Baroness Warsi: The Dialectic of Culture War

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by John Davies

The news came this morning. I read the headline. My bottom lip trembling, I scanned the lines with trepidation: “Tell me this is a joke” I thought to myself. Finishing reading the concluding paragraph of the article, emotions welled up inside my being. I was, for a tense period, overcome with sorrow and anguish… “poor Sayeeda” I whisper to myself. Our Sayeeda is gone. She was our symbol of hope in this world of rich white men dominating all the media, the banks, the entire public sphere.

The Tories say they’re in favour of a meritocracy… are they hell… they’re just another bunch of privileged babies – a bunch of white men, straight out of Oxford; have never done a proper days work in their lives. The best thing they ever did was make our Sayeeda a cabinet minister. I remember when she was made the first even Female Asian Baroness – I was so happy, I was so elated, finally my oppressed brethren were breaking the glass ceiling and Britain was finally embracing its ethnic minorities with open arms. The racism and the sexism that permeates our society, was finally being beaten back – but how wrong I was, the evil white misogynist sexist has tightened his grip across our oppressed throats and has gotten rid of poor Sayeeda.

Right – time to get serious. I hope you enjoyed my little role-playing exercise; I’ve been going to cultural sensitivity classes to try and get over my racial sickness, and one of the recommended exercises is to put myself in the shoes of an “oppressed” individual. So, I thought I’d give it a go and give a synthesised view from an Asian-feminist; I hope you enjoyed it, but now for my take on events.

Sayeeda Warsi’s high profile comes almost entirely from the fact that she is an Asian, a Muslim and a female. If she was a European, Christian, male, her profile would be considerably reduced – in fact I would be comfortable in presupposing that if it wasn’t by virtue of her ethnic and religious background, she would just by another sycophantic careerist politician struggling to find constituency associations that will accept them as a PPC.

Therefore, we can conclude that Warsi is simply successful due to the Conservative party embracing the precepts of positive discrimination as some force for the moral good that is the equalisation of those perceived as disadvantaged.

However, beyond her being a placeman for the PC-vanguards within the Conservative party, she is neither overtly socially liberal nor overtly socially authoritarian. Tracking her record on such issues as homosexual civil rights one finds that her position tends to reflect the midpoint of opinion within the party and that her opinion morphs to mirror the shift in Conservative opinion over the past several years.

In the 2005 General Election, the Warsi campaign in the Dewsbury constituency distributed leaflets decrying Labour’s decision to scrap Section 28 and to reduce the age of consent for homosexuals from 18 to 16, saying that the changes allowed for: “schoolchildren to be propositioned for homosexual relationships” [1].

This is contrasted with her attitude to homosexual rights and more specifically the issue of civil partnerships during her appearance on the controversial edition of Question Time featuring Nick Griffin MEP where she declared that: “I think that people who want to be in a relationship together, in the form of a civil partnership, absolutely have the right to that.” [2]

This declaration of support for civil partnerships, coupled with a refusal to comment on the government’s plan to pursue a policy of total equality in the sphere of marriage, in other words, the passing legislation allowing for gay marriage.

Sayeeda Warsi also served as the Conservative party’s populist mouthpiece on immigration, Islam and integration. Not having the moral courage to stand and take the heat from the left over opposition to mass immigration, the Tory leadership decided to deploy Warsi as their secret weapon. I mean who could call an Asian woman opposing militant Islam a racist? She has been one of the first mainstream political figures to come out and say that those who vote British National Party have some legitimate concerns – this was before it was popular – even before Ed Miliband conceded that the Labour party had been too carried away with excitement over our world becoming a global village [3].

