Corbyn's grievance-mongering manifesto shows the shape of things to come
Earlier this year, footage of the annual conference of the "Democratic Socialists of America" went viral, to the delight of many social media users. It has to be seen to be believed. Each speaker, address ingtheir gathered comrades, begins their introduction by expressing their preferred pronoun. One delegate (“James Jackson, Sacramento, he/him”) appeals for the noise in the hall to be kept to a minimum, being “very prone to sensory overload”, only to be castigated by a fellow attendee for deploying “gendered language” (Jackson had used the word "guys").
This may be top entertainment for cynical Brits, but as they say in Glasgow, it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Wokeness, as practised by the US Left, encourages the eager grasping of offence in order to depict oneself as a victim –the highest status in the burgeoning wokeocracy. Worryingly, it’s heading in our direction.
There was more than a glimmer of this political we a ponising of victim hood in Labour’s launch of its Race and Faith manifesto earlier today-much of which is simply adding flesh to what was already announced in the manifesto last week: a government audit of the legacy of the British Empire.
Under a Labour government, Britain’ se vil doings across the globe from the 17th to the 20th century will be taught in schools. Of course there is nothing wrong in teaching history and being open about our own country’s historic misdemeanours. Many British schools and syllabi do so already. But I confess to some uneasiness when politicians –especially those with little academic or teaching background –aspire to tell parents what they believe is in the best interests of their children to learn. The clear intent is to stoke up even greater levels of discontent onuniversity campuses and beyond than exist today.
Rather than coming to terms with our colonial past, students are increasingly demanding that statues and portraits of figures who died centuries ago be removed. These students are apparently "offended" by the statues and as we all know by now, the giving or taking of offence is notto be tolerated under any circumstances.
It’s even happening in Glasgow. Various street names that reflect Britain’s colonial history –Jamaica Street, Virginia Street and Tobago Street, for example –were named for the wealth various Scottish merchants brought to the city via industries such as tobacco, which used slave labour. A hideous legacy, to be sure. But surely changing the street names to something more modern and inclusive would serve only to relegate such concerns to the back of our minds? This would be an easy alternative to facing the difficult truths of the past, not a means to do so.
Labour hope to redraw the National Curriculum in order to add topics that the party believes should shape the opinions and minds of our future generations. This is an essential part of the worldview of the Left–particularly the far Left, from which Corbyn hails. While most of the population manages to move beyond the self-flagellation and self-loathing that often accompanies an inspection of Britain’s imperial past, the Left rejoice in blaming modern Britain for 19th century Britain’s sins.
Shortly after the end of the Falklands conflict in 1982, I was approached by a canvasser working for the Revolutionary Communist Party (she’s probably in the Shadow Cabinet by now) asking me to share her opposition to Britain’s occupation of “the Malvinas”. She then explained patiently why it would have been better if the fascist junta in Argentina had not been prevented from imposing its will on the Falkland Islanders.
Britain, to be sure, was responsible for a great deal of terrible things done in the name of patriotism (and some good things too). But why the need to explore such topics any more than they already are in classrooms? In order to lay blame, presumably. Yet the guilt for appalling acts of violence and subjugation lies with long-dead men; British citizens need feel no more responsible for the evils of Empire than modern day Americans should for slavery.
If there is a shortfall in schools’ syllabuses about the empire (or any other subject), then it should be filled by teachers rather than politicians. Otherwise this will not be an attempt to reconcile ourselves with our complicated past, but to create unnecessary division.
A far more instructive and informed addition to the curriculum would focus on Russia and its own, rather more contemporary, imperial ambitions. But I suspect that’s unlikely under a government ledby Jeremy Corbyn.