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Utopia Talk / Politics / UK Implosion
Mon Mar 22 02:49:05
Is life in the UK so bad that rioting is warranted?
Mon Mar 22 05:13:40
The policing bill before parliament effectively allows the state to ban protest.

Does that legitimise the level of violence seen? Probably not. But also using kettling and coming out with riot gear was not a good idea when the subject of the protest was heavy handed policing at the Govt dog whistling that the bans are aimed at "left wing" protests and won't be applied so stringently towards right wing causes.

That's the problem with using culture war as a signature policy, you lose legitimacy, and without legitimacy bad stuff happens.
Mon Mar 22 05:53:19
You haven't had freedom of association since March 2020.
large member
Mon Mar 22 05:55:18
Lockdowns are in my mind particularly shitty in the UK. There is a tradition of using pubs and whatnot as living rooms.
Mon Mar 22 06:15:47
"That's the problem with using culture war as a signature policy, you lose legitimacy, and without legitimacy bad stuff happens."

I just wonder, what do you think is left of politics in the west when the west has accepted capitalism hegemony to dictate economy and libertarianism to dictate social life? Culture is the only significant difference left in politics. left/right, lib/con is making less sense every year.

You take the two of us as an example seb. I bet we could both do a political compass test and we would could twins, the best analyst would fail to predict that we would have rather toxic discussions about culture war issues. The only conflict left is the one in our fantasies.
Mon Mar 22 06:53:36

One thing for a temporary curfew under emergency powers that expire.

Quite another to put in law a long term piece of legislation that gives a 10 year sentence for any kind of protest that causes risk of "severe annoyance" and gives the Home Secretary power to add new criteria via orders.
Mon Mar 22 07:08:50

I'm speaking loosely - by left and right I mean "how well does it play to Conservative party members and core vote".

At the moment the conservatives are very clearly signaling that there are "bad" protests that are nuisance and stop people getting things done and are for fringe reasons that don't really justify all the bother (Extinction rebellion, EU/brexit issues) and then there is legitimate protest like e.g. anti-lockdown protests, and the govt will decide which is which.

I'm not sure agree though that economics and wealth are not a dividing line. I actually think it is increasingly relevant.

Even within the framework of free market vs dirigisme - the debate that is settled is *how* the state should intervene, not necessarily where and how much.

In a way, I think the republican playbook that the conservatives have adopted is in part using culture war as a means to split working class and middle/upper class left wing vote away from these key economic issues.

It's a bit different in the wider EU social democracies as the settled position was never as ideological about the principle of state intervention.

Anglo-American descendants of the neo-liberals have become increasingly radical in the view that state intervention is in principle wrong and dangerous; rather than whether it is effective and delivers benefits. To the point they would prefer a private firm to use anti-competitive measures to establish a monopoly and extract rents at higher costs, or no service provision at all; than have a public provision of the same service.

Generally, free market works, but there are places for state provision and state regulation; and places where private provision without competition is a terribly bad idea.
Mon Mar 22 07:09:48
I.e. a confusion that private provision automatically means you get the benefits of competition in a free market; even if the sector is not a free market.
Mon Mar 22 11:31:54
"At the moment the conservatives are very clearly signaling that there are "bad""

Is it only the conservatives doing this? If we look broadly on issues, because protesting in this context is a proxy for the issues that are "good" or "dad", then certainly everyone is signaling this is bad and the other is good. It is the essence of the culture war, the battle between good and evil.

"I'm not sure agree though that economics and wealth are not a dividing line. I actually think it is increasingly relevant."

I won't argue that they don't exist, but no one is really questioning the free market or capitalism. Not even the people who traditionally questioned it. It is the current paradigm and the differences in economic policy between the big parties are almost non existent. People like Andrew Yang are rare and they don't get any traction. I am not saying this is right or wrong, just that when the policy makers share the same bedrock of ideas on economic (the rights) and social policy (the leftist), culture is the only thing left to fight over. It's not a new thing in politics, but it has emerged as more and more important in light of all the broad agreements on all the "petty" stuff. Yes free market is a good thing, yes everyone should have a vote, yes everyone should have equal opportunity etc.

There are many specific policy issues, that are different within a paradigm, but they don't really energize the masses. The reality is that that tax decrease is chump change, this new environmental policy will never affect you. That is the vast majority of policy, boring, nerdy and apathy inducing. To some degree what I am saying, validates your points.
But who politicized culture?

