For too long tradition and common sense have been marginalised by an illiberal elite, whose supposedly progressive ideology has degenerated into a collective mental malady. This treatise describes the virulent spread of 'woke' groupthink as Moralitis - a cultural virus.
The symptoms of this disease include "corrupted rationalism, infantile reasoning, inflexibility of thought and expression, language constraint, cultural self-loathing and a reflexive intolerance of conflicting beliefs (ideallergy)."
"Culture evolves through a process of variation, competition and inheritance, but is transmitted through learning (nurture) rather than by genes (nature)." Richard Dawkings introduced the term meme to refer to a unit of cultural transmission (e.g. ideas, fashion). This is equivalent to a gene and follows the same rule of natural selection." Today, the meaning of meme has been expanded to include "an image, video, or set of text that becomes popular and spread rapidly via the internet." The introduction of the internet in the 1990s has created a larger learning environment in which norms are changing at a rapid rate. In the past, enculturation mostly involved just friends, parents and teachers but cyberspace has changed the number and diversity of influencers or in other words 'cultural parents'. Memes are like germs in the metaphorical sense since they are spread by social interaction. For this reason, a meme that is spreading rapidly is called 'viral'.
An example of a meme is 'cultural appropriation' which has its origins in decades old Californian academic literature but only proliferated in the present, more receptive environment. This refers to what the left sees as "the inappropriate use of minority cultural expression by members of the dominant majority." Now, there are restrictions on what one can wear to a fancy dress party, restrictions on the African 'corn row' hairstyle in white school children and frowning upon whites practicing yoga.
Causes of Moralitis
1) The Environment
Although humans are autonomous, individual and unique beings, they are still "governed by collective interests and norms". The success of the marketing industry shows that "people can be influenced directly or subtly by unsolicited messages." Additionally, the probability that ideas will be uncritically accepted is higher when they are rampant in the individual's social environment. Solomon Ash conducted experiments which proved that the majority wields powerful influence. In his experiments, participants voluntarily chose a wrong answer to a question if the majority of other participants chose the wrong answer.
2) The Marxist Plan
After Communist states failed to completely exterminate faith, folklore and family, they realized that the only way to change things was by changing the underlying culture. This echoes Andrew Breitbart who said, "Culture is downstream from politics." They used the critical theorists such as Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse of the Frankfurt School to guide them. These theorists knew that the "labouring masses in the west would not agitate for a Soviet style communist revolution". The fact was that their lives were improving due to capitalism tempered by Christian philanthropy, trade union representation and an expanding franchise. They were also very patriotic, would not follow people who threatened to bring the whole house down and preferred continuity over change. In order to combat this preference for continuity they waged war on the foundational elements of culture which maintain "stability, order and belonging." Whereas economic Marxism promoted mass revolt, cultural Marxism's post-modern project "divides people into distinct groups with distinct demands."
It is revealing to examine Antonio Gramski's (a man was jailed in Italy for Communist agitation) prison diary where he suggests how the revolutionary conditions for the emergence of Socialism can be created. He observed that Civic society in Western Europe was very strong but could be weakened by a "Marxist onslaught" which would aim "beyond the economic substructure to the cultural substructure." This process would be slow and gradual and was described by a radical German student leader Rudd Dutschke as "a long march through the institutions." Cultural Marxists are engaging in stealth warfare, they have pushed the boundaries and met little resistance. This may seem familiar because it is. Adolf Hitler kept pushing boundaries and testing whether Britain and France would respond and eventually when they decided he had gone too far (after the invasion of Poland), it was too late. Cultural Marxists have moved from Guerrilla warfare to all out direct warfare.
Cultural Marxism "is a potent strategy for diluting society and diluting its traditions." Their strategy of "promoting minorities while disabling the majority" divides the population and consequently makes it easier to control. In the same way as the Frankfurt School, the postmodern philosophers of the Parisian west bank wanted to destroy the "stable rock of society".
Discrimination was seen as a "rallying cry to be used against the system" and its meaning was constantly changing. Starting in the 1960s and till the present day, people belonging to a particular race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation "organized themselves politically to assert their rights. It is not disputed that some of these various emancipatory movements might have changed society for the better but it is increasingly become clear that equality alone is not enough. As George Well said "Some are more equal than others."
