Looking back from the vantage point of 2030, it is clear that 2016 was the year when things began to change. The counter-counterculture, some have dubbed it; but that’s wrong, suggesting a return to the past, and this has been a very contemporary social revolution. It was, nevertheless, one of those defining moments when history stopped giving the false impression of marching in a straight line, and veered in a new direction.

The previous year, the then Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Grand Marshal of the Social Justice Warriors, asked why he had appointed a 50/50 ‘gender equal’ cabinet (despite, as at present, only a quarter of Canadian MPs being female), responded ‘because it’s 2015’. Already, that was sounding as embarrassingly preposterous in its own way as asking whether one would want one’s wife or one’s servants to read Lady Chatterley’s Lover. When things begin to change, they change fast.

While the undercurrents of the change had been stirring for some time, turbulence broke the surface when Britons voted to leave the European Union (ultimately leading to its collapse a few years later). One of the immediate issues was uncontrolled immigration, and its effects on unskilled jobs and communities. That was, however, only a symptom of a deeper malaise, of widespread distrust of an elite, metropolitan establishment which could not see beyond the end of its politically correct nose.

And then the even bigger shock, when a puffed-up reality TV businessman became President of the United States of America. Trump was no ideologue: elected as a Republican, only five years before he had been a registered Democrat; no-one could accuse him of being a deep thinker. And yet he understood instinctively that the Democrats had abandoned the common people, having become obsessed with rarefied concepts of identity politics barely comprehensible to most of the electorate. All in all, while many of Trump’s promises to a dispossessed white working class inevitably went unfulfilled, at the same time the worst fears of his detractors were also unrealised, and he turned out to be a better president than many had anticipated, securing a second term in 2020. Above all, his bombastic rejection of political correctness, which had been a decisive factor in his election, proved to be utterly sincere: backed by a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, and buttressed by conservative appointees to the Supreme Court, the authoritarian edicts of cultural Marxism, which had hitherto been tightening their restrictive grip on freedom of speech and conscience, began to be rolled back.

Symptomatic of the shifting cultural paradigm was the release of a documentary film, The Red Pill, towards the end of the year by Cannes award-winning film-maker Cassie Jaye. Having previously made documentaries about sex education and same-sex marriage, Jaye was essentially a figure of the progressive left: when, therefore, she set out to explore the largely unexamined world of men’s rights activism, it was from the perspective of a convinced feminist. And then the unthinkable happened: Jaye grappled with her conscience, and began to change her mind. Taking the time and trouble to consider the arguments deeply revealed to her that many of the tenets of feminism had been misconceived. As soon as it became known that her film was not going to be yet another diatribe against the patriarchy, traditional sources of funding dried up, and Jaye had to appeal for funds via Kickstarter. Finish it she did, however, and the effect was electric: if this young, sassy, West Coast former feminist could admit she’d been wrong, was the whole edifice built on sand?

But the tipping point originated in Canada, one of the most politically correct countries on the planet, in the person of a little-known psychology professor from the University of Toronto. Of course, everyone has now heard of the brilliant Dr Jordan Peterson, star of the internet and one of the great minds of our age; but it’s easy now to forget just how courageous he was. When Peterson first took to cyberspace to speak out with remarkable depth and clarity against political correctness, the university environment could not have been more hostile. The presenting issue was the enforced use of made-up pronouns for those who had decided they identified as ‘gender non-binary’ and couldn’t tolerate being referred to as ‘he’ or ‘she’; the real issue was about the threat to freedom of speech from authoritarian dogma. The university administration sent warning letters. Peterson was sure he would lose his job, and would probably be prosecuted. Academic colleagues turned their backs.

At the same time, though, Peterson had amassed over 90,000 subscribers on YouTube—more than the University of Toronto had students, he boasted—and in total his videos garnered millions of views. Online comments were overwhelmingly laudatory, and both Peterson himself and the university were deluged with messages of support for his position. The university wanted to act against him—had to act, if both its policies and the Ontario Human Rights Code were to be upheld—but they knew they couldn’t; unless that is, they wanted thousands of angry protestors swarming the campus while donors withdrew their funding. They were paralysed. The first brick was removed from the wall.

Because of the internet, the progressive cultural establishment, so long dominating what used to be called the mainstream broadcast media, finally lost control of the narrative of public discourse. Online, anyone can say what he thinks—anonymously, if he’s nervous of the consequences—and people did: especially on YouTube, excoriating criticism of so-called ‘social justice’ ideology was in the ascendant. Peterson made sure he was in the right place at the right time. Sometimes, all it takes is one brave man to speak the truth.