This mantra is often found in the left, "everything is political". I think you are giving conservatives too much credit. If you look at the development, conservatives and right wingers are late to the cultural battle field. The left came, saw and conquered in the late 60's, (while the right went pffff culture) and have dominated the scene virtually unchallanged. They have dictated the narrative and set the media agenda for decades and only recently, with the internet, been challenged on this front.

"not necessarily where and how much."

You could actually say this about most culture war issues, don't you think? e.g Yes the state should assure everyone is treated fairly (everyone nods), but toxic discussion ensues over whether the state should ear mark a number of spots for women and minorities in every class/workplace.
Mon Mar 22 11:41:44
"One thing for a temporary curfew under emergency powers that expire.

Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.

Its a crazy new lae, granted.But did the lockdowns not pave the way?
Mon Mar 22 11:48:19
Nimatzo, "People like Andrew Yang are rare and they don't get any traction."

His ideas have though.Yang and Tulsi oddly enough have had noticeable Republican crossover support.

There is the Libertarian case for UBI. The problem seems to be that "right" wingers are thought to be against any and all safety nets, thats a false assumption.

Milton Freidman had argued for a negative income tax in lieu of a beurocratic clusterfuck, just give them cash.
Sam Adams
Mon Mar 22 12:12:22
Why would the people revolt against such a logical and same British government?


Brighton set to ban disposable barbecues under plan to tackle climate change
‘There are some real problems with disposable barbecues,’ local authority says
large member
Mon Mar 22 15:42:54
There are some real problem with disposable barbecues.
Tue Mar 23 04:51:13
Disposal stuff, is so 90's. What are we, bachelors? Real men have real BBQs made of STEEL.

Look at this Danish stuff. It runs on woodchip pellets and you can start it over WIFI! Because it has WIFI!


I don't know about you, but I am getting one.
Tue Mar 23 05:12:04
I don't know. If it has wifi it means that your neighbor could hack it and fuck with your cooking, which has the potential to lead to violence. Why do you need wifi on your grill anyways?
Tue Mar 23 06:16:35

"Is it only the conservatives doing this?"

Yes. I'm talking about the Conservative government and the parliamentary party, and how they are describing and presenting the changes they have drafted, that they are taking before parliament, and they are voting for; to their constituents.

You can "both-sides" this one I'm afraid.
Tue Mar 23 06:17:33

"Its a crazy new lae, granted.But did the lockdowns not pave the way?"

No. The conservatives have prior form on this.
Tue Mar 23 15:03:39
"You can "both-sides" this one I'm afraid."

I guess you can't if you view everything in isolation.
Tue Mar 23 15:49:49

No, I mean you *literally* cannot "both sides" it - my statement refers to the specific actions of the conservative government and MPs defense of their support for the bill. Asking what left wing people think isn't relevant: they don't control the legislative agenda, nor hold cabinet positions and are opposing the bill.

Obviously, if the bill does pass and the shoe ends on the other foot, a left wing govt may crack down on protests on right wing issues; while allowing left wing causes to go ahead.

But that's by the by: the reason the bill has broad ranging powers is because the govt is keen to shore up support by deepening the culture war: Lockdown protests good and will be alloewd. BLM bad. Will be banned. Taste the salty lib tears.

It's deeply bad governance and an irresponsible approach to civil and political rights.
Tue Mar 23 16:21:24
"It's deeply bad governance and an irresponsible approach to civil and political rights."

Applies to all of Europe. Failure of a continent
Wed Mar 24 02:39:48
I asked is life is so bad, you said ”this is the problem with culture war issues”. So you may literally be correct on conservatives re ”protests”, but my question had a bigger scope and ao does the culture war.
Wed Mar 24 03:28:03

"Is life in the UK so bad that rioting is warranted?"

No, not generally. However the only riots in the news recently are narrowly on the issue of the policing bill, which was deliberately set out to provoke opposition and play to the "taste the salty liberal tears" vote.
Wed Mar 24 05:22:39
"are narrowly on the issue of the policing bill"

To predict what triggers these things is impossible, but the idea that the trigger is The reason, I don't believe that for a second. You shouldn't either.

"deliberately set out to provoke opposition"

My point is, this didn't happen in isolation, it didn't fall out of the sky, but is part of a series of tit for tat provokations and escalations. A slow erosion of trust and civility.
Wed Mar 24 05:49:22
I find this scary and fascinating, because in another thread I am talking about how digital services act as distractions. Effectively rendering the safety valves out of function. Instead of release at safe levels, pressure builds up beyond what the system was dimensioned for. Then suddenly a video emerges of a man being kneeled on, a young women is murdered by a cop or a piece of legislation is passed.. riots!