3) The Increased Affluence of the Middle Class
In his book, Oliver James criticized consumerism and how people were driven to compete by displaying their wealth through luxury goods and leisure. According to Robert Oulds and Niall McCrae the situation has changed. Ironically, the very success of capitalism has led to this "progressive morality" which holds capitalism as one of it foes. Due to the successes of capitalism, cars, holidays, electronic gadgets and other symbols of wealth are "no longer just the preserve of the rich." This means the affluent middle class can no longer use these items to distinguish or differentiate themselves.Consequently, they have turned to a perverse interpretation of "moral value" to "mark" their superiority "over the uncultured lower strata. They conclude that affluenza "now manifests in a class-bound moral competitiveness."
4) The End of the Warsaw Pact
The authors find that changes in political demography began after the end of the Soviet Union and fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. At this time many people in the west lost faith in socialist solutions. Today, the main mission of left-wing parties is no longer socialism in the economic sense but the advance of multiculturalism, feminism and LGBTQ rights. "They claim to be fighting for equality, but really this is a self-serving middle-class campaign undermining traditional society."
5) The Decline of Religion
In the past morality was guided by religion but this is no longer the case as the landscape has become increasingly secular and faith has declined (the growing Muslim population is an exception.) This makes it easier to legitimize perverse interpretations of "moral value". The decline of religion also has another benefit for Marxists. The religiosity of a state has been found to be inversely proportional to its welfare system.
6) Indoctrination Camps
Schools are the breeding ground as this is where children are routinely and continuously exposed to the liberal, left-wing perspectives of the middle-class teaching profession. It could be argued that Tony Blair priority of 'education, education, education' which aimed to achieve the goal that 50% of school graduates would attend university was not actually to "increase academic qualifications but to shape the social attitude of the younger generations." Universities finished the work started in school s to 'smash the forces of conservatism.' Starting in the 1960s, left-wing Marxists have dominated academe. These days, there are whole faculties that specialize in 'grievance studies 'which emphasize the "Manichean ideas of grievance and oppression and victimhood." Everyone working or studying at a university is bombarded with virtue signalling propaganda."
7) Social Media
The problem has been exacerbated by the advent of social media. Today, young people use this much more and even almost to the exclusion of face to face contact. A lie travels around the world before a corrective is issued and by that time the damage is done. Who wants the truth anyway? It is the narrative which matters not the truth. Twitter' "140-character bursts of curt reaction and trite sloganeering make it the perfect platform for identity politics."It is a humid swamp where the spores of Moralitis multiply." Instagram is a gift to virtue-signallers, all they have to do is wear a shirt with some message or picture or superimpose a love heart on top to 'align themselves with the latest cause.'
Effects of Moralitis
Individuals show their "moral rectitude" by virtue signalling. For most people this performance is so ritualistic and routine that they are simply following norms by speaking or posting a message online. However, there is a minority who will exploit every chance they get to showcase their values and repeating slogans as if they were prayers. For example, the Young Vic theatre in London hangs four flags: the gay rainbow flag, the transgender flag, the EU Flag and the 'Black Lives Matter' Flag. The message is 'look how progressive we are', showing two fingers to any socially conservative patriot who passes by.
2) Identity Politics
Virtue-signalling and special status are not applied in a fair manner. Although white-working class boys struggle in the education system, their predicament is ignored by leftists, simply because they are white and male. Consider this, retired mathematician Sir Bryan Thwaites offered a scholarship for poor white boys to study at two private schools, but this was rejected by the schools. However, universities are more than happy to accept exactly the same kind of scholarship for black students. Trevor Philips says, "Such squeamishness arises from a combination of middle-class guilt, inverse racism and misinterpretation of the law."In the eyes of the progressive school administrators, helping white boys would not be contributing to diversity and possibly created images of the far-right and aggressive English nationalism.
