Titania McGrath, Meet George Orwell

This is quite good: Titania McGrath and the Politics of Wokeness: An Interview with Andrew Doyle. In case you do not know, this is who Titania McGrath is:

In April 2018, Oxford-educated comedian and journalist Andrew Doyle created a satirical Twitter persona, an “activist,” “healer,” and “radical intersectionalist poet” who self-identifies as “selfless and brave.” Titania, an imaginary amalgam of all the worst excesses in the modern social justice movement, fancies herself a voice for minorities of all kinds (whether they know they agree with her or not). What she lacks in self-awareness, she makes up for in conviction.

And this is Andrew Doyle, what he did and how he thinks:

Doyle is among a growing number of classical liberals who have simply had enough…. Comedy and culture have been so strangled by political correctness that he is “at that point where I feel that it would be morally wrong to be silent” about the crisis of free public discourse in the West.”

Doyle decided to create a fake character on Twitter—a satirical character who would mock the worst excesses of the social justice movement. So, to that end, “I thought one of her characteristics should be a devotion to fourth-wave intersectional feminism. In which case it made sense that she was female and white—because a lot of what passes for social justice activism is actually rich white people telling poor black people what they should be thinking. It’s a kind of soft racism, I think: a very patronizing view of minorities. So I thought she should come from privilege. And so she’s very rich, she comes from an independently wealthy family, but she’s determined to express how oppressed and persecuted she is at every opportunity, and also to attempt to censor anyone who disagrees with her on any point whatsoever.

This is the kind of entitlement and narcissism that you see among social justice activists—it’s why they’re not prepared to debate. They can’t conceive that anyone who sees the world differently is anything other than evil, and they think the world has to change around them to suit their particular preferences.

And the only part of this that is actually remarkable is that Doyle believes he has stumbled upon something that was until then unknown. In actual fact, it is near enough what most of us think about people on the left. This is how he characterised himself (emphasis added):

In the question of where I stand on the political spectrum, I think there is an objective method of assessment which I can do nothing about: I think if you were to write down all of my political views on various things I would come out more left-wing than right. Certainly in terms of economic principles I’m more to the left, in terms of welfare, in terms of nationalism: I understand nationalist sympathies but I don’t feel them personally. That’s more an instinctive thing, but that definitely pushes me more to the Left as well.

He seems to think the welfare state was not almost entirely the product of the right in politics. He is trapped in that absurd belief that the politics of the right are the ethics of Ebeneezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve, just before he went to bed.

Timothy Cootes: Titania McGrath, the Wokest of the Woke

Quite vague on nationalism but, given his value system, there is little doubt he could ethically function only in a nation state that has been built on the principles found solely within the West. He then adds this:

I’d say I’m quite culturally conservative, however. I believe in high standards of education, because I think that adult autonomy depends on effective socialization in youth. So you need to have a rigorous school system, and children need to have an awareness of the classics and be taught the classics. I think art history, for instance, should be embedded at a primary-school level: not “let’s see what you can create with these paints”; I think you need to learn the classics. That’s a more traditionally right-wing viewpoint. I also believe in politeness, and decorum, and high standards and that kind of thing, which I think might be more associated with the Right.

That’s exactly why people such as myself enjoy what he writes, because he looks at things the same way we do. George Orwell, for example, his essays especially, are read almost entirely by people such as myself.

You know, someone like George Orwell was a cultural conservative. His essay “The Lion and the Unicorn” is a robust defense of cultural conservatism, but at the same time he’s very much on the Left. He’s actually a sort of canonized figure of the Left, so there is room for cultural conservatism within traditionally leftist thought. I don’t think one excludes the other.

Orwell was on the left in the same way as Doyle, because his beliefs happened to coincide in their views with the people from whom he thinks himself distinct, such as here:

I think the Left and Right should agree on the basic liberal principles of free expression, free discourse, and free thought. But also we need a shared social contract of how we address each other and how we tackle these issues. It doesn’t work if one side of the debate is just screaming and covering their ears. Nothing can be achieved that way.

Absolutely right again. He has just covered the views of John Stuart Mill. But who does he think are doing the screaming and covering their ears? Which side of politics is that? Who is he describing here?

