The year of Covid-19: political religion and the culture wars.Part 1.

The “great reset” is the title of a book, co-authored by Thierry Malleret and  Klaus Schwab. The book’s subject is the pandemic of 2020. Things, the authors aver, will never return to normal. [1] The coronavirus “ marks a fundamental inflection point in our global trajectory. Greater collaboration and cooperation within and between countries is the pre-requisite for the international community “to address (the) four existential threats that we collectively face: nuclear threats; climate change; the unsustainable use of natural resources, and the consequences of the enormous differences in the standards of living between the world’s peoples”.

Klaus Schwab is the founder of the World Economic Forum, located in Davos, Switzerland, and that hosts a meeting every January of the world’s political leaders, corporate chairmen, media pontiffs, and experts of every stripe. What Schwab says therefore carries weight. How much depends on the perspective taken. One perspective holds that humanity is  engaged in a complex, conflictual and irreversible process towards some form of unity, and that whatever Schwab says sums up whatever the world’s Great and Good may be thinking. In other words, he delivers himself of the prevailing nostrums of the year. Another perspective holds that Schwab provides the venue for  global leaders to plot the way forward to a New World Order, where power is forever being centralized under a corporate-political control centre, imposing its preferences on the distant multitudes. Covid-19 in this case is not a pandemic, so much as a plandemic. This essay discusses the thesis: is the pandemic process or plot?

As an introduction to the subject, we look first at the development of political religions over the past two hundred years; and secondly at how western politics has been hi-jacked by cultural wars which challenge the very legitimacy of the system. We start  with an overview of some books on which this and successive essays are based. Antonio Gramsci, the famous Italian communist party leader, features on the picture above, because he- among others- proposed that the overthrow of “capitalism”required that the progressive camp dominate the cultural high ground.

Earthly powers.

Michael Burleigh, a well known historian of the Third Reich, presents two books which covers the history of what he calls “political religion”, the first focusing on the nineteenth and the second on the twentieth century.In Earthly Powers, Religion and Politics in Europe from the French revolution to the Great War, Harper Collins, 2005, Burleigh records that the alliance of throne and altar, that prevailed in varied forms across Europe into the eighteenth century, broke down as the temporal power of the Churches was challenged by the rise of the nation states which vied for the ultimate loyalty of populations. A succession of popes tried to shore up their powers in the light of this assault  from liberals, reactionary conservatives like Bismarck or from the anti-clerical zealots of Third Republic in France. The Protestant churches, he records, feebly accommodated themselves to the latest secular ideologies, such as nationalism, scientism-where humanity’s “reason” stood as the ultimate ethical authority for ameliorative policies which charted the way forward to progress, measured not just in material well-being but also in moral  accomplishment. By August 1914, God was still invoked by all sides-though the  appeals for peace of Benedikt XV, Pope from September 1914 to January 1922, fell on deaf ears, as the “catastrophic world war” stimulated the already discernible “strange Gods of Bolshevism, Fascism and Nazism”.

In his second volume, Sacred Causes: Religion and Politics from the European Dictators to Al Qaeda, HarperCollins, 2006, Burleigh writes that the common feature of the totalitarian regimes was to create a “new man”, and establish thereby a heaven not in the afterlife but on this earth. These ideologies, could draw on the abundant nonsense concocted during the preceding century “whether in the crackbrained schemes of Auguste Comte or Charles Fourier, the moral insanity of Russian nihilists or the scientific socialism of Marx and Engels.”  Equally significant were the pseudo scientists of biology, with their hierarchy of races, seemingly corroborated by Darwin’s Origins of the Species, which appeared in 1859, translated into political fare by Herbert Spencer, and his slogan summarizing his view of progress-“the selection of the fittest”. The concept entered Europe’s cultural  bloodstream with such writers as Sorel, glorifying the liberating qualities of violence. The idea became prevalent among Europe’s generals: General Friedrich von Bernardi, in Germany and the Next War, published in 1912, wrote that “War is a biological necessity of the first importance…Without war, inferior or decaying races would easily choke the growth of healthy, budding elements and a universal decadence would follow”.[2] Austria Hungary’s Field Marshall, Conrad von Hötzendorf’s was gung-ho for war against Serbia in August 1914: his view was characterized at the time as  “war, war, war”. Such progressive views attained a crescendo in the interwar years, and exploded into a bacchanalia of violence, the apocalypse of the years 1939-45.