The university is not a welcoming environment for working-class white males. Almost as soon as they enter, middle-class white women pester them about the 'patriarchy' ignorant or indifferent to their social adversity. Sexual harassment campaigns always depict white men. Additionally, the push to 'decolonise' the curriculum is offensive to people who are proud of their national identity and heritage. Any white historical figure is suspect, Shakespeare was a playwright and Dickens was an author, although they may have harboured some prejudicial attitudes, these were not unique to them but were common at the time. Radical educationalists do not want 'pale, male and stale' playwrights or writers on the curriculum and want them to be replaced by individuals of African and Asian origin. Other cultures are allowed to celebrate their culture, but western culture has to be erased and replaced. Middle-class whites insult traditional minded white-men as 'gammon'.
Even before leaving home, it is determined that whites are guilty of racism, straight women reinforce heteronormative bias and if Christians pray in public, this amounts to discrimination against Muslim people or gay people. This intersectional hierarchy is created where white, straight and male are considered the worst. A person could have a mixture of good and bad identities, a white atheist lesbian "is noble in all but her colour." Other cultures and ethnicities are celebrated while it is encouraged to neglect the host culture.
The left prefers the radicalism of identity politics over facts. For example, "The Invisible Women" by Cariole Criado Perez finds sexism everywhere. Women are dying "from a gender health gap" according to the book but the evidence shows that the life gap is in the favour of women. Men live four years shorter on average than women. The left does not care about the facts, it's just the narrative which matters. The middle-class Women's equality party was created at a time when girls were doing better than boys in school. The gap between men and women favour women even in the areas of homelessness, victims of violence, prisoner, suicide and child custody.
3) Erasure of Culture
In contrast to the carefully managed immigration numbers till around the end of the century, when New Labour was elected in 1997, they opened the floodgates. Since 1997, millions of people have arrived from Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe (because of EU free movement rules). The ethos of integration has been replaced with multiculturalism that promotes the preservation of "distinct cultural identities and practices." One Blair aide said that multiculturalism was a means "of rubbing their noses in diversity." Lord Mandelson (grandson of the socialist planner Herbert Morission) even admitted to "sending out search parties for immigrants."
1/3rd of children born in Britain in 2016 had at least one foreign parent. The UK along with other Western European countries is projected to have an electorate that is half indigenous. Labour takes glee in the fact that the traditional white working class (which has rejected its progressive prospectus) is shrinking as a percentage of the population. The left-wing obsession with 'cultural enrichment' suggests there is something wrong with British culture or the host culture. "This tendency to deprecate one's own countrymen is a manifestation of class snobbery towards the lower orders." Critics of immigration are labelled as "white van man"- (tattooed man who hasn't read a book since finishing school) by the metropolitan middle class, implying that only uneducated or uninformed white men oppose immigration.
It's no coincidence that the very concept of patriotism and national pride are under attack at the same time that there is excessive immigration and a promotion of multiculturalism instead of integration. For example, the Islington MP Emily Thornberry took a photo of a house with a St George's flag flying outside. Although she rejected that she was making fun of the resident's patriotism, this is not very believable.
It is possible that civil liberties could be threatened by the immigration surge since very `conservative cultures are being imported. For example, fundamentalist Islam has very regressive mores and cultural practices that do not accept the equality of both genders or freedom of speech. It is ironic that the left is more worried about fundamentalist Christians or a 'Christian revival'. Sweden is a case study, according to Tommy Möller (professor of political science at Stockholm University) Swedish society is disintegrating because of the unprecedented amount of immigration and the resulting cultural segregation. He states, "The social putty that makes a democratic welfare society of our kind possible risks being torn apart." Previously Sweden was a safe country, now it has had bombings in cities. It is no coincidence that this happened only after the EU opened its borders to surges of people.
4) Free Speech
Free speech is also under attack by activists. In the 1980s, activists in America were frustrated with the protection the first amendment provided. Courts had ruled several times in favour of controversial speakers. In response to this, legal professors created a new form of speech that would be exempt from constitutional rights, 'hate speech'. This never was established as a legal entity but was "institutionalized by the American establishment as a means of censorship."
The situation is worse in Britain where there is no written constitution and consequently no first amendment to protect free speech. Although there is no specific law against hate crime, various statutes are "used to prosecute actual or perceived comments about people of protected status."
