IT IS NOW more than twenty years since Sokal and Bricmont hoaxed the leftwing academic world with their fake paper, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Theory” (“transformative” is a touch of brilliance there). As scientists, both had grown sick of scientific concepts being misused by postmodernist academics to discredit the very basis of objectivity. They knew that the authors of these papers had no knowledge of understanding or the sciences but would nevertheless be accepted as creditable as long as they showed themselves to be bona fide leftists. This included references to the gods of the postwar pantheon of “fools, frauds and firebrands”, as Roger Scruton so aptly called them — Foucault, Derrida, etc.
Sokal and Bricmont thus concocted a paper out of the meaningless verbiage that typified such research at the time and submitted it to a journal called Social Text, who had it peer-reviewed and published as authentic. A furore followed the revelation that the academic world had fallen for such obvious fakery. Despite the laughter and scorn of many, there were still plenty of defenders of nonsense within academia willing to claim the hoax meant nothing at all. Eventually the waters of discord settled, the academic idiocy continued and the Sokal hoax was gratefully forgotten by its critics and left unmentioned to a new generation of left wing scribblers.
WHEN I WAS preparing a short podcast on Peter Pan for some students it occurred to me that some of what I was talking about had a direct relevance to current left of centre politics. This can be boiled down to two points: the first is the overwhelming desire to live in a fantasy world where you do not need to grow up, and the second is the amnesia that accompanies that desire.
We all know that Peter Pan himself is a Lost Boy, who refuses to grow up, preferring to live in Neverland, where he can play to his heart’s delight without having to bear the responsibilities of growing up in the real world. Listening to any leftist is like listening to a Peter Pan promising utopia: you can do what you want, everything will be free because mummy state will provide it, and the rich will pay for it. You don’t have to worry about taking responsibility for your own life or actions.
AS I’M NOT a follower of that tediously over-hyped game known as football I missed the initial outburst of horror that came when a manager of some club made some post-interview comment to some female journo which rocked the whole of western civilisation to its rapidly-decaying foundations because it was (don’t wait for it) sexist and “wholly unacceptable”…
Now it appears this insidious nannying culture of trigger warnings has already arrived — not so much at British universities (though that will be inevitable) but in the hallowed and righteous halls of the broadcast media. There used to be a thing called the watershed at nine o’clock, after which time more adult material could be shown. We didn’t need to be given explicit warnings about filth and violence.
The muckety-mucks are nothing if not interfering prodnoses (that’s one I forgot). When they’re not busy trying to destroy cultures and economies they like nothing better than calling people fascists for what they eat and drink. Now they’ve moved on to identifying them by their haircut. They’ve even named a hair style for them, the “Fashy”. That’s to the point and easy to remember.
THE LAST TIME I attended a march that descended into anything approaching a riot was back in the 1970s in Leeds. It was a protest against the National Front holding an election meeting in a local school. There were a lot of us and not many fascists — then, as now, there weren’t enough Nazis to go around. As Walter Scott wrote in one of his now unread poems, “All the jolly chase was here” for the rest of us — Marxists, Maoists, various workers’ party activists, long-haired students, long-haired ex-students, social workers, council workers, union members, Labour party types in jackets with elbow patches, sundry feminists and possibly a few Gay Lib people, this being before the invention of gender grievance as a full-scale industry.
AFTER CAMERON’S SWIFT self-defenestration from the job of Prime Minister and politics in general, Theresa May found herself Britain’s new leader. A remainer, and therefore typical of the majority of Conservative MPs, she has had to work out how to handle the referendum result. Should she soft soap the electorate into accepting a pretend exit from the European Union by means of delay and prevarication? Or should she bury her Europhile tendencies and do her best to deliver full exit as the British people asked?