@thetimes: Melanie Phillips diagnoses the current malady of ‘Militant Unions’, as the result of ‘a weaker society’.

Queer Atheist confronts an ‘Old World Thinker’.

Headline: Militant unions thrive in a weaker society

Sub-headline: Extremism is increasing as economic and political objectives merge with the culture wars


Let me begin with these paragraphs steeped in political paranoia:

Teachers, civil servants, nurses, transport workers and others have been mounting months of strike action, variously causing disruption, misery and harm to the public.

Ostensibly, this is being driven by pay restraint, cutbacks and inflation causing distressing rises in the cost of living. However, while this may be the motivation for some strikers, it’s not the only reason. More radical agendas are at work. For starters, there is an explicit aim to bring down the whole political order. Last October, Frances O’Grady, then the general secretary of the TUC, told its annual conference: “The Tories are now toxic. It’s time for change.” In February, a leaked memo revealed that members of the RMT union, who have been mounting rolling transport strikes, told their leader, Mick Lynch, to do more to speed up “the suppression of the capitalist system by a socialistic order of society”. This kind of trade union militancy was last seen in the Seventies and Eighties. So why has it resurfaced now?

Like Mrs. Thatcher, Melanie Phillips: ‘who has championed traditional values in the culture war for more than three decades.’ are political/moral conservatives always in search for the destructive political non-conformists, in sum The Left, her diagnosis of the problem is shopworn paranoia!

The short answer is that the unions are taking advantage of a cultural and political vacuum that has been deepening for years. There has been a profound loss of trust in the entire constitutional order. To many people, if not most, politicians of all parties appear rudderless and unprincipled. The bonds of nation, inherited culture and normative values that once held everyone together have been shattered. Now, warring tribes snipe at each other from either side of a political chasm.

She paraphrases Professor Matthew Goodwin’s book Values, Voice and Virtue.

In his new book Values, Voice and Virtue, Professor Matthew Goodwin argues persuasively that politics is being driven by a “new elite” composed of the professional, educated middle classes who wield immense economic, cultural and political power. Committed to universal laws and institutions, they no longer believe elections matter much any more. The rest of the public has been left effectively disenfranchised. More than half the population now think no party represents their priorities and values. As Goodwin observes, “populist” revolts took place against this new elite through the Brexit vote and the election of Boris Johnson as prime minister. However, there has been another outcome: the draining of authority from parliament to groups wielding cultural, social or economic power over others.

How very convenient that Mr. Goodwin’s book Values, Voice and Virtue was reviewed in the TLS of March 31, 2023 :

Melanie Phillips, with the bit between her teeth, proceeds at full gallop …

This has led to the emergence of a ruthless militant agenda among trade unions and other groups that have seized their chance. While the Labour Party has freed itself from its capture by the hard left under Jeremy Corbyn, militancy and power have flowed from mainstream politics into the trade unions and other groups, fuelling the rise of street politics, which many now believe has greater legitimacy than representative democracy. The anti-capitalist Occupy movement, Black Lives Matter and the eco-warriors have all promoted mass-based political action from below. Last October, protesters took to the streets in more than 50 towns and cities in simultaneous protests co-ordinated among multiple groups and trade unions, including Just Stop Oil, Extinction Rebellion and the Revolutionary Communist Group, to maximise their impact.

There is a still more profound agenda driving this turmoil. Economic and political objectives are merging with the culture wars. This is all too visible in the civil service. Formerly crucial in keeping the show on the road regardless of the manifold inadequacies of elected politicians, civil servants are fast becoming synonymous with incompetence, ideological brainwashing and politicised obstruction. Last year ministers accused Whitehall of having “a political agenda to erase women and the concept of biological sex” with its deployment of non-specific language.

The final paragraph of this hysterical screed is predictable. I’ve highlighted one of the sentences warning of ‘ destroying the normative values of society’ and other expressions of doom and gloom– the world is changing, in frightening dramatic leaps, and Melanie Phillips is in a panic, about that Old World’s waning imperatives: political, moral, and sexual have reached, if not it’s terminus, or one of its many dénouements?

Piling the preposterous on the reprehensible, the National Education Union has said that drag queens and LGBT+ authors should be invited into schools to make them more inclusive. This would help to challenge the “heteronormative culture and curriculum that dominates education”. So this has nothing to do with inclusion and everything to do with destroying the normative values of society. Democratic governance is based upon mutual respect, shared goals and civil liberties. Under the sanctimonious pretence of inclusion and empowerment, this is being replaced by coercion, threats and bullying as political, cultural and moral boundaries are smashed. It’s Britain’s post-democracy moment.

Queer Atheist

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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