The war is won, go back to your farms and families

Let’s pick an arbitrary moment in history; the OJ Simpson car chase, perhaps. People who are old enough to remember that event are of an age where they will have also witnessed a huge change in society from that time to the present day.

If you were old enough to be aware of the OJ Simpson case in 1994, you’ll also remember how it was still considered a massive problem to be openly gay in many areas of public life.

Some obvious examples:

Freddie Mercury – it wasn’t until just before his death of AIDS in 1992 that his sexuality was publicly acknowledged. 

Liberace – also not publicly acknowledged as being gay until after his death in 1987, despite some fairly obvious clues.

Rock Hudson – same story, died in 1984.

It seems ridiculous now to think that homosexuality would be in any way a bar to career success, particularly in the entertainment industry, in 2019. In addition, most western countries have laws explicitly banning discrimination against someone based on their sexual orientation and recognising same sex marriage as equal in law as that between men and women.

 

Similarly, someone who grew up in  the 1970s and 80s would have seen a large change in the attitudes of the media and the general public towards the acceptability of racism.

Examples from the UK:

The Black and White Minstrel Show – a “light entertainment” show on the BBC featuring singers and dancers in blackface that ran for 20 years until 1978…. and continued on stage in London until 1988.

The Goodies – the Pythonesque comedy show regularly used offensive racial terms in the show, including at least one reference of the “N word”.

Jim Davidson, Bernard Manning, most mainstream TV stand-up comics – many relied heavily on racial stereotypes in their humour. Even the black comedian, Lenny Henry, had a rasta character of which he is probably somewhat embarrassed these days.

 

The same is true with the western societies’ attitudes to women in the workplace. At the highest level of office, many countries have elected female leaders, with New Zealand and the UK having had two (albeit with mixed results). There have been huge shifts in the numbers of women having successful corporate and governmental careers.

On a personal note, the majority of my corporate bosses over the 2nd half of my career have been female, completely the opposite of the previous half.

 

When one considers where we’ve come from to where we have arrived today, the improvements have been overwhelmingly positive. Someone uttering a racist, sexist or homophobic comment in society today would be, rightly, quickly criticised.

Perhaps we have an altogether different problem now……

If I had to give the problem a name, I’d offer something like, “the asymmetry of lobbyists and issues“.

To understand what I mean by this, consider the following thought experiment; 

If you could plot two lines on a graph over time, where one line measures the organisation size (by staff or perhaps revenue) of a campaign group against racism, sexism or homophobia and the other line measures the size of the problem they are campaigning to solve, which directions would each line be traveling?

That is, do you think homophobia is getting better or worse and do you think, say, Stonewall, has become larger or smaller (not to particularly pick on Stonewall)?

Bill’s Opinion

There comes a moment in every war where the combatants must decide whether the fight has been won or lost and what their plans will be as a consequence.

In the example of a “real” war, one fought with bullets and bombs, once it has been won the armies generally begin the process of de-mobilisation, go home to their loved ones and continue with their lives, “turning swords into ploughshares”, as the phrase has it.

It doesn’t seem obvious that anything similar is likely to happen with culture wars such as the ones described above as, obviously, the organisations have been created and are not motivated to dismantle themselves under a banner saying “Mission Accomplished”. 

The alternative is what we see today; scope creep. People who make their salaries from finding a problem and solving a problem will continue to find problems, regardless of whether those problems are material or even real.

 

16 Replies to “The war is won, go back to your farms and families”

    1. Thanks for the correction.

      In my defence, I can’t be expected to keep track of who has been elected mayor in every backwater town….

        1. Uncle Helen Clarke did a lot to encourage skilled immigration to NZ as it was obvious the country was suffering a shortage of dentists and hairdressers.

  1. I don’t think that your comparison is right in that when wars are won or lost, the soldiers go home. It is right that they should but in this day and age of perpetual war and standing armies and ever increasing defense budgets, no armies are demobbing and most of them couldn’t punch their way out of a paper bag due to this lost cause that they are pursuing. Just another signpost that we are well on the way to rack and ruin as the focus remains on non-issues like homophobia and racism whilst Rome burns and we keep buying shit weaponry, funding useless armies, paying the healthcare costs of felchers and employing dumb darkies with our taxpayer dollars.