The true horror of the war became evident in 1945, when allied troops entered the concentration camps of Hitler’s Europe, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed instantly by the  dropping of the nuclear bomb. But the Red Army’s victory in destroying the Axis’ forces redounded to the credit of Marxist-Leninist ideology, setting the scene for the ensuing cold war, Germany’s division, the creation of the western alliance, the nuclear stand-off between the powers, the waning of the Soviet ideological challenge, and the desperate search in the Western “progressive” camp for surrogate ideas.  By the 1960s, this camp was solidly ensconced in the university.

Two books serve our purpose here. The late Roger Scruton’s Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left, Bloomsbury, 2015 develops the thesis that the thinkers of the New Left set out to deconstruct the institutions-family, school, law, nation- which humanity had developed by trial-and-error to  confront the many challenges arising from modernity. Marx’s abstract reasoning of class war, attributing the monopoly of virtue to the left, swept aside  the historians, sociologists and economists- Maitland (British constitutional history), Weber (religion and institutions), Böhl-Bawerk (economics)-and installed in its place an ahistorical  social justice movement of abstract forces, which ultimately glorified power as justifying itself. What would power thus attained do with the means amassed. What is the proposal? Scruton asks. His answer: the New Left proposes a void.

The second book is Stephen C. Hicks, Explaining Post-Modernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault, Ocham’s Razor, 2017. We are told, Hicks writes, that a revolutionary era is upon us. The prophets of the new dispensation are Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean François Lyotard, and Richard Rorty. Their common theme is subjectivism. As the French philosopher Foucault is quoted as saying: “it is meaningless to speak in the name of or against Reason, Truth, or Knowledge”. There is no correspondence between thought and reality. What each one of us think is our own take on the world, and because there is no over-riding Truth to serve as a benchmark, everybody’s truth is as good as anyone else’s. What radicals argue, writes Hicks, is that Western civilization has imposed its verities by force, by oppression and by dominance. At the heart of this Western Weltanschauung are white, rich males who have the whip hand on power, which they deploy cruelly at the expense of women, minorities and of the poor.  Progress and democracy is so much rhetoric “to mask the brutality of capitalist civilization”.

This radical thesis spreads out into numerous strands, synthesized as three lens: the lens of history and historical method; the lens of biology, involving heredity, race and sex; and the lens of the environmentalist; and their application to the phenomenon known as “globalization”. Let us take up the story through the lens of history.

The lens of history: There is a huge literature on history. For the sake of brevity, we can say that in its modern form, its practitioners insist on the salience of accuracy, never fully attained so much as approximated, and involving the appliance of a toolbox: the quotatation of  sources; careful attention to causality, where possible; taking into account a wide spectrum of positions. A particular matter of debate is how to deal with “facts”: is history just the record of one damn thing after another, or are they linked by prevalent assumptions of relevant participants? How do we analyse an event ex ante and ex post?

Postmodern historians start from the supposition that Western historians have been beautifiers of their own history, disguisers of reality, and mythmakers for western imperialism. In La Tyrannie de la Pénitence: Essai sur le Masochisme occidental, Grasset 2006, Pascal Bruchner presents their thesis in simple terms. The whole world hates us, say progressive historians about Europe, and for good reason.Bruchner cites Claude Levi-Strauss’ Tristes Tropiques, Plon 1955, on Brazil’s Indians : « the monstrous and incomprehensible catalogue that was the development of western civilization for such a large and innocent fraction of humanity”. Extermination, this thesis holds, is “at the heart of European thinking and its imperialism, a biologically determined process which, according to the law of nature, leads to the inevitable elimination of inferior races”. The theme is picked up by the Columbian historian, Rosa Amélia Plumelle-Uribe, La férocité blanche des non-Blancs aux non-Aryens, ces genocides occultes de 1492 à nos jours, Albin Michel, 2001. The guilt, she writes, is biological, political and metaphysical. Georges Bensousseau, Europe: Une Passion Genocidaire, Essai d’Histoire Culturelle, Mille et une Nuits, 2006, picks up the same theme: “  The Holocaust, he writes, is rooted in European culture”. There is a strait line “between the destruction of the natives of America, the crushing of the Blacks, and the policy of extermination by the Nazis in the first half of the twentieth century”. Rosa Amélie is even more severe: the Shoah, she says, is no more than a misunderstanding between Whites, her point being that 300 years of barbarism weighs less than 12 years of atrocities in Europe by Whites on other  Whites.

