Social media has given legions of online leftists the tool to project their fringe interests into the corridors of power, writes Hector Drummond
You may have noticed that the speed at which modern progressive dogmas are being adopted is speeding up. In the last couple of years, it hasn’t taken very long at all for complaints made on social media about some allegedly ante-diluvial practice to be followed by the removal of that practice. The most recent examples of this involve the Professional Darts Corporation getting rid of their glamorous ‘walk-on girls’, following ‘talks’ with broadcasters, followed a day later by Formula One axing its ‘grid girls’.
Many have blamed social media for the increased stranglehold that political correctness now has over modern Western life, as leftist Twitter and Facebook users all pile on to whatever is the latest virtue-signalling fad in a righteous frenzy, as they did recently with #metoo. Anyone who tries to stand up to them is demonised, even people on their own side who are insufficiently strident.
But this is only half the story. There may be a few thousand people on Twitter every day shrieking about latest supposed outrage, but this still only constitutes a small proportion of the population. Shouldn’t a sufficiently robust culture be able to ignore the whines of the leftists, like they did in previous generations? There are plenty of people putting forth the opposite opinions on Twitter as well. The power of social media does nothing for them; they’re practically invisible. Why does internet energy only work for leftists?
The answer lies in placemen. And placewomen. And what Roger Kimball has called the ‘long march through the institutions’. We’re all familiar with the idea that the Universities became full of radical lecturers from the 1970s onwards. But since the 1990s we’ve seen a much larger diaspora of leftist, and left-leaning, graduates that has emanated outwards from the Arts, Humanities and Social Science departments that the partisan academics eventually assumed control of. These students had absorbed the concerns and lessons of their mentors, amplifying some and changing others – some were cultural Marxists rather than economic Marxists – but on the surface many of them came across as normal, non-revolutionary, professional types, and they fitted perfectly into circles where dressing and acting like Abbie Hoffman would not have been acceptable.
As well as further swelling the University ranks, they spread into the media, the civil service, the quangos, the charity sector, the education sector, the law courts, the Conservative Party, and eventually the corporate world. Even institutions that seemed impervious to such infiltration came in time to be dominated by Sociology gradates, such as the police force and the army. These takeovers were helped by clever government legislation that practically forced institutions and larger companies to have large, powerful human resources departments stuffed full of corrupt degrees holders.
Influential political organisations such as Common Purpose, who successfully masqueraded as a non-political charity, worked behind the scenes to place modern leftists into positions of power in as many spheres as they could. A continual ramping up of equality rhetoric enabled these besuited activists to further swell their ranks, and to increase their demands, and they shrewdly managed to redefine women’s issues as involving only matters that upper middle-class, left-leaning, female graduates cared about.
This process has now, in 2018, produced a critical mass of modern progressives in positions of power in so many institutions that only one way of thinking, or talking, has become acceptable for anyone within that institution. We’ve seen so many examples of supposedly powerful people, including company directors and University presidents, being forced out of their jobs because of wrongspeak in recent years that I don’t need to list them here.
This state of affairs, pernicious enough in its own right, also explains the extraordinary success of the modern internet social justice warrior. Conservatives and libertarians tweet into a void; no-one with any power is listening. But SJWs tweet into a culture of fellow travellers who have got themselves into positions of influence, and who are waiting for just this sort of stimulus. It gives them the excuse they need to act. They can pretend that the issue isn’t just one that is of interest only to people with a recent BA, but one that is of widespread concern. Then they can swing into action, demanding change in the committee rooms, altering company policy, telling everyone that we don’t cook with lard any more, shaming anyone who disagrees, and contacting like-minded placemen and women in the media who can beat the whole thing up further.
Gay marriage was an example of this – no-one outside SJW circles, including gay people, ever had much interest in this issue until it was crowbarred into becoming a major subject by leftists of influence, who made out that they were just following a popular upsurge in support. The same thing has happened more recently with transgender people, and transgender bathrooms. If you’d asked ordinary people a year ago to list what they thought were the Top 100 concerns in the world, you can be assured that no mention of transgender anything would have made the list. Nor even the Top 1000. Yet somehow overnight toilet justice for transgender people has become, allegedly, the Western world’s most pressing concern.
So, the internet warriors and the placemen and women are in a symbiotic relationship. The former provide the material which allows the latter to make the changes they want, while the latter provide the keyboardists with prestige, and a glowing feeling that they’re making an important difference in the world. It’s reminiscent of the relationship between governmental bodies and ‘fake charities’. The former give the latter money so that the latter can lobby the former to provide an excuse for the former to make the changes they wanted to make all along.
It’s noticeable that the decision to ban walk-on girls in darts was made after ‘consultations with broadcasters’. Why was that? Were broadcasters thinking that the audience for darts was falling because viewers were switching off because they were disgusted by the girls? That’s obviously not true; you’d be hard-pressed to find a single darts fan who was so against the girls that they switched off. It’s more likely that it happened because some emboldened placemen and women inside the broadcasters started making a fuss about it within the company, perhaps prompted by some Twitter or Facebook activity which they could point to as signs of popular discontent. The near-universal conformity of opinion in modern corporations would have made it hard to fight back at this time, and so they got their way.
Placemen and placewomen in advertising would be able to assist in this matter, as they would have been able to apply pressure from within, with the result that those companies end up telling the broadcasters that they aren’t very keen on having their products advertised during crude, sexist, old-fashioned sports. This would have been particularly effective with F1 – it needs bigger, more sophisticated brands than darts, and the bigger and more ‘sophisticated’ a company is, the more likely it is that it has been compromised by the hiring of middle-class leftist graduates.
Of course, social media plays a big part in the modern conformity, but the main reason it works is because of the ‘long march through the institutions’ that has already been made. The right people are now in place for social media to do its work. And, despite Brexit, and despite Trump, they’re not going away without a fight. They’re prepared to use their power in whatever way they can to stay in place and to continue remaking society in their image. So even if social media were to disappear overnight, the rate of the tightening of the noose might slow down, but it wouldn’t stop tightening, because the main driver would still be in place.