So here we are now, as the third decade of the millennium draws to a close. The threat from radical Islam is still with us, and here in the UK the National Health Service is at breaking-point. The housing crisis is worse than ever, plunging many into poverty, and no-one seems to have an immediate solution: it is openly acknowledged now that this is but one of many catastrophic consequences of the epidemic of family breakdown, and that despoiling the countryside with more concrete would not be the best response to our apparent inability to live together.

Things are a very long way from perfect; but why should we expect anything else? The world is a complex place, and we can at least dare to hope that our society is beginning to trust in the wisdom of ages, and has perhaps grown out of the folly of utopianism.

Prudence Dailey is a Member of the General Synod of the Church of England, and an aspirant cultural counter-revolutionary.

(Image: Alex Guibord)

31 COMMENTS

  1. An intriguing vision of the future. There is a vast amount of damage that has been done by cultural Marxism. I hope we will at least have started to clean up their mess by then.

  2. Thanks for your article, I think we have to be optimistic.
    Canada truly is a basket case. I think they are more susceptible to politically correct dogma for several reasons, similar to Sweden.
    The have huge amounts of space with a comparatively low population. They have always been comparatively and continuously prosperous. They have always had roughly speaking socailly equal societies without a history of tremendous rich or tremendous poor. They have never had any significant social unrest historically. Both have generous welfare arrangements
    These five elements provide fertile ground for a liberal left, virtue signalling society. They have what i call a vast ‘do-gooder’ complex which is underpinned by astounding naivete.
    They have been ripe for seduction by by the worst extremes of cultural Marxism for decades.
    Unfortunately I cannot see either country making any sort of change in attitudes soon.
    Peterson is a hero, i wish him all the best.

    • Indeed so, and I would put the left at the forefront here – Canada is in their grasp and they need a Brexit/Trump moment. Perhaps Justin Castro will become as hated as Merkel for his immigration policies, and that moment will come.

      • Naturally the lefty lesbian who runs Toronto has spent all the money but Canadian voters still jected Harper and they elected Trudeau as PM. Was it anything to do with the surname I asked my busness giant friend. `Everything’ he replied.

    • Interesting comment – I agree. I am Canadian-born myself (although I do not hold citizenship), and I still have family and friends there. Over the summer, during a visit with some Canadian friends of ours, I was lectured to by my friend about Brexit (after I had voiced my support of it the day before), how the people of the UK had alienated the rest of the world for voting to leave the EU, and how the rest of the world would now start to retaliate. He then went on to state that if the US elected Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton, the world would also feel alienated by the US, and there would likewise be negative consequences for us. This friend of ours is an intelligent man and has done very well for himself both personally and professionally. I have long known that he has more liberal leanings, but his attitude that day struck me as being not only really crass and condescending, but also unimaginative and intellectually lazy. He falls into some sort of elitist sheepism, where he accepts the liberal dogma, but doesn’t think it through or bother to consider outside views. I don’t think it has ever occurred to him that he is supporting systems and candidates that suppress the freedoms and opportunities of ordinary people.

      • Good post, I think intellectually lazy is a great way of describing it. I have often pondered why obviously intelligent people are so closed to analyzing other options. I think it must be a certain personailty type. Its well know that most people move to the right as they grow older and the realities of life kick in. I have changed my opinions on some very big subjects during my life and never felt poorer for it. especially as things change. I very much support equality of opportunity for women for example, and until a few years ago would have been happy to be called a feminist (I am a man). But when I saw how the the 3rd wave had abused the true intentions of the sixties and moved to ‘equality of outcome’ I dissociated myself from the word feminism. I have always thought the ability to change your mind is a strength. Your friend must see it as a weakness.

        • I wouldn’t say it was ‘intellectually lazy’, it’s rather more like it is ‘intellectually totalitarian’. In many ways Nigel Farage is quite right that there is this huge body of people one might term ‘progressives’ who are genuinely condescending and dismissive towards those they secretly regard as inferior to them. He calls them the ‘Little People’ who are the ones who have had their noses rubbed in ‘diversity’, mass immigration etc, not so the ‘progressives’ as they swan from one Islington Salon to another. Quite a good rule is when someone like the Canadian spouts off against Brexit to let him have his rant and then demand the ‘case for the defence’.

          There is an old proverb: ‘You can never reason someone out of something they were never reasoned into in the first place’.

          • I get your point about laziness vs totalitarianism. In the case of my friend, I have honestly thought it was just laziness, since he has a demanding job and travels extensively. It’s probably just easier to toe the PC line – for many, they think this makes them sound smart and compassionate, plus I think they don’t expect the pushback that conservatives might get from expressing their views. It’s easier just to say your bit and then be done with it, rather than have to defend it. And I certainly don’t think my friend has any desire to exert direct power over other people.