Warsi has also come into collision with members of the Muslim community over support of the Afghanistan war along with theological disagreements, leading them to call her an improper Muslim. It is without doubt certain that she uses her status as a Muslim to establish a political advantage; whether or not she is a good Muslim is also debatable, her sanctioning of the British governments wars in Iraq and the Afghanistan doesn’t indicate a sense of solidarity with her fellow Muslims – solidarity of fellow Muslims being a key part of a function Islamic community. Also, she is known to make use of cosmetic products and to dress in the western style; furthermore, for a Muslim the word of god is law, and the word of god is written in the Qu’ran, this surely means that a good Muslims would press for the laws of the Qu’ran to be passed in the House of Commons – I’m deploying simple logic here – but she has not done so.

Good Muslim, working class Yorkshire lass or a credible politician?
She’s none!

Warsi’s use of her background for political advantage extends to other aspects of her identity. She often speaks of how she is a working mum from the North of England, as if it automatically qualifies her as disadvantaged – are Northern working mums inherently more disadvantaged than working mums from Scotland, or the East or South of England? She makes political capital of coming from Dewsbury, a town seen as deprived by many, and that her father was a mill worker and an immigrant. However, she clearly must suffer from some form of amnesia because she fails to mention that her father operates a bed manufacturing company, which has an annual turnover of £2 million. She also sends her children to private schools and a member of the Carlton Club, the “oldest, most elite and most important of all Conservative clubs” [4].

Hardly a background or lifestyle of a pauper, this is further exemplification of the point, she is more than happy to use snippets of her personal background as political capital.

Concerning her resignation, what I’ve noticed has been how quick the black and ethnic minority interest groups were in sternly condemning her removal from the cabinet. With the chief executive of Operation Black Vote (I wonder what would happen if I postured as chief-exec of Operation White Vote) said that the Conservative party was “looking more and more like the party of privilege” [5] this is interesting, as, unless he is unaware of Warsi’s own privileged background, he is saying that the Conservative party, by not having an ethnic minority on the front bench are de facto racist and standing for an institutionalised form of racism. No doubt he is aware that Warsi is not a poor woman, and is in fact showing solidarity with another ethnic minority – the whole purpose of the organisation he represents is to further BME (Black and Ethnic Minority) interests in the UK by increasing the proportion of BME people that vote, thereby increasing their influence on the democratic process.

This reaction to Sayeeda Warsi’s sacking is in part hypocritical; Ken Clarke has also been demoted, from Justice Secretary to Warsi’s old job, Minister without Portfolio, despite Clarke being an old man, of 72-years old, no one has spoken out against this injustice. There is not a single person speaking out, calling this an act of ageism, or saying that Clarke’s departure from the senior cabinet will make the party less appealing to the elderly voters? Why is there no Operation Grey Vote? The answer is very simple: an ideology prevails within this society that dictates that those who have traditional held political power within this society, i.e. , white elderly males, are inherently prejudicial and are on the whole acting against the social and political progression of minority groups, so women who want to have a career, homosexuals and others who have non-conformist sexual behaviours, and ethnic and religious minorities.

This is the application of critical theory onto matters such as family composition, race and gender relations; in other words, you have had a group of Marxist theoreticians analysing social relations and have dissected a series of unequal social relations based on traditional western social structuring. This is, essentially the application of the Marxist dialectic on society, and has permeated through contemporary academia. Take for instance, Cultural Studies, cultural studies is in essence the studying the production, interpretation (what it means) and reception (what people think of it) of various cultural artefacts, this could be a CD or a DVD, to a Viking Saga or a piece of Greek poetry; but what the Marxists have done, is analyse this in the context of their own ideological parameters.

Cultural Studies as an academic subject, was principally founded by people who were Marxists or influenced heavily by critical theory. This is how one gets a distorted picture of society – how many contemporary leftists look at the news and observes discrimination and entrenched inequality everywhere, because they have a theoretical starting point and interpret reality (social relations and cultural norms) to suit that theory.

