraphrase Stepan Trofimovich, the beautiful and ennobling Shakespeare and Raphael over the socially useful pair of boots and petroleum. Like Stepan Trofimovich, I believe comforts and technical advancements like the latter could not have come about were it not for the culture of the former—and that they would lose their value were their relative importance confused to the detriment of that which is higher.

Conclusion

There are, of course, many other truths in The Devils that have borne out (the infighting of radical advocacy groups competing for prominence, radicalism as a result of upper-class boredom and idleness, revolution’s being affected not by a majority but a loud minority willing to transgress, self-important administrators and bureaucrats as enablers and legitimators of radicals…). While the increasingly chaotic narrative (meant to mimic the setting’s growing unrest) is not Dostoevsky’s most approachable work, The Devils is certainly one of his best, and it fulfills his intended purpose of showing, like Tolstoy had done a few years before in War and Peace, a full picture of Russian society.

However, while Tolstoy’s work looked backward to a Russia that, from Dostoevsky’s view, had been played out, The Devils was written to look forward, and, more often for ill than good, it has been right in its predictions. Not for nothing did Albert Camus, who would later adapt The Devils for the stage, say on hearing about the Stalinist purges in Soviet Russia that “The real 19th-century prophet was Dostoevsky, not Karl Marx.”


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Identity Politics in the Conservative Party

The leadership election has brought about a wave of Conservatives flexing about how diverse and inclusive the Conservative Party is compared to Labour. Among the first days of the elections, there were endless tweets about how the party has the most diverse leadership election in history.

Andrew Bowie, Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine tweeted that the reasons why he’s proud to be a Conservative MP include “first trans MP” and “the most diverse cabinet in history.”

The online publication Spiked, released an article on how “The Tory leadership race is the most diverse in history. And this has sent the left into meltdown.”

The founder of Tories for Equality tweeted: “I feel proud that British children today, whatever their race, can look at the talented & diverse slate of conservative  leadership candidates & think “I could do that”. I didn’t have that growing up under the U.K. Labour government. Proud of my country & proud of my party.”

This is a new attempt to call the left the real racists while celebrating how greatly diverse the Conservatives are. It appears that too many Conservative party members truly believe that to defeat the libs you must become one. Die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

This is not to say that a candidates’ ethnicity and gender may be a key aspect of their campaign. After all, there’s merit to having a story of being an outsider or overcoming a struggle related to their identity. However, these MPs have been completely tokenised by those on the right. It doesn’t matter what they’ve done to these identity obsessed Conservatives, as long as their identity is good optics. And despite the attempted revision of history, this is not new for the Conservative Party.

The Conservatives have ridiculed the Labour Party’s anti meritocratic all female shortlists. However, it appears that the Conservatives are also guilty of identity politics hiring…

Under Cameron’s government, there was an active attempt to make the government less pale, male and stale. From David Cameron’s own account in a recent article, he wrote for The Times:

“I immediately froze the selection of Conservative candidates. I said that from our broader candidates’ list we would draw up a priority list, of which half would be female and a large proportion would be from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. Associations in winnable seats would have to choose from this “A-list”, and they would be encouraged to select candidates through “open primaries” that were open to non-party members.”

Cameron admits that the call for positive discrimination was because “this wasn’t happening naturally”. Despite denying this was an act of positive discrimination, and instead dubbing it as “positive action”, Cameron states that “We headhunted great candidates from ethnic minorities and pushed them forwards.”

Despite Cameron’s doublethink to frame choosing candidates for the sake of their ethnicity as meritocracy exemplifies how the party has been poisoned by Blairism. How can the Conservative Party differentiate themselves away from Labour’s positive discrimination when it can be seen they acting in a similar nature?

Of course, this isn’t to state that the party leadership candidates aren’t deserving. The strongest, popular candidates are those from minority ethnic identities and/or women. It would be doing them an injustice to only celebrate them for their identity rather than what they believe. While the Westminster bunch pander to identity politics, it is clear that the party membership is focused on what a candidate wants advocates for more than the colour of their skin or what is between their legs.


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This Great Stage of Fools: Thoughts on the Church of England

There was a time not very long ago when I wanted to become an Anglican priest. I thought I had discovered my vocation; it filled me with hope for the future. Now, however, I cannot think of a more unattractive prospect.