      1. Yes I do, I was merely pointing out that the continuous war footing that we are in and homophobia and racism being front and central to the corporate discourse are are all a part of the same racket.

          1. The next time you are back up in Mud Island (Airstrip One) buy yourself a bottle of 1984 single malt and savour it whilst sailing around the Inner Hebrides and all will be explained.

          2. Oh, very good.

            But what is the linkage in your mind between constant real war and the culture war?

            I’m not trolling, just genuinely confused as to your point.

          3. “But what is the linkage in your mind between constant real war and the culture war?”

            I think that Eric Blair defined the linkages far better than I can in Nineteen Eighty-Four but since you asked.

            The war is been waged between the collectivists known as the state and the individual you, I and any other human being. Individuals quite often identify themselves as being of a certain culture, the state wants to remove any notion of an individual’s belonging to any cultural, ethnic, national or family group, they want us all to be reliant on and in obeyance of the state. Individuals are real things and are the bedrock of liberty, the state is not a real thing it is a collective of individuals that are the opposite of liberty and tend to enforce their views by abuse of power over individuals. Equality is the opposite of freedom and doublespeak for statehood.

            Perpetual wars and enemy bogey men are implemented to keep us in a state of fear, where we think that only the state can save us, also through the revolving door of state to corporate they also create mega profits for war profiteering companies. The defence budgets continue to grow, armies stand, it is no secret that US military are ineffective, and their shiny weaponry is rubbish for the simple reason that neither of them have been produced to fight and win a war. The useless yanks couldn’t even defend their own air space over their political, economic and military headquarters from attack by a bunch of Arab backpackers.

            Sun Tzu warned us all of the folly of standing armies 2500 years before Anglo Saxons climbed out of the marsh ponds, but here we are in Southern Oceania presented with the latest drums of war newspeak, issued by our Sydney comrades warning of the ever increasing threat posed by Eastasia.

            ………………………………………………………………………………….

            Executive summary

            America no longer enjoys military primacy in the Indo-Pacific and its capacity to uphold a favourable balance of power is increasingly uncertain.

            The combined effect of ongoing wars in the Middle East, budget austerity, underinvestment in advanced military capabilities and the scale of America’s liberal order-building agenda has left the US armed forces ill-prepared for great power competition in the Indo-Pacific.

            America’s 2018 National Defense Strategy aims to address this crisis of strategic insolvency by tasking the Joint Force to prepare for one great power war, rather than multiple smaller conflicts, and urging the military to prioritise requirements for deterrence vis-à-vis China.

            Chinese counter-intervention systems have undermined America’s ability to project power into the Indo-Pacific, raising the risk that China could use limited force to achieve a fait accompli victory before America can respond; and challenging US security guarantees in the process.

            For America, denying this kind of aggression places a premium on advanced military assets, enhanced posture arrangements, new operational concepts and other costly changes.

            While the Pentagon is trying to focus on these challenges, an outdated superpower mindset in the foreign policy establishment is likely to limit Washington’s ability to scale back other global commitments or make the strategic trade-offs required to succeed in the Indo-Pacific.

            https://www.ussc.edu.au/analysis/averting-crisis-american-strategy-military-spending-and-collective-defence-in-the-indo-pacific

          4. Thanks for the time to write that. It doesn’t really convince me of some culture war conspiracy with the military industrial complex, or however you might phrase that, though.

            As I said, the original post was about lobby groups and charities not being able to face up to declaring victory and shutting down when they’ve achieved their goals. Perhaps save your views on the trend of military conflicts for my next post on that subject, which I’m sure won’t be very long in arriving.

  2. Excellent post. There is a big clue to this problem in the way organisations define themselves and make their “mission” larger and more vague.

    Now there are far fewer house-fires, fire departments define themselves as “fire and rescue” and “emergency services”. The equivalent is the growing list of letters after LGBTQ….And in UK schools, the Safeguarding supremo is pretty much charged with hunting down everything that could negatively affect a child.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.