The flip side is that digital services are also fueling the building up of pressure, not just masking their importance.

These question are not directed are you seb, but I honestly wonder about them, openly.

Why is anyone still interested in policy and ideology, when the political system in which they emerge and evolve is increasingly dysfunctional? I keep going back to something W.E Deming said:

"Put a good person in a bad system, and the system will win every time"

I would extend that to ideas, put good ideas into a bad system, and the system will win every time.

Why do I find immigrants (from real shitholes) who have lived in the west for 15-30 years, losing faith in democracy? Something is horribly wrong, beyond the combined ability of Boris Johnsson, Labor and UKIP.

I'm gonna stop ranting now...
Thu Mar 25 03:06:20

The riot started as an organised protest at the policing bill.

I'm not sure it's origins are all that mysterious.

Thu Mar 25 03:11:29

"y, but is part of a series of tit for tat provokations and escalations"

Provocations and escalations such as the overwhelming left wing government we have had over the last decade?

The conservatives have been in power since 2010, with their policies increasingly playing to their core voters. There's a term in British politics "throwing some red meat".

The govt under may and Johnson have turned that into their MO, and they are constantly looking for culture war issues to build policy and govt Comms around since brexit as the main way to sustain their electoral coalition.

They aren't a symptom of the culture war, that are a major (not sole, but major) driver of it, as a way to create an electoral coalition that will sustain a majority.

This, in my view, is deeply irresponsible.

Thu Mar 25 03:14:28
I mean, just check out the whole shit about flags this week.


This is an actual MP on the most powerful parliamentary committee, in actual session, demanding the BBC provide details on how many flags were printed in its last report. Because right now the thing of the week is "remainers hate the flag"

Thu Mar 25 03:16:30
And by the way, this came from nowhere other than a comedian making a joke that over the last few weeks, Tory MPs have taken to having their zoom calls in front of increasingly large numbers of large Union jacks in a way that's starting to look a bit like a low budget re-enactment of V for Vendetta.

Thu Mar 25 04:33:19
I understand we can do a post-mortem after the fact and figure out how the riots started. My assertion was nobody can predict them and they don’t even make sense viewed in isolation. They are release points for other systemic issues, known and unknown.

I do not believe in the idea that this all started with conservatives, it isn’t what I am observing in politics in Sweden, USA or even in Iran. I do not think the UK is exceptional, that is your job :)

The conservatives are responding to something, wokism on the left, which itself was a response to something else and so on, there is a reason old people warn us about history repeating itself, because it does, sometimes it is accompanied by benny hill music. I am reminded that you even deny that these issues even existed in your country prior to Brexit, because the term “culture war” wasn’t used in Britain prior to that, correct me if I am wrong. Is it fair to say, you believe conservatives imported the entire culure war phenomena to the UK during Brexit. Close enough? I think I know enough about your country to not believe this premise, but to argue this with examples, I would need to do research. I am not ready for such a commitment, I think we should meet and discuss with other people.

I will say this, the fact that the British left and libs have not been doing great in the political scene for a decade, the fact that the British conservatives seem to be on an offensive, and I would add kept their own relatives to other western european conservatives and even Americans, these things you brought up, they are all evidence for a culture war, not that the conservatives started it.
Thu Mar 25 05:08:36

A bunch of people announce they are opposed to the policing bill because it allows the SoS to ban protest if they pose even a risk of "serious annoyance" and selectively decide which may take place.

They protest.

The protest becomes a riot.

This isn't galaxy brain stuff.

large member
Thu Mar 25 05:45:56
"serious annoyance"

Is that defined by british commonlaw, or is it a new term someone invented for the purpose of the bill?
Thu Mar 25 05:46:19
Effective Government isn't about reflexive responding.

Sure, you can talk about how diffuse population and "tribes" within society respond etc in this way.

But Government is deliberative. The Government isn't helpless here, nothing about extinction rebellion or the BLM protests in the UK merit new laws - indeed protest is far more peaceful than it was in the 80s, for example.

The reason these have been created is simply so that the government can point to them and say "look, we are stopping the people talking about things you don't like".

This is irresponsible, and it is a deliberate choice taken by a cabinet of 21 that share collective responsibility for government policy. Of course they can be held accountable.