I was warned. At a book signing a couple of years ago, a non-stipendiary priest looked at me and said that the Church of England would eat me up. Another priest expressed such a lack of enthusiasm for his role that he might as well have told me to convert to atheism. I could hardly gainsay them. It wasn’t my place to claim that I would have been a moral, spiritual or intellectual asset to the Anglican fold – though, admittedly, I did wish to ape those clever, eccentric country parsons who so enriched the culture. As Bill Bryson wrote in his book Home:

“Never in history have a group of people engaged in a broader range of creditable activities for which they were not in any sense actually employed.”

The first history of dirty jokes, the Jack Russell terrier, Bayes’ Theorem, the power loom, Tristram Shandy, and even the submarine were all products of bored clergymen.

Of course, to believe that today’s Church of England resembled yesterday’s was my own, rose-tinted failing. Deep down, I knew it had changed almost beyond recognition. But change is inevitable – and often salutary. I could perhaps have embraced the 21st century Church of England. Unfortunately, I doubt it would embrace me. Its recent “yeeting” (to use the scientific term) of Calvin Robinson alerted me to just how far the Church has fallen. Robinson’s politics comport with my own as do his convictions: pride is a sin, marriage is between a man and a woman, and the Gospel is rather more significant than an imported racial ideology, of which Black Lives Matter is the conduit. Robinson’s treatment showed that the Church of England’s hierarchy is committing slow-motion idolatry.

When Robinson rails against what has happened to him, I have no doubt that he speaks for many, if not the majority, of churchgoers, who all but despair of what has happened to our national Church. But Robinson has a platform. We hear less often from young Anglicans, for whom the Church’s every statement seems designed to cater. Thus we get mini-golf courses and helter-skelters in our cathedrals, pride and NHS flags draped over our altars, and statements to the effect that the Church is racist but you should join it anyway. My own local church recently played host to a rock concert, for which the altar was whisked embarrassedly out of sight. Would a mosque tolerate such a thing? No, and nor should it. And of course, the Church hierarchy announced only a couple of weeks ago that they, too, couldn’t make heads or tails of what a woman was – undoing centuries of dogma and theology, not to mention insulting women.

It would be remiss of me to claim to be able to speak on behalf of all young Anglicans, especially given my continuing attraction to both Rome and Constantinople. But, after years of contact with other young Anglicans, I am confident that what I have to say now would attract something close to a consensus. So, Mr Welby, if you’re listening (which I suspect you’re not): we don’t want what you’re offering. We want heaven and hell. We want angels, powers and principalities. We want prayer, orthodoxy and conviction. We want good and evil, right and wrong. Above all, we want Christ. Your generation – the children of the 1960s – became enamoured by the secular. You think that heaven on earth is possible, if only we join the right causes and shun the wrong politic – you have surrendered to the world. But the Kingdom is not of this world. As T.S. wrote in Thoughts After Lambeth:

“Thought, study, mortification, sacrifice: it is such notions as these that should be impressed upon the young—who differ from the young of other times merely in having a different middle-aged generation behind them. You will never attract the young by making Christianity easy; but a good many can be attracted by finding it difficult: difficult both to the disorderly mind and to the unruly passions.”

If this truth isn’t soon heeded, I fear that the Church of England will be all but extinct in a decade or two. It will linger on in London and Birmingham, perhaps, where immigrant Christians still take seriously what the English do not. But it will no longer be the spiritual organ of the nation. Possibly the Catholic Church will fill the vacuum. Who knows?

I say all this as someone who is, technically, a member of the newly established religion: LGBT. It is said to be a community, though I’ve never seen it except when it rears its sponsored head to bully some poor recalcitrant for saying the wrong thing about gay marriage. Exactly this was what happened in my town last year. A Christian councilman said to some committee or other that, while he supported the right of gay people to live happy lives, he could not condone gay marriage. It has become a cliche to compare cancel culture to witch hunts, for good reason but the councilman was subjected to weeks of bullying and the foulest of threats and insults all, of course, in the name of tolerance and compassion. It upset me that the local Anglican church did nothing to snuff the flames – and may even have wished secretly to fan them.

There is, I believe, a ground swell of small-o orthodoxy among the young. New atheism (of which I was a devotee) proved insufficient in answering our moral, spiritual and intellectual needs. Many of us turned to God, whatever our politics. But if we were conservative, we naturally sought sustenance in the Church of England. I cannot be alone in saying that to find it so debased has been one of the great sadnesses of my early life. As Lear says, “we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools”.