This is why Ken Clarke will not have the chief executive of the fictitious Operation Grey Vote come to his aid after his demotion – and even if Operation Grey Vote did exist, I doubt it would be there to assist rich, white, Ken Clarke – because it doesn’t conform to Marxist cultural theory. For many, this may sound like hocus pocus: “This is just some crazed idiot who see’s Reds under the bed” I hear them cry, but if you do a little research. Go on Wikipedia and research names like Jurgen Harbermas, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, et al, and find out just how far there are ideas are incorporated in modern academic discourse, find how even those in the Conservative party have embraced aspects of their ideas, or don’t even understand the culture war.

This is why it is invaluable that we understand that the right isn’t only about opposing the left at a purely practical political level; it’s not just about immigration, gay marriage and Baroness Warsi getting preferential treatment because she’s a Muslim. It’s about identifying how the left have developed these all-encompassing sociological and cultural critiques – they have mountains of theory that collide with traditional western social practice, and they’ve engaged in cultural war.

They’ve failed to win at the purely political level and have transcended this – hence why a Marxist party in Britain has never commanded a significant proportion of the electorate, yet, Marx’s ideological sons carry so much weight in the halls of Universities and colleges; hence why when you walk into a sociology class it is all “Max Weber this” and “ethnic minorities are faced with a glass ceiling that”.

They’ve achieved domination on that plane, but now it’s time for a right-wing backlash. Jacques Derrida proposed that every piece of text that was passed on the concept of binary opposites (two related terms, opposite in meaning, being used to provide an operation paradigm) could be deconstructed and overturned. Derrida was a cultural Marxist, and he proposed this method of literary critique in order to undermine Western philosophy, culture, our entire metaphysics, the very way we look at ourselves, but there was one fatal problem with his theory. Once you’ve deconstructed a piece of text, all one has to do is deconstruct the deconstruction and one gets what one started off with, and this is what we must do.

Western civilisation has been deconstructed from the inside, by traitors within our own borders – it’s time to deconstruct the deconstruction and rebuild the West!

[1] http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2007/07/11/homophobic-leaflet-used-again-by-tory-candidate/
[2] Question Time, 22 October 2009
[3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-18546849
[4] http://www.carltonclub.co.uk/theclub.asp
[5]http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/380408/20120904/baroness-warsi-cabinet-reshuffle-conservative-party-david.htm

  • John Claverhouse

    “This is the application of critical theory onto matters such as family composition, race and gender relations; in other words, you have had a group of Marxist theoreticians analysing social relations and have dissected a series of unequal social relations based on traditional western social structuring. This is, essentially the application of the Marxist dialectic on society, and has permeated through contemporary academia. Take for instance, Cultural Studies, cultural studies is in essence the studying the production, interpretation (what it means) and reception (what people think of it) of various cultural artefacts, this could be a CD or a DVD, to a Viking Saga or a piece of Greek poetry; but what the Marxists have done, is analyse this in the context of their own ideological parameters.”

    This is extraordinarily contrived. You make the correct claim that critical theory is an attempt to engage in a Marxian critique of the “Culture Industry”, as Adorno might have put it. What you neglect to mention is that this attempt is not widely accepted as a successful evolution of Marxist thought among serious scholars of Marx. To present these people are representatives of Marxism, rather than as representatives of critical theory, just highlights how little you understand about Marxist theory. Marx did not concern himself with the decadent cultural struggle that has been such an area of preoccupation for the New Left (and which has failed, if the end goal was the creation of a socialist state, as in the case of Gramsci!); indeed, there are large Marxist movements dedicated to the promotion of anti-revisionist theory, which frequently encompasses radical opposition to the lunatic idealism of the New Left.

    Then you add that “Marx’s ideological sons carry so much weight in the halls of Universities and colleges”, and cite Max Weber as an example. The problem is, Weber was not a Marxist and is not recognised as one in serious academic circles. That is a terrible example. The “ideological sons” of Marx are people like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hoxha, and even Trotsky. All of them, like Marx, were concerned with the economic sphere above all else. None of them expressed any particular desire to bring “Western culture” to its knees; indeed, the Soviet Union under the leadership of Stalin was the fullest practical application of Marxism-Leninism ever to have been attained, and it was, if anything, socially conservative. Abortion was illegal; the government actively promoted marriage and reproduction; pop music and jazz were viewed as Western products of the counter-revolution, designed to instill liberalised sexual attitudes into young people; instead, classical music was at the centre of Soviet musical culture. I could go on.

