Veteran conservative commentator Mark Steyn put his finger on the lack of pulse. “You can’t have a culture war if one side refuses to turn up…” , referring to the US Republicans’ general lack of spine when it comes to the culture wars.
He’s right, and it’s not just the US Republicans. We can whinge and moan all we like about cultural Marxism’s dominance but we let it happen. The march through the institutions occurred without most of us doing anything more substantive than writing an op-ed, or maybe a book, or two.
If we don’t change strategy now, it will soon be too late. To do that we need to study the methods of our adversaries, and even borrow some of their weapons.
So far in the culture wars we haven’t tended to kill people. We just marginalise, or “cancel” them, and cause them or their businesses financial harm.
There is an organisation called Sleeping Giants Oz, the local franchise of a US parent. It bills itself as “A community initiative to make racism, bigotry, misogyny and climate change denial less profitable”.
With 36.8K Twitter followers it’s not that big, but it’s been quite successful at, for instance, terrifying commercial organisations into taking advertising away from The Australian, Sky, and 2GB, amongst others.
What they do is a form of blackmail, and blackmail depends on two parties – the blackmailer, and a victim who pays the blackmailer off.
We enjoy a large range of freedoms, but freedoms degenerate into tyranny without a strong rules-based system. We surrender some liberty, so as to ensure liberty. This is the social contract.
Sleeping Giants and their ilk destroy this social contract, or what the woke might call “social licence to operate”. They are the enemies of society and civilisation. The companies that allow themselves to be coerced become their allies and are also therefore outlaws to civil society.
Sleeping Giants are fascists using brownshirt tactics, and today’s supine corporate behaviour offers a glimpse of how fascism takes hold.
Now we could wait for government to legislate to assert the rules-based system, but we’d be waiting a long time with the current precarious state of the parliament, and the wokeness of many MPs, even in the coalition.
So we are unfortunately placed in a position of uncivil war where we need to provide our own, extra-statutory protection.
Fortunately, if this war is to be fought through profit and loss, then the advantage really lies with “us”.
So who are “we”? Without being exhaustive we cross political boundaries and believe in the intrinsic worth of all human beings, and the pre-eminence of the individual, and “they” dwell on the left and believe in the pre-eminence of group identity.
“We” believe in enlightenment values, like universal truths, “they” don’t.
And “we” also tend to be over fifty years of age, while “they” are still saving for a house, which means when it comes to financial muscle, we’re heavy weights and they are barely fly weights.
So here are some ideas for the culture wars.
The first is spending power and we need an app. Let’s call it “Go Bwoke”.
When Gillette ran their woefully woke “toxic masculinity “ advertising campaign they suffered an immediate backlash.
On the other side, when Cancel Culture came calling for Colonial Brewing, and the word got out, their sales apparently went through the roof. It’s not a bad drop.
So the counter-revolution to SGO et al has already begun, but it’s haphazard and disorganised.
Cancel culture metastasises so quickly – how do you keep an inventory in your head of organisations to support or avoid? An app of course.
You’d need a combination of geo-location and brand information. Using Google maps the app could tell me I’d walked into Coles, they had pressured The Australian over conservative columnists, and where the nearest Woollies or Aldi is. I could then exact justice by redirecting my spending.
Or if I’m looking at buying a new pair of running shoes it could remind me that Nike’s brand ambassador is Colin Kapernick, and that Asics dropped Israel Folau for quoting from the New Testament. There are plenty of other brands of running shoes, some even better, so no harm, and much good done, by changing my buying preference.
The ap might even let the company know every time it loses a sale, just to ensure it attributes its revenue decline accurately.
Of course an app like this would need a register of commercial saints and sinners. This could be crowd-sourced, or alternatively advertisements could pay a professional to do it.
Then there is investment power.
The app might also provide advice on what superannuation funds and managers to avoid on the basis of their social activism.
We could also agitate at the AGMs of the public companies we own. The activists have been doing this for years, as have certain funds managers.
Unlike them we could agitate for wholesome values, like hiring on merit, irrespective of race, gender and age. We could urge them to keep on producing legitimate products like fossil fuels as long as the law allows and leave it to the government to determine Australia’s environmental priorities.
We could also demand they be ideologically neutral, except on commercial issues, such as taxation, or sovereign risk, and guarantee an internal environment of viewpoint diversity.
The app could keep us up-to-date on all of this, and also coordinate us at AGMs
Then there is spare time. Many of us have so much time that we have become part-time carers of our grandchildren. This is where we secure the future and atone for the mistakes we made in raising their parents.
Children are indoctrinated in a myriad of ways: through the school curriculum, and also through the reading list. Whereas we were brought up on the hero or heroes valiantly defending the right, the present generation are just as likely to be reared on fart jokes.
There are good writers out there and you can flood the bookcases of your progeny with them. You can also ask difficult questions like “You know, up in Greenland the ice is retreating and they’re finding Viking settlements that have been buried for hundreds of years. How hot do you think it was back then?”
A good app could provide a list of suitable books, and even order them for you, plus a list of unsettling questions on climate change, sustainability, gender, race and so on.
Steyn is right. We need to turn up. The tolerant, open-minded, resilient society we grew-up in wasn’t the result of earnest conversation, but the product of an amnesty after centuries of conflict involving not just social, but physical harm.
The terms of the amnesty were that I was free to say what I wanted, as long as you were too. Not really a celebration of my right to speak, but a grudging recognition of yours.
But you won’t renew the amnesty without a war.
Let the battle begin.