If ever an image suggested the whiff of a fightback by “club sensible” against the undergraduate thugs currently on a literal and a metaphorical march, it was this one. The Police of NSW decided not to take a knee but to show some respect for us all.
Amid this growing madness of crowds, let loose on the cities and towns of Australia, Minnesota and the world as the rest of us cower under the non-inconsiderable weight of the Covid police, there appeared to be a rare voice of resolve, and sense. Could the State be showing some spine, at last?
Gestures are important. Statues are as important as statutes. Statues’ lives matter.
Whether it is James Cook or Christopher Columbus, the great man of Genoa. Men who explored the world and created new opportunities for Western endeavour, with all its warts and benefits. Imperialism is like making omelettes, but what is done is done. The gestures demanded don’t stop at statues. They include renaming things, and generally blotting out those bits of our history now deemed by the mob in charge of our culture to be morally embarrassing.
Yes, gestures are important. As is showing the enemies of the West that there is another side, that we understand there is a war going on, and that some of us are prepared to fight.
The danger of good gestures is that they might encourage us all to go back to sleep on the job. This was a mere battle. There is still a war.
Every two bit right-of-centre commentator knows and has said something about the “long march through the institutions”. This is the strategy of the loose collection of cultural Marxists, post-modernists, identitarian ideologues and assorted low brow troublemakers for the overthrow of Western traditions, values and heroes. The idea for this long march issued from what used to be called Eurocommunists, led by the Italians Antonio Gramcsi and Theodor Adorno and later polished by the Frankfurt School of European ex-pats, who found intellectual solace in the US of A during and after World War Two. That would be the one won by Churchill, he of the latest statue removal and defacement brigade.
The theory of these creative Marxists was that since the working class had let them down by accepting wage rises and middle class values, they had better find a new revolutionary vanguard. In doing so, they both overturned Karl Marx – who thought that the economic base of society was where the revolutionary action lay – and Western culture.
No one can possible doubt their success, though there will always be those who shout “conspiracy theory” when they are under intellectual pressure from opponents.
The recruited what have come to be known and loved as the “victims class”. These would be blacks – sorry, people of colour – women, homosexuals and, most recently, transgendered types. All this is documented in books like that of Douglas Murray, The Madness of Crowds. They also recruited students, always a useful group since they can only partially be said to have minds. Students are especially useful now that about half the population attends university and they are not especially required to do work to attain their degrees. The academics, those tedious second hand dealers in ideas, they already had on side. As they did too with public broadcasters. They now own pretty much all of the lamestream media. The gazillions of inculturated students moved into government and private sector bureaucracies upon graduation.
Bingo! The long march proved to be surprisingly short, as marches go.
Someone once said that he (apologies for the sexist language, but that is how I write, and since I am the editor as well, you gets what you gets) who controls the past controls the future and he who controls the present controls the past. Or words to that effect. Actually it was George Orwell who said it, and he knew a little about these things. The term “narrative” wasn’t used in George’s day, but were he alive now he would understand implicitly how this term has come to cover a whole raft of levers of control. Those other pithy phrases that have come into the English language from Orwell, like “newspeak” and “thought control” resonate with us simply because we realise the Gramcsian strategy has worked like a dream.
Yes, we do now truly live in the age of 1984. We even now have the State’s social controls – witness the Covid lockdown – to go with the ruling ideology of wokeness.
What neither Orwell nor the Eurocommunists could have foreseen was the key role that capitalist corporations would play in delivering victory. Management gurus who invented the modern corporation and its most egregious manifestation, the human resources department, back in the 1960s, simply handed the neo-marxists in the universities and the bureaucracies the perfect weapon to transform society when they created their own insurrections across the globe in 1968, and then beyond.
And it matters not a jot which political party is in power to the advancement of the long march. It occurs irrespective of democratic government, for now we are rules by a deep state of experts, all suitably trained in our universities in the woke ways of the post-modernists. The march ever progresses.
I spoke of the “narrative”. This is a favourite term of the new class. As is “discourse” and “the right side of history”. For the new class believes in inevitable progress, in the perfectibility of man, and in revolutionary, that is, extra-parliamentary, action to achieve it. They think that past peoples were all morally inferior to us, at best morally ignorant, and worst, morally repulsive – with “morality defined, of course, according to the secular values of 2020.
Narratives, images and symbols are critical, and controlling the past equally so. This brings us back to statues. These are symbols of history, of achievement, of courage, and of all the old, now debunked virtues. They are symbols of “the West”. To the guerrillas, this means the ugly West, and of all those previous, morally inferior generations who didn’t have our generation’s special gifts of moral insight and compassion. They were imperialists, slave traders, patriarchal dictators, rapists and racists, all. Their reputations must be trashed. This has already be achieved, by and large, in the education systems of our fair land. The statues are merely mopping up operations.
I am not the first to talk of these things, and I will not be the last.
But all the talk in the world will make not a jot of difference to the trajectory or speed of the long march. For two reasons. First, the other side actually means business. We don’t. And second, they have already captured the commanding heights. The strategic battlements. They know this. That is why they smugly disobey the “law”. (Mind you, all power to the demonstrators for at least, even if accidentally, showing up the farce of the Covid fascism).