            However, I have noticed that especially in the last few years, he has very little patience for and expresses disdain for anyone who is not as smart or accomplished as he is. Although I don’t think he wants to be the one pulling the strings controlling these “little people”, I think he might just think it would be best if they all shut up and went away, back to doing what their betters tell them to do. He neither wants to rule or be ruled, but he’s okay with others being told what to think and do.

        • Yes, I also think it is a good thing to be able to change your mind about something, in the face of evidence that is contrary to what you once believed. It shows that you are open to new information and can adapt accordingly. That’s why I don’t get upset when public figures do it, if it is apparent that they’ve had a real change of heart after being intimately involved with a certain issue. I’ve certainly changed my own mind about many things!

      • Very perceptive comment. You have successfully described the new (upper) middle class of British society, who have gone through state controlled education and come away believing that any intelligent person is a liberal/progressive and anyone who disagrees with the Times or BBC is uneducated, morally inferior and probably a racist homophobe. Most of them have never even read a book on politics outside of their school years.

        • I know the type – we have the exact same sort of people in the US. In the last half century, liberalism has engulfed the media, education, entertainment, etc. to the extent that young people might be excused from thinking that modern liberalism is just the way things are. Outside views, if presented at all, are made to sound extreme, coming from people who are mentally unstable. Critical thinking is not encouraged. Many, unfortunately, never grow out of this.

          Speaking from my own experience, my parents were not overtly political, but they are Democrats and they are fairly liberal. Growing up, I was exposed to their news sources and I heard them make disparaging comments about conservatives over the years. While in school I was apolitical, thinking that I didn’t have the time to educate myself on the candidates and the issues. But I always intended to participate by becoming a regular voter. I also knew that I needed to make up my own mind about how I would vote instead of just voting the way my parents did, but honestly it never occurred to me that I would not vote Democrat. But before I ever had a chance to vote D, my opinion of the party soured. It was the behavior of the left that pushed me away from them, but also opened my mind to conservatism. It sounds silly now, but I really was somewhat surprised that conservatives were not the evil and selfish people that the media made them out to be. But I was young.

          • Excellent.

            My son was the only senior staff member at a very large British university who, without any prompting from me, decided that he was basically politically conservative.

            On the morning after the general election he kept his head down so that his colleagues could not see his giggles.

            He reported to me with great enthusiasm that the general atmosphere was redolent of a mortuary.

  3. “Online, anyone can say what he thinks—anonymously, if he’s nervous of the consequences—and people did:”

    Whilst that is true, there are consequences in some countries – the United Kingdom, for example.

  4. Toronto being the world’s most boring and tedious city is a reputation well earned.

    I am here now and have visited this city 79 times.

    It is collectively self-righteous, sanctimonious and dreary. Its inhabitants are also collectively politically correct, complacent and innocent. My wife was born and bred here and can never get out of the city quickly enough.

    The inhabitants regard themselves as polite and deferential. They are neither for the most part.

    If you visit someone for dinner, they will almost without exception, insist on grace before the meal even though their general ethics and opinions are centred around intolerance and national arrogance.

    Beware of spending time with Ontario teachers. You will want to tear your own face off within minutes, for some light relief.

    I would much rather be in Zurich which is just as tedious but unlike Toronto, quite pretty in parts.

    If you want pit props or good beef. Canada is the place to go.

    Interestingly there is not one Michelin starred restaurant in the entire country.

    Be warned – only eat out at a steak restaurant.

    I have yet to encounter any signs of humour in Canada but I’m still looking.

    • My goodness, you must be an air miles millionaire!!
      Ive eaten steak in the USA and it all seems odd due to the tenderising agents they put in! It sounds like the Canadians like it natural like us Brits

      • Lot of ours is grain fed, if I understand most of yours is grass fed. Makes considerable difference, my own preference is grass fed and finished on grain, best of both, I think. Canadian? Ain’t got a clue, haven’t been there in decades, no reason to go, really, for all that I tend to like Canadians, at least the ones out on the prairies.

        • It was very unfair of me to imply tenderising agents. All American steak does though have the consistency of British fillet steak! Yes i like steak to be tender but I also like a bit of resistance in it.
          That said the USA does serve T-bones which is still very uncommon over here. A great cut.

  5. Goodness! And here was I thinking that everyone at the top end of the C of E was a Lefty! (And … she has NO beard!!).

  6. Wow, very upbeat article. It’s not at all what I’ve come to expect when visiting here. What ever happened to Leslie ‘the sky is falling’ Loftis (author of such fine articles as ‘If Trump is nominated, the Sixth Seal will be broken!’)?

  7. Interviewer: Dame Carol Black, you are Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge. The rest of us have been in the twenty-first century for sixteen years now. So why doesn’t your college allow male students?

    Dame Carol Black: Because although it’s 2016, in my head it’s still 1952. The world has moved on, but I am a dinosaur of gender politics, still feeding my undergraduates the same old dogma.

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