The fact that they are actively trying to create and promote point issues that fit into the culture war in order to stoke it is undeniable.

Thu Mar 25 06:16:36
Culture Wars: The Media and the British Left

Culture Wars charts the battle between two generations, one shaped by the immediate post-war period and the other by the cultural revolt of the 1960s. It was a clash that first exploded into life in the 1980s, when the Conservative press and government ridiculed radical young councillors as the 'loony left', and turned them into the pariahs of contemporary politics. This cultural victory proved shortlived. The values and political agenda of the urban left made significant advances in the 1990s and 2000s when the sixties generation moved into positions of power. The book offers key insights for different disciplines: *For media studies, it offers a compelling account of how the media represent, and influence, social change. *For cultural studies, it illuminates the way in which the culture of society is a battleground between generations and opposed value groups. *For the social sciences, it documents how the rise of women, immigration, gay liberation and concern about the environment were mediated, and became the subjects of debate, political conflict, and regulation.* For the general reader, it offers a very readable account of the entry of 1960s values into mainstream politics, and the culture wars that have been fought ever since.

"This is irresponsible"

but it neither a new phenomena, nor exclusive to conservatives. Values and feelz, we all have them.
Thu Mar 25 07:11:41
Nim, this is frankly insane whatabouttery.

"Conservatives" here doesn't mean some diffuse collection of individuals, institutions and organizations that make up the conservative political faction in society.

I mean specifically the Conservative Parliamentary Party and Conservative Government.

These are discrete, specific actors that undertake discrete, specific actions that can be held to account; and it is very easy to look at how this government is behaving and its political strategy and compare it to others.

The difference is that they are specifically legislating on micro issues with the deliberate intent to provoke backlash and support, as a means of media management.

This is not how the Cameron govt. behaved. It is not how the Brown govt behaved. It is not how the Blair govt behaved. It is not how the Major govt behaved. It is not how the Thatcher govt behaved.

It is a phenomenon specific to May and in particular the Johnson govt - performative legislation structured specifically with the intent to provoke division in order to garner support and keep the news cycle focused on irrelevancies. I.e. turns the normal goal of winning elections in order to be able to effect policy changes born out of principle on it's head, instead making policy and law in terms of what will create most division in the country so as to win elections.

"Oh, but they are responding to wokeism..." is not a sane analytical response here; it's not only irrelevant, it is fundamentally missing the point under discussion.

You want to know why the culture war is deepening - the answer is in part because the govt is actively trying to deepen it so as it sees it as a more suitable battlefield for the next election.

Thu Mar 25 07:18:51
tl;dr culture war isn't new; pursuing culture war objectives when in power isn't new.

But the active stoking of culture war by frivolous policy and legislation designed to provoke and exacerbate it because the culture war *itself* is considered an electoral asset is something very new in the UK.

It's a strategy the republicans have been using for a bit (even before Trump) and that the Conservatives adopted when they saw the electoral strategic situation in the UK for them is similar to that facing the Republican's, and that it worked in the US for the Republicans.

As long as the culture war is kept aflame, it will keep creating and throwing out totemic issues that can then be leveraged electorally, and a major part of this strategy is then to keep stoking those fires so that sane and rational focus on traditional metrics of government performance do not become the key factor in determining elections.
Fri Mar 26 11:10:27
I really don't like to google petty things... but here are some other "micro issues".

Cameron’s government has announced some of the most draconian public-sector cuts any developed country government has ever attempted. Indeed, his minister of education recently declared that funding for Britain’s universities would be slashed by as much as 40%.

But the most shocking aspect of the move is that arts and humanities departments will be targeted more aggressively than science and engineering, which are supposedly better for business."

The most shocking aspect being the attack on the institutional foundation of the left, the arts and humanities that produce all the social justice papers. Coincidence?


"Signalling a radical departure from the strategies of previous governments, Mr Cameron said that Britain must adopt a policy of "muscular liberalism" to enforce the values of equality, law and freedom of speech across all parts of society.

He warned Muslim groups that if they fail to endorse women's rights or promote integration, they will lose all government funding. All immigrants to Britain must speak English and schools will be expected to teach the *country's common culture."

*nationalist/conservative values. A radical departure from previous government. SHOTS FIRED!