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An Interview with the JFvD

In late September, a few members of the Mallard team were fortunate to get the opportunity to sit down with representatives of the JFvD, the youth wing of the Dutch ‘Forum for Democracy’ (FvD) party. We discussed the incredible success of their political and cultural youth movement; the founding and future of their party; and their views on what the future of the Netherlands and Europe should be. 

The Mallard (TM): We want to get a sense of what the FvD is; what it stands for; and what the JFvD does within that.

Massimo Etalle (ME): So the FvD was founded in 2015 as a think tank. Our party leader (Thierry Baudet) was a journalist, and he had a critique on the world around him but did not believe that these problems could be solved through politics. So, he founded this think tank to influence the ideas in our society. Politics is downstream from culture, so to influence politics you have to influence culture. We had a unique opportunity at the time due to the referendum with Ukraine [the 2016 Dutch advisory referendum on the proposed Ukraine – European Union Association Agreement]. The FvD has always been a very Eurosceptic organisation, so when the association agreement was proposed in a referendum, we campaigned against it. When the referendum was held, it was overwhelmingly opposed by 62% of the Dutch people. In response, the government ignored it and signed the agreement anyway. At this moment we realised we needed to do more than just influence ideas. You have to get closer to power to influence society. So we started a political party and we won 2 seats out of 150 in parliament. The energy was unmatched and, as soon as we started, we flew through the polls. The youth movement (JFvD) was founded in March 2017. Due to the lateness of its founding, we had to have 100 members before midnight to secure subsidies and funding. Before midnight we had over 1000 members and by the next day we had 2000 members. We were the fastest growing youth movement ever in the history of the Netherlands. 

Iem Al Biyati (IAB): So we (The JFvD) know we are a youth political movement but we don’t see politics as the number one way to change stuff. It’s a part of it but not the most important thing. We believe in transforming peoples mentality and influencing culture from bottom-to-top instead of top-to-bottom. We want to bind them to history and culture; identity and family instead of the modern view of the Dutch people which is to hate themselves and their culture – we want to oppose that. We think a lot of young people are aimless with no sense of identity anymore, and we are trying to make them see this and give them an opportunity to evolve this feeling and better themselves. We have a culture of losers who are afraid of risks and not being part of ‘the group’. We embrace these things, and we are proud of it. We stand totally against the modern degenerate culture.

ME: Exactly. I wouldn’t describe us as a counter-movement. The modern world is the counter-movement. Ugly buildings are the counter-movement. They are anti-European. We embrace who we are, and all we see around us is opposition to who we are. This starts at the first day of school when we are taught things like participation being more important than winning. This is a total inversion of truth. There is no point in human history when this was true. It breeds a country of losers who don’t want to excel, instead they want to be equal. We want to return to this truth and to who we are. We want to go back to what we have always been and to what is our ‘eternal fate’. That is what we do. We want to mentally and physically challenge our members to become who they truly are.

TM: Do you think that young people in the Netherlands are becoming more radical?

IAB: I think that the youth are becoming more radical, but it goes two ways. I see that there are less centrist people and they go towards the ends. We have more communists and left-wingers and more radical right-wingers. Maybe this is a good thing or not, I’m not sure. But it’s because everyone feels that there is something not right. We no longer live in harmony, and I feel that that is the similarity between the radical left and radical right. We both feel something is off but the left have a different solution and cause. They think that lack of equality is a problem and want to form the world to eliminate stress and struggle. We believe in embracing struggle and accepting that life is this way instead of complaining and whining.

TM: Would you say that you prioritise changing the way people think over advocating for certain political policies?

IAB: Yeah. Policy changes aren’t even possible in our party’s current position. Maybe we never will be. We see it more as a metaphysical and philosophical struggle.

ME: Whilst you cannot change a policy, you can change your resilience to a bad policy. You can become more immune to things that the government does to hurt you. 

TM: It’s interesting you say that because, in the UK, a lot of right-wing movements focus entirely on policy. Maybe it’s due to the homogenous nature of our politics. We don’t really have a movement that tries to affect culture instead of specific policies.

