Aren’t Right Wing People Just A Bunch Of Racists?

There was a particularly interesting documentary on Radio 4 this week (link below) about why so few ethnic minority voters are happy to vote Tory called ‘Operation Black Vote’. According to this program, in the last general election the Conservatives received a smaller portion of the ethnic minority vote than Donald Trump did during the 2016 presidential election.

There were some similarly alarming facts all the way through the program:

  • Once an area becomes more then 30% non-white. It becomes essentially impossible for the Tories to win that seat.
  • 70%-80% of the non-white vote goes to the Labour party
  • Being perceived as ‘anti-immigrant’ has a massive knock on effect on the amount of young voters a party attracts.

Although the program was focused on the Conservative party, and I do not support the Conservatives. Being the insufferable optimist that I am,I thought that there were some positive things to take away from this insightful documentary.

We are often left to believe (by those on the left and right) that a pro individual freedom and pro capitalist message simply does not wash with ethnic minorities. One of the things that this short doc made clear is that this simply is not true.

Almost by definition immigrants and the children of immigrants are often eager to improve their lot in life. For many of the interviewees, the Conservative message mattered very little. What mattered more was the perception of the Conservative party. The legacy of Enoch Powell, ‘the cricket test’ and opposition to migration all contribute to make the Tory brand toxic for many minority voters.

But more importantly the idea that certain ‘kinds’ of people are just not receptive to free market ideas is one that I think should be challenged.

Spoof ‘Grievance Studies’ Papers Get Published

A bunch of left-wing academics in the United States wrote mock articles and sent them to ‘respected’ journals that specialize in Gender Studies, Fat Studies, Race Theory etc.

Some of the fake papers include: A section of Mein Kampf rewritten in the language of intersecionality, an article explaining why nobody should be allowed to make fun of radical feminists and a paper arguing that white students should not be allowed to speak in lectures.

There is a short YouTube video below detailing what happened and I have put a link to the original article below.

The results are both hilarious and deeply worrying.


The Grievance Studies Scandal: Five Academics Respond

The Battle for Civilization

In 1969 the art historian Kenneth Clark presented TV audiences with his vision of Civilisation. In scope and ambition this documentary that explored the story of mankind from it’s prehistoric origins to the present day, was revolutionary.

As a total documentary junkie myself the idea that the BBC was remaking Civilisation made me jump with glee. Yes, I really am that boring…

The modern remake Civilisations is a nine-part series that involves three historians: Simon Schama, Mary Beard and David Olusoga. Like the original it is a massively ambitious project, beginning with our prehistoric ancestors and finishing in the modern era.  Yet, just as Kenneth Clark’s version did Civilisations has caused controversy.

The BBC’s Will Gompertz bashed the series for not being ambitious enough. He lays into the series for not presenting viewers with a new polemic. This is true, there is little in this series to appease the modern progressive crowd. Even the episodes presented by David Olusoga, an unabashedly left-wing academic does not follow the standard Europe= bad spiel that we have become so used to hearing.

Moreover, The Guardian’s Mark Lawson criticises Civilisations for its lack of diversity. Of the nine episodes, five are presented by Schama (a white man of all things) leaving only two each for Beard and Olusoga.  Well, I suppose you can’t please everyone.

There has also been criticism from the other end. The Spectator’s Ed West lamented that Civilisations was far too relativist for his liking. Claiming that it is a silly façade for us to pretend that the Olmecs were on a cultural Parr with the ancient Greeks.

There are some issues with Civilisations to be sure. Sadly, this is not the historical equivalent of Blue PlanetThe lack of a grand overarching narrative or unified approach makes the series feel discombobulated and pieced together rather than a unified project. It also must be said that Schama, Beard and Olusega all have copious amounts of progressive left-leaning credentials. It is doubtful the BBC would have commissioned the remake of this famous TV series starring Niall Ferguson. Lastly, many have derided Civilisations for not being daring enough. There is some logic in this, apart from the gorgeous camera work it is certainly not a revolution in programming.

It is often said that we live in a time of decay where our best years are behind us. Apparently, we are abandoning our principles and forging ever forward into the abyss of cultural nihilism. Yet watching Civilisations reminds us that while the supposed ‘great man’ narrative of history, so familiar to Kenneth Clark has suffered a vicious assault. Not everything is up for debate.

It is indeed impossible to tell a coherent story about civilisation without paying homage to The Greeks, Christianity and the ruptures of the Industrial Revolution. In an age characterised by identity politics, it is nice to be reminded of that important enlightenment maxim- that we do have a shared humanity.

It should also be mentioned that Civilisations is visually stunning. The whole series feels like one part documentary,  one part travel programme. At times, like when Schama visits the Mexican jungle I felt like saying “the BBC is just showing off now”.

In the opening scenes of Civilisations Schama in all his bombast states that we instantly know what civilisation is when faced with its opposite; barbarism in all its terrible forms. Implying that barbarism does in fact exist. The whole series stands opposed to the cultural relativism that we have become so used to and this is something to be celebrated.

Historical Repentance

One of the most difficult issues for any history student is the problem of context. Should we judge historical actors according to our own values, or do we need to take the views of the time into account?

There are problems with both choices. If we decide who is a ‘good’ person in accordance with twenty-first-century values- then the vast majority of people who have ever existed should be considered monsters. This clearly won’t do; accepting that most people in history are evil as a starting position is a mistake.

Whereas approaching the past with an uncritical eye, willing to forgive all historical misdeeds because ‘it was normal at the time.’ Does not represent a better alternative.

History is complex. The countless people that have passed away since humans started writing were individuals. They possessed hopes, dreams and desires. They are not cosmic dust, helpless victims of circumstance for us to pour scorn on. How we judge them is something we must consider. We must think about it carefully.

Writing in The Guardian this week the columnist Afua Hirsch wrote an article about feminism. At the end of her article, Hirsch made a remark about Emeline Pankhurst:

“We are all quoting Emmeline Pankhurst. Mention the fact that Pankhurst was a staunch imperialist, blind to the colonial exploitation of African women, however, and you stray outside acceptable feminism. Such feminism is still seen as threatening – and it may well take another 100 years to change that.”

For this Guardianista, the comment was probably a throwaway line. Yet it encapsulates everything that is wrong with the modern social justice movement. It reminds me less of a ‘political project’ and more of a modern iconoclasm. A spasm of anger aimed at destroying all historical symbols of racism and sexism.

It turns out that Hirsh also called for the toppling of Nelson’s column last year. What the social justice movement doesn’t understand is that iconoclasms have tended to be temporary, and extremely violent.