Europe’s Super-Woke ‘Moralocracy’: Time to Take Euro Culture War Seriously
A globalist world, for the few who aspire to grow wealthy in it, is understood to be a veritable cornucopia of uncountable material satisfactions
At the end of last month, the EU collapsed into emotional melt-down. It occurred when Charles Michel, Council President, decided to move up a summit debate on LGBTQI and EU values — in a reaction to a letter of concern drafted by 17 Council members. Dutch PM, Rutte, used the moment ‘to go nuclear’ (as he had earlier promised), saying in advance of the summit that: “My goal is to bring Hungary to its knees on this issue.” And, at the summit itself, Rutte threatened that Hungary “must repeal” its (allegedly) “anti-gay law”, and respect fundamental human rights, “which are not negotiable — or they must leave [the Union]”.
Rutte acknowledged that “I can’t push them out”. He argued however, that Orbán’s (alleged) ‘anti-gay’ law “seriously contradicts the values that Europe stands for”, and insisted that they were not up for debate. Should the EU not act now, it would stop being a union of values and would become a mere trade bloc, Rutte insisted. The debate then descended into the highly personal and emotional:
“We have known each other for eight years, but this touches me,” Xavier Bettel told Orbán inside the summit room. Luxembourg’s prime minister is married to a man, and was a co-initiator of the 17-state protest letter. “I did not become gay. I am. It is not a choice … My mother hates me for it. This [the draft Hungarian law] is very bad. This is stigmatizing”, he said, according to officials. “I respect you, but this is a red line. It is about basic rights, the right to be different”.
Well, there it is: the culture war, and its accompaniment – the war on ‘Populism’ flows, in full spate, as the floodgates open. As in America, it will have profound consequences, and give rise to sharp internal tensions.
The start to this ‘war’ reaches back to the 1990s, when Hungary and Poland “led eastern Europe in economic shock therapy, pushing market reforms beyond what their western advisers demanded. But in cultural terms, the Polish and Hungarian Right chose a more conservative course”. In particular, rather than open his nation’s border to offset population decline, Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian Prime Minister, looked to the nuclear family as the key route to spur national growth. Since 2010, which marked the start of Orbán’s role as prime minister, the number of marriages among Hungarians has increased by 89.5%; and the fertility rate is rising.
Both these states nonetheless, continue to see themselves as deeply European, even as they have steered further away from the EU valorisation of cosmopolitanism as its primordial cultural end, to be brought about through open borders, and the consequent voluntary mixing of large numbers of diverse peoples.
Orbán is far from alone in his traditionalist stand. In Rome, as one example, the Vatican has taken the unusual step of making a diplomatic démarche to the Italian government concerning a draft bill. The law, known as the Zan bill (after gay activist lawmaker Alessandro Zan), was approved last year by Italy’s lower house and has since been fiercely debated in the Senate. The bill would explicitly categorize violence against LGBTQI people as a hate crime, making it akin to a racial or an antisemitic attack, whilst prescribing harsh penalties for any infringement. The leader of the League (Party), Salvini, said it would punish those “who think a mom is a mom; and a dad is a dad”. Many ordinary Italians would agree.
Even liberal-élite parents though, are anxious – witness the Vatican démarche – as they see their imagined, liberal Community of Meritocracy metamorphose into some kind of a super-woke ‘Moralocracy’. And it might only be a matter of time until academic testing is abolished in the name of combatting racism. “So how the heck are you supposed to get your kid into Oxford, if she’s white? And paying a woke surgeon (or maybe insurance will cover?) to cut her breasts off when she turns sixteen – is the new ‘cool’”. Abigail Shrier writes about this in her new book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. It is driving many parents close to breakdown.
And, as in America, parents don’t care for their children being taught Critical Race Theory, either. The latter stems from a school of thought amongst post-Russian Revolution Marxist intellectuals who were disturbed by the fact that communist revolution didn’t sweep Europe, just as Marx had predicted. This revisionist ‘Race Theory’ updated ‘Marx’ to being a struggle between ‘who has power in society, and who doesn’t’, instead of a class struggle.