ME: The failure of Brexit proved the irrelevance of policy. Whilst you left the European Union, your politicians are now proud to say that your immigrants don’t come from Poland any more, instead they come from Pakistan. The problem you had wasn’t just the European Union, it was that your mentality was wrong. If you could change that mentality even a slight amount, the influence would be bigger in every new policy. Whilst if you change one policy, everything that will be built around it will still be rooted in perverse thought.

IAB: The most important thing to do is to implant those ideas in people to make them feel as though they are good and true because they are. That is what the JFvD and FvD is trying to do. We still participate in politics of course and try our best but the ideas are what is important. We had the state opening of parliament a few days ago when all the politicians came and met up. This is quite rare in the Netherlands. Two days of debate and all they talk about are the same boring stories: rising energy prices and cost of living. They are too afraid to tell a different story. We got our opportunity to speak for about 15 minutes, but after about 10 minutes our party leader made a criticism of one of the other members of parliament, and our speaker of the house turned his microphone off after members of the government signalled her to do so. The entire government stood up and walked out to avoid listening to him. After this stunt the Prime Minister came back to act upset about it and, when Thierry came back to speak he was only allowed to do so if he apologised. He refused to apologise and his right to speak was taken away. He had to leave.

TM: Yes that happens in this country as well. A lot of politicians have cottoned on to the fact that, if you get kicked out, it makes headlines. So, people will say things that they want in the newspapers and then they will accuse someone of lying which will result in them being kicked out. This gets them in the papers and videos of it go online.

IAB: That’s actually pretty funny but of course it goes to show that it’s a theatre. It’s all a show.

ME: Just to be clear, our youth movement doesn’t focus on policy, but the main party does. We have ideas on how to solve the energy crisis, for example. We have the largest gas reserve in Europe and we give it away to the Belgians. We do propose and fight for policies but, especially as a youth movement, we have a very cultural and ideological task. Everyone is in the process of becoming an adult.

TM: So what do you do to promote cultural things?

ME: So we have a few things that we do. We have a summer camp and some other events which Iem will talk about and then we also have a magazine ‘The Dissident’ which I will talk about.

IAB: So we have so many young members, and it’s very uncommon to be a member of a political party as a young person in the Netherlands. So, the first step was to attract the members and then we had to do something with them. We can’t just take 5 Euros from them a year and then not do anything with them. We want to select and train people how to be potential members of the future party as a nurturing role. We have a summer camp which takes about 80 people. It’s a shame because hundreds apply but we don’t have the space to take any more than 80. But we also want to connect with people on an individual level which is hard to do as a massive group. We engage in sport and physical activity and also lectures. We try to attract a different range of people. 

ME: We don’t want to do just lectures. We believe in the unity of mind and body. It’s not just who is the smartest or the strongest. It’s the person who is expressing his desire to fight on all fronts. 

IAB: Someone who can write stuff should also be able to express things physically in their lifestyle and not just academically. We look for these people and try to give them ideas in the lectures about politics, philosophy, health etc. We even do singing lessons and things. We try to challenge individuals and the group to create the ‘aristocrat’. We scout talents and we invite them to more exclusive academic training weekends. We obviously have other events but those are smaller and more specific. That’s how we try to make our ideas true. 

TM: And the magazine?

ME: So, people can have a certain feeling about ideas but struggle to express them. They know the FvD is what they want, but the ideas are a struggle. Everything is so fast and changes all the time and your brain can get completely overloaded with information. To do something about that we started our magazine. It talks about all aspects of who we are. Our ideals, our actions, our history. You name it, we do it. It’s a very open platform which we allow people to pitch to. It’s our testament of who we are as a permanent record. Hopefully it will inspire people for a long time. It declines the chaos of every moment; we have no articles about quick news. Everything we talk about is timeless and we strive to keep it eternal.

IAB: We didn’t have this before and we don’t want to lose the ideas that we have. We believe in action. We should try to make these ideas physical and then do things about these ideas. Putting the ideas into a physical record helps this. What I see a lot on the internet are people who have ideas that are similar to ours. They really believe in the traditional idea but they are a bit stuffy and get upset about more modern things. They make things like magazines, but their covers are old school. They are trying to hold on to ash. 

TM: Like LARPing?

IAB: Yeah, just like LARPing. It’s not real. It needs to be more real. They like to pretend it’s the 1950’s.

