It is a truism that over the past decades, politics in many Western democracies has drifted away from an economic axis of left and right to one of liberal-authoritarian, open-closed, or anywhere-somewhere. Increasingly, issues of identity and culture such as immigration, minority rights, and nationality have been pushed up the political agenda, demonstrating cultural divides underlying these societies, and Britain is no different. With this development, we have seen an increasing number of squabbles over symbolic events, policies, or individuals which have provided flashpoints in these cultural conflicts. Of course, the reality is that most people find themselves somewhere in the middle, or bemused by it all – but for the participants, these Culture Wars are very significant and now threaten to overshadow the rather mundane business of actual politics.
It has occurred to me that many of these battles in the Culture War are now seasonal, and so I have endeavoured to provide an almanac so that observers can follow it all the year round. With my notes on how best to participate, you too can jump headfirst into the inanity!
It’s a slow start to the Culture War year – though remember, newspapers, politicians, and your own febrile imagination can produce more than enough material for mutual suspicion and anger during the slow period! And fear not – things really begin to warm up around Easter. It’s the season when people who haven’t been near a church in decades and possess a rather sketchy knowledge of the teachings of Jesus Christ become very concerned about how Britain is losing its Christian identity – and, specifically, the incorrect labelling of chocolate eggs. Earlier this year Theresa May even joined in the fun, demonstrating the popular touch that has just led her to electoral victory. (Please note: any politician thinking of making an Easter statement indicating sincere belief in the tenets of Christianity should resist the temptation, as it will make you look a bit ‘fruity’.)
Don’t worry, liberals – you aren’t left out completely! If you have access to a podcast/Facebook/friends willing to tolerate your ill-informed rants, you can completely undermine the whole idea of Easter by wildly misrepresenting Medieval sources. Currently favoured is something about Easter being named after the Saxon goddess of fecundity, but alternatively whatever bollocks you found on Reddit this week will do. Remember: it’s important that, at the same time, you make sure to preen yourself on your rationality.
23rd April: St George’s Day
Cry God for Harry, England, and St. George! Or you would if you were even allowedto mention England any more, but you can’t, thanks to multiculturalism… Thankfully this is the one day that you, a no-nonsense plain talker who loves his country and is very, very concerned about ‘mass immigration’, can express your pride in your Englishness, even if you do it the other 364 days of the year as well. And what better way to demonstrate your love of country than a litany of resentment against various other nations including Scotland (feel free to note that the PC liberals don’t ever accuse the SNP of being racists, funny that), and darkly alluding to the fact that the BBC would rather celebrate Eid instead. Feel assured that by pushing your own brand of insular nationalism you are definitely adding to our great island story! Meanwhile, liberals should mark St. George’s Day by taking to Twitter and making the very original and persuasive observation that St. George was actually Turkish.
1st May: May Day, International Day of Workers
This feast had gone into abeyance in recent years, but thankfully the elevation of Jeremy Corbyn and a Shadow Chancellor who throws Mao’s Little Red Book around the Commons has revived this traditional Daily Mail favourite. The May Day assembly of a gaggle of desiccated Marxists at Trafalgar Square produces enough pictures to flesh out a comment article warning of the evils of Stalinism, and in particular its fellow travelers, The Labour Party. Meanwhile, on social media, you can continue the ever-fruitful historical debate of Who Was Worse: Hitler Or Stalin?
23rd June: 1st anniversary of the vote to leave the European Union
This is a new addition to the almanac this year, but is sure to become a fast favourite. In much the same way that the Roman Republic turned the dates of its great military defeats into Black Days of ill omen, Remainers can treat the day as an opportunity for extravagant mourning of the kind last seen at a mid-Victorian funeral. Meanwhile, with a typical sense of proportion, we can look forward to Brexiters declare the 23rd as Independence Day with the same gusto as if they were celebrating the Liberation of Paris.
Note for celebrants: it is now customary for Oxbridge-educated right wing journalists earning six figures and living in Surrey to write columns about the victory of the people over the elites, and how left liberals are hopelessly out of touch with the working man. Please also note that this day is especially devoted to wild generalisations on the grounds of social class, locality, age, education, etc etc – nuance is not allowed! On the other hand, increasingly tortuous bending of the rules of mathematics to generate a pleasingly large/small percentage for your Twibbon is encouraged.
This is normally considered the ‘silly season’ when Parliament is out of session, people go on holiday, and the supply of news dries up. What better time for angrily scrapping over meaningless totems? The lead up to the Conservative Party conference can be relied upon to deliver a steady stream of inane chunks of red meat into the right wing media to keep their base happy, although observers are sceptical that anything can match last year’s ‘blue passports’ pledge. The return of students to university provides an opening for more than a few articles about ‘Stepford Students’, intolerant authoritarians in thrall to PC dogma/weak and feeble jellies hiding in their safe space who can’t face the real world. The appearance of hot weather also provides an opportunity to excitedly discuss exactly what women should (and shouldn’t) wear and do with their own bodies. Use your imagination – the long British summer offers many opportunities for indignation and willful misunderstanding!
11th November: Remembrance Day
Why decide that a solemn day for marking our nation’s war dead is an inappropriate time to indulge in the new Culture Wars? If anything, this emotionally charged commemoration of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice is the perfect occasion to stick one to the other tribe! It is now traditional, some time in the middle of October, for a liberal talking head (Jon Snow?) to warn of ‘creeping poppy fascism’, demonstrating the kind of sensitivity and awareness that makes British journalism great. Meanwhile, the tabloid press does its best to live up to this descriptor by pouncing on every man, woman, child, and furry animal seen on live television without a Poppy (NB: by no means is it going too far to suggest that Pudsey The Bear should wear one). On Remembrance Sunday itself carefully scrutinise the Leader of the Labour Party at the Cenotaph, lest he demonstrate by a single gesture his disrespect. If he does, feel free to use this shamelessly for political advantage.
December: The War On Christmas
In the cavalcade of inane cultural spats, we have left the best til last! This was the first seasonal events to rouse the ire of conservatives, who, fearing that the season of goodwill was slowly being eroded by progressive secularism, decided to spend most of the month of December grumbling angrily about ‘the PC Brigade’. Like all the ‘best’ Culture War cause celebres, this was pioneered by the Americans, although the story of ‘Winterval’ lights has been circulating since Richard Littlejohn was in short trousers.
Note to celebrants: traditionally the main target for War On Christmas stories has been humourless politically correct lefties, but in recent years increasingly people are cutting out the middle man and just blaming religious minorities, particularly Muslims. Please note that denouncing the supposed disappearance of Christmas does NOT prevent you from complaining about Christmas decorations appearing in the shops earlier every year.