The lens of biology: The politics of biology had ridden high prior to 1945. Lord Keynes, the eminent economist, was President of the Eugenics Society in the UK. He stepped down in 1945, but not before giving his opinion that the study of eugenics was the most advanced of the social sciences. H.G. Wells, G.B. Shaw, the two Webbs-Sydney and Beatrice – and Beveridge-the founder of what became the NHS- were all card-carrying eugenicists. The London School of Economics, set up by the Webbs, and a crucible of progressivism, was crawling with devotees. The discipline was rooted in Darwin’s  Origins of the Species, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.  In his Descent of Man, Darwin wrote that “the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world”. How Darwin’s ideas changed politics is recorded in Denis Sewell, The Political Gene: How Darwin’s Ideas Changed Politics, Picador, 2010. He quotes, approvingly, the Reverend J.H.Gordon of the Coloured Baptist Minister’s Conference , in a letter to the New York mayor George Brian McClellan,(McClellan served as mayor from 1904-1909), when  the pygmy Ota Benga was displayed alongside the monkeys at the New York zoo: “the Darwinian theory, wrote Gordon,  is absolutely opposed to Christianity, and a public demonstration in its favour should not be permitted”. Sewell’s book is particularly strong on the impact of Darwinism on the politics of the first half of the twentieth century.

Not surprisingly, the politics of biology was dealt a near mortal blow when the Nazi concentration camps were discovered, and broadcast by allied news outlets. But the blow was not terminal. Eugenics faded, but biology is a big subject. It deals among much else with questions of inheritance,  family, race and sex. Sex had the additional benefit of being remunerative. The Kinsey Reports, published in 1948 and then in 1953, detailing   male and female sexuality, sold over three-quarters of a million copies; provided (contested) evidence for a high prevalence of sexually diverse preferences-hetero, bi, and homosexual-, and became one of the most influential books of the twentieth century. The sexualization of society was further stimulated by the  loosening of censorship, the availability of oral contraceptives, and the consumer boom, with its attendant industry of advertising. Birth rates collapsed, free sex boomed and western divorce rates soared. Abortion was legalized in the UK in 1967 and in the US, with the Supreme Court judgement of Roe v. Wade. The decision has poisoned US politics since. Abortion was legalized in France in 1975, but remains highly controversial in Germany, where the Constitutional Court has consistently defended the foetus right to life. 

Race and inheritance did not disappear from the political map either. James Watson and  Francis Crick, co-authored an academic paper proposing the double helix structure of the DNA molecule. Watson, Crick and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids  and its significance for information transfer in living material”. The three scientists were later accused of failing to properly attribute their colleague Rosalind Franklin for her contributions to the discovery, and Watson ran into controversy when in a conference in 2000 he gave vent to his views on race and sex. Melanin, which gives skin its colour, boosted darker skinned people’s sex drive, he maintained; he also said that stereotypes associated with racial and ethnic groups had a genetic basis: Jews were intelligent; Chinese were clever but conformist; and Whites scored higher than Blacks in IQ tests.  In the age of political correctness, Watson became an un-person. [3] I was fired from the boards of companies, so I have no income, apart from my academic income,’ he is quoted as saying.

