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2023: There’s worse to come


Today two TCW writers take contrasting looks into the future. This is the pessimistic one. Elsewhere on these pages is an optimistic view by Ewen Stewart.

IF YOU are a cultural conservative, 2022 was a truly miserable year. I wouldn’t mind so much if it were an aberration, a year one could, with a degree of optimism, discount as an annus horribilis. Alas, it wasn’t. It was much more significant, a warning of things to come.

Notwithstanding some minor victories for common sense, the deranged left-wing iconoclasts continued to make gains in the ongoing culture war. Universities cancelled speakers, decolonised their curricula, crushed academic dissent and attached trigger warnings to classic literature. Just last week Warwick University warned its sensitive young charges of Ivanhoe’s ‘offensive depictions of people of colour and of persecuted ethnic minorities, as well as misogyny’.

Schools accused white children of racism and black children of perpetual victimhood, too. According to a report by Eric Kaufman, 59 per cent of 18-20-year-olds were exposed to CRT-derived terms at school, leading to illiberal and anti-British views among the recipients. Schools also encouraged children to change gender, in some cases without parental consent.

Curators of museums denounced their collections as having malevolent links to slavery and colonialism. Some, like those of Tate Britain, even withdrew some of their collections – in the case of Rex Whistler’s mural, accusing it of being ‘white supremacist’, even though its depiction of black child slaves in Eden is nothing of the sort. It’s an attempt to show that cruelty still exists in paradise. Context doesn’t matter, though; it’s offensive to some so must be censored.

The BBC assaulted the country’s history as well as its present. According to a group of leading academics who analysed six different historical documentaries, the BBC omitted facts and disseminated inaccuracies in an effort to rewrite history and promote woke, anti-British views. Furthermore, the Campaign for Common Sense found that the corporation’s drama output was equally skewed, promoting an anti-capitalist, anti-Brexit and anti-Tory narrative. 

This damaging trend is irrefutable. Yes, the excellent Free Speech Union had some successes, notably winning Hatun Tash £10,000 for being wrongly arrested at Speakers’ Corner for evangelical street preaching. The closure of the sinister Tavistock Clinic that encouraged children to take puberty blockers was also a rare success for the forces of common sense. However, such victories, although eminently welcome, are few and far between. The zeitgeist is against us. Our cultural institutions – the BBC, our universities, schools and museums, the gatekeepers of a nation’s cultural health –represent the four pillars of woke. They are strong. Once more, with a cowardly and introspective government, they are set to get stronger. 

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Joe Baron
Joe Baron
Joe Baron (pseudonym) is a history teacher from London.

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