Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Labour Discover The Culture War

By 9 pm it's usually time to accept that whatever you're working on isn't going to get any better if you stay another hour, although driving home there's always something you realise you should have added ... get home and the blogging energy is low. So I'll be late in this morning ...

It was entertaining to see the mighty Smeato get a standing ovation at the Labour Party Conference, from an audience most of whom would rather see him as a violent Islamophobe who deliberately ignores Health and Safety procedures. This time last year they were deriding Cameron for wanting to reach out to the excluded hoodie community.

At Harry's Place there's a transcript of a fascinating Labour fringe address by Alan Johnson, of all people. Despite his clumsy concept of a 'framing war' (he means a culture war) and the sociological jargon, he's actually looking at the cultural side of things. Someone in the Labour Party has opened his eyes.

"What the Islamists have understood but we have not, is that the driving force behind every large-scale cultural and attitudinal change of the last 30 years has been a social movement. A social movement or network brings together intellectual-cum-educational activity, political organising, life-style pioneering, artistic work and cultural production, social entrepreneurship. All these activities are means to wage and win the ‘framing war’.

We see this when we study the rise of ecological awareness or the rise of a new feminist consciousness. For that matter, we see it when we look at the rise of Islamist extremism. In each case there was a sustained process of political and cultural and intellectual activism - ‘cognitive praxis’ we call it in the academic jargon, ‘organising’ we call it in the labour movement. In each case there was a social movement. "


So far so good. He disses what he calls the "Academic-Media Complex", the Chomskys and Mad Dog Milnes, in fine style. Then he asks the question that I don't like the answer to.

"Times have changed. Stalin once famously asked ‘And how many divisions does the Pope have?’ Today, the new totalitarians, the Islamists, ask ‘And how many activists do the democrats have? And it's a good question. Where are our websites, blogs, DVDs, bookshops, magazines, training programmes, and organised retreats? Where are our networks of community centres that reach out to youth? Where is our global network of moderation able to match their global network of extremism? And where is our zeal? It feels sometimes - to steal a quip from Mark Twain – that the Islamists have run half way round the world and we are still tying our shoelaces."

There's an activist network of sorts - the Eustonites and bloggers to the right of them. But you wouldn't call that a social movement. I don't see Norm Geras and Brownie fronting up the white-water rafting expeditions. The fact is there's not much there. We saw in the cartoon dispute that the brave and transgressive arty types, the Stewart Lee's, were just as uncomfortable about being stabbed or decapitated as anyone else. People aren't prepared to die for "moderation" - which appears to be what Brit culture in 2007 boils down to.

Ah well. At least he's identified the problem. But as I've said before, the solutions will be the entertaining bit.

"Too late, mate. The solutions will be the entertaining bit. Having knocked down Britishness over 40 years, they're arrogant enough to believe they can rebuild it with a few citizenship lessons, a rebuild of the history curriculum and some media pressure. They'll find destruction is much easier than construction."

12 comments:

Recusant said...

Well isn't that what Antonio Gramsci proposed? The 'Long March through the institutions'?

Despise his politics, as I do, one can't help but be aware that to win you don't have to blow things or people up you just need to take over the culture. And it worked, the received wisdom today is what the liberal elite says it is, whether they be in the media, academia or the art world.

Anonymous said...

"the received wisdom today is what the liberal elite says it is, whether they be in the media, academia or the art world."

...until received wisdom clashes violently with real wisdom. Bullshit, as they say, can get you to the top - but it can't keep you there. I think we will discover that over the next 5-10 years.

Islam, militant feminism, the radical left, the favourites of the Guardianista community have only one thing in common. They want to destroy what is already here to replace it with their own version of Utopia. They don't care right now that their vision of Utopia would be a Dystopian vision for their bedfellows. The secret to conquering them is to continually divide them by drawing out their differences.

Ross F said...

"a fascinating Labour fringe address by Alan Johnson, of all people"

I don't think it's the cabinet minister Alan Johnson, but another one who is behind many of the various left wing groups like the Euston Manifesto and Unite Against Terror.

JohnM said...

Despite his clumsy concept of a 'framing war' (he means a culture war)

I agree he is clumsy. Framing is generally understood to mean choosing the language to constrain any debate. Thus Labour is the "caring" party and conservatives "uncaring". Conservatives who choose to fight on this turf will always lose.