Douglas Murray, in The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity, Bloomsbury, 2020, records the revival since the 1970s of the  religion of biology. As he argues, the ambition of its practitioners is to embed a new metaphysics into our societies. The foundations of this comprehensive effort to create a new ideology have been laid for several decades. Not for them to enjoy the rights of blacks, women or gays, achieved through deployment of political energies within the established institutions of constitutional democracies. Once these wars were won, the broad assumption was that the militants would mature into pillars of the established order. The assumption has turned out to be false: everything has been poured into the collectivist format of identity politics: you are your colour, your sexuality, or your intersectionality- understood as the sum of oppressions which victimize you under the heal of White, Male Supremacy. As Murray points out, a backlash against identity politics grows ever more likely.

The environmentalist lens: Two books on this subject caught my attention. One is the late Christopher Booker’s The Real Global Warming Disaster, Continuum, 2009. Booker was an iconoclast extraordinaire. He was a founder of Private Eye, the UK’s answer to Le Canard Enchainé; worked as script writer for the satirical show, That was the Week that Was; wrote for The Spectator; plunged into the media war over the  highly contentious return at the end of the war by the British authorities of the Cossacks who had fought against the Soviet Union; initially backed Count Nikolai Tolstoy’s allegations against the British, but then in his 1997 book A Looking Glass Tragedy, wrote that Tolstoy’s allegations were riddled with errors. He then turned his attention to the EU, forming an association with Richard North, with whom he wrote a series of books, including The Mad Officials: How The Bureaucrats Are Strangling Britain (1994); The Castle of Lies (1996); The Great Deception (2003), a critical history of the European Union; and Scared To Death: From BSE To Global Warming, Why Scares Are Costing Us The Earth (2007), a study of the part played in Western society in recent decades by the ‘scare phenomenon’. All of these books wallowed in controversy – notably Princeton Professor,  Andrew Moravcsik’s critique that The Great Deception thesis   of centralized bureaucracy really referred to British officials exercising their own discretion”[4]– a thesis I agree with.

Skepticism is of course a vital ingredient of debate, particularly debates which appeal to a consensus. Debate is at the heart of science. Proofs or paradigms may be accepted for a while, during which  time they have their uses, but sooner or later, it is likely that they will once again be challenged. Take for instance Darwin’s paradigm of evolution, understood as the competitive selection of the species. The paradigm is widely considered by its defenders as settled, except for the fact that there has been no discovery of a “missing link” between the members of the hominid family: humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. Indeed, the terminology about hominids remains hotly disputed.

The earth’s climate is many multiples more complex a phenomenon than evolution: weather forecasts are regularly wrong; the earth’s climate has waxed and waned over millenia; man’s activities may well exert some influence on climate, but how much would that influence be in relation to the impact of the universe on the earth? We can have hypotheses, but it would be rash to assert that “the science has been settled”- a favourite phrase of climate change converts.

Booker’s The Real Global Warming Disaster, Continuum 2009, has been described as “”the definitive climate sceptics’ manual”.[5] Booker suggests, his critics argue, that climate scientists twist their facts to fit their case; have leapt aboard a gravy train of grants; enjoy the limelight after years in obscurity;  and put too much faith in their computer models. All this he does. But he, and his colleague Richard North, also offer a sociological explanation for the politics of climate change. In a revised version of Scared to death: From BSE to Coronavirus: why scares are costing us the earth, Bloomsbury, 2020, Richard North proposes a paradigm of what happens when science leaves the labs and joins hands with politics. Simply, it stops being science. Politics is never settled, and for reasons that I’ll adumbrate later in this series.

Politics and the culture wars.

What can definitely be said with some conviction is that the internet has made a major impact on politics, global and national. The world has never been so joined up as it is now; the opportunities to learn about a myriad of subjects has never been so great; sources have never been so available; and secrets so difficult to keep, rumours so easy to refute, or public opinions so easy to manipulate and manipulations so easy to identify. This has the effect of making electorates that much more volatile, a trend already setting in as early as the 1970s: voter turnout in the 1950 UK elections, for instance,  was 83%, and yielded a small majority for Labour; the lowest voter turnout at 59.4% was in 2001, when Labour won a landslide; in 2019, voter turnout was 67.3%, yielding a Tory 80 seats majority in the Commons.  In the US, voter turnout over the twentieth century remained in the 50-60% range, recording 50.3% in 2000. But as US politics has become more polarized, voter turnout has soared  to an estimated 72% in the recent 2020 elections. US voters going to the polls in 2000 numbered 105 million; in 2020, they numbered 165 million.