ME: We went to Trafalgar square earlier and it felt a lot like being in a very very big museum. We were surrounded by all this beautiful art, but it felt like being in-between a museum and Pompeii. The volcano is erupting but the guard is still standing on duty. The monuments in Trafalgar square are still being cleaned but they are monuments to an idea, a people, and an empire that aren’t there anymore. That feels a lot like a museum. It was the main impression we got from Trafalgar Square.

TM: To focus more on the Netherlands in particular. How do you feel about the farmers’ strikes? What do you think is going to happen with that?

IAB: They have obviously been angry for a long time now and with the visits to ministers houses it’s getting more radical. I’m not really sure what will come out of it.

ME: I think the government has a trick up its sleeve, honestly. Obviously, I fully understand and support the farmers. The big problem that caused this is the nitrogen storage and emissions laws. It’s a rule that they only apply when they want to hurt someone. The land the farmers have is valuable and it’s worth only a tenth as much as a farm when compared to housing. There is a very strong economic impulse to build on it and move the farmers elsewhere. Our land is too valuable. The farmers obviously don’t want to leave but the government is trying to use these economic sanctions to get them to leave. I don’t know what tricks they have up their sleeves. This will escalate and the rules will become more stringent. So, they have our full support and I hope they manage to resist this.

TM: I’ve been reading the FvD’s views on the Netherlands’ future in Europe. What do you think the future will be like for Dutch people and the Dutch nation in Europe at the moment if nothing changes, and what would you like the future to be?

ME: I think at the moment we are on the way to becoming a big metropole. There is a plan called the ‘Three State City’ which seeks to unite most of the big cities in the Netherlands with some cities in the Ruhr in Germany and the port of Antwerp in north Belgium. It would be a massive 50 million population city. That’s why they want to hurt the farmers to take their land. 

IAB: I hope that our party will have a leading role in Europe to try and stop this. We have seen what has happened in Sweden and the trends in Italy and France. Maybe soon there will be a topple. Hopefully this will happen in the Netherlands, but our government has always been the leader of liberalism. I think this is the opposite of the Dutch soul. I hope that we can change this and become a leader in Europe in a more traditionalist way.

TM: So earlier you said that you think Brexit has been a failure. Does that imply that you want the Netherlands to stay in the European Union? 

ME: I totally oppose the so-called ‘European Union’. It is very anti-European. It is built to castrate Europe and to keep it small and weak. It blocks everything Europe is good at. They promote the idea that participation is worth more than winning. This keeps everyone down and from excelling. Our ideal is a country where the people on every scale from individual to collective can express their fate and the European Union crushed it. 

TM: It feels as though your opinion is that the wrong people carried out Brexit. Would you agree with that?


ME: Yes, definitely. After Brexit they built a structure around it that was done by the wrong people. 

IAB: This is why changing policy doesn’t change anything. Our countries are run by managers, they are not leaders. They are people who were bullied at school and now that they have the taste of power, they use it to bully successful people. They have no idea how to run a country and should be managing a Tesco instead.

ME: The civil servants are the ones who actually tell politicians what to do. The politicians come up with general policy ideas and then the civil servants are the ones who tell them what to do.

TM: There are generally two different schools of thought in the UK about influencing power. Either you infiltrate existing structures, or you set up parallel structures. Obviously, your party isn’t in power but you do sit parallel to it. Do you think there is any use in infiltration into institutions?

IAB: If there is a war, you don’t just use one tactic. You use land, air, and sea. You also use spies and infiltration. It’s a combined offensive. That is how I view politics. This is a sort of war and you have to fight it on all fronts. You have to infiltrate and also set up parallel societies and organisations. We are in the process of setting up schools and apps and other things. Our planned app for example allows people to do commerce and provides alternatives for maps and things. You can also use it to see what businesses are run by FvD supporters. They get discounts at these shops and things. You don’t have to go to a leftist’s or a communist’s pub or shop by accident anymore. You can support people who agree with you and who are like you and stop helping people who hate you.

TM: Yeah, that would probably be illegal in the UK. We have a few acts of parliament that would make that not even an option.

ME: Wouldn’t you say that that actually makes you sort of stateless? I mean, you can say you are fighting for a state which defends your ideals and who you are. Your current state doesn’t just not have a place for you, it actively opposes who you are. It stops you from expressing yourself. I would think that you are stateless and that you should orient your actions as a stateless person.

