Active Thinking Topic 78  - Do We Need Culture Wars?

17 March 2024

Any replies to the organizer -

Venue: Zoom online

Recommended Viewing: Recommended video: DOUGLAS MURRAY (9 Mar 2024) "The Dangerous Weaponisation of Identity-Based Grievances". The Equiano Project @     [18 minutes]

Talking Points

1. We hear the term, 'culture wars' a lot. For you, what exactly comes to mind when you hear it?

2. Have we ever lived in a place where everyone had the same ideas and beliefs? What would be the pluses and minuses of such a scene?

3. What is your favourite culture war? Why?

4. How new is the politicization of culture wars? Is the present unique in this, or part of a cyclical pattern?

5. What is the role of media in culture wars? What part does profit play in exploiting cultural difference? (e.g. Here is a quote from Dr John Hewson, ex federal leader of the Liberal party: "At a meeting with the then editor of The Australian newspaper, I was told I needed to understand they had an agenda ... if I advocated off their agenda, I could expect to be chastised and criticised for doing so, and that was a certainty." (  )

6. What kind of political motives lead to riding the wave of culture wars? How new is this? How influenced is the Australian political performance by the Washington model?

7. Universities, or rather their academics, are often blamed for putting subversive/divisive cultural ideas into the heads of impressionable university students. Is this accusation justified? If it is true, how significant is it? How new is the process?

8. The current Russian regime, the Soviet regime before it, and perhaps the PRC, are said to have a long history of stirring cultural conflict amongst social groups in Australia (and the West generally). The objective, it is said, to weaken Russia's enemies ( = the West generally) internally. How credible are these accusations? If true, what can be done about it?

9. There are now over 300 home cultures in the Australian population (Vs for example 1945 when 97% of the population had Anglo-Celtic origins). Does this mean that so-called culture wars are inevitable? How can this situation be managed. How well is Australia handling this compared to, say, USA?

10. There is a difference between seeing a problem and deciding how or whether it should be solved. In a monoculture there is often broad agreement about what the problems are, but divisions on the manner of solving them. This perhaps has been the traditional division between liberal/progressive views and conservative views. When quite different cultures are co-existing in the social-political space, there may not even be agreement on what the significant problems are. How does this relate to the 'culture wars'?

Extra Reading & Viewing

DOUGLAS MURRAY (9 Mar 2024) "The Dangerous Weaponisation of Identity-Based Grievances". The Equiano Project @ 

Steven Pinker (2018 ) "Why do progressives hate progress?" Breakthrough Institute @  [Thor, comment: Don't be misled by the title. Pinker is subtle. His main focus is on what progress means]

Steven Pinker (1 Feb 2024) "What’s Wrong with Our Universities?" Heterodox Academy @ 

Wikipedia (2024) "Culture War" @  [Quote: "In political science, a culture war is a type of cultural conflict between different social groups who struggle to politically impose their own ideology (beliefs, virtues, practices) upon their society. In political usage, the term culture war is a metaphor for "hot-button" politics about values and ideologies, realized with intentionally adversarial social narratives meant to provoke political polarization among the mainstream of society over economic matters of public policy and of consumption. As practical politics, a culture war is about social policy wedge issues that are based on abstract arguments about values, morality, and lifestyle meant to provoke political cleavage in a multicultural society."]

Peter Savodnik (March 6, 2024) ""‘Huge confusion’: The great masses swap parties in the USA". The Australian @ 
[Thor, comment: Highly recommended. This is behind a paywall, but I can send anyone interested a copy]

ABC News (7 Feb 2024) "The culture wars continue in Canberra as parliament returns | 7.30 ABC News In-depth". ABC @ 

David Pakman Show (21 May 2023 ) The world thinks our culture war is insane -- Caller looks at the American culture war from an international perspective" [ref. USA]. Youtube @ 

Media Watch ABC News (17 May 2022) "Trans culture war fails to gain traction during election campaign." Youtube @ c

Niall Ferguson (29 Feb 2024) "After the Treason of the Intellectuals". University of Austin @  [Quote: "Niall Ferguson on why the time to found the University of Austin is now. “Individual freedom is the sine qua non for the pursuit of truth. This is why we won’t fail. This is why we must succeed. A hundred intrepid young people will be in the founding class. We are in the midst of hiring the world-class faculty to teach them, and to teach them to the highest possible pedagogical standard.”]

Wikipedia (2024) "Edward Bernays - 1891-1995) @  [Quote: ""... an American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda, and referred to in his obituary as "the father of public relations" ... Citing works of writers such as Gustave Le Bon, Wilfred Trotter, Walter Lippmann, and Sigmund Freud (his own double uncle), he described the masses as irrational and subject to herd instinct—and he outlined how skilled practitioners could use crowd psychology and psychoanalysis to control them in desired ways".


Do We Need Culture Wars? (c) Thor May 2024

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