Wednesday 16 February 2022

Wishing War on Young People

I suppose Oliver Dowden's speech on woke was always going to embolden others on the right, and so it was with Jane Moore's Wednesday column in the soaraway currant bun. With the unhinged title, 'Ok kids, let's see how you deal with REAL problems - like a posting on Ukraine's front line', you can see why young people don't bother with newspapers any more. Having necked the windowlene of Dowden's speech, Moore has worked herself up into a frenzy directed against an entirely imagined caricature. With a touch of levity she no doubt thought comedy genius, she proposes a game show for the whingeing woke. Riffing off the popular but long-cancelled Wife Swap, perhaps we might imagine Strife Swap. Be still my splitting sides. She writes,
For episode one, a bunch of Gen Zs might be torn away from their war on free speech in our universities for a lesson in how so many young lads their age fought in the Second World War precisely so they could enjoy the freedom they have today.

Perhaps a posting to the Ukrainian border with Russia might help them to understand the fear of facing down a deadly force that might kill you?

Here’s a gun, kids. You have a choice — kill or get killed.
She then goes on to fantasise about young people getting tortured by the North Korean regime and the Beijing plod. All of this to make a very important point Dowden could only allude to: be grateful for what you have and shut up, because your opinions about "values" will drive the country into the ditch of dictatorship.

Where to begin with such a psychotic imagination? First of all, Moore is paid to write this trash. It'a always been part of The Sun's appeal that it draws on the prejudices of its readership, amplifies it, and repackages it back to them. As most of the paper's readers tend to be older she plays on generational resentment. Cut off from the everyday life of being young, their vicarious experience of 21st century youth culture is mediated by the nonsense in their paper, and representations of young people in other media. The actual life experiences of their children and grandchildren, despite knowing millions of them can't get on the housing ladder, barely make enough money to support themselves and their families, and deal with the epidemic of mental health problems comes second because what their parents read in the paper and see on their screens is more real and visceral to them than what their kids say. It's not that they don't love their children, but because living standards have appreciably risen over their life time the assumption is it can't be that bad because their kids have never had baths in wash tubs, not had to break the ice on the inside of their bedroom windows in the morning, and have mobile phones and flat screen TVs. Moore, as part of the generation that benefited from living through the post-war boom knows well the gap between where her generation started and where they ended up, and can play on the privations of her readers' early years to paint those that have come after them as spoiled brats.

It's a cynical exercise, but one that also plays to the authoritarian longings The Sun has done so much to inculcate. The idea of packing young people off to war is, like so many things, based on a rose-tinted view of the Second World War. Their parents of the wartime generation worked together in a common endeavour and knew their place, engendering a sense of everyone having done their bit. My grandparents fought at Anzio, served in the rear areas of El-Alamein, and worked in the WRAF, and millions of boomers can tell similar stories about what their parents did in the war. They didn't complain, but bore privations and got on with outfighting and outproducing the Nazis. A lot of the postwar generation are proud of what their parents did (indeed, some of their grandchildren are too) and therefore identify strongly with it - hence The Sun's regular use of WWII metaphors and comparisons. Despite their not knowing war nor conscription, many of them felt as though they did experience it through family war stories and the endless slew of war-related media product served up by our culture industries.

Unsurprisingly, the generations twice, three times, four times removed from the war know nothing of these privations. They have not been called upon, and so the virtues of service and sacrifice, discipline and duty are alien to the X'ers, Millennials, and Zoomers. Living in a safe stable society has made them complacent, lazy, and decadent, so they can afford to split hairs over gender pronouns and find dark blemishes on the character of the sainted Winston. As fans of the short sharp shock, Moore knows her audience would also lap up the fantasy of packing the woke off to war to teach them some home truths about how harsh life really is. And while they're at it, they'd acquire a sense of being part of something bigger than them. In other words, wokeness is dangerous because it is aimless. War gives them purpose and meaning, an appreciation of community, and a thankfulness for what they have. Death and lifelong injury, we don't need to think about those things.

Moore's piece is just another piece published day in, day out by The Sun that works to undermine senses of solidarity and collectivism their patriotic readers yearn for. Immigrants, travellers, single mums, they've all had their turns in the scapegoat spotlight. And young people have been there plenty of times too, most recently in relation to Covid. It's abhorrent behaviour intent on turning parents against their offspring, and perhaps Moore really hates her teenaged daughters too. For all the right wing preaching about the sanctity of the family, here we have one of its well remunerated ideologues driving a generational wedge between older people and their relationship with their children and grandchildren. All that is sacred in right wing thought is profane in right wing practice.

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Anonymous said...

Presumably some of this vile hogwash arises out of the British defeat in Afghanistan, but I think that the post is much too sympathetic to the author and the people involved in promoting this discourse.

This war talk is aimed at starting a war of choice with Russia, China and their allies, a war which would be extremely bloody and kill millions at best, but would almost certainly eventually go nuclear and depopulate the northern hemisphere if not the planet. Yes, no doubt its real aim is to whip up hatred of the young and the poor and foreigners and everybody else who doesn't read the Sun, but back in the day, ten years ago or so, it was possible for journalists to do this without risking the extermination of all human life.

Apparently not now.

Anonymous said...

" All that is sacred in right wing thought is profane in right wing practice" - that's a quote for the ages, and it should become a classic!

Dialectician1 said...

“Moore, as part of the generation that benefited from living through the post-war boom knows well the gap between where her generation started and where they ended up, and can play on the privations of her readers' early years to paint those that have come after them as spoiled brats.”