TM: In the UK we talk a lot about how a fair amount of our problems are caused by older people. They were the recipients of low house prices and a well-funded welfare state. Now that they are in a position of money and power, they have pulled the ladder up and made it harder for young people. We call it the ‘gerontocracy’. Do you agree with that? Do you have something similar?

IAB: That group was very mediocre throughout their lives too.

ME: Are they really that united against you though? It feels sort of like a false dichotomy. Think of a company like Blackrock which buys up huge amounts of land and property to turn it into rental property in Amsterdam and here too. The influence of one such company is vastly superior to one group of Baby Boomers who, to some extent, have taken actions to hold on to their wealth. I don’t think it’s necessarily the Boomers fault, they are a product of the world around them. They were posed different challenges than us. That’s life, I think.

IAB: Being a Boomer is of course an age thing but I think it can be a part of someone’s soul. People can have a Boomer mentality even if they are young. They believed that we are able to become anything we want. My parents said to me that I can just go to school and get a diploma and just do whatever I wanted. They gave us this box with all these things we could achieve and when we opened it, it was actually full of nothing. We had to work with that. Old people will complain about young people but that’s because they just don’t know what the reality is. I agree with Massimo though that a lot of these problems are actually caused by big companies like Blackrock.

ME: The greatest crime of the Boomer is raising a generation of spoiled kids. It’s the reason why people don’t understand that things are hard and that you have to struggle to get things. They didn’t have to fight in wars or do anything. Our greatest challenge is undoing this mindset and bringing struggle back to people’s lives.

TM: Yeah I think a lot of these older people, the Boomers, were raised in a more harsh or ‘Victorian’ way. They reacted to that by raising their children in a very hands-off and spoiled kind of way. 

ME: They get their kids spoiled and then they scream when they grow up and find out that life is not as easy as they thought. 

IAB: The weakest people are praised for it all the time. They are drained in the face, and they are rewarded for it. The few people who are actually struggling to carry everything and fight for things are seen as dangerous. 

ME: Life in the end turns out to be hard and it implodes a lot of people. This is a renunciation of real life and it never had to be like this.

TM: Especially in the short-term things are seemingly getting worse with the war and the strikes and the prices of things rocketing. As things get harder, do you think maybe people will embrace struggle?

ME: It can go one of two ways. People are either going to rely much more on the state for handouts and welfare to make their lives easier. If there is no support offered and people start having to struggle, that may awaken something in people that shifts them.IAB: The whole ‘Build Back Better’ thing implies that something has to be destroyed. Things like social credit may be actually destroyed by this. We may end up going down the communist path of trying to make the world malleable and changeable. Or you can accept life as it is and build back something that’s true. You can’t avoid struggle and I don’t think our current artificial way of life is sustainable. There will be a time maybe in 10, 100, or 200 years where it does collapse and we might not even realise until after it’s happened. We think we probably aren’t going to be the generation that goes through that and turns it all around, but we will be the first people to lay foundations and make way for it so that future generations can continue this project and we can return to who we are.


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Why We Won’t Publish the Word ‘Woke.’

As of today, the Mallard is no longer publishing articles that include the word ‘woke’, in either print or online. 

Too many submissions, not just to the Mallard, but other publications – have become reliant on this word to explain away current trends that people find unappealing, yet cannot articulate why beyond anything other than this word. It is the responsibility of all outlets to contribute to the public discourse, and when a word, concept, idea, or individual, fails to contribute to the discourse – they have to be removed.

When pundits of the right use ‘woke’, they are using a word spawned by the online Left to denote their being ‘awake’ to the ‘injustices’ of the world, which are usually spawned from an ideological conviction rather than an actual understanding of the complex issues of the world. It suggests these people – the ‘woke’ left – are awake to the things that we are not, as if they have some deep insight that surpasses the average person. It is simply the latest expression of ‘real consciousness’ derived from Marxism.

Of course, we all know that the word is used sarcastically – but to use it at all is to make the eternal mistake of the Right, and to fight the Left on their own terms. We have been making this mistake for seventy years, and to reverse this trend, we need to stop appealing to their language, their values, their goals. 

But even when the word is used derisively, it adds virtually nothing. Issues around pronouns and bathrooms pale in comparison to the economic, cultural, and demographic changes brought about by the respective trends of globalism, liberalism, and immigration. There is nothing substantively different in the current cultural trends than in the previous cultural trends. What is happening today should not be described with a new word, because what is happening today is not new. That is the reality of where we are now – ‘woke’ is not sufficiently different from what came before it to really merit a separate topic of discussion. It is just an extension of the logic of the sexual revolution, the Civil Rights era, and the great liberalisation of the last sixty years.