Which leads inevitably to the question – what is to be done? Other than writing articles like this in which (largely) people who share a love of freedoms and traditions generally talk to each other about how rotten the world has become.
The political masters of those outstanding NSW police simply cannot be trusted to even know they are in a culture war. Half their number – yes, the NSW Liberal Party – actually believe in the progressive narrative. They think their own colleagues – factional enemies – are xenophobes and racists. State governments actually do control some of the key levers of cultural power. They control school curricula, for example. They can tell local government – another bastion of dripping wet wokeness – what to do. They run the nation’s police forces.
But until we ditch leftists installed by Liberal powerbrokers who have vested interests, both ideological and commercial, in leftism – see under Michael Photios and renewable energy – we will not get anywhere near the levers of real power – the universities and the bureaucracies. Even if we ditch them, another set of wet Liberals or Union-owned Labor apparatchiks will surely take their place.
Then there is our national Government, utterly captured by the woke brigade. They all but buried any celebration of Captain Cook’s 250th. An outrageous secession of the high ground and an abject failure in cultural power politics. They do not seem up for it, despite the noble and persistent rear guard activities of the likes of Andrew Hastie, still ignored by Canberra’s powerbrokers as being worthy of ministerial advancement.
No, a far more nuanced strategy is required. Sadly, I see little evidence that powerful minds with vigour and direction are on this case. There are very few of them in politics. They are either off making money, or are cowed into silence and submission within their corporate structures. That is the very essence and the beauty of corporatism – its facility for control and for silencing dissent. And on top of all that, they have social media which can be used at the drop of a hat to enforce compliance to social norms.
I also have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of the middle ground simply falls for the line that some of these old codgers like Captain Cook were probably a bit racist, or imperialist, or whatever their (real or thought) crimes were, and that we should all “move on”. If a few statues come down, so what? No one now much knows who they were anyway, in the absence of anything remotely approaching a decent history education for the current generation. This helps too, by the way.
Back in the 80s, it was enough that the progressives could chant – “hi ho, hi ho, Western Civ has got to go”. Western Civ – the informed study of our culture and of the best that has been thought and written, to quote Matthew Arnold – did go, notwithstanding the efforts of bastions like Campion College and the Ramsay Centre. Now they have come for the statues, those immensely important outward signs of history, tradition and virtue. Toppling them over is immensely powerful in terms of messaging. Remember the Berlin Wall in 1989? The statue of Saddam Hussein in 2003?
The NSW police, whether off their own bat or with instructions from above, have reminded us all that there is a war to be won. And that, as the left surely understands, symbols are important. Even if, all the while, they were wearing silly masks, an action which itself reminds us of the power of political correctness and virtue signalling. And even if the police were mainly there to enforce Covid fascism, a sobering thought indeed.
An accidental, and a minor victory, perhaps. But still a victory, and a reminder that there is much work to be done. It is important, too, to remind the revolutionaries that they don’t always win. And that anarchy will be fought.
Who, though, will march for Captain Cook? Actually march.
A show of force from the silent majority might have considerable moral force. The beginnings of the creation of counter-narratives, not only in the columns and blog posts, but with boots on the ground, would suggest that it is “game on”. Where is the line in the sand? That is what needs to be decided by those who value freedom and our national traditions. And having defined a line in the sand, and identified who should do what in the deployment to battle, then strategy and tactics might be refined, and action deployed. The current state of inertia and in-fighting among those who profess to care for our traditions is dispiriting, to say the least.
The American classical scholar and warrior for common sense Victor Davis Hanson has opined:
History is also not kind to statue smashers. The Romans defaced the statues (“damned the memory”) of unpopular emperors (albeit safely when dead) up to whom they had once toadied. Cadres of frenzied French revolutionaries sought to wipe out all Catholic iconography, clergy, churches and monasteries, and are now condemned by history for their destruction. Joseph Stalin eliminated all pictures and even printed references to renegade Communist rival Leon Trotsky.
The ultimate logic of today’s statue smashers is a similar effort to war against the past, and erase all the complexities, all the tragic lessons of history, and to replace it was some easy Manichean morality play. Where exactly will it stop?
Yes, a sense of history is the first requirement of those who are minded to fight back. We need to arm ourselves with arguments and with moral vigour, then go into battle, with a sense of right and a determination to win this war. There is more at stake here than a few monuments in Hyde Park.
We also have more important battles to fight than arcane battles over the past. The past was a mess indeed – a bit like the much morally preferred present. VDH again:
In the most leisured, free, and affluent society in history, it is also hard to find present victim status. By default, mining the past for grievances must do. We war against mute stones, an easier fight, given that we have no idea of how to address the greater catastrophes of the present.
Yes, but these are the grounds on which the revolutionaries have chosen to do battle. We the people must either switch the battles, or accept the battlegrounds that we are presented with, and fight those.
So let us march for Cook. Statues’ lives matter. With apologies to Martin Niemoller, first they came for the explorers …