The road to Book Pyre Beacon
The cult of Woke has old roots, deep in the mulch of evangelical intolerance
This article is taken from the December/January 2022 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issue for just £10.
My literally maiden aunt was a censorious miserly bitch whose hobbies and interests included sly denigrations of her sister in law (my mother), sponging, confecting vinegary ketchup which took the enamel off teeth and insisting that her drab house was not in Evesham.
It previously manifested under such names as fishwifery, the cabal of the green poison pen, and the vipers of the new dawn
It was in Bengeworth, the part of that town on the left bank of the Avon. She thought Bengeworth had been relegated and took it as a personal affront. The name Kitty sounds cuddly as a cat with a toilet roll. She wasn’t. Her toponymic pettiness was a display of knowingness. She was pious because, as Joyce had it, “no man would look at her twice”.
St Peters, Bengeworth, is today “a Resourcing Church which forms part of our response to God’s call to be Kingdom People”. No, me neither. “Have you prayed using the audio version of today’s prayer?” In her sour shrewish superiority, my aunt was a precursor of woke banshees, the signatories to the letter with which several hundred “academic” sheep destroyed the philosopher Kathleen Stock’s career at Sussex University.
Woke’s roots are old, deep in the mulch of evangelical intolerance. It previously manifested under such names as fishwifery, the cabal of the green poison pen, the morally affronted, the righteous, the sisters of sanctimony, vipers of the new dawn, the Salem judges, les corbeaux etc.
Wherever it came from, it had god and mass hysteria on its side. Woke, however, differs from its laughable recent predecessors such as the Festival of Light and the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association (Mary Whitehouse, prop.) in having stormed the radio station and the presses and the means of dissemination. It has taken control. Every publisher has succumbed. It may be just one tiny step on the path towards bigotry, but that path soon leads to tyranny. This vociferous and over tolerated minority is at the vanguard of recognition of the third sex, then the fourth sex, the fifth … Its gender reassignments are worthy of SS doctors. And it is entirely immune to satire — but then, what isn’t?
Over half a century ago Kingsley Amis was on the money when he wrote in the Black Papers of the proliferation of universities that “more will mean worse”. That had nothing to do with satire. It was simply prescient.
That is why there are so many “academics” pursuing bogus disciplines, writing hideous tin eared jargon and adhering to the doxa like the mob they are. They are following orders though they would of course not put it that way. In their smugness, they are following their conscience, a predictable collective machine which demands this week hatred of Israel and next week loathing of blues singers from downstream Thames rather than the Mississippi.
The cult is entirely reactive. It objects to “behaviours” (where did that “s” creep in from? Presumably from the same place as that attached to harm). It castigates, it discredits, it time travels to whenever it was that ancestors who didn’t know better wore funny clothes and were wicked exploiters. It puts them right. Let them know what evil bastards they were. As a Dead White European Male writing this, I am as much to blame as my forbears. If a pig/human crossbreed wants to call itself a Transgenic Real Geezer so be it: that’s the identity it wants. But it will not be accorded my recognition that it actually is a TRG when it is evidently a teratological prodigy, perhaps a very charming one even if tainted with pig meat being treyf. Anti this, anti that. What is it not anti? What is it for?
This is an enduring puzzle. A non specific angelism, maybe. Like all dreams of angelism it cannot yet be realised because it is blocked by the way that certain coarse humans conduct themselves. Get rid of these impediments, they are expendable: free thinkers, blasphemers, people who read books by authors who are not of colour, women who are traitors to their sex, all white men, the imaginative, people back from Laputa with travellers’ superficial tales of a culture they do not understand and — above all — the impure in all their complicated, nuanced heterodoxy.
Dworkin Drive, Cleaver Close, Knee Boulevard, Righteousness Path, Subliteracy Avenue
The cult makes noise out of proportion to its size. It is akin to the bishops, costumed paedophiles who oppose assisted dying. A mitred idiot called John Sherrington helpfully advises: “Jesus told his disciples to pray at all times and not lose heart”. Does he not realise that prayer is merely talking to yourself and that there is no proof that Jesus ever existed?
However, the church (all communions, this is an ecumenical column) does unwittingly suggest a pursuit in which the forces of censorious prudishness might show their non destructive side.
There are almost 2,000 streets, avenues, squares in Greater London named after saints. Many of these persons are as fictional as Jesus. Let the places that bear their name be re named. Dworkin Drive, Cleaver Close, Knee Boulevard, Righteousness Path, Subliteracy Avenue, Minority Square, Mao Gardens, Palestine Park, Grievance Circus, Panther Alley, Penguin Hill, Book Pyre Beacon.
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