One of the special features of the twenty-first century is that it has been much less kind to the heartlands of the global system: the US and the UK. The Islamist terror  attacks of 2001 on the US known as “9/11” were the first attack on US soil since Pearl Harbour; the “7/7” Islamist suicide bombing of 2005 was the worst incident in the UK since the second world war. As the New York and London financial markets are joined at the hip, both were badly hit by the 2008 financial crash, resulting in the eviction from office of both incumbent governments. The political beneficiaries- Barack Obama and David Cameron- have both committed themselves to paper in memoirs, that shed some light on the cultural wars, which are the subject of this series.

In A Promised Land, , Viking 2020, the former US President provides us with a door stopper of a book, all 751 pages of it. The unexpected result of the 2016 Presidential election appears on the first page of the preface, and obviously Donald Trump-the victor by electoral college votes over his Democrat rival, Hillary Clinton- poses such a problem that Obama can’t struggle to mention him by name.  He appears in the third person as “someone diametrically opposed to everything we stood for..”. We then meet Trump again on page 672, when Trump announced on February 10, 2011 that he might run for President, asserting that “our current president (Obama) came out of nowhere”. “I’d never met the man, Obama writes, and “I found it hard to take him seriously”. Then he gets down to brass tacks: Trump was seeking to exploit “racial fears and resentments”. He, Trump, “suggested that my birth certificate might have been a fake”.

Then on page 692, at a Washington Hilton shindig, with Trump in the room, Obama slipped into humour: I know, he said,  that the Donald is proud to put the matter of this birth certificate to rest. He could now focus on more urgent matters, for instance,”Did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”, congratulating Trump on his handling of such key decisions on Celebrity Apprentice (Trump’s TV show) as whether “the men’s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks…Well handled sir. Well handled”. But Obama records that he knew what he was up against:”Trump, he writes, trafficked in a currency that however shallow, seemed to gain more purchase with every passing day”. This remark looks very much to be an ex post judgement. At the time, the Democrats were stunned.. The gloves were off.

The Democrats were upended by the Trump victory of 2016, and David Cameron was upended by the referendum result of earlier that year, when the British public voted 52 to 48 to Brexit. Cameron stepped down the next day. The result is his memoirs, For The Record, William Collins, 2019. Cameron, of course, has been castigated by Remainers as the man whose name will forever be associated with Brexit. Cameron’s book is also a doorstopper, but much smaller (Obama’s 751 pages is Volume 1, Cameron’s For the Record is stand-alone). “I deeply regret the result, he writes. “The best deal for Britain was the one we had, the one I renegotiated”-the one that The Sun, the mass circulation daily,  remarked about when Cameron presented it to Parliament.  “Who do EU think you’re kidding”, shouted the Sun’s headline. The deal said that if 16 other national parliaments formed a coalition to object to a Commission proposal, the Commission would deign to consider the matter. So much for the Mother of Parliaments. Cameron, goes on to note that departure “ jeopardises all the things we’ve achieved, from the strength of our nation’s finances to the stability of our United Kingdom”. “The fact remains that ever since 1975, our membership of the EU had been framed in terms of a plebiscite. By the 2010s, people backed the holding of a referendum in polls by a ratio of three to one.  In the event, nine out of ten MPs in Parliament voted for the Referendum Bill in June 2015”.

The story of Britain’s relations with “Europe” is recorded by Stephen Wall in Reluctant European: Britain and the European Union from 1945 to Brexit. OUP, 2020.  Wall rightly kicks off with the first Brexit of 1528, when Henry VIII lobbied the Pope for a divorce from his spouse, Catherine of Aragon.  The virtue of Wall’s book is that it is written by an insider’s insider, tells the story from the 1950s to the present in considerable detail, and may be reasonably taken as highly representative of the opinions of Whitehall mandarins.