The police require no evidence to record a report about hate speech. For example, a former police officer Harry Miller posted his objections to a proposed legal reform to gender identification on his Twitter account and received a visit by PC Mansoor Gul. Gul said "I'm here to check your thinking." Although Miller was told that he did not commit any crime, his tweets were marked as a 'non-crime hate incident'.Gul also told Miller "You have to understand, sometimes in the womb, a female brain gets confused and pushes out the wrong parts, and that is what transgender is." He also said that he'd been on a course.
Despite the fact that the High Court in London ruled that his expression was lawful and that the police had acted disproportionately, Miller failed in his "overall challenge to police pursuit and recording of hate incidents." The College of Policing's response was "We want everyone to feel able to express opinions as passionately as they wish without breaking the law." However, Miller had not broken any law. The BBC's reporting on the case said that it was "now open season for transphobia."
This kind of suppression of free speech is normally associated with authoritarian states, however, it seems this is now coming to the west. "A casual joker or careless remark on social media can rapidly lead to a person being ostracised."
For example, Female gender, black ethnicity and victimhood are "conferred with absolute value in terms of vulnerability and victimhood; protected status gives immunity from criticism, and anyone who quibbles with this is morally suspect." Now, it is almost impossible to have a balanced consideration of domestic violence, in the same way gay marriage was no longer open for debate after it was legalized. This does not mean that most ethnic minorities or women demand or expect special treatment; it is just that the sensible majority's voices are crowded out and shouted over by militant voices.
The situation is not completely bleak, however, Moralitis can be treated. The authors mention various strategies that can be used to combat this deadly virus, among these are educational reform, repealing the Equality Act of 2010 and resisting "Woke Capitalism."
In 2019, the razor producing company Gillette decided to launch a marketing campaign alerting men to "toxic masculinity." Previous advertisements had depicted men as fools but Gillette was going even further. This is what the authors describe as "woke capitalism: a company signals its virtue and gets praise in the media." Eventually Gillette had to drop the campaign because there was a mass boycott which caused a sharp fall in the share price.
Repeal the Equality Act of 2010
The Equality Act of 2010 is an attack on freedom of speech. "Equality is the sheep's clothing for a statutory wolf that attacks society with divisive identity politics." Under this act, arbitrarily defined groups are given special protection from hate speech and "prosecuted merely on perceived offense." Signs have been put up in various public places instructing people to report individuals mentioning anyone's gender, sexual orientation or religion.
The best way to solve any problem is to attack the root rather than the symptoms. If you have a headache caused by a bacteria, you can take a Tylenol and feel better but this won't solve the problem. The only way to solve the problem is to attack the bacteria. In the case of Moralitis, the root is the education system where "younger generations are immersed in progressive ideology, while conservative ideas are banished."
Learning packs from controversial organizations like the Muslim Council for Britain and Mermaids (a transgender charity) should be closely examined and sent back if it is determined that they will do more harm than good. Additionally, parent power should be enhanced.Parents should be able to challenge any "progressive" changes to curricula both at the local and national level.
Enlightenment values such as freedom of speech, democracy and equality before the law must replace the censorship, moral relativism and the belief that traditional ideas are hateful. Universities should be rewarded for promoting debate and promoting diversity of belief and should be punished for doing the opposite."Critical thinking must be promoted over uncritically accepted dogma; reason over moralising; academic freedom over puritanism; and universal principles over segregating identity politics." The decolonisation movement should also be targeted for its hostility to national identity, belonging and what is effectively anti-English/anti-British racism. Student unions are an important place for such reform to take place. In 2018, Emily Dawes, president of the Student Union at South Hampton said, "mark my words-we're taking down the mural of white men in the uni senate room, even if I have to paint over it myself." Universities should pay the price if they do not take action to combat such rogue activities."An inspectorate with teeth is needed to monitor student unions, with a code of conduct that is not browbeaten by censorship and propaganda." There should be penalties if there is any proof of politically biased recruitment, promotion or disciplinary action.
Robert Oulds and Niall McCrae show how and why we must protect society from the social justice agitators of subversive identity politics, and reverse their long march through the institutions. Treatment and prevention of this disease is crucial to reviving the Enlightenment values of liberty, reason and truth. Consider this book as an antidote.