    That is a far better example of Marxism than one can find in the works of Adorno, Hockheimer or any of your other peripheral examples, because primacy was always given to the development of the socialist economy and economic class relations. That is what Marxism is about. The attitudes of Marxists in Western Europe and North America toward social and cultural issues are hugely variable, and often lead to theoretical conflicts in which people of certain ideological tendencies (e.g. Marxist-Leninists) denounce others (Trotskyists) as agents of the counter-revolution, primarily because their misguided commitment to critical theory is nothing more than a distraction from actual Marxist analysis. The idea of “Cultural Marxism” is utterly meaningless for that reason, and because the majority of people cited by conspiracy theorists as “Cultural Marxists” have no desire to see a planned socialist economy implemented. Most of them are liberals.

    Lenin himself was opposed to the airing of one’s sexual exploits in a public forum; can you imagine him attending a SlutWalk protest? Of course not, because he would have viewed it as a bourgeois distraction from the serious issue of economic class relations. The point I am trying to make is that use of the term “Cultural Marxism” does little to help your cause. It makes you sound like a conspiracy theorist with no real understanding of Marxist theory. There is no causal link between Marxism (i.e. a revolutionary socialist critique of the capitalist economy) and critical theory (i.e. a series of ideological models designed to critique the “Culture Industry” and its social functions). There are Marxist parties in the UK who are opposed to the European Union and mass-immigration for material economic reasons (e.g. CPB M-L), while others take the line of Trotsky and/or promote the mindless idealism of the New Left (e.g. SWP, SP).

    I will concede that a large number of nominally “Marxist” groups in Europe and America fall into the latter category, but what of it? The Conservative Party in the UK is not what most would think of as conservative, and the Democratic Republic of Korea is not exactly a bastion of democracy. Nominal status is irrelevant. If one is prepared to denounce the modern Conservatives as reformers who’ve betrayed their core principles (they are!), it is worth considering that Western “Marxists” who try to distance themselves from the Soviet Union and China, in favour of the ivory tower pseudo-intellectualism of critical theory, are to Marxism what people like Cameron are to conservatism.

    On the other hand, you might just continue to use terms like “Cultural Marxism” without spending a few moments engaging in a reflexive critique of your own semantic discourse. I would discourage it, but that is up to you. Condemn critical theory for what it is, rather than for what it isn’t.

    P.S. I am not a Marxist, although I do find virtue in some of Marx and Lenin’s writings. I’m just a non-aligned socialist with nothing but contempt for most of the so-called “left” in Western Europe and North America, who are so busy engaging in violent self-flagellation that few of them are capable of producing a scathing critique of the considerable damage being inflicited on us by capitalism. Nonetheless, I think people should avoid circulating distorted misconceptions about all political philosophies, whether it is Marxism, nationalism or anarchism. “Cultural Marxism” is doubtless one of the worst misconceptions doing the rounds nowadays.

  • Peter Terrell

    Dear John Davies
    A very learned political diatribe.
    I’m definitely a ‘grey voter’, not too bright, having to read some of your paragraphs twice to understand what you were saying. Are you aiming to get a majority following? Keep it simple, stupid!
    Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was very lucid on question time and certainly makes satisfying statements. Nevertheless, she stands for some abominations which I’m surprised her faith tolerates.
    You speak quite well of European loving Ken Clarke, but he suffers a lot of leftist views which stick in the craw.
    The reshuffle may, or may not be a step forwards, but I’ve already decided I hate many of the politics of the party I voted for.
    Trusting in prophetical reality, the financial crisis will deepen and Europe will reform into a smaller group, or groups. It will still have feet of clay which will crumble, so I’m not very optimistic for the future; nevertheless I support efforts to preserve our culture.

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