I disagree with nearly everything Wall contends.  On page 2, Walls writes : “In the case of Britain and continental Europe, there is a consistent pattern of centuries-long British (or at least English) engagement with the continent in order to resist conquest or domination by any one foreign power or group of powers”. Note the current genuflection to the supposed nationality of England as opposed to Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. The passport we all hold is a British, not an English, Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish passport. On page 3 he writes: “We had missed the European train in the 1950s and had ultimately had to scramble aboard”. No, we hadn’t missed the EU bus. Parliament, Attlee observed curtly, is either sovereign or it is not.  And we did not “have to scramble aboard”. It is of course correct to say that when the UK joined, the rules of the then EEC had been made in Brussels, Paris and Bonn. And he is of course correct to write that  “There was, in the legal sense, a continuous loss of sovereignty”. The book, he writes, is the story of “why Britain did not foresee that the efforts of post-war continental Europe to come together would succeed…”. The British most certainly did understand what the EEC was up to; indeed, the most fervent supporters of the EEC/EU project have been British, and what is more the EU has not succeeded. It is in deep trouble, and for the reasons that a British understanding of Europe comprehended only too well. In brief, diverse Europe does not fit  into a Roman law legal straitjacket.

Martin Sandbu’s The Economics of Belonging, Princeton, 2020, goes some way to providing a reasoned explanation for the double vote of 2016 first for Brexit, and then for Trump.  The British voted “to get back control” from the EU, while the US electorate voted by an electoral college majority for Trump’s America First. Sandbu says his book is written to salvage the dream of 1989, against the rise of “populisms”-“the rise of illiberal nationalist movements across the West”, which “today carries loud echoes of the interwar years”. Here we have it: the endgame, Sandbu seems to be saying, is either globalization or Hitler. Yet his interpretation of globalization is not the flat earth variety, where belonging is not central to politics or to modern states. Quite the contrary, he argues that “the double vote of 2016 occurred because “the left behind felt betrayed” What we need, he urges, is “a new economics of belonging”. His book is how the post-1945 social contract in Western countries began to loosen in the 1970s, with the peak and subsequent decline of industrial employment, followed three decades later by the 2008 financial crisis. The meat of his book traces the tectonic shifts that triggered the “political earthquakes that have shaken the western order”. “This end of belonging was a colossal fall from grace for the Western model”.

Sandbu, in my opinion, correctly identifies the source of the earthquakes in the US and in the UK. What he does not get to grips with, nor for that matter does Stephen Wall, is the illiberal globalist doctrines which beavered away at hollowing out representative government. Successive UK governments knew exactly what they were doing when they signed up ab initio to the supranationalist doctrines of the EU’s true believers: it is there in black and white in the 1972 European Communities Act section 1-5, and provided the permanent mandate for action over the coming four and a half decades. The parallel development in the US were the fierce Congressional debates of 2000 over whether or not China should join the WTO. It was 9/11 that tilted the scales in China’s favour. The Chinese leadership instantly responded supportively to President Bush’s hard-line statement that you are either for or against us. China was wafted into the WTO, and the borders opened. All sorts of other factors played into the mix of 2016, but China was most definitely one.

The cultural tsunami blowing through the US, the UK and to varied degrees across Europe can be related with reason to economic developments since the 1970s. But that is clearly too narrow a lens. Karl Marx, many assumed, was de-fenestrated with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the unification of Germany. Marxist-Leninist-Maoism survived in China, indeed, remodelled itself nearly completely, with the exception of China’s political system of democratic centralism. The aim of the CCP’s reforms was to establish the regime’s political legitimacy, shaken by the Cultural Revolution and the economic failings of Mao’s rule.  By contrast, what is at stake post-2016 is the political legitimacy of the US and the UK. What has happened is the successful transformation of Marxism into post-modernism, and the resulting frontal assault on the central religion of the West -Judeo-Christianity. This involves contestation of its history, the switch from economics to culture as the main battleground, the unfolding of the politics of biology, with yes, the re-emergence of race as an accepted category, involving its central aspects of inheritance, abortion and marriage, the alliance of western militant atheists with radical Islamists, the political scare of “Climate Change” as the battering ram to attack “capitalism”. It is attaining its potency because of the ubiquity of the internet, and of social media. From a Trotskyite perspective, what better tool than the internet to launch permanent revolution on the western satans – Great and Small – the US and the UK. That is the subject of Ben Shapiro’s book, How to destroy America in Three Easy Steps, Broadside 2020; as much as it is Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay’s Cynical Critical Theories: How Universities Made Everything About Race, Gender and Identity- And Why this harms Everybody. Swift 2020.