The problem for Johnson is that he doesn't begin to explain how to re-frame the discussion. Sure, he identifies the kind of network that is needed but not the content. Thus the Islamists frame the discussion in terms of "civility" versus a global assault on Muslims either by violence in the middle east or by islamophobia in the west. And more to the point the liberal left echo that framing. At no point does Johnson give any clue as to an alternate that is likely to engage the wider left. Thus, even if the kind of network he proposes gets off the ground, it will continue to spout the usual sub-Chomsky nonsense, which inevitably reinforces the Islamists.

Dave said...

They do have ideas how to 'reframe':
British history 'needs rewrite'


I guess he doesn't mean lost threads like this .

Anonymous said...

A bit off topic ... over the past few months I have read and really enjoyed your blog.

Another blog i have come across of similar high quality and which covers similar themes but from an American perspective is:
Vanishing American

Definitely worth checking out, as because it is not in your links i wasn't sure if you have come across it.

Gabriel Oak said...

Dave

I see the agenda driven Phillips is also touting the notion that Offa might have been a Muslim, as part of the rewrite - which apparently already has some currency in an attempt for them to have a legitimacy they simply do not.

http://www.cre.gov.uk/Default.aspx.LocID-0hgnew03s.RefLocID-0hg00900c002.Lang-EN.htm

The nonsense about the Armada is just pathetic.

Gabriel Oak said...

"He added the country would face “stormy times” if history was not rewritten to be more “inclusive”."

Phillips quoted in the Daily Express

So unless our history is fabricated by a Zanu Nulab Ministry of Truth we will be for it.

Pay Danegeld, or else.

In the Daily Mail today it was reported that a 10 year old lad had apparently told a Slovenian woman to go home, she enriched him by battering him with a metal pipe leaving him in a pool of blood. Kent police say they won't tolerate race-hate crimes and have made an arrest, presumably the lad.

The Min of Truth will have to uncover the rich historical wenb that has connected us to Slovenia since the last Ice Age.

Anonymous said...

This is a bit like the claims that ancient Egypt was a black enterprise. Despite there being no evidence a position has been staked out and once established can be defended by PC and cowardly liberals.

If it werent for the pesky business of actual historical records we would hear all sorts of claims about QE1, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin et al being black, muslim & gay too.

Hence these ridiculous claims are usually set in a conveniently murky past.

Anonymous said...

"If it werent for the pesky business of actual historical records we would hear all sorts of claims about QE1, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin et al being black, muslim & gay too."

Well the gay card is always a favourite of the liberal left. Any explorer or adventurer that spent more time in the company of men MUST have been gay, right? Sod the lack of evidence. These claims were always at their most strident when the Stasi and the KGB had their agents working in the UK. I guess the plan was to discredit our illustrious real history because by destroying our emotional attachment to our past we can be pushed more readily to their Utopian vision of socialist revolution (you know, the vision that is everyone else's nightmare). Most recently the story of Britain's glorious rejection of slavery has been trashed by the hard-left (who find a willing audience amongst the immigrant population). The BBC were only too happy to bow to the line touted by the hard-left, demonstrating an interest in Socialist Worker rather than the Guardian.

We should, of course, call a spade a spade. They are Communists and KGB lackeys and should be described as such at every opportunity. This is playing the game as they have invented it.

And with Russsian dissidents being murdered by radiation under our very noses, who would argue that the KGB are not now back to their old games - with the head of the KGB now head of Russia, and with a completely free hand.

IanCroydon said...

The basic problem is the liberal left are too embarrassed by their Christian roots and terrified that any opposition to Islamism will be portrayed as a "crusade" in the classic sense of the word.

The truth is, that is exactly what is needed. Modern Liberal ideology rose out of enlightened Christian thought, there should be no shame in that.

The BBC are quite happy to plaster the schism forming in the Anglican church over gay priests, but this overshadows Ahmadinejad's mind-numbing claim that that Iran doesn't have a gay "problem" (wink wink).

The liberal left obsession with bashing Christianity must stop, a Liberal in this growing war between Christians and Muslims needs to realise that if the latter wins, he'll be without a head as much as anyone else, no matter which side he supports.

This Socialist fantasy strategy of destroying capitalism via collaboration with Islamism is slowly becoming realised as a even longer suicide note.

Susan said...

The liberal left obsession with bashing Christianity must stop, a Liberal in this growing war between Christians and Muslims needs to realise that if the latter wins, he'll be without a head as much as anyone else, no matter which side he supports.

You can't just say, liberals must stop bashing Christianity. You have to MAKE them stop -- by using the same tactics they use -- ridicule, satire, ostracism, etc. We need our own media, our own books and movies, our own networks of influence. Begging liberals for a little piece of the pie that they have built -- or rather hijacked -- isn't going to work. We need OUR own.