I think one of the first things you have to do is be discerning about who you talk to. You know, let’s have the debate with those who are willing and capable of debate, and let’s all agree that those who are incapable of debate should be ignored, because they won’t have anything to add. And then we raise the bar of political discourse. But we have major mainstream politicians saying these ridiculously woke things, and saying these incredibly intolerant things, and calling people Fascists and Nazis and things like that. When that’s happening, it’s like debating a child. It’s not going to achieve anything. So we basically just need adults back in the game. We need the adults to take control.

That is how I think of Antifa and the Left in general, and he even uses the term “woke”. As I see it, he is describing the modern American Left down to its bootstraps. If that is his intention, then he and I are on the same side of the fence absolutely and without question. Whether he likes it or not, he is a man of the right, as these things are structured in the Year of the Lord 2020.

Steve Kates, an economist, is the author of What’s Wrong with Keynesian Economic Theory? (Edward Elgar 2016).

  • aftermath

    I recommend spending $15 for his/her Kindle e-book. “Woke: A Guide to Social Justice”
    by Titania McGrath. Delightfully OTT.

  • Ian MacDougall

    Ah yes, very good.
    But remember that the conservatives of today are not those of yesterday, and never can be. Yesterday’s were all for empire building, colonial wars, black slavery and the rest of it. Who among today’s conservatives still thinks that both America and all of Ireland should be ruled by the King and Parliament of England? And yet, and not so long ago, conservatives believed in and campaigned for just that.
    What the conservatives of today are about conserving is the world and social hierarchy they have grown up with and live in; which is the creation of yesterday’s radicals and revolutionaries: like say, George Washington and the slave-owner and profound thinker Thomas Jefferson.
    Time marches on, and always brings change; whether we like it or not.

  • DG

    Let’s not get too anachronistic, Ian. The conservatives of yesterday are those of previous centuries, and, as we know, the past is another country where things are done differently. We read back into it today’s concepts, assumptions, presumptions, and cultural arrangements at our peril. Let’s not also forget that ‘black’ slavery was strongly opposed for a considerable time within the countries where it was practiced, the practice of which was abetted by inter-tribal warfare in Africa (the victors selling the vanquished), and facilitated in some areas by Muslim operators. Indeed, Mohammed himself had black slaves.
    Noting that the West is uniquely self-critical, the conservatives of today, I agree are about preserving things that are good: free-flowing ideas argued and reasoned is at the base of it. The importance of the individual as the locus of liberty (and not the tribal fakery of Critical Theory…itself a risible intellectual con), and that there are some things that are better than other things.

  • pgang

    There is a naivety in Doyle’s political outlook in regard to the philosophical and epistemological differences between progressives and conservatives. Progressives are very much on the side of totalitarianism or idealism. Conservatives tend towards personal liberty or rationalism, and as a sub-class there are orthodox Christian Trinitarians who recognise that rationalism and idealism are interdependent within God.
    Therefore the progressive and conservative can very rarely meet in the middle to find common ground or shared ‘values’, unless they are persuaded to suspend their core beliefs. This is of course a necessity for all atheistic worldviews, otherwise we’d simply cease to function.
    I have to admit that I find Orwell’s writing to be very tedious.

  • Ian MacDougall

    pgang: I agree regarding Orwell’s fiction. But his non-fiction is IMHO brilliant. Read ‘Homage to Catalonia.’ Also Christopher Hitchens, the Orwell of our day, “Why Orwell Matters.’
    “Progressives are very much on the side of totalitarianism or idealism. Conservatives tend towards personal liberty or rationalism…. ”
    They were not in the 1930s: Spain was the big division line, and the conservatives of the day were against the democratically elected government of the Republic, and were on the side of Franco and his fascists. And Vietnam was the Spain of the 1960s. Over that conflict, the conservatives were against Vietnamese democracy, and for a revolving door of military dictatorships: something they would probably not tolerate in their own country, but were happy to foist on others.
    The modern Left came out of the Vietnam War, and over the subsequent questions of the Falklands War and the Iraq war, chose to support despots against Britain, and then America. Bad call. It was on that issue that I moved from the Left to the Centre, supporting Thatcher on the Falklands and the US on Iraq. I was pleased to note that Christopher Hitchens, the Orwell of our time, did the same, making the useful distinction between the Pro-totalitarian Left, and the Anti-totalitarian Left; which latter is where I remain today.
    NB: Military dictatorships are feudalism in modern dress. Support one of them, and you are essentially a feudalist, straight out of some ancien regime.

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