Humanities departments in western universities are the prime source of the Red-Brown alliance currently driving the cultural wars. That is no coincidence. The universities, Bologna, Oxford, the Sorbonne, were central to the propagation of medieval Christianity. At the heart of medieval Christianity is the concept, of paradise. That concept came to be challenged in the eighteenth century. Post 1945, Europe re-invented  its grand narratives; what may be termed the “progressive agenda” effectively disentangled itself from the disaster of the Soviet Union, but has not abandoned the  search for a new political religion; the search has been accompanied by wave after wave of scare stories, magnified many times over by the phenomenon of social media, culminating in the present set of  culture wars. The following sections will cover these subjects.

[1] Laus Schwab, Thierry Lalleret, Covid-19: The Great reset,World Economic  Forum Publishing, 2020.

[2] Quoited in Max Hastings, Catastrophe : Europe Goes t War 1914, William Collins, p.48.

[3]  David Crow, “James Watson to sell Nobel Prize medal”. Financial Times. November 28, 2014.Retrieved December 1, 2014. ‘Because I was an “unperson”

[4] Andrew Moravcsik, “Eurosketpic but sane », Prospect Magazine, August 22, 2004.

[5] Philip, Ball, “The Real Global Warming Disaster by Christopher Brooker”, The Observer, November 15, 2009.

About Jonathan Story, Professor Emeritus, INSEAD

Jonathan Story is Emeritus Professor of International Political Economy at INSEAD. Prior to joining INSEAD in 1974, he worked in Brussels and Washington, where he obtained his PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He has held the Marusi Chair of Global Business at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and is currently Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Graduate Schoold of Business, Fordham University, New York. He is preparing a monograph on China’s impact on the world political economy, and another on a proposal for a contextual approach to business studies. He has a chapter forthcoming on the Euro crisis. His latest book is China UnCovered: What you need to know to do business in China, (FT/ Pearson’s, 2010) ( His previous books include “China: The Race to Market” (FT/Pearsons, 2003), The Frontiers of Fortune, (Pitman’s, 1999); and The Political Economy of Financial Integration in Europe : The Battle of the Systems,(MIT Press, 1998) on monetary union and financial markets in the EU, and co-authored with Ingo Walter of NYU. His books have been translated into French, Italian, German, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Arabic. He is also a co-author in the Oxford Handbook on Business and Government(2010), and has contributed numerous chapters in books and articles in professional journals. He is a regular contributor to newspapers, and has been four times winner of the European Case Clearing House “Best Case of the Year” award. His latest cases detail hotel investments in Egypt and Argentina, as well as a women’s garment manufacturer in Sri Lanka and a Chinese auto parts producer. He teaches courses on international business and the global political economy. At the INSEAD campus, in Fontainebleau and Singapore, he has taught European and world politics, markets, and business in the MBA, and PhD programs. He has taught on INSEAD’s flagship Advanced Management Programme for the last three decades, as well as on other Executive Development and Company Specific courses. Jonathan Story works with governments, international organisations and multinational corporations. He is married with four children, and, now, thirteen grandchildren. Besides English, he is fluent in French, German, Spanish, Italian, reads Portuguese and is learning Russian. He has a bass voice, and gives concerts, including Afro-American spirituals, Russian folk, classical opera and oratorio.
This entry was posted in Christianity, culture wars, Europe, European integration, Supranational law, The United States, United Kingdom, World politics, business and economics. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The year of Covid-19: political religion and the culture wars.Part 1.

  1. Pingback: The Year of Covid 19: Political Religion and the Culture Wars: Part 2.2: The EU’s Legacy from the Middle Ages. | Writing about history, politics & economics

  2. Pingback: The Year of Covid 19: Political Religion and the Culture Wars. Part 2.5. The Utilitarians I: Elie Halévy and the Philosophical Radicals 1750-1867. | Writing about history, politics & economics

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