One of our assistant editors, William Yarwood, last year recorded a short podcast begging us to stop calling groups like Antifa ‘fascists’ or the Left ‘the real racists’, and recognise that they are just communists. Stop calling the Left ‘woke’ as shorthand for a broad range of things you just ‘don’t like’. 

It is useless to say ‘look, I agree with what they stand for, I just don’t like how they’re going about it’. Then your disagreement is technical, it is not fundamental, so really you’re just the ones putting the brakes on their movement. They will come for you eventually, so you might as well recognise that now. 

Calling something ‘woke’ is a lazy caricature that lets (what passes for) the right wing commentariat get away with murder; the liberals of yesteryear are allowed to displace conservative voices in media, politics,  and culture. They pretend, in their sarcastic overtones, that leftists are weak and hypersensitive, when in reality they want to put children on hormone blockers, let men into womens’ changing rooms, open our borders to people who hate us, and teach the next generation that they have nothing to gain from the civilisation that birthed them. 

These individuals are not weak. These people are not hypersensitive. Instead, they pass laws to put people in prison if they so much as joke about them. The notion these people are weak is a reflection of decades of failure of conservatives to actually do anything about them. If these individuals were weak, they would not find it so easy to break down the barriers that protect the most vulnerable in society: women and children.

These are not just simple activists, by the way. They are in our institutions, running our universities, pioneering our civil service, ‘decolonising’ our curricula, all the while entrenching their culture by building parallel careers that have no real world purpose or function. The massive, tumorous growth of the ‘human resources’ machine has seen to it that busy body unemployable humanities graduates have a reason to exist once more, only now it is self-perpetuating cancer that simultaneously cannot abide the existence of leftist heresy whilst relying on it like a parasite.

And as we see continuously, the online right is just as bad. If there are necessary discussions about poverty, living crises, genuine injustices that actually harm peoples’ lives, the right shrieks ‘woke!’ in such a hypersensitive way that the actual discussion disappears behind parody and caricature. TalkRadio’s infamous Mike Graham recently told an Extinction Rebellion member that we can ‘grow concrete’ in an effort to ‘own the lib’ – to which the XR member, who is stupid for different reasons, was left speechless. By consequence, Mike Graham made XR look reasonable – an own-goal, if ever there was one. 

When war broke out in Ukraine, it was necessary for the right to attempt to make sense of it. This was done well in some circles – with people drawing attention to the Realist school Regardless of your thoughts on the Realist school, it was undoubtedly an intellectual contribution to the discourse. If you looked at the mainstream discourse however, you would know nothing of this contribution. Instead, it became another flashpoint to discuss this word, those they associate with it, and how these people were ‘weak’, ‘hypersensitive’ and made it so we were incapable of fighting a war against Putin.

It couldn’t possibly be that nuclear war is a possibility, or even – as the neoconservative lobby implicitly recognises but refuses to admit – that we have nothing to gain from getting involved in the war. No, it must be the woke. We end up in some perverse eternal Spy vs Spy scenario, where ‘woke warriors’ seek out racism/sexism/whateverism in any place they can find it, while the ‘common sense rightists’  only try to define what they consider ‘woke’ to make it work, rather than criticise it on its own grounds.

So we are not publishing the word any longer. Here is a list of publications that are likely interested: The Sun; TalkRadio; The Critic; Compact; Breitbart; GB News. I am sure they will find your work fascinating. We won’t. 

Why We Won’t Publish the Word ‘Woke’

As of today, the Mallard is no longer publishing articles that include the word ‘woke’, in either print or online. 

Too many submissions, not just to the Mallard, but other publications – have become reliant on this word to explain away current trends that people find unappealing, yet cannot articulate why beyond anything other than this word. It is the responsibility of all outlets to contribute to the public discourse, and when a word, concept, idea, or individual, fails to contribute to the discourse – they have to be removed.

When pundits of the right use ‘woke’, they are using a word spawned by the online Left to denote their being ‘awake’ to the ‘injustices’ of the world, which are usually spawned from an ideological conviction rather than an actual understanding of the complex issues of the world. It suggests these people – the ‘woke’ left – are awake to the things that we are not, as if they have some deep insight that surpasses the average person. It is simply the latest expression of ‘real consciousness’ derived from Marxism.