Both Marxist variants however, rely on the disruptive dualism of the oppressor versus the oppressed, that is intended to set layers of society into conflict one with another. And this is what it is doing: With a younger generation severed and at odds with their parents, whom they are being taught to see as congenital racists.
Well, last week the EU declared war on such parental anxieties. It hung its hat on the ‘Race Theory’ and LGBTQI peg.
- J. Hopkins, whom Matt Taibbi once described as a post-Soviet version of a самиздат writer (i.e. one who is so insightful that, sooner or later, both the writer and his readers are bound to be led to prison! – intended by Taibbi as a high compliment, incidentally), has sought to convey what it is that is ‘going on’ here.
Yves Smith, writing from the esteemed economic blog Naked Capitalism, expands on Hopkins’ prophecy. She writes:
As I begin explaining the work of Hopkins to my (remaining) well-educated liberal friends and neighbours [in NY], it startles me again, and again, that they are serenely oblivious to what to me is so balefully obvious: the rise of censorship in the USA — censorship by liberals! …“Look”, [Hopkins wrote in 2017, the first year of Trump’s Presidency] “I know what you’re probably thinking. But it isn’t that liberals don’t actually care about fundamental liberal values, such as freedom of the press and speech – and all that. It’s just that they desperately need the Democrats to take back the House and the Senate next year, so they can get on with impeaching Trump …“The point of all this propaganda [especially concerning Russian hacking] is to delegitimize Donald Trump,” “and to prophylactically reassert the neoliberal ruling classes’ monopoly on power, ‘reality,’ and ‘truth.’
In practice, the ‘Russia stole the election for Trump narrative’ was a stone cast at two different ‘birds’: One was Trump; but the other was aimed in the direction of Putin. Why? Well, in oligarchic capitalism, the latter’s huge wealth is both the anvil and hammer, on which western narratives of political ‘reality’ are forged. They ‘beat out’ each successive ‘reality’. Not so in Russia and China. The power of political leaders there trumps the oligarchic machinations (they go to goal). It was not always so. Cosmopolitan oligarchs came within a hair’s breadth of literally stealing Russia under Yeltsin; but then Putin entered the frame – to spoil it all. The oligarchs are still extremely cross.
Hopkins’s main theme however, is the War on Populism (the topic which so absorbed the Euro-élites at their Council summit). He asks: So how, and why, has unchecked global capitalism resulted in this War on Populism? “The problem is [he responds] … well, the problem … is people”.
Hopkins writes, in The Last Days of the Trumpian Reich: “Not rich and powerful people like themselves [are the problem], or the people they need to continue working, consuming, and servicing the interest on their loans, but … you know, all those other people. Uneducated, un-woke, working-class people. Gun-toting, fanatically religious people. Racist, conspiracy-theorizing people. Deplorable people. Populist people”.
“People they don’t need anymore. These people have been a problem recently. Not only are they a drag on the system, they have been actively interfering with it, voting for Brexit, electing Donald Trump, refusing to abandon their traditional values and outmoded ideas (e.g. national sovereignty, freedom of speech, and mammalian biology) and to get on board with global capitalist ideology – and have been otherwise a real pain in the ass.”
Yves Smith again:
“The [above] paragraph both illuminates, and is illuminated by, the work of Thomas Frank, who has so brilliantly shown — above all in his masterpiece, Listen: Liberal — just how, since the election of our first Neoliberal president in 1992 (which was, significantly, the year after the collapse of the USSR), the Democrats reinvented themselves as the party of the Liberal, Creative, Professional Managerial Class: The party of the credentialed meritocracy, the party, above all, of the winners. So, yes, as a matter of course, the Democrats have been taught to be openly hostile to working-class “deplorables”, as Hillary Clinton officially named them, to see them as “being a real pain in the ass,” as Hopkins writes.