While there is some evidence of relative social mobility for a ‘golden generation’ - those born in the twenty or so years after WWII - as a consequence of improved access to education and the state playing a more commanding role in the redistribution of wealth - on the whole there was no significant change on the rungs of meritocratic ladder - those at the top of the ladder stayed at the top. In other words, the life chances of the upper classes improved proportionately and they used all their skilled methods of social closure to make sure the oiks didn’t gate-crash the party.

A lot of so-called Boomers made their paper wealth on the sale of council houses and the policy of successive governments to protect the interests of the property owning class. Many of them who did well are convinced they have some great entrepreneurial skills, yet all they did was cash-in on the ‘great swindle’ of selling-off, below market rates, publicly-owned assets. The majority of Boomers (and their children) however, did suffer from privations and their life chances remained thwarted. Moore’s comments are part of the continual and cynical promotion of a generational culture war. Despite attempts by the ‘Social Mobility Industry’ (see Selina Todd’s book ‘Snakes and Ladders’) to promote the theory that it is only ‘lack of aspiration’ that stops people getting to the top of the ladder, Britain remains as class divided as it was before WWII.

“A lot of the postwar generation are proud of what their parents did (indeed, some of their grandchildren are too) and therefore identify strongly with it - hence The Sun's regular use of WWII metaphors and comparisons.”

It might be worth looking at the Mass Observation Surveys during the Second World War. Many in the upper-middle and upper classes were viewed by the population as a whole to be selfish and unpatriotic. It is probably no surprise to know that they successfully managed to dodge their civic duties, ate in restaurants to get-round rationing and left the cities for their country houses when the bombing started. This is not to mention the war profits they made and the surge in crime rates in many British cities.

Most of the people I knew or spoke to who had served in the forces during WWII didn’t want, or refused, to talk about it. Some of my relatives remained shell-shocked throughout their lives by what they experienced. Many serving soldiers returned to homelessness. There was wide-scale squatting after the war because of the housing crisis. The current obsession with ‘English exceptionalism’ and the misplaced pride in the horrors of war certainly wasn’t my experience of those who actually fought in it.

McIntosh said...

Ms Moore could always volunteer herself for the Eastern Front. I belives the Ukraknian Government has openings for foreign volunteers and will train them - if she needs any training - in firing guns and throwing hand grenades.
What finer end for her than defending the West against the Woke hoards from the East.

Mike Cooke said...

Suspect she's not even seen the aftermath of war - demolished neighbourhoods with people emerging from their cellars to beg (my memory of Mostar), the uneasy feeling that the sound of children playing could be wiped out in an instant. If there were the slightest chance that bombs would drop on her or her property, I suspect she wouldn't be so keen to band the war-drum.

Blissex said...

«There was wide-scale squatting after the war because of the housing crisis.»

It is currently a jobs crisis, but still, how things have changed!

«After winning the 1951 election, Churchill summoned Harold Macmillan to Chartwell. Macmillan recorded in his diary what happened: "He asked me to “build the houses for the people.” What an assignment! I know nothing whatever about these matters, having spent 6 years now either on defence or foreign affairs. I had of course hoped to be Minister of Defence and said this frankly to Churchill. But he is determined to keep it in his own hands… Churchill says it is a gamble – make or mar my political career. But every humble home will bless my name, if I succeed. On the whole it seems impossible to refuse – but, oh dear, it is not my cup of tea… I really haven’t a clue how to set about the job"

The last Labour minister with responsibility for housing, Hugh Dalton, asserted in his diary for 29 October 1951 that his own performance could not be beaten by Macmillan: “He won’t be able to build any more, if as many as I. My last month (September) showed more than 17,000 completed.” But Macmillan had every incentive to exceed that rate, equivalent to the annual construction of 200,000 houses, which was the average that Labour had achieved in the period 1945-51. If he could demonstrate that the Tories were better than Labour at building houses, he would be in the running for the prime ministership.»

BCFG said...

Commentators like Moore (the media wing of the right)play a vital role for the right in enabling it to push its woke authoritarian agenda, she helps confuse the base by peddling anti Woke sentiment, and blaming it all on the loony left, ensuring peoples hatred is directed at the left and deflected from the right. This simply allows the political wing of the right to enact woke legislation and carry out their attacks on free speech, and civil liberties. This is standard right wing stuff.

Moore then generalises about the young being woke, another tactic. In reality most of them, as far as I can tell, have not swallowed the demented woke ideology. Woke is very much a niche activist operation, and by generalising it to include all young people, Moore a) gives it more credibility and acceptance than it deserves and b) plays into the divide and rule between young and old, which is classic right wing tactics.

What we can say about woke is that for something 95% of people could not care less about it achieves staggering levels of success. Woke is a very useful tool in the hands of the right, and the 'centre liberals', exemplified by Joe Biden (Ukraine war monger in chief) and the democrats (hysterical Russopbobes), and people like Philbc (centre right wokists).

"but would almost certainly eventually go nuclear and depopulate the northern hemisphere if not the planet."

So slightly speeding up what the West is doing anyway with its rampant out of control consumerism.

As mentioned above, the primary instigators of this demented propaganda around Ukraine are the so called centre left, who to my eyes are just Thatcherite right wing.

Maybe this is why Philbc is so confused over woke, he thinks Joe Biden and his war mongering loony cronies are on the left when in fact they are very much on the right.

Remember folks, as I said before, the word Putin is simply a command you give to your dog to make it obedient, the human version of Sit!

So, in your best authoritative voice say to your disobedient dog, Putin! Now give your dog a treat and pat it on the head.