"Watch out, universities; I'm bringing the fight for equality in Britain to you: article by David Cameron

...said he wants to legislate ‘to place a new transparency duty on universities to publish data routinely about the people who apply to their institution… and who gets offered a place.’ This ‘will include a full breakdown of their gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic background’."

^here again fighting for leftist values and apparently wanted to inventory people based on sex, ethnicity and their parents income. This wouldn't be one of those culture war topic, you and I and other have discussed here, no? A Micro issue I would call it.

Not only did Cameron partake, he tried to please everyone. Didn't work so well.

Google stuff and reconcile the recent history of your country.

"Nim, this is frankly insane whatabouttery"

Maybe that is what you are doing, but I said this:

"Why is anyone still interested in policy and ideology, when the political system in which they emerge and evolve is increasingly dysfunctional?"

My own convictions notwithstanding and to put it in other words: I am concerened about "The Realm", not the house that rules it.

My "whataboutism", is directly aimed at your "yea but the conservatives are just the worst". I asked you, "is it only the conservatives?" If ever there is a time to say, what about all these other things that happened before, it is when a person is completely clueless to their share or guilt in the emerging shitfest and how history brough them there.

Or! we can go back and obeserve things in isolation, as if they fall from the sky for no reason. We can attribute opportunistic and shortsighted motives to our rivals e.g "to provoke division in order to garner support", and think we are just the BEST! Well seb, we ain't, because a garbage disposal, turns everything into garbage. Food, books, a hand, everything turn into garbage when it goes through "the process".
Fri Mar 26 17:24:19
A force takes on all frenemies in order to increase strength. It is not a single edged sword, yet. I seriously resisted my urge to post in this thread, but obviously have failed.

Conglomerate transitional politics in action.

The primer ignites the explosive. It's a possessive path will eventually lead to an autocratic government. Bummer, it's a matter of tick tocks.
Fri Mar 26 17:40:52

The argument that arts and Humanities are a the heartlands of liberalism is a bit tendentious.

They kept funding higher for STEM because the degrees cost more and the research is more directly linked to economic growth.

This is somewhat different to the examples we are talking about here, even if you hadn't fundamentally mischaricterised the policies themselves they are at best examples of govts prosecuting their constituents objectives in the culture war; rather than trying to create further points of difference.

My argument isn't yea but the conservatives are just the worst".

Thatcher, Major and Cameron were conservatives.

Rather, it is the irresponsible policy of this govt to deliberately seek to create and promulgate division.
Fri Mar 26 17:41:36
No same or reasonable conservative would support trying to undermine and divide society.
Fri Mar 26 17:43:09
Of course, your inability to perceive the difference, so wedded are you to the culture war mentality, only demonstrates why it is valuable for the govt to ensure the culture war deepens and widens.
Sun Mar 28 10:16:32
”The argument that arts and Humanities are a the heartlands of liberalism is a bit tendentious.”

Up is down, blue is walnut.
Sun Mar 28 17:57:47

And yet you have oodles of conservative wing politicians that are history, politics and philosophy graduates.

Be careful not to protect American context onto the UK.
Sun Mar 28 17:59:09
The Grauniad trying to argue that austerity was particularly targeted at the left rather than a broad set of cuts was always a bit bonkers.
Sun Mar 28 18:05:40
As was the idea that a Humanities degree with no consumables should get the same amount as a chemistry degree requiring at least three times the facilities overheads in sq feet, let alone kit and consumables.

Let's say you have picked the worst possible example and not even go there. I spent a good six months on the tuition fees campaigns back under Blair - the coalition changes were long overdue on that respect: they were killing STEM subjects and leading to departmental closures as it was. If they had cut HEFCE subsidy and transferred it to fees, they'd have had to double the maximum loan, lift the fee cap and half the courses would still have been closed on financial grounds. If that could have got away with it, they'd have axed stem funding too. A as it is, even the limited fees rises the coalition govt agreed killed they Liberal party.

So, no, that's absolutely not an example of a govt trying to create or expand a culture war.
Thu Apr 01 05:23:39
The explanations are not relevant, I may even agree with you on some of them. The point is how they emerge and are percieved by the different sides. You probably can guess, that *I* am not on the same side as Wolf on that issue, yet I am aware of how she and others percieved it and where that article fits in the culture war.

Otherwise I would be denying the importance of issues in broader society, because I disagree with them as important or valid. These are two different things. I can agree with you that some of these grievances are silly and imaginary, but yet I do not deny the societal impact of these imaginary grievances, AKA the culture war.
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