“And the deplorables really are a drag on the global capitalist system. (Most of them want free health care, for Pete’s sake!) A lot of them voted for the socialist Bernie Sanders, and, far, far worse, even more of them voted for the “white-supremacist white-nationalist fascist dictator Nazi-Hitler” (as Glenn Greenwald said!), i.e. Trump. They really are – bottom line here – losers with a big ‘L’.
“The liberals, the bien pensants (as Thomas Frank has called them) — the ‘winners’, that is — who read The New York Times and The Washington Post and listen to NPR and watch MSNBC and CNN, who went to good colleges and got all kinds of professional credentials, are certainly well-informed enough to know that the future is all about global capitalism. And they know that, if they play by the rules, global capitalism has a place for them. Furthermore, they know (or could easily figure it out), that global capitalism does not have a place for life’s losers. But that’s just tough shit, isn’t it?”
So when the Re-set – the ‘New Normal’ – was unveiled at Davos, millions of people were already living a reality in which facts no longer mattered at all, where things that never happened officially – happened. And other things that obviously happened never happened: not officially, that is – they were “far-right extremist” conspiracy theories, “fake news,” or “disinformation,” or whatever – despite the fact that people knew that they weren’t.
How then would Davos propose to slide humanity into this ‘new normal’? Well, perchance Davos man wants to go in the opposite direction to epistemological purity? That is, it seeks to generate a lot of contradictory realities, not just contradictory ideologies, but actual mutually-exclusive realities, which could not possibly simultaneously exist … which would still freak people out pretty badly. This could become the mental ‘blank page’ on which the deliberately fluid realities of cosmopolitanist gender, and self-defining identities, might be written.
The oligarchic Elect now seek to ‘unvalue’ all remaining national values, untether national cohesion – for its logical objective is not to author a new ideology (it doesn’t need that). But, rather, to impose a single global, mercantilist order through first, the monetisation of every possible ‘thing’, and then its ‘capitalisation’ into fresh financial ‘assets’.
Of course, even the Re-set needs its ‘narrative’. But the point here on narrative – any Establishment narrative (one example from the BBC’s “Reality Check” section) – is to draw a Maginot line, a defensive ideological boundary, between ‘the truth’ as defined by the ruling classes, and with that of any other ‘truth’, that contradicts their narrative.
The credentialled ‘managerial classes’ (such as run Brussels), know that their success is in large part made possible by their enthusiasm for official narratives. And their collective hope is that correct ‘narrative’ provides them with an enduring safe space. On one side of the Maginot Line then, is ‘normal’ society, gainful employment, and with career advancement and all the other considerable benefits of cooperating with the ruling classes. Beyond the Maginot Line is poverty, anxiety, social and professional stigmatization, and various other forms of suffering and discrimination.
“Which side of the wall do you want to be on? Every day, in countless ways, each of us are asked, and have to answer this question. Conform, and there’s a place for you inside. Refuse, and … well, good luck out there.”
So what will global oligarchy’s ‘Conquest of Absolutely Everything’ look like? A world of atomized consumers, stripped of their rights and of any allegiances to family, or clan, or nation, or religion, or even to meaningful cultural appreciation.
Nevertheless, a globalist world, for the few who aspire to grow immensely wealthy in it, is still understood to be a veritable cornucopia of uncountable material satisfactions. A magic carpet they would be loath to abandon. Yet, anxieties are rising, even amongst the billionaires. The world is tacking in new uncertain directions. To throw in one’s lot now with the ‘masters of the universe’ may ultimately prove to have been but a fleeting chimaera.
For ‘the many’, on the other hand, the tech and robotic Re-set, proclaimed by the Davos crowd, will be a place of glorified slavery, lived in deserts of social isolation. To the extent that some amongst ‘the many’ have seen what a tech Re-set has in store for them, they don’t like it. It smacks of totalitarianism, of tech-feudalism – and they have started to oppose it. They are then … ‘populists’. Which is to say, they become a huge problem for their masters. No wonder, the EU Council summit was so heated and distraught.