Of course, we all know that the word is used sarcastically – but to use it at all is to make the eternal mistake of the Right, and to fight the Left on their own terms. We have been making this mistake for seventy years, and to reverse this trend, we need to stop appealing to their language, their values, their goals. 

But even when the word is used derisively, it adds virtually nothing. Issues around pronouns and bathrooms pale in comparison to the economic, cultural, and demographic changes brought about by the respective trends of globalism, liberalism, and immigration. There is nothing substantively different in the current cultural trends than in the previous cultural trends. What is happening today should not be described with a new word, because what is happening today is not new. That is the reality of where we are now – ‘woke’ is not sufficiently different from what came before it to really merit a separate topic of discussion. It is just an extension of the logic of the sexual revolution, the Civil Rights era, and the great liberalisation of the last sixty years.

One of our assistant editors, William Yarwood, last year recorded a short podcast begging us to stop calling groups like Antifa ‘fascists’ or the Left ‘the real racists’, and recognise that they are just communists. Stop calling the Left ‘woke’ as shorthand for a broad range of things you just ‘don’t like’. 

It is useless to say ‘look, I agree with what they stand for, I just don’t like how they’re going about it’. Then your disagreement is technical, it is not fundamental, so really you’re just the ones putting the brakes on their movement. They will come for you eventually, so you might as well recognise that now. 

Calling something ‘woke’ is a lazy caricature that lets (what passes for) the right wing commentariat get away with murder; the liberals of yesteryear are allowed to displace conservative voices in media, politics,  and culture. They pretend, in their sarcastic overtones, that leftists are weak and hypersensitive, when in reality they want to put children on hormone blockers, let men into womens’ changing rooms, open our borders to people who hate us, and teach the next generation that they have nothing to gain from the civilisation that birthed them. 

These individuals are not weak. These people are not hypersensitive. Instead, they pass laws to put people in prison if they so much as joke about them. The notion these people are weak is a reflection of decades of failure of conservatives to actually do anything about them. If these individuals were weak, they would not find it so easy to break down the barriers that protect the most vulnerable in society: women and children.

These are not just simple activists, by the way. They are in our institutions, running our universities, pioneering our civil service, ‘decolonising’ our curricula, all the while entrenching their culture by building parallel careers that have no real world purpose or function. The massive, tumorous growth of the ‘human resources’ machine has seen to it that busy body unemployable humanities graduates have a reason to exist once more, only now it is self-perpetuating cancer that simultaneously cannot abide the existence of leftist heresy whilst relying on it like a parasite.

And as we see continuously, the online right is just as bad. If there are necessary discussions about poverty, living crises, genuine injustices that actually harm peoples’ lives, the right shrieks ‘woke!’ in such a hypersensitive way that the actual discussion disappears behind parody and caricature. TalkRadio’s infamous Mike Graham recently told an Extinction Rebellion member that we can ‘grow concrete’ in an effort to ‘own the lib’ – to which the XR member, who is stupid for different reasons, was left speechless. By consequence, Mike Graham made XR look reasonable – an own-goal, if ever there was one. 

When war broke out in Ukraine, it was necessary for the right to attempt to make sense of it. This was done well in some circles – with people drawing attention to the Realist school Regardless of your thoughts on the Realist school, it was undoubtedly an intellectual contribution to the discourse. If you looked at the mainstream discourse however, you would know nothing of this contribution. Instead, it became another flashpoint to discuss this word, those they associate with it, and how these people were ‘weak’, ‘hypersensitive’ and made it so we were incapable of fighting a war against Putin.

It couldn’t possibly be that nuclear war is a possibility, or even – as the neoconservative lobby implicitly recognises but refuses to admit – that we have nothing to gain from getting involved in the war. No, it must be the woke. We end up in some perverse eternal Spy vs Spy scenario, where ‘woke warriors’ seek out racism/sexism/whateverism in any place they can find it, while the ‘common sense rightists’  only try to define what they consider ‘woke’ to make it work, rather than criticise it on its own grounds.

So we are not publishing the word any longer. Here is a list of publications that are likely interested: The Sun; TalkRadio; The Critic; Compact; Breitbart; GB News. I am sure they will find your work fascinating. We won’